Monthly Archives: March 2009

What Writers Watch on TV

When I was asked by Mystery Writers of America to write a column reviewing crime TV shows, I found out that reviewing is really hard work. I turned instead to some of my favorite writers such as Laura Lippman, Lisa Scottoline, Lisa Unger, Linda Fairstein, SJ Rozan, and of course JLB to ask them what they liked. You might enjoy reading the article.

The last page


I wrote the last page of my new Ellie Hatcher novel yesterday. There’s something incredibly rewarding about finally having a beginning, middle, and end. As many of you know, I don’t outline. I start with a rough shell of the story but let the characters fill in the details. And, to be honest, I have moments of panic as I’m writing when I wonder whether it will ever come together into a coherent whole. It’s never until the last forty pages or so when I start to realize, “Okay, this might actually work.” I wrote the first page of this one about ten months ago, so I’m looking forward to reading the 560 pages on my desk this weekend as a coherent whole. Fingers crossed.

By the way, I do have a title for this one now, something very different than the ideas we bounced around the blog, but I’m told it’s too early to announce lest someone else scoop it up before pub date. Title, details, and excerpts to come later.

I’m a Movie Star

Okay, not really a movie star. Or a rising star. Or even an actor for that matter. But I can honestly claim to have shared a scene with Peter Sarsgaard.

Some of you may already know that In the Electric Mist, based on my father‘s book, In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead, was released last week on DVD. When the film was shooting in New Iberia, my sisters and I visited the set. The actors (Tommy Lee Jones, John Goodman, Mary Steenburgen, Justina Machado) were incredibly nice to us, and the director (Bertrand Tavernier) was generous enough to put us to work as extras.

We spent several hours filming our scene, which occupies only about two seconds in the completed film. Want to see it? After the surprising death of a certain character (no spoilers here), Peter Sarsgaard rides in the back seat of a limousine swarmed by paparazzi, then he gets out of the car and meets John Goodman next to a white stretch limo. The woman next to Sarsgaard in the limo is my sister, Pamala. The woman in front of him is my sister, Andree. The olive-skinned guy to Andree’s right is our cousin, Porteus.

And that woman on the far side of the car chewing up the scene in her Prada sunglasses? Yours truly. Didn’t catch it? Rewind again. Oops, you passed it. Try again. And again. Freeze! There we are, for half a second. I hear the Oscars are starting a new category for extras so we can be properly acknowledged.

The highlight of the day for me was spending time with Peter Sarsgaard, whom I have adored since Shattered Glass and who is brilliant in everything he does. He had no idea we were JLB’s kids and was incredibly down to earth with us, joking around about our favorite SNL skits and showing us pictures of his daughter. He tolerated me when I told him about the day his girlfriend Maggie Gyllenhaal played with Duffer at Joe and told me she liked my dress (otherwise known in my world as my best day ever).

Both when I met her and when I met him, I bit back the the temptation to pitch my Samantha Kincaid books as her next project, since she is my dream actress to play Sam. I know, I know… I should have pitched it. But there’s a fine line between savvy and stalker, and I’m afraid to cross it. And, honestly, if I were going to cross it, I would have invited them to come over for Scrabble night. They would love us. I’m sure of it.

If you read JLB’s books, you should rent the movie. It’s always fascinating to see the choices that are made in translating a book, especially one so complex, to film, and the acting, particularly by John Goodman and Peter Sarsgaard, is phenomenal. And of course the extras were amazing!

From Blogcritics Magazine

According to a new review from Blogcritics Magazine, “Alafair Burke has a winner in the character of Ellie Hatcher. She is quick, sharp, smart, endearing and fun…. Angel’s Tip flew by, the pages practically turning themselves as the suspense built up. The Manhattan setting is perfectly evoked and the author’s knowledge of the world of the New York Police Department added believability to the story.”

More joint activity with JLB

Last month Dad and I started our joint facebook page. Now we have some new joint activities.

First, we’re trilled to announce that we will both have short stories published in The Best American Mystery Short Stories 2009, edited by Jeffrey Deaver. The Best American Mystery Short Stories series is consistently one of the best crime fiction anthologies around. It’s an honor to be included for my first short story and a special treat to share space for the first time in a publication with my father.

Second, we will both be at the 2009 Edgar Awards Banquet in New York City on April 30, 2009. Dad, along with Sue Grafton, will be honored as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America. I had the special privilege of writing a tribute to him for the program and will share it all with you once it is public. My entire family will be descending on Manhattan for the festivities so it will be a busy and celebratory weekend.