Johnny Cash Anthology Roundtable

Last week, Gutter Books released their latest music-themed anthology, JUST TO WATCH THEM DIE: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF JOHNNY CASH. The collection was curated by Joe Clifford who got an Anthony Award nomination for his previous rock anthology, TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND: CRIME FICTION BASED ON THE SONGS OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

I was aware of Johnny Cash growing up, but didn’t develop a passion for his music until I discovered roots-influenced punk bands like The Blasters, X, The Cramps, Social Distortion and The Gun Club. By the time I reached college, Cash’s music was in heavy rotation on my stereo. To this day, one of the best concerts I ever saw was The Man In Black live at The Pantages Theater in Hollywood with Beck as the opener. So when I heard Gutter Books was putting this collection together, I knew I had to submit a short story. The song I chose was “25 Minutes To Go.”

Now that the collection’s out in the world, I’m thrilled to see my name alongside talented authors like Rob Hart, Jen Conley, David James Keaton, Lynne Barrett, David Corbett, Tom Hazuka, Mike Creeden, Nik Korpon, Sarah M. Chen, Terence McCauley, Gabino Iglesias, James Grady, Danny Gardner, Rene Asher Pickup, Hector Duarte Jr., Ryan Leone, James R. Tuck, Angel Luis Colón, Jennifer Maritza McCauley, Steven Ostrowski, Terri Lynn Coop, Max Booth III and Heath Lowrance.

In honor of the release, I contacted Joe Clifford and a handful of contributors to find out what Johnny Cash means to them. I think you’ll enjoy their responses almost as much as this fantastic anthology (which you can snag RIGHT HERE).

Joe Clifford—Editor

What inspired you to create a Johnny Cash-themed crime anthology? 

We did the Springsteen one, which did pretty well, in terms of sales. But, man, so many people wanted to be in it (and were sorta pissed at me for not asking them). So we tried to do another Springsteen one, but his lawyers said no. So I tried to think of another Americana artist who embodies that crime fiction spirit, and who better than Cash? So I asked a bunch of new writers (and then there were some more writers I didn’t ask who sorta got pissed.)

What Johnny Cash song were you surprised that nobody claimed?

I’ll cheat a little here. Ryan Leone took “Folsom Prison Blues,” but his story was originally called something else, and when he learned that no one had claimed FPB, he changed his title (which works better for the piece anyway).

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Writer Types Podcast—Episode 8

A software snafu delayed the release of the latest episode, but it’s definitely worth the wait.

Our featured interviews for episode 8 include Rachel Howzell Hall, James Ziskin, Ryan Gattis and Erik Storey. With special appearances by: Rob Hart, Todd Robinson, Jake Hinkson, Brad Parks, Brain Panowich, Joe Clifford and Val McDermid.

You can find our crime + mystery podcast wherever you listen or download:

SoundCloud

iTunes

Stitcher

If you like what you hear, please share it with your friends on the socials. If you really like what you hear, please subscribe and leave a review. That’s the best way to help us spread the word.

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S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper novellas include CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION and GRIZZLY SEASON (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

Interrogation—Glenn Gray

Who: Glenn Gray

What: His stories have appeared in a wide range of online and print magazines and anthologies. His story collection, THE LITTLE BOY INSIDE AND OTHER STORIES was published by Concord ePress.

Where: New York

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

Your short story, “Break,” kicks off the new Broken River Books anthology, HARD SENTENCES. How did you come up with the idea for this one?

That was all David James Keaton’s fault. Seriously. I was racking my brain for an idea, something medical. Maybe the infirmary at Alcatraz, from a physician’s point of view. I started researching Al Capone and his well-known history of syphilis in his later years. It was all pretty interesting, but nothing good jumped out or clicked as far as story. I considered various angles, but most were dead ends for me. Nothing unique enough. Then DJK posted a list of concepts in the HARD SENTENCES guidelines that he wanted to see written. One of them was, “a story inspired by that Russian guy in the news who squeezed through the food slot in his prison cell.” I was like, huh? So I searched online and found the video and was like, hell yes, we may have something here. I watched this lanky naked dude wriggling through the food slot of his cell like some kind of slippery fish. He plops down on the other side of the bars, puts his clothes on and nonchalantly walks away.

The wheels started turning. What if there was no food slot? How could someone squeeze through the bars? What would stop you? Bone, of course. If we had no skeleton, we’d just be a blob and could squeeze through anything, and I thought of that liquid metal guy in Terminator 2. So I started thinking about diseases, anomalies, syndromes, anything that could help. And for me, the medicine has to make sense in order to write it. It can be fantastical but it has to be based in some real medicine or disease. And the anatomy has to be perfect. I had some diseases in mind, did more research, settled on osteogenesis imperfecta, and quickly realized I had something workable.

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Writer Types Podcast—Episode 3

Episode 3 of the podcast I co-host with Eric Beetner is officially here!

