Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: TONY BLACK interviews TONY BLACK


I've just been putting together a list of my 5 favourite short stories of the year and Tony Black was the author of one of them. To find out which one it was, you'll have to pop over to Death By Killing when the time is right.

It's an honour then to have a brief word here from Mr Black, interviewed by Mr Pink if I'm not mistaken.

1- Your protagonist, Gus Dury, is a washed-up hack … any similarities to the author?

You cheeky bast’d, that’s the most outrageous question I’ve ever been asked. How dare you.

2- He’s an alkie too …

So, what are you saying?

3- Nothing … like a drink do you?

I’m tee-total … But, okay, I might be a washed-up hack.

4- Bet you get those questions all the time …

Yeah, well. What’s your next one, something about Edinburgh?

5- Tell us something about Edinburgh?

It’s got a big castle.

6- And, you set your books there, don’t you?

You know I do. It’s a great place to set a crime novel … in fact, I’ve just set my latest one there.

7- Are you trying to get me to ask about the new novel, in like, some kind of blatant self promotion?

Yes.

8- Go on then … tell us about the new novel.

Well … the latest Gus Dury is LONG TIME DEAD – ritual hanging, secret societies and Gus up to his neck in it all.

9- Does he get a hard time, then?

Possibly his hardest yet, but after this one I’m giving him a rest. I’d say LTD is the last Gus Dury novel I’ll write. I’ve started a new character series, about a cop called Rob Brennan, from guess where … Edinburgh.

10- So, when’s that out?

Next year, Feb, I think … it’s called TRUTH LIES BLEEDING and I'm quietly chuffed with it.

http://www.tonyblack.net/

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: STAFFAN BRUUN interviews STAFFAN BRUUN



I'd like to thank Staffan for doing this. I'd also like to offer a big thank you to Paivi Ruottinen of the Elina Ahlback Literary Agency for her professional contact and for allowing an editor/translator to make this perfect.

Scandinavian Crime fiction is our flavour of the month so, if you're in the business of publishing, why not come and get a taste of Staffan before some other publisher snaps up the rights for the English translations? Suck it and see?


1. Who are you, Staffan Bruun?

I´m a reporter on the Hufvudstadsbladet, a Helsinki daily. I’ve been doing a radio show every Saturday for 22 years and I write books, mainly crime novels. So far I´ve published eleven novels but there are more to come.

2. Tell me more about your books

Why? You should read them.

3. Have they been published in English?

Alas no, but I hope they will be translated one day. As a representative of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, I write my books in Swedish. As all my books have been translated into Finnish, you can read them in Finnish or Swedish. And, I almost forgot, the novel Struggling Love (2008) has been translated into Bulgarian. Does that help?

4. I´m afraid not. My Bulgarian is a little rusty. Your hero is a guy called Burt Kobbat. Who is he?

Like me, he lives in Helsinki, he’s a little over 50 and has worked as a reporter. He likes the same sort of food and drink as I do and he is a keen football fan, just as I am.

5. Is this man your alter ego?

No, because he does lots of things I wouldn´t do. For example he gets into serious trouble in every book. And he always gets out of trouble in some dodgy way. I couldn´t manage that. And Burt Kobbat drinks more than I do, and he also has affairs with beautiful women. It´s easy for him because he´s divorced - I´m not. I’ve had the same wife all my life and now I have three adult kids. Kobbat’s family situation is totally different.

6. What kind of trouble does Burt Kobbat get into?

It depends on what is going on in his world. In my novel The Ayatollah he battles with the fundamentalist Muslim party in Finland. In The Siberian Cocktail a lot of EU money from Brussels goes missing, and in Struggling Love an old Beatles tape containing an undiscovered hit surfaces from nowhere.

7. An old, undiscovered Beatles hit? Should I believe that?

The hit is called ‘Struggling Love’ and Paul McCartney wrote it in 1963 during his holidays in the Caribbean. He was drunk, forgot about the song and lost the tape. Thanks to Burt Kobbat the world is now one Beatles hit richer.

8. What does Paul McCartney say about the song he didn´t know about?

If the story wasn´t true I expect Sir Paul would say so and deny that he wrote ‘Struggling Love’. But he seems to be quite comfortable with his new song. In fact, he hasn´t said anything about it.

9. You also have another hero?

Yes. In two of my novels the hero is called Antonio Sallinen. He’s a well-behaved family man who doesn’t drink or fool around with foreign dames. But it doesn’t help him: he too finds himself in an awful mess. In the last Sallinen book, The Suitcase Full of Money (2010), he ends up with the wrong suitcase at the airport. It contains a lot of money, and Sallinen, together with his wife, decides to keep the cash. But there’s someone else out there also after the money and it’s not anyone kind or gentle.

10. And the hero of your next book, Burt Kobbat or Antonio Sallinen?

My next novel will be a Burt Kobbat story. The novels with Antonio Sallinen are classic thrillers with straightforward storylines from beginning to end. Burt Kobbat’s life is more complex with humor, satire and outrageous gags as essential elements.


www.ahlbackagency.com

Dancing With Myself: RICHARD GODWIN interviews RICHARD GODWIN



Richard Godwin writes dark crime fiction, and he lets it slip the net like wash into horror.

His work has appeared in many publications, places like A Twist Of Noir and Pulp Metal Magazine, as well as in two anthologies. His story 'Pike N Flytrap' is in this Fall's issue of Needle Magazine. His play ‘The Cure-All’ has been produced on the London stage.

All his stories and poetry can be found at his blog here

http://www.richardgodwin.net/

His first crime novel ‘Apostle Rising’ is about to be published and will be released for sale onto the market on March 10th 2011. Use the link to watch a video ad of it.


DANCING WITH MYSELF.

Questions Six and Eight became reversed in transit, shaking may disturb the product.

1 England is sinking, its last hope was Billy Idol, who was the foxtrot maestro par excellence, he had the hair and he had the pelvic thrust he bought from an Elvis catalogue, and now we are left with this sewage problem, what do you think can save the nation from its moral malaise?

Option a: Better cleaning products, a clean home is a happy home, mm do I smell home cooking?

Option b: Analysing the system and looking at what writers have been trying to say for centuries.

2 Is life like a road map?

You’re handed coordinates early on through the tribe you belong to and maybe you learn the rules. Those rules might mean getting the right education and acting as a mirror to various familial needs. You’re inhabiting a power structure. Hemingway wrote in ‘The Sun Also Rises’ that they tell you the rules and then kick the shit out of you the first time they catch you off first base. The truth is there ain’t no maps. As Melville said, the only secret is there isn’t one.

3 Does sadness increase with age?

If grief is commensurate with loss and the proportions of denial. Denial of the reality of those about you until it is too late.

4 What makes a great actor?

The ability to immerse themselves in another’s skin, you have to suspend your ego to do that. Think of De Niro, he becomes the people he portrays and that is a tricky business. Think of the old greats like Richard Burton. Live on the edge of another’s skin until you can feel the insects creeping across it. So Lee Strasberg comes along and says walk the walk. Literally. And Brando had it. James Dean. Anthony Hopkins encapsulates all the great acting talents and then you have charisma. People play roles, they rehearse them in their private lives and become the good husband or boss or the bad guy or the entertainer. Acting is a version of this except professionals are impersonating others or non-existent people. If that doesn’t tell you a lot about humanity nothing will.

5 Do you think society is being socially engineered?

I think there have been many forces of social engineering from the eugenics practised by the Nazis, to the kind of power structures we are seeing in more subtle forms nowadays. Propaganda plays a huge part, as used by the media moguls. If you accept everything you read and take without question all the lies thrown at you you are being passed a bag of warm saccharined vomit and being told it’s gourmet food. Here darling taste this it’s fantastic. It’s been going on a while, hand your ticket to yourself at the door and sit down, we have all you can eat stacked over there and the funeral parlour’s round the corner. As

Steven Berkoff put it brilliantly in ‘Decadence’ ‘The mouth pink and raw once again, to receive like Gargantua its morsels of fun’.

