Really love this new GRIZZLY SEASON review over at Sons Of Spade. This guy has been a supporter of the Greg Salem character from the beginning. He’s also a big fan of punk rock. Enjoy!


BCC Cover FinalS.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published on October 11, 2016. His novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.

For Your Consideration


As I have previously stated, 2015 was one hell of a year. Not only did I publish my debut novel, “Bad Citizen Corporation,” but I also got to know a ton of kind, passionate, hilarious and wildly talented writers, publishers, readers, bloggers, reviewers and podcasters along the way. I couldn’t be more thrilled about the diverse and supportive crime/mystery community I have found myself a part of.

rsz_lcc_2016As I turn my attention to my upcoming Down & Out Books novella, CROSSWISE—while also making progress on the second Greg Salem book—I wanted to put the word out that “Bad Citizen Corporation” is eligible for “Best Mystery Novel set in LCC Geographic Region” in the Left Coast Crime convention’s Lefty Awards in Phoenix—info HERE. Ballots went out last week and (I believe) they are due Jan. 15. If you are eligible to vote and you have room on your ballot (there were lots of great Left Coast books published in 2015), please consider “Bad Citizen Corporation.”

BCC will also be eligible for various other “Debut,” “P.I.,” and “Best First,” contests in the coming months. So if you read it and you liked it, please keep it mind. If you haven’t read BCC, or you need a refresher, here are a few recent reviews: CRIME SYNDICATE, DEAD END FOLLIES and OUT OF THE GUTTER.

If you want to see a list of some of the books that I will consider voting for, check out my recommended reading list for 2015.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-10-09_at_75727_amThanks for a great year either way. An award nomination of any kind would only be icing on the cake.

Looking forward to connecting with more of you in 2016!

— Steve

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 March 2016.

Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#4)

I finally got around to watching “Filmage,” the amazing documentary about legendary SoCal punk band Descendents. It had been on my to-do list for a while, but I kept talking myself out of watching it. I knew it was going to be great no matter what, but having idolized them as a teenager I wanted to be able to give it my undivided attention. And then I got sick and was stuck in bed for a couple of days. It was time.

One of the many triumphs of this film—other than officially giving Descendents the credit they deserve for creating “pop punk”—was outing drummer Bill Stevenson as the band’s mastermind. It was also nice to see lead singer and anti-rock star Milo Aukerman acknowledged as one of the best punk singers of all time, without making the film about him. And I loved how the film spends a lot of time exploring ALL, the Milo-less band that emerged from the ashes of Descendents and has lived a parallel existence since the 80s. So, if you have read this far and still haven’t seen “Filmage”—you totally should, bro.

But today we’re actually here to discuss a Descendents love song that is also a great short story. “Clean Sheets” really showcases the band’s signature sound, straight-ahead punk energy mixed with Beach Boys hooks. But “Clean Sheets” is also a devastating tale of love, betrayal and the no-frills punk life. The moral? Even punks can get their hearts broken. Again and again.

Read the lyrics for “Clean Sheets” by Descendents right HERE.


Previous installments in this series:

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

ADR Reissues “Criminal Love and Other Stories”


Mike Monson’s TUSSINLAND was one of my favorite crime novels of last year. That book is dark, gritty and brutal—but not without heart. So I was pretty stoked when I heard that All Due Respect Books was reissuing CRIMINAL LOVE AND OTHER STORIES, his collection of crime, dirty noir, author interviews and selected blog posts.

CL-new-2I was lucky enough to meet Mike at Bouchercon last year and interview him for this blog. Here’s an excerpt of what the ADR editor had to say about his writing way back in December of last year:

[Mike Monson interview excerpt] You didn’t start writing until 2012. Since then you have published several short stories, novellas and a novel. How do you explain the sudden burst of creativity and productivity?

I really can’t explain it. I tried to write all my life and I’d been a reporter off and on and did some playwriting years ago, so it wasn’t like I was brand-new at writing in 2012. My best guess is a combination of two things happening: first, I had just spent a couple of years really digging into zen and vipassana buddhist meditation techniques and ended up with a very clear conviction that the important thing to being alive was to just be yourself as completely as possible and part of that for me was to write whether or not anyone ever read what I wrote; and second, I found myself married to a woman (Rebecca of course) who just had my back in a way I’d never experienced and gave me the kind of love and support that I needed to write the stuff I wanted to write the way I wanted to write it. Oh, and one other thing — I’d spent years and years with a long commute in which I’d read several books a week and I think that was a great education for a writer.



Learn the whole ALL DUE RESPECT story

Naomi Hirahara: “Grave On Grand Avenue”

Naomi HiraharaToday is the launch of Naomi Hirahara’s latest Officer Ellie Rush novel, GRAVE ON GRAND AVENUE. I was lucky enough to interview Naomi earlier this year. Here is a little taste:

[Naomi Hirahara interview excerpt] You also recently published MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE, the first book in a new mystery series featuring a 23-year-old LAPD bicycle cop. How does that book differs from the Mas Arai books? Was it freeing to write a mystery featuring a different lead character?

