Festive Mayhem 3 From Crime Writers of Color

Nov 2, 2022 | 2022 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Elizabeth Wilkerson

This holiday season, enjoy Festive Mayhem 3, a limited-edition anthology by seven crime writers of color.

Here’s what the writers have to say about their story inspiration:

Delia Pitts
My story, “A Deadly First,” had two entangled roots: I wanted to write a simple origin story for my series main character, SJ Rook. So I had him fall into his first murder case as a fledgling private eye. And I wanted to use the structure of Hemingway’s classic story, “A Clean, Well-lighted Place,” as the scaffolding for Rook’s boozy assessment of his case. So I dropped him in an after hours bar balancing cryptic conversations with two waiters, one young and impatient, the other old and optimistic.

Paige Sleuth
“Whiteout Wipeout” was inspired by a combination of the anthology’s seasonal title and my own cat’s love of digging. My stories for all of the Festive Mayhems have been tied to my Cozy Cat Caper Mystery series. Since last year’s story was set on New Year’s Eve, it naturally followed that this one would take place over the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend. Januarys are cold in my fictional Central Washington town, so snow was a natural backdrop. And what better way to find out about a murder than to have a nosy cat digging up a body after a blizzard! After that, it was up to my sleuth to figure out what happened.

Barbara Howard
What inspired me to write my short story? My readers! Milo was a breakout character in the very first book of my novella series, The Final Harvest. He was a fourteen-year-old homeless boy and everyone wanted to know what happened to Milo. Although this short story, “A Trace of Lace,” can stand alone it may also serve as the beginning of a spin-off series for him. We’ll let the readers decide!

Elizabeth Wilkerson
Every New Year’s Eve, my family plays a take-no-prisoners game of Monopoly, complete with a rules committee, buying syndicates, and option contracts. Holiday fun. Anyone who’s played Monopoly will remember the Community Chest card “Bank error in your favor, collect $200.” I always thought that it was cool that, if a bank made a mistake, you got to pocket the cash. Years later, I learned that in real life, if you keep the money, it’s a crime. And you can “Go to jail,” another Monopoly card. It got me thinking: what would a person do if they received a windfall due to bank error? That musing led to my story “A Christmas Tip.”

Francelia Belton
I learned from a writing class that in order to write a good holiday crime story, the crime had to be essential to the holiday and vice versa, i.e. the crime could only have happened because of the holiday. I did some brainstorming with my writing BFF and asked if she had any ideas. (The deadline for FM3 had a quick turnaround, and I couldn’t come up with anything.) She mentioned family conflicts during Thanksgiving. But I thought that’s the first thing people think of when it comes to holidays and family brawls. Then I asked myself, what is another holiday that families come together for? And the first thing that popped into my head was Easter egg hunts, and well, “Black Easter” was born.

Carolyn Marie Wilkins
The character of Bertie Bigelow, the protagonist in my story “Serenade to Suicide,” was inspired by my mother, who for many years taught music at an inner city community college on the South Side of Chicago. As I am also a professor at a music college, it was easy to imagine all the many things that could go wrong during a live performance event, including the possibility of murder. Fans of Bertie Bigelow can read of her other escapades in my two full length novels, Melody For Murder and Mojo For Murder.

Stella Oni
With all that was happening in the world, I wanted to write something simple and ‘happy’, namely a cozy mystery. This is how The London House Mystery series set in The Mews hotel in Knightsbridge, London, came into being. Elizabeth Ojo, the protagonist, is a simple British Nigerian woman with a secret. She left her twenty-five-year marriage when she caught her cheating, domineering husband in the act with her friend and neighbour. Middle-aged, with children who had flown the roost, Elizabeth knew that it was foolhardy to try and begin a new life, but she persisted. She becomes a housekeeper in The Mews Hotel, where she gets entangled in the world of the rich and their complicated existence. “The Troublesome Rich Girl” is Elizabeth exploring more of her investigative power in this world. I am currently writing the full manuscript.

Happy holidays! Enjoy these tales of mystery and merriment! —Elizabeth Wilkerson

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode perfect went up last week.

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Elizabeth Wilkerson was one of Silicon Valley’s first cyberlawyers and now writes thrillers with a tech edge. A native of Cleveland, her debut novel is Tokyo Firewall. You can learn more on her website.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases.


  1. Thank you for putting this together, Liz! Writing for this anthology was so much fun!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the inspiration behind Festive Mayhem 3!

  3. Thank you, Liz! And was fun reading everyone’s inspirations. 🙂


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