Ben Jonson, probably the most underrated writer in world history simply because he was competing directly with Shakespeare, saw it vividly. Jonson could really write plots, and belongs to the bad guys, he killed twice, once in a duel and spent time in prison. His dialogue is some of the best ever written. He lets his characters use their own idiosyncratic forms of speech. As Sir Epicure Mammon says in ‘The Alchemist’ ‘I myself will have the beards of barbels with the fresh unctuous paps of a fat pregnant sow newly cut off and served in an exquisite poignant sauce.’ What are you being fed?

Stanley Milgram conducted an interesting psychological experiment which he wrote about in his book ‘Obedience to Authority’. Volunteers were recruited to take part in a memory test. They were told by a guy in a white coat that they needed to ask questions to unseen anonymous people behind a screen. If they got the answers wrong the volunteers had to administer an electric shock. Most of them went along with this, even though they heard screams from the other side.

The participants were all actors apart from the volunteers who knew nothing of the real basis for the experiment, which was a study in the psychology of obedience and power structures. No electricity was being administered. They went along with it because a figure of authority told them he would take responsibility for their actions. Someone else cannot take responsibility for your actions. Doctors save lives. They also misdiagnose and screw up.

Gunter Grass recently upset Germany by admitting he was in the Waffen-SS in the Second World War.

In ‘Peeling The Onion’ what he exposes is the way the power system worked in Nazi Germany. People knew. Of course they did. But the dissemination of the information was carefully engineered so that those at the fringes got only a little. He pissed a lot of people of saying it. He also outraged the intellectual establishment by black marking himself when respectability seemed to the the prize. Since when has the purpose of writing been to be to prop up moral rectitude?

6 Who calls the shots?

Billy Idol.

On the floor of Tokyo
Or down in London town to go, go
With the record selection
And the mirror's reflection

I'm dancing with myself
When there's no-one else in sight
In the crowded lonely night
Well I wait so long
For my love vibration
And I'm dancing with myself

7 Do you think politics has any interest in literature or art?

Go Back a few years to Nazi Germany, all they wanted was propaganda, they saw art as a vehicle for their announcements and that is how you spawn turgid laxatives.
The art they favoured as within post-Stalinist Russia was so unimaginative it was soporific and that is what dictators create. Stasis.

The manipulation of our perceptions is what you’re dealing with.

Control the information in such a way as to make people buy your product.

Do you think the Girl From Ipanima took Dulco Lax?

‘And when she passes, each one she passes goes – ah’.

I think it is almost impossible to create a decent work of art that has a political agenda. Preaching and narrative do not make good bed fellows.

The best authors who engage in politics as subject matter describe political events with a degree of detachment that is necessary to sustain a good narrative.

There is nothing to suggest the two are coupled. George Orwell was a great political novelist, and that is a rarity . He was highly prophetic but not an outstanding stylist, however what he was doing worked ideally for his form. He was a one off.
Politicians croon about their artistic tastes while leeching any funding artists may receive.

The modern political agenda in England has systematically raped arts funding and disgraced itself and its history with the politically correct agenda that rules it now.

As Frank Zappa said, and there is no better way of putting it ‘Political correctness is just another form of cowardice, no one will say what is on their mind any more’.
Do we really think we can legislate against thoughts? We’re back to Orwell and the thought police.

When a writer like Lynda La Plante, who has written some of the best most memorable crime drama for TV, criticises the BBC over its commissioning policies and their salaries and says: 'If my name were Usafi Iqbadal and I was 19, then they'd probably bring me in and talk' you know we’re in trouble.

What are they trying to do?

Nice day for a white wedding.

8 What are these interviews about?

Banks, pharmaceutical companies. Economic practices are tied hand and foot into the power structure set up by the pharmaceutical industry, look at the fiscal relationships between war and drugs, politics and power and you’ll get into the dark underbelly and I tell you this, it ain’t been washed down there in a long time. Tie in chemical weapons and you have yourself a bag of money, that’s the trip, economic manipulation for the guys at the top while they tax us.

Remember the CIA were laundering their money in Cuba just like the Mafia before Castro locked it in and good old England was hanging out the wash oversees. Follow your leader to the heap and whistle while you work cause they just made a dwarf of you. Most politics in England today has no political agenda, to use an American saying, it has sold itself down the river.

9 Do you think people are drawn to the lives of others?

If you watch TV and look at the kind of shows that draw the highest audiences then the answer would have to be yes. People seem to be fascinated by what is going on behind closed doors and that may be a form of narcissism in itself because most people have similar problems. Voyeurism is a cheap form of avoidance. It is arguable that what is behind this is the fragmentation of identity by the things I am talking about with perhaps too much passion for some, but a warning. If we don’t question what we are sold, no one else is going to pick up the pieces. Read the small print.

10 What is your novel ‘Apostle Rising’ about and when’s it coming out?

A psychopath is playing games with the police.

This guy knows a lot about an old case, a case that saw the biggest manhunt in England. And he’s smarter than the police. He’s also leaving no forensics.
In fact he’s recreating the original crime scenes and taunting Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle, who failed to solve the old case. His failure resulted in him being savaged by the British Press.

Frank Castle knows a lot about serial killers but he just can’t get a reading on this one. He’s leading the investigation and it begins to erode his life. Not just his, but the life of his partner DI Jacki Stone. She’s tough and hungry but the darkness of what this killer is exposing them to starts to fragment them. Their training didn’t prepare them for this.

The killer is literally crucifying politicians.

Bu there’s something he’s leaving at the crime scenes that is harrowing to even the most jaded of cops.

The narrative has many twists and turns and some probing psychological analysis when the offender profiler employed by the police to catch the killer analyses what is motivating him. Imagine a Chin Wag with a killer. But this one takes the gloves off.

It’s also got a very nasty shock in it.

Here’s a plot summary.

Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle never caught the Woodlands Killer and it almost destroyed him. Now years later, mauled by the press, and traumatised by nightmares, he is faced with a copycat killer with detailed inside knowledge of the original case.

He and his partner DI Jacki Stone enter a deadly labyrinth, and at its centre is the man Castle believes was responsible for the first killings. He’s running a sinister cult and playing dark mind games with the police. The investigation has a shattering effect on the lives of Castle and Stone. The killer is crucifying politicians, and he keeps raising the stakes and slipping through their hands. Dark coded ritualistic killings are being carried out on high profile figures and the body count is rising. Castle employs a brilliant psychologist to help him solve the case, and he begins to dig into the killer’s psyche. But some psychopaths are cleverer than others.

‘Apostle Rising’, is being published on 10th March 2011.

It will be available in book stores as well as from Amazon and book distributors.

It’s priced at £8.99 in the UK and $14.95 in the US as a paperback original.

My site contains information about it. You will be able to find out more as the release date draws near.

In the meantime this link takes you to a thirty second video ad for it:


http://richardgodwin.net/

And if you want to subscribe to the RSS feeds on my site, more information will be coming out about ‘Apostle Rising’. I hope you enjoy it.







Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: BARNA WILLIAM DONOVAN interviews BARNA WILLIAM DONOVAN



Q1. So when we started talking, the first thing you couldn’t wait to get off your chest were all those fancy degrees like a Master’s and Ph.D. after your name and that you’re this college professor in your day job. All that’s good and impressive, but what the readers of this blog are interested in is writing. So what have you managed to produce so far?

A: Well, sure, thanks for asking. There are a couple of nonfiction books I wrote over the last few years, like The Asian Influence on Hollywood Action Films (published by McFarland in 2008) and Blood Guns and Testosterone: Action Films, Audiences and a Thirst For Violence (from Scarecrow Press in 2009), and next year I will be coming out with another film book for McFarland called Conspiracy Films: A Tour of Dark Places in the American Conscious. So yeah, if you’re about to ask me if my interest in these macho action and conspiracy films is what got me interested in crime fiction, then the answer is something of a ‘yes.’ Actually, I always liked crime fiction…

Q2. Whoa! Whoa, stud! I’m the one asking the questions here. Now sure, these books really sound cool and much more interesting than the sort of thing academic types write, but just where exactly can I find them? Like if I walk into Borders or my local Barnes & Noble, I can find them on the shelves?

A: OK, wise ass. But no, most likely you won’t find them in those places, but a library. Most likely a college library. See, these books are based on my research and put out by academic presses. So the information hasn’t been corrupted and watered down for the masses by the big corporate media the way most nonfiction is.

