Mark Ammons is a Medford, Massachusetts-based, former stage director, producer, and screenwriter/script doctor. He teaches contemporary drama and advises graduate thesis projects at the Boston Conservatory. His story, “The Catch” in Still Waters, won the 2008 Robert L. Fish Memorial Award for best first mystery and was also nominated for an Edgar®, the first time a story has been simultaneously recognized in both arenas.
Your story in Thin Ice, “Duck Sandwich,” is written from a woman’s point of view. How did telling the story from the other gender’s viewpoint affect your writing?
I’ve been the sole male in a mystery writers group with four lovely, homicidally inclined women since the Punic Wars. So, how hard could it be? Actually, “Duck Sandwich” was first written in close third person — a POV I’m partial toward because it lets me crawl inside a character while maintaining a certain parallel narrative objectivity that also works well for comic possibilities, usually of the darker variety. But then, one of my group’s evil cohorts challenged me to rewrite it in the first person. She was right. Besides, any sensible man understands that his wife is always working on a case for justifiable homicide. It pays to listen, learn, and mind read. With a little channeling, it all fell into place, especially once everyone in my group helped me translate several accidental, overly male, idiomatic missteps. Who knew the average woman wouldn’t say “ginormous?”
After that, the biggest problem was the hot flashes.
If the new Level Best Editors all kill one another in a locked room, what will the most likely motive be? Story choice? Cover colors? Editing? Inquiring minds…
- Story choice…no problem.
- Cover color . . . a scrape or two.
- Editing…….we don’t. (Which is probably a good thing).
- The proper form of an ellipsis? … bloodbath.
What are you working on now?
I’m wrangling an off-center short about a revenge driven third-rate “confidential informant” with first-rate identity issues. Also, with co-author J.R. Rivera, I’m reworking to fit our present basket case of an economy, a humorous but useful self-help survival guide to today’s treacherous workplace jungle. And, most importantly, I’m pushing to complete a full-length mystery which one early reader describes as an “existential-slapstick tough guy novel.”