Wyoming Representative and Chair of the 6-Word Mystery Contest

Jeffrey Lockwood grew up in New Mexico and spent youthful afternoons enchanted by feeding grasshoppers to black widow spiders in his backyard.  This might account for both his scientific and literary affinities.

He earned a doctorate in entomology from Louisiana State University and worked for 15 years as an insect ecologist at the University of Wyoming.  He became a world-renowned assassin, developing a method for efficiently killing billions of insects (mostly pests but there’s always the innocent bystander during a hit).  This contact with death drew him into questions of justice, violence, and evil.

He metamorphosed into an appointment in the department of philosophy and the program in creative writing.  Unable to escape his childhood, he’s written many award-winning works including a collection of essays titled Grasshopper Dreaming: Reflections on Killing and Loving (Skinner House, 2002), along with non-fiction books about the devastation of the West by locust swarms, the use of insects to wage biological warfare, and the terror humans experience during six-legged home invasions.

Pondering the dark side of humanity led him to the realm of the murder mystery.  These days, he explores how the anti-hero of crime noir sheds existentialist light on the human condition.  He has published a three-book noir mystery series featuring an ex-cop-turned-exterminator (Poisoned Justice, Murder on the Fly, and Lethal Fetish with Pen-L press).  Most recently, he has published several Holmesian pastiches in various magazines.

His strangest venture into the realm of mystery was through writing the libretto for a chamber opera that tells the story of “North America’s greatest ecological mystery”—the disappearance of the Rocky Mountain locust, an insect that blackened the skies of the West, until something or someone caused its sudden demise.  The three scenes of this continental-scale whodunit can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/L_4xzj7gAjA, https://youtu.be/KyK4jQwcfcw, and https://youtu.be/tuq1U815e6Q.

Review from RMMWA VP—this is an awesome production, be sure to watch it!

AND, check out Lockwood’s recently release podcast, “Once Upon a Meadow”–a series of stories for 4 to 9-year-olds (and for grownups with children, grandchildren, or an inner child) that integrate tales of diverse animals figuring out how to live together despite their differences (you can imagine the implicit elements of social and environmental justice, without our being pedantic because we figure that children are plenty smart with being told “the moral of the story”).  I wrote the stories and provided the audio narration: https://www.onceuponameadow.com/

 Why I’m involved in RMMWA

I’m involved in RMMWA for the same reason that mystery readers become drawn into a story.  It’s not the cover art, plot, setting, or dialogue that keeps you going—it’s the characters.  The people of RMMWA are tremendously creative, unwaveringly supportive, and wickedly capable.  I’m not a best-selling mystery writer; I’m a lover of mystery writing (and reading, of course).  And RMMWA warmly welcomes the unpublished, self-published, short story published, small publisher published, and big-time publisher published with equal enthusiasm.  This chapter of the MWA is a genuine community, where characters of all sorts (and there are some “characters”) celebrate writing, whether it’s a six-word mystery (Lockwood chairs the esteemed 6-Word Mystery Contest) or a six-book contract.