Tag Archives: Nina Mansfield

A day in the life of Ms. Slutzkaya by Nina Mansfield

To be an actor is to be the height of holiness. After all, an actor must be mother, father and womb simultaneously, in order to birth a living, breathing human, all in front of a live audience. And all while projecting her voice.

To be an acting teacher, is to be a shepherd to this holiness. Daily, I must awaken the inner beast inside my student actors. Walk into my class, and you will see me goading out their inner animals. You will see my students screaming, groaning and writhing. This sort of behavior might be frowned upon in some public high school settings, but I assure you, it is all in service to the greatest of art forms.

Today in class, however, I was all business.
“As tedious as the task may be, it is essential that you all turn in your permission slips on time.”
“Why are we going to the Bronx Zoo, exactly?” Anthony asked.
“My dear boy, we are going to the Bronx Zoo because for the next two weeks, we will be working on our Animal Exercises.”
“What’s that?” Abe whispered, sounding a little terrified, as usual.
I then drew back my shoulders, stood on one leg, and affected a vacant hopelessness in my eyes.
“Ms. Slooz, are you OK?” Aurelia asked with true concern.
“Shhh, she’s acting,” Victor whispered.

I paused in my performance. “Ah, Victor, that is where you are wrong. I was not acting. I was becoming. That, my darling thespians, was the crane. I captured the spirit of that bird after weeks of observation at the Moscow Zoo. You too will become one with a non-human creature. First, you must decide on an animal. Then, you must study this animal. Finally, you must become this animal!”

Every year I have taken my acting students to the Bronx Zoo. Every year I have watched them transform into apes and antelopes, gorillas and giraffes.

This year would be just like every other year. Of course, I hadn’t told my students yet that Mr. Dower would be joining us. I know many of them aren’t on the best terms with our creatively-challenged principal. But surely, they won’t mind. And even if they do object, it’s not like they are going to kill him.


Ms. Slutskaya appears in Nina Mansfield’s short story, “An Actor Prepares,” in Where Crime Never Sleeps: Murder New York Style 4, an anthology of crime and mystery short stories by members of the New York / Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime.

What is the essence of the New York experience? A stroll across the Brooklyn Bridge? A concert at Carnegie Hall? Crossing the finish line at the New York Marathon? A trip to the Bronx Zoo? Or any one of these—plus murder? These seventeen stories by members of the New York/Tri-State Chapter of Sisters in Crime, with a foreword by Margaret Maron, explore the mystery and mayhem that lurk in every corner of the most unpredictable, irrepressible, inimitable city on the planet.

Where Crime Never Sleeps includes stories by Rona Bell – Fran Bannigan Cox – Lindsay A. Curcio – Joseph R. G. DeMarco – Ronnie Sue Ebenstein – Catherine Maiorisi – Nina Mansfield – Mary Moreno – Anita Page – Ellen Quint – Roslyn Siegel – Kathleen Snow – Triss Stein – Cathi Stoler – Mimi Weisbond – Stephanie Wilson-Flaherty – Elizabeth Zelvin

“A dream of an anthology for readers who appreciate a classic mystery unfolding in a perfectly characterized setting. A terrific collection of short stories!” —Alafair Burke, New York Times bestselling author of The Ex

“A collection of stories as diverse, original and exciting as New York itself. I really loved this book.” —Alison Gaylin, USA Today bestselling author

Buy Link

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About the author
Nina Mansfield is a Cos Cob, CT based playwright, fiction writer, and educator. Her young adult mystery novel, Swimming Alone, was published by Fire & Ice YA in 2015. Nina’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Mysterical-E, Kings River Life, and anthologized in Where Crime Never Sleeps (Level Best Books, 2017) and Fast Women and Neon Lights: Eighties-Inspired Neon Noir (Short Stack Books, 2016). Nina’s ten-minute and one-act plays have had over 100 productions throughout the United States and internationally. Nina is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, The Dramatists Guild, and The Society for Children’s Book Writers. Please visit her at www.ninamansfield.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Day in the Life of Cathy Banks by Nina Mansfield

Swimming AloneUgh! Can you believe my parents have left me sans cell-phone for the whole summer!?!?!