Q3. But nevertheless you are now writing crime fiction and mass entertainment. Why?

A: Well, the thing is that when I was hired to teach at this Catholic college, there was a bit of confusion and they didn’t realize I wasn’t one of their priests. You know, I didn’t take a vow of poverty. So while we’re trying straighten all that out, I’m writing like insane to help the matter along. And besides, I want to start being the guy who does the entertaining and not the one who analyzes it. One day I can see some grad student spending 10 years to write a dissertation about “The use of modernist and postmodernist gendered imagery in the early works of Barna Donovan.”

Q4. Wow, a Catholic college! So what are your favorite sins?

A: Vanity and greed. But I think what you might be interested in is whether or not my nonfiction…

Q5. OK, I think we got this straight before. I’m the one asking the questions here. So why don’t you tell me about some of the crime fiction you like to read?

A: Sorry, man, no disrespect intended. But I worship Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels. Well, maybe not the last one so much. What was that thing, the young Hannibal Lecter or something like that? But as I see it, once you’ve produced Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, you’re allowed a mistake now and again. Oh, and book number three, Hannibal…let’s just say six words and leave it at that: “Eating brains of a living man.” You have to love it. But I also like John Sandford’s Prey books, every single psycho ever created by Dean Koontz, the Pendergast novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child and all of Stephen J. Cannell’s mysteries and thrillers.

Q6. Wow, that’s a great list. All of them very commercial with incredible mass audience appeal. But let’s see, I think before we sat down you might have mentioned something about that upcoming conspiracy film book being an inspiration for the fiction you’re working on now. Can you tell us about it?

A: Yes, thanks for the question. As I was about to say before, my book about the history of conspiracy theories and conspiracy theory films made me want to bring a different angle to the conspiracy story formula. So I’m writing this book called “The Conspiracy Theorist” about a former con man who has become a multimillionaire from his bestselling conspiracy books and who is now accused of killing his girlfriend. On the lam in France where the authorities won’t extradite him, he claims that he’s innocent and he was framed because he “got too close to the truth.” But he still has millions of fans, of course, who are willing to listen to everything he has to say. Even celebrities want to hang out with him. Hollywood is interested in his story. Then a writer doing a book on the case asks, “Is this an innocent man trying to clear his name…or are we living in a world where we want to believe so much that we allow a grifter to commit a murder and become an international icon as a result?”

Q7. Wait a minute, that is a pretty good idea! So is he really a killer?

A: Well, you’ll have to read it, right?

Q8. OK, but this will be the kind of book that provokes conversation and debate, right? Do I understand this correctly?

A: Well, why don’t I leave you to think about the conspiracy phenomenon a little bit on your own and have a debate and a conversation with yourself? Just spend about a half an hour online looking at all the top conspiracy theory web pages and see what you find. Are you seeing a lot of good-hearted, idealistic nerds who might be a bit wacky, a little bit dorky and over-the-top, but ultimately people who teach us important lessons about the importance of questioning authority? Or are you finding people who indiscriminately accuse everything of being a conspiracy, then make a pile of money off their over-priced, self-produced videos, their self-published books, and by selling you all the “secret” files and “declassified” documents “they don’t want you to know about” for a “modest” fee. Follow the money, as they say. Oh, and look for the books that are not self-published but put out by the biggest houses in the business…and their authors explain that a vast, global conspiracy that killed JFK and staged 9/11 is silencing all of its critics and suppressing all of the shocking truth by controlling the corporate media.

Q9. Amazing! You know, that’s a really different way of looking at it...But hey, wait a minute, didn’t you say something about the corporate mass media and…

A: Yes, I was being ironic!

Q10. Oh…oh! I get it now. So come on, what do you think about some of the big conspiracy theories? Did Lee Harvey Oswald kill JFK? Did the U.S. government plan 9/11? Does the government know there are real alien UFOs in the skies?

A: Yes. No. Maybe.


http://www.culturewars.blogspot.com/

http://barnadonovan.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: VICKI HENDRICKS interviews VICKI HENDRICKS


I thought I should give a little room to a Tweet I saw from Allan Guthrie yesterday. He'd just noticed 'Amazon is selling new copies of the US hardcover of SLAMMER for $7. Normally $26. Mental. http://tinyurl.com/28bnc56 '.

Allan's one of my favourite authors and Slammer would definitely make the top 10 of my best reads of the past 2 years if I were to make one. It's a cracker of a book, the cover's genius and to get the hardback at that price I might have a pop myself even though I have a paperback already. It could be a Christmas present for you to yourself, to the one you love or even to the one in the office you can't stand but drew in the Secret Santa (it would definitely raise the hair on the back of their necks). It's my top gift top of the season.

And today? No introduction necessary, but thanks for being here Vicki.

1. Why are you so fascinated with evil?

Just wanted to clear this up! Someone asked me just yesterday, and I began to wonder if it’s a common question of people who read my books. Actually, I’m not fascinated with evil. I don’t understand evil or worry about evil. I’m not sure I even believe in it. However, I am drawn to the abnormal. My characters are nearly all psychologically unbalanced because I’m curious about what makes people tick off beat. I invent them and explore deeper, and for suspense and excitement, add a murderous level of passion to the mix. My characters have lived disastrous lives, and when, at their wits’ ends, they resort to bloody murder, who can fault them?


2. Why do you write?

This is a question I ask myself almost daily when I’m stressed, trying to fit writing and publicity into my schedule along with the full-time teaching of composition. I have always worshipped books, and no doubt, that’s what got me started, along with the fact that I have always been rewarded more for writing than anything else I can do. But I don’t love sitting at the computer nearly all day every day, or feeling guilty if I’m not sitting there, and I’m not making enough money at it to justify the time I spend writing. Maybe I think that I will “hit it big” again one of these days, as I did with my first novel Miami Purity, published by Pantheon in 1995. It was strikingly different from other crime novels at the time, with its strong sexual content and rough female character, but it didn’t rake in the expected sales. I doubt that I can fool them twice! So, as I ponder the delicious idea for my next novel, and the one after that, and even the third idea down the line, I can’t answer why I do it, but I keep trying.

3. Why can’t I think of a question with a short answer?


Duh.


4. What is your favorite of the novels you’ve written?


Voluntary Madness. Very few people have heard of it and it’s out of print, but I’m hoping to bring it back on Kindle soon. I sympathize with the desperate wanna-be writer and his innocent girlfriend. She’ll do anything to inspire a scene, flashing her fragile body in an alley in Key West and breaking into Hemingway’s House. Lesbians and spells, the romantic mystery of Coral Castle, Fantasy Fest and Key West cooking . . . . It’s my kind of stuff.


5. What do you do when you get bogged down?


I’ve heard that you’re supposed to toss in a gun, but I usually crank out a sex scene—often more useful than a weapon.


6. Why are there so many animals in your books?


I love all animals—soft, slinky, powerful or sweet. I enjoy myself and feel most creative when writing about their personalities and behaviors. Every one of my novels has an animal in a major role: Radar, the collie, in Miami Purity; Chinasky, the iguana, in Iguana Love; the seeing-eye Yorkie in Voluntary Madness; the lion cub in Sky Blues; and a charming albino python named Peppy in Cruel Poetry. The novel I’m working on now is about an animal hoarder, and it’s filled with dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, a macaw. Even my recent collection, Florida Gothic Stories, has an alligator, dogs, a cat, monkeys and an ape, a dolphin, an iguana who loves her black leather Harley vest . . . . I could go on.


7. Have you ever used a pseudonym?


Not yet.



8. What is the last book you read?

Vicki Hearne’s Animal Happiness. Hearne passed away in 2002, having taught philosophy at Yale, written poetry, and spent what seems to have been most of her time training dogs, a fascinating combination. She is so handy with language and her usage of philosophical and literary terms to bring out insights in dog training and animal, often necessitates rereading sentences and paragraphs and making notes on nearly every page.

9. Who is your favorite author?

Impossible to say because I change daily. My long standing favorite is James M. Cain, either The Postman Always Rings Twice or Serenade. He can do in 100 pages what takes 300 for anybody else.

