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.

2016: Favorite Rock and Roll Reads

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If you like reading about rock and roll as much as I do, then 2016 was a really good year. Not only were the bookshelves stocked with amazing punk rock non-fiction from the likes of Keith Morris and John Doe, but The Replacements came back into my life in a BIG way. I also discovered a few other crime writers out there who, like me, are using rock and roll as the leaping off point for their violent tales of intrigue, lust and woe. And it was another great year for music-inspired short fiction as well.

Here are a few of my favs, in no particular order.

Nothing’s more rock and roll than a list!

TROUBLE BOYS: THE TRUE STORY OF THE REPLACEMENTS—Bob Mehr

There have long been theories about why this Minneapolis punk outfit-turned-critical darlings never achieved their long-predicted commercial success. Rumors of self-doubt and self-sabotage were the stuff of legend. This well-researched book sets the record straight in a way that even the most die-hard fans will appreciate.

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ALL YOUR LIES CAME TRUE—Mike Creeden

It’s hard to read this high-octane thriller without thinking of your favorite rock and roll duos—Axl Rose/Slash, Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, or David Johansen/Johnny Thunders. Creeden does a great job of wrapping this page-turner in a glittery cape of rock and roll imagery to keep the action pumping. Strong characters, a fast-moving plot, and a killer back story deliver some unexpected twists and turns. This is a dark, but fun read that you won’t be able to put down. Read my interview with Mike Creeden.

UNDER THE BIG BLACK SUN: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF L.A. PUNK—John Doe & Tom DeSavia

This collection of overlapping essays about the first-wave of LA punk is a fascinating look at how legendary scenes are born. It’s incredible to think that a hundred kids, one apartment building and a handful of clubs gave us decades of great music from bands like X, The Germs, The Go Gos, The Minutemen and The Blasters. It goes by fast, so read it twice.

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FLIGHT 505—Leslie Bohem

A private jet powered by broken dreams, regret and self-delusion. Fame might have eluded Mickey and Al, but that doesn’t stop them from getting back in the chase—long after their expiration date. A fun, fast read that brings the 80s LA New Wave scene to life in vivid color, and explores the meaning of success through the perspective of three very different, but hopelessly intertwined characters. A great read for anybody that ever chased the brass ring down Hollywood Blvd. Read my interview with Leslie Bohem.

MAMA TRIED—Edited by James Ray Tuck

I can’t think of a better marriage than the one between crime fiction and outlaw country—and this collection doesn’t disappoint. What started out as a random Facebook post according to editor, James Ray Tuck (“Someone should do a crime fiction anthology based on outlaw country songs called MAMA TRIED so I can write a story for it.”), turned into one of the best music themed anthologies of 2016. Stand out stories include Eryk Pruitt’s “I’m The Only Hell My Mama Ever Raised,” Christa Faust’s “Truth or Consequences (Waiting’ Round to Die)” and Eric Beetner’s “Pardon Me (I’ve Got Someone To Kill).”

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PEEPLAND—Christa Faust & Gary Phillips

I don’t always read comic books or graphic novels, but when I do they’re about a peepbooth worker and her punk rock ex-partner. The brutal murder of a public access pornographer puts this unlikely duo under fire from criminals, cops, and the city elite, uncovering a web of corruption that leads right to city hall. Christa Faust and Gary Phillips are two of L.A.’s best pulp and noir writers, and Andrea Camerini’s artwork in PEEPLAND is fantastic. Read my interview with Christa Faust and Gary Phillips.

MY DAMAGE: THE STORY OF A PUNK SURVIVOR—Keith Morris & Jim Ruland

Keith Morris is a founding member of two groundbreaking SoCal bands, Black Flag and The Circle Jerks (among others). But this well-written book goes beyond those stories to show you his winding path to underground infamy. It’s been a strange trip for this soulful punk icon, and it just keeps getting more interesting.

