SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: The Seattle Mystery Bookshop, celebrating "25 Years of Mayhem" is one of those places that makes the reading world a better place. Today, I'm delighted to introduce Fran Fuller, who talks a bit about her history with the shop, providing answers and resources as well as books, and the big push to keep SMB around for another 25 years. Take it away, Fran!
"Do you have a source that lists
the different kinds of ways people
have been killed in books?”
FRAN FULLER: Any bookseller will tell you that we're asked to field all kinds of questions, and those of us in the mystery business get some great ones. But this one stopped us. We at Seattle Mystery Bookshop pride ourselves on being a resource as well as purveyors of fine mysteries, but Amber and I blinked solemnly at each other, blank faces mirrored. I could tell we were both thinking, "No, because there'd be too many spoilers!”
Our response ultimately was, "If you can think of a way to kill someone, it's been written. If it hasn't been, you should do it!" He laughed, and we're assuming he's not looking for new and innovative ways to off someone. But then we hope that about all our authors and customers!
Being a resource as well as a shop was part of our dearly departed founder's, Bill Farley, mission here, and believe us, he made sure we lived up to his expectations. And we wouldn't have it any other way.
When I moved up to Seattle from the deserts of New Mexico over a decade ago, I never dreamed I'd make a new home here at SMB. I knew specialty bookstores existed – I'd lived in Minneapolis, after all! - but I'd never worked in one. But I wandered in, and idly asked if they were hiring. JB [Dickley] kicked his feet up on the desk, the way he does, crossed his arms and asked, “Who do you read?"
"Oh, Jonathan Kellerman, Carolyn Hart. I love Rennie Airth."
And that was how it started.
Over the years, this place has become a second home. Actually, there are times when my wife maintains it's my primary home! I've met customers who've become family, authors who have made me cry with delight (no names, I've got my tough reputation to maintain, after all!), and coworkers who have brought more joy to my life than any one person has a right to experience.
So when the economic downturn came and we had to make the hard choices, I was right there, as bookkeeper, with JB. We cut inventory to the bone. We downsized. We even reduced our staff, which we've tried desperately to avoid. We tightened our belts until our eyes bulged.
And things have gotten better, but far too slowly for the landlord's liking - or ours, for that matter. So once again, we looked at each other and said, "Either we close, or we swallow our pride and ask for help." We've heard time and again that both authors and customers wished they'd known a favorite indie was in trouble, so we put that sentiment to the test and we began a GoFundMe campaign to raise enough money to soothe the panting landlord's breast, pay off the creditors who've most kindly let us buy the books we simply must have to feel at all like a proper mystery shop, and maybe get a little ahead of the game so we can keep going.
As I write this, we're just over a week into our fundraising campaign, and we are gob-smacked. The outpouring of love and support has been nothing less than stunning, and it's come from customers, from authors who've both donated books, money and their voices and networks, from publishers who have given us special gifts to offer as donation rewards, and from people we've never met or even heard of. Each and every one of the donations have – and will continue to have – an immense impact, not just financially although that's vital, but from a morale-boosting point of view.
We feel treasured. We feel loved.
And we feel hope. Seattle Mystery Bookshop has been in existence for over 25 years, and we're now optimistic, if not positively giddy, about the next 25.
Wow. Thank you, each and every one, and let me tell you, the fabulous ladies here at Jungle Red have been deep in our hearts even without the help they've so generously given us.
We love you!
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: And we all love you, too! I'm proud to say that not only have the Reds individually contributed to the Seattle Mystery Bookshop's Go Fund Me Campaign, we're putting together a basket of all of your first novels, signed, that SMB will raffle off in an auction!
If you're in Seattle and want to visit, or just shoot an email about a mystery question, here's the Seattle Mystery Bookshop's information: