Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Favorites of 2013

I didn’t keep track of what I read this year and I’m realizing that was a mistake. I’m figuring I made it darn close to 100 books if you include audiobooks and the did not finish pile, which for me can grow quite large. I’m impatient, what can I say?
I also made a concerted effort to read outside the crime genre this year. It yielded some good books like the nonfiction Lost In Shangri-La, which was a fascinating story very well told. It confirmed some things I thought I knew but wanted to test again, like the fact that I just don’t care for much Sci-Fi. But y’know, I tried brussel sprouts again this year after buying the hype that they were the poster veggie for all that is tasteless and lame about greens only to discover I love brussel sprouts. Go figure. The same did not hold true for The Martian Chronicles, which I found silly. And I tried one of the John Carter of Mars books but just couldn’t get into it.
I tried a few more “literary” titles. Charles Frazier’s Nightwoods on audio was a beautiful experience. The words were like honey in my ears and the reader was perfect. Not much happened in the book and I’d bet if I were reading it I would have put it down. Glad I did the audio instead. 
Keith Rawson will hunt me down and kill me for saying so, but I couldn't get into Once Upon A River. Well written, but it meandered like a lazy . . . well, like something I can't think of right now.
But on to the crime fiction books I loved. As always I am playing catch up with most titles and so not everything here came out in 2013, but I tried to keep it fairly contemporary. 

Angel Baby by Richard Lange is fighting hard for the top spot of the year for me. I knew nothing about it going in, which I love, and was totally enthralled from the opening. It is a dark tale and follows a structure I’ve come to find is my favorite type of book – a story of a crime or some bad folks told from several points of view as things spiral more and more out of control. It’s what I love in some of last years favorites like Last Call For The Living and The Terror Of Living
Lange spins a brutal tale that never wallows. The characters are all real and there is a real rooting interest here. At least once I think I audibly gasped when one plot point hit, and it was from sheer emotion. “No! You can’t do that to her!” I knew I was invested.
Happy to say Lange will be joining us at our Feb 9th noir at the bar. I’m hoping to have his other novel, This Wicked World finished by then. I immediately went out and bought it after Angel Baby.

Criminal Enterprise by Owen Laukkanen

The Professionals blew me away and it’s just not fair how well Laukkanen keeps up the tension and action in the second volume of his Stephens and Windemere series. Once again the focus is on the criminal more than the law officers who are the series regulars, and it works brilliantly because of it.
I’m not a police procedural guy and these books are the perfect antidote to the rote law enforcement books. By focusing on the desperate characters at the center of the mayhem, Laukkanen makes us feel for the real people behind the crimes to the point where we almost want Carter Tomlin to get away with it. Almost.
Laukkanen isn’t afraid to let his criminals dive deep into the muck. These books are the ultimate income inequality cautionary tales. This is 100% contemporary fiction that I guarantee will be just as good and relevant fifty years from now. They deserve to be around that long, too. Can’t wait for Kill Fee next year.

Out Of The Black by John Rector

Talk about criminals we care about. This book takes a man to his breaking point. It is not for the timid. As a father of daughters, it skirted the limits of what was comfortable and made me squirm. And that’s a good thing. I cared. I was right there with him every step of the way.
Rector is the modern noir master of “What would I do?” fiction. I felt that in every sentence of The Cold Kiss, Already Gone and now Out Of The Black. He also had the excellent novella Lost Things this year. 
Rumors that he may be slowing down his output make me antsy. I could read a new John Rector book every three months. 

Go With Me by Castle Freeman - Hard Cold Whisper by Michael Hemmingson - Driving Alone by Kevin Lynn Helmick

I group these three short novels together because they all came recommended from the same source - Brain Lindenmuth over at Snubnose Press. He put out a list of modern noir and I started buying them up, not to be disappointed yet. These three stood out.
Go With Me reminded me a bit of Barry Gifford, but with more focus. The prose is spare and the story slight. It doesn’t sink into the hyperbole many thrillers can devolve into. It’s a quiet book, but I was totally absorbed.
Hard Cold Whisper is nothing new. It’s a classic femme fatale noir tale, but for something that reads like an old Popular Library paperback, it’s truly modern. Brief and tough, this was a great just-gimmie-what-I-want story.
Driving Alone was like a fever dream. As sweat-soaked as a Louisiana summer this one grabbed me with it’s gumbo-thick prose and swept me along with a story I had to get to the end of and then realized I had no idea what to expect when I got there. Good, gothic noir fun.

