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WHAT THE WALRUS SAID--Our Authors' Blog--

Lady of Leaves and Flowers

A LIVING SCULPTURE

She is roughly 30 feet high. She is a living sculpture, made of plants.

Based on Chinese myth, she was one of 50 such giant foliage-and-flower sculptures we saw at the Mosaicultures Internationales Exhibit at the Montreal Botanical Gardens--galloping horses, parading lemurs with their tails up, a shepherd with dog and flock, pandas frolicking, waterfowl taking flight….

This summer, 2017, the Mosaicultures will be back, this time at Gatineau, Quebec (across the river from Ottawa), as MosaiCanada 150, celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday. See it if you can. These stunning sculptures are all made from living plants, but they aren’t topiary, which is shaped shrubs.

It is a highly complex form of art. The artists--from all over the world--must design and build frameworks for the sculptures, blend the colors, and plan for the maintenance of each plant they use.

It lifts your spirits.

—Joyce
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Novel Research

Richard Tries Out A Bike


In "Spider's Web in the Green Mountains," just published, why do mysterious motorcycles roar past the heroine's house in the night?

Why is a biker threatening her corgi, Henry?

Generally, what's with all these Harleys and Hondas?

In this photo, we see the author doing serious, in-depth research for his mystery, sitting on a parked motorcycle to get the feel of the thing.

It felt pretty good.

--Richard
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Murdock Visits Again

Muddy Murdock

When our friend Murdock last visited, it was Green Murdock, because he got wet and rolled in the grass. Here he is again, but now it's Muddy Murdock--

Because a dog's gotta do what a dog's gotta do!

Next visit? Who knows?

--Richard & Joyce
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Looking Out Over the Vermont Mountains--Inspiration

Vermont's mountains--just right for a murder mystery



I took this photograph in the Vermont mountains and it led to the novel I’ve just published, a mystery.

It’s about the people living in a small town, tucked away in these Green Mountains.

Everyone is connected. It’s as if an invisible spider web crisscrosses the town, every resident touched by its strands: loves, grievances, envies, kindnesses, marriages, divorces, business deals….

Spider’s Web in the Green Mountains is the book’s title.

A murder perturbs the web.

It even affects a Pembroke Welsh corgi, Henry.

Another major character is Dill, Vermont, the town itself.

I know something about small towns, because I grew up in one, along the Hudson River. We live near a small town now. It’s just a five-minute drive down the mountainside.

It’s interesting to read the police report in the daily paper, lost wallets and domestics and hypodermic needles found in alleyways and wandering dogs.

No murders lately, but you never know.

–Richard  Read More 
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WILLOW

Willow--a cat? Maybe.
This is Willow, who lives with our friends, Pam and David. She is a rescue from the local animal shelter.

Here she is helping Pam bake cookies.

Willow is more like a dog than a cat. She loves to be around people and her motto is: Attention must be paid!

We like dogs, but who can resist a cat in a bowl?

We decided she is an honorary dog.

--Joyce & Richard  Read More 
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WHAT? SOMEBODY KILLED ROGER ACKROYD?

Edmund Wilson, Literary Critic

Edmund Wilson, the eminent literary critic, said detective stories are junk.

Ouch—I've just published a mystery novel, "Spider's Web in the Green Mountains." More to the point, I’m a long-time mystery reader.

It was 1945 when Wilson huffed about detective stories. I just looked it up. That was when books still mattered, and literary critics, like Edmund Wilson, actually could be eminent. So attention must be paid.

Wilson cited an Agatha Christie novel, "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd," and posed a zingy question: “Who cares who killed Roger Ackroyd?” He also said that “…the reading of detective stories is simply a kind of vice that, for silliness and minor harmfulness, resides somewhere between smoking and crossword puzzles.”

Actually, I also don’t care who killed Roger Ackroyd. Mostly, I’m in it for the adventure. In real life, I get edgy crossing a city street—I like virtual adventure, in which somebody else dodges .45 slugs.

I’m also drawn by the mystery ambience, the sense that, beneath the mundane, run strong currents, deep and dark.

Stories hinging on unlikely tangles are popular, but I’m more simple-minded. I like my stories straight up—Hey, that could really happen!

I wonder, too, if the mystery genre hasn’t evolved since Wilson’s day, when he complained the characters were “all simply names on a page.” Some modern mysteries seem less Roger Ackroyd and more Raskolnikov.

Besides, one of our greatest poets liked mysteries. So, I’m with you, William Butler Yeats.

--Richard  Read More 

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OUR FRIEND MURDOCK, THE RACING DOG

Murdock the Racing Dog



This is a photo of our friend Murdock, who is green because he played with the hose and then rolled in newly mowed grass.

We never know what color Murdock will be when he visits us. We call him “Murdock the Burdock” because he sticks tight to his best pal, Eric Morse. Sometimes, though, Eric’s trips are via airliner, and Murdock can’t go and he stays with us. This time Eric is running across the Grand Canyon, rim to rim.

Eric is a former member of the U.S. Mountain Racing Team. Now he competes in dog-plus-human races, with Murdock, and they always win. Murdock is unofficial Eastern U.S. dog-racing champ.

Murdock’s motto is: “Short legs? Just move ‘em faster.”

He has tons of trophies.

--Richard & Joyce Read More 
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GASPODE, STREET DOG

First of Terry Pratchett's 41 "Discworld" novels, where Gaspode eventually appears



I often think about Gaspode, the terrier-like street dog in Terry Pratchett’s brilliantly funny “Discworld” novels.

It’s because Gaspode is so disreputably clever at making his way in his world, which is similar to our world, except that it is flat and rests on four elephants standing on the shell of a vast turtle, swimming in nothingness. Discworld’s dwarfs and trolls despise each other, and its humans disdain all minorities, especially vampires and werewolves. Slums are super-slummy. And a filthy little dog gets no lunch unless he wangles it.

Gaspode has a wangling edge: one night he slept beside Unseen University’s High Energy Magic building, and magical seepage upped his IQ and enabled him to speak. Nobody suspects a dog can talk, so people believe they’re hearing their own thoughts—“Oh, look at that poor little orphan doggie! I should give him half my sandwich!”

Gaspode appears in seven of Sir Terry’s 41 Discworld novels. He’s a lot like Homer’s hero, Odysseus, the only Greek among Troy’s besiegers who demonstrably has a brain.

Besides, Gaspode looks just like our friend Murdock, the west highland terrier who occasionally stays with us, when his buddy Eric is traveling. Also, whether your world’s round or flat, amusement is good.

–Richard  Read More 
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