10. Have any of your novels been made into movies?

No, but people keep trying. Voluntary Madness was optioned by a British company when it first came out, but they never got it together. Miami Purity has always been under option. I think I’m on the fourth or fifth producer, but still hopeful. We just need that star or studio with a few million dollars to invest. It could probably be done for a measly million. No need for fancy effects. A beach, a house, and a dry cleaners—or yeah, a strip club. Anybody out there interested?

http://www.vickihendricks.com/


Monday, 22 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: STEPHEN D ROGERS interviews STEPHEN D ROGERS


Monday night and we have another of those DISCOUNT NOIR specials.

Stephen D Rogers has had 844 accepted pieces, which makes me feel very wet behind the ears - in fact it has me wondering where my ears are. If you find them, let me know.


Hold on to your hats:

SDR: As of this moment, you've received 844 acceptances. Talk about your worst rejection.

Stephen D. Rogers: I hate editors who don't reject. Instead of sending a simple "no" and allowing us to send the stories elsewhere, they make us wait until we stumble upon the final table of contents to realize we didn't make the cut. So one time I was certain the story was a winner. Even the story behind the story was a great story. Even the story of writing the story was a great story. I think the guidelines stated that rejections would not be sent out and so I kept checking the site for an update. When I finally found one, and that story was not listed, I was dumbfounded. I was so certain about that story that I stumbled around in a daze for months. And I've never sent that story out again.

SDR: Mainly Murder Press recently released a collection of your short crime fiction, SHOT TO DEATH. What story do you wish had been included?

Stephen D. Rogers: The story I just finished, whichever story that is at the time I consider the question. I'm always most interested in getting the widest possible reading of the story that's most fresh in my mind, because that's the story I'd love to talk about.

SDR: You're filming your story IN AND OUT from DISCOUNT NOIR. What's the color palette?

Stephen D. Rogers: Shades of gray. Questions of morality, questions of responsibility, questions of parenting. Regret. Bone-weary regret.

SDR: So it's a comedy.

Stephen D. Rogers: I did actually laugh out loud once while writing IN AND OUT. He makes a very wry observation. And it's not just there for the laugh. It's true to the character, true to the story, and true to the theme of the story.

SDR: "He." Why doesn't he have a name?

Stephen D. Rogers: Well, I'm sure he does, but I didn't want to include his name. The thing about names is that they tell us something about the person being named. You see the name and you start to fill in the blanks. You respond differently depending on whether someone is introduced as Robert, Bobby, Robby, Rob, Bert, Buddy. With IN AND OUT, as with much of my fiction, I want the readers to discover the character for themselves as they read the story. Especially in flash fiction, where I've got very few words to create that world, and I want the reader to be paying close attention to the words chosen.


SDR: Discuss some of the words chosen for IN AND OUT.

Stephen D. Rogers: My favorite phrase from that story is probably: "A manufactured world of conditioned air and consumers." By switching "air conditioning" to "conditioned air" I was able to say that the consumers were also both manufactured and conditioned. The narrator is not a manufactured and conditioned consumer, and so he is rejected. Rejected by being taken in. I love the tension inherent in concurrent contradictions. Hence the title IN AND OUT, which is otherwise weak I'm afraid.

SDR: Would you rather write or have written?

Stephen D. Rogers: Write. Most definitely. I love to tell a story. I love to craft words. Once the story is written, I enjoy talking about the intricacies of the story, but not as much as writing the story, and not many people are interested.

SDR: We're interested.

Stephen D. Rogers: So the main character of IN AND OUT is standing in the store's parking lot, and a car passes in front of him. He's noting details and says, "she's a smoker but she wasn't smoking at the moment." Me, one time I was standing in a store's parking lot and I saw a car hit someone and drive away. The only detail I can tell you is that the car was white. I'm just amazed how he noted details and analyzed them in order to produce a reasoned conclusion.

SDR: You are aware that he's a character, a character you created.

Stephen D. Rogers: Yes and no, but more no than yes. The people I write about are real, which is not to say they're based on real people. They're people in their own right. They're more people than some people. Write about characters and you produce stereotypes. Write about people.

SDR: What question do you wish you'd been asked here?

Stephen D. Rogers: Would you like some more coffee with those supreme nachos?

BIO: Stephen D. Rogers is the author of SHOT TO DEATH and more than 600 shorter pieces. His website, http://www.stephendrogers.com/ , includes a list of new and upcoming titles as well as other timely information.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: HILARY DAVIDSON interviews HILARY DAVIDSON



It's a very good day for me. I'm off to see Ian Rankin later on at the Lennoxlove Book Festival which is good.

I've got a story of mine up at Beat To A Pulp about the school at which I work (not really) and it's also the day I get to post Hilary Davidson's DANCING WITH MYSELF interview.

A ten out of ten day.

Here goes:



Q: Thanks for stopping by. I’ve been looking forward to meeting you. I’ve heard about your debut novel, THE DAMAGE DONE. What can you tell us about it?

A: Hold it right there. Are you trying to pretend you don’t know me? Because that’s just sad. This is supposed to be me interviewing myself. I think you can acknowledge that you know about my book. You wrote it after all. Or we did.

Q: Listen, pal, I know all about you. For 12 years, you’ve been a freelance journalist, asking people doofus questions like the one I just asked you. How does it feel to be in the hot seat, huh? Now answer the damn question.

A: I don’t think you learned your interview techniques from me, Torquemada. But if that’s how you want to play it… THE DAMAGE DONE is about a travel writer named Lily Moore, who’s called home to New York when she’s told that her sister, Claudia, has died. But when Lily goes to the morgue to identify the body, she discovers that the corpse belongs to a woman who'd stolen her sister's identity and that her sister is missing. Since Claudia is an addict and con artist, Lily can’t tell whether she’s committed a crime or if she’s in trouble, but Lily becomes determined to find her before the police do.

Q: So, you’re a travel writer and your main character is a travel writer? That can’t just be a coincidence. What else do you two have in common?

A: Our careers are similar, but Lily’s is more glamorous than mine. I’ve visited Spain a few times, but she’s lived there. Lily is someone who’s very comfortable living out of a suitcase — actually, it’s easier for her to be on the road than to deal with her personal problems. I love to travel, but I’m happiest when I come home. We also love old movies and vintage clothing. That’s where the similarities end, I think. Lily has a tortured on-again, off-again relationship with her former fiancĂ©; I’ve been married for a decade.

Q: So, how does your sister feel about how you’ve represented her in the book?

A: Your question gets a D-minus, and you need to pick up some interviewing tips from Jen Forbus and Keith Rawson. You know I don’t have a sister. I have two brothers, and they don’t pay much attention to what I write. One of them likes to be helpful with research, though, so he’s taken me to a gun range and taught me to shoot. I don’t have great aim with a Glock, but I’m an excellent shot with a .38.

Q: The thought of you with a gun is going to disturb a lot of people. Why don’t you brag about some of the other weird things you’ve done in the name of research?

A: For the novel, or for articles I’ve written? Because going to the morgue in New York City was nowhere near as crazy as swimming with sharks in the Bahamas. Sure, they were only reef sharks, otherwise known as the wimps of the shark world, and they all swam away from me when I got into the water. Worse was scuba diving in the St. Lawrence River. That’s probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, for so many reasons: I hate swimming, the water was painfully cold, and the only creatures that live in the river seem to be eels. Worst of all, I lost my diving buddy underwater. It’s comical in retrospect — she was carried about a mile downriver by the current, and ended up at another dive boat — but at the time, it was harrowing. We were exploring the hull of a shipwreck, and she was out of my line of sight for maybe 20 seconds. Then she was gone. I went deeper, looking for her. Then I started to panic. It’s one of those moments that’s frozen in my mind, when I felt true terror. It’s a place I go back to sometimes when I’m writing.

Q: Really? I don’t remember any stories of yours that take place underwater.

A: It’s rare for me to directly channel something I’ve experienced onto the page in a literal way, but that doesn’t mean I don’t draw on it. One of the things you discover as you read THE DAMAGE DONE is that Lily is claustrophobic. I’m not, but when I was panicking underwater I experienced a lot of what Lily goes through when she’s trapped inside a locked room.

Q: You live in New York, so there’s no excuse for you not getting the psychotherapy you obviously need. Are your short stories also based on your, um, issues?

