Happy #IndiePrideDay

I have had the chance to interview some incredible Indie mystery and crime authors on my blog over the last few months. In celebration of #IndiePrideDay, here’s a few quotes from some of my favorite Indie authors.

Enjoy!

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Laurie Stevens self-published the Gabriel McRay series.

“The technology is out there to publish, distribute, and promote like never before.”

Read the interview HERE.

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Johnny Angel Wendell self-published his debut novel LOOKING FOR LADY DEE in 2015. Read the interview HERE.

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Anonymous-9 has worked with several Indie publishers, but self-published the novella CRASHING THROUGH MIRRORS in 2015. Read the interview HERE.

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Josh Stallings self-published the acclaimed Moses McGuire series.

“New Years Eve 2010 my big sister encouraged me to explore self publishing. I did it as an experiment. A chance to try and build the elusive ‘platform’ everyone said a writer needed. I didn‘t anticipate the way the crime community took to my battered bouncer.

Read the interview HERE.

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.

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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So This Is What It’s Like To Get Published (Part 1)

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(Updated August 23, 2015)

As many of you already know, Down & Out Books will be publishing my novella, CROSSWISE, in March of next year. I am beyond thrilled to work with D&OB and their fearless leader Eric Campbell (read my interview with him HERE). This is one publisher I have had my sights on since I decided to start writing mystery/crime fiction a few years ago. I can’t wait to see my name on the incredible author roster alongside Eric Beetner, Les Edgerton, Anonymous-9, Jack Getze, Anthony Neil Smith, Gary Phillips, Terrence McCauley and many, many others.

And just last week I announced that my novel BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION—the book that started all of this for me, and the first in a planned series—has been picked up by Rare Bird Books. It should be available (GULP) in October of THIS year. Guess I’ll be seeing you at Bouchercon in Raleigh.

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Read my interview with Rare Bird founder Tyson Cornell HERE.

Given the sudden increase in publishing activity around here, I thought I would start a semi-regular blog series about my beginner’s path to publishing. I am no expert, not by a long shot, and I don’t pretend to be. But as a rookie myself, I appreciate any insight I can get into this mysterious and often frustrating world. I hope you will enjoy what I have to share—whether you say “That sounds like a good idea. I think I’ll do that too,” “Why would anybody publish this idiot?!?” or something in between.

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Interrogation: Josh Stallings

josh-stallings-aboutWho: Josh Stallings

What: The author of the multi-award winning Moses McGuire crime novels, BEAUTIFUL, NAKED & DEAD, OUT THERE BAD and ONE MORE BODY. And YOUNG AMERICANS, a ‘70’s glitter-rock disco heist novel coming September 2015. His short fiction has appeared in Beat to a Pulp, Blood and Tacos, Shotgun Honey, Protectors Anthology #1 & #2, Crime Factory and more. He lives with his wife Erika, two dogs and a cat named Riddle.

Where: Los Angeles

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

You have published three novels featuring Moses McGuire, a suicidal strip club bouncer. How did you conceive of this character? How did you create his mix of interesting character traits?

beautiful-naked-and-deadI knew I wanted to write about thugs and drunks, strippers and criminals, wholesome types like I grew up with. I was raised in the counterculture, think Leave it to Beaver directed by Federico Fellini. In my teen years Martin Scorsese took over the helm. I write for the outsiders.

Years ago a smart ass NY agent told me I would sell BN&D if I gave it a clean-cut protagonist, someone people could see my world through. I’m sure he was correct, but I wasn’t writing it for him.

What the fuck was the question? Oh yeah, where did Moses come from. Moses’ chassis was built on the tarnished knight archetype of Raymond Chandler. His drunken bull in a Stop-N-Go echoes my love of James Crumley. His bullmastiff was borrowed from Andrew Vachss. I say steal from the best. His suicidal tendencies came from asking myself who was the scariest man in the room? The one who doesn’t give a fuck if he makes it home for Christmas. That and I know a lot about self annihilation and solo boxing. Not that I thought about any of this while writing it. I just started on page one and typed until it was done. Then rewrote and rewrote and rewrote… until the prose stopped sucking.

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“New Yorked” Is Out Today

unnamed-1“New Yorked” is easily one of the best debuts I have read. The characters are smart, funny and damaged, and the plot takes some truly interesting twists without tying itself in a knot. Most of all, I liked the tone of this novel, which captures the heart of crime writing in a thoroughly modern way.

I was lucky enough to connect with the author earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from my interview with Rob Hart.

One of the many interesting things about NEW YORKED is the ongoing battle between “old New York” and “hipster New York”. How prevalent is that in real life? 