A Single Shot by Matthew F. Jones
I didn’t see the film adapted from this novel this year and it flopped, but when I saw the trailer I thought casting Sam Rockwell was a stroke of genius.
At first I thought this book was going to try to be all deep and literary on me, but as it evolved it became the rare perfect blend of a pulpy story with a masterful writer at the helm. One of those books than made me feel like all my own writing is shit. And really, isn’t that the best compliment a writer can give?

Pine Box For A Pin-Up by Frank DeBlase
The good folks at Down and Out books put out some really interesting stuff. I read this one in a single shot on an airplane and loved the hell out of it. It’s a loving homage to old school pulp fiction, but with a protagonist who rose above the pastiche and clearly marked signposts of this little amateur detective tale.
DeBlase has the pulp patter down to a T. It’s was a rich reading experience for someone like me who loves a great twist of phrase and never met a hard boiled simile he didn’t like.
I look forward to more adventures from cheesecake photographer Frankie Valentine. 

The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson
Let’s be honest, this book ran the risk of being overhyped. Robinson has a hell of a lot of good will in the crime fiction community, this despite being a straight talking, bullshit free guy who will speak his mind to you only so long before his fists start to do the talking for him. But he’s done so much for the crime community with Thuglit (proud alumni here!) and with the NYC edition of Noir At The Bar. 
A lot of people were waiting with baited breath to see what Robinson could do in a novel. At first I thought this was going to be a fairly typical find-the-girl mystery, but what stuck with me - and readers all over - are the characters Boo and Junior. With charm, heart and foul mouthed humor they crash and burn the most inept but sincere investigation ever played out in the Back Bay.
I’m never a fan of the ‘world’s best’ this or ‘world’s deadliest’ that. These two clowns are not that. They are deeply human, screw up constantly and manage to walk away with the reader’s heart. Turns out Robinson has a gooey center underneath all those whiskers. 

Several of these writers were new to me this year. I also read several great books by writers I already love. Duane Swierczynski wrapped up the Charlie Hardie series with style in Point and Shoot. Jake Hinkson stunned again with his novella The Posthumous Man. I read more by Chester Himes, Lionel White and Day Keene that I really enjoyed.
A few other new writers I really came to love through their older books I feel need mentioning.

I was late to the party on two guys in particular and I’m so glad I remedied that this year. Grant Jerkins is a writer after my heart. His The Ninth Step and A Very Simple crime hit my sweet spot. He is a simple writer. There’s no pyrotechnics, just a compelling story told with a page turning immediacy that I really loved. He wears his influences on his sleeve, even dropping several Cornell Woolrich references into The Ninth Step and he has not one but two characters watching Double Indemnity in A Very Simple Crime. I immediately snagged his third novel At The End Of The Road and I’m looking forward to diving in very soon.
Another writer I had on my radar for a while is Roger Smith, the South African writer. I started at the beginning with Mixed Blood, his first novel. Holy crap. I loved it so much he couldn’t possibly do it again. Then came Wake Up Dead. Holy double crap.

These are brutal books. I read someone say once that the S. African tourism board must hate Smith (sorry I don’t recall who said it, but it’s dead on) and Smith’s Capetown is not one I want to visit. But damn he can spin a tale. I love how he tells several stories at once and at times it’s impossible to see how they will all link up, but they do brilliantly.
He does not shy away from any of the squalid life he sees on the streets and slums of Capetown and the prisons, squats and back alleys his characters live in. These are violent stories of characters trying to break free, trying to make do, struggling not to give up and to make their way in what are sometimes the only ways provided to them in a very limited list of options.
Smith has several more books out there and I’m looking forward to reading all of them. Why the hell did I wait so long?

So there you go. A whole lot to consider and a whole lot of books you’d be silly not to read. Here’s to a 2014 filled with just as many great reads.

Friday, December 13, 2013

White Hot Pistol - Chapter 1

The first taste is free. Below is the first chapter of my new novella, White Hot Pistol, available exclusively for the next few months on the new Bookxy site for a silly low price of 2.99.
I dare you – dare you, I say – to read this first installment and not want to read the rest.

