Back in the 1950s, when there were only a few TV channels to watch, three shows brought to a screeching halt the mayhem in the kid-infested house I grew up in: Perry Mason (my mother had a mad crush on Raymond Burr), Maverick (my mother had a mad crush on James Garner), and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (my mother did not have a mad crush on the great director, but loved the stories). These programs must have had a profound effect on me, because the key ingredients of each episode—mystery, humor, irony—seem to make up the recipe I follow for my own short stories.
Even though I have worked in the novel format, to me, the perfect way to tell a tale is the short story. It's great for impatient people with short attention spans, one' of which I am. And my husband, who encouraged me to write and has been a great teacher, has always touted, "Write what you'd like to read."
Some of my favorite stories are ones that we've collaborated on; it's a little bit me, a little bit him. Having a male/female perspective is always interesting. And our writing styles are so similar (no surprise) that, come the end result, even we sometimes can't tell who wrote what.
Besides my husband—who is one of the smartest, best writers in the whole wide world—I owe a debt of gratitude to Ed Gorman and Marty Greenberg for publishing my stories in their wonderful anthologies.
Another debt is owed, of course. The stories in this book are sometimes by me, sometimes by my husband, sometimes by the two of us,'working together. But the most important collaborator, in any story, is the reader. We've done our job—the rest is up to you!
Barbara Collins is the wife of New York Times best-selling mystery novelist Max Allan Collins. Barbara and Max also write under the joint pseudonym Barbara Allan.