While I was finishing my fifth Mas Arai mystery, my father passed away. In a way, it was a blessing to recall and memorialize his Grave on Grand Avenuehistory in his hometown in Watsonville, but I also knew that I needed to embrace a younger character. Around this same time, I taught a creative writing class to UCLA undergraduates and I fell in love with them. I also had been part of the ATF Citizens Academy, and those two experiences — teaching college and law enforcement — led to the creation of a 23-year-old bicycle cop. This series is in first person. It’s a breezy, fun read.  It’s more about a young woman trying to find her place in the world, despite criticism and doubt from her family and friends.  The advantage of writing about someone working in law enforcement is that it’s easier to explain why the character is encountering dead bodies! But my Ellie Rush is a patrol cop on a bicycle, so there are still elements of an amateur sleuth in the series.

Read the whole INTERVIEW


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.

California Crime Writers Killing It


March has been a great month for fans of California crime fiction. A few weeks ago, LA-based author Eric Beetner published the full omnibus edition of his serialized novel THE YEAR I DIED 7 TIMES on Beat To A Pulp press. And just today, SF-based author Tom Pitts published his baseball-themed crime novel KNUCKLEBALL on One Eye Press.

I was lucky enough to interview both of these Golden State crime writers earlier this year. You can check out a couple of quotes from those interviews below, or click the link and go straight to reading their books. That’s what this all supposed to be about, right?

[Tom Pitts Interview excerpt] How does KNUCKLEBALL differ from HUSTLE stylistically or thematically?

Tom Pitts Photo 2I wrote KNUCKLEBALL back in 2011, right before PIGGYBACK and HUSTLE. It was my first longer work, and therefore holds a special place for me. I had to go back in last year and bang out some dents, fatten up the ending, but it’s still the book that warms my cold black heart. It’s definitely got a different feel than
HUSTLE. The theme of family, no matter how discordant, is at the core of the book.

The impetus for the story came to me while I was in Golden Gate Park walking the dogs. The whole Bryan Stow thing was happening at the time. Bryan Stow was the poor bastard who was Knuckleballbeat down at a Giants game at Dodger Stadium and to this day has never recovered. The search was on for the assailants and that afternoon a police artist’s sketch came out with an
accompanying description: 5’10” Latino male. That was it. The sketch, the description, it could have been anybody. They were describing half of L.A. So I wondered … man, if you knew someone who looked even remotely like that, you could really fuck them up if you fingered them. All it would take is some hatred and a phone call.

Read the Tom Pitts INTERVIEW

Buy the BOOK
Continue reading

Interrogation: Naomi Hirahara

Naomi Hirahara
Who: Naomi Hirahara

Where: Pasadena, CA

What: Naomi Hirahara is the Edgar Award-winning author of the Mas Arai mystery series including SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, GASA-GASA GIRL, SNAKESKIN SHAMISEN, BLOOD HINA and STRAWBERRY YELLOW.  Her new mystery series, MURDER ON BAMBOO LANE, features a female twentysomething LAPD bicycle cop and was released with Berkley Prime Crime in spring 2014. Her next in the series, A GRAVE ON GRAND AVENUE, will be released in April 2015. She also has penned a middle-grade novel, 1001 CRANES, which was chosen as an Honor Book for the Youth Literature of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in 2009.

Interview conducted by email. Some answers have been edited.

Big BachiI just finished SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI and found Mas Arai to be one of the most interesting and original mystery heroes I have encountered. How did you develop that character?

My father and other Japanese American men like him were the inspiration behind Mas Arai. The Sixties and Seventies were the heyday of the Japanese American gardener in Southern California. That many of them, unknown to their customers and strangers, had these amazing experiences was the impetus to make them heroes of a detective story.  Of course, since many gardeners were born in the US but raised in Japan, language was not their strong suit. My challenge is to move the unfamiliar reader into Mas’s world. The mystery genre turned out to be the perfect container to build these stories.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

@LA_SMB – Pork Pie Percussion

Bill LinkedIn

Who: Pork Pie Percussion

What: A custom drum company owned and operated by Bill Detamore, along with 5 full-time employees

Where: Based in Canoga Park

When: Founded in 1987

@LA_SMB is an occasional series showcasing some of the coolest small and medium-sized businesses from around the Los Angeles area.

Unless you play drums, chances are you don’t need to know much about where they are made, how they are made and who makes them.

What music lovers should know is that one of the oldest custom drum companies in the U.S., Pork Pie Percussion, is located right here in Los Angeles, and they work with the drummers behind some of your favorite bands and musicians.

That list includes Frank Ferrer (Guns N Roses), Butch Norton (Lucinda Williams), George Recili (Bob Dylan), Robin Diaz (Daughtry), Dave Klein (Agent Orange), and Marky Ramone (The Ramones).