A: Steve Weddle once referred to them as the “crazies in your brainz,” which is how I think of them. He may have suggested that I need help, too. Of course, Weddle’s the same guy who claimed I led people on a Death March through Philadelphia at NoirCon, so you can’t trust him. My brain likes to play with scenarios, so when I overhear a bit of conversation on a train or read an article or see an intriguing photograph, it takes on a life of its own in my mind, and the stories spin out of that. It’s tough to explain because I don’t understand the process well myself. Sometimes I can trace a story back to its roots. For example, “Good Bones,” which ran in CrimeFactory, came out of a new story about a baby’s skeleton being found inside the wall of an old house. “Insatiable,” which won a Spinetingler Award and is in the new BEAT TO A PULP ROUND ONE ANTHOLOGY, is tougher to explain: I had an image of an old, ugly, wealthy man watching his much-younger wife trolling for other men. I can’t trace that back to an event, but I live in Manhattan, so I probably see some variant of this scene every other day.

Q: That sounded like a swipe at New York. I thought you loved your city?

A: Sometimes we ridicule those we love. New York is my favorite city in the world, and it’s been home to me for the past nine years, but I’m not going to pretend that it isn’t full of crazy people. That’s a big part of the reason I love it. I fit right in!

Q: Yes, you do. So, what are you reading these days?

A: Right now it’s BORROWED TROUBLE by Eric Beetner and JB Kohl; it’s the sequel to ONE TOO MANY BLOWS TO THE HEAD and it’s fantastic. Recently, I read Chris F. Holm’s incredible short story collection,8 POUNDS , which I cannot recommend highly enough. I loved BEAT TO A PULP: ROUND ONE, not because I’m in it, but because of the insanely great writing from Sophie Littlefield, Jed Ayres, Patti Abbott, Glenn Gray, Anonymous 9, and Ed Gorman. Mr. Holm has a great story in it, too. I just picked up DISCOUNT NOIR which Steve Weddle and Patti Abbott put together; I’m really looking forward to that, and to the upcoming CrimeFactory anthology edited by Keith Rawson and Cameron Ashley. I’m a glutton for great short stories. Fighting for top place in my TBR pile: THE CARETAKER OF LORNE FIELD by Dave Zeltserman and FACES OF THE GONE by Brad Parks. I think they’ll have to duke that one out.

Q: Time to wrap it up. Single best moment since getting your book deal with Forge?

A: You know there’s no single moment. I feel insanely lucky to be doing what I’m doing. The best thing about this year has been meeting amazing people in the mystery and crime fiction community, both in person and online. If you’re reading this, let me strongly suggest that you register for BOUCHERON 2011 in St. Louis. I already have!

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: NEW PULP PRESS interviews NEW PULP PRESS


I was lucky enough to be part of a review team working on

Best American Noir Of The Century over at the wonderful Spinetingler and think it's well worth the visit just for the quality of the reviews alone. Check it out.

And for today, New Pulp Press is a name to be reckoned with. Their output is right up my street and probably right up yours given that you're here.

It's certainly one of the places my novel will be headed as soon as it's baked well enough to be seen. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that they have a list of outstanding titles that most writers at my level would be proud to stand alongside. Another is that they're one of the few publishers for whom you don't have to jump through hoops for to have access to them (I'm sure this is a policy that's paying off for them, so let's hope it continues). A thirdly is that, from what I know of them, they have an ethos that I can buy into completely.

I'm really pleased they're here.

Yesterday we heard from Heath Lowrance, one of their stable. Let's find out why we should be supporting them by buying their books.

New Pulp Press ladies and gentlemen. Let's hear it.

I must admit, heading into my interview with media mogul and New Pulp Press owner Jon Bassoff I was more than a little intimidated. I had heard many things about him, very few of these things good. I had heard about his snake collection, his ex-wives, and his criminal record. His safe room, his bowling trophies, his quick temper. But upon meeting him, my fears were immediately put to rest. The warm smile never left his face and he showed a curious longing for human contact. In fact, as I attempted to leave the interview, I was delayed and embraced for a good 40 minutes. Following are excerpts of my interview with this somewhat enigmatic character.


Q: Most of the books New Pulp Press frankly are a bit jarring. What created this apparent obsession with murder and incest?


A: It’s strange, but most people assume that I’m a damaged person because of the books we put out. Not at all. My childhood was rather pristine. Weekends in the Hamptons, vacations in Beirut. I suppose this literature is some sort of compensation for the lack of darkness in my own life. Although I have been told that I had a great uncle who skulked around killing the first born sheep in every farm in his little Ohio town.


Q: Really? Is that true?


A: It’s what I’ve been told, yes.


Q: You’ve always been known as a daring person in regard to fashion. For example, the look you have now. Whale skin jacket and overalls. A thin pink tie.


A: Fashion sense is something that has always come naturally to me. I don’t really think about it, actually, it just happens organically. When I was in France for the book release party of Rabid Child, one fellow described me this way: Il est un cannarde. I’m not sure of the exact translation, but I believe it means: He is quite daring! Yes, daring indeed.


Q: Who are some authors who influence what New Pulp Press is all about?


A: Other than Danielle Steele? Here’s a short list: Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, Albert Camus, Patrick McCabe, Georges Simenon, Charles Willeford, Patricia Highsmith, Dashiell Hammett, Chester Himes . . .


Q: What makes New Pulp Press a unique publisher?


A: Well for one thing, we offer some of the smallest advances on the market. Jonathan Woods spent his entire advance one afternoon at a zoo carousel. We are also unique in the type of books we put out—each one of our books has been banned in Amsterdam. When I read submissions, I skim through the first five pages. If no character has been dismembered or skinned alive, I use the manuscript as cage liner for my parakeets Chi Chi and Evander.

Q: What would be the perfect day for you?


A: My mistress and me on the open highway in a souped-up Yugo with a sawed off shotgun on my lap and John Tesh playing in the tape deck.


Q: What is the most difficult aspect of running a small publishing company?


A: I’m not gonna complain about anything involving New Pulp Press. The whole experience has been so rewarding. Except for working with the authors. Goddamn fragile egos. And the reviewers. Wouldn’t know a classic novel if it stood up and pissed in their coffee. And the limited distribution. And dealing with all the returns from bookstores. And the constant complaints from readers about the lack of editorial quality in our novels. And the deranged groupies who sit outside my house with rocks and gun powder and antique typewriters. Come to think of it, the whole experience has been a nightmare. I don’t recommend anybody getting into this God-forsaken business.


Q: What are your politics?


A: My president is Charlton Heston. (Pulls out a NRA membership card). He’s the only authority I listen to.


Q: Didn’t he pass away a few years ago?


A: No, that was the fellow from Dirty Dancing. Kurt Russell.


Q: Any new titles coming out from New Pulp Press?


A: In October we released a new book from Dave Zeltserman and a reissue from Gil Brewer. In January we’re putting out a book called The Science of Paul from this fellow named Aaron Philp Clark. My people have told me it’s one of the finest books we’ve put out. I trust my people, Chi Chi and Evander. Then in April we’re putting out a strange book by a strange man. It’s called The Bastard Hand by Heath Lowrance. It involves a preacher who has a hefty appetite for liquor and whores. It’s our first family friendly book.


Q: There have been some interesting rumors about one of your authors, Nate Flexer. One of these rumors is that you and he are the same person.


A: I won’t comment on those rumors other to say that they’re blatantly false. I first met Nate six years ago in a strip club. He was working as a cocktail waiter. He handed me a manuscript which appeared to be nothing more than chicken scratches on a legal pad. The first few times I read The Disassembled Man, I didn’t care for it. He then mentioned that he had some knowledge regarding my relationship with a certain circus performer in Las Cruces. He said that if I didn’t put his book into print he would reveal the unsavory details of this relationship. On the next read I realized what a masterpiece the novel was and what a brilliant writer Flexer was. The book was released the following month.

Q: Any final piece of advice you want to impart?


A: Never trust a one-armed hooker named Darling. Trust me. She’s no darling.

Visit New Pulp Press on the web at
http://www.newpulppress.com/

Friday, 19 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: HEATH LOWRANCE interviews HEATH LOWRANCE


So who are you, exactly?

