I’d like to thank Tyrus books for inviting me to their Guest House today.
I’m not here to talk about myself, but for courtesy’s sake, a little about me. I was born in Nutley New Jersey, the quaint sheltered suburb from which Martha Stewart sprang like a decorating demon in a cloud of brimstone and potpourri. Robert Blake lived there before he was a gleam in Beretta’s gun-barrel. And I grew up knowing a few guys who knew a guy, including one who burned down the evidence room of the Sheriff’s office, then fell down some stairs shortly after he was released. I only write about crime, and try not to commit them.
I grew up reading Agatha Christie, and found Hammett, Lawrence Block, Andrew Vachss and James Lee Burke in my teens. I majored in English at Rutgers, but these writers told stories of real people who had real problems, not existential ennui over their comfortable suburban lifestyles. If they wrote about such people, they peeled back the designer skin to reveal the ugly human bones deep beneath. They were the heirs of Sherwood Anderson and his grotesques, and bared the greasy mechanisms of society as it ground human beings to paste.
That was the writer I wanted to be. One such story of mine is included in the anthology I’m here to tell you about: Lost Children: A Charity Anthology. It collects stories by 30 different writers to benefit two children’s charities- PROTECT: The National Association to PROTECT Children, and Children 1st Scotland. It began as a writing challenge issued by Fiona Johnson at the Flash Fiction Friday website. She wanted us to write true, honest tales of the lost. Children who never had a chance. And she was donating £5 to Children 1st for each one. I ponied up $5 to PROTECT for every story, and 44 writers responded. We donated over $600.
As we read the stories, we realized they needed to be read by more than our writing community. Some were so powerful, some so poetic and heartbreaking that we knew if we collected them, we could do even more for the children we wrote about. So together with Ron Earl Phillips, an editor at Shotgun Honey, we chose 30 of the best entries and have collected them into an e-book where all the royalties from sales will be donated to PROTECT and Children 1st.
Our contributors include crime writers Paul D. Brazill, Chad Rohrbacher, Luca Veste, Benoit Lelievre, J.F. Juzwik, David Barber of The Flash Fiction Offensive, Fiona “McDroll” Johnson, Ron Earl Phillips and myself. We have stories from a Lost Boy of the Sudan as told to his teacher, James Lloyd Davis relates a tale from the Vietnam War, author Susan Tepper and Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw look into the human trafficking that goes on under our noses. Nicolette Wong writes us a story from Hong Kong, Vinod Narayan from India, every continent except Antarctica is represented.
PROTECT was co-founded by crime author Andrew Vachss to give children’s causes an undiluted voice in politics. They have many legal successes under their belt and our donations help them strengthen and improve the laws against child abuse and neglect, and lobby Congress to enforce and fund the laws that already exist. Children 1st delivers services around the country in homes and communities that help children and families every day; they speak out for children’s rights by influencing legislation and campaigning to change attitudes towards children and share their expertise with others, both professionals and volunteers who work with children and families through their training and consultancy services.
Thanks to Tyrus for allowing me to tell you about this anthology. I hope you’ll enjoy 30 short, powerful crime stories that will pack a wallop of good for two very important causes. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and has its own website here: