Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Just noticed that Charles Willeford's amazing first memoir I Was Looking For a Street is being re-printed this week. It's a great book. Every bit as strange and entertaining as one of his novels and sheds some light on the origins of his style and preoccupations. Of course the memoirist is never to be entirely trusted. You can't help wondering how much of young Chuck's motivations and reasoning benefit from a lifetime's honing and contemplation. We start as children, seedlings of what we become and the temptation is always to color our memories to fit our present personality and world view, but damn, it's an amazing book. I still haven't read his second memoir, Something About a Soldier, but hopefully, that one'll find its way back into print soon.

Over at Ransom Notes, I'm giving a little love to his books, specifically the Hoke Mosely series and George Armitage's film based on the first of those titles, Miami Blues. Good movie, great book. Film was strong and strange and introduced me to Willeford - no small debt to owe. It strikes me that there've only been a handful of films made from his source material and none of them slouches. Monte Helman's 1974 film Cockfighter starred Harry Dean Stanton, (according to Elmore Leonard - a favorite of both his and Willeford's) and Warren Oates. And Robinson Devor made The Woman Chaser in 1999 starring, (in one of the best uses of his talents) Patrick Warburton. In a case of life imitating art, Devor's film about a director whose film is hijacked by the producers, his own vision was compromised and released minus some of the most Willefodian touches that endear it to film lovers. I've seen an unreleased director's cut, (B&W) and weirdness intact and it's a gem. Hope it gets a release soon. Hell, the other version is hardly a beloved classic that folks'll be up in arms over the tinkering with - I say give it another shot, the way the director intended.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Needle Has Landed

Okay, I finally got my copy in the mail this week. It's a sharp looking publication. Big thanks to Steve Weddle, John Hornor Jacobs, Scott D. Parker, Naomi Johnson and Daniel O'Shea for all the hard work and love poured into it. I'm about half way through so far - read pieces by Kieran Shea, Kent Gowran, Eric Beetner, Hilary Davidson, Cormac Brown, Nathan Singer, Chad Rohrbacher, Keith Rawson and Patti Abbott. If the back half reads anything like the first, I'll be one happy sumbitch. But I'm looking at the names, Dave Zeltserman, Paul D. Brazill, Sandra Seamans, Christopher Grant and Eric Nusbaum - and I'm sure it will. Now, I'm waiting for my contributor copy of Blood, Guts and Whiskey which I hear people are receiving...

Speaking of BG&W, fellow contributor Jordan Harper's final episode of this season's The Mentalist aired last night and over at Ransom Notes, I'm wondering how TV has scored crime writers the likes of him, George Pelecanos, Dennis Lehane, Richard Price, Kem Nunn and Chris Offutt. Anybody out there missing The Shield should go read Harper's spec script he wrote for that show, (got some doors opened for him). I believe it was supposed to take place between seasons six and seven - he really nailed the voices.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Canuck Crime and Contests (that means 2)

If this isn't the best picture you've seen this week... you see more pictures than me. Needle magazine is having a contest to promote their very first issue. You've got a month to order it and post the pic. Gonzo crime writing phenom Matthew McBride sent in this one of wrestler Black Hogan perusing said print mag. Do yourself a favor and check out McBride's blog Got Pulp for more pics of BH in action.

Also on the blogosphere today - here's an excerpt from Rod Norman's interview with horror author David Moody at the Signs & Wonders blog.

Norman: Were you the first to have a zombie novel where the zombies aren't flesh eaters from the get go or was that something you'd seen before?

Moody: I’d never been able to understand why zombies ate flesh? They don’t drink, don’t sleep, don’t go to the bathroom . . . why would they need to eat? It was always my intention to write a story about zombies that didn’t eat!

Rod continues to turn out the interviews at a whirlwind pace - that's a lot of work. Recently he's talked with Sean Chercover, Johnny Duhan, Tom Russell, Tom Schreck and Chris Cleave. He's casting a wide and interesting net over there.

Cullen Gallagher talks at Duane Swierczynski at Pulp Serenade.

At Ransom Notes I'm giving an overdue nod to the Canuck crime stylings of John McFetridge. I was first drawn to his books through the covers. Jeez, those are some beautiful arts, especially the hard covers of Dirty Sweet, (looks like seventies/eighties brit-crime cinema ala Get Carter or The Long Good Friday) and Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, (looks like a Michael Mann film poster to me). Probably not since Megan Abbott's Die a Little and The Song is You have I been grabbed by cover art like that.

JMcF's also got his name on a new television series, The Bridge coming to American TV this summer, after running in Canada uh, well now. It's a cop drama, about cops, not a crime of the week kinda thing. Here's hoping.

Plots With Guns has announced the submission guidelines for their next theme issue - Slasher stories... with guns. Yep, still gotta feature a gun in there somewhere. I had a story I'd once considered submitting there only I realized there were no guns in it. I considered several wise ass solutions such as calling the story Gun or tacking an ellipsis on to the end of the story with the word gun following or even a random line of dialogue somewhere - "Do you like guns?". There was exactly one story in that publication I've come across that didn't feature a gun in any form... If you spotted it too, (and I've not read them all - you've gotta get the one I know), send me an email and I'll send you a book -

What book? A free friggin book, jeez, quit yur complaining. Oh alright a book by somebody I've had lunch with in the last week. Satisfied? (While supplies last of course) No idea? Go ahead and take a look at the archives of Anthony Neil Smith's awesome on-line monster and randomly pick one. I might be lenient. Might.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Boxer Rebel

Lou Boxer is one of those names vaguely familiar to any noir fiction fan who's spent time cruising the webs in search of gold. Perhaps you've stumbled across one of his blogs, NoirCon or The Writer in the Gutter. Or maybe you've seen the documentary about David Goodis, To a Pulp that Lou provided research for, (and even appeared in interviews on screen). He belongs to that most hardboiled of cities, Philadelphia, and the Philly noir crowd that includes other enthusiast, scholar, writers like Ed Petit and Duane Swierczynski. He is also one of the organizers of NoirCon, that makes the city of brotherly love into Mecca every other year for the hardcore fans and writers, (it's in November this year folks, I'll be there).

Lou is today's contributor to the Narrative Music series.

From Pauper to a King
By Andy Prieboy

The “Narrative Music” of Andy Prieboy tells a haunting tale of life in two minutes and thirty-eight seconds. Lifted from the gutter (as a pauper) by the Gods on gilded, golden wings, we become King only to be thrust back to the gutter because of arrogance and hauteur. Hubris is our undoing. No matter what we say or do, we travel in the circle of life and die utterly alone, disgraced, dismayed and disowned.
Prieboy cries an invective at Death.
“Where is thy sting?”
Silence. Dark, ageless and timeless silence of the abyss awaits us all. For no matter what our trajectory through life, we all return to the gutter, the void. Publicly prostrate, we seek to atone for the barren harvest we have sown. The only wish is for a dark catacomb with only the memory of our beginning in the gutter.
The story of life sung with eerie reverence all in two minutes and thirty-eight seconds!
I am reminded of the Swan Song (OLIM LACUS COLUERAM) from Carmina Burana when I listen to Prieboy.

Olim lacus colueram,
olim pulcher exstiteram,
dum cygnus ego fueram.
Miser, miser!
modo niger
et ustus fortiter!

Girat, regirat garcifer;
me rogus urit fortiter;
propinat me nunc dapifer.
Miser, miser!
modo niger
et ustus fortiter!

Nunc in scutella iaceo,
et volitare nequeo;
dentes frendentes video.
Miser, miser!
modo niger
et ustus fortiter!

It is translated into the same Gutter-to-Throne-to-Gutter downward, death spiral as seen in From Pauper to A King:

Once I skimmed over inland seas;
Once my white down was fine to see;
I lived my swan-life peacefully –
Poor me! Poor me!
Now basted blackly
And roasted totally!

Turn me, turn me, now the sculleries;
Burn me, burn me now the rotisseries;
Here comes the serving boy to offer me –
Poor me! Poor me!
Now basted blackly
And roasted totally!.......

Now on a serving plate stretched out I lie,
Thinking in vain of flying through the skies;
Now gashing molars start to catch my eye --
Poor me! Poor me!
Now basted blackly
And roasted totally!

