Johnny Cash Anthology Roundtable

Last week, Gutter Books released their latest music-themed anthology, JUST TO WATCH THEM DIE: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF JOHNNY CASH. The collection was curated by Joe Clifford who got an Anthony Award nomination for his previous rock anthology, TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND: CRIME FICTION BASED ON THE SONGS OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

I was aware of Johnny Cash growing up, but didn’t develop a passion for his music until I discovered roots-influenced punk bands like The Blasters, X, The Cramps, Social Distortion and The Gun Club. By the time I reached college, Cash’s music was in heavy rotation on my stereo. To this day, one of the best concerts I ever saw was The Man In Black live at The Pantages Theater in Hollywood with Beck as the opener. So when I heard Gutter Books was putting this collection together, I knew I had to submit a short story. The song I chose was “25 Minutes To Go.”

Now that the collection’s out in the world, I’m thrilled to see my name alongside talented authors like Rob Hart, Jen Conley, David James Keaton, Lynne Barrett, David Corbett, Tom Hazuka, Mike Creeden, Nik Korpon, Sarah M. Chen, Terence McCauley, Gabino Iglesias, James Grady, Danny Gardner, Rene Asher Pickup, Hector Duarte Jr., Ryan Leone, James R. Tuck, Angel Luis Colón, Jennifer Maritza McCauley, Steven Ostrowski, Terri Lynn Coop, Max Booth III and Heath Lowrance.

In honor of the release, I contacted Joe Clifford and a handful of contributors to find out what Johnny Cash means to them. I think you’ll enjoy their responses almost as much as this fantastic anthology (which you can snag RIGHT HERE).

Joe Clifford—Editor

What inspired you to create a Johnny Cash-themed crime anthology? 

We did the Springsteen one, which did pretty well, in terms of sales. But, man, so many people wanted to be in it (and were sorta pissed at me for not asking them). So we tried to do another Springsteen one, but his lawyers said no. So I tried to think of another Americana artist who embodies that crime fiction spirit, and who better than Cash? So I asked a bunch of new writers (and then there were some more writers I didn’t ask who sorta got pissed.)

What Johnny Cash song were you surprised that nobody claimed?

I’ll cheat a little here. Ryan Leone took “Folsom Prison Blues,” but his story was originally called something else, and when he learned that no one had claimed FPB, he changed his title (which works better for the piece anyway).

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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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Writer Types—Crime Quiz LIVE!

Hey everybody! Eric Beetner and I—co-hosts of the Writer Types crime and mystery podcast—are very excited about our inaugural “Crime Quiz LIVE!” event THIS SATURDAY at the amazing Book Show LA in Los Angeles.

Everybody in attendance will have the chance to win prizes (aka “books”)! There will be beer and other liquids. Did I mention it’s FREE?

Here’s how the Crime Quiz will work:

  • 10 Fast Rounds—Each contestant is asked 1 question per round.
  • 4 Categories to choose from each round.
  • 15 seconds to answer each question.
  • 3 “Cheats” per contestant…just to keep things interesting.

Come out and watch us grill some of your favorite authors:

Christa Faust is the author of novels and comics such as CHOKE HOLD, MONEY SHOT and PEEPLAND. She has worked in the Times Square peep booths, as a professional dominatrix, and in the adult film industry both behind and in front of the camera. Author website.

Danny Gardner enjoys careers as a comedian (HBO’s Def Comedy Jam), actor, and screenwriter. His debut novel, A NEGRO AND AN OFAY, is published by Down & Out Books. His short fiction will appear in JUST TO WATCH HIM DIE, a Johnny Cash-inspired crime fiction collection, edited by Joe Clifford and published by Gutter Books, and CRIME+POLITICS: THE OBAMA INHERITANCE, edited by Gary Phillips and published by Three Rooms Press. He lives in Los Angeles by way of Chicago. Author website.

Glen Erik Hamilton’s debut, PAST CRIMES, won the Anthony, Macavity, and Strand Magazine Critics awards, and was also nominated for the Edgar, Barry, and Nero awards.  His follow-up, HARD COLD WINTER, was published to rave reviews last year and the latest entry EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND will be released by William Morrow (US) and Faber & Faber (UK) this July.  Glen grew up aboard a sailboat in Seattle, and now lives in California. Author website.

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S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series including BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION and GRIZZLY SEASON (Rare Bird Books). His Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper novellas include CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

Writer Types Podcast—Episode 4

The new podcast is available now on iTunes, Stitcher and SoundCloud!

This time around, my co-host, Eric Beetner, and I went to Chicago to catch up with some talented crime and mystery writers including Sara Paretsky, William Kent Krueger, Lori-Rader Day, Marcus Sakey, Sean Chercover, Jon and Ruth Jordan of Crimespree Magazine, our reviewers Kate and Dan Malmon, a short story from the vaults of Shotgun Honey by Carmen Jaramillo, and a special edition of the unPanel segment with the likes of Holly West, Angel Luis Colon, Suzy Calkins, Bryon Quertermous, Danny Gardner, Hector Acosta and more!

