“Writer Types” Podcast—Episode 1

Thrilled to share the first episode of my new podcast with co-host, Eric Beetner.

This week we have interviews with authors Megan Abbott, Lou Berney and Steph Post; check in with Down & Out Books publisher, Eric Campbell; hear about the best of 2016 and what to look forward to in 2017 from our reviewers, Kate Malmon and Dan Malmon; enjoy a live reading of the short story “Whoops” by Nick Kolakowski, and have a little bookstore fun with S.G. Redling, Gary Phillips and Jay Stringer.

We’re aiming to have a new episode up every month throughout 2017. So please give it a listen and share it with your friends.

Interrogation—Nolan Knight

Who: Nolan Knight

What: A fourth generation Angeleno whose short fiction has been featured in various publications including Thuglit, Plots with Guns, and Needle. His debut novel, THE NEON LIGHTS ARE VEINS, comes out in paperback Jan. 17, 2017, from 280 Steps Publishing. 

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Congrats on the release of your debut novel. How did THE NEON LIGHTS ARE VEINS come about?

Cheers, Steve!

NEON LIGHTS was inspired by the happenings in my Los Angeles neighborhood from roughly 2006 to 2009. A young girl was murdered on our local pub crawl route. An article about it in the LA Weekly started the gears in my brain for the setting of the novel. The book is in no way related to the incident, but the dark atmosphere solidified what I had envisioned. I wanted to implode the standard L.A. Detective story and jigsaw it back together, both structurally and stylistically, into a novel that I had always wanted to read. The title pertains to The City as The Beast, a giant meat grinder that beckons dreamers and shits them out, generation after generation. A more specific meaning is held by the main character, Alvi Drake, involving his tragic past.

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Interrogation—Benoit Lelievre

benoit-dogWho: Benoit Lelievre

What: Publisher of book and movie reviews weekly at Dead End Follies. He lives with his better half Josie and his senior citizen boxer dog Scarlett. He loves writing, watching basketball and obsessing over things.

Where: Montreal

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Congrats on another successful year at Dead End Follies. How old is your site now? How have things evolved since you first launched?

Thank you! Dead End Follies is turning eight this year. The site underwent major technical changes last year: I migrated it to Squarespace, hooked it up to Google Analytics, and developed a search engine-friendly content strategy. It was the first major change since I decided to dedicate it entirely to book and movie reviews in 2011. In terms of evolution, Dead End Follies first found a purpose—smart and accessible criticism—and now it’s finding its audience, which is exciting.

I believe the most important milestone in Dead End Follies’ evolution happened in 2016: I understood who I was writing for—who I wanted to write for and have a relationship with. Readers. People passionate about genre literature. When you start a book reviewing venture and the publishing industry is starting to take interest in you, it’s validating. You start getting free books in the mail, you discover new voices. That’s great, but it’s easy to get caught in that and start perceiving querying authors as clients. I want to help people reappropriate an intellectual relationship to their entertainment.

Dead End Follies has a purpose and a mission now. We’re a far cry from the desperate outlet for my chaotic thoughts on culture that I created in 2009 when I was working in a call center.

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2016: Favorite Rock and Roll Reads

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If you like reading about rock and roll as much as I do, then 2016 was a really good year. Not only were the bookshelves stocked with amazing punk rock non-fiction from the likes of Keith Morris and John Doe, but The Replacements came back into my life in a BIG way. I also discovered a few other crime writers out there who, like me, are using rock and roll as the leaping off point for their violent tales of intrigue, lust and woe. And it was another great year for music-inspired short fiction as well.

Here are a few of my favs, in no particular order.

Nothing’s more rock and roll than a list!

TROUBLE BOYS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE REPLACEMENTS—Bob Mehr

There have long been theories about why this Minneapolis punk outfit-turned-critical darlings never achieved their long-predicted commercial success. Rumors of self-doubt and self-sabotage were the stuff of legend. This well-researched book sets the record straight in a way that even the most die-hard fans will appreciate.

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ALL YOUR LIES CAME TRUE—Mike Creeden

It’s hard to read this high-octane thriller without thinking of your favorite rock and roll duos—Axl Rose/Slash, Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, or David Johansen/Johnny Thunders. Creeden does a great job of wrapping this page-turner in a glittery cape of rock and roll imagery to keep the action pumping. Strong characters, a fast-moving plot, and a killer back story deliver some unexpected twists and turns. This is a dark, but fun read that you won’t be able to put down. Read my interview with Mike Creeden.

UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF L.A. PUNK—John Doe & Tom DeSavia

This collection of overlapping essays about the first-wave of LA punk is a fascinating look at how legendary scenes are born. It’s incredible to think that a hundred kids, one apartment building and a handful of clubs gave us decades of great music from bands like X, The Germs, The Go Gos, The Minutemen and The Blasters. It goes by fast, so read it twice.