CRIME + MUSIC—Edited by Jim Fusilli

Jim Fusilli, editor for this fantastic short story collection, starts his forward this way: “I don’t suppose it would be much of a surprise to discover that there’s a dark and deadly side to the world of popular music.” What is surprising about this anthology is the diverse talents of the contributors, including Zoe Sharp, Peter Robinson, Reed Farrel Coleman, Tyler Dilts, Bill Fitzhugh and Erica Wright—among many others. Every one of these stories hums, sings or (in the case of Gary Phillips’, “Shaderoc The Soul Shaker”) rips your head clean off.

DESERT CITY DIVA—Corey Lynn Fayman

I came into the Rolly Waters series in this third installment, but had no problem getting acquainted with the character and his San Diego. This book is a romp across a SoCal desert full of paranoid outsiders and lost souls. Love the musical references threaded throughout, and Rolly’s ability to solve the action-packed case without constantly waving a gun around or punching through walls. A fast, fun read that will keep you coming back. Read my interview with Corey Lynn Fayman.

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WAITING TO BE FORGOTTEN: SONGS OF CRIME AND HEARTBREAK INSPIRED BY THE REPLACEMENTS—Edited by Jay Stringer

Putting aside my own contribution to this anthology, Jay Stringer has assembled a truly impressive collection of crime and mystery writers including Johnny Shaw, Kristi Belcamino, Josh Stallings, Angel Colon, Jen Conley, Tom Leins, Alex Segura and Mike McCrary—among many others. Not to mention, talented contributors like Franz Nicolay (The Hold Steady) and Gorman Bechard (Director of “Color Me Impressed: A Film About The Replacements,” and “Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart”). Read my interview with Jay Stringer.


BCC Cover FinalS.W. Lauden’s debut novel—about a punk rock musician turned disgraced cop—is called BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. It was released in October 2015 from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published on October  2016. His standalone Tommy Ruzzo novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.

Your “Election Day” Playlist

Here’s a playlist featuring 25 amazing songs from legendary Minneapolis rawk band, The Replacements. Among them you will find “Election Day” (of course), along with fan favorites like “On The Bus,” “Gary’s Got A Boner,” “Androgynous,” “Unsatisfied,” “Alex Chilton” among many others.

Taken on its own, this is one hell of a mix tape to rock away your election day anxieties. But wait—there’s more!

img_0231Each of these songs also inspired a short story in the new collection WAITING TO BE FORGOTTEN: STORIES OF CRIME AND HEARTBREAK INSPIRED BY THE REPLACEMENTS. The songs in the playlist are actually in the same order as the short stories in this anthology. Authors featured include: Hailey Ardell, Ed Kurtz, Rick Ollerman, Alex Segura, Gorman Bechard, David Accampo, William Boyle, Johnny Shaw, Jen Conley, Angel Luis Colon, Josh Flanagan, Eric Beetner, Mike McCrary, Rory Costello, Franz Nicolay, Tom Leins, Josh Stallings, Erik Arneson, Kristi Belcamino, Manuel Royal, Eyre Price, Jerry Bloomfield, Liam Sweeny and…me. All curated by Jay Stringer!

Say it with me—Vote. Read. Rock!

Interrogation—Jay Stringer Talks Replacements

Who: Jay Stringer

What: Jay Stringer was born in 1980, and he’s not dead yet. He’s English by birth and Scottish by rumour; born in the Black Country, and claiming Glasgow as his hometown. Jay is dyslexic, and came to the written word as a second language, via comic books, music, and comedy. He writes hard-boiled crime stories, dark comedies, and social fiction. Jay won a gold medal in the Antwerp Olympics of 1920. He did not compete in the Helsinki Olympics of 1952, that was some other guy.

Jay is the author of WAYS TO DIE IN GLASGOW, HOW TO KILL FRIENDS AND IMPLICATE PEOPLE and the Eoin Miller series. He is also the editor for WAITING TO BE FORGOTTEN: STORIES OF CRIME AND HEARTBREAK, INSPIRED BY THE REPLACEMENTS, available Oct. 15 from Gutter Books.

