Jim gave a wonderful presentation of his Ellie Stone books, enlightening us about Ellie’s development as a character with high morals. It was also interesting to hear him discuss the pleasures and problems of a small-town setting. The town of New Holland is, he admits readily, very closely modeled on his hometown of Amsterdam, New York. It also is a place where, realistically, you can’t have enough murders to satisfy a series — and so Ellie must encounter some of the crimes she will solve while she is on vacation or on assignment in other places.
Prior to reading a selection from his work, Jim spoke of his experience as a man writing a female protagonist. In response to the question about writing what we know (in particular gender or culture) versus what we don’t know, he reminded us that, as mystery writers, we are all writing something that we (likely) don’t actually do. He reminded us again as he prepared to read that his own gravelly voice should not be construed as Ellie’s, only as the writer-reader’s voice.
It is a great pleasure to welcome Jim as a relative newcomer to the Puget Sound area, and now as an official member of our Puget Sound Chapter of Sisters in Crime. He remains a member of his previous chapter in Los Angeles, as well as of our parent, Sisters in Crime national. We look forward to continuing to get to know Jim.