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FLIGHT 505—Leslie Bohem

A private jet powered by broken dreams, regret and self-delusion. Fame might have eluded Mickey and Al, but that doesn’t stop them from getting back in the chase—long after their expiration date. A fun, fast read that brings the 80s LA New Wave scene to life in vivid color, and explores the meaning of success through the perspective of three very different, but hopelessly intertwined characters. A great read for anybody that ever chased the brass ring down Hollywood Blvd. Read my interview with Leslie Bohem.

MAMA TRIED—Edited by James Ray Tuck

I can’t think of a better marriage than the one between crime fiction and outlaw country—and this collection doesn’t disappoint. What started out as a random Facebook post according to editor, James Ray Tuck (“Someone should do a crime fiction anthology based on outlaw country songs called MAMA TRIED so I can write a story for it.”), turned into one of the best music themed anthologies of 2016. Stand out stories include Eryk Pruitt’s “I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised,” Christa Faust’s “Truth or Consequences (Waiting’ Round to Die)” and Eric Beetner’s “Pardon Me (I’ve Got Someone To Kill).”

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PEEPLAND—Christa Faust & Gary Phillips

I don’t always read comic books or graphic novels, but when I do they’re about a peepbooth worker and her punk rock ex-partner. The brutal murder of a public access pornographer puts this unlikely duo under fire from criminals, cops, and the city elite, uncovering a web of corruption that leads right to city hall. Christa Faust and Gary Phillips are two of L.A.’s best pulp and noir writers, and Andrea Camerini’s artwork in PEEPLAND is fantastic. Read my interview with Christa Faust and Gary Phillips.

MY DAMAGE: THE STORY OF A PUNK SURVIVOR—Keith Morris & Jim Ruland

Keith Morris is a founding member of two groundbreaking SoCal bands, Black Flag and The Circle Jerks (among others). But this well-written book goes beyond those stories to show you his winding path to underground infamy. It’s been a strange trip for this soulful punk icon, and it just keeps getting more interesting.

CRIME + MUSIC—Edited by Jim Fusilli

Jim Fusilli, editor for this fantastic short story collection, starts his forward this way: “I don’t suppose it would be much of a surprise to discover that there’s a dark and deadly side to the world of popular music.” What is surprising about this anthology is the diverse talents of the contributors, including Zoe Sharp, Peter Robinson, Reed Farrel Coleman, Tyler Dilts, Bill Fitzhugh and Erica Wright—among many others. Every one of these stories hums, sings or (in the case of Gary Phillips’, “Shaderoc The Soul Shaker”) rips your head clean off.

DESERT CITY DIVA—Corey Lynn Fayman

I came into the Rolly Waters series in this third installment, but had no problem getting acquainted with the character and his San Diego. This book is a romp across a SoCal desert full of paranoid outsiders and lost souls. Love the musical references threaded throughout, and Rolly’s ability to solve the action-packed case without constantly waving a gun around or punching through walls. A fast, fun read that will keep you coming back. Read my interview with Corey Lynn Fayman.

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WAITING TO BE FORGOTTEN: SONGS OF CRIME AND HEARTBREAK INSPIRED BY THE REPLACEMENTS—Edited by Jay Stringer

Putting aside my own contribution to this anthology, Jay Stringer has assembled a truly impressive collection of crime and mystery writers including Johnny Shaw, Kristi Belcamino, Josh Stallings, Angel Colon, Jen Conley, Tom Leins, Alex Segura and Mike McCrary—among many others. Not to mention, talented contributors like Franz Nicolay (The Hold Steady) and Gorman Bechard (Director of “Color Me Impressed: A Film About The Replacements,” and “Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart”). Read my interview with Jay Stringer.


BCC Cover FinalS.W. Lauden’s debut novel—about a punk rock musician turned disgraced cop—is called BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. It was released in October 2015 from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published on October  2016. His standalone Tommy Ruzzo novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.

2016: My Year In Interviews

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I got the not-so-original idea to interview other writers at Bouchercon, Long Beach a couple of years ago. At the time, I was new to the vibrant crime and mystery community and eager to learn about the people who were a few steps—or a few miles—ahead of rsz_screen_shot_2016-05-08_at_74929_amme in their publishing journey. Since then I have expanded my interviews to include a handful of publishers, event organizers, designers and bloggers.

I discovered pretty quickly that even the most hardboiled author was happy to indulge my questions, giving them serious consideration and, when asked, providing insightful advice about writing, publishing and marketing. This is a truly talented bunch of people. And a lot of them are funny too.

Two years later, I’m happy to say that many have become friends that I connect with regularly on social media, at annual conferences like Left Coast Crime, Noir at the Bar events around the country, and bookstore signings.

rsz_screen_shot_2016-04-08_at_75943_pm_2Looking back on 2016, I did 48 interviews. If you missed any of them, or if you’re looking to discover a talented new crime/mystery author, here they are again (along with links):

January:

Corey Lynn Fayman, Leslie Bohem, Jack Getze, Ingrid Willis

rsz_screen_shot_2016-01-24_at_50801_pmFebruary:

John L. Thompson, Rob Hart, J.L. Abramo, Bill Fitzhugh, J.T. Lindroos

March:

