Sunday, 5 December 2010

Dancing With Myself: CORMAC BROWN interviews CORMAC BROWN

If you follow this link, you'll find a little something from NoHo Noir, a story called Cosmos:

If you follow this one:

then you'll find an interview with me. I've thought about doing an interview with myself as part of this series and I'm sure I'll get round to it at the point at which it starts to run out of steam (hopefully that's a while away yet). That might be good or bad news for you guys depending how interested you are in me as the man behind the keyboard. Richard Godwin had me over at The Slaughterhouse and I loved being there. He doesn't ask easy questions, so it was a challenge (and I happen to like a challenge). I'll leave it up to you whether you click the link or not, but I promise that nothing scary will happen to you if you do.

Discount Noir is the order of the day as we continue with their series within the series. This time we hear from Cormac Brown.

There are links after the interview which will also take you to interesting places, not least to a site where you can send in a six sentence story if you think you can say something worthwhile in such a short space.

And why wasn't Cormac at Boucheron? He'll tell you now - organisers, if you see this, I reckon you'll be sending him tickets for next year before you reach the end.

The illustration, by the way, isn't of Cormac, but was drawn by Molly Brewer to go along with one of his stories over at Dark Valentine.

Here's Cormac to tell us a little something about himself.

Q: Hammett or Chandler?

A: Undoubtedly Hammett, and he is, in a sense, one of the most underrated writers of all time. People will seek out "The Maltese Falcon" because it is recognized as one of the best detective stories of all time. They might also skim through "The Thin Man" because of the movie series, in an effort to gain some insight into Nick & Nora's wonderful banter. Yet I doubt that they really bother with The Continental Op stories or with Hammett's other short stories, which is a crying shame. The man was the first to perfect the hard-boiled genre, the anti-hero and the twist ending.

On a personal note, Dashiell Hammett is why I am a writer today. I was a would-be screenwriter with a magazine reader's attention span when it came to literature. A coworker grilled me about what books had I read up until that point, and other than Walter Mosely and the tripe one picks up at the was not a lot. So I read a biography on The Coen Brothers and it said that their screenplay for "Millers' Crossing" borrowed heavily from Hammett's "The Glass Key" and "Red Harvest." In a nutshell, reading Dashiell was one of the main reasons I gave up screenwriting for crime writing.

Q: In which style do you prefer to write in, Noir or Neo-Noir?

A: Noir, and when I do write in that genre, I try to do it as if I were writing it in the very year I set the story. That means I want to make it as historically and linguistically as accurate as possible…hopefully without any technological or idiomatic anachronisms.

Q: Bouchercon was practically in your backyard this year, where were you?

A: I was all set to go, I put off buying my ticket and…I picked that month to switch blood pressure medications. Long story short, one of the side effects is coughing…lots of coughing. Two different inhaler meds and cough drops to counter the effect, and I was still coughing. No one wants to shake hands with the guy who is coughing all the time and smells like mentholyptus. I could’ve risked going, but then you would be calling me “Typhoid Cormac.”

Q: Tell us a little-known fact about yourself.

A: I thought I was destined to write romantic comedies. The stress, the verbal abuse and the confrontational nature of the company I work for has taken care of that for good. I work for a company that is reviled throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, and I will leave it to the audience to fill. Now, probably the most passionate thing I could write in terms of love would be something akin to Chandler or Andrew Kevin Walker at their most bitter.

Q: Way to bring the audience down, Eeyore. Lighten the mood, you depressing cocktail of Benzodiazepine and Valium.

A: I’m only happy when it rains, Shirley Manson. On a lighter note, Nigel asked me to discuss “Discount Noir” and it’s one of the few things that I’ve been happy about this year. It’s my first non-online magazine published gig, and I couldn’t be any more ecstatic. It’s a real treat to be in such esteemed company with such great authors.

I’d like to thank Patti Abbott, Steve Weddle, Stacia Decker, The Donald Maas Agency and Untreed Reads for allowing me to hitchhike on the wonderful ride.

Q: What’s your story about?

A: A seemingly benign old man is forced to confront a heartless store’s effort to drive him under. It’s based on Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s Grief Cycle and an allegedly true incident of sinister and fiery proportions.

Q: Your name is decidedly Gaelic, yet I understand that you are about as Irish as an East End curry shop-

A: Um...I, uh (hands Interviewer a shot of Jameson's), here you go. Sláinte!

Q: But-

A: I said, "Sláinte!"

Bio: “Cormac Brown” is my pen name. I’m an up-and-slumming writer in the city of Saint Francis and I’m following in the footsteps of Hammett…minus the TB and working for the Pinkerton Agency. Some of my stories have appeared at Powder Burn Flash, Six Sentences, Flash Fire 500, Clarity of Night, Thrillers Killers ‘n’ Chillers, Astonishing Adventures Magazine, Crooked Magazine, and Beat To A Pulp. You can find me at Cormac Writes.


  1. Nice to learn a little bit more about you, Cormac.

    And on the topic of the great divide, I've always liked Hammett over Chandler, too.

  2. Cracking stuff, Mr Brown.War Of The Roses, the film not the historical event, would be a very Cormac romantic comedy, I think.

    I wouldn't be annoying the world with my writing if it wasn't for Cormac.So blame him!

  3. Very thoughtful and accurate articulation of the Hammett or Chandler positions, though I wish the debate would include Rex Stout and Nero Wolf in the mix, if only for Archie's classic hardboiled narrative of the stories. Discount Noir kicks major ass -- figures because CB is a major ass kicker himself.

  4. Enjoyed that, Cormac. We learn a little bit more about you here and there. I also thank you for being a huge inspiration to me with my writing. FFF was a great help!! Respect, mate.

    Dinner is still on if we ever get to St Francis! :-)

  5. Mr. Brown is a gentleman and a scholar. Great interview. And we get some of that trademark Cormac wit!

  6. Nice to see Cormac up here today. It's funny how much we know and don't know about each other.

  7. Chad,

    Hey, I'm learning things about myself all the time. That probably explains why I spent yesterday curled up in a fetal ball. Chandler was master of the bon mot, but his plotting wasn't always up to snuff.

    Paulie Decibels,

    Thank you, sir. You know, I don't find "War" half as cynical as when I viewed it the first time.


    Thank you for virtually the only that praise I have ever received for my little "Discount Noir" story, it is very much appreciated. I have not read nearly enough Nero Wolf or Christie, but that will change with this new year.


    Respect right back, you make me try harder because you and Paul make it look so effortless sometimes. Thank you and I'm looking forward to that dinner to be around December 2011.


    Thank you.


    Thank you, and most importantly, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be published.