(unused cover art concept by Marc Sasso)



Nash remembered the first time he escaped this town. Six years ago he drove the same stretch of highway, only then he didn’t have his little sister asleep in the passenger seat. Back then Jacy was only eleven.
She needed to escape for many of the same reasons. This town, a speck on a map, a town full of nothing but dead ends, it bled you dry. And then there was Brian.
The Stepdad. 
Technically Jacy was Nash’s stepsister, and neither was Brian’s blood child. He was Mom’s third attempt at happily ever after, and the third time was decidedly not the charm.
Nash never had to deal with what Jacy did from Brian, though. Nobody should have to deal with what she did.
The dashboard clock was in single digits of the morning. He’d waited for hours outside the house, waiting for her to make her escape. He fought to stay awake, and now he was jealous of her snoring in the seat next to him. She’d gone to sleep so fast, so easy. Probably the unwinding of the noose around her neck as they cleared town limits. They could feel the rope loosen, even though Noirville is so gnat-shit small there’s no sign telling you you’ve left. It’s such an unremarkable feat, why waste the paint?
He couldn’t be too mad at her deep slumber. He knew the feeling of freeing himself from the bonds of this town, these people. Still, his head nodded, searching for sleep, and the steady rhythm of the highway made it worse. 
Nash reached into Jacy’s purse for a smoke. He’d quit years ago, but after breaking his stepsister free from the gates of hell, he felt he’d earned it. Plus, the buzz would keep him awake.
He kept his eyes on the road as his hand swam inside the bag. Everything felt the same, like rooting through a garbage can, until he settled on the gun.
Nash lifted it out of the purse to confirm he was right. A small, snub-nosed .38. 
Yeah, he thought, not a bad idea. He couldn’t be angry at Jacy, not after what she told him. A gun seemed like a damn good idea.
But no cigarettes. He saw a sign for a rest area ahead. They hadn’t cleared very many miles, but a short stop for a Coke out of the machine wouldn’t be a risk. Unless something unusual happened, Brian wouldn’t know Jacy was gone until morning and by then they’d be in another state, tracing Nash’s old escape route to safety.
Nash folded the top flap of her purse over to close it enough so the gun wouldn’t slide out. He felt grateful he hadn’t come up with a glass pipe out of her purse. Crystal meth seemed to be the number one high school sport in town lately. A far cry from the occasional pot and stolen beers of his own youth. 
He knew she’d tried it, but didn’t know how truthful she’d been about how many times. Not that a little bump of crank wouldn’t get him across state lines in record time. He’d settle for a caffeine jolt instead. 
The rest area showed up as a glow on the horizon a half mile away. With no other lights around and a flat midwestern landscape, the tall light posts had nowhere to hide. There were no secrets on the great plains. Not outdoors anyway.
Nash still couldn’t believe he’d come back. He turned around and never looked back the day he left. He thought of Jacy now and then, but it wasn’t like they were all that close growing up. He was already ten when she was born. When she turned seven her father was out and Brian was in. By eighteen Nash was gone and her nightmare was about to begin.
When she told him the timeline of when it all began with Brian, Nash couldn’t help feeling a little responsible. With him out of the house, the green light was lit for Brian to begin his late night visits to her bedroom.  To her bed.
She begged Nash to come home, to help her get out the way he had done. He couldn’t say no. 
Escape was the best option. Calling the cops, reporting the abuse were options too, but not good ones. Hard to call the cops on your stepdad when your stepdad is the sheriff. 

