New Interview at Story and Grit

Very excited to be over at Story and Grit today. Jessie Rawlins asked some great questions. I talk about my Greg Salem series, music (everything from Johnny Cash to REO Speedwagon), and podcasting—among many other things.

Hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

Read the full interview HERE.

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.

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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.

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Interrogation—Jo Perry

Who: Jo Perry

What: She earned a Ph.D. in English, taught college literature and writing, produced and wrote episodic television,  published articles, book reviews, and poetry. Her Charlie & Rose series includes DEAD IS BETTER, DEAD IS BEST and DEAD IS GOOD.

Where: Los Angeles

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

I just read DEAD IS BETTER. What inspired such an original concept?

Looking back, I think a couple of things inspired me: I’m in my 60s and the fact that I have an expiration date has become impossible to ignore. So I guess I found myself contemplating death in a serious, curious, voyeuristic and prolonged way.

Taking home a dusty, confused and thirsty dog that had been dumped in a Home Depot parking lot on a very hot day in 2008 is what led, I see now, to writing the book. This dog that someone felt could be discarded like trash—we named her Lucy—changed my world and changed me. I’d always had cats and had no instinct for the canine temperament, but Lucy was a very patient teacher. Lucy is one of the smartest, kindest and most interesting beings I know. She and our other dog, Lola (she was dumped in an alley behind our house) will be 10 in February.  They’ve led me to new experiences, new friends, and often allow me to see the world from a canine point of view.

And once a dog was part of my life, I was in a position to see the everyday, casual cruelties inflicted upon them. Gross acts of neglect and cruelty make the news, but in parks, backyards and on the street, I witnessed unkindness—too-long periods of confinement; chains; choke collars; prong collars; electronic shock collars, and so many violent yanks of the leash—which made me feel helpless, sick and angry. I once asked a man to stop and he choked his dog again right in front of me. I learned to shut up.

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Interrogation—Matthew Fitzsimmons

Who: Matthew Fitzsimmons

What: An American boy from Illinois who grew up in London in the 1970s under the baleful eye of the Kings Road punks. He now lives in Washington, D.C., where he taught English literature and theater at a private high school for over a decade. He cohabitates with a pair of old boots, collects bourbon and classic soul LPs, and wonders if he will ever write anything half as good as the first sentence of James Crumley’s THE LAST GOOD KISS. He is the author of the Gibson Vaughn Series.

Where: Washington, D.C.

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

I just finished your excellent first book, THE SHORT DROP. How long was Gibson Vaughn rattling around your head before you got him down on paper?

Not very long to be honest, a few months. He grew out of the story, and as the story changed so did he. Pretty drastically in some ways—in an early draft, the book begins with him learning from a doctor that he’s dying. It is embarrassing to admit how long it took me to realize that was a bad idea.

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Interrogation—Mark Rapacz

Who: Mark Rapacz

What: His stories have appeared in Plots with Guns, Revolver, Thuglit, Pulp Modern, Water-Stone Review, East Bay Review, Hawai’i Review, Martian Lit and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. His latest crime novel, A BURDIZZO FOR A PRINCE, is available now from Fahrenheit Press.

Where: Minneapolis

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

Congrats on the release of your latest novel, A BURDIZZO FOR A PRINCE. What was the inspiration for this one?

Thanks, man.  The inspiration actually had a lot to do with stupid BuzzFeed headlines.  Back when I ran a writer blog (my third attempt), I posted this thing about how dumb BuzzFeed was and how dumb their dumb headlines were and then I was like, “somebody should write a book about some dumb BuzzFeed employee who blogs about his life using dumb BuzzFeed headlines as chapter titles.”  Initially, I only made it as far as the headlines.  That first attempt can be found here.

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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.

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Interrogation—R. Daniel Lester

Who: R. Daniel Lester

What: As a keen apprentice in the story trade, he has consumed a lot of coffee (a mandatory requirement according to the manual), written himself into and out of countless corners, added many words to blank pages, self-published three books (including the novel, DIE, FAMOUS!), and made tens of dollars along the way.

