An Untidy Affair


An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery
by MB Dabney

About An Untidy Affair

An Untidy Affair: A David Blaise Mystery
1st in Series
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Per Bastet Publications LLC (June 25, 2021)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 280 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1942166761
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1942166764
Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B097YPJYWN

Struggling Philadelphia private eye David Blaise gets two routine but unrelated cases on the same day in May 1985 – the day city police firebombed the MOVE house, which killed 11 people and destroyed an entire neighborhood. When Blaise starts following a cheating husband and searching for a missing person who may not actually be missing, he also discovers his cases may be related, and that he is being followed. When his tail is murdered, implicating the P-I, Blaise must find the true killer before he is literally buried alive.

About MB Dabney

MB Dabney is an award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in numerous local and national publications, such as Indianapolis Monthly, NUVO, Ebony magazine, Black, the Indianapolis Recorder, and the Indianapolis Business Journal. A native of Indianapolis, Michael spent decades as a reporter working at Business Week magazine, United Press International and the Associated Press, the Indianapolis Star, and The Philadelphia Tribune, the nation’s oldest continuously published Black newspaper, where he won awards for editorial writing. He has co-edited two anthologies — Decades of Dirt: Murder, Mystery and Mayhem from the Crossroads of Crime; and MURDER 20/20 — and has published numerous short mystery stories, including Miss Hattie Mae’s Secret (Decades of Dirt) , Callipygian (The Fine Art of Murder), and Killing Santa Claus (Homicide for the Holidays). An Untidy Affair is his first novel.·         The father of two adult daughters, Michael lives in Indianapolis with his wife, Angela.

Q&A With the Author

When did you first consider yourself to be a writer?

It’s a difficult question for me because there is not a single moment, like turning a light switch, in which I suddenly said I’m a writer. It’s probably because I wrote some for my high school paper, the Shortridge Daily Echo, and then on my college paper, the Purdue Exponent. Since I spent decades of my working career as a daily journalist, I was used to writing long before I decided to accept the challenge of writing fiction, which only became my focus in the early 2000s.

I will say, however, that my thinking about writing, in general, is perhaps different from others. You can be a doctor without practicing medicine, an engineer without building or constructing anything, or an attorney without practicing the law. But if you write, then you are by definition a writer, whether you ever get published or not. You can be other things, but to me, someone becomes a writer once they pick up the pen to write.  

(And by the way, I am quite proud that I wrote on my high school paper, one of only five (or so) daily high school papers at the time. Decades before I was born, author Kurt Vonnegut was a sportswriter for the Daily Echo, as was author Dan Wakefield.)

What advice do you have for a new writer?

First, read. Read as much as you can, as many different books as you can. You might surprise yourself in what you enjoy. I’m a 70-year-old Black American man. Who would guess – I certainly didn’t – that I’d enjoy reading Sophie Kinsella, whose main characters are often British women around 30, and whose life experiences are so totally different from mine? But they are generally fun. So read and see what you discover.

Also, Stephen King once said that you should try to write every day, and if you miss a day, it should be the same day each week. Tuesdays, for example. I would say, however, if that is not possible, try to work on your craft every day. If you can’t write, study writing and learn the industry.  

Finally, join a critique group – online, if that is the only one available to you, but an in-person group is better. A strong group is one that is supportive but honest, sometimes brutally so. But don’t let it get to you. Take whatever advice is useful and disregard the rest. Your writing must first and foremost be true you.   

What is the easiest part of the writing process for you?

None of it. It is all hard work, and I am relentlessly lazy. But I will say that what I particularly enjoy is when I finish writing something. Then it’s time to open a cold bottle of root beer and put my feet up. Because tomorrow, there will once again be a blank computer screen with a blinking cursor demanding attention. 

What is your favorite part of this story?

There are several but I can’t say which without issuing a Spoiler Alert. But I did enjoy writing the scenes between my protagonist, private eye David Blaise, and his client, Elise Carmichael. Often when I was writing them, I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I felt it was somewhat like walking a tightrope. And that was fun. 

Which Character was the most fun to write about? Why?

Elise Carmichael. I could see her in my head the most clearly, though she was also surprising. But she was just enjoyable because she was so dislikeable. Snooty, pretentious, sididdy. She was fun ‘til the end. 

Which Character was the hardest to write about? Why?

David Blaise. He is smart, hard-working, caring, and kind, but with a certain near-sightedness regarding his work. But I am still discovering things about him. I was on vacation in late August, and I wrote a 1,500-word narrative that included some of his life and friendships dating back to high school in the 60s. Because I’m still discovering him after all these years, I find him hard to nail down sometimes.

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