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trouble is her business

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After all, suppressing votes is the crime of the century,” says Mysti Berry, editor and publisher of Low Down Dirty Vote, an anthology of crime fiction inspired by voting themes. Donated to nonprofits fighting for voting rights, Berry has released three volumes so far, with the latest coming this spring.

BookLife’s reviewer praised the new volume’s story as “diverse,” “playful,” “upsetting,” and “inspiring and stimulating.” As Berry and her writers seize the pulse of democracy at stake, we catch up with her, her original inspiration, the power of crime fiction, and the fresh rage that drives her latest collection. and discussed innovation.

Can you talk about the power of crime stories to reveal the truth about society?

Crime fiction requires you to ponder the gap between who you pretend to be and who you really are. Crime writers don’t want happy endings. We are looking for answers, and the answers are often unflattering. Then, when you are tempted to do something stupid that overlooks the bad deeds of corrupt people, remember that even corrupt organizations can do the right thing.

Did you come up with the title of this series in an instant?

It’s funny because the title is usually the last thing that makes sense, and a lot of times the title never comes. Just scrutinize the finished manuscript and look for boring phrases. But back in 2017, my husband and I talked about how voting has always been this bright, shining symbol, like libraries and hospitals. After the second election, I felt depressed. During the discussion, the term “vile dirty vote” came to mind. My lifelong limited political awareness helped create the gateway to this erosion of voting rights. So what can I do to stop it? I knew some crime writers who had this title and enough technical skills to publish an anthology.

This anthology differs in two respects. First, writers shouldn’t work for free, so they get paid as close to the market rate as I can afford. Second, his 100% of sales (everything that comes to me as a publisher) is donated to the cause.

Remember how you felt when the first story came in?

Now this is embarrassing but true. A few years ago, I saw a diamond exhibit at the Natural History Museum. I had a dream of breaking the glass and snatching a handful of diamonds as I walked from glittering case to case. When the story of Volume 1 came out, I honestly felt like that. Not metaphorically rich, but physically and emotionally rich. Here I read stories written by authors at the pinnacle of the game and experimented with new perspectives, structures, or themes.

The series has several debut authors writing memorable stories. is it important to you? How did you find these new authors?

The first credit goes to Catriona McPherson, who said: If you know Ms. McPherson, you know she is of her quality, so I said, “Absolutely.”

Catriona’s request planted seeds in my brain about new voices. So I reached out to my friends in the MFA program — Yes, I have an MFA, but it never gets in the way of a good story! I encouraged other writers in the industry to nominate new people. myself. We have solicited submissions for Volumes 2 and 3.

To be honest, I was a little confused that all the writers of the first volume were white and, to my knowledge, straight and cisgender like me. All very good writers, but this was to help defend the right to vote. That’s why we need people of color, LGBTQ+ writers, people representing communities most at risk when we start suppressing votes. That was my fix. Volume 2 is more diverse, and Volume 3 is the most diverse to date. For democracy to survive in this era, we need to listen, listen, believe and understand each other.

You noted in the introduction to this third volume that the story seems to be fueled by greater rage than ever before, and that some now have a speculative edge, pushing the boundaries of traditional crime stories. I am pointing out that it is expanding.

It was very interesting! Many stories are steeped in anger and frustration. It makes us a little worried about the mental health of our nation. But it makes for powerful storytelling! I think this reflects our frustration with the whole dark money political landscape and the injustice inherent in growing wealth inequality. I was. Pat Canterbury’s soft, gentle voice contrasts with the ugly story she has to tell, rooted in real Sacramento history.

David Corbett and Travis Richardson write with a passion and fury that amazes me. I think every lawmaker and senator who has questions about their voting rights should read both stories and then ask, “Is this really what I came to DC for?”

One of the most difficult things about this collection was choosing between stories told traditionally and stories written in new ways. It’s a different structure that follows a set of rules that are probably different from those you’ve learned from screenplays and traditional crime fiction.

How does it feel to have three books? Do you have plans for a fourth?

I hope the 2022 election fixes a lot of things, I don’t know if I’ll publish Volume 4 or join The Handmaid.

A version of this article was published in the August 8, 2022 issue. publisher weekly Under the headline: Trouble is Her Business