In the end, we are all consumed by the devouring, black, jaws of the abyss!

(Art credit) Another Ugly Sunset: Dead Orphan in the Snow
Judith Schaechter

Friday, April 16, 2010

Duke it Out

Like I mentioned over at Ransom Notes, tax time is always a sobering ordeal for me. I look at the paltry sum I've collected in the last year and think, I worked harder than that, didn't I? There's been a lot of discussion in the last week or two around the publication of Needle magazine and the notion that writers ought to get paid. Lots of folks have weighed in with their opinions and now crime stylist Jason Duke has whipped out his check book to put his money where your words are. He's set up a fiction contest that will pay the top two positions and get your work viewed by a couple top agents - Stacia Decker and David Hale Smith, (representing Allan Guthrie, Seth Harwood, Scott Wolven and Scott Phillips, Vicki Hendricks, Sean Doolittle respectively - those lists go on and on btw). So, got something to prove? Good opportunity, me thinks.

Speaking of So, Gerald So is the editor of a curious publication - The Lineup - poems on crime recently published their third edition featuring the likes of Patti Abbott, Reed Farrel Coleman, James W. Hall and more. I'm not much of a poetry guy, but I've enjoyed reading these, (and having to treat them as prose - sorry poets) little glimpses of crime from all angles. My favorite title in there? Decomposing Women. There are also some really nice cops' eye view of minor mayhem that are nicely put.

One writer risen through the online pulp ranks nicely is Jordan Harper who is now a writer on The Mentalist and I tune in to check out his episodes every time. Next week is his final penned episode of the season. I'll be there checking it out and plotting ways to make his talents work for me. He's been awful busy with paying work lately and hasn't kept up the fiction output like he did a few years ago, but the anthology Blood, Guts and Whiskey comes out in about six weeks and features one of my favorite stories of his Red Hair, Black Leather. (My own story Mahogany & Monogamy will also appear - order one)

Another online-pulp pal and anthology mate, Greg Bardsley has good news too. His story Crazy Larry Smells Bacon that originally appeared in Plots With Guns is making its way into print this year in the anthology By Hook or by Crook edited by Ed Goreman and Martin Greenberg.

Saw release dates for the two most highly anticipated films of the year for me and wouldn't you know it, they're separated by a mere one week. Winters Bone, Debra Granik's adaptation of Daniel Woodrell's novel comes out in June, and The Killer Inside Me, Michael Winterbottom taking on Jim Thompson is seven days later.

June is gonna be a busy month. It's kicking off here in St. Louis with Suspense Night at the library with Scott Phillips, Reed Farrel Coleman, John Lutz and Gabriel Cohen. The next evening, Scott and I are pleased to have wrangled Laura Benedict and Pinckney Benedict to town for a Noir at the Bar event, (still not an official announcement - but save the date already) and not to be outdone, the next evening the library brings in Richard Russo, novelist and screenwriter par excellent.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Malice in the Middle

At Ransom Notes I'm talking marital woes, most not my own, the kind that lead to spousal disposal with extreme prejudice. I read a great book a couple weeks ago, Misadventure by Millard Kaufman that features such a union and while the set up is hardly unique, the book's gleeful sleazy-ness is bracing like a strong cuppa in the morning. Kaufman died during the editing stages of the book, only his second though he was in his early nineties, and geez it makes me wonder why I tend to dismiss the elderly the same way I do the very young - what do they know? Millard - I apologize and thanks for underscoring my prejudice. I'd blush writing some of this stuff.

McSweeney's is not the first publisher I turn to for crime fiction, but Ima have to go back through their catalog more carefully. And speaking of those folks, I'd like to say that I was reminded how nice it is to read a quality book and I'm talking about the book - the binding, the pages, the jacket. The words make the book, but the craft and quality of the physical tome made it seem like, I dunno, a spa-day for book junkies. It was easily the best feeling book I've read since the Dennis McMillan published and edited Measures of Poison.

