Interrogation—Joe Ide

Who: Joe Ide

What: He grew up in South Central Los Angeles. Ide earned a graduate degree and had several careers before writing his debut novel, IQ, inspired by his early experiences and his love of Sherlock Holmes. The second IQ book, RIGHTEOUS, will be released this October.

Where: Santa Monica

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

Congrats on the success of your debut novel, IQ. Can you tell us about the genesis and evolution of this story?

I grew up in South Central LA. My friends were primarily black and like most kids, my main aspiration was to belong, so I co-opted their speech, style and attitudes. I was envious of them too. We all came from struggling families and wore the same sad, hand-me-downs but somehow they managed to look cool while I looked like I’d jumped off a freighter from North Korea. I also learned to love the street vernacular which always struck me as a kind of poetry. The cadence, syntax, word choices and inflections. The endlessly creative slang. I listened to it like music. Although I was never quite convincing as a black kid who happened to be Japanese, I’ll always be grateful for that version of myself. The façade gave me a way to be in the world and not be afraid.

My favorite books were the original Sherlock Holmes stories. By the time I was twelve, I’d read all fifty-six stories and four novels multiple times. Like me, Sherlock was an introvert, a misfit and not a tough guy. But unlike me he was able to defeat his enemies and control his world with only the power of his intelligence. I grew up in an area where walking home from school could be life threatening so that was a very powerful idea. When it came time to write the book, all those elements came together virtually by themselves and Sherlock in the hood was born.

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Interrogation—Jonathan Brown

Who: Jonathan Brown

What: A “Rock n Roll P.I. Writer” who is also a fitness trainer, drummer and martial arts practitioner. Originally from Vancouver, B.C., he currently lives in Los Angeles and is working on books three and four in the Lou Crasher series.

Where: Los Angeles

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

You have written two books in the Lou Crasher series, CRESCENDO and DRUMROLL PLEASE. What was your inspiration for this character?

I’m often teased by family and friends that Lou Crasher is a Hollywood movie version of me. I categorically deny the accusation…kinda…sorta. I moved from Vancouver to L.A. in 1994 and attended music school. I went back in ’96 and toured Canada and U.S with a couple of bands. In 2000 I returned to L.A. and it’s been home to my wife and me ever since. Furthermore, I constantly kept an eye on Los Angeles headlines since I was about age 17 and always dug L.A. noir stories.

I knew I wanted to do an amateur P.I. When I asked myself what/who is he, a reluctant, wisecracking, tough guy drummer tumbling into the P.I. biz just seemed to make sense.

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Interrogation—Ryan Gattis

Gattis_HeadshotWho: Ryan Gattis

What: Ryan Gattis is a writer and educator. His most recent book, ALL INVOLVED: A NOVEL OF THE 1992 L.A. RIOTS, is grounded in 2.5 years of research & background spent with former Latino gang members, firefighters, nurses, & other L.A. citizens who lived through it. The novel has won the American Library Association’s Alex Award and the Lire Award for Noir of the Year in France. Set to be translated into 11 languages, it has been called “a high-octane speedball of a read” by The New York Times & its film rights have been acquired by HBO. Gattis lives and writes in Los Angeles, where he is a member of the street art crew UGLARworks, and a founding board member of 1888, a Southern California literary arts non-profit.

Where: Los Angeles

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

I just finish ALL INVOLVED and it was easily one of the best books I’ve read in the last year. How were you inspired to tackle the L.A. riots?

I’m so pleased to hear that. Thank you, sir. I think it’s safe to say that the more time I spent with former firefighters & former gang members, I realized that there was an awful lot about the riots that I had absolutely no idea had ever happened. The more I researched, the more there seemed to be, & a portrait of a neglected city emerged—one far more complicated & dangerous than what was portrayed on the news. To be honest, I wrote the novel to try to comprehend the depth & scope of that blind spot. Even now, I don’t know that I came close, but I sure tried my damndest.

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Interrogation—Gary Phillips

Gary photoWho: Gary Phillips

What: Author of more than a dozen novels, a couple of short story collections, graphic novels, edited or co-edited several anthologies, and has various short stories in numerous anthologies. He is the former president of the So Cal chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, this year’s chair of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color grant awarded by Sisters in Crime, and current president of the Private Eye Writers of America.

