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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world’s expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .

SASHA TROYAN is a Professor of English at Montclair University and author of the critically-acclaimed novels Angels in the Morning and The Forgotten Island, both Booksense Selections, beautiful stories based upon her childhood in France. I worked with Troyan to develop her new novels, Marriage A Trois and Semester. Read more. . .

LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .

BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by Pan Macmillan. Read more. . .

SCOTT WILBANKS, represented by Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, is the author of the debut novel, The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster, published by Sourcebooks in August, 2015. I’m working with Wilbanks on his sophomore novel, Easy Pickens, the story of the world’s only medically-diagnosed case of chronic naiveté. Read more. . .

SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .

M. TERRY GREEN enjoys a successful self-publishing career with multiple sci-fi/fantasy series set in the Multiverse, based upon her expertise in anthropology and technology. I worked with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .

ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny’s debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .

STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield’s second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .

GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans’ fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .

JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .

JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff’s abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .

LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star. Read more. . .

ALEX KENDZIORSKI is an American physician working in South Africa on community health education and wildlife conservation. I edited Kendziorski’s debut novel Wait a Season for Their Names about the endangered African painted wolf, for which he is donating the profits to wildlife conservation. Read more. . .

ALEXANDRA GODFREY blogs for the New England Journal of Medicine. I work with Godfrey on her short fiction and narrative nonfiction, including a profile of the doctor who helped save her son’s life, “Mending Broken Hearts.” Read more. . .

In addition, I work with scores of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this wonderful literary art and craft.

  • By Victoria Mixon

    Some weeks ago I did a post that was almost nothing but the covers of fabulous vintage mysteries and a list of some of my favorite vintage authors. And that post was in response to a question asked by Sabine on an earlier post about being interviewed by the fabulous and hilarious Rachel X Russell.

    So I’m dedicating today’s post to Elisabeth Grace Foley, who spoke up in the comments to recommend the nineteenth-century authors Anna Katherine Green and Melville Davisson Post.

    I already knew about Green—although I had not read her (shame on me)—but Davisson Post’s name was a new one. So I immediately ran out and bought Uncle Abner, Master of Mysteries: A Collection of Classic Detective Stories.

    But first I had the following conversation with my husband:

    Me: Uncle Abner? Are you kidding me? The cartoon character?

    My husband: I don’t think it was a cartoon about mysteries.

    Me: So this Davisson Post had a whole other double life—how brilliant is that?

    My husband: Except Davisson Post was apparently born in 1869, and the L’il Abner cartoon ran until the 1970s.

    Me: Holy crap! Talk about longevity!

    Eventually he convinced me that Uncle Abner and L’il Abner were not the same character. And I started reading the mysteries.

    Oh, so wonderful. . .

    1. Doomdorf

      Anyone who can invent a name like Doomdorf has me on their side automatically. Now I’m in a terrible quandary because I desperately want to write a ghost story about a house called Doomdorf, but that name is already taken.

      Watch for a novel called Dorfdoom.

    2. Historical setting

      Davisson Post was born only a few years after the end of the Civil War and lived his life in the back hills of Virginia, the land he knew so well and about which he wrote so vividly.

      His characters and stories ring true to life because they’re filled to the brim with details, habits, etiquette, and assumptions that could only possibly work in a world shaped entirely around them.

      When Uncle Abner and the boy-narrator ride through snow falling like great, grey, almost-sinister objects to cling to the branches of trees until they break, and they come upon a dilapidated old mansion with a single light burning and bang the knocker. . .the reader is not surprised that their reply is a gun report and splinters of wood flying through the door around them.

      We are purely delighted—here, indeed, is a mystery worth investigating!

      And when the narrator refers casually to the “disastrous failure of Prince Charles Edward Stuart to set up his kingdom in Scotland,” resulting in an influx of Scottish settlers in these Virginia hills whose ways and by-words Uncle Abner must understand in order to bring justice to a girl being married off against her will. . .again we are not surprised.

      Because Davisson Post speaks with such utter, detailed authority of his material, we are on the edge of our seats to learn what terrible secrets might lie hidden among these expatriates so far from home!

      And when the countryside teems with haggard women plaiting thorns to hide the wounds on their hands, and mortgages that can bought with gold coins in order to be forgiven, and insane old men who laugh demonically over having murdered abolitionists who would steal away their slaves. . .then we know we are not in our modern, automated, technological world at all.

      We are in Davisson Post country.

    3. Punch lines

      But what makes Davisson Post’s stories live on indelibly in the reader’s mind is not even all this—although we might think this would be enough.

      It is that each story ends on its punch line.

      And then stops.

      This is high art, my friends. This is the perfect design for which we each, in our many and various approaches to storytelling, are always seeking.

    4. Literary wisdom

      It is a law of the story-teller’s art that they do not tell a story. It is the listener who tells it. The story-teller does but provide them with the stimuli.
      —Melville Davisson Post, “The Doomdorf Mystery”

      If you study these lines long enough and hard enough, you’ll learn from them everything you ever need to know about creating literature.



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2 Responses to “4 Reasons to Love Melville Davisson Post”

  1. […] week we talked about reasons to love Melville Davisson Post, the great nineteenth-century mystery author of the backwoods of Virginia. In case you’re new […]

  2. […] on a huge vintage authors hunt here this month. We’ve discovered Melville Davisson Post (thank you, Elisabeth Grace Ford) and Rafael Sabitini (thank you, Donna […]