Look in the archives of any prominent mystery magazine and you’ll find at least one story by Stephen D. Rogers, a very prolific and talented writer. His new short story collection, SHOT TO DEATH, came out in mid-February. Earlier this month, he started a SHOT TO DEATH Blog March, stopping at different blogs here and there and talking about where he got the ideas for the stories.
Today he’s stopping here. (Cool!) Feel free to ask him questions in the comments section, he’ll be answering them throughout the day.
And buy SHOT TO DEATH. I got my copy last week and it’s excellent (as expected!)
Carl lowered his voice. “Before I say anything about the job, I have to know whether you’re in or out.”
– THE BIG STORE
So begins one of the 31 stories contained in SHOT TO DEATH (ISBN 978-0982589908). Within that beginning lurks the ending to the story and everything that happens between the beginning and the end. Or at least it seems that way to me.
I heard that opening and imagined a caper story that dealt with what I imagined was the most dangerous element to any illegal activity, broaching the subject when gathering the team.
Once everybody was on board, there was little incentive to sabotage a job that might prove to be the score of a lifetime. (There would be opportunity enough to rat out the others if the job somehow went bad.) But how did you get people on board without telling them the destination, a destination they might spill if they decided to pass?
For that matter, they might assemble their own team and strike first, cutting you out completely.
I thought of that two-sentence opening as a single sentence split in half by the concept of lowering one’s voice when telling a secret as if lowering one’s voice guaranteed some level of safety. The period (to me) was a symbol representing the impossibility of communicating a secret while keeping the secret a secret, a concept that I played with throughout the story.
The fact that “Carl” was named and nobody else told me that Carl would dominate the situation, coming out the other end a winner. How he was going to accomplish that, I wasn’t sure, but I trusted him to find a way.
“Carl lowered his voice.” That meant he was talking before the story began. Would we learn what he said? Would we learn what he might have said before even that? Would the others learn what he might have said before they arrived, before he even thought to invite their participation?
What would be said? What would be whispered? What would be kept close to the chest?
These were the questions that intrigued after I wrote the opening to the story. Once I decided to accept the challenge of answering them, all that remained was the writing.
For a chance to win a signed copy of SHOT TO DEATH, click on over to http://www.stephendrogers.com/Win.htm and submit your completed entry.
Then visit the schedule at http://www.stephendrogers.com/Howto.htm to see how you can march along.
And then come back here to post your comments. Phew.
SHOT TO DEATH contains thirty-one stories of murder and mayhem.
For more information about Stephen D. Rogers, you can visit his website at