Interrogation—Danny Gardner

 Who: Danny Gardner

What: Danny Gardner enjoys careers as a comedian (HBO’s Def Comedy Jam), actor, director, and screenwriter. His debut novel, A NEGRO AND AN OFAY, is published by Down & Out Books. He is a proud member of the Mystery Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers and is a regular blogger at 7 Criminal Minds.

Where: Los Angeles (by way of Chicago)

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

Congrats on the rebirth of your excellent debut novel, A NEGRO AND AN OFAY. For readers who are new to Elliot Caprice, tell us about the book.

In 1952, we find disgraced Chicago police officer Elliot Caprice in the St. Louis County jail after being on the run from his old employers and the Chicago Outfit. He wants to remain on the move, for obvious reasons, but also because he doesn’t want to return to the small town where he was raised by his uncle. Circumstances obligate him to go home, take a gig as a process server and try to save the family farm from foreclosure. That puts him on a path where murder, mystery and social change confront him at every turn. Eventually, his past catches up with him, but he’s not the same man when it does. Oh yeah, and the effect of race, class, and politics on a mixed-race guy from the Midwest sort of play a part in there, too.

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Interrogation—Dana King

Who: Dana King

What: His Penns River series of police procedurals includes WORST ENEMIES and GRIND JOINT, which Woody Haut, writing for the L.A. Review of Books, cited as one of the fifteen best noir reads of 2013. His newest is RESURRECTION MALL, recently released from Down & Out Books.

Where: Maryland

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

Congrats on the upcoming release of RESURRECTION MALL. What can readers expect from the third installment of the Penns River series?

Trouble. Just as a television minister’s religious-themed mall looks like it could provide a counterweight to the casino, the murder of five drug dealers sets the town back during one of the coldest winters on record.

A lot of modern crime fiction is set in urban locations. What’s the appeal of the rural setting in the Penns River series?

As you said, a lot of crime fiction takes place in urban settings. What I want to show is how less but still serious crime can affect a smaller community that lacks the resources and resilience of a larger city.

I don’t look at the setting as a challenge. I’m not comfortable in cities and like that a smaller town allows me to play counter to a lot of current tendencies. For example, Penns River can’t afford state of the art forensics equipment and has no crime lab. The cops have to solve crimes the old-fashioned way. This forces people to interact, which I find inherently more interesting.

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Interrogation—Kate & Dan Malmon

Who: Kate and Dan Malmon

What: Kate Malmon is the author of numerous documents that were written for the Minnesota Judicial Branch, and you’ve probably never read any of them. She is also a book reviewer for Crimespree Magazine. You’ve probably read some of those reviews.

Dan Malmon is an avid reader of crime fiction, mystery fiction, comic books, science fiction and fantasy. If your parents were afraid it would rot your brain, he’s read it. Or it’s on his TBR pile, waiting to be read, stressing him out.

Kate and Dan are also the resident reviewers for the Writer Types podcast.

Where: Minnesota

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

You two are among the most recognizable reviewers on the Indie crime/mystery scene and conference circuit. How did you fall into reviewing?

Kate: We’re “the most recognizable reviewers”? Really? That’s not false modesty; we thought just my mom read our reviews.

Dan: I think he’s saying he saw our picture on that milk carton.

Kate: Dan has always been a comic book reader. He picked up his first book in 1987: West Coast Avengers #1. I hung out in a comic book shop in high school. I didn’t necessarily read any comics, but I was aware of the X-Men, Batman, and other titles. Dan always tried to get me to read different comics, but I wasn’t interested. Why would I want to read about spandex-clad, anatomically-incorrect people? (I was exposed to a lot of Jim Lee & Rob Lefield books in high school.) He finally won me over when he suggested I do a “live reading” of a comic book on Twitter. So I would read old Dr. Strange and Batman books and post my comments about it under #KateReads on Twitter. I thought it was entertaining and it made the comics a little more fun to read.

At the 2011 Bouchercon in St. Louis, Crimespree Magazine’s Jeremy Lynch approached us about doing book reviews for their website saying, “You know that funny stuff you write when you read comic books? Yeah, we want you to do that for the blog.” We said yes and our reviewing careers were born.

