Friday 3 December 2010


ANS. I've heard from a lot of people that he's made a difference to them. Helped them through his excellent PLOTS WITH GUNS site as an editor, facillitator or friend to the writer.

Then there are all those that dig his novels.

In fact, he's touched a lot of people in a lot of [appropriate] ways.

Here he gets a chance to talk about himself. I'm glad he took me up on the offer,

Humble greetings, Mr Anthony Neil Smith.

ANS: Who the fuck do you think you are?

ANS: I'm a crime writer with a Ph.D in English/Creative Writing. I'm the Director of Creative Writing at Southwest Minnesota State University, where I'm an Associate Professor. I wrote four novels--PSYCHOSOMATIC, THE DRUMMER, YELLOW MEDICINE, and HOGDOGGIN’. Plus, bunches of short stories all over the web, both literary and crime mags. I edit the ezine PLOTS WITH GUNS. I'm a fat guy who like tacos.

ANS: You got a problem with the label "crime writer"?

ANS: Nope. I like it. Some people seem to shrug off labels, but I kind of see "Crime Writer" as a label like "Muscle Car." I don't see old GTOs trying to shrug out of that one. I'm pretty sure that the Most Interesting Man in the World (from the Dos Equis ads) is actually a crime writer. Crime writers sit in bars and grouch at things. They also write better TV shows than everyone else. So fuck it, I'm a Crime Writer, except when I'm not.

ANS: I hear tell that noir doesn't sell. Thoughts?

ANS: Here's the thing. I want to be read. I want to write stories that are the sorts of things I want to read, but I also want to be read. And my goal is to sell enough of them that whatever publisher I have lets me publish the next one. I love noir, and I love the people who are dedicated to writing noir--I'm glad those books get written, out there, and discovered by the small but rabid group of readers who wolf it down. But then again, sometime you wanna hear Hank III, sometimes you wanna hear Lady Gaga. I write what I feel like, what rocks my world, and a lot of it is noir. And even when it's not, I'm glad noir readers go along and give it a shot.

Anyway, noir does sell...a little bit. Good enough for me. Banjo jazz sells a little bit, too, but enough that it's music worth making.

ANS: You're from Mississippi. You moved to Minnesota. And then your setting also moved from the South to the North. Notice any differences?

ANS: Accents are a bit different, but not as much as you'd think. Turns out that anywhere you go in the USA, rural is rural. I went from woodlands, rednecks, fishin' holes, to farmers, rednecks, long stretches of flat prairie. Rural is still rural, though. Country is country. But the Minnesotans around me have got a lower threshold for surface politeness than Southerners. You heard about Minnesota Nice? Not in the Southwest part of the state. More like "Minnesota Begrudgingly". Not a bad thing. Just a fascinating aspect to write about.

I wrote YELLOW MEDICINE while angry. New in Minnesota, pissed off at the weather and the cold-heartedness. Then I met the woman who would become my wife. She showed me the Minnesota I was missing. I fell in love with her and the state at the same time. Now I look forward to blizzards and thigh-deep snow. I can't hack the heat and humidity of New Orleans for more than a handful of days anymore.

ANS: If you weren't a writer...?

ANS: I wanted to be a writer. Then I wanted to be a comic book artist/writer. Then I wanted to be a rock guitarist. Then I wanted to be a Christian rock guitarist.songwriter. Then I quit church and wanted to be a writer again. So I did it. Now I'm a writer.

If not a writer, I guess I'd still want to be a teacher. Even if it was just a composition prof. Seeing the light bulb go on over the students' heads when they're able to turn those thoughts into good paragraphs is irreplaceable.

Or, I'd like to own a taco truck and travel around, selling tacos.

ANS: Drink of choice?

ANS: I don't drink much. Allergic to much of it. So, the cheapest, lightest, and coldest beer wins. Mexican beer with lime is best. But I like tequila, too. The good expensive stuff. It's cool. Small sips.

ANS: PLOTS WITH GUNS came back. Why? What's the plan?

ANS: I figured out that I could format it faster, make it look better, and I was starving for new awesome noir writers. The two immortal issues of MURDALAND made me jealous, as did THUGLIT, so I said, "Fuck it, I'm doing it again." Having fun doing it, too. I'm paying for the site out of my pocket, a labor of love, and I can't pay writers, but I hope like hell they get a lot of attention from the stories I post. Helps some of them make contacts with agents, other editors, and that's worth it all.

The plan? Keep doing it until I can't. Then, find someone I think can do what I would do, and pass the baton.

ANS: What do you think about the current state of--

ANS: Shut up. I'm already bored with that question.

ANS: Asshole.

ANS: [Gets up, tosses some dollar bills on the table] Here, buy yourself a wank magazine and then send this interview in. I've got books to write, bitch.


  1. ANS and Plots with Guns have made a huge difference for a ton of folks -- as readers and writers. ... We will not allow him to do anything other than keep on keeping on.