“I have been very lucky to work with some of my musical heroes,” said Pork Pie founder and owner, Bill Detamore. “Pork Pie started in a garage and now has three buildings making the finest and most creative custom drums on the market.”

The following interview was conducted by email. Some responses have been edited.

Pork Pie 2

@LA_SMB: What was the inspiration for Pork Pie Percussion?

Bill Detamore: My inspiration started with playing drums and wanting to know how they work. I started buying old drums and customizing them for resale. I then bought a snare drum kit from a small company called The Corder Drum Company. I made that one, then bought 2, then 4 and so on.

I put a serial number on every drum I make at my shop. I am now up to 45,000 drums. I love creating things and bringing new ideas to the market. This is all driven by passion.

@LA_SMB: You still hand sign all of your drums. What are the advantages to remaining a boutique manufacturer?

B.D.: Yes I still sign all of the drums made here at my shop. I take a lot of pride in that. Being a small drum manufacturer allows me to change things on a dime and also bring new drums out with no real problems. I can also make what I want and not really be concerned with what everyone else is doing. One thing I have never actually done is be to worried about what others are doing. I make what makes me happy.

@LA_SMB: What are the limitations or advantages to making musical instruments these days?

B.D.: The only limitation to making drums these days is a struggling economy. Business has been rough since 2007.

@LA_SMB: How has the industry changed since you started Pork Pie?

B.D.: The drum industry has been bombarded with imported drum sets, but I see that trend changing. Last NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show, earlier this year, many dealers said they were just tired of import crap and wanted to start focusing on quality again.

@LA_SMB: Why is your business a perfect fit for Los Angeles?

B.D.: Being in LA is great because my biggest dealer, Guitar Center, is very close to my shop. I am able to make a new drum and take it to them to get business going with no real hassles. Studios being here is also great. I have studio musicians coming buy quite often to buy drums or use them for records, and also studios that have Pie kits for the house kit.

@LA_SMB: Where will Pork Pie be in 5 years?

B.D.: I will be here in my shop. I would like to grow the business to a pre-recession level and stay there. I have no ambition of taking over the world or becoming Ludwig or DW. Happy where I am right now.

Previous @LA_SMB post: BROODWORK

Steve Coulter is a marketing guy, writer and drummer living in Los Angeles.

If you have suggestions for future @LA_SMB features, please send Steve a message on LinkedIn. Include the name of the business, a short description and a link to their website. Steve is a one-man band, please keep it brief and expect a slow response.

Full disclosure: Steve is friends with and/or has worked with many of the businesses featured, at least for now. Thank you for reading to the bottom of the page.

Rock Drummer, Campfire


This story was originally published on

It’s not easy being a rock drummer around a campfire.

This wonderful song book appeared a couple of years ago, handed down from a friend of a friend at a three-day motel party in Palm Desert. The chords-and-lyrics book had been printed, photocopied, and tabbed—pure magic in a three-ring binder from Staples.

It has just about every grand, beloved and ridiculous song you could ever want to sing around a campfire, from “King of the Road” to “Don’t Stop Believing.”  You haven’t truly lived until you’ve seen a drunken mom belting out Pat Benatar in the orange-yellow glow of a campfire, while her filthy children dance in the shadows. 

This songbook has become a mainstay of the many California camping trips my friends and all of our families enjoy in the mountains and on the beaches. Every camp night, just as the s’morefest is winding down, the guitars come out and everybody sings along.

I’m the lone drummer in a sea of guitarists and singers. I’m not a percussionist, and certainly not one of those oh-I-also-play-seven-other-instruments-and-produce-recordssort of “drummers.” I’m just a plain old “1-2-3-4!” rock drummer. It has its place, but for most of my drumming life the campground wasn’t it.

Over the years I’ve tried everything from banging rocks together to fashioning crude drum kits from various pots and beer cans—the stuff a frontier drummer might try. I even attempted clapping along, but clapping at a campfire hootenanny is right up there with trying to whistle a harmony: not cool, and not welcome.

And then I discovered the secret: I started packing a simple egg shaker along with the rest of my camping gear.

That changed everything. When the guitars come out now, I grab one of my camping shakers and deliver a simple backbeat. It provides the guitar players with the support so often necessary to get them to finish a song they hardly know, and it gives everybody else around the fire ring even more of a reason to dance under the stars.

Most importantly, the kids love it. I’ve learned to bring an extra box of shakers, maracas and tambourines. Leave them on the assembled camping chairs and watch the insanity. The guitar players are guaranteed to have huge smiles on their faces, even as they struggle to play along with the cacophonous polyrhythm.

Isn’t that what camping is supposed to be all about?

Watch one of these videos for some quick shaker lessons. And while I cannot provide a copy of the Magic Song Book—the songs are not mine to give away—I can say that it’s easy enough to save your own lyrics-and-chords collection for private use. Song websites are everywhere, but is an established site that pays royalties to composers and publishers.

Steve Coulter is a rock drummer who writes novels and runs media operations in his spare time. Campfire photo by David Leo Veksler.