I’m Heath Lowrance, author of The Bas--

Keith Lowrance?

No, Heath, with an H. Heath Lowrance. I--

Oh, Heath, like the candy bar, right?

Yeah. Like the candy bar.

Those are good, I like them. Did you--

No, I have nothing to do with them.

But they are good.

Yes.

Anyway, you were saying…

(sighs)…I’m Heath Lowrance, author of The Bastard Hand, which is a book coming out from New Pulp Press in March.

So it’s your first book, right? Congrats. But tell me, Mr. Heath-with-an-H Lowrance, why should we care?

Well, I’m not entirely certain you should, but there’s a good chance you’ll like it. Some people with pretty good taste have said nice things about it.

How nice for you. And what is this epic tome about?

Well, you know, um…

Yes?

It’s, uh, about this drifter named Charlie, see, and he’s escaped from a mental institution and winds up in Memphis, where he hooks up with this preacher-guy who’s bent on whiskey and women, right? So the two of them go to this small town in North Mississippi where the preacher has a hidden agenda, and our man Charlie gets caught up in all sorts of ugly stuff. Which isn’t good, since he’s got only the flimsiest grip on sanity as it is…

Wow. How does it end?

Badly, for everyone. Oh, and did I mention that Charlie has recently come to the conclusion that he’s immortal? He can’t seem to be killed. This weird golden light seeps out of his hands, see, and--

Wait a minute. What?

Golden light. And it, like, wraps itself around people and burns them up and stuff. Oh, and there’s a street gang too, in Memphis, and a sexy little B&E expert, and a mysterious young blues musician. And… and a politician with, what do you call it, alien hand syndrome. Also--

Hold on, man, you’re giving everything away. Cool down.

(takes a deep breath) Okay. I’m good.

You sure? You look a little flushed. You need a minute?

(calming down) No. No, I’m good now, thanks.

Okay, if you’re sure. So tell me, Heath-with-an-H--

I wish you’d stop calling me that.

Tell me, who are some of the writers who’ve influenced your work?

I love a lot of different writers, but the ones who’ve had the biggest impact on The Bastard Hand were probably Jim Thompson--

Typical.

And Charles Willeford. Black Mass of Brother Springer, in particular. Also Joe R. Lansdale a little bit. Oh, and God.

God??

Yeah. I read the Old Testament, and it was the genesis--haha-- of The Bastard Hand.

But it’s my understanding that you’re a non-believer.

Exactly.

Okay, then. So what’s next for you, Heath-with-an--

Hey. What did I say about that?

Sorry. So what’s next for you, Heath?

I’ve just finished up my second novel, which couldn’t be much more different from The Bastard Hand. Kinda still making up my mind what to do with it. And starting on my third. Also, a few short stories and articles coming down the pike.

You sound pretty busy.

By most people’s standards, no. But I’m a deeply lazy man, so for me… yeah.

Thanks for talking to me, Heath.

That’s it? That’s the end of the interview?

Yeah. Unless you have something else to add?

(a long silence)….

Anything?

Um. No, I guess not.

Well, in that case--

Oh, wait, wait! One thing… support independent publishing! Buy The Bastard Hand, from New Pulp Press. Feed a writer today.

Shameless.


nigel says:

That was one great interview. I love the idea of feeding a writer by buying a book - I don't think of that often enough. And support independent publishing, most def.

Tomorrow New Pulp Press are going to be here with their interview and it's well worth checking in for.

And to wrap up, Heath-with an-H has a really worthwhile series going on at the moment over at Psycho-Noir (http://psychonoir.blogspot.com/ ) where people like Keith Rawson, Dave Zeltserman, Patti Abott, Jonathan Woods and Heath himself have stretched the definitions of noir and of novels to give everyone's to be read something to add to (I guarantee nobody will have read them all). Why not go and see if you can prove me wrong?


Heath, thanks for being here.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: JT ELLISON interviews JT ELLISON


1. Do you drink when you write?

Lord, no. I can barely read when I’ve had a glass of wine. It alters my perceptions of words and their meanings in a way I don’t like. Caffeine has the same effect – tears my concentration up. Contrary to popular belief, not all writers are Hemingway-esque alcoholics. Though it works for some.

2. Did growing up in a forest influence your writing?

Absolutely. Without video games and pedophiles on every corner and helicopter moms, we had a freedom kids nowadays wouldn’t know what to do with. We got kicked out of the house after breakfast and didn’t return until dinner. It was fantasyland, an idyllic, blissful world that was whatever I wanted to make it that day.

3. What games did you play as a child?

Chutes and Ladders, Life, Risk, Scrabble, Poker, Monopoly, Hungry Hungry Hippo (though my mother insists we never had that game) Yahtzee. Red Rover, kickball, tetherball, football with my brothers. But books, more than anything, dominated my time.

As I got older, Quarters and Truth or Dare were quite popular. I wasn’t much for dares, they always involved either stripping and running through someone’s back yard or kissing the boy next to you. With tongue. I probably became a writer during Truth or Dare, come to think of it. We all lied our tails off.

4. What games do you play as an adult?

How much time do you have?


In all seriousness, my playtime revolves around golf, wine, travel and learning Italian. I’m one of those jerks who goes to an Italian restaurant in the U.S. and suddenly gets fluent. But I need all the practice I can get.

5. Is the world going to come to a screeching halt once every single person has a Facebook Page and a Twitter account?

Yes. I predict that moment is high noon on December 21, 2012. The Mayans were on to something.

The idea that we are compelled to share every thought, movement and emotion freaks me out. Add location to the mix and I find myself retreating further and further. And the false intimacy of being “friends” with people who hated you in high school is unnerving. But it’s become somewhat necessary for marketing and promotion. I’m at the take it or leave it stage.

6. Why did you really decide to be a writer?

Honestly, you don’t choose writing, writing chooses you. It’s a gift, just like painters and singers and brilliant scientific minds. I think the art of writing comes as a natural extension of reading – so many stories build in our heads, we start to look at regular situations and insert fantastical actions, and voila, we’re telling a story. It’s a compulsion, not a choice.

7. Do you feel physical pain when you see a book page bent and dog-eared?

Yes. Books are treasures to me. Breaking spines, bending pages, rips in cover jackets – all of it kills me. I’m not a collector per se, but I understand the impulse to wrap books in clear plastic and use kid gloves when handling them. That said, if a book falls apart because it’s been read too much, that’s just fine.

8. If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing in your life, what would it be?

There’s not a lot that I can add, to be honest. Life is pretty darn good right now. Oh, no, I’ve got it. I wish I was driven to exercise. Like jogging. I’ve got a runner’s soul and a poet’s backside. As it happens, I have a bad back and a reconstructed shoulder so I’m limited to walking and minimal yoga. I fantasize about running a half-marathon.

9. Why do you use a pseudonym?

Privacy. I’m one of those authors who could easily not have anyone know who they are, but appreciate the words and buy the books. I’m a wicked introvert – I’ve created my persona to help me escape that shyness. Like an actor. Sometimes it even works.

10. Do you get nervous when you have to speak in public?

Yes. I had a total breakdown before I was even published at the thought of having to go out and talk about me and my work. It’s still the biggest challenge of my career. I get better at it, then reverse course and flail around. I often wonder how many writing careers were cut short because people see all the promotion that goes on and freaked. I’m about to launch my fifth novel, and it just doesn’t get any easier. Tomorrow is a no food kind of day.

J.T. Ellison is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Taylor Jackson series, which have been published in 21 countries. Visit http://www.jtellison.com/ for more insight into her wicked imagination, or follow her on Twitter @Thrillerchick
.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: ANNE FRASIER interviews ANNE FRASIER



1) I’ll begin with a common question. Where do you write?

I can’t write if anyone is breathing within a mile of me, so a few years ago I came across a Gothic, prairie-style church in pretty much the middle of nowhere. It’s a fantastic place to write. There’s something about the sky-high ceiling that seems to open up my brain.

2) You’re always talking about music. Were you ever in a band?

No, but I used to think I could play guitar and sing. If I got drunk enough, I performed in my uncle’s bar. People would clap and say I was great, but they were always really, really drunk.


3) You’ve been writing for almost thirty years. If you had it to do over again, would you?