His work has also appeared in print and online in such places as Adbusters, Geist, Shotgun Honey, Bareknuckles Pulp, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Broken Pencil, Pulp Literature and The Lascaux Prize Anthology.

Where: Toronto

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

DEAD CLOWN BLUES is one of my favorite book titles in recent memory. What came first, the story or the title? Is there a story behind the title?

Wow, that’s great to hear. Thanks. This project started out with another title and was more towards novel length. Circa 2013/2014, I got a few rejections on it and then decided to let it simmer for a while. A few months later I noticed that Shotgun Honey was open again to novella submissions and it dawned on me—simplify. Trim the fat. I had one too many subplots and stripping it away really made it sing.

But the first title was related to the extraneous subplot so I had to go back to square one. Which was strange. Usually, I have the title of the piece prior to writing it (or at least along the way) and that often helps guide the direction. But with the story mostly done, except for patching the holes in the wall that you get from any subplot demolition/renovation, I had to look at the core of the new story—what was driving it? And I always liked the dual meaning of “dead clown” within the story—(1) the former-clown-turned-janitor who dies, and (2) the name of the gang of criminal clowns that Fitch crosses path with. Then, once I figured out “Blues,” that was it, game over. I knew I had a winner. It just sounded right to me. Right for the story, right for the genre. Nice and hardboiled.

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Interrogation—Peter Rozovsky

Who: Peter Rozovsky

What: An editor, photographer, and reviewer/critic/essayist. He has written the Detectives Beyond Borders international crime fiction blog since 2006, created Noir at the Bar in 2008, and has written essays and introductions to books including SUNSHINE NOIR; Barry Forshaw’s NORDIC NOIR; FOLLOWING THE DETECTIVES: REAL LOCATIONS IN CRIME FICTION; and THE CULTURAL DETECTIVE: REFLECTIONS ON THE WRITING LIFE IN THAILAND. He has shot the covers for novels and story collections by Reed Farrel Coleman, Domenic Stansberry, Charlie Stella, Ed Gorman, Linda L. Richards, and Tony Knighton.

Where: Philadelphia

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

How has crime fiction evolved in the 11 years since you started your blog?

The demise of the P.I. novel has happened about eleven times since 2006. Irish crime writing, particularly that from Northern Ireland, shows signs of gaining the attention it deserves (or at least Adrian McKinty has started to win awards). And I’m not sure whether this is a trend or just my evolving of tastes, but I’ve been paying more attention to newish publishers: the lamented 280 Steps, Down & Out, and writers who fit that mold, people like Johnny Shaw and Jay Stringer.

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Interrogation—John McFetridge

Who: John McFetridge

What: Author of four novels in the Toronto Series, and the Eddie Dougherty Trilogy set in Montreal in the 1970s. He edited the Bouchercon 2017 anthology, PASSPORT TO MURDER and is also the co-editor, with Kevin J. Anderson, of the anthology, 2113: STORIES INSPIRED BY THE MUSIC OF RUSH, and co-editor with Jacques Filippi of the anthology MONTREAL NOIR.

Where: Toronto

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

Your Toronto series includes SWAP, EVERYBODY KNOWS THIS IS NOWHERE, DIRTY SWEET and TUMBLIN’ DICE. Just how mean are the streets of Toronto?

Toronto often calls itself the 4th largest city in North America after Mexico City, New York, and Los Angeles and just before Chicago. Of course that takes some playing with which suburbs of which cities can be counted, but no matter where you put it on the list, Toronto is a big city so it has all the mean street issues of any big city. But half the people who live in Toronto were born somewhere else and came here for some kind of opportunity (blatant self-promotion, that’s the theme of DIRTY SWEET) so a lot of the time people are too busy to be too mean.

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