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Flame Tree Fiction

Detective Thrillers | Author Q&A | Story Inspirations

Posted by Gillian Whitaker

Published alongside our latest anthology A Dying Planet, Detective Thrillers similarly offers an exciting mix of new and classic short stories. Rife with enigmatic detectives, dark alley chases, and secret operations, this collection promises an edge-of-your-seat journey from a host of modern authors to greats such as Arthur Conan Doyle and writers from the Black Mask magazine era. See below for a taste of its contents, as contemporary authors tell us the stories behind their contributions to the book…


What was the inspiration behind your story in 'Detective Thrillers'?

B. Morris AllenParameters of Social Dispersion in Domestic Lawn Populations

I was standing on the Oregon coast talking with two friends. By chance, one tripped over her tongue and said ‘pheronomes’ instead of ‘pheromones’. I immediately wanted to write a story (or several) about feral gnomes. Pretty quickly it emerged that something pretty sinister had happened with them, and I was as curious as my detectives to find out what it was.


Donald J. BinglePatience

I was asked to write a story for Sol's Children twenty years ago, so I needed a tale about space that I didn't think would be duplicative in plot with what anything the other invited writers might be doing. One way I generate such stories is to combine a fact or piece of trivia a lot of people don't know (or is otherwise bizarre or interesting) with a danger/fear that actually exists, but most people don't worry about. In this case, I also used a detective for the main character because I didn't think there would be other detective stories in a space anthology.


Tom EnglishThe Deadly Sin of Sherlock Holmes

I got this crazy idea while pondering The Picture of Dorian Gray: What if the supernatural process in Wilde’s novel had worked in reverse? What if Dorian himself had grown uglier, and not the face in his portrait? What if the portrait had been hideous from the start, but gradually grew more beautiful with each of Dorian’s vile deeds? But, instead of an oil painting, why not an evil book? I love stories featuring ancient manuscripts and arcane knowledge. I’m also a big fan of Sherlock Holmes. Result? A mystery in which the great detective grapples with the strange and deadly events surrounding a cursed book.


T.Y. EulianoGator Bait

The inspiration for ‘Gator Bait’ was an actual alligator attack at our local gardens, very much as described in the story. The director survived and his arm was retrieved, but it could not be reattached. Living in Florida, we know if the water tastes salty there are sharks, if it’s not salty, there are gators. I hope you enjoy it!


shutterstock_795903376Tracy FaheyDown We Go Together

This story, ‘Down We Go Together’, was born out of one persistent thought – ‘What if someone who presented as a detective wasn't who they seemed?’ I've always been fascinated by the link between physical and mental health, so I researched dystonia, which my protagonist lives with; a muscular disease occasioned by (among other things) trauma. As the story progresses, so too does her disease, leading to a feeling of dissolution. Originally my detective was male, but thinking about it, I reversed the sexes in order to overset the trope of ‘flawed, troubled, older male protagonist’ and ‘damsel in distress’. The story that emerged was one that explored some of my favourite themes: the fierceness of love, the sharpness of loss, the haunting quality of memory and the helpless struggle in the face of waning strength.


Tom Mead – Heatwave

‘Heatwave’ is an unashamed noir pastiche, no holds barred. This isn't my typical genre, so it was very much an experiment. The idea itself came from wanting to write a ‘chase’ story, something with momentum and where the characters were constantly on the move and trying to double-cross one another. It seemed to me that the best way to accomplish this was by writing about somebody searching for someone, but someone who may or may not have disappeared voluntarily.


Jonathan ShipleyCountdown

The roots of ‘Countdown’ can be traced to two things – claustrophobia and the transgender controversy of the other year. I'm not particularly claustrophobic but wondered what it would be like to live at very close quarters. And I wanted to put a different spin on the trans situation, look at it from a different angle and make it integral to solving the crime.


Cameron TrostThe Disappearance of Jeremy Meredithshutterstock_81871768

‘The Disappearance of Jeremy Meredith’ started with a setting and an atmosphere in mind. The characters and plot elements were then created to fit. I wanted a story in which an unexpected visitor arrives at Oscar's house in the middle of a storm, involving a disappearance, a touch of romantic tension, and with the solution to it all hidden in a clifftop manor on the Breton coast. The idea of an overheard conversation with a verbal clue that later linked to a physical key required a lot more thought and fine-tuning. It had to be just right because this element is the means of making sure the reader is actively involved in the investigation and faces the same challenge as Oscar.


Marie VibbertVolatile Memory

The first line dropped into my head. ‘When my kid brother came home as a bird, well, it wasn't as big of a surprise as it should have been.’ Sometimes fun sentences just pop in. So I started there, asking, what does that mean? I default to science fiction so it had to be a robot bird. Then there was an anthology call (years ago) for ‘odd little girls’ so I made the kid brother a kid sister, named her after a friend, and honestly, she came to life then. The story drafted fast at that point.


Desmond WhiteWater Bees

In ‘Water Bees’, I wanted to add a new character to the pantheon. We have Monsieur Dupin and his genius insight into the minds of men, Holmes's intense eye, the sour persistence of Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. My detective, Henri Moreau, is an old man fraught with modern anxieties. His journey is accompanied by the war between the old faiths and the cosmos's insect apathy, free will pitted against mechanical predetermination. Moreau's disquiet reflects my own as I've explored evolutionary psychology and existentialism.

Book Temp

You can read these stories and more in 'Detective Thrillers Short Stories', which is available to order through our website here!


  • Check out the full author lists for Detective Thrillers and A Dying Planet here.
  • Browse the full collection of anthologies here.
  • See how the authors in A Dying Planet described inspirations for their stories here.

Images courtesy shutterstock.com

Topics: Gothic Fantasy, Short Stories, short fiction, detective fiction, Detective Mysteries

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