I've edited more than my fair share of anthologies - around forty - but there are two British anthologists who were putting together fascinating crime collections long before I started and who continue to do excellent work in the field. They are Mike Ashley and Maxim Jakubowski, two men whose remarkably wide knowledge of popular fiction extends far beyond the crime genre. Both of them have both been kind enough, over the years, to include occasional stories of mine in their books.
My latest short story is "The Locked Cabin", and it kicks off Maxim's new anthology, The Book of Extraordinary Impossible Crimes and Puzzling Deaths, published by Mango. The book is another entry in a series of collections Maxim has been putting together, which also includes a set of Extraordinary Historical Mysteries, to which I contributed "The Sound of Secrecy".
There's no doubt where the inspiration for this particular story came from. When I was wandering around the Queen Mary 2 last year, I read with great interest the wall panels detailing the illustrious history of the original Queen Mary, and one particular anecdote from the 30s sparked an idea in my mind. When I went on a second crossing on the ship, I gave the idea further thought and realised that it could make an interesting variation on the concept of the locked room mystery. So, not an entirely typical locked room riddle by any means, but a spin on the idea that appealed to me. When I arrived back in Britain, I set about writing the story.
There are some very interesting contributors to this volume, including a number of good friends of mine such as Christine Poulson, Amy Myers, Jane Finnis, Len Tyler, and Paul Charles, all of whom have a track record of successful short story writing. In recent times, I've also got to know David Quantick, who has enjoyed great success in TV with shows like The Thick of It and is now pursuing a long-standing interest in crime fiction. There's a good deal of variety in this book - it's by no means a conventional collection of stories in the John Dickson Carr vein - and quite a bit of experimentation. I'm glad to be part of it.