Interrogation—Glenn Gray

Who: Glenn Gray

What: His stories have appeared in a wide range of online and print magazines and anthologies. His story collection, THE LITTLE BOY INSIDE AND OTHER STORIES was published by Concord ePress.

Where: New York

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

Your short story, “Break,” kicks off the new Broken River Books anthology, HARD SENTENCES. How did you come up with the idea for this one?

That was all David James Keaton’s fault. Seriously. I was racking my brain for an idea, something medical. Maybe the infirmary at Alcatraz, from a physician’s point of view. I started researching Al Capone and his well-known history of syphilis in his later years. It was all pretty interesting, but nothing good jumped out or clicked as far as story. I considered various angles, but most were dead ends for me. Nothing unique enough. Then DJK posted a list of concepts in the HARD SENTENCES guidelines that he wanted to see written. One of them was, “a story inspired by that Russian guy in the news who squeezed through the food slot in his prison cell.” I was like, huh? So I searched online and found the video and was like, hell yes, we may have something here. I watched this lanky naked dude wriggling through the food slot of his cell like some kind of slippery fish. He plops down on the other side of the bars, puts his clothes on and nonchalantly walks away.

The wheels started turning. What if there was no food slot? How could someone squeeze through the bars? What would stop you? Bone, of course. If we had no skeleton, we’d just be a blob and could squeeze through anything, and I thought of that liquid metal guy in Terminator 2. So I started thinking about diseases, anomalies, syndromes, anything that could help. And for me, the medicine has to make sense in order to write it. It can be fantastical but it has to be based in some real medicine or disease. And the anatomy has to be perfect. I had some diseases in mind, did more research, settled on osteogenesis imperfecta, and quickly realized I had something workable.

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Interrogation—Jedidiah Ayres

Photo on 2013-05-27 at 08.13 #3Who: Jedidiah Ayres

What: Jedidiah Ayres is his real name.

Where: St. Louis

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

I tore through PECKERWOOD, your small town epic from Broken River Books. What inspired you to write this story? How did you come up with the three main characters—Terry, Jimmy and Chowder?

Thanks, I’m glad somebody finally tore through it. Most folks say it took a huge guilt trip from me and a whole lot of mood-altering substances to finish it. And they never follow that up with comments about how glad they were that they stuck with it.

I actually wrote it when I failed to write the sequel. I was writing a novel that I couldn’t crack the structure of—I didn’t want to split it into two parts and I didn’t want to rely heavily on flashbacks. That novel (SHITBIRD) is about what happens in the aftermath of the events of PECKERWOOD… I realized I had to back up and write an entire other book to come before the original story I wanted to tell.

As far as the characters go—Terry is just me without a filter or functional conscience. He’s completely without the concept of responsibility or the social contract and un-interested in anything that doesn’t serve himself or immediately gratify whatever whim he’s taken with at the moment. Easily the most fun character to write and also the most unnerving. I’d step back from his point of view and think, “wow, that escalated quickly.” But I loved being able to let go with him. He has absolutely no need to justify himself.

Jimmy, on the other hand, does. He feels the weight of responsibility for the well-being of the folks he polices, but he’s also a pragmatist and engages in plenty of illegal and immoral activity in an attempt to protect and serve. When I feel guilty, I write Jimmy. He’s a moral failure like me—claiming ideals he can’t live up to. He’s of a prototype I first became interested in exploring after watching the Matthew McConaughey character, Buddy Deeds, in John Sayles’s amazing 1996 film Lonestar. Go see that film if you haven’t. You’ll thank me. I’ll wait.

Chowder is the devil Jimmy knows. He’s a lesser evil—a career criminal, but not a psychopath, not without conscience—someone Jimmy can reason with. Their relationship is symbiotic and they both seem to understand what they and their partner bring to the deal. I like too that he’s a small business man, who’s locally sourced and giving back to the community… and pretty evil. I hope there’s a nice contrast there.

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Great Writing Tips From Publishers & Authors

I have been very lucky to interview some great Indie publishers over the last year. Most of them are writers as well.

From e-mags and quarterly print publications, to anthologies, novellas and novels, these are the people bringing fresh new voices to the crime fiction world.

Here is a collection of recent quotes along with a few interview excerpts. Click on the links to read the full interviews.

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Craig T. McNeely is owner and editor-in-chief of Double Life Press and a writer. His short fiction has appeared in All Due Respect, Thuglit, Flash Fiction Offensive and more. He lives in Arkansas where he’s quietly plotting the takeover of the publishing world.

Read the Craig T. McNeely interview HERE.

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[Interview excerpt]

Both of your novels were published by your own company, Follow Your Dreams (FYD) Media. Why did you originally decide to take an independent approach to publishing?

The technology is out there to publish, distribute, and promote like never before. I once got the opportunity to speak to Sue Grafton who said, “Wait. Give it time and the book will get (traditionally) published.” I just kept thinking, “Why wait? What for?”

Read the Laurie Stevens interview HERE.

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Christopher Black is a noir writer of little note and editor-in-chief of Number Thirteen Press—a project to publish thirteen quality crime novellas, one on the thirteenth of each month for thirteen months.

Read the Christopher Black interview HERE.

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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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