That’s a tough question, Anne. May I call you Anne? I think most writers are driven to write and they really have no choice in the matter. But would I choose to have that compulsion, that disease of writing, taken away? I don’t know. I almost think I would.

4) You’ve said that writers give up a lot. Could you expand on that?

We give up living our own lives to imagine other lives. I think it’s so hard to remain engaged in our own lives in a satisfying way.

5) But isn’t that like anything else? You have to find balance? You have to make room for your life?

Yes, but writers tread two worlds, and sometimes it’s hard to pull out of the fictional world. My husband once said to me, “You’re here, but you’re never really here.” Those words hurt, but I also knew he had a valid point.

6) Didn’t you write a short story about this very topic?

Why, yes I did! Thanks for asking! Max Under the Stars. The Kindle edition can be found on Amazon.

7) You said this interview would be funny. What happened?

Sorry, whenever I talk about writing I start navel-gazing.

8) Okay, since we’re being serious, what mistakes have you made in your career?

I could write a book about that. Going with the wrong agent right out of the gate. Staying with another agent for too many years. Not trusting myself. Not being in control of my career. Not speaking up. Letting things fester before discussing them with an editor or agent. The other side of that is learning to not make a big deal out of things that aren’t a big deal. Don’t be a pain in the ass.

9) That leads me to my next question. What advice would you give writers?

Don’t let a single individual derail your career. I finally left my agent of twenty years because he wouldn’t submit a project. (In the past I just said okay and crawled to a corner to whimper.) That rejected project has since sold to Grand Central Publishing. It will be my twentieth book and my first hardcover. My editor edits Jane Hamilton and Steve Martin. I’m thrilled. So when one expert tells you something you can’t bear to hear, something that stabs you in the heart, don’t accept it. Get more opinions. This is your career, your future, your dream.

10) What are you working on now?

I’m in the processing of compiling a Halloween short-story anthology called Deadly Treats to be published September 2011 by Nodin Press. It’s a really fun read with fantastic stories by award-winning authors and emerging new talent. And for more frights and screams, my memoir, The Orchard, published by Grand Central Publishing, is slotted to come out about the same time.

http://www.annefrasier.com/page/page/4368661.htm

Monday, 15 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: CHAD EAGLETON interviews CHAD EAGLETON


A couple of weeks ago, I broke my paying for downloading of fiction duck.

What made me take such a radical step?

The answer is quality.

First of all I downloaded to my PC 8 Pounds by Chris F Holm (who danced with himself a while ago). Find it at http://www.chrisfholm.com/index/home.html


The next, downloaded easily as a brilliant PDF, was a collection of talent edited by Patti Abbott and Steve Weddle. Believe me, if their names are on anything, take a close look (and they danced so beautifully when they were here).


And it was certainly worth getting over my fear of things e-book for.

I'm hoping to get a few more of the Discount Noir team to these pages, but here are a few places to visit if you haven't heard the news already.
And now, Discount Noir's very own CHAAAAAAAAAAD EAGLETON a man who's done huge amounts in a small amount of time on the planet. Read on...


So, you sing in a metal band and once dated Carrie Underwood? That sounds exciting. How’d you manage that?

I didn’t. It wasn’t me. Those are the other men named Chad Eagleton. There are several of us out there and we do not have any sort of plan and have never all woken in a lonely, desert motel after a blackout.

Never.

Wait, wait, wait…So you didn’t date Carrie Underwood? And you don’t sing in a metal band?

No and no.

Then who the fuck are you? And what do you do besides Google yourself?

I’m a writer. I write.

Christ, a fucking writer—

Well, I’m not really a “fucking” writer. I haven’t written porno in a long time, though probably would again if someone paid me enough.

I write crime.

My first crime story appeared at the now defunct D.Z. Allen’s Muzzleflash. After that, I was incredibly fortunate to have my second accepted at The Pulp Pusher.

Since then my work has been featured at Bad Things, Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Beat To A Pulp, Darkest Before The Dawn, Let’s Kill Everybody, The Drowning Machine, Crimefactory, and Thrillers, Killers, and Chillers.

And if you’re smart enough to recognize a bargain, you’ve already downloaded the e-book Discount Noir and read “The Black Friday of Daniel Maddox.”


What else have you done? Besides typing? And all that Googling. You know you’ll go blind, don’t you? All that dirty, dirty Googling.

Well…
I learned to drive from a man who flew bombers during WWII and raced motorcycles for Triumph…

I lived for a summer in New York and attended a Writer’s Conference there. David Means was our instructor. He now teaches English at Vassar and if you’ve never read his collection, A Quick Kiss of Redemption (a title I will steal for a story of my own someday) then you’re probably a little dead to me. There, I met the guy who wrote Agnes of God and another man who looked a little like Art Garfunkel and thought he was more important than he was because he had a number of stories published in little university magazines that secured his tenure despite the fact that no one read them. I toured Cosmo and hung at the Knitting Factory. I rode the subways with a tough girl from New Jersey who I crushed on for a couple weeks in that deep and desperate way you can only at 15 before moving on…

I have black belts in Taekwondo and Hapkido. I’ve studied 9 Animal Style Kung-fu, Shaolin-Do, and BJJ. When I lived in Germany I studied Wing Chun with my host-brother and his Turkish friends.

One night at bar, some skinheads spotted my host-brother’s girlfriend. She was a Nordic goddess with blond hair, a small waist, and big boobs. The skinheads didn’t see my host-brother, just his girl with a bunch of Turks. Someone said something a little too quickly for me to follow. I finished my beer with the Aryan princess while watching my host-brother and the Turks kick the shit out of some Nazis…

I was once harassed by six police officers for having a squirt gun fight with my roommate…

Somehow, I managed to charm a woman who is both far too hot and far too cool for someone like me into getting married. Every day, for the last ten years, I’m convinced she’ll smarten up.

She hasn’t yet. Thank God…

I’ve tried real hard to never hurt anyone and think I’ve succeeded…

I once set myself on fire trying to take out a yellow jacket nest…

For living-in-the-real-world money, I’ve bagged groceries, loaded trucks, and sold furniture. I’ve been the assistant to the Chief Environmental Engineer. That meant doing all the shit jobs he didn’t want to do, like running The Sludge Press. I’ve worked in tech support. And I’ve even bodyguarded strippers. Once, I fumbled my way, briefly, into real estate.

And now, I work for a university.


Uhhhh…well, shit…

Yeah, well shit. And I write too, smart guy.


Okay, so…uh…why crime fiction?

It was a slow march toward crime. When I was younger I devoured anything horror, science fiction, or fantasy. I spent my time with vampires, aliens, and axe-wielding barbarians. Despite a constant dose of crime shows on television, I just wasn’t that into reading it or writing it.

With a few exceptions, I’ve never really cared for much you’d call “literary”. I live real life and want something more when I read. Besides, I’ve found that most of the so-called literary writers now don’t really write very well and have nothing particularly interesting to say that you haven’t already figured out for yourself; either in that moment you realize that someday you will die or when you finally share a moment of intimacy with another human being.

But there have always been genre writers that have moved me and taught me more than anyone else. And when operating at their best, they’ve kept me so entertained I didn’t even fucking notice.

Slowly, I discovered that some of the absolute best wrote crime stories: John D. MacDonald, Shane Stevens, Derek Raymond, and Andrew Vachss

Though, honestly, a part of it just happened. When I finally got serious about writing, finally having beaten “the muse” out of my head and studied the nuts and bolts work of writers I admire, the first two stories I wrote just happened to be crime. I decided to keep pushing it and had one of those rare moments of luck few people get. Christopher Pimental took my third crime story for Bad Things. I learned more about writing from a month’s worth of e-mails with him then I did in all the English classes my parents paid way too much money for.

Alright, writer man, why haven’t you written a novel yet?

I have. I sent it to Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime. He had numerous nice things to say, but passed on the Vegas setting.

Looking over it now, I think he was being kind. It’s really ten tons of awful.

But I’m getting there.

Hmmm…So, can I ask you where you get your ideas?

No.

Then can we talk more about all that dirty, dirty Googling? Or bodyguarding strippers?

No.