Nash eased his Honda, all one hundred and fifty-three thousand miles of it, onto the exit ramp, moving like a mesmerized insect to the three mercury vapor lamps high on their stanchions over the single octagonal building. A men’s and women’s restroom, a map on the wall, a few brochures for what passed as tourist attractions around these parts, and a row of vending machines beside a broken drinking fountain. It all seemed like an oasis to anyone unlucky enough to find themselves on this lonely stretch of highway, especially at night. To Nash it was only the last gasp of his stupid home town. Small, inadequate, useful only for pissing and shitting and then moving on down the road.
Only one other vehicle, a cube truck with a big storage area in back sat parked under the lights. Smaller than a semi, it reminded Nash of the U-Haul he rented when he moved apartments last fall. Finally he owned things. Not like when he left town with nothing more than a half-filled suitcase and a broken guitar.
Nash brought the car to a rolling stop, making sure not to jerk to a halt so as not to wake up Jacy. She stayed asleep as he turned the key and let the motor rest. He watched her for a few seconds, the deep calm settling over her as she took relaxing breaths for the first time in years, finally free from the fear her bedroom door might open and Brian might slip inside.
Nash pushed gently on the door until it clicked shut. He headed for the small building thinking he would get one can of Coke and down it quick, here, then get another for the road. He opened his wallet and dug out a few singles to feed the machine. He hoped like hell some ex-con state worker had remembered to restock the soda cans, or that the damn thing wasn’t waiting inside to mock him with an Out Of Order sign.
As he stepped onto the curb he could see the front end of the cube truck. Both doors were open and he saw a dark shape half in and half out of the passenger side. He stopped and listened. The truck’s engine was off, he heard no other traffic from the highway, no voices in the night. He figured the driver must be in the toilet. With no one around and virtually no traffic, it must have seemed safe to leave the doors open while he took a piss.
Then Nash looked closer at the shape. The body was upside-down, which is why he didn’t recognize it as a person at first. Feet clad in worn Timberland boots pointed up into the truck’s cab while the slumped figure of a man rested on his head against the asphalt of the parking lot. The open door cast a shadow over the body so Nash couldn’t tell if it was a young man or an old man, black or white, alive or dead. He could at least make an educated guess on the last one.
He folded the dollar bills in his hand and pushed them into his front pocket as he began walking toward the truck.
“Hello?” he said. No one answered.
As he got closer he saw the man’s head was turned away, staring at the underside of the truck like he had engine trouble and he stumbled out of the cab going to check it. But the body didn’t move. 
Nash stepped closer, smelled something he didn’t recognize, and bent low. 
“Hello?” he said again. He felt foolish doing it.
He knew for sure he was looking at a dead body, but he wanted to check before he called someone. An ambulance or the police, the choice would be decided by a quick check for a pulse.
Nash slid two fingers around the back of the man’s neck and walked his middle and pointer fingers forward to hunt for the artery on his neck facing the underside of the truck. 
Nash felt something wet.
He jerked his hand away and it came back stained red. As he tore his arm back from the body, he bumped the corpse and it slid the rest of the way down from the cab until it lay on the flat pavement of the parking lot, half the body sprawled over into a handicapped spot.
Nash could see the wide opening on his neck. Without thinking he wiped his hand on his jeans, smearing the fresh blood across his thigh. And it was fresh, he thought. Still warm, in fact. This man hadn’t been dead for long.
Falling with the man from the cab of the truck had been a metallic sound and a glint of silver. Nash looked more closely and saw a knife a few inches away from the man’s shoulder, as if he had it tucked under his chin when he fell. The blade was long and blood stained, the ebony handle Nash expected to be inlaid with the words Murder Weapon.
He knew he should call the cops, but when the local jurisdiction involved a late-night wake up call to the man he least wanted to see in the world, the one whose stepdaughter was currently being kidnapped in Nash’s front seat, he decided a phone call could wait. The man from the truck wasn’t going to get any deader. Nash could drive on a ways and call the state troopers from a gas station or diner. Some place where he could use a pay phone and his cell wouldn’t get traced. 
It was the first time he thought of what he was doing for Jacy could be reasoned a kidnapping. Nash always considered it more of a prison break. As far as Brian would be concerned, though, damn right it’s a kidnapping. 
A minor, stolen away from her home under cover of night without prior knowledge of her two legal guardians. Yep, that about fit the textbook definition.
Nash asked Jacy if Mom know of her plans, back when he first got the phone call for help. She said no. He agreed it would be too risky. She might tell Brian. After all, she married him. Neither Nash nor Jacy knew where their mother’s loyalties rested anymore.

