Eric Mayer

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Gift From the Past
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Mary and I received a royalty check recently for some anthologized stories. We were amused by the $13.60 we got for “A Byzantine Mystery.”

What amused us was the fact that the story first appeared 12 years ago, in Mike Ashley’s Mammoth Book of Historical Whodunnits, and has been laboring away on our behalf ever since. Last year we had $4.20, but now the anthology is in a new edition.

When the collection came out in 1993 we certainly never expected it to be still financing several weeks worth of coffee (Millstone Hazelnut this year) well into the next millenium. While we can’t say it is a full time job being the authors of a “A Byzantine Mystery” nevertheless, the story’s lifespan has amazed us.

The tale marked the first appearance of our detective “John the Eunuch” who was little more than a spear carrier for the twist ending, which, incidentally, revealed a personality utterly at odds with the character we depict in later stories and novels.

Our only regret (aside from the fact that the detective named “John” wasn’t actually “our” John.) is that it is the shortest story we’ve had published and royalty payments for contributors are in proportion to their length (I think). If only we’d realized how long the anthology would keep selling we would’ve found some extra words to stick in.

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