Monday, 13 September 2010

Dancing With Myself: CHRIS RHATIGAN interviews CHRIS RHATIGAN

A quick note about who's added their weight to the 'Dancing With Myself' series. Jason Michel of Pulp Metal, Brian Wiprud and Gar Anthony Haywood are in. It's getting hotter in here by the minute.

I'm also going to be juggling a little over the week ahead. On Thursday come and say hi to Gerald So, Friday/Saturday to Steve 'Needle' Weddle and on Monday Man Booker shortlisted Emma Donoghue.

And so to today.Chris Rhatigan is doing a great service for the writers of short fiction.

He's reviewing the short form, from flash to novella, planting signposts to where we should be headed and who to check out. Thank goodness he's out there - we'll hear a lot more from him in the near future, I'm sure.

You have a blog about short crime fiction. Why?

Well, I saw Nasty, Brutish, Short, which was the only place dedicated to short crime fiction reviews. They do an excellent job, but I thought there was room for one more, so I fired up Death by Killing.

And I was reading a lot of really kickass fiction (mostly online, though some in print) and wanted a place to talk about it, recommend stuff I like. Sometimes I’ll go all professor on your ass and talk craft—an area where I clearly have no idea what I’m talking about.

How did you get into crime fiction?

When I was in middle school, I was reading Robert B. Parker and the thrillers of Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy. Later I started reading a lot of literary fiction, but that business got boring. I mean, John Updike can only write about disaffected, suburban men who cheat on their wives so many times before I start hitting the snooze button.

Sorry, John Updike, you suck.

Which is why I picked up a Parker novel again a couple of years ago, followed it up with Raymond Chandler and Harlan Coben, and it was a downhill slide from there.

Whose work are you enjoying most right now?

I really am amazed (and, when I submit work, saddened) by how much quality shit is out there.

If I had to pick one author right now, it would be Christopher Grant. The Greta stories are badass, Bus Stop is a tight, perfectly constructed piece of flash, and Ashley is the best lesbian crime story I’ve read.

There are so many goddamned writers out there with their fancy Mac laptops and their pretend poverty and their armchair philosophy and their community gardens. Why the fuck do you think you could possibly have anything to say that hasn’t already been said in exactly the same way . . . you arrogant, fascist prick?

I have no idea.

I guess I write for myself. I love the problem-solving aspect of working on a story. A finished product makes me feel good.

And because I keep reading quality, original stuff, so I figure there’s always more out there to be discovered.

What are you working on right now? Anything hitting the virtual stands soon?

I’m working on some short horror and revising other work.

In the fall, I’ll have a short story, “Double Bounce,” coming out in Mysterical-E. I also have a short-short about a retail worker at the end of his rope coming out in the Yellow Mama December issue.

And I’m up for 623 words at entry #623 at ATON. I have an idea for it but, as of yet, no execution.

I see you live in Iowa City. Are you involved with that Writer’s Workshop thing at all?

No. I graduated from SUNY Purchase, then worked as a newspaper reporter for four years. Now I’m back in school, studying to be a high school social studies teacher.


  1. DBK is a place I check up on every day,You never can tell what Chris is up to. From Ian Ayris to Needle Magazine to Editor Jay Hartman to well, you get the idea. Chris is a very busy guy and his place is always worth a look. Like I said, it's one of my first stops every day. Cool interview.

  2. And boy do the high schools need new enthusiastic teachers-good for you and us.

  3. Thanks for having me, Nigel. Everyone in the crime fiction community has been super supportive and welcoming--I really appreciate it.

  4. There has long been a need for your blog, Chris, particularly since Eastern Standard Crime folded a year ago. You should be feted with roses and champagne (or as it is described in 'Ruggles of Red Gap,' "the imprisoned laughter of the pleasant maids of France").

  5. Great to have you Chris, both here with your interview and with the excellent work you've been doing over at Death By Killing. I really think you'll be around for a long time.
    Solidly agree with Patti about you going in to teaching - I've been doing it for over 20 years and know the value of good staff and the differences they can make to the lives of children and young adults. Good on you.

  6. Cracking stuff.DBK is essential reading and Chris is a top writer.