And we’ve also got a new blog post up over at Crimespree Magazine all about the podcast. You can check that out RIGHT HERE.

If you have listened to Writer Types and you like what you heard, please consider leaving a Rating/Review at iTunesStitcher and SoundCloud. And if you want to hear more, please Subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts.

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S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series including BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION and GRIZZLY SEASON (Rare Bird Books). His Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper novellas include CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

Notes From Murder & Mayhem in Chicago

It’s pretty amazing to witness the birth of a new event. Even more so when it’s so perfectly executed. Murder & Mayhem in Chicago might have been in its first year, but you would never know from the size of the crowd, the quality of the panels, and the caliber of authors in attendance.

I was there along with my podcast co-host and M&M in Chicago emcee, Eric Beetner (who, based on his performance last Saturday at Roosevelt University, might have a future in comedy). We did interviews with talented writers like Sara Paretsky, William Kent Krueger and Shaun Harris. And checked in with several dynamic duos, from M&M in Chicago masterminds, Lori Rader-Day and Dana Kaye, to Crimespree magazine’s Ruth and Jon Jordan, and on to a hilarious conversation about book tours with Sean Chercover and Marcus Sakey—not to mention our fearless reviewers, Kate and Dan Malmon. You can look forward to hearing most of that and a few other little surprises on a future episode of Writer Types.

I also got to hang out with members of my extended crime fiction family including Holly West, Angel Colon, Lance WrightBryon Quertermous and Gretchen Beetner, while sharing some inappropriate laughs with Erica Ruth NeubauerThomas Pluck, Hector Acosta and Gregory Rossi (among others). And many of us feasted on some truly insane deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s thanks to Chicago native and masterful panel moderator, Danny Gardner.

Jealous yet? Well, don’t be. Murder & Mayhem in Chicago will be back next year and, based on what I experienced over the weekend, for many years to come. So give Murder & Mayhem in Chicago a LIKE on Facebook and make sure to sign up for next year’s conference when registrations open up again. And register for sister event, Murder & Mayhem in Milwaukee, in the meantime. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see you there this November!

crossedbonesx2700-2S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published in October 2016. His first Tommy & Shayna crime caper, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books. The second novella in that series, CROSSED BONES, will be published in May 2017. He is also the co-host of the crime/mystery podcast, Writer Types.

Writer Types Podcast—Episode 2

Hey everybody! Thank you all for the tremendous support for our new podcast.

Episode 2 just went live today, featuring interviews with Joe R. Lansdale, Reed Farrel Coleman and Jess Lourey. We also hear about favorite P.I.s from Danny Gardner, Paul D. Marks and Kris Calvin. We’ve got an interview with literary agent, Amy Moore-Benson, short fiction from Erik Arneson and, of course, we check in with our reviewers, Kate and Dan Malmon!

Listen on SoundCloud, favorite us on Stitcher, and subscribe/rate us on iTunes.

Recommended Reading 2015

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It’s that time of the year. I’ve made a list, checked it a couple dozen times, and now I’m posting it here.

This is not a “Best Of” list in the traditional sense. More of a “Man, I read some great books that got published this year!” list. The titles and authors are in no particular order, and there are probably a few I forgot.

If you haven’t already read these books, you should. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are all great excuses to support your favorite booksellers. As if you need another excuse to buy books. (UPDATE: I’ve gotten some great suggestions for this list on other platforms. If you want to mention a book I didn’t, please leave it in the comments below Because: Conversation! —Thanks!).

WTD JS Go Down Hard_FrontCover Contenders med-res cover Young Americans

Novels

  • CANARY by Duane Swierczynski
  • CONTENDERS by Erika Krouse
  • STRANGE SHORES by Arnaldur Indridason
  • HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY KIDNAP STRANGERS by Max Booth III
  • THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins
  • RUMRUNNERS by Eric Beetner
  • UNCLE DUST by Rob Pierce
  • THE MAGICIAN’S LAND by Lev Grossman
  • A NEGRO AND AN OFAY by Danny Gardner
  • WORM by Anthony Neil Smith
  • WAYS TO DIE IN GLASGOW by Jay Stringer
  • GO DOWN HARD by Craig Faustus Buck
  • VORTEX by Paul D. Marks
  • NEW YORKED by Rob Hart
  • YOUNG AMERICANS by Josh Stallings

Bull Hashtag Cartel Zero Saints

Currently Reading

  • THE MAN IN THE WINDOW by Dana King
  • THE CARTEL by Don Winslow

Still On The TBR List

  • KILL ME QUICK by Paul D. Brazill
  • HASHTAG by Eryk Pruitt
  • ZERO SAINTS by Gabino Iglesias
  • BULL MOUNTAIN by Brian Panowich
  • THE SUBTLE ART OF BRUTALITY by Ryan Sayles

