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—Andrew Nette

Who: Andrew Nette

What: A crime writer, freelance journalist and pulp fiction scholar. His first novel, GHOST MONEY, a crime story set in mid-nineties Cambodia, appeared in 2012. His second novel, GUNSHINE STATE, was published by 280 Steps in September. His short fiction has appeared in a number of print and online publications, including Beat to a Pulp Hardboiled 3, Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels, Phnom Penh Noir and the 2016 anthology of Australian crime fiction, Crime Scenes : Stories.

Where: Australia

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

GUNSHINE STATE was one hell of a read! Tell us a little about how this book came together.

Thanks. GUNSHINE STATE is the fusion of two literary ambitions.

Firstly, I love a good heist story but not a lot of them have appeared on the local crime fiction scene. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at writing what I hope is a quintessentially Australian take on the heist genre and GUNSHINE STATE is it.

Second, there was a period in my life several years ago when, for various family reasons, I was spending a lot of time in Surfers Paradise, a city in the sub-tropical south of the Australian state of Queensland, where a decent chunk of GUNSHINE STATE is set. For US readers, Surfers is a very strange place. It was a small settlement hacked out of mangroves swamps in the forties that by the sixties had become Australia’s foremost beach holiday destination. It was modelled on similar places in Florida, so it has this weird faux Miami vibe, traces of which are still visible. Nowadays, the local authorities promote Surfers as a family friendly destination, but it has a very shady history.

From the sixties to the mid-eighties, Queensland was run by a group of corrupt cops known as the ‘Rat Pack’, who were involved in everything from prostitution, drug trafficking and illegal gambling, to political intimidation and murder. Surprisingly, only a handful of Australian crime novels have touched on the darker aspects of Queensland’s history, and spending time there, I decided I wanted to add to that list.

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Guest DJ—Eryk Pruitt

Eryk Pruitt is a screenwriter, author, filmmaker and radio host. And starting today he is also a Guest DJ! Check out this amazing playlist featuring everything from Bob Dylan and Lee Hazlewood to Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and Sublime. And don’t miss our radio/podcast discussion about “Music in Crime Fiction” this Monday, Dec. 14.

The Crime SceneIf you aren’t already familiar with Eryk’s work, you’re missing out. His short fiction has appeared in The Avalon Literary ReviewThuglitPulp Modern, and Zymbol, among others. In 2014, his fiction was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and also a finalist for a Derringer Award. His debut novel, DIRTBAGS, and his follow-up novel, HASHTAG, are both available now.

He wrote and produced the short film FOODIE which won eight top awards at over sixteen film festivals. Since then, he has written several others, including KEEPSAKE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview I did with Eryk Pruitt earlier this year.

ErykAuthorPhotoHow does your approach to short stories differ from your longer works?

I can write a first draft for a short story in a day. If I get the kernel of an idea, I can sit down and write and then set it aside and come back and rewrite a couple days later, then do it again… and after a couple weeks I will have a polished, fine-tuned little piece of fiction. That’s pretty rewarding. Finishing something is its own reward, and the short story allows you to reward yourself more often than you can with a novel.

Find Eryk Pruitt: Website and Amazon

Previous Playlists:

Guest DJ—Tom Pitts

Guest DJ—Craig T. McNeely

Guest DJ—Angel Colon

Guest DJ—Josh Stallings

29 SoCal Punk Songs

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.

Interrogation—Christopher Irvin

Who: Christopher Irvin

What: Author of FEDERALES and BURN CARDS. His short stories have been featured in several publications, including ThuglitBeat to a Pulp, and Shotgun Honey. His short story collection, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, is out this November from 280 Steps.

Where: Boston

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

Since you’re about to publish SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, a tremendous collection of 13 short stories, I’m going to ask you one question about each story. First up is “Union Man”. What inspired you to write a period piece about a man caught between a rock and a hard place during a steel mill strike?

Thank you for the kind words and interview! I wish I had more notes on “Union Man.” I write by hand a lot and have tried hard to keep to a journal since 2012 (I’m finishing up my third). I have a small paragraph from early in 2013 about researching the steel strikes (I recall looking at a lot of photos and articles online), and I sent off a draft to friends for critique that May. It’s unfortunate as it’s a favorite of the collection, but I do know at its heart that it’s my ‘fatherhood story.’ My first son, George, was born in August of 2012 and a clearly recall this being the first piece where I incorporated my sense of being a father, the responsibilities, etc. It was a story that I had to write, and even though I knew pretty much from the outset where it needed to go—for narrative reasons and to make an impact—it was still difficult to write.