Where: Los Angeles

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

Your most recent release is 3 THE HARD WAY, a collection of three novellas from Down & Out Books. What is it about novellas that you like as a writer? Do you also enjoy them as a reader?

Interesting that the famed (or is that fabled?) James Patterson is getting into the novella effort in a big way. Not sure this means all boats rise, but it is the case that various writers across various genres have been on the grind pumping out 3 the hard waynovellas – 20,000 to 40,000 words – for some time. This echoes the heyday of the original pulps in the ‘30s when you could buy for a dime then twenty-five cents a pulp magazine, so-called for the cheap paper it was printed on but now refers to a certain rat-a-tat style of writing, with superhero-type characters such as Doc Savage, the Golden Amazon, Captain Future, the Shadow and so on. Each would have a lead feature said to be a novel-length tale, usually 40,000-50,000 words, plus several short stories.

3 THE HARD WAY then is in that vein. Two of the stories are more pulpy, action-adventure oriented, and the third is crime fiction. As a reader to me a novella gives you just enough story to dig in for a while but the demands of the form mean less extraneous matter and more charging ahead. Though that is not to slight characterization. I like novellas too as that might mean for a series character you can put out three or four of them in a year. Or if the finances lined up, why not once a month like back in the day?   No one has done that quite yet, but I would think that’s coming.

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Interrogation—Bill Fitzhugh

Who: Bill Fitzhugh

What: Award-winning author of more books than you’d like to tote around in a sack all day.  He has worked in radio, television, and film.  He is currently at work on his next novel.

Where: Los Angeles

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

RADIO ACTIVITY is a really fun read with interesting characters and plenty of small town darkness. Where did you get the idea for this story?

I worked in a town and at a station just like the ones in the book.  That’s where I made the (illegal) recording of a phone conversation that is the basis of the blackmail story in the book.  I didn’t KNOW it was illegal (both a state and a federal crime, as it turns out), but ignorance of the law and all that.  Fortunately the statute of limitations has run out on that.  In any event, that was in the late 70s, early 80s.  Fast forward fifteen years or so and I’m out of radio and into publishing.  After HEART SEIZURE (my 5th book), I was thinking about my next one and thought it might be fun to write a series character.  It dawned on me that I had this fabulous tape recording that I could have used to blackmail the general manager of the station where I worked if I had been the blackmailing type.  So I took the tape and came up with the blackmail scheme and wrote it.  Easiest book for me to write because I didn’t need to do any research.  I’d already worked in radio 10 years, so I had all my background.  BTW, the tape in the book is a word-for-word transcript of the actual tape (except names and places).  I still play the tape for people now and then.  It turns out that’s also a crime.

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Interrogation—Leslie Bohem

IMG_2742Who: Leslie Bohem

What: A participant of the great Los Angeles Music Scare of the 1980s. After his burgeoning career in rock and roll stopped burgeoning, Les found a job writing screenplays about rock and roll musicians whose careers had stopped burgeoning. He’s written some movies and television including the miniseries, Taken, for which he won an Emmy. His novella, FLIGHT 505, was just published by UpperRubberBoot, and his new album, Moved to Duarte, will be up and out any minute.  He is currently producing his series, Shut Eye, for Hulu.

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited. Leslie Bohem guitar photo by Bonnie Perkinson.

I finished FLIGHT 505 in one sitting. How did you come up with this dark, funny and heartbreaking story? Why was 2015 the right time to tell it?

Well, first thanks. A lot.  I’d had a first chapter for a while—not the Chapter as it is now; a scene of Al, fixing bar games in a bar where he used to play.  And the story just sort of took off.

Why now? Honestly, I just finally got around to telling it. I think I had to get enough distance from my own days in music—and then, a few years ago, I began writing songs again, and that sort of brought me full circle.