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Novellas & Anthologies

  • THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR by Angel Luis Colon
  • DREAMING DEEP by Anonymous-9
  • THE DEEPENING SHADE by Jake Hinkson
  • REDBONE by Matt Phillips
  • DEAD HEAT WITH THE REAPER by William E. Wallace
  • KNUCKLEBALL by Tom Pitts
  • SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE by Chris Irvin

December Boys City Of Rose Hard-Boiled Heart FLOODGATE

Looking Forward To 2016

  • CLEANING UP FINN by Sarah M. Chen
  • GRAVEYARD LOVE by Scott Adlerberg
  • CITY OF ROSE by Rob Hart
  • DECEMBER BOYS by Joe Clifford
  • ROUGH TRADE by Todd Robinson
  • HARD-BOILED HEART by Will Viharo
  • FLOODGATE by Johnny Shaw

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 2016.

10 Authors + 4 Bands + 1 DJ = Free

KillolaThis amazing event is happening THIS SATURDAY at The Frog Spot in LA.

There will be ten fiction and non-fiction authors reading (5-6:30ish, in no particular order):

  • Eric Beetner
  • Sarah M. Chen
  • Danny Gardner
  • Heather Havrilesky
  • S.W. Lauden
  • Tony Pierce
  • David Rensin
  • Travis Richardson
  • Stephen Jay Schwartz
  • Johnny Angel Wendell

markodesantisFour bands playing (6:30-9:30):

  • Johnny Angel Wendell & The Fabulous Knuckerholes—6:30pm to 7:00pm
  • Dylan Champion—7:15pm to 7:45pm
  • Ridel High—8:00pm to 8:30pm
  • Killola—8:45pm to 9:30pm

PLUS—globetrotting rock and roll DJ Marko DeSantis!

Open to the public. No cover charge, but proceeds from beer, wine and snacks benefit Friends of the LA River!

Come on out and get rad!

ROL

 

Interrogation—Danny Gardner

gardner_ck2Who: Danny Gardner

What: He impressed audiences with his performance on the 3rd season of HBO’s Def Comedy Jam (All-Stars Vol. 12). He has enjoyed a career as an actor, director and screenwriter. He is a recent Pushcart Prize nominee for his creative non-fiction piece Forever. In an Instant., published by Literary Orphans Journal. A NEGRO AND AN OFAY is his first novel.

Where: Los Angeles

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

I just finished your debut novel, A NEGRO AND AN OFAY. Elliot Caprice is a flawed and troubled character, but I rooted for him throughout the story. How did you come up with the concept for this character and story?

Elliot Caprice came to me a long time ago, when I first tried my hand at screenwriting. Early on, he was almost a novelty—a setup for culturally-referential, purposefully anachronistic comedy. That never saw the light of day. It was all just exercises, really. Then, as life grew more and more serious for me, he became more and more serious. It’s been suggested that he’s an amalgam of me from a few different periods of my life. I’m not so sure about that, but perhaps there are parallels in our emotional fields.

perf5.000x8.000.inddWhen I was very young, and my life was ill-defined, I got off to a big start in stand-up comedy. Through all of that, I grew up a lot, and realized I wanted my creativity for me. Not to impress anyone else. Not to become rich, or famous. Yay me! Except then, I had to reconcile real life against desire. After doing television and a few movies, I wound up back in Chicago sitting on a help desk, not doing what I felt I was meant to do. I felt things were over for me before I really got started.

In an IT support capacity, there’s a lot of waiting around for the phone to ring. Left alone with my own thoughts in my own cubical, I’d write screenplays. The one that stuck in my wakeful consciousness was about Elliot. Elliot’s world is very real, visual. Palpable. I’d retreat in there when life was really roughin’ me up. Perhaps that’s how I built it. Seeking emotional solitude.

The story unfolded moment to moment. I make loose outlines about situations, but the rest comes from visceral experience. There are some realtime current events that influence the plot, of course. It just kind of folds in, like ingredients in a cake. Otherwise, it happens for me experientially, not empirically. I’m a witness. I hope that makes sense.
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Less Is More

Noir SlamTomorrow night I join 18 fellow writers at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles for Noir Slam— “a fierce, fast-paced trip to the edge of modern noir.” Just look at that list of readers! We each get one minute—60 precious seconds—to tell a complete story. It’s an interesting challenge.

I tried looking through my novel and my novella for 150 words that would work, but everything seemed like it would take a minute or more just to set up. So, I decided to write something specifically for the event. As with most things in life that are challenging, I turned to Ozzy Osbourne for inspiration.

See you tomorrow night in downtown LA!

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 by Rare Bird Books in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.