Nash squinted at the dead man’s pockets. No wallet that he could see. He didn’t want to touch a corpse, so the dead man’s identity would have to wait to be revealed until the professionals got there. Nash went to the driver’s side of the truck. No second body there. Whoever had been driving was long gone by then, hopefully with less blood on him than Nash.
The whole thing was too surreal for him. It didn’t feel like a crime scene. The quiet calm both emboldened him and lit his curiosity. He wanted to know what the hell happened. He knew truck drivers sometimes kept their license in the cab with them so he checked the glove box, but found nothing. He turned down the visor over the driver’s seat and found a copy of the registration rubber banded in place. He moved it to read the name and address and a small, hard object fell out from behind the paper. A high pitched ting sounded in the cab as a small piece of metal bounced off the turn signal stick and landed in the cup holder beside the gear shift.
Nash looked down. A key, small and silver. Nash looked between the seats to something he’d overlooked before. A strong box. He passed over the metal box pushed down between the big bucket seats thinking it held tools or some other truck driver’s friend like jumper cables.
Staring up at him from the top of the box was a small keyhole. The box would have held a decent amount of wrenches or sockets, enough to repair a faulty engine, he supposed. Or maybe a change of clothes for a long haul night. But no, this wasn’t a semi. A truck this size is for moving things short distances. Small items, small trips.
And besides, it’s not like the guy on the pavement outside would get offended if Nash took a peek inside his secret box.
Nash picked up the key and had a premonition of how stupid he would feel once the key didn’t work in the box. He’d laugh to himself and then move on down the road, the can of Coke unnecessary now that adrenalin raced through his veins, faster and stronger than caffeine.
The key fit. He felt the silence of the night outside. Still no traffic from the road. The lamps high overhead gave off a steady electric hum, but otherwise there were no nature sounds. No birds, no insects in the trees, no barking dogs far away. Nash was as isolated as he’d ever been, and the cab of the truck felt more and more like a coffin.
His curiosity won out over his fear. He lifted the lid on the metal box.
Inside was a worn canvas bag in army green, stuffed in until it coiled fabric over itself in rippling waves like intestines packed tight in a gut. He didn’t lift the bag out, but unzipped it. Inside were stacks of money. Tightly bound stacks in rows also bound together by plastic wrap. Every bill staring at him was a hundred. The row of tiny Ben Franklins seemed to all gasp for air at the same time, free from their dungeon.
Nash knew he’d made a mistake. A dead body, a large sum of cash. And there he was getting his fingerprints all over the inside of a crime scene. He started to think of how many places he was going to have to wipe down. He wondered if they could lift a print from the neck wound of the John Doe outside. 
He cursed himself for not thinking of this before. Goddamn highway hypnosis or something. He hadn’t fully come awake until now. But he knew it was stupid, morbid curiosity. Too many hours of watching death and crime scenes on TV made the whole situation unreal. 
But stacks of real money? That you don’t see everyday.
“What’s going on?”
Nash jumped so high he hit his head on the roof of the truck’s cab. He turned to see Jacy standing outside the passenger side door, staring down at the body.
“Jesus, Jacy. You scared the shit out of me.”
“How do you think I felt? I woke up and I was alone in the car with no idea where I was.” She turned her attention back to the body. “Is he dead?”
“Yes.” Nash started to climb out of the cab, backing out the driver’s side. Once the shock settled, he found he was glad to have someone there to share in the bizarre situation, and to help with cleanup. “Don’t touch anything.”
“Holy shit,” she said, examining the body through squinted eyes. “He’s really dead.”
“That’s not all,” Nash said. He’d brought the canvas beg out of the cab with him. He knew it was another stupid thing to do, but he had to show her. It was the most insane thing he’d ever seen in his life. How could he ignore it?
“What’s that?” Jacy asked.
He parted his hands, letting the open zipper gape. Neat rows of wide-eyed Benjamins greeted Jacy in the warm night air, their sly grins inviting her into the game.
Her eyes went wide at the small grocery bag-sized stash of loot. “Is that . . .?”
“Yeah,” Nash said, taking his own long look at the money. “I think it is.”
“Holy double shit.”
He noticed a lot more country twang in her voice since he’d left. This damn town was going more hick with each passing year. He didn’t think it was possible. 
“What the hell are we gonna do?” Jacy asked.
“Call the cops,” he said. “State cops though. And not from a cell phone. We’ll find a pay phone on down the line.”
The other voice startled them both. “Afraid I can’t let you do that.”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Writers With Day Jobs: Mike McCrary

Mike McCrary is a kindred spirit. His books have been described using some of the very same adjectives used to describe mine. Sick humor, violent action, great dialogue. A compliment to us both, and a reason for me to check out his work. 
Well, now there's more to check out. HIs second book, Remo Went Rogue is just out and already it's getting much of the same praise including hat tips from two of my favorites, John Rector and Peter Farris. Whoever says blurbs don't work - when those two cats say I should read a book, I will read that book.
So Mike has joined me for the reboot of Writers With Day Jobs. Read this, then go read Remo Went Rogue and his debut novella, Getting Ugly.

