Interrogation: Angel Luis Colon

ALCWho: Angel Luis Colon

What: His Derringer Award nominated fiction has appeared in multiple print and web publications. Book reviews have appeared in My Bookish Ways and he is an editor for Shotgun Honey, a flash-fiction website focused on noir, hard-boiled, and crime crime stories. Debut novella, THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR out in July from One Eye Press.

Where: New York

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

I just read THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR in one shot. Totally couldn’t put it down. What dark corner of your soul did the title character emerge from? Where does he go when you’re not writing about him?

Great question. Blacky isn’t necessarily my id, but he’s definitely a creature of impulse. I wanted to create someone dark, but cartoonish enough to love, if that makes sense. Most of Blacky’s decisions are by the seat of his pants and most definitely low-hanging fruit. Though, in the story, we do see Blacky has sort of a moral compass. This doesn’t excuse the things he does, but in most cases you’d have a beer with the guy.

That second part, I can probably answer that better when I’m actually not writing him! I’m currently working on a new Blacky story for the Thuglit Christmas anthology due out later this year. This crazy bastard won’t leave my brain, man.

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Interrogation: Anthony Neil Smith


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Who: Anthony Neil Smith

What: Chair of the English Department at Southwest Minnesota State University, and author of ten crime novels, including YELLOW MEDICINE, ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS, and WORM. He likes cheap red wine and tacos. He still scoops out the cat box every week. It’s humbling.

Where: Minnesota

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

I just read WORM and really dug it. It made me smile and it made me grit my teeth, but mostly it made me feel dirty—in a good way. What was the inspiration for this story? How close is the published novel to the one you set out to write?

Worm ANSThe inspiration was my mother-in-law telling me about the oil boom in North Dakota, which I hadn’t heard too much about. At the time, I was working on a stalled idea about some blue-collar guys in Sioux Falls robbing the small, storefront “casinos” that are all over that city. But it wasn’t coming together, even though I liked the characters. So I went off to finish ONCE A WARRIOR instead, but I started researching the NoDak boom. I ended up watching hours and hours of videos on YouTube from guys who worked the fields, giving advice to people who might want to come to it—sort of a “get the real story” deal. And some filmed the job itself, especially the truck drivers. I read a bunch , too, but those videos hooked me. And I could imagine my band of casino robbers becoming oil workers instead. But at first, I considered *maybe* this was a way to continue the Billy Lafitte series…but that didn’t work either. And then, I had a heart attack at the halfway mark. After that, I felt that the book, while not especially personal, was personal to me because of what it took to get it done. I’m in great health now, got a stent and all that, but finishing that novel the summer after the attack was damned important. It turned out exactly how it should’ve, I think.

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Polis Books Re-Releases PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN

rsz_screen_shot_2015-04-26_at_41529_pm_2Terrence McCauley is having a busy year. Polis Books will release his first thriller, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL in July—but not before re-releasing his two period crime novels, PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN this week.

I was lucky enough to interview the author earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from my Q & A with Terrence McCauley.

PROHIBITION coverIt looks like 2015 is shaping up to be a really big year for you. How many years in the making was your overnight success?

I’ve been pawing at writing since I graduated college in 1996, but didn’t start to get serious about it until 2000. I was working on a book I’d called TENETS OF POWER, a business thriller where I took the dry toast of corporate finance and tried to make it compelling. People in my workshops generally liked it but, in hindsight, it was too long and elaborate for popular consumption. In hindsight, my style was too detailed and tough to read.

That’s when I decided to try my hand at the one genre I’d always loved to read: crime fiction. I didn’t want to get wrapped up in researching CSI procedures that a modern-day story would need to have, so I decided to blend my love of New York history with the crime genre. The result was a gangster tale told from the perspective of an enforcer for the Irish mob who had to use his brains as well as his brawn to find out who was undermining his boss’s criminal empire.

SLOW BURN coverPROHIBITION was the result and eventually won TruTV’s Search for the Next Great Crime Writer award in 2008. I thought that would be the start of my writing career, but fate had different plans. Borders Book Stores was going to publish the book and feature it prominently in their store. We all know what happened with them soon after and, when they disappeared, so did my publishing hopes.

For a long time, I struggled to find a publisher because everyone told me that no one reads period fiction anymore. This was right before MAD MEN and other properties became big. However, I was fortunate enough to find a home for it with the good folks at Airship 27, who published PROHIBITION with original art from Rob Moran. The book didn’t get wide release, but their belief in my work kept me going. I’ll always be grateful to Ron Fortier and Rob Davis for their faith in my work.

Since then, I’ve gone back and forth between novels, novellas and short stories. Todd Robinson over at Thuglit has been especially supportive and his edits have really helped my work. I’ve been fortunate enough to have found an audience for my brand of storytelling.