Okay, enough fruitiness. The set-up: Jack, our protagonist of questionable character, succumbs to the wiles of a married woman in the first few pages and not many more after she's hit him up to help her get rid of her husband. Of course her husband is abusive and deserves it. He also happens to be obscenely rich and successful and that's the real appeal - killing your betters, those who have, because of their moral deficiencies, obtained what should be yours - of her offer. But Jack's delicate sensibilities are offended and he stalls on committing to anything rash.

Next thing he knows, the idiots who own the company Jack works for have a buyout offer from the very man he's supposed to be plotting to kill and Jack has to take a meeting with his quarry. Turns out he's been sold a lie, go figure. He's a charming man who wears his success with grace and even better, recognizes in Jack a great potential that Jack's philistine bosses can't see. Jack starts working for him directly, being trusted with sensitive and important assignments (like bribing the family of the fourteen year old Mexican immigrant girl he's infatuated all to hell with) that Jack correctly guesses are trial runs for the big job which turns out to be... wait for it... you don't need me to spell this out for you, do you?

Yeah, you've read this kind of thing before, like John Ridley's scorching debut Stray Dogs, (basis for Oliver Stone's U-Turn - remember when Jennifer Lopez was sought after by the likes of directors like Steven Soderbergh and Bob Rafelson?) as well as the first and best three films from John Dahl - Kill Me Again, Red Rock West and The Last Seduction. It's as much a staple as playing both sides against the elusive middle. Think of it as marital Yojimbo.

While this is only Kaufman's second novel, (better believe I'm going to look for Bowl of Cherries now), he was a successful screenwriter for decades even picking up a couple of Academy noms for Bad Day at Black Rock and Take the High Ground! He was also the front for blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo on the noir classic Deadly is the Female. Trumbo wrote many scripts while blacklisted using a number of fronts. One of my favorites of these is The Prowler which is not available on DVD, but I was fortunate enough to catch when Eddie Muller brought it to the St. Louis International Film Festival a couple of years ago.

Martin Ritt, (Hud, Hombre), directed a good film about the blacklist, 1976's The Front starring Zero Mostel as a blacklisted writer and Woody Allen as his titular prop. Allen's character brought before the HUAC boards at the end delivers a great balance of nebbish and backbone in his final suggestion for them. "Go fuck yourselves."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Adversary

Over at Ransom Notes, I'm getting a little bit into the True Crime field which is a place I frankly don't spend near enough time. The post came about from thinking on something Dennis Tafoya said to me in an interview:

"In my experience, criminals are rarely masterminds who make careful plans to avoid detection. They're mostly driven by barely-controlled impulse, and they tend to be immature, self-mythologizing, and unable to own up to their mistakes. They're like terrifying children." (Look for the rest of that interview in June.)

One exception did come to mind though. Jean-Claude Romand thought at least a few steps ahead, though was never able to stop himself from playing what was a losing game and when the game was drawing to an end, rather than man up and face the consequences, he killed his wife and children and inlaws just to avoid having them witness him being exposed as a fraud. His family and friends believed he was a well respected doctor doing important research for the World Health Organization and a sharp investment strategist to boot. The truth is, he was neither and the lengths that he went to daily, hourly and the level of deception he sunk to with his most intimate connections was staggering.

The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrere is a strange, sad and resoundingly disturbing book that tells Romand's story. As you sense the end approach, you feel Romand's panic set in, along with your own, you cannot help but plead with history to change itself and spare his victims. But when the climax arrives it will shake you.

Carrere is also the author of a unique biography of Philip K. Dick, I Am Alive and You Are Dead and a couple of novels, The Class Trip and The Mustache. I've read The Mustache and really enjoyed that one about a man who, as a practical joke shaves the mustache he's worn for years, right before he and his wife go to a party. He's dismayed that at the end of the evening no one, not his wife not his friends, have noticed. He figures that his wife, who is also a practical joker, has organized everyone in a counter joke to not say anything. When he can't stand it anymore, he admits defeat in their war of jokes, but she takes it a step further. "What mustache?" The one I've worn since we met. "You've never worn a mustache." A game of increasing desperation ensues as he tries to prove that he in fact did wear one and she steadfastly denies the claim.

Things get bad. Bloody and insane. Good read. And quick.

