"The Red Mercedes"

by Theo Capel

About a year after I sold "Won't You Come Out Tonight?" to EQMM, I started checking each issue of the magazine as it appeared in Border's, waiting for my story to appear in print. Early in 2004, I noticed a feature titled "Passport to Crime," which each issue presented a story by a foreign author who'd never previously been published in English. I emailed editor Janet Hutchings and asked her if she'd be interested in a Dutch story. She replied that she was — and, in fact, that she needed one quickly to fill a hole in an upcoming issue. I contacted Theo Capel, who used to edit Thrillers & Detectives and who has been writing a series of novels featuring Amsterdam investigator Hank Stammer since 1981, and asked him for a story. He sent me "De Rode Kar," and I translated it and passed it along to Janet. She liked it, but wanted the homosexual-prostitution element cleaned up for EQMM's readership. I convinced Theo to let me substitute heterosexual prostitution for the other sort and made a few other changes, and Janet bought the story and included it in this special issue, released in conjunction with Secret Window, a film adaption of a Stephen King story.

I received contributor's copies in mid-March, right around the beginning of the Cleveland International Film Festival, a 10-day event at which I volunteered every year. I put "film issue" and "film festival" together and suggested that Janet donate a bunch of copies for distribution to festival patrons. She liked the idea and sent 300, and I passed them out in the hospitality suite and at the volunteer brunch on the last day of the festival.

Whenever possible in her introductions to the various stories in the issue, Janet made mention of the authors' connections to the mass media. At the end of her introduction to "The Red Mercedes," she wrote: "His translator, Josh Pachter, also an EQMM fiction writer, has had two stories optioned for film and one adapted for Belgian radio." This isn't quite true. Alliance Entertainment did option my "Chain Reaction" for a possible film — and renewed the option several times before finally letting it drop —and "Invitation to a Murder" was dramatized (in Flemish) on Belgian radio. Shortly after "Invitation" was originally published in 1972, I was offered a film option by some guy whose name I didn't recognize and who sent the offer on plain typing paper, not even letterhead — so I figured he was a scammer or a wannabe and turned him down. In retrospect, I might as well have taken his money....

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