Interrogation—Christopher Irvin

 Who: Christopher Irvin

What: His debut collection, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, was a finalist for the 2016 Anthony Award for Best Anthology or Collection. He is also the author of FEDERALES and BURN CARDS.

Where: Massachusetts

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

You’re about to release, RAGGED, your first novel-length work of fiction. What was it about this story that made you go the distance?

Since the publication of SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, I’ve been focused on writing novels. The typical “mainstream” length of 90k words has always seemed impossible for me to reach. I have friends who will write 100k-150k and cut down, but I’ve been much more of an “under” writer during past novel attempts—coming in around 40-50k and trying to push the count up when I go back and edit, filling in details, etc. BURN CARDS was supposed to be a novel, but the novella length felt right and I cut it down. Two other novels landed in a similar no-man’s land, though they had other issues as well.

90k is so arbitrary, right? I’m sure the big publishers have run the numbers and somewhere around 90k is the sweet spot giving them the most bang for their buck. But, part of what I enjoyed so much in working with Cutlass Press is the trust they put in me. I’m not a 90k writer, at least for now. I’ve talked a lot in interviews on RAGGED how everything lined up over the past year timing-wise. When I pitched the outline I set a goal of 60k words—a gut feeling of where the book might clock out. It ended up around 65k after edits, and I’m very happy with the length. I want to challenge myself to write a longer book (the rough outline in my head seems to be headed that way), but we’ll see. I’m happy to take a crack at it and see where I end up.

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Interrogation—Ron Earl Phillips

Who: Ron Earl Phillips

What: Publisher of  Shotgun Honey and One Eye Press, as well as a web developer and designer. He lives with his wife, daughter, and one too many cats.  He has been known to write.

Where: West Virginia

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

Welcome, Ron. Why don’t you start by singing us the ballad of Shotgun Honey? 

Good to be here. After Bouchercon, I wasn’t too optimistic. But what doesn’t kill you, right?

The Ballad of Shotgun Honey, a song I’ve sung a time or two. It’s got a pretty good up beat, but I digress. So, about Shotgun Honey… The start of Shotgun Honey came about in 2011 and was concocted by Kent Gowran. I was fairly new to the community, maybe a year in, and I had written a few stories. 2010 was a productive year for me. I’d been “friends” with Kent for about 5-6 six months, chatted on Twitter, and when he tweeted about starting a new flash fiction site I sent him a note asking if he needed any help.

For me, I was thinking of putting together and managing a website. That’s what I do, I’m a web guy. Next thing I know, along with Sabrina Ogden, we’re launching a site and reading submissions. Kent has a lot of cache in the community, so the site took off. Started with a lot of known members like Dan O’Shea, Al Guthrie, Ray Banks, and so many guys I admired the hell out of.

A month in we moved from Blogger to our ShotgunHoney.net, which I’ve hosted and maintained since. Kent and Sabrina were on board for first 18+ months for the first anthology, which evolved into more publishing.

Since then I’ve had the privilege to work with Kent, Sabrina, Chad Rohrbacher, Christopher Irvin, Jen Conley, Joe Meyers, Erik Arneson, and Angel Luis Colón. Outside of the contributors, these folks are the life blood of Shotgun Honey these last 4 and half years.

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Interrogation—Christopher Irvin

Who: Christopher Irvin

What: Author of FEDERALES and BURN CARDS. His short stories have been featured in several publications, including ThuglitBeat to a Pulp, and Shotgun Honey. His short story collection, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, is out this November from 280 Steps.

Where: Boston

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

Since you’re about to publish SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, a tremendous collection of 13 short stories, I’m going to ask you one question about each story. First up is “Union Man”. What inspired you to write a period piece about a man caught between a rock and a hard place during a steel mill strike?

Thank you for the kind words and interview! I wish I had more notes on “Union Man.” I write by hand a lot and have tried hard to keep to a journal since 2012 (I’m finishing up my third). I have a small paragraph from early in 2013 about researching the steel strikes (I recall looking at a lot of photos and articles online), and I sent off a draft to friends for critique that May. It’s unfortunate as it’s a favorite of the collection, but I do know at its heart that it’s my ‘fatherhood story.’ My first son, George, was born in August of 2012 and a clearly recall this being the first piece where I incorporated my sense of being a father, the responsibilities, etc. It was a story that I had to write, and even though I knew pretty much from the outset where it needed to go—for narrative reasons and to make an impact—it was still difficult to write.

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