Happiness Is a Warm Gun:

Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the Beatles

edited by Josh Pachter

This is my sixth "inspired by" anthology, following The Beat of Black Wings: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Joni Mitchell, The Great Filling Station Holdup: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Jimmy Buffett, Only the Good Die Young: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Billy Joel, Monkey Business: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Films of the Marx Brothers and Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon.

For this one, I planned to write the title story myself, as I did with the previous five, but after all seventeen of the Fab Four's US studio albums had been assigned I got an email from Martin Edwards asking me if I might have room to include Kate Ellis. I was delighted to welcome another British contributor -- and especially another woman -- but I didn't want to include two stories inspired by songs from the same album (as I did with Paranoia Blues), so I wound up inviting Kate to take the title song (from the so-called "White Album") as her inspiration and figured this time around I wouldn't include one of my own stories.

As luck would have it, though, the author who'd agreed to contribute a story inspired by a song from The Beatles' Second Album turned in something that for various reasons didn't work, and there wasn't time for me to approach anyone else. So I wound up picking "I Call Your Name" and writing a story myself, after all. (The song was originally written for Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas, and the Mamas and the Papas had a hit with it, so my story includes many Easter eggs referring to both groups.)

I always like to welcome writers early in their careers to my anthologies, and for this one I managed to convince genre scholar Anjili Babbar to write her very first short story (based on "Hey Bulldog" from Yellow Submarine) and popular bloggers Kristopher Zgorski and Dru Ann Love to write their first fiction and to do so collaboratively (inspired by "Ticket to Ride" from Help!).

On August 22, 2023, Kris and Dru did simultaneous cover reveals, his at BOLO Books and hers at Dru's Book Musings.

In October 2023, Art Taylor ran essays by contributors on four consecutive Tuesdays at his "First Two Pages" blog: Kate Ellis (October 10), Kris and Dru (October 17), Vaseem Khan (October 24), and Anjili Babbar (October 31). John Floyd wrote about his contribution on the "SleuthSayers" blog on October 22. Meanwhile, I did an interview about the book (and other related topics) on The House of Mystery Radio Show on October 19, and on October 23 Kris did a video interview about the book in general and his story in particular at Matty Dalrymple's "What I Learned" vlog.

In early December 2023, Sun-Sentinel critic Oline Cogdill listed Happiness Is a Warm Gun as one of the three best crime anthologies of the year, and on February 5, 2024, Kristopher Zgorski and Dru Ann Love's "Ticket to Ride" was named one of the five finalists for Malice Domestic's Best Short Story Agatha Award.

"Ticket to Ride" won the Agatha on April 27, and on May 9 it was named a finalist for Bouchercon's Anthony Award ... and the book was shortlisted for the Best Anthology or Collection Anthony. (This was the third time one of my "inspired by" volumes picked up an Anthony nomination, following The Beat of Black Wings and Paranoia Blues.)

You can order the book from Down and Out Books, and it's also available from Amazon and the other clicks-and-mortar megavendors.

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