What: Author of KILL ME QUICK!, GUNS OF BRIXTON, COLD LONDON BLUES and THE LAST LAUGH, AND OTHER SHOTS OF NOIR.He was born in England and lives in Poland. He is an International Thriller Writers Inc. member whose writing has been translated into Polish, Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including three editions of THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST BRITISH CRIME. He has edited a few anthologies, including the best-selling TRUE BRIT GRIT–with Luca Veste.
Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.
I just read your new novella KILL ME QUICK! It’s gritty, fast-paced and hilarious. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
I was in correspondence with the great Cathi Unsworth after reading her novel WEIRDO and Graham Greene’s BRIGHTEN ROCK back to back. We noticed that there weren’t too many other examples of ‘seaside noir’. It started me thinking about writing one. At about the same time, Chris Black launched Number Thirteen Press. I was a fan and wanted in. Soooo …
It was common at British seaside resorts for girls to wear Kiss Me Quick hats, so the title of the book was obvious to me.
Seatown is an exaggerated, grotesque, baroque version of my home town, Hartlepool, and its surrounding areas. I’d used Seatown in a few short stories—such as The Gumshoe and The Postman Cometh. I thought it would be good to use it and its cast of oddballs in something longer. The homecoming thing really came from two of my favourite Brit Grit films : Get Carter, and Charlie Bubbles.
Hammonds is also a musician, like you and I. How much does music inform your writing? Is it more important for character development or plot in your writing?
I’ve never been a musician though I’ve played guitar and bass off and on for a bit. The first bass I played had only 3 strings and I played it upside because I borrowed it from my mate Peter Ord, who is left-handed. And I’ve never been able to tune a guitar. Or a fish …. There’s very little plot in my writing … or character development for that matter.
It’s not difficult to write about musicians of various degrees of success and non-success as I’ve known many over the years. When I was writing KILL ME QUICK! I was thinking of the band Crème Brule from the dark comedy television series The League Of Gentlemen.
Do you listen to music when you write? What are some of your all time favorite bands?
I don’t usually listen to music when I write. I’m too easily distracted. I prefer writers to bands: Tom Waits, Vic Godard, David Bowie, Scott Walker. But examples of bands I always go back to are Buzzcocks, Magazine, Ramones, The Stooges, Subway Sect and Josef K.
KILL ME QUICK! has been cut from the same cloth as GUNS OF BRIXTON, for sure. Both have more than a touch of grotesque, absurdist black comedy about them. Both are very British with their sense of the grotesque and impending pratfalls. The writer Robert Cowan described GUNS OF BRIXTON as ‘Part knuckle duster, part seaside post card,’ and that suits both books and, indeed, a lot of my stuff.
THE NEON BONEYARD is a supernatural noir, so a moody atmosphere is the most important thing there.
You were born in England, but currently live in Poland. How does living abroad change your perspective on the English characters you create?
I think seeing things and people from a distance—and the distance of time—certainly helps give a tragi-comic look at characters’ lives.
I think, in a short story every line counts. It’s a writers’ world. My longer stuff is just stretched out short stories, really. I always build my yarns up bit by bit, no matter the length.
Any advice you would give to up-and-coming crime writers? What’s one pitfall you would tell them to avoid?
Never give or listen to advice.
What are your publishing plans for 2016?
COLD LONDON BLUES is coming out from Caffeine Nights Publishing in July. It’s a follow-up to GUNS OF BRIXTON.
THE LAST LAUGH, AND OTHER SHOTS OF NOIR is due out in May, from All Due Respect. It’s a collection of my best short stories.
And maybe another book. We’ll see …
S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available now from Rare Bird Books. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.