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Interrogation—Hector Acosta

Who: Hector Acosta

What: He was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States, his time living on the border left an impression on him, and much of his writing revolves around that area and its people. In his free time he enjoys watching wrestling and satisfying a crippling Lego addiction. HARDWAY is his debut novella.

Where: New York

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

Congrats on the release of HARDWAY. What’s the story behind this story?

I had the basic concept—kids steal a wrestler’s championship belt and things escalate—banging around my head for a while, with the first draft being a 5k piece for a crime writing contest. By the time I finished it, I found myself having more to say, and that was right around the time that Shotgun Honey opened up for submissions, so I decided to go back to the story and see what I could produce without a word count restriction.

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Interrogation—Lori Rader-Day (Murder and Mayhem in Chicago)

chicagoWho: Lori Rader-Day

What: Lori Rader-Day is the co-founder of Murder and Mayhem in Chicago (March 11, 2017), along with Dana Kaye. Day’s debut mystery, THE BLACK HOUR, won the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and was a finalist for the 2015 Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her second novel, LITTLE PRETTY THINGS, won the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and was a nominee for the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original. LITTLE PRETTY THINGS was named a 2015 “most arresting crime novel” by Kirkus Reviews and one of the top ten crime novels of the year by Booklist. Her third novel, THE DAY I DIE, will be released by Harper Collins William Morrow in April 2017.

Dana Kaye is the founder of Kaye Publicity, Inc, a boutique PR company specializing in publishing and entertainment, and the author of YOUR BOOK, YOUR BRAND: THE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO LAUNCHING YOUR BOOK AND BOOSTING YOUR SALES. She also founded the Chicago Literati Networking Event, which brings local authors, booksellers and publishing pros together for an evening of mingling and swapping business cards.

Where: Chicago

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

Why is 2017 the year to launch Murder and Mayhem in Chicago?

LRD: Chicago is a great mystery-writing town, with so many active authors, independent bookstores, and mystery writer associations. But our only mystery conference, Love Is Murder, faded away last year, sort of unexpectedly. Dana and I had been talking about trying to start something like this, but then suddenly, there was a hole in the mystery conference schedule. And Chicago deserves a great mystery event. I mean, come on: Capone?

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Interrogation—Mike Creeden

Creeden Pic1Who: Mike Creeden

What: His work has appeared in Tigertail, Miami Living, The Florida Book Review, EVERYTHING IS BROKEN, and TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. A native of Massachusetts, Mike now lives in South Florida and teaches writing at Florida International University.

Where: Florida

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

I just finished ALL YOUR LIES CAME TRUE and I kept getting the strange sensation that the book was written specifically for me. Who did you think the reader of this story would be when you wrote it?

It was written specifically for you, Steve—you and anyone else who’s ever played in a band, or been obsessed with a band or walked around all day, every day with song lyrics and guitar riffs and concert footage running through their heads. I was thinking about the kind of reader who measures the quality of a movie by what songs are on the soundtrack, someone who gets excited when a writer mentions a rock song or a band in a novel.

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Interrogation—Marietta Miles

Who: Marietta Miles

What: Born in Alabama, raised in Louisiana, her short stories have been published by Thrills, Kills and Chaos, Flash Fiction Offensive, Yellow Mama, Revolt Daily and more. She has stories in anthologies offered through Static Movement Publishing, Horrified Press, and, soon, Gutter Books. Her first novel, ROUTE 12, is now available through All Due Respect Books.

Where: Virginia

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

Your debut release from All Due Respect is ROUTE 12, two novellas set in Appalachia in the seventies and eighties. Why was this era and that location the right time and place for these stories and characters?

Poverty is the wolf at the door in ROUTE 12, ordeals borne directly from need. The seventies were a particularly difficult time in Appalachia. Slashed jobs in the mines, bad soil on the farms, and stripped cuts along the mountains made for little money. As they had been for years, young people were leaving in waves. This area, at that time, seemed isolated and vulnerable, much like the characters.

Plus, I got to listen to loads of cheesy seventies music and tell everyone it was for inspiration. I mean come on…The Raspberries?

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My New Novella Is Out Now!

