“The Long Dance” Podcast Review

Like most podcast listeners way back in 2014, I couldn’t get enough of Serial. I wasn’t quite as taken by Serial’s second season, but plenty of other true crime options started popping up in my feed. A couple of all-time favorites include Dirty John and S-Town.

My favorite new true crime podcast is The Long Dance. Here’s a description of the 8-part series from the show’s website:

A disclaimer before we begin. One of the show’s creators, Eryk Pruitt, is a friend of mine from the Indie crime fiction community. You’ll also hear my voice at the beginning of each episode because Mr. Pruitt and his team were kind enough to let us promote our crime, mystery and thriller fiction podcast, Writer Types, with a quick ad. If all of that will keep you from taking this review seriously, stop reading now—but definitely don’t let it stop you from checking out Episode 1 of The Long Dance. I have a feeling you’ll be hooked, just like I was.

Which brings us to my review…

Producing a podcast about an unsolved 46-year-old double homicide seems like a tricky business. Not only is the evidence old or missing, but many of the people you’d naturally want to interview have long since shuffled off this mortal coil. This includes everybody from law enforcement officials, witnesses and suspects, to family and friends connected with the victims. So it’s really impressive that Pruitt (pictured at left), Adamek (pictured below) and Kessler manage to weave a captivating tale despite the many roadblocks built up by the sands of time. Even more impressive is their ability to pull the story into the present by essentially re-opening the cold case themselves. In many ways, their dogged persistence is the real engine that moves this gripping story forward.

This mostly works because of the professional relationship Pruitt and Adamek developed with Major Tim Horne of the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. If this story was one of Pruitt’s dark rural noir novels, Horne’s thorough approach, cautious optimism, and even-keeled demeanor would almost be clichéd—which makes him that much more engaging as the de facto third narrator of the series. That alone is worth investing 8 hours of your podcast-listening time, but it’s not even my favorite part of this series.

The main thing that kept me bingeing The Long Dance over the course of a couple of days was the well-developed sense of time and place. Durham, North Carolina is not the town it was 46 years ago, and neither are the people most affected by the Mann/McBane murders. Many of the interviews included in the series highlight how the world moves on, even from something as heinous as the brutal murders of a young couple. It’s possible to listen to The Long Dance as a straight true crime narrative and you definitely will not be disappointed, but the real triumph of this podcast is the way it showcases the pain, regret and anger that lives on inside the people touched by this almost forgotten tragedy.

Highly recommended.

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S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novella, CROSSWISE, and the sequel, CROSSED BONES. His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME. He is also the co-host of the Writer Types crime, mystery and thriller podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

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.

Guest DJ—Eryk Pruitt

Eryk Pruitt is a screenwriter, author, filmmaker and radio host. And starting today he is also a Guest DJ! Check out this amazing playlist featuring everything from Bob Dylan and Lee Hazlewood to Slim Cessna’s Auto Club and Sublime. And don’t miss our radio/podcast discussion about “Music in Crime Fiction” this Monday, Dec. 14.

The Crime SceneIf you aren’t already familiar with Eryk’s work, you’re missing out. His short fiction has appeared in The Avalon Literary ReviewThuglitPulp Modern, and Zymbol, among others. In 2014, his fiction was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and also a finalist for a Derringer Award. His debut novel, DIRTBAGS, and his follow-up novel, HASHTAG, are both available now.

He wrote and produced the short film FOODIE which won eight top awards at over sixteen film festivals. Since then, he has written several others, including KEEPSAKE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview I did with Eryk Pruitt earlier this year.

ErykAuthorPhotoHow does your approach to short stories differ from your longer works?

I can write a first draft for a short story in a day. If I get the kernel of an idea, I can sit down and write and then set it aside and come back and rewrite a couple days later, then do it again… and after a couple weeks I will have a polished, fine-tuned little piece of fiction. That’s pretty rewarding. Finishing something is its own reward, and the short story allows you to reward yourself more often than you can with a novel.

Find Eryk Pruitt: Website and Amazon

Previous Playlists:

Guest DJ—Tom Pitts

Guest DJ—Craig T. McNeely

Guest DJ—Angel Colon

Guest DJ—Josh Stallings

29 SoCal Punk Songs

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.

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.

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.

Continue reading

Eryk Pruitt’s HASHTAG Is Out Today

Eryk Pruitt is screenwriter, author and filmmaker living in Durham, NC. His short films FOODIE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND have won several awards at film festivals across the US. His fiction appears in THE AVALON LITERARY REVIEW, PULP MODERN, THUGLIT and ZYMBOL, to name a few. His novel DIRTBAGHashtagCover350S was published in April 2014, and his follow-up novel, HASHTAG, was published today by 280 Steps.

I was lucky enough to catch up with the author last month between book and film projects, long enough to have him answer a few questions. Here is an excerpt from my interview with Eryk Pruitt.

How does your new novel, HASHTAG, differ from your debut novel, DIRTBAGS?

HASHTAG, for one, is a little longer. Much like DIRTBAGS, it is told in three parts. It also gets a prologue and an epilogue, which I’m pretty happy about. Our characters get a chance to leave town some in HASHTAG, which is fun. I think there’s no place more beautiful, more sinister, more dangerous and more blessed than the American South, and I wanted to take the readers on a little ride, so we manage to get out of Lake Castor. How we do it… well, that’s a different story.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-04-05_at_73753_amWas writing a novel easier the second time around? 

I was fortunate enough to have already written HASHTAG by the time DIRTBAGS was published. However, after having gone through line edits and copy edits, it fiddled with my head during HASHTAG rewrites. I kept rewriting it and rewriting it, and even after 280 Steps took it, I still emailed them and asked if I could rewrite it one more time. Since I’ve been lucky enough to get some good reactions from people regarding DIRTBAGS, I put a lot of pressure on myself to make a book that people will like. I kind of forgot that I was supposed to have a lot of fun and that’s what people will respond to. It took me a while to get that through my thick skull, but I think I’ve got it down now. Have fun while you’re writing and everything will be just fine… I hope.

Read the whole INTERVIEW HERE.

Buy HASHTAG 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.