Carrere also wrote and directed an adaptation of The Mustache, though I don't recommend it nearly as highly as the book. For one, presenting it visually, you pretty much have to choose a side and go with it, while in the book both are plausible. Also the endings are different. Book's is much better.

Speaking of French crime stuffs, I caught Jacques Audiard's Un Prophete at le cinema last week and I still haven't recovered. I wake up in the middle of the night making horns and mouth-riffing Back in Black - that's how much it rocked. Gritty, graphic, bloody and intense, I can not recommend this film any more highly. She-it, I can't wait to see it again.

My family was out of town last weekend and I took the opportunity to catch up on some more good crime films - Antoine Fuqua's Brooklyn's Finest and Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans. Good week. BLPoCNO was a genuinely strange film. I loved it. Nic Cage is channeling Quasimodo as the good cop spiraling out of control on pain meds and whatever he can steal. Great scene where he snorts heroin believing it's cocaine and an even better one where he threatens an elderly woman in a wheelchair to gain information. Plus lizards. He's hallucinating lizards and dancing corpses. Great stuff. The ending is tidy almost to the point I wondered if he was still hallucinating. Finest was solid if not spectacular. Good work all around. It's the film I wanted Pride and Glory to be.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

It's Always Bloody in Philadelphia

Duane Swierczynski is a genre unto himself. His sense of pulp fiction is keen and uh, weird. The books are ridiculously fast paced, bloody, twisty and funny as hell. His informal crime trilogy, The Wheelman, The Blonde and Severance Package are the new standard bearers for all of those adjectives and his new one Expiration Date re-enters the head-trip space of his fiction debut Secret Dead Men. I don't know what they're putting in his wheaties, I just hope he don't stop eating them. Duane graciously took a moment to answer some questions, then shot back to his cave where he writes his Polish ass off.

I recall when Secret Dead Men came out it was shelved in the Science Fiction of local bookstores. Wheelman jumped to mystery, The Blonde could've easily followed either one to their respective spots. Does this sort of arbitrary assignation of genre bother you?

Not really. In fact, it's kind of fun to see what kind of labels people apply to your work. (I keep waiting for someone to recognize that I've been writing pastoral romances all of this time.)

That said, there is a risk in losing readers if they don't read across various genres. You may have written a brilliant noir SF epic, but try getting the attention of a reader who specifically avoids all things SF.

So yeah, genre labels can be limiting. Ideally there would be only two sections of any bookstore: True Shit and Made-Up Shit. (And okay, maybe a few subsections of these two, like Made-Up Shit for Teenagers, True Shit for Toddlers, etc.) But I do appreciate and understand the need for genre labels. When I'm in the mood for a specific kind of story, and I sometimes wish the little description on the spine of the paperback would say BLOOD-SPLATTERED HORROR or TOUGH GUY STUFF FROM THE 1930s.

What descriptions would you tag your own novel's spines with?

Let's see... SECRET DEAD MEN: Private Eye/SF/Historical Crime (Al Guthrie told me that setting any book in the past, even 1976, qualifies as "historical fiction.") THE WHEELMAN: Heist/Crime/Richard Stark THE BLONDE: Thriller/SF/Chick Lit. SEVERANCE PACKAGE: Espionage/Horror and the forthcoming EXPIRATION DATE is probably the same as SECRET DEAD MEN, with a dash of "Serial Killer" and "Comic Book Superhero" thrown in.

Are there plans for more novels set in the universe of Secret Dead Men and Expiration Date?

Glad you noticed that. I have plans for at least one more, but it might take a while. SDM was written 1998-1999, and Expiration was written 2008-2009. If I'm going to keep the pattern going, I won't get started until 2018.

While, Expiration Date is one of your wilder conceptual novels, it's easily your most personal at the same time. Were the familial details in the original idea or did they manifest later?

The first glimmer of this idea dates back to 1999, when I was playing around with a potential follow-up to SECRET DEAD MEN. (Which was still unpublished -- but a boy can dream, can't he?) Back then I was calling it SAND IN MY GUN, and it was more of a genre mash-up about a time traveling detective. I wrote a few chapters, then moved on to other things -- but I never completely forgot the idea.