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Thanks to everybody who pre-ordered CROSSWISEand those who grabbed it today. The response has been great so far and I’m really excited to know what all of you think once you’ve had a chance to read it. Here’s the low down:

Tommy Ruzzo is a disgraced NYPD cop who follows his coke fiend girlfriend back to her hometown in Florida. She leaves Ruzzo high and dry just before he’s named Head of Security at Precious Acres, a beachfront retirement community populated by wisecracking New Yorkers. Ruzzo is stranded among the local losers until the day he discovers a murdered senior citizen on the Precious Acres bocce ball court. The bodies pile up as Ruzzo uncovers a dangerous trail of clues that brings everybody in his new world under suspicion. 

If you want to find out more about why I set this standalone novella in Florida, or how it got published, please check out these recent guest blog posts:

Here’s an amazing early review from Beth Kanell at Kingdom Books:

“CROSSWISE is a fun read and a quick one (130 pages)—a great tip of the hat to the noir genre. Shelve it with Westlake, Robert Parker, and your vintage paperbacks with their slinky women brandishing firearms. Or with Carl Hiassen and Kinky Friedman, for the good-humoredly ridiculous capers. Good stuff!”

Read the whole review RIGHT HERE.

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And last, but certainly not least, here’s an interview I did with designer extraordinaire, J.T. Lindroos, who designed the cover for CROSSWISE.

S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available now from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, will be published in September 2016. His standalone novella, CROSSWISE, is available now from Down & Out Books.

Interrogation—Mike McCrary

Who: Mike McCrary

What: He has been a waiter, a securities trader, dishwasher, investment manager and an unpaid Hollywood intern. He’s quit corporate America, come back, been fired, been promoted, been fired again. Currently he is a screenwriter and author who writes stories about questionable people who make questionable decisions.

Where: Austin, TX

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

Your 2013 novel, REMO WENT ROGUE, is one hell of a read—fast-paced, vicious and dark. How did the character of Remo come together?

Thank you, sir. Glad you dug it. Yeah, Remo kinda came out of a fascination of defense attorneys and the weirdness of their jobs. All the information that must be swirling around their heads at any given time, knowing all the horrible shit that your clients have done and it’s your job to set them free or at least get the best deal possible. It’s extremely necessary to the legal process, but thinking of actually doing it as a profession is a whole different thing. I also really liked the idea of one of these guys having a crisis of conscience and falling off the deep end. So, those elements plus I have a deep affection for drunk, broken, pill-popping, foul-mouthed bastards with a heart of gold.

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Crime Wave? Let’s Go Surfing!

tap sourceGenre can be a tricky business. No writer wants to believe that their work is so easily classified—possibly even dismissed—as just another story in a long line of similar works that came before it. As a reader, though, I have benefitted greatly from the way that books are classified.

Charles Bukowski led me to John Fante way back when because of a passionate employee at my local bookstore. Umberto Eco and Gabriel Garcia Marquez led me to Jorge Luis Borges in much the same way. Years later, Jo Nesbo led me to Arnaldur Indridason thanks to the sometimes amazing, sometimes infuriating Amazon algorithm. Lev Grossman led me to Emily St. John Mandel. The list goes on.

So, it’s been interesting to publish my first novel and get feedback from people outside of my own head about what I wrote. For starters, I am not kidding when I tell you that I didn’t know I had written a straight mystery. I was aware of the murder(s) and I knew that the protagonist was spending a crazy amount of time trying to solve them, but in my head it was still somehow a crime novel. Now it says the word “mystery” right on the cover. Go figure.

A few of the customer reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, however, are calling it “Punk Noir”. That makes sense because the book, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is named after a fictional punk band. And I like “Noir” because, well, Noir will always be one of the coolest things anybody can call anything.

dawn patrolOne genre that I have long been fascinated with as a reader is “Surf Noir”. A definition can be a little hard to pin down, but it’s primarily used to describe many of Kem Nunn’s fantastic books, and a couple of Don Winslow’s equally fantastic books. From there things get a little more blurry, with the term “Surf Noir” getting applied to books that may have surfers as characters or simply take place at the beach.

If you are new to Surf Noir and looking for some books, start here:

And while you’re at it, please check out this fast-paced, :30 second trailer for my debut “mystery” novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. The video definitely has surfing in it, whatever the genre might be.