Monday, April 6, 2009

Through a Glass, Deadly by "Sarah Atwell"

Today we welcome the second of our Agatha Award nominees for Best First Novel Sheila Connolly who writes as Sarah Atwell.

Many thanks to the writers at Killer Hobbies for allowing the Twisted Sisters of Malice to toot their own horns here.

I never planned to be two people, but I was born a Gemini, so I guess I should have been prepared. Still, Sarah Atwell was a surprise. Three years ago my agent said, "Berkley Prime Crime is looking for someone to write a glassblowing series. Are you interested?" Of course I was. I have always loved glassblowing–I've even visited the glassblowers' island of Murano, outside of Venice–and I was a medieval art historian for a time, so I knew something about glass. I made a beeline to Sandwich Glass on Cape Cod and interviewed their sole woman glassblower, and then I took a hot glass class myself, so I'd be able to describe the process–and Tucson glassblower Em Dowell was born, making her debut appearance in Through a Glass, Deadly.

I love Em. She's fiercely independent but she really cares about people–her long-time employee Nessa, her brother Cam, and even needy strangers like Allison McBride (whose husband turns up dead in Em's studio). She hides a soft heart with a sharp tongue. She doesn't let her on-again-off-again relationship with the Tucson police chief get in the way of doing what she thinks is right. She's a lot of fun to write, and I want to be her when I grow up.

That's why it was such a happy surprise when Sarah Atwell got the call that Through a Glass, Deadly had been nominated for an Agatha Award. It's a wonderful tribute when people like what you write, and you are rewarded for doing something you love to do. I am truly grateful to be on the list with such talented people.

Join us next week when our guest will be Rosemary Harris, author of Pushing Up Daisies.

** Clue word: frit

Remember--Submit all five "clue words" and I'll draw a name from the group on Monday, May 11. The winner will receive an autographed set of all five of the Agatha-nominated Best First Novels. That would be G.M. Malliet's Death of a Cozy Writer, "Sarah Atwell's" Through a Glass, Deadly, Rosemary Harris' Pushing Up Daisies, Krista Davis' The Diva Runs Out of Thyme, and Joanna Campbell Slan's Paper, Scissors, Death.


Terri Thayer said...

Congrats on the Agatha and welcome to Killer Hobbies!

Camille Minichino said...

I never thought about it until you said it, 'Sarah' -- but I'm a Gemini also, so maybe that's why being Camille and Margaret feels ok!

So glad for your award and look forward to meeting you at Malice. Thanks for visiting.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Hi all-- you have such a wonderful blog! And your Agatha visitors are so exciting.

Sheila/Sarah--what was it like when you got the call?

And how did the hot glass class go?

Good luck to all of the nominees...

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Oh--and now I'm going back for the clue words. Malice week at KH..what a killer idea!

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Thanks for visiting us, Sarah/Sheila. I'd love to learn more about glassblowing. I saw a special on Chihuly (sp?) years ago. Wow. And Hank, thanks for the kind words!

Ruth M McCarty said...

I just finished reading "Through a Glass, Deadly" today. Not only did I enjoy the mystery and the characters, I enjoyed learing about glassblowing. Nice touch with the definitions at the beginning of each chapter.
Congratulations on your nomination, Sheila, er Sarah. Best of luck to you and all the nominees.

Joanna Campbell Slan said...

Ruth, I re-posted the names and links to all the short stories that are Agatha nominees on my personal blog. Go to I think it's really cool that this year we can read them all before the voting!

Sheila Connolly said...

Thank you all for your comments and your congratulations.

Taking the glassblowing class was eye-opening. One of the misconceptions I had was that it takes strength to make glass. Wrong: dexterity is much more important. Although I was disappointed to learn that there are relatively few female glassblowers. I've had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with a married couple who run their own shop on Cape Cod (which is where I took the class)--we even discussed how we would dispose of a body (the wife and I had it worked out long before the husband!).

Glass is fascinating--hard yet fragile. I've held a glass piece that was over two thousand years old and marveled that it had survived.

The Agatha call: I was sitting at my desk on a Sunday, working (as usual) and answered the phone, and somebody asked for Sarah Atwell. Poor Sarah--she doesn't get many phone calls! But I accepted it for her. As for The Call (the first acceptance of the book), it was a message from my agent--and it's still in my phone memory three years later!

Maggie Bishop said...

Talk about in depth research! Congratulations on the nomination.