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.

Quick Quotes—The Week In Publishing

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“The Internet has ruined our collective mind for being able to rationally deal with news and issues. You need to come up with ever more vile headlines to get a few more clicks from the other 400 news outlets and sites that are doing the exact same story based on the same tiny bit of information.”—Ken Layne at Los Angeles Times

“Throw in several big-deal, massively popular series that are really single works split into volumes—a small platoon led by Elena Ferrante and Karl Ove Knausgaard—and it’s tempting to proclaim this the era of the Very Long Novel (VLN).”—Boris Kachka at Slate

“For me the great lesson was that what we do during the day bleeds over into what we do during the night. The immersion online is always in some ways shadowed, if you will, by this constant reminder that we should be doing something else, too; that our email is just a click away; that there is this almost incessant feeling of ‘Well, I should go faster,’ instead of ‘I should immerse myself.'”—Maryanne Wolf at NPR

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“One thing I really like about our books is the variety – on the face of it there’s little in common between Den Bleyker’s deep, intense psychological noir and Stateham’s hardboiled pulp thriller. The only real connection is intelligent, quality writing about crime.”—Christopher Black from Number Thirteen Press

“I do think I can get a lot more kids reading. The mission is simple. Any kid who finishes a Jimmy book will say, ‘Please give me another book.’ ”—James Patterson at New York Times

“If there’s a Raymond Carver of short crime fiction, Art Taylor would be him—but, you know, without the chain-smoking and boozing.”—Keith Rawson at LitReactor

“While we’re sad to discontinue the print edition of Print Lovers Magazine, we’re very excited to see how the advantages of digitizing will benefit our publication.”—Lucas Gardner at McSweeney’s

“Now I’m a pretty grounded cat. Outside of writing and make-believe worlds. High strung, sure, but grounded. Yes, I talk to myself. Yes, sometimes I answer myself. I had a brief bout where the state declared me mentally unstable in the mid-90s, but I bounced back from all that. Growing up is hard to do.”—Joe Clifford at Candy & Cigarettes Blog

S.W. Lauden is a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Akashic Books, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published in 2016.

Interrogation: Christopher Black & Matt Phillips

Redbone_CoverThis week we’re interviewing a publisher and one of his newest authors at the same time. Should be interesting. Let’s see what happens…

Who: Christopher Black & Matt Phillips

What: Christopher Black is a noir writer of little note and editor-in-chief of Number Thirteen Press—a project to publish thirteen quality crime novellas, one on the thirteenth of each month for thirteen months. He is passionate about crime fiction and films with a special interest in all things noir.

Matt Phillips’ short fiction has appeared in Pulp Metal MagazineFlash Fiction Offensive and Powder Burn Flash. REDBONE, from Number Thirteen Press, is his first short novel. A new novella, MESA BOYS, will be published this year by Severest Inks.

Where: Christopher Black lives in London. Matt Phillips lives in San Diego.

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

Number 13 pressChristopher, how did you come up with the concept for Number Thirteen Press?

C.B.: The driving idea was that I love novellas and short novels and see these as the perfect format for a certain style of crime/noir writing—think of THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY? or THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, or the more recent work of people like Allan Guthrie. Novellas have been out of fashion in mainstream publishing for a long time, but with e-publishing they are suddenly back with a vengeance and I wanted in on the action. But I didn’t want an open-ended project that could fizzle out: thirteen seemed a good, memorable number, it gave me definite end date and one book a month provides an impetus while being something to keep readers interested and coming back for more.

Matt, what made you want to submit REDBONE to Number Thirteen Press?

M.P.: Number Thirteen Press is publishing thirteen crime novellas/novels in thirteen months, consecutively, on the thirteenth of each month. When I heard about this, I thought—that takes some balls. I mean, think of the work involved. Why submit? Here’s a simple answer: Quality. The books they’ve published are good, damn good. A more nuanced answer is that REDBONE, to me, was pure noir, but I thought it was just different enough from what Number Thirteen had already published—