Read the interview HERE

Buy PROHIBITION right HERE

Buy SLOW BURN right 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 by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Interrogation: Laurie Stevens

Laurie StevensWho: Laurie Stevens

What: Author of the best-selling Gabriel McRay psychological thrillers. The two books so far in the series, THE DARK BEFORE DAWN and DEEP INTO DUSK have won 9 awards, among them Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 and the 2014 IPPY for Best Mystery/Thriller.

Where: Los Angeles

I just finished reading THE DARK BEFORE DAWN, the first Gabriel McRay novel. It was a real page-turner. What drew you to write a psychological thriller/suspense series like this?

I wanted to bring out subjects that cause people to face their fears. I envisioned the protagonist, Gabriel McRay, as sort of an everyman character, needing to go on a psychological healing journey.

Dark Before DawnGabriel McRay is a deeply flawed character with a troubled past. Did you set out to write him with such an intricate back story, or did it evolve along the way?

A little of both. I presented his character with a trauma, something that is way too prevalent in modern society unfortunately. Then I did a lot of research and interviewed professionals to help shape the direction of his psychological healing process. But every writer will tell you that the characters end up speaking for themselves. Gabriel is no exception.
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Five New Books From Double Life Press Today

Double Life Press First FiveDouble Life Press founder Craig T. McNeely is not a man with small ambitions. His company burst onto the Indie crime scene in 2014 with the quarterly pulp fiction magazine, DARK CORNERS. The formation of Double Life Press followed shortly thereafter, with the stated goal of publishing writing “without boundaries.”

So it should come as no surprise that his publishing company is releasing its first five books on the same day. They are:

  1. THE THRILLVILLE PULP FICTION COLLECTION by Will Viharo, Vol. 1-3, is a series of “double features” reprinting the best work of underground literary legend Will Viharo in new, definitive editions.
  2. TREVOR ENGLISH by Pablo D’Stair collects five novellas featuring the titular character in one volume as they were meant to be read. D’Stair is one of the most original voices in crime fiction, as well as a filmmaker and ten thousand other things.
  3. DEATH THING by Andrew Hilbert is a horror novella about a guy named Gilbert who converts his car into a death trap because he’s sick of people breaking into it at night. Its scary and mean and hilarious and unlike anything else you are likely to read this year.

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Interrogation: Matt Coyle

Coyle Head Shot jpeg IIWho: Matt Coyle

What: Matt Coyle has a degree in English from UC Santa Barbara. He’s taken detours into the restaurant, golf, and sports collectible businesses. His first 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. NIGHT TREMORS is Matt’s second novel in the Rick Cahill crime series. Matt lives in San Diego with his Yellow Lab, Angus.

Where: San Diego

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

You set out to write the “great American novel” after college, but didn’t publish your first book until thirty years later. How did your publishing dreams and writing style change over the course of three decades? 

yesterdays-echo-225First of all, thanks for having me. I think dreams is a great choice of words because my preparation and expectations were unrealistic when I first started writing. First of all, I had to get off my rear end and consistently write. That took about twenty years to figure out. Then I thought writing was a completely solitary endeavor: You write in a cocoon without outside intervention because it’s your story. How could anyone else have anything to add to it? Once I finally had a first draft done, I thought, “Okay, time to find an agent, sign a big book deal and quit my day job forever.” Hard knocks taught me that the life of a writer is quite different than my dreams.

My writing style evolved as it had to for me to have any chance of getting published. I took novel classes at UC San Diego Extension and joined writers groups. I broke out of the cocoon and realized that readers my not be reading the story I thought I was writing. Plus, I starting writing in first person and found the voice of my protagonist, Rick Cahill. That changed everything.
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Quick Quotes—The Week in Publishing

rsz_screen_shot_2015-05-08_at_81939_am “There’s another advantage to being published by a traditional press that very few talk about or even acknowledge, and that’s the fact that your chances are good that your work will be soundly and professionally edited. And even traditional publishing isn’t what it used to be with editing, by and large.”—Les Edgerton at Electric Literature

“The best books deal with complicated, important, and often times controversial topics. Literature can be beautiful and unsettling all at once.”—Steven Petite at Huffington Post Books

“My reading of the report says that sanity is beginning to take hold in self-publishing and that the crazy days of unrealistic expectations are almost over. This is a very good thing.”—Derek Haines at Just Publishing

“When you are attempting to do something original, you are more likely to fail. However in my book, the attempt itself is success. Because when it works, you’ve created something that is entirely yours, that wouldn’t exist unless you had created it.”—Johnny Shaw at Boomtron

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“I love how a short story can be anything. However, I always feel a little stingy while I’m writing short stories, because I only have 4000 to 8000 words to explore the idea.”—Erika Krouse at Bad Citizen Corporation

“To make what we write any good at all, we must put ourselves fully into our characters. We have to feel what they would feel, so we can distill those imagined emotions into words on the page, words we hone over and over to evoke an empathic echo in our readers.”—Lois Leveen at The Millions

“It’s easy to forget the impact that a book can have on an individual—especially on a young, impressionable, marginalized, pissed off, typically male individual.”—Mike Harvkey at Publisher’s Weekly

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 novella, CROSSWISE, and his debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in 2015 and 2016.

