The Power Of Audio Fiction

TFFO logoI’m a big podcast listener, so I spend a lot of time thinking about ways to use audio to distribute and promote fiction. There are some really great examples of fiction podcasts out there including Selected Shorts, Crime City Central , CrimewaveThe Truth and Title 18: Word Crimes—to name a few.

I was lucky enough to interview Erik Arneson and Scott Detrow from the Title 18: Word Crimes podcast in December, and this is an excerpt from what they had to say about audio fiction:

Arneson graphic final

[Erik Arneson and Scott Detrow interview excerpt]  What place do you think podcasting has in the current short story market? Where will it be in a year? Five years?

Erik Arneson: Podcasting and short stories are a perfect match. In the U.S., the average commute time is 25 minutes – basically, the ideal length to listen to a short story. Podcasts are exploding in popularity right now, with Serial being Exhibit A. I think that growth will continue over the next five years.

Scott Detrow: It’s been interesting to watch podcasts come back into style. I did a news podcast with a couple other political reporters several years ago, and at the time we all joked that it was a retro, throwback medium. (Actually, come to think of it, Erik was one of that podcast’s biggest fans, so maybe he disagrees!) But suddenly, they’re massively popular again. I think you have to credit apps that made it easier to deliver new episodes right to listeners.

Read the whole interview HERE.

Dead Beats PostcardInspired by my email exchange with Erik and Scott, I decided to create an audio version of my story DEAD BEATS that was published by The Flash Fiction Offensive over at Out of the Gutter Online. Tom and Joe from the editorial team liked the additional content so much that they asked me to start contributing more audio on a semi-regular basis. The first offering is a dark, twisted and mind-blowing short story called DADDY’S GIRL by Nicky Kennington.

It’s pretty time-consuming, but a lot of fun. So, you can expect more audio from me—for my own work, and from the vaults over at The Flash Fiction Offensive—in the near future.

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, QuarterReads and Crimespree Magazine. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published in 2015. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. You can read one of his recent short stories right HERE.

Books, I’ve Read A Few

Magician's Land  Tussinland  StationElevenNorthAmericaHiRes  Hustle

I read quite a few books this year, although not all of them were published in 2014.

Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order:

Interrogation: Mike Monson

mike monsonWho: Mike Monson

Where: Modesto

What: Mike Monson is the author of the novel “Tussinland,” the short story collection “Criminal Love and Other Stories,” and the novellas “The Scent of New Death” and “What Happens in Reno“. He is also the editor for All Due Respect, a publisher of crime fiction books and a quarterly magazine.

Interview conducted by email. Some answers have been edited.

I thought that “Tussinland” was one of the best modern Noir novels I have read. What was the inspiration for writing this particular story?

Thanks. That’s a little complicated. In the summer of 2012, when I first started writing fiction I somehow got the idea of writing about a sort of lost guy living in Modesto with his mother whTussinlando got hooked on tussin/dm while working temp office jobs. It was semi-based on some experiences I’d had years before but completely exaggerated and fictionalized. I remembered doing some internet research on the recreational uses of DM and one very complete and detailed website used the term “tussinland’ to describe the hallucinogenic place that one could get to if enough cough syrup was ingested in a short period of time. It even described a phenomenon that I put into the beginning of my novel where the DM-user will have, for some unknown reason, a really bad ugly experience, after which it is never good again.

Anyway, I wrote about 30 or 40 pages but had no idea what to do with what I had. So, I kept putting it aside while I wrote short stories and the novellas “What Happens in Reno” and “The Scent of New Death”. I’d go back to it and try to turn what I had into a crime novel and kept developing plots that didn’t work, some of which I devoted more than 100 pages to before finally deleting. Eventually, last summer in Hawaii I figured out what I want to do with it and the book as it exists now came pretty fast.

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New Story + Podcast Up TODAY on Flash Fiction Offensive

Dead Beats PostcardSuper excited that my rock and roll noir story “Dead Beats” is now live on Flash Fiction Offensive.

I’m referring to it as #NoiRnR. Let’s see if it catches on.

I wrote the story before I discovered Flash Fiction Offensive, but once I did I knew for certain where I wanted to publish it. And then I got lucky.

EndlessPartyClick on the link and you will find both my flash fiction for “Dead Beats” along with a very special reading of it by my good friend and rock & roll lifer, Marko DeSantis. Not only was he the guitarist for Sugarcult, touring the world with the likes of Green Day and Blink-182, but he’s played with Bad Astronaut, Nerf Herder and The Swingin’ Utters—to name a few. On top of all that, he’s also a great writer, storyteller and incredible rock DJ. Check out his show “Endless Party Radio” on the Independent FM Thursday nights. It’s killer.

The “Dead Beats” audio also features some of the song “Punctual Alcoholic” by the rock group Tsar.

Thanks. Hope you dig “Dead Beats“.

New Short Story Up on

So I stumbled across this interesting website on Twitter. It’s called QuarterReads and it’s a NEW market for short fiction.

