Short Story in a Song — “Vacation”

This Go-Go’s hit has been on my mind since I wrote a short story inspired by it for an upcoming anthology. Having lived through the band’s meteoric rise in the 80s, I always thought of “Vacation” in terms of the kitschy waterskiing music video that got tons of play on MTV. Listening to this track with a crime writer’s ear, however, changed my mind about the possible meaning of the lyrics.

The narrator sets the story up in the first verse—she’s love sick and still reeling from a recent break up. My perception of those lyrics hadn’t changed much over the years, but things take a darker turn in the second verse. This is where our protagonist admits that she should have run after first meeting her ex. It might simply be an over-dramatization of their failed relationship, but it could also hint at something much darker. If so, it would explain why she has to “get away.” Does she simply need time to heal a broken heart, or does she fear for her safety?

I’m probably over thinking it, but it was a fun exercise to reimagine this new wave classic. The Go-Go’s-themed anthology featuring my short story is called “Murder-A-Go-Go’s.” It’s being edited by Holly West and published by Down & Out Books in early 2019. In the meantime, give the song another listen and decide for yourself.

Read the full  lyrics for the Go-Go’s “Vacation” HERE.

More “Short Story in a Song” posts:

S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in LA.

Interrogation—Nick Kolakowski

Who: Nick Kolakowski

What: Author of A BRUTAL BUNCH OF HEARTBROKEN SAPS and SLAUGHTERHOUSE BLUES, the first two books in the Love & Bullets trilogy. His short stories have appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Mystery Tribune, Crime Syndicate Magazine, and various anthologies.

Where: New York

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

Congrats on the release of SLAUGHTERHOUSE BLUES. This latest installment takes Bill and Fiona to Cuba and Nicaragua. Why choose those locations?

Around 10 years ago, I had an editor gig that took me through the Caribbean and Central America. I wrote a number of nonfiction articles about Cuba and Nicaragua but always wanted to use them as fictional settings. When it came time to send Bill and Fiona out of the United States, I finally saw my chance. It was great to rip out huge, dripping hunks of personal experience and use them in a novel; not because doing so made it easier to write (it’s always a marathon sprint), but because I could add a deep layer of authenticity to the whole endeavor.

Plus, Bill and Fiona are fugitives, and I’ve always joked that if I had to hide out somewhere in the world, I’d choose either Cuba or Nicaragua. The former, because there’s no extradition with the U.S., and some great bars; if you could keep a low profile, and not irritate the local government, it’d be hard for anyone to find you holed up with your daiquiri. And the latter, because the highlands around Esteli (a small mountain town where Fiona ends up) are very beautiful and relatively remote; depending on your setup, you have a good chance of seeing your pursuer before they see you. Then again, the people pursuing Bill and Fiona are very tough, very smart, and very serious.

Continue reading

Interrogation—Marietta Miles

Who: Marietta Miles

What: Her short stories and flash can be found in Thrills, Kills and Chaos, Flash Fiction Offensive, Yellow Mama, Hardboiled Wonderland and Revolt Daily. Her stories have been in anthologies available through Static Movement Publishing, Out of the Gutter, and Horrified Press. She is rotating host for Noir on the Radio, Dames in the Dark. Her first book, ROUTE 12, was released February of 2016. Her latest book, MAY, was released on January 8 with Down and Out Books.

Where: Virginia

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

Congrats on the release of your new novella, MAY. How did the story in this one come about?

After ROUTE 12 came out Sandra Ruttan and I began communicating quite a bit. She helped me focus my writing process and outline the steps needed to, hopefully, continue to get published. She would send me publishers and zines that she thought worked for my style. When Down and Out opened their submission window she encouraged me to submit.

The character of May had been cooking for some time and I found my chance to shine her up and send her out into the world.

Continue reading

Interrogation—Warren Moore

Who: Warren Moore

What: His short fiction has been published in venues ranging from Spinetingler to The American Culture, and Out of the Gutter, as well as in three print anthologies edited by Lawrence Block. His 2013 novel, BROKEN GLASS WALTZES, has just been republished by Down & Out Books. Moore lives in Newberry with his wife and daughter.

