Interrogation—Michael Pool (Short Stack Books)

Who: Michael Pool

What: Editor of the new short story collection, FAST WOMEN AND NEON LIGHTS: EIGHTIES INSPIRED NEON NOIR (Nov. 1 from Short Stack Books). He is the author of the crime noir novella, DEBT CRUSHER, and the collection of noir short stories, NEW ALLEYS FOR NOTHING MEN, as well as the creator and editor of Crime Syndicate Magazine.

Where: Colorado

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

Congrats on your fantastic new short story collection, FAST WOMEN AND NEON LIGHTS: EIGHTIES INSPIRED NEON NOIR. Tell us about the concept.

I’m quite nostalgic for the 1980s, from the music to the movies to the culture. It’s a very strange nostalgia, though, in that the 80s were a time when nearly everything became corporate and commoditized, especially music and film and fashion. I sort of feel that if you look back it’s a point where our culture took a darker turn towards money and greed and consumption, though, of course, those things all looked very glamorous on the surface. I wanted to put together a collection of noir short stories that really reflected this dialectic aspect of glossy surface and soulless underbelly. I talk a little more about this in the anthology’s introduction, actually, so if you want to hear more, pick up a copy of the book!

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Interrogation—Greg Barth

IMG_2916Who: Greg Barth

What: Greg Barth is the author of SELENA, DIESEL THERAPY, SUICIDE LOUNGE, as well as the forthcoming ROAD CARNAGE and EVERGLADE.

Where: Kentucky

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

I just read SELENA and found it really hard to put down. It was a total punch to the gut. Tell me how this character and this story came together for you?

That story started with a single idea. There’s a tired trope in slasher movies where the victim frantically attempts to get away while being stalked. She finally makes it to a car, gets inside, fumbles with the keys, drops them, and—while the slasher’s shadow looms over the car window and squeaky slasher music plays louder and faster—attempts to start the car. And the ignition never works. Never. It just grinds and grinds while the victim’s foot taps the gas pedal. “Come on!” she says.

In my twist on this scene, she’s unable to start the car because it’s equipped with an ignition interlock device, and she’s not sober enough to unlock the switch. It seemed like a funny idea, but I also knew the consequences of being caught would be severe. And there’s no slasher, but it’s quite bad.

The character, Selena, comes from a hundred different places—pieces of people I’ve known over the years—but the two most prominent literary influences are Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander and Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor. I remember thinking during an all-out binge of the Taylor novels, “This kind of character would never work as a woman.” The idea stuck, and it became a challenge.

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