Check out interviews with Johnny Shaw and Sue Ann Jaffarian. Spend a night at Noir At The Bar – L.A. with Glen Erik HamiltonNolan KnightSarah M. ChenTravis RichardsonJohn Lansing and Stephen Blackmoore. Go to rock school with Alex SeguraJoe Clifford and Corey Lynn Fayman. And listen to a haunting short story from Jen Conley. Plus, reviews from Kate Hackbarth Malmon and Dan Malmon. Special thanks to our partners at Shotgun HoneyCrimespree Magazine and the California Crime Writers Conference.

Listen to all three episodes of Writer Types on iTunes, SoundCloud or Stitcher

And please consider leaving a review and rating, and subscribing whenever possible.

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S.W. Lauden is the author of the Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series including BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION and GRIZZLY SEASON (Rare Bird Books). His Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper novellas include CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

Interrogation—Benoit Lelievre

benoit-dogWho: Benoit Lelievre

What: Publisher of book and movie reviews weekly at Dead End Follies. He lives with his better half Josie and his senior citizen boxer dog Scarlett. He loves writing, watching basketball and obsessing over things.

Where: Montreal

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

Congrats on another successful year at Dead End Follies. How old is your site now? How have things evolved since you first launched?

Thank you! Dead End Follies is turning eight this year. The site underwent major technical changes last year: I migrated it to Squarespace, hooked it up to Google Analytics, and developed a search engine-friendly content strategy. It was the first major change since I decided to dedicate it entirely to book and movie reviews in 2011. In terms of evolution, Dead End Follies first found a purpose—smart and accessible criticism—and now it’s finding its audience, which is exciting.

I believe the most important milestone in Dead End Follies’ evolution happened in 2016: I understood who I was writing for—who I wanted to write for and have a relationship with. Readers. People passionate about genre literature. When you start a book reviewing venture and the publishing industry is starting to take interest in you, it’s validating. You start getting free books in the mail, you discover new voices. That’s great, but it’s easy to get caught in that and start perceiving querying authors as clients. I want to help people reappropriate an intellectual relationship to their entertainment.

Dead End Follies has a purpose and a mission now. We’re a far cry from the desperate outlet for my chaotic thoughts on culture that I created in 2009 when I was working in a call center.

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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—Mike Creeden

Creeden Pic1Who: Mike Creeden

What: His work has appeared in Tigertail, Miami Living, The Florida Book Review, EVERYTHING IS BROKEN, and TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN. A native of Massachusetts, Mike now lives in South Florida and teaches writing at Florida International University.

Where: Florida

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

I just finished ALL YOUR LIES CAME TRUE and I kept getting the strange sensation that the book was written specifically for me. Who did you think the reader of this story would be when you wrote it?

It was written specifically for you, Steve—you and anyone else who’s ever played in a band, or been obsessed with a band or walked around all day, every day with song lyrics and guitar riffs and concert footage running through their heads. I was thinking about the kind of reader who measures the quality of a movie by what songs are on the soundtrack, someone who gets excited when a writer mentions a rock song or a band in a novel.

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Interrogation—Joe Clifford

Clifford 16.2Who: Joe Clifford

What: Acquisitions editor for Gutter Books and producer of Lip Service West, a “gritty, real, raw” reading series in Oakland, CA. He is the author of several books, including JUNKIE LOVE, LAMENTATION, and DECEMBER BOYS, as well as editor of  TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND: CRIME STORIES BASED ON THE SONGS OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

Where: San Francisco

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

Congrats on the release of DECEMBER BOYS, your latest Jay Porter novel. What can you tell us about the latest installment in the series?

The condensed version? I like Jenny Milchman’s blurb from DECEMBER BOYS, which I think is true for all Jay Porter novels. [These novels] are about “broken people who come back swinging, achieving the kind of partial triumphs and halfway heartaches only real life―and the best writing―can depict.”

At least I hope the “best writing” part is true. The broken people and not going down without a fight part certainly is. I love Springsteen.

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My LCC 2016 Schedule

LCC 2016

I’m heading to Phoenix this Thursday through Sunday for Left Coast Crime 2016. There’s lots of exciting stuff happening all weekend, but below is a guide for how you can find me…or just look in the hotel bar.

FRIDAY

1) “Meet the New Authors Breakfast—LCC2016″

7:30am (Yes, “AM”—not a typo)

2) Panel—”Rock and Roll Is Not a Crime”

3:00pm to 4:00pm

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Joe Clifford quote card

3) Podcast—”Noir on the Radio”

6:00pm to 7:30pm

Noir on the Radio LCC

SATURDAY

1) Panel—”Fan Guest of Honor Chantelle Aimée Osman Presents The Match Game”

1:30pm to 2:30pm

  • Chantelle Aimée Osman (M)
  • S.W. Lauden
  • Hilary Davidson
  • Glen Erik Hamilton
  • Lesa Holstine
  • Janet Rudolph

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

safe-inside-the-violence_cover Redbone_Cover DreamingDeep Knuckleball_frontcover_dress_fin

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.