Where: South Carolina

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

Congrats on the (re)release of BROKEN GLASS WALTZES. What was the inspiration for this story?

One rainy night in November of 1990, I was driving around Lexington, KY, listening to the Misfits. Suddenly, a scene popped into my head—it would become the first four pages of Chapter 10 of BGW. I knew I could build a book around it, and saved the scene under the title “Die, Die My Darling,” which was the song I was listening to when inspiration hit. The next day, I went to the University of KY library and found that the Misfits had lifted the title from a 1965 Tallulah Bankhead movie.

I put the title on hold, and started reverse-engineering my way from that scene. “Who are these people? How did they get there?” So I got hold of Kenny (the narrator)’s voice, and mainly tried to get out of the way. After a while, the new title showed up and resonated in my head, because it felt both literary and pulpy. I finished it a couple of years later, as I was working as a magazine editor in Cincinnati; I lived over the river in Kentucky, not far from Jean’s apartment in the book.

Continue reading

Interrogation—Paul Heatley

Who: Paul Heatley

What: The author of THE MOTEL WHORE & OTHER STORIES, GUNS, DRUGS, AND DOGS, AN EYE FOR AN EYE, and FATBOY, as well as almost fifty short stories published online and in print at the likes of Thuglit, Spelk, Flash Fiction Offensive, Shotgun Honey, Horror Sleaze Trash, and Crime Factory.

Where: England

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

I just read FATBOY and thought it was great. Where did the idea for this dark tale come from?

Thank you! FATBOY stop-started a few times as a short story, but I either couldn’t settle on what it was supposed to be about, or else it kept growing beyond the confines of being a short story. The earliest iteration had the main character and his girlfriend working together to take down his boss at the garage where he worked in order to provide medical care for their son. I thought this sounded a bit too Breaking Bad, though. I read soon after starting of a serial killer called David Parker Ray who had created a torture chamber inside his trailer home. I thought to myself, okay, they’ll do something similar, they’ll create this room inside their home where they can hold the boss to ransom, prove to him they’re not fucking around. Ideas kept coming, things were spiralling. Eventually I just sat myself down, decided it wasn’t going to work as a short story, and wrote the first draft of what would eventually become FATBOY late at night over the course of a fortnight while listening to Ministry’s In Case You Didn’t Feel Like Showing Up. Elements from each round of attempts at making it a short made their way into the end product—the girlfriend and young son, the trailer park etc.so they weren’t completely wasted efforts.

The book starts with a bartender, Joey Hidalgo, on a several day bender. Why set this story in bars? Have you worked in bars yourself?

I’ve done minimal bar work, and I wasn’t very good at it! I don’t drink, never really have, so even the simple things like which drink goes in which glass were lost on me. Still, I think there’s a lot of life in bars, a lot of character, particularly dive bars. Maybe not the kind of life you want to live yourself, or characters you want to know, but it’s there. Brian Azzarello, writer of 100 Bullets, once said he would go to bars and just listen to the people there talk, for both inspiration and to shape the crafting of his own dialogue.

Having Joey in bars, on a bender, it was a way of showing his self-destructive personality. I think from the off you know that this guy, while he may have good intentions, is not afraid to do some bad things.

Continue reading

Interrogation—Tom Pitts

Who: Tom Pitts

What: He received his education on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, working, writing, and trying to survive. He is the author of AMERICAN STATIC, HUSTLE, KNUCKLEBALL, and PIGGYBACK.

Where: San Francisco

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

Congrats on the release of AMERICAN STATIC. What would you like readers to know about your latest novel?

Thanks! What to let readers know? Where to buy it! Down & Out Books tells me you can order this one from any bookstore, so have at it. As far as the story goes, if you enjoyed HUSTLE, I think you’ll love this. It’s fast-paced, down and dirty, and a ton of fun. Provided you have a twisted view of what fun is.

Continue reading

Interviewed by Will Viharo

I’m THRILLED to chat with excellent crime author, Will Viharo, about the Indie crime scene, the importance and pitfalls of using social media for book promotion, and what I’ve got coming down the line. You can check out the short interview RIGHT HERE.

S.W. Lauden is up for two Silver Falchion Reader’s Choice AwardsVoting is open to everybody and no registration is required. Please cast a vote for GRIZZLY SEASON (Best Action/Adventure) and CROSSWISE (Best Mystery)Thank you!

Interrogation—Jeffery Hess

Who: Jeffery Hess

What: Author of the novel, BEACHHEAD, and the story collection, COLD WAR CANOE CLUB, as well as the editor of the award-winning HOME OF THE BRAVE anthologies. He served six years aboard the Navy’s oldest and newest ships and holds writing degrees from the University of South Florida and Queens University of Charlotte. He leads the DD-214 Writers’ Workshop for military veterans.

Where: Florida

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

Congrats on the release of COLD WAR CANOE CLUB. Can you tell us a little about how this short story collection came together?

It was nothing I planned. In fact, I spent my twenties and thirties writing about everything but the Navy. Then, in 2007, I formed a writing workshop for military veterans. In advance of the first meeting, I sent a press release to the (now-defunct) Tampa Tribune hoping they’d list the workshop with my phone number on their calendar of events. Instead, a reporter called with interest in writing a piece about me and the workshop. During the twenty-minute interview, it came up that I didn’t require participants to write their military experiences, but they were welcome to. The reporter asked if I wrote about my own military experiences. When I said “no,” she asked why. That question made me recall the moment more than ten years earlier, when I assumed Tom Clancy had written everything about the Navy that anyone could want. But in the breath or two it took me to reply, I realized my stories would be different.

Needless to say, I wrote dozens of Navy stories in the years that followed. I’m beyond thrilled that sixteen of them made this book almost a decade later. More than half of the stories in the book have been published by journals and magazines like Noir Nation, Plots with Guns, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, O-Dark-Thirty.

Continue reading

“Crosswise” Nominated For An Anthony Award!

I was blown away to find out that my first Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper, CROSSWISE, was nominated for the “Best Novella” Anthony Award. The Anthony Awards will be voted on by attendees at the 2017 Bouchercon world mystery convention being held in Toronto from October 12 to 15. I’m thrilled to share the honor with fellow nominees Angel Luis Colon, Sarah M. Chen, John Shepphird and B.K. Stevens.

Thanks to everybody for the kind notes of congratulations!

If you haven’t read CROSSWISE yet, it’s a crossword puzzle-themed crime caper that follows the misadventures of disgraced NYPD officer Tommy Ruzzo. Things spiral out of control when Ruzzo chases his girlfriend to Florida where he’s named Head of Security for a beachfront retirement community populated by wisecracking New Yorkers. Ruzzo is stranded among the local losers until he discovers a murdered senior citizen on the bocce ball court.

The second Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper, CROSSED BONES, was just published last week by Down & Out Books.

In addition to the Anthony Award nomination, CROSSWISE is currently in the running for a Silver Falchion Reader’s Choice Award. That one is open for public voting now, and anybody can vote (CLICK HERE). Winners will be announced at the 2017 Killer Nashville Guest of Honor and Awards Banquet August 24 to 27.

S.W. Lauden writes 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 the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

David Nemeth Reviews “Crossed Bones”

Very happy to wake up to this review today over at Unlawful Acts. Based on his many book reviews, it seems like Mr. Nemeth and I have very similar tastes in crime fiction. Always interesting (and a little terrifying) when somebody like that reviews one of your books.

“Crossed Bones is the adult version of a carnival ride and Lauden’s writing keeps us grounded even as we plunge into the absurdity of costumed pirates battling a motorcycle gang for a lost treasure.”

You can read the full review HERE.

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.