Authors included in WAITING TO BE FORGOTTEN: Hailey Ardell, Ed Kurtz, Rick Ollerman, Alex Segura, Gorman Bechard, David Accampo, William Boyle, Johnny Shaw, Jen Conley, Angel Luis Colon, Josh Flanagan, Eric Beetner, Mike McCrary, Rory Costello, Franz Nicolay, Tom Leins, Josh Stallings, Erik Arneson, Kristi Belcamino, Manuel Royal, Eyre Price, Jerry Bloomfield, Liam Sweeney, S.W. Lauden and Jay Stringer.

Where: Glasgow

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

Your Replacements-inspired anthology, WAITING TO BE FORGOTTEN, will be released by Gutter Books on October 15. How did this project come together?

I’d been toying with a couple of music-related ideas for years. One had been to put out a collection of short stories inspired by Lou Reed’s New York album. Another had been The Replacements. They’ve always been in the DNA of my work. Not long after Gutter Books released Joe Clifford’s Bruce Springsteen anthology, I mentioned on Facebook that I’d love to see a ‘Mats collection someday. Tom Pitts got in touch to say, well, why not right now?

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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

 

“Bad Citizen Corporation” eBook Available Now!

BCC Cover FinalThanks to everybody who pre-ordered the print edition of my debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. That one will be shipping Nov. 3 as promised.

The ebook is now available at Amazon!

Please click the link and check it out. Need a little more coaxing? Here are a few blurbs from some amazing modern crime and mystery writers:

“Carrying on in the tradition of musician turned mystery writers like Jo Nesbo and Bill Moody, S.W. Lauden’s BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION pounds out an impressive rock-and-roll thriller. The story comes on strong and never lags behind its neck-breaking beat. Greg Salem, part-time punk rocker, now disgraced cop, plays like the bastard love child of Poly Styrene and James M. Cain. Add to the mix murder and mayhem—the girl who got away, seedy bars, real estate scams, vengeful heiresses, and an oddball assortment of thugs from the old neighborhood—drop it all under the warm Californian sun, and you’ve got the hit song—and must read—of the season.”

—Joe Clifford, author of JUNKIE LOVE and LAMENTATION

“Beach noir with some serious punk rock bonafides. BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION is a rush of a debut novel that poses timely, thoughtful questions set to a breakneck tempo.”

—Rob Hart, author of NEW YORKED

BCC pumps fresh blood into the corpse of American mystery. Lauden debuts with the storytelling ease of a veteran author. It’s fun, sun-scorched, and salty as the beaches it hails from.”

—Tom Pitts, author of HUSTLE and KNUCKLEBALL

“Like a punk rock Lew Archer novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION challenges you to keep up with the twists and turns. A murder mystery that goes from sun-kissed L.A. beaches to dirty rock clubs in a story filled with damaged souls and the lasting bonds of friendship.”

—Eric Beetner, author of RUMRUNNERS and THE DEVIL DOESN’T WANT ME

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 on November 3, 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

 

 

Bouchercon, Blogs, Burbank, Bay Area

Motley Crew

It’s been a busy week. Bouchercon, the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention in Raleigh, North Carolina was incredible. Great to hang out with friends, pick up some killer new books, learn a ton and otherwise lounge around bars and restaurants for four days with interesting people. The Noir at the Bar event that Eryk Pruitt organized was definitely a highlight. I was thrilled to read alongside Johnny Shaw, Les Edgerton, Jedidiah Ayres, Christa Faust, Ed Kurtz, Jen Conley, Thomas Pluck, Tom Pitts and Joe Clifford. I also got to sit in for a taping of Authors on the Air with Pam Stack and Tom Pitts who invited a room full of reprobates ranging from Brian Panowich, Nik Korpon and Warren Moore to Danny Gardner, Chris Irvin and Jack Getze. Shot some video of Jay Stringer and Angel Colon, too—we’ll see how that turns out.