I’m sorry. That was rude. My name is Cathy Banks. It used to be Bankovsky, but it got shortened way back like a zillion years ago when those Eastern European relatives of mine stopped over on Ellis Island. I’m fifteen-years old, a Gemini, and a vegan. OK, I cheat sometimes with ice cream, but other than that, no animal flesh for me, thank you very much. Oh, and some might say I have a slightly overactive imagination.

So, how do I spend my time? Well, before my parents shipped me off to Beach Point, Rhode Island, I guess I spent a lot of time texting my friends, drawing in my sketchpad, and reading mystery books. My favorite books are the ones my aunt writes. You might have heard of her: Robert McCabe. Yeah, that Roberta McCabe. I know, I know, you loved The Private Lives of Serial Killers. That’s what everybody says.

But this summer, the ‘rents, who are going through the most psychotic divorce ever, decided I might be better off spending the summer with my aunt. Yes, my aunt is awesome, but she is living this totally techno-free existence in a beach bungalow—and I no longer have a cell phone, which as I mentioned before is a serious inconvenience. My parents also made me get a job. At least I snagged some summer employment at this little place called Ocean View Books, which is right by the beach. It’s sort of like being at the beach. OK, not really, but I’m trying to stay positive. The guy who owns it, Arnie Hopper, creeps me out a bit, but I get to work with this very cool girl named Lauren. She’s sarcastic and funny and knows a whole lot about serial killers. It’s certainly a good time to be up on your Serial Killer 101.

Oh, did I forget to mention there’s a serial killer on the loose in Beach Point? Yep. They call him (or her) the Sea Side Strangler. Freaky, right? He’s killed four college girls, all with brown hair and brown eyes. I have been seriously considering dying my hair and getting some colored contacts.

But serial killer or no serial killer, I am not going to spend my summer hiding out. I met some really cool kids at the beach. Luke, Carl, Carrie, Allie, and Doug. Ah. . .Doug. Yes, you got me. I have a major, major crush. Too bad he’s dating Allie. But I can dream, can’t I.

So anyway, I don’t have to work today, so we are all going to hang out on Allie’s boat. Lauren from the bookstore is also joining us, although, she got kind of weird when I asked her to hang out. She joked yesterday that she was being followed, but I am pretty sure she was just being a goofball. Or maybe she wasn’t joking. I mean, she does have brown hair and brown eyes, and she looks a whole lot like the Sea Side Strangler’s last victim. And Aunt Bobbie keeps telling me that I shouldn’t trust everyone I meet.

But I’m just being paranoid. I am determined to have an awesome summer. I mean, it’s not like people are going to start disappearing or dead bodies are going to start washing up on shore.


You can read more about Cathy in Swimming Alone, published by Fire & Ice, an imprint of Melange Books.

About Swimming Alone

The Sea Side Strangler is on the loose in Beach Point, where fifteen-year-old Cathy Banks is spending the summer with her aunt (who happens to be mystery writer Roberta McCabe). Although thrilled to be away from her psychotic, divorcing parents, with no cell phone or internet access, Cathy is positive that her summer is going to be wretched. Just when she begins to make friends, and even finds a crush to drool over, her new friend Lauren vanishes. When a body surfaces in Beach Point Bay, Cathy is forced to face the question: has the Sea Side Strangler struck again?

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 12 a.m. eastern on Friday, September 18 for the chance to win a print copy of Swimming Alone. (US entries only, please.) Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Nina Mansfield’s debut young adult mystery novel, Swimming Alone was recently published by Fire & Ice YA, and is available in paperback and as an e-book. Her plays have been produced throughout the United States and in Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Australia and Peru. They are published by Smith and Kraus, Original Works, One Act Play Depot and YouthPLAYS. Her short mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Mysterical-E. She is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Sisters in Crime, the Dramatists Guild, and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Reach out to Nina at www.ninamansfield.com, on Facebook and on Twitter