There’s some goofy shit in this book—like the guy who’s name is Ian but stresses that it’s pronounced “Eye-Anne.” That’s a real thing someone said to me once. I’m worried people are going to say a lot of this is ridiculous, not realizing I’ve seen and heard a lot of it. I’m endlessly fascinated by the new v. old clash. This place really will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not strong enough. People who’ve lasted wear it like a badge of honor, and really disdain people who show up out of nowhere and act like they own it. At the same time, New York is a city where people flock to live out their dreams and fantasies. It’s by nature a point of refuge. I’ve never read a book where I saw that play out, so I thought it would be a fun arena to play in.

hart1Is NEW YORKED a crime novel in your eyes? How important is genre to you as a writer?

Genre discussions make me go cross-eyed. If I was pressed I’d say it’s a little noir, a little literary. But I’m firmly in the class of: A good book is a good book, and I don’t care if it’s YA or poetry or literary or crime or a cookbook.

How did your experience as a former political reporter and a commissioner for the city of New York influence the novel? How did you make the transition from politics to writing fiction?

I was a reporter for four years, two of which were spent as a political reporter, then communications director for a politician, and after I left politics got a call to sit on a redistricting commission, as a commissioner. I got two things out of these gigs: Brutal efficiency and life experience.

The efficiency is—both reporting and politics are professions where if someone has to ask you for something, it’s already too late. You have to be able to do twelve things at once, and be fast and accurate and good at all of them. And I got to do and see some cool stuff that informed my writing. I like writing about New York, because I know a lot about it. The second book, set in Portland, was a little tough. I’ve been there half a dozen times, but I don’t know the beat of it. Which helped, a bit, because the narrator doesn’t either. But it really showed me how much New York is my comfort zone. As for making the transition—I’ve always been writing, it was just hard to find the time. My productivity exploded after I took the job with MysteriousPress.com, because suddenly I wasn’t working 24/7.

Read the whole interview HERE.
Buy NEW YORKED 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, Dead Guns Magazine, 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.

“How I Got Into The Navy” By Travis Richardson

rsz_screen_shot_2015-06-04_at_82324_am_2The incredibly talented, LA-based author Travis Richardson was one of the first people I connected with when I threw my hat into the crime writing ring. We met via Twitter (who says social media doesn’t work?!) shortly before the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in 2014. Those of you who know Travis will not be surprised that he happily offered to help me navigate the publishing world in those first few months. Over time, he turned me on to great zines like All Due Respect, Thuglit and Shotgun Honey, and generously agreed to read early drafts of my short- and long-form fiction. I have been privileged to return the favor, when asked, which means that I have gotten to read some of his brutal, insightful fiction before almost anybody else—a real honor for a newer writer like me.

So, when the crew over at Flash Fiction Offensive gave me the opportunity to produce an audio version of his awesome new short story HOW I GOT INTO THE NAVY, I jumped at it. Special thanks to my friends in L.A. and London who generously donated their time and voices to bring this story to life, including Scott Ross who read the part of the main narrator. I hope you enjoy reading and listening to it as much as I did.

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 in 2016.

Interrogation: Will Viharo

Experience the Thrill–SeattleWho: Will Viharo

What: A pulp novelist, freelance writer, B movie impresario, and lounge lizard at large. One of his novels, LOVE STORIES ARE TOO VIOLENT FOR ME, has been optioned for a film by Christian Slater since 2001. For many years in the San Francisco Bay Area he programmed and produced a roving “cult movie cabaret” called “Thrillville,” hosting hundreds of live B movie/burlesque shows as “Will the Thrill” along with his wife, Monica Cortes Viharo, AKA “The Tiki Goddess.”

Where: Seattle

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

I just finished A MERMAID DROWNS IN THE MIDNIGHT LOUNGE and my head is still swimming. Great stuff. How did this story begin for you? What are some of the most unexpected ways in which it evolved?

I actually first began writing this novel—which turned out to be my personal favorite of all my books—back in 1997. I’d just split from my first wife of like three months, so I was emotionally devastated, and I was working my ass off 12 hours a day as an Aero delivery driver in San Francisco while living in a cheap little hovel over in Oakland, near Lake Merritt, walking distance from the Parkway Theater, which had just been reopened and renovated as a combo movie house/restaurant by some friends of mine, who asked me to host and program a weekly midnight movie show, which I initially called “The Midnight Lounge.” These same friends had founded Wild Card Press and published my novel LOVE STORIES ARE TOO VIOLENT FOR ME back in 1995, but frankly they were professional dilettantes and quickly dropped the press in favor of the much more lucrative film exhibition/food racket, which proved very successful, until the entire business collapsed due primarily to internal turmoil in 2009. pulpcollection2By that time I had pretty much given up on ever achieving my dream career as a novelist, though I still wrote and published a lot of freelance articles on pop culture and such. Plus my live show, now locally famous as “Thrillville,” garnered a ton of local publicity, establishing my “brand name,” though not in my field of choice. I was also happily married to my “lovely assistant” from my cult movie show, Monica “the Tiki Goddess” Cortes. We were wed at the Cal-Neva in North Lake Tahoe with a Rat Pack/mariachi ceremony/reception on May 31, 2001, exactly four years after I first met her at my screening of Jailhouse Rock on May 31, 1997. So I was no longer lonely, the main source of much of my literary therapy. Anyway, I’d put down MERMAID once the theater took off and I was hired as a full time publicist/programmer. But when the company abruptly folded, my backup career went with it. Now, suddenly without a steady income again, facing a return to the series of crappy odd jobs I’d been sustaining myself with since age 16, I was back in familiar, full-on panic mode.
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Cozy vs. Noir: Thoughts On Genre