I tried another version of it around 2003 or so, calling it THE GOLDIFSH POOL for reasons I can't really remember. Back then I started to introduce more personal details into the concept, but still, it didn't quite gel.

An editor named Ilena Silverman contacted me back in September 2008, and wondered if I might want to pitch some ideas, (for a serial.) I pitched like crazy, and the story we both liked best was this one. I realized the father-son stuff was central to the story. That was the piece I'd been missing all along Sadly, the NYT Magazine did away with their serial a few months later. But I was already too far into the story to just abandon it, so I finished it off as a short novel. If you squint, though, you can see the faint lines where it could have been a serial.

Where did the unique laws of Mickey's out of body experiences come from? Or for that matter, the weird stuff in any of your books? Guess I'm wondering which come first, the rules or the plots?

It almost always starts with a situation, out of which comes the plot, followed by the rules to keep it all in line.

With EXPIRATION, I was trying to find a new way to do time travel/out of body experiences. For a while, I was playing around with the idea of a time tunnel in the bathroom -- step over a certain point, and boom, you're transported back in time. (And your soul is housed in a specially-created cyborg, in the past.) But that felt way too cumbersome, weird, and maybe too much like the Brain Hotel stuff in SECRET DEAD MEN. Instead I came up with what you see in the novel.

How fulfilling is it to you to step into a character created by someone else as with Cable, or Punisher or Sqweegel? Or maybe a better way to put it is - do those projects satisfy something different for you, the writer, than your original works?

They definitely scratch a different itch. It's a lot of fun to play in someone else's sandbox, be it the sick, twisted world Anthony Zuiker created, or the pantheon of Marvel heroes. But the biggest difference is that all of these projects are collaborations, either with another writer, or editor, or artist(s), so it's not like I'm doing all of the heavy lifting alone. My original stuff is all on me. And while that's a lot more work, it's also more deeply satisfying.

How about the Anthony Zuiker project, Level 26: Dark Origins; while the concept came from outside, anyone familiar with your work could see your stamp all over that book. How much latitude did you have there?

Actually, Zuiker plotted the book out in great detail -- a 60-page outline. So the road map was there; it was up to me to do a lot of the driving. And I guess that's what you see, in terms of my "stamp" -- bits of my driving style sneaking through.

I see - what notes were supplied for anus shaving?

Okay; that was me.

There's almost always a ticking clock of some sort or very specific spatial limitations placed on your characters. Is that mostly to build tension for the reader or focus you as the writer?

It's both. I love ticking clock stories -- there something about them that tells the reader, "Look, there will be no fucking about with this one. We're on a tight schedule, so buckle up."

But like you said, it also helps me focus. Creative restrictions (be they temporal, or spatial, or otherwise) are a huge help to me. Every novel so far has had some set of handcuffs. That said, my next big novel project will be different in that there will be no ticking clock, and it will take place over a (relatively) long period of time -- which is something very new for me.

Was that a conscious decision or simply what the story demanded? Is it something you were working up to?
The story demands it. But it's also something I've been wanting to try for a while now.

What else have you wanted to try for a while?

Oh, I have a long list -- but nothing I want to reveal now. I tend to brood on ideas for insane lengths of time. (Like I said) EXPIRATION DATE goes back to 1999, right after I'd written the first draft of SECRET DEAD MEN. Of course, I had to idea that it would take a decade for the damned story to finally claw its way out of my mind, but that's how these things work, I guess. I've come to terms with that.

When did you get the first idea you've used in a novel or short story?

I've had a piece of SECRET DEAD MEN -- the betrayal at the center of the story -- kicking around my head since I was 12 or 13. It was part of an entirely different story, but that small bit stayed with me... I guess 14 or 15 years before I used it.

Did you know you wanted to write way back then?

Yeah -- that's when I was writing my first stories. I was in eighth grade, and instead of writing a single sentence for each spelling word, I use the list of words in a short story. Usually, horror stories.