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Eryk Pruitt’s HASHTAG Is Out Today

Eryk Pruitt is screenwriter, author and filmmaker living in Durham, NC. His short films FOODIE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND have won several awards at film festivals across the US. His fiction appears in THE AVALON LITERARY REVIEW, PULP MODERN, THUGLIT and ZYMBOL, to name a few. His novel DIRTBAGHashtagCover350S was published in April 2014, and his follow-up novel, HASHTAG, was published today by 280 Steps.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the author last month between book and film projects, long enough to have him answer a few questions. Here is an excerpt from my interview with Eryk Pruitt.

How does your new novel, HASHTAG, differ from your debut novel, DIRTBAGS?

HASHTAG, for one, is a little longer. Much like DIRTBAGS, it is told in three parts. It also gets a prologue and an epilogue, which I’m pretty happy about. Our characters get a chance to leave town some in HASHTAG, which is fun. I think there’s no place more beautiful, more sinister, more dangerous and more blessed than the American South, and I wanted to take the readers on a little ride, so we manage to get out of Lake Castor. How we do it… well, that’s a different story.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-04-05_at_73753_amWas writing a novel easier the second time around? 

I was fortunate enough to have already written HASHTAG by the time DIRTBAGS was published. However, after having gone through line edits and copy edits, it fiddled with my head during HASHTAG rewrites. I kept rewriting it and rewriting it, and even after 280 Steps took it, I still emailed them and asked if I could rewrite it one more time. Since I’ve been lucky enough to get some good reactions from people regarding DIRTBAGS, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make a book that people will like. I kind of forgot that I was supposed to have a lot of fun and that’s what people will respond to. It took me a while to get that through my thick skull, but I think I’ve got it down now. Have fun while you’re writing and everything will be just fine… I hope.

Read the whole INTERVIEW HERE.

Buy HASHTAG HERE

S.W. Lauden is a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Akashic Books, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published in 2016.

“Rumrunners” by Eric Beetner

rumrunners-cover-01Eric Beetner’s latest novel, RUMRUNNERS, is out today from 280 Steps. This is one of several releases from the prolific SoCal crime writer in 2015.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the author earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from my interview with Eric Beetner:

Your new novel, RUMRUNNERS, is out in May 2015. The publisher, 280 Steps, describes it as “Smokey and the Bandit meets Justified and Fargo…” Is that an accurate description?

I love that they came up with that, and yes, I think it suits the book. People often tell me I’m funny when I write and I think it has that gallows humor I put in very unintentionally. It just sneaks in, I guess.

And yes there are car chases and explosions of violence, so I think the description fits quite well.

You can read the whole interview HERE. Or just go buy the book HERE.

Also, if you live in the Los Angeles area, you can see Eric Beetner read at Noir at the Bar THIS SUNDAY along with Naomi Hirahara, Gary Phillips, Craig Faustus Buck and Attica Locke.

Interrogation: Eryk Pruitt

BloodyDirtbags5Who: Eryk Pruitt

What: A screenwriter, author and filmmaker living in Durham, NC with his wife Lana and cat Busey. His short films FOODIE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND have won several awards at film festivals across the US. His fiction appears in THE AVALON LITERARY REVIEW, PULP MODERN, THUGLIT and ZYMBOL, to name a few. In 2015, he’s been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and is a finalist for the Derringer Award. His novel DIRTBAGS was published in April 2014, and HASHTAG will be published by 280 Steps in May, 2015.

Where: Durham, North Carolina

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

dirtbagsI just finished reading DIRTBAGS and found myself in awe of just how much all of the characters live up to the title. What was your inspiration to write a novel about an aspiring serial killer?

I’ve always had a weird curiosity with the famous serial killers. In school, I wrote a lot of papers about them, collected their statistics like trading cards. I once met a girl who had the same odd interest in them and (no shit) said she joined Chi Omega because that was the sorority where Ted Bundy killed those girls back in ’78. You’d have thought we’d have made quite a pair, but it never worked out for some reason or another. But little facts will pop into my head sometimes when I’m in a perfectly normal, grown-up conversation and the looks I’ve received have been hilarious (to me).

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