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For Your Consideration

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As I have previously stated, 2015 was one hell of a year. Not only did I publish my debut novel, “Bad Citizen Corporation,” but I also got to know a ton of kind, passionate, hilarious and wildly talented writers, publishers, readers, bloggers, reviewers and podcasters along the way. I couldn’t be more thrilled about the diverse and supportive crime/mystery community I have found myself a part of.

rsz_lcc_2016As I turn my attention to my upcoming Down & Out Books novella, CROSSWISE—while also making progress on the second Greg Salem book—I wanted to put the word out that “Bad Citizen Corporation” is eligible for “Best Mystery Novel set in LCC Geographic Region” in the Left Coast Crime convention’s Lefty Awards in Phoenix—info HERE. Ballots went out last week and (I believe) they are due Jan. 15. If you are eligible to vote and you have room on your ballot (there were lots of great Left Coast books published in 2015), please consider “Bad Citizen Corporation.”

BCC will also be eligible for various other “Debut,” “P.I.,” and “Best First,” contests in the coming months. So if you read it and you liked it, please keep it mind. If you haven’t read BCC, or you need a refresher, here are a few recent reviews: CRIME SYNDICATE, DEAD END FOLLIES and OUT OF THE GUTTER.

If you want to see a list of some of the books that I will consider voting for, check out my recommended reading list for 2015.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-10-09_at_75727_amThanks for a great year either way. An award nomination of any kind would only be icing on the cake.

Looking forward to connecting with more of you in 2016!

— Steve

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 March 2016.

Let’s Talk About Crime And Music!

The new year is kicking off with a BANG!

I have two music-themed bookstore events coming up in the next couple of weekends. Would be great to see some familiar faces…and new faces too.

Let’s talk about GG Allen and Taylor Swift! Let’s talk about Lemmy! Let’s talk about “Bad Citizen Corporation”!!!

(Click the event links below for details)

Book Carnival Event

Rock & Roll Book Signings

with S.W. Lauden and Corey Lynn Fayman

Book Carnival in Orange, CA

Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3:00pm—Details HERE

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Music In Fiction Reading

with Leslie Bohem, Howard Paar and S.W. Lauden

Book Show in Los Angeles, CA

Saturday, Jan. 16 at 7:30pm—Details HERE

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 March 2016.

Interrogation—Stephen Jay Schwartz

Who: Stephen Jay Schwartz

What: Los Angeles Times Bestselling author who spent a number of years as the Director of Development for Wolfgang Petersen where he developed screenplays for production. His two novels, BOULEVARD and BEAT, follow the journey of sex-addicted LAPD detective Hayden Glass.

Where: Los Angeles

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

The protagonist from your two novels, BOULEVARD and BEAT, is a sex addict and LAPD detective named Hayden Glass. What was the inspiration for this character?

Of the characters I’ve written, Hayden is the easiest to write because he is most like me. We’ve been through similar struggles and we share a similar point of view. Hayden can be an asshole, and I have been an asshole, but the trait comes from the fact that we are damaged goods, little boys lost, searching for our fathers. A character is compelling when he is real in all dimensions, when he represents all aspects of humanity, regardless of the counterpoint that might present. Hayden is good/bad, handsome/ugly, sensitive/cold, loving/brutal. He came out of me at the core and grew into something fictional and separate.

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“Bat Sabbath”—Noir Slam!

Noir Slam Sarah Chen

(Photo by Sarah M. Chen)

Noir Slam was a fantastic event at The Last Bookstore. Lots of great readers. Awesome crowd. Well done, Eric Beetner and Maxine Nunes! Thanks MWA SoCal!

Here’s the story that I read at Noir Slam last night:

BAT SABBATH

Remember when Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off that bat? I was there that night, thirteen years old and in the front row. Best night of my life. Bat blood was still dripping from Ozzy’s yellow teeth when he tossed the twitching carcass right at me.

The band kicked into “Crazy Train” as I clutched at the leathery wings. That’s when some Ron Jeremy look-alike sucker-punched me from behind and snatched it. Everything went black.

I woke up when the arena lights came on. The seats around me were empty and my head was spinning from the Quaaludes and weed. I spotted my attacker near the t-shirt booth and pounced—like a bat-crazed cheetah chasing down a baby zebra. His arms flailed as I launched onto his back and clawed at his eyes.

My hands were covered in blood when the security guards finally pulled me off. That’s when I noticed that my victim looked more like Joan Jett than Ron Jeremy.

Feathered hair can be tricky like that.

I did three years in Juvie for attacking an innocent woman. But that’s where I learned how to play guitar. You should come see my Ozzy Osbourne cover band sometime. We’re called Bat Sabbath.

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published by Rare Bird Books in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.