As the name implies, all the short stories posted there can be read for twenty-five cents (but readers have to buy credits in $10 blocks).

I was so taken with the concept that I submitted a short story, “Town Car,” which is now live. The first taste is free:

The young driver stood near the baggage carousel, shuffling his wingtips from side to side. His white shirt was pressed and his tie was straight, but his jacket was still in the trunk of the town car. 

The driver patted his hair down as blurry-eyed travelers straggled by. He stepped aside to let them pass, keeping his eye on the escalators in the distance. 

The name ‘Volkov’ glowed from the screen of his tablet computer. This might be his only passenger of the night, but everything had to go just right. His future depended on it.

‘Just get him to the hotel.’

The driver was checking his phone for missed calls when the passenger materialized. A puff of smoke would have completed the illusion. Volkov reached out and pushed the ‘home’ button on the driver’s tablet. 

His name faded to black.

“I don’t advertise.”


I will also be posting an interview with QuarterReads founder and author Ian Rose later this week. Here’s a sneak peek from the Q&A:

“Readers benefit, we hope, from QuarterReads as a source of new stories that have been somewhat vetted, but that aren’t chosen based on editorial bias. We accept/reject stories, essays and poems on technical quality (spelling/grammar) and the basic requirement that they be a complete story. Then we let the readers do the picking and choosing after that. I like to think of it as a gate with a loose chain on it, that most stories can fit through if they squeeze and shimmy a bit, but not all. For writers, we offer the best percentage royalties anywhere I’ve seen, far better than self-publishing. We can’t yet offer the kind of exposure or marketing machine that the big self-pub sites can, but whenever they sell a story, they know that the vast majority of the money is going to them, not us.” — Ian Rose

In the meantime, please go check out my short story at QuarterReads and let me know what you think of both.

Interrogation: Joe Clifford


Who: Joe Clifford

Where: San Francisco

What: Joe Clifford is acquisitions editor for Gutter Books, managing editor of The Flash Fiction Offensive, and producer of Lip Service West, a “gritty, real, raw” reading series in Oakland, CA. Joe is the author of four books (“Choice Cuts,” “Junkie Love,” “Wake the Undertaker,” and “Lamentation”), as well as editor of “Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Stories Based on the Songs of Bruce Springsteen”.

Interview conducted by email. Some answers have been edited.

How long have you been writing and publishing?

I started writing and publishing in earnest when I returned to school in the early-2000s. I’d just gotten off the streets, cleaned up, and needed something to do with my time. One of the perks of heroin addiction is you don’t have to ask these questions like, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” You don’t grow up. You don’t get to “be” anything. Which is sad. But, in a strange way, it is also much easier. You can’t fail if you don’t try. When I stopped being a selfish fuck-up, I needed a direction, somewhere to pour passions. I’d always been an artist, even on the streets. Musician, whatever, had bands. I went back to college, professors liked my writing, and it took off from there.

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Interrogation: Travis Richardson

Travis Richardson_5x7_300dpi (1)Who: Travis Richardson

Where: Los Angeles

What:Incident on the 405” (from Criminal Element’s Malfeasance Occasional “Girl Trouble”) was nominated for both the Anthony and Macavity short story awards this year. His novella LOST IN CLOVER was listed in Spinetingler Magazine’s Best Crime Fiction of 2012. He has published stories in several online zines and anthologies. He edits the Sisters-In-Crime LA newsletter, reviews Chekhov shorts and sometimes shoots a short movie. His latest novella is KEEPING THE RECORD.

This interview was conducted by email. Some answers have been edited.

If you had to explain your writing to somebody who has never read your work before, how would you describe it?  
I call myself a crime writer. It’s the most consistent thing I write. I often dabble in noir and sometimes I write humorous or action-adventure tales, but I rarely write a straight up “who done it” mystery. I try to push my characters to extremes and have them react. Sometimes it’s funny and other times it’s tragic. Although I usually start stories with an idea in mind, once the characters start interacting, I just try to keep up on the keyboard.

Is crime what you originally set out to write, or did your focus and style change over time?
I originally wanted to write literary short stories as well as screenplays. While my literary shorts were sincere, not much happened except that somebody was unhappy and didn’t do much of anything. Eventually I began to burn out on reading New Yorker stories about wealthy, unhappy people with first world problems. In a writing class in Berkeley, we were assigned the Best American Short Stories of the previous year and the first story was “Puppy” by Richard Ford. I wrote an essay about how I was tired of reading the same down tempo stagnant stories. This isn’t to bag on the Pulitzer Prize winning author, if anything I’m grateful for the epiphany his story (after many others) provided. It broke me from the monotonous literary rut I had been stuck in for years. Around that time I also finished writing the first part of a coming of age novel based on my Grandfather living in depression era Arkansas. The next part was going to require me to learn several musical instruments and reconfigure a carefully constructed family after a tragedy. I wanted to try something new, so I began a manuscript called The Prodigal Detective. After completing it, I discovered a wonderful community of crime writers through Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America…. and I don’t look back much.

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