First off, tell us about your new book, Remo Went Rogue.

MM: Remo is a fun little yarn about a high-level attorney who's personal life is a complete disaster. After a crisis of conscience he decides to do the right thing for once in his sorry life. Unfortunately for Remo, the right thing to him means double-crossing his whacked out clients, throwing a case and stealing their money. This does not go well.

What is your day job?

MM: I work in investments/finance and all that crap.

Some would say that is the antitheses of a creative job. Is it more creative than we think, or is that why you need writing in the off hours to stimulate a different par of your brain?

MM: The work I have done is not all that creative. Well, maybe it was years ago, but now it's pretty much a routine. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to able to earn a living and write when I can. I've been on the wrong side of layoffs and bad times. Not fun, not fun at all. So yeah, writing does allow me an outlet to let loose another part of my broken brain. I enjoy the process of writing, creating characters and worlds. Sometimes beating your head against a wall trying to yank words out of your head after working a job is painful, but the end result is worth it. At least that's what I tell myself after crying in the bathtub… Don't judge me.   

When do you find time to write?

MM: Mostly nights and weekends. 

Do your coworkers know you write?
You seem to be a lot like me in that you write pretty dark, sickly humorous crime novels. What do people who know you say when they read it? Do they think you're sick and hiding something very dark? (not that it ever happens to me . . .)

MM: I usually have to be working somewhere long enough for people to "get" my personality before I tell them. Once they know me and my sense of humor, they aren't all that shocked by what I write. Not sure what that says about me, but… fuck it. 

Be honest, if you wrote full time do you think you'd be disciplined about it?

MM: I think so. I only say that because I have, at times, written full time. I think once you've written on a part time basis you understand a lot more about time management and you know yourself better as a writer. You know what it's like to sit down and say "okay I've got approximately 15 mins to work with here" and then know how to use that time best. If you don't use it wisely, it's gone and you're not getting it back. Writing with a gun to your head can be a useful skill to learn. 

What's been your best (non-writing) job? Your worst?

MM: My best non-writing job was actually one that didn't pay me. I was an unpaid intern for a production company in Hollywood. I learned so much about writers, writing, the business of writing along with how to pick up dry cleaning and coffee. There was no money, but the experience was invaluable. The worst? If I had to pick one, it would be customer service phone rep… fuckin' awful man. I'm getting a little sick thinking about it actually. 

Would your profession make a good subject for a crime novel?

MM: Maybe, perhaps, not really, no. 

Have you read Cold Caller by Jason Starr? He makes great noir out of telemarketing, a little similar to phone customer service rep. And come on, finance? These days? Surely there are crime stories to be told among those scumbags. Present company excluded, of course. *ahem*

MM: Well, if you're gonna throw Starr in my face. I'll have to check that one out, Starr is pretty damn good and always an interesting read. Strike my answer from the record. I think I am just  terrified of worlds colliding and mixing up my writing life with my whore-like existence on the other side.  

What would it take for you to scrap it all and become a full time writer?

MM: Aside from the obvious answer… an ass-load of money. Well I guess there isn't another answer, is there? Yeah, a large some of money where I didn't have to worry about food shelter and could focus with a clear mind about writing. It's hard to write decent shit when you're worried about keeping the lights on and your family is down the street hunting squirrels for dinner.

What are some of your favorite recent reads?

MM: I've been reading Ray Banks and Richard Stark lately (I know, I'm late on these guys.) I really dug Skinner by Charlie Huston, Out of the Black by John Rector and Donny-Brook by Frank Bill as well. All good really good shit.

I recently went on a tear through the Parker books on tape during a job with a long commute. I, too, was late to the party but I really enjoyed those. I listened to the first five in the series. Great stuff that I really enjoyed more than, say, the Lew Archer books I’d also been going through. Guess I like vengeful tough guys more than P.I.’s. 
Are you a fan of traditional P.I. mysteries? Do you like to unravel a whodunit?

