The Story behind White with Fish, Red with Murder

WhiteFish_RedMurder FinalWhite with Fish, Red with Murder is a noir-ish private eye tale. There’s a love triangle, tough guys, lying dames, a couple of murders, greed, lust, jealousy, and nefarious schemes. It’s the kind of stuff I like to read, and I thought I should write what I like.

It started out with my 50th birthday. I came of age in the late ’60s, a time of flower power and the Vietnam war and I was as surprised as anyone that I lived to be fifty. I invited my friends for a gala birthday party and wine tasting. I wrote a murder mystery play around the idea of a wine tasting at which one of the guests is a murderer, and each of my guests plays a suspect. My friends dressed in ‘40s clothing and I assigned them parts in the play. We had some good food, good wine, and they read the scripts I provided them.

I thought the murder mystery worked well. Of course, I was feeling no pain by the time private eye Frank Swiver solved the crime and checked the killer’s elbows. A few years later, the memory of how much wine we’d all drunk had subsided a bit and I decided to take out the dossiers and clues I had given each character and see if I could turn what I had into a prose narrative, that is—write a book. To whatever extent my friends had improvised lines, I tried to capture their artistic contributions in the writing.

I was still working in those days, as a corporate communicator in one of our fine three-letter federal agencies, and I worked on the novel part time. I had probably completed about three-quarters of it—say 60,000 words—in seven or eight months, and my father died. I’m an only child and my mother was in declining health. She couldn’t be left alone, so we moved her in with us, and I put the novel on the back burner for a couple years. Sometime after Mom passed away, it was finally time to complete the project. I was retired, and I started to devote full-time to writing pulp fiction.

I found Driven Press as one of the few publishers who accept un-agented manuscripts and submitted to them. They liked it well enough, and here we are.


Harley Mazuk [] is a mystery writer living in Maryland. His first novel, White with Fish, Red with Murder [] is out now, from Driven Press. []


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