Brett Battles, Brian Thornton, Michael Lister, Gary Phillips

April:

rsz_screen_shot_2016-01-17_at_83408_amMarietta Miles, Jon Jordan, Jeff Newberry, C.S. Dewildt

May:

Christian Lee, Jen Conley, Glen Erik Hamilton, Sarah M. Chen

June:

Larry Wilson, Bryon Quertermous, Dharma Kelleher, Ryan Gattis, Joe Clifford

July:

rsz_screen_shot_2016-06-26_at_73433_pmBenjamin Whitmer, Jason Pinter, Greg Barth

August:

Mike Creeden, Nick Kolakowski, Erik Storey, Gabino Iglesias, Mike McCrary

September:

Alex Segura, Ro Cuzon, Erik Arenson

rsz_screen_shot_2016-09-05_at_34632_pmOctober:

Jay Stringer, S.G. Redling, Christa Faust & Gary Phillips, Michael Pool, Naomi Hirahara

November:
Lori Rader-Day, Andrew Nette, Bob Truluck, Angel Luis Colon

December:

Matt Coyle, Jonathan Brown

I look forward to interviewing more of you in 2017. Thanks for a great year!

grizzly-seasonS.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published on October 11, 2016. His Tommy Ruzzo novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.

Interrogation—Jonathan Brown

Who: Jonathan Brown

What: A “Rock n Roll P.I. Writer” who is also a fitness trainer, drummer and martial arts practitioner. Originally from Vancouver, B.C., he currently lives in Los Angeles and is working on books three and four in the Lou Crasher series.

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

You have written two books in the Lou Crasher series, CRESCENDO and DRUMROLL PLEASE. What was your inspiration for this character?

I’m often teased by family and friends that Lou Crasher is a Hollywood movie version of me. I categorically deny the accusation…kinda…sorta. I moved from Vancouver to L.A. in 1994 and attended music school. I went back in ’96 and toured Canada and U.S with a couple of bands. In 2000 I returned to L.A. and it’s been home to my wife and me ever since. Furthermore, I constantly kept an eye on Los Angeles headlines since I was about age 17 and always dug L.A. noir stories.

I knew I wanted to do an amateur P.I. When I asked myself what/who is he, a reluctant, wisecracking, tough guy drummer tumbling into the P.I. biz just seemed to make sense.

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Interrogation—Matt Coyle

coyle-head-shotWho: Matt Coyle

What: His debut novel, YESTERDAY’S ECHO, won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the San Diego Book Award for Best Mystery, and the Ben Franklin Silver Award for Best New Voice in Fiction. His second book, NIGHT TREMORS, was named a top pick for 2015 by Bookreporter.com. and was a Lefty, Shamus, and Anthony Award Finalist. DARK FISSURES, is the third book in the Rick Cahill crime series.

Where: San Diego

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Congrats on publishing your latest Rick Cahill novel, DARK FISSURES. How did the concept for this one come about?

Thanks, Steve.

The idea for the book came to me late in the “I need a story for my next book” process. I’d gone through a lot of what if scenarios and hadn’t come up with anything that resonated. Late in the process, I happened to be reading about the death of two former Navy SEALs overseas who were working for Global Response Solutions. Among other things, GRS hires out for security to the CIA. I wondered what these former elite soldiers would do for work after they returned home to the States. Law enforcement made sense. Then I wondered what Rick would do if he was hired to investigate the suicide of these former SEALs.

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Interrogation—Angel Luis Colon

Who: Angel Luis Colón

What: Author of NO HAPPY ENDINGS, THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR, and the in-progress anthology; MEAT CITY ON FIRE AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES. He’s an editor for Shotgun Honey, has been nominated for the Derringer, and is published in multiple web and print pubs.

Where: New York

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

NO HAPPY ENDINGS is an unconventional heist novel, to say the least. Where were you when the idea struck? 

NO HAPPY ENDINGS came mostly from a weirdo, one-off article I read in passing a year or two ago. It was one of those interest pieces you know was written with little to no research with the sole purpose of making another country look ridiculous, but that planted a seed.

Initially, I was going to make a gross and unsettling short from the idea and send it over to Thuglit to see Todd Robinson’s reaction. Then the story went long, then I switched protags (this was originally going to be a sequel to THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR), then the story got longer. I flip flopped a bit until I found a rhythm and decided this would be full-length feature.

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Interrogation—Bob Truluck

bob-in-wedding-costumeWho: Bob Truluck

What: A suspected pop-noirist who has been nominated for some good stuff and has actually garnered a couple of nice looking awards. His novels include STREET LEVEL, SAW RED and his upcoming release, THE BIG NOTHING. Bob has no favorite color or lucky number and will eat most anything but rutabaga.

Where: Florida

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

Thanks for sending me an advanced copy of THE BIG NOTHING. Can you tell me a little about how the book came about?

And thanks for looking at the book. Mostly, THE BIG NOTHING came about from a desire to write a not-PI thing. The Sloan series is fun, but it’s still PI stuff—and it’s a controlled trot whether it seems that way or not; I could do a Sloan in a hundred and fifty pages easy, but I don’t. I wanted to let my pencil run.

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