MM: I liked the P.I. stuff at one time in my life, but I think the endless wave of Law and Order and CSI shows killed those things. For me at least. Now I like a well put together whodunit now and then, but those can be anything I guess. Not necessarily a P.I. type thing. Gone Girl was a whodunit of sorts and I loved that book.. Along with the rest of the universe. I'm with you, vengeful tough guys are always a good time. 

Are you satisfied writing part time, or is the goal to be a full time novelist swimming in cash?

MM: Swimming in cash as a writer I think is the goal for most of us, right? Even full time writers I know aren't exactly swimming in it. I think I could be satisfied writing part time if I could write what I want and worked a full time gig that paid the bills and I somewhat, vaguely enjoyed. Dare to dream people.  

Do you think people resect writing as a "real job" or do they think of it as a hobby?

MM: I think people see it as a "real job" if you make a good living doing it. I guess that goes with everything, doesn't it? Speed hot dog eating is a hobby unless you make a living doing it. I don't think anybody says Stephen King doesn't have a real job. Maybe they do. A lot of idiots out there.

What's next for you? Do you keep multiple projects going or are you spent after a new book?

MM: I've got a couple of things. I'm working on a screenplay, thinking about starting up a new book and also toying with the idea of a short story compilation. In addition to those things I pretty much keep my eyes and ears open for other things that might look interesting, fun or just really fucking cool. 

If you were to describe your books with, "If you like X, you'll like my books" who would X be?"

MM: Wow you can really go off the rails pretentious with this one. "If you like the perfect mix of Hemingway, JR Tolkien and the Bible, you'll like my books." At the risk of sounding like a grain-fed fuck-head, I'll go with "If you like fun reads with loose morals and a few yucks, you'll like my books." All I've ever tried to do is write something that entertains me and that I think others will enjoy. Fair enough?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

White Hot Pistol

I don't know why I haven't really talked about this one yet. I think I'm curious to see how the PR machine for this new venture works on its own. Probably not smart to side step my own book promotion, but I gotta keep myself entertained somehow.
Well, after spending the morning with several other Bookxy/Stark Raving Group authors I'm feeling all proud of my little book, White Hot Pistol.

This novella was super fun to write and is the first in a planned trilogy of hardboiled noir tales set in the fictional town of Noirville. Cheesy name, I know, but I couldn't help it. These are my pulp hack books, my ten cent paperbacks and my attempt to write in the muck with Wade Miller, Day Keene, Harry Whittington, Lionel White and Gil Brewer. 
The whole Bookxy thing doesn't officially go live until January, but my book is part of the "soft launch" of the site and is available for sale RIGHT DAMN NOW! Subscrptions to the Bookxy app and such are forthcoming, but if y'all just want to get a new book of mine, then have at it.
The company founder today told me I sold a book yesterday bought by someone on an airplane. It's a brave new world, isn't it? Someone oughta sell tickets. Hell, I'd buy one.

Look at the cover. Sweet, ain't it? I got my buddy Marc Sasso to illustrate it and even arranged to get his paid this time. Trust me, I owed him.
You can read about the book (and order it for all of 2.99) HERE. Sounds fun, don't it?
The other two Noirville tales will be set in the same fictional town and very, very loosely based on some of the same characters. Mostly, the town is a backdrop for some nasty noir stories of sad luck losers having a worse day than you.

As for the other stuff keeping me from updating this site – well, I finished a new novel and I'm liking it so far during my revisions. Will anyone want to buy it? Doubtful, but that's just me being all negative. Not like I have six unsold manuscripts on my hard drive. What's that? I do? OH, right.

But do I stop? Hell no. Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?

So instead, I run headlong into more short stories including my attempt at being funny in the new humor anthology JUNK.
I'm also working on a few co-writing projects I'm not at liberty to discuss quite yet. Exciting stuff though. Another novel with my partner in crime J.B. Kohl that is going slowly in the typing but blazes on the page. A collaboration with one of my favorite writers ever that I still can't believe. A few other things I'm excited about.
More shorts on the way. 

Oh, yeah, David from Beat To A Pulp and I are cooking up a weird release for you in 2014. By the end of 2014 you'll have another of my novels, but it will take all year to get it in bits and pieces. I've already said too much. But more soon...

So, see? Just because I'm not writing on this blog doesn't mean I'm not up typing almost every damn night. Sheesh.

I'll be posting the first chapter of White Hot Pistol very soon. It'll hook you, I promise.