"Before there was Hollywood, there was Fort Lee."
I was wandering around the meeting room, waiting for the appointed hour for my presentation, and stumped by the supersized photos on the wall. I thought I recognized some of the faces in the pictures: Fatty Arbuckle and Lillian Gish. But what were they doing hanging in the Fort Lee Public Library?
Bill Camal, special events coordinator for the library, explained. Fort Lee, now known as the last stop before the George Washington Bridge, was famous for its movie studios at the turn of the 20th century. The term cliffhanger? Coined from the episodic movies filmed on the cliffs of the adjoining Palisades, overhanging the Hudson River. Remember those cliffs where the heroine was always left in mortal danger at the end of the reel?
I had a delightful afternoon at the Fort Lee Public Library. Many thanks to Bill for inviting me and being such a gracious host. It was a very nice turnout and as always it's such fun to hear from the crowd about favorite mystery authors. This is Jersey so Janet Evanovich was of course at the top of the list. But so too was old favorite Agatha Christie. Amazing how her work is timeless. Sharon McCrumb's name was mentioned, as was Patricia Cornwell. We even touched on current mystery television shows. Monk is definitely a crowd fave, but there was a collective nostalgic sigh when someone yelled out the delightful Columbo.
I was stumped, today, by a question from the audience. "Did I ever worry that my book was giving bad guys a blueprint for murder and mayhem?"
I hadn't ever thought of that, but decided that I wasn't contributing to the moral decay of the world. A good mystery, for me, is less about the details of how a murder is accomplished (frankly I just want the victim dead), and more about the motivations of the characters: Those who seek to do evil – and those whose mission it is to stop them or at least reveal them. For Evelyn David, it's always about the characters.
What do you think?