Interrogation: Erika Krouse

Erika Krouse med-res2MBWho: Erika Krouse

What: Her short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Esquire.com, One Story, Ploughshares, and other magazines and anthologies. Erika’s collection of short stories, COME UP AND SEE ME SOMETIME (Scribner), won the Paterson Fiction Award, was chosen as a New York Times Notable Book of the year, and has been translated into six languages. Erika’s new novel, CONTENDERS, was published by Rare Bird Books in March, 2015, and will also be published by Aufbau-Verlag in Germany. Erika teaches at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, Colorado, and works part-time as a private investigator for Title IX and sexual assault cases.

Where: Boulder, Colorado

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

Congratulations! CONTENDERS, was just selected for my office book club. I have already read it, but my ten or so co-workers haven’t. What do you want them to know about your debut novel before they even crack it open?

Yay! I’m so glad, and thank you for the interview. Re: what people should know before reading, that’s a great question, and I don’t know the answer. I hope the book can stand on its own, or I’m in big trouble.

Now I’m worried.

All joking aside, CONTENDERS was one of the most original books I have read this year. How did you develop the concept, voice and tone?

Thank you so much! That’s great to hear. When I started CONTENDERS, I had already been writing a completely different novel for a couple of years. After I realized it was irredeemable crap, I threw it out in favor of a four-word idea: “a woman who fights.” That’s all I had. I was training a lot of martial arts at the time, and was asking questions without finding answers, so this was my way of exploring further.
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Congrats To Sam Wiebe

rsz_screen_shot_2015-01-08_at_100106_amThe Crime Writers of Canada announced the 2015 Arthur Ellis Awards Shortlists for Crime Writing this week. Among the finalists for “Best First Novel” was Sam Wiebe for LAST OF THE INDEPENDENTS.

Best First Novel

  • Janet Brons, A Quiet Kill, Touchwood Editions
  • Steve Burrows, Siege of Bitterns, Dundurn Press
  • M.H. Callway, Windigo Fire, Seraphim Editions
  • Eve McBride, No Worst, There Is None, Dundurn Press
  • Sam Wiebe, Last of the Independents, Dundurn Press

imageI met Sam at Bouchercon in Long Beach late last year and read his debut novel shortly after. Here is the brief review I gave it on Amazon:

“What a great debut novel. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. The author clearly understands the rich history of Noir, but manages to update the genre in a truly compelling way. Definitely looking forward to more Vancouver Noir from Sam Wiebe.”

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Interrogation: J. David Osborne

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Who: J. David Osborne

What: Publisher-in-chief of Broken River Books, a small press dedicated to publishing strange, left-of-center, transgressive fiction. He is also the author of five books, including the Wonderland-Award-winning BY THE TIME WE LEAVE HERE, WE’LL BE FRIENDS and his most recent, BLACK GUM. He lives with his partner and their dog.

Where: Portland, Oregon

Black GumI just finished reading BLACK GUM and was blown away. As a reader who writes reviews, I thought I’d ask your opinion of my review:
I think that’s a very kind review that does a good job of articulating how the book made you feel. You also provide punchy details that would pique my interest. 5/5, would read again.

We all know that reader reviews are a valuable tool for writers and publishers, but is it a double-edged sword? Do you even bother to read the reviews? When you do, do you read as a writer or a publisher?

I usually take about an hour out of the month to dig through Goodreads and Amazon and get up-to-date on what people are saying about the BRB catalog, or my own stuff. It’s kind of thrilling in its way. But I think balance is key. You can’t check that shit every day, because for one it’s a suck on your time, and secondly it creates manic, impulsive, obsessive behavior. I’ve seen writers go nuts, checking their Amazon page over and over. That’s like dropping your kid off at kindergarten, then hovering around the school, worrying. It’s bad for you, and it’s bad for the kid.

On the other hand, you have to take the temperature. You have to get a sense of what’s working for people, and what’s not. And also, folks take the time out of their day to write those reviews, so I think within reason it’s good manners to take a look at their feedback.

Outside of my personal relationship with reader reviews, they are objectively important to the success of a book. And I value the fact that a lot of folks out there take a minute or two to give their opinions. Authors work long hours and live inside strange bubbles, and to put all that work into something and then sell it for incredibly low prices (I mean, think about it…these books occasionally take years to write…and then LDDREthey’re available for a buck online). So, if you’re getting a little piece of someone for dirt cheap, I think it’s the right thing to do to at least pass the book on, whether it’s to a friend or to strangers on a website.

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