We’re done now.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: RAY BANKS interviews RAY BANKS


Happy news for me yesterday that I had a story accepted at MICROW, a bastard child of FULL OF CROW PRESS. http://www.fullofcrow.com/microw.html

I've also just completed my first draft of a circular story as part of the round series at Pattinase. Next week it's ERIC BEETNER and I'll have to follow him (using one of his characters) the next. He's a tough act to follow, so I'll simply be trying to hang on to him as he sprints away into the distance. http://pattinase.blogspot.com/2010/11/la-ronde-part-six.html

To Ray Banks. He's a scorched earth kind of writer. Uses Noir like an acronym - takes the 'Normal', turns it 'On its head', 'Introduces a pile of problems' and 'Reaches a climax where everyone's still fucked'.

OK, sometimes I go too far.

He's produced some brilliant novels as you probably know.

You may not know that he's serializing his next novel 'WOLF TICKETS' (great title) in the next 3 issues of the dynamite NEEDLE MAGAZINE. If you haven't bought a Needle before, now you really must. http://needlemag.wordpress.com/

So here he is, another of Scotland's flowers, Ray Banks:

Q1: Why did you agree to interview yourself?

I thought it would be fun. I didn’t realise you’d be shining a fucking light in my eyes the whole time.


Q2: Why’s your website called The Saturday Boy? Why isn’t it your name or something?

Because there’s a line from a Billy Bragg song called “The Saturday Boy” – “I lied to myself about the chances I wasted” – that provided a nice touchstone for Innes’ character. And because I’m not comfortable with promoting myself over the books.

Q3: Talking of name changes, how come Donkey Punch became Sucker Punch in the US?

They thought the term would put people off buying the book, which is understandable. Believe me, I need all the readers I can get, and the title hardly helped my UK sales, did it?

Q4: Why don’t you blog anymore?

I realised that there was no point typing into a void for free when I could spend that time writing a book. I also started to think that people who read blogs on a regular basis aren’t doing so for any new information – they’re reading to see their own opinions reflected back. Having said that, I have blogged a little over at Do Some Damage and Mulholland Books.

Q5: Why write crime?

Because at its best it’s literary social fiction with a rattling good plot. All human life is there and the possibilities are infinite, despite what some people would have you believe.

Q6: Anything else float your boat?

A lot of things. I’m a bit of a horror nerd, and a massive comedy nerd – Galton and Simpson are gods in my house.

Q7: Anything of yours going to come out for the Kindle?

If you’d asked me that a year ago, I would’ve snorted at you and then pissed in your pocket. Now the answer is possibly. We’ll see. It’s certainly an option.

Q8: Why were there only 4 Cal Innes books – I heard there were supposed to be 5?

Because the Leith chapters in Beast of Burden were originally going to be their own book, but in the end they were more effective as part of the last Innes.

Q9: You always seem to be having a pop at thriller writers. What’s the story there?

The story is you’ve completely missed the fucking point. I’m not having a pop at thriller writers, I’m having a pop at anti-intellectualism for the sake of shifting a few extra books. There’s nothing the matter with literary ambition, especially considering novels are one of the few truly personal art forms left.

Q10: Alright, calm down. Give us your top five crime novels and we’ll untie you.

Easy. The Burnt Orange Heresy, Charles Willeford; GBH, Ted Lewis; He Died With His Eyes Open, Derek Raymond; The Death of Sweet Mister, Daniel Woodrell; and Guns, Ed McBain.

http://dosomedamage.blogspot.com/2010/09/kiss-kiss-bang-bang.html

http://www.mulhollandbooks.com/

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Dancing With Myself: IAN RANKIN interviews IAN RANKIN

Indirectly, Ian Rankin was one of the reasons I wanted to put together the 'Dancing With Myself' series, not that I'm trying to pass on the blame or anything.

It stemmed from something that happened a good ten years ago now.

I was a regular at the Hay Festival for a good number of years, graduating from sleeping in cars to tents to a traditional, warm and cosy cottage.

Anyway, I had a ticket for an event for Ian and Lawrence Block. Imagine how excited I was.

I wasn't going to see the host, a man whose job was to get the best out of his guests.

I can't remember who that man was, but the whole crowd must have felt like serving him up for Rebus on a platter by the end. Couldn't get enough of his own voice. Didn't seem to get the idea that we hadn't gone to see him. Didn't get much out of Lawrence or Ian other than a hint of agitation.

In short, it was rubbish. What a waste of talent. The man, and I'd name him if I did remember, should have refunded us all our entry price and some more (as well as paying back his fee and compensating Ian and Lawrence for wasted time), then let the guests give us an hour of what we'd gone for.

So that's when I first had the desire to let people talk with themselves.

On a happier note, I went to a free event at the Portobello Book Festival a short while ago. It was free and packed with stars - Allan Guthrie, Alice Thomson, Doug Johnston and Caroline Dunford.

And Ian was the perfect host, asking brilliant questions, keeping things flowing, keeping the pitch of the atmosphere bang on and getting the best from everyone. Outstanding.

Why should I not have been surprised.

So here he is, then. A flower of Scotland, Ian Rankin:


1. How come you're a fan of Jilly Cooper?

Well, in 1990 my wife and I moved to rural France. First winter we got snowed in. I'd read every book in the house except two by Jilly Cooper: Rivals and Riders. I loved Rivals. It's about a TV station takeover. The baddies are really bad, the goodies are great, characters are smart and sexy and up for it. I re-read the book a year or two later and still loved it as pure escapism. Happened to mention this in an interview and Jilly sent me a small gift (a bar of soap!). So I mentioned her again and got champagne. This time, I'm aiming for the stars....

2. How often do you see your famous neighbours?

I saw Alexander McCall Smith this very afternoon. He'd been away and was just back. J K Rowling I see maybe twice a year, usually bumping into her at cafes and restaurants. It's not like the three of us sit together plotting how to invade the charts. Like most writers, we spend most of our lives in splendid isolation.

3. Was your own success luck or grind?

There's usually an element of luck to any success story - right place, right time. But my first few books were only moderately successful. It was book twelve before I could get a mortgage on a flat in Edinburgh. So there was a lot of slow grind, and plenty of times when I nearly gave up. Black and Blue was the turning point.

4. Did you always know Rebus had a limited life-span?

I knew from early on that he was living in real time, so was ageing. But I didn't know until relatively recently (two books from the end of the series) that he would retire at 60, as was mandatory for detectives in Scotland. I say 'was' because the situation is changing. I doubt we've seen the last of him. I did a Rebus short story this year and enjoyed being back inside his head. When I started out I certainly had no inkling he would stick around as long as he did.

5. Would you give it all up tomorrow for a shot at success in a rock band?

I'm 50 this year; way too late for rock n roll. At 19 I was in a band called the Dancing Pigs. If we'd made it big (or even medium) I wouldn't have been unhappy. But bands often have short shelf-lives. I'd be a bum by now, no doubt.

6. Who is currently the greatest living crime writer?

That's a tough one. It's also a matter of personal taste: are we talking classic whodunnits or noir? James Ellroy? Ruth Rendell? Maybe someone unknown in the English-speaking world. Does Le Carre qualify as a crime writer? I seem to remember the Crime Writers' Association gave him the Diamond Dagger many years back...

7. Drink can change some people's personalities - does it change yours?

Booze used to make me restless, a bit ugly. But then again, sometimes it made me sleepy and passive. If there are traits to your character which are usually kept bridled, it has a way of loosing them, not always for the best. But in a pub with your mates on a cold night, the conversation lively... what could be better?

8. Will a crime writer ever win the Booker Prize.

Oh yes, I think so. Whether the winning book will remain classified as crime fiction afterwards is more problematic. But great young writers are coming along who are poking and prodding the crime novel, stimulating it, getting it riled and restive, using it to tackle big themes, explore important questions about humanity and society and politics. The best of these will have a really good shot at winning the Booker.

9. I've asked you eight questions - is there anything YOU'D like to ask me?

Yeah, can you hurry up with the typing? There's a football game on TV in 20 minutes, cold beers in the fridge and curry to be ordered.

10. Last question then: give me the name of an album in your collection that you're ashamed to own.

There's a Phil Collins in there somewhere, and not one of his best...


http://www.ianrankin.net/