When presented with a standard character or beat of a genre, rather than run from cliche, you seem to press into them till they burst - your tough guys are near superhuman, your femme fatales are sexy and deadly beyond anybody's, your killers are machines of preternatural skill or thrill seekers of bottomless depravity, blood splatters in technicolor... Yours are not books of half-measures.

I do enjoy the extremes, and for whatever reason I seem drawn to writing about people on the worst days of their lives -- and watching how they deal (or don't deal) with it. These kinds of things fascinate me.

But I think you're missing all of the subtle, life-affirming stuff going on in the background...

Speaking of 'life affirming', where'd the idea for Damn Near Dead - the anthology of 'geezer noir' you edited for Busted Flush Press a couple years back come from?

That was the total brainchild of David Thompson, head honcho at Busted Flush. I met him in the spring of 2005, when I did a "Noir Night" signing with Allan Guthrie, Ken Bruen, Jason Starr and J.D. Rhodes at Murder By the Book in Houston, Texas. (David is a manager at the store.) Afterwards, we all went to a Texas BBQ joint, and then a Scottish pub (swear to God, in Houston) and, uh... well let's just say many drinks were consumed. At one point I remember David telling me about this anthology he had in mind, and that I'd be the perfect guy to edit it. Mind you -- I'd just met David the day before, and this was my very first fiction signing. But I was pretty drunk, and the rest is... well, a minor footnote in noir history.

What David has against geezers, I don't know. You might want to ask him.

What's up with The Wheelman movie?

No news at the moment. The script (written by Allan Guthrie and the director, Simon Hynd) is finished, and we're all waiting for the next step. Somebody slaughter a goat for us.

Have you read the script or avoided it?

Not only have I read it, but I think it's pretty damn fantastic. In fact, Al and Simon came up with a very cool twist that makes me downright jealous that I didn't come up with it myself.

(read more about Duane and Expiration Date at Ransom Notes)

Friday, April 2, 2010


Sad news this week from the set of David Simon's newest HBO project Treme. Writer/producer David Mills died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. Mills had written for NYPD Blue, Kingpin and ER as well as other Simon related projects like The Wire, Homicide and The Corner. I hope someday I can leave behind a legacy a quarter of that strength.

Speaking of non sequiturs, are you ready for lists? Here they come, (in case you haven't heard).

The wait for the new Plots With Guns is over. Go check out fresh kills from Scott Wolven, J. Merrill Motz, Johnny Zephyr, Colin Heintze, Tim Wohlforth, Jason Duke, Lance Levens and Adrian Magson. And while you're there, pay extra special attention to the good looking art courtesy of Jordan Bloch's short film Underdogs, based on the Scott Wolven story.

The new Thuglit is out and features stories from Brett Williams, Lee Robertson, Matthew C. Funk, Stephen D. Rogers, Rob Loughran, Hugh Lessig, Dan Warthman and Colin O'Sullivan.

Cameron Ashley announces a theme issue of Crime Factory in the near future Kung-Fu Factory. And speaking of CF, Keith Rawson is interviewed by Cullen Gallagher over at Pulp Serenade.

And speaking of interviews, Duane Swierczynski and Dennis Tafoya do the back and forth here.

Greg Bardsley'
s story Crazy Larry Smells Bacon from PWG is headed into print this year in the By Hook or by Crook anthology from Bleak House. And as far as other honors from on-line publishing, Spinetingler has announced its nominees for annual awards. The noms for on-line short story are A Wild and Crazy Night by John Kenyon from Beat to a Pulp, At Least I felt Something by Sophie Littlefield from The Drowning Machine, Blurred Lines by Michael Moreci from A Twist of Noir, Flesh Rule by Frank Bill from Plots with Guns, Insatiable by Hilary Davidson from Beat to a Pulp, My Father’s Son by Alan Griffiths from A Twist of Noir, MSM by Anonymous 9 from Plots with Guns, The Present by Mark Joseph Kiewlak from A Twist Of Noir, Survival Instincts by Sandra Seamans from Pulp Pusher and The Tut by Paul D Brazill from Beat to a Pulp.

Over at Ransom Notes I'm talking the lighter side, (y'know, Kinky Friedman, Carl Hiaasen, Douglas Adams and Dashiell Hammett. Yes, Hammett).