2016: My Year In Interviews

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I got the not-so-original idea to interview other writers at Bouchercon, Long Beach a couple of years ago. At the time, I was new to the vibrant crime and mystery community and eager to learn about the people who were a few steps—or a few miles—ahead of rsz_screen_shot_2016-05-08_at_74929_amme in their publishing journey. Since then I have expanded my interviews to include a handful of publishers, event organizers, designers and bloggers.

I discovered pretty quickly that even the most hardboiled author was happy to indulge my questions, giving them serious consideration and, when asked, providing insightful advice about writing, publishing and marketing. This is a truly talented bunch of people. And a lot of them are funny too.

Two years later, I’m happy to say that many have become friends that I connect with regularly on social media, at annual conferences like Left Coast Crime, Noir at the Bar events around the country, and bookstore signings.

rsz_screen_shot_2016-04-08_at_75943_pm_2Looking back on 2016, I did 48 interviews. If you missed any of them, or if you’re looking to discover a talented new crime/mystery author, here they are again (along with links):

January:

Corey Lynn Fayman, Leslie Bohem, Jack Getze, Ingrid Willis

rsz_screen_shot_2016-01-24_at_50801_pmFebruary:

John L. Thompson, Rob Hart, J.L. Abramo, Bill Fitzhugh, J.T. Lindroos

March:

Brett Battles, Brian Thornton, Michael Lister, Gary Phillips

April:

rsz_screen_shot_2016-01-17_at_83408_amMarietta Miles, Jon Jordan, Jeff Newberry, C.S. Dewildt

May:

Christian Lee, Jen Conley, Glen Erik Hamilton, Sarah M. Chen

June:

Larry Wilson, Bryon Quertermous, Dharma Kelleher, Ryan Gattis, Joe Clifford

July:

rsz_screen_shot_2016-06-26_at_73433_pmBenjamin Whitmer, Jason Pinter, Greg Barth

August:

Mike Creeden, Nick Kolakowski, Erik Storey, Gabino Iglesias, Mike McCrary

September:

Alex Segura, Ro Cuzon, Erik Arenson

rsz_screen_shot_2016-09-05_at_34632_pmOctober:

Jay Stringer, S.G. Redling, Christa Faust & Gary Phillips, Michael Pool, Naomi Hirahara

November:
Lori Rader-Day, Andrew Nette, Bob Truluck, Angel Luis Colon

December:

Matt Coyle, Jonathan Brown

I look forward to interviewing more of you in 2017. Thanks for a great year!

grizzly-seasonS.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published on October 11, 2016. His Tommy Ruzzo novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.

Interrogation—Jack Getze

on the bechWho: Jack Getze

What: Former newsman and Fiction Editor for Anthony-nominated Spinetingler Magazine. His Austin Carr mysteries—four so far, BIG NUMBERS, BIG MONEY, BIG MOJO and BIG SHOES—are published by Down & Out Books. His short stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, The Big Adios and two anthologies, DOWN, OUT AND DEAD, and LAST WORDS.

Where: New Jersey

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

Your protagonist, Austin Carr, is a Jersey Shore broker with a mobbed-up partner. How did you develop this character and the circumstances he finds himself in?

Most of BIG NUMBERS and the character Austin Carr are based on me and my life. After writing and asking questions for the newspaper since I was a teenager, a new and pregnant wife moved me from Los Angeles to New Jersey where I couldn’t find a decent writing or public relations job. I ended up turning the knowledge I’d gained as a financial news writer—and how to work the phones—into a new career as a salesman of tax-free bonds, and later all kinds of securities and money-management.

I worked most of the next two decades for a one-office Jersey securities firm run by guys who looked and talked like gangsters, although coming from L.A., everybody in Jersey sounded tough. After the first three years of cold calling and “dialing for dollars,” I’d had it. But I needed the job. Two families to support, and just like Austin, I was trapped. I took my frustrations out on a typewriter and created BIG NUMBERS, which tells of a guy desperate to change jobs, but trapped by his obligations.

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Guest DJ—Tom Pitts

Tom Pitts has had a busy year. He is half of the editorial team that runs The Flash Fiction Offensive for Out of the Gutter. His new monthly podcast for Authors on the Air, “Skid Row Chatter,” has had great interviews with crime fiction luminaries like Todd Robinson, Benjamin Whitmer, Jack Getze and Les Edgerton. And somehow he still found time to promote his debut novel from 2014, HUSTLE, while releasing a killer novella, KNUCKLEBALL, as a follow-up.

Knuckleball_frontcover_dress_finHere’s what Mr. Pitts had to say about KNUCKLEBALL in our interview earlier this year: “The impetus for the story came to me while I was in Golden Gate Park walking the dogs. The whole Bryan Stow thing was happening at the time. Bryan Stow was the poor bastard who was beat down at a Giants game at Dodger Stadium and to this day has never recovered. The search was on for the assailants and that afternoon a police artist’s sketch came out with an accompanying description: 5’10” Latino male. That was it. The sketch, the description, it could have been anybody. They were describing half of L.A. So I wondered … man, if you knew someone who looked even remotely like that, you could really fuck them up if you fingered them. All it would take is some hatred and a phone call.”

Tom Pitts at BoucherSo what’s next? Well, rumor has to that Mr. Pitts is sitting on two new novels that fans like myself hope will see the light of day in 2016. In the meantime, he’s on the turntables this week spinning everything from John Prine and April Wine to Johnny Thunders, Black Flag and The Replacements.

If you need more Tom Pitts in your life, you can find him on his website, Amazon and Facebook.

Previous Playlists:

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.

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: Eric Campbell

E Campbell-2012Who: Eric Campbell

What: Owner of Down & Out Books, an Indie publisher focused on great crime fiction with a slant on the harder side of life.

Where: Florida

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

Tell me about the moment that you knew you were going to start Down & Out Books. What was the inspiration? 

The short answer is that in 2011, after Ben LeRoy and I sold Tyrus Books (I was an investor and CFO), I still had an itch to be in the publishing business. So I blew the dust off of a business plan I had put together in mid-2009 and started D&OB. The initial goal was to be a vehicle for authors, who didn’t want to self-pub, to have their titles published as ebooks. I had no intention of releasing previously unpublished books, but the company soon blossomed into that arena.

Texas NoirWhat was the first book that D&OB published? What did you like most about that manuscript and/or author?

The first title published by D&OB was Crimespree Magazine #40. Jon Jordan and I had been talking about Tyrus publishing the ebook for him. With the sell, he said why don’t you do it under D&OB.

The first book published by D&OB was TEXAS NOIR, a short story collection by Milton T. Burton. He was a wonderful writer and someone I enjoyed calling a friend (he passed away on December 1, 2011). When I told him I was starting D&OB, he said I had to publish a short story collection for him. Who was I to say no?

Ladies-Night-CoverWhat is the most recent book that you published? What did you like most about that manuscript and/or author?

Well, I had four books drop on June 1, including: OVER THEIR HEADS by JB Kohl & Eric Beetner; LADIES’ NIGHT: Sisters in Crime, Los Angeles 2015 Anthology edited by Naomi Hirahara, Kate Thornton and Jeri Westerson; RULES OF HONOR by Matt Hilton, and TALES FROM THE BLUE LINE by Rob Riley. Continue reading