Cozy vs. NoirIf you write or read books under the greater “mystery fiction” umbrella, then you will be familiar with these two popular sub-genres—”cozy” and “noir”. Here is how Wikipedia defines the two:

  • Cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as “cozies”, are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.
  • Noir fiction is a literary genre closely related to hardboiled genre with a distinction that the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Other common characteristics include the self-destructive qualities of the protagonist.

I know, I know: Freakin’ Wikipedia?! But they make it so easy. It also seems pretty accurate.

Genre has been on my mind a lot recently because I got invited to participate in an  awesome event on the first night of the California Crime Writers Conference. It’s called “Cozy vs. Noir” and it is sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and hosted by the one, the only, Eric Beetner. I am absolutely thrilled to take part, but the whole concept has got me thinking.

Luckily, I have interviewed some great authors who have strong opinions on the subject. We’ll start with Rob Hart, author of NEW YORKED (out June 1 from Polis Books):

unnamed-1Is NEW YORKED a crime novel in your eyes? How important is genre to you as a writer?

Genre discussions make me go cross-eyed. If I was pressed I’d say it’s a little noir, a little literary. But I’m firmly in the class of: A good book is a good book, and I don’t care if it’s YA or poetry or literary or crime or a cookbook.

(Read the whole Rob Hart INTERVIEW)

And Scott Adlerberg, author of JUNGLE HORSES:

JungleHorsesIs it important to you as a writer to jump between genres?

Is it important to me? It’s not so much important as a question of what works for a particular story. With JUNGLE HORSES, as I was doing it, it seemed to work. The second part, the fantastic part, just grew out of the noirish part, without strain, I felt. I wouldn’t try to force genres together just to be odd or “different.” But what’s fun about genres is how fluid and flexible they are and how you can play around so much with them. There’s a lot of ways to be inventive.

(Read the whole INTERVIEW)

So, if you’re in L.A. on June 5, please stop by. The event is free and open to the public. If not, I will let you know how it went afterward, 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 in 2016.

Shotgun Honey Presents: A Who’s Who of Crime Writers

Locked and Loaded

I started doing weekly author interviews about six months ago. Up until very recently I was pretty impressed with the quality and diversity of crime and mystery authors I managed to connect with. And then I picked up Shotgun Honey Presents: Locked and Loaded (Both Barrels v3).

Jeez.

Of the 25 amazing authors featured in this volume—including Patricia Abbott, Bracken MacLeod, Frank Byrns, Katanie Duarte, Jedidiah Ayres, Bill Barber, Angel Luis Colon, Chris Rhatigan and John L. Thompson, to name a few—I have only interviewed one of the authors, Travis Richardson. I also interviewed one of the Locked and Loaded Volume 3 editors, Erik Arneson.

So, I have my work cut out for me. The good news is that I have yet another reason to read every single story in this impressive volume.

For now, here’s an excerpt from my Travis Richardson interview:

COFFEE PARISDo you have a favorite form of fiction?

I like writing short stories better because I can explore different stories and characters and then start something totally different a few weeks later. While I would love the idea of a big fat contract to develop a series character over several novels, finishing several works in a year is satisfying. As a reader, I’d say I like short stories and novellas over novels. I’m a slow reader and I like that I can finish a short story in one sitting. Shorter works can sustain intensity and focus that most longer works can’t. To me there are parallels between music and writing. Short stories are like individual songs that are self-contained and keep a pace/rhythm for the entirety of the piece. Books are like albums with each chapter similar to a track. More often than not, there are a few weak pieces that make the entire work (book or album) uneven, even when the majority of the work is rock solid.

If you haven’t gotten your copy of Locked and Loaded (Both Barrels v3) yet, you can try to win a copy over at GOODREADS through May 15.

And you can look for my flash fiction story, “Range Life,” over at Shotgun Honey on or around May 18th.