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Dover Post
  • Writes of passage: Dover author Joseph Crossen wins 2014 Rehoboth Short Story Contest

  • Legendary Wilmington painter Howard Pyle and fictional detective Sherlock Holmes helped Dover author Joseph Crossen win the 2014 Rehoboth Beach Short Story Contest.
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  • Legendary Wilmington painter Howard Pyle and fictional detective Sherlock Holmes helped Dover author Joseph Crossen win the 2014 Rehoboth Beach Short Story Contest.
    Crossen’s winning story, “The Case of the Artist’s Stain,” is a clever tale that brings Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. John Watson, from London to Rehoboth Beach to solve a case for Pyle.
    Crossen was awarded a prize of $500, and his story will be published in a collection of shorts titled “The Beach House,” by the Lewes-based publisher Cat & Mouse Press. As part of the Rehoboth Beach Short Story Contest, contestants were tasked with creating tales that included the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk as a theme. Twenty-four of the other top writers from the contest will also have their stories published in the collection. “The Beach House” is slated for release in November. The book will be sold in Rehoboth at Browseabout Books and online at browseaboutbooks.com.
    Q What was your reaction after learning you won the short story contest?
    A My hope was to get a story in the collection again. I had one in last year’s contest. My goal was to hopefully get published, because it is competitive. So to get first place [this year] was a pleasant surprise.
    Q What inspired you to create a story where Sherlock meets Howard Pyle?
    A I got thinking about the Rehoboth Beach boardwalk and I wondered what it was like in the 19th century. Was there a boardwalk in the 19th century? I found out there was. Then I saw a photograph that Howard Pyle had taken of his wife and children at about that time. I don’t know why I thought it, but I thought that’s about the time Sherlock Holmes was working in England. I did a little research on Holmes and he was still alive and well at that time. So I thought, let’s see if we can get Holmes and Watson to come over and do something with Howard Pyle.
    Q How would you summarize “The Case of the Artist’s Stain?”
    A Sherlock Holmes gets a telegram from Howard Pyle telling him that someone is forging his work and selling it illegally, and he would pay Holmes and Watson’s fare to come to Rehoboth to see if they could find out who the culprit is. It’s so hot and miserable and muggy in London that Holmes says, “Well, Watson, let’s go.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Q Last year was your first time competing in the Rehoboth Short Story Contest, and you had one of your stories published in that collection, although you didn’t win that contest. How did that use the experience to help you win the 2014 contest?
    A The main thing was I said to myself, “Maybe I could write.” If it’s good enough to be published, which is what you’re looking for, that was very encouraging. It was validating.
    Q How helpful was your wife, a retired English teacher, in critiquing your writing for “The Case of the Artist’s Stain?”
    A Very [helpful], because she would catch mistakes in it. I had switched characters’ names in one story and called one person something else. Sometimes I’m very stingy with punctuation, so she could see where that would go. She also saw if the story came together and made complete sense. She was the first fan of this story. She thought this was going to be the winner, but I was going to be happy just to get it in the collection.
    Q Do you have plans to pen any other stories?
    A Yes. There’s one in the laptop now. There’s another in line, waiting [to be written].

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