Monday 20 November 2023

Red Herrings - guest post by Matthew Booth

Matthew Booth is a writer and editor with a special expertise in Sherlock Holmes. His latest novel is The House of Skulls, just published by Pegasus, Elliot, McKenzie. He was also a very popular speaker at Alibis in the Archive in June of this year. He succeeded his friend and colleague David Stuart Davies as editor of Red Herrings, early copies of which are kept at the British Crime Writing Archives at Gladstone's Library. Those old newsletters are absolutely fascinating - I was reading through the 1966 issues at the Library a few days ago and came across an obit for the guy who wrote the novel that was filmed as Dr Strangelove. It turns out he was a CWA member (the author, I mean, not Dr Strangelove). Red Herrings continues to be a must-read for CWA members (see the above cover image) and I asked Matthew to talk about it: 

'Red Herrings is the Crime Writers’ Association’s monthly magazine and I have been its editor for the last four years or so. I follow in a long line of esteemed writers who have held the post before me – not only big shoes to fill, but a list of names to which I am proud to be added.

Editing any magazine brings with it the constant worry that you will have no content to fill it. Fortunately, I have been lucky enough to have had a steady stream of articles, thoughts, and opinions, so that the challenge becomes which articles to use and when. I am always grateful to those CWA members who contribute, often without any prompting or press-ganging from me. Red Herrings is a magazine for the members and by the members. It can only ever be as good as its content and that content can only ever come from the members. Knowing that the members want to write for it and provide a diverse selection of articles is not only rewarding, but proves that the members enjoy the magazine and hold it in high esteem.

Putting together an issue is hard, but gratifying work. Each issue requires a decision about what articles to use and in what order. The magazine boasts a broad spectrum of content. Red Herrings covers crime writing of all types, fact and fiction. We have had articles which examine the impact of the Yorkshire Ripper killings, investigations into historical murders, such as the slaying of Thomas Arden, a crime which was later immortalized in a play by Thomas Kyd, as well as discussions and insights into how we, as authors, work and create. Red Herrings also has its own visual style. Every issue has a different cover, all related to crime writing, and each article is given relevant images to accompany it. These flourishes help to keep the magazine vibrant and exciting, and the design of the Red Herrings gets regular praise from members.

In CWA terms, Red Herrings is an institution and long may it continue to be, whether in my hands or in those of my successor. For now, I’ll continue to try to maintain the high standards of the magazine, and hope that those articles still come flooding in…'

Thanks, Matthew, and very best of luck with The House of Skulls!

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