The photo up top of me with Pam Stack, Tom Pitts and Joe Clifford is one of my favorites. It was shot by Absolutely*Kate. This one of me reading at Noir at the Bar in Raleigh was shot by the amazing Michelle Turlock Isler.

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Interrogation—Eryk Pruitt/ Noir at the Bar, Bouchercon

NOIR BAR RALEIGHWho: Eryk Pruitt

What: A screenwriter, author and filmmaker living with his wife Lana and cat Busey.  His short films FOODIE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND have won several awards at film festivals across the U.S.  His fiction appears in The Avalon Literary Review, Pulp Modern, Thuglit and Zymbol, to name a few. In 2015, he was a finalist for the Derringer Award for his short story “Knockout.” His novels, DIRTBAGS and HASHTAG, are available in e-book and paperback. He is also the founder of Noir at the Bar, Durham, and organized Noir at the Bar,  Raleigh Bouchercon.

Where: Durham, N.C.

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

How did you first find out about Noir at the Bar? Did you attend Noir at the Bar events in other cities before you launched the one in Durham? 

I kept stumbling upon them across the internet and wanted to attend one, possibly get the stones to read at one after a while. I traced them back to Jed Ayres and asked him what Durham had to do to get one, so I could experience it. He said “You got to start one yourself.” He helped me find authors who would drive to Durham and it was a blast. We had great readers and afterward, I had a night on the town with Grant Jerkins, Peter Farris and Charles Dodd White, which could not be beat. The next one we did featured eight authors from the immediate area. We had another. I’ve read in Baltimore and at Shade in New York City. It was my first time up there and man, it was a total hoot. I’ve never met nicer people.

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Crime/Mystery Writers Create Spotify Playlist

R&R Spotify Playlist

Having a BBQ this Labor Day weekend? Looking for a gloomy playlist of dark and murderous rock songs to encourage more drinking at your pool party? We have just the Spotify playlist for you—“Rock & Roll’s Not A Crime”!

I have collected song suggestions from some of my favorite West Coast crime/mystery writers including Eric Beetner, Anonymous-9, Craig Faustus Buck and Josh Stallings. This playlist was created in anticipation of our upcoming event, “Rock & Roll’s Not A Crime,” at the Buena Vista Library Branch in Burbank CA on Oct. 14—but you can enjoy the darkness right now on Spotify (you can listen if you sign up for a free account).

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.

“Bat Sabbath”—Noir Slam!

Noir Slam Sarah Chen

(Photo by Sarah M. Chen)

Noir Slam was a fantastic event at The Last Bookstore. Lots of great readers. Awesome crowd. Well done, Eric Beetner and Maxine Nunes! Thanks MWA SoCal!

Here’s the story that I read at Noir Slam last night:

BAT SABBATH

Remember when Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off that bat? I was there that night, thirteen years old and in the front row. Best night of my life. Bat blood was still dripping from Ozzy’s yellow teeth when he tossed the twitching carcass right at me.

The band kicked into “Crazy Train” as I clutched at the leathery wings. That’s when some Ron Jeremy look-alike sucker-punched me from behind and snatched it. Everything went black.

I woke up when the arena lights came on. The seats around me were empty and my head was spinning from the Quaaludes and weed. I spotted my attacker near the t-shirt booth and pounced—like a bat-crazed cheetah chasing down a baby zebra. His arms flailed as I launched onto his back and clawed at his eyes.

My hands were covered in blood when the security guards finally pulled me off. That’s when I noticed that my victim looked more like Joan Jett than Ron Jeremy.

Feathered hair can be tricky like that.

I did three years in Juvie for attacking an innocent woman. But that’s where I learned how to play guitar. You should come see my Ozzy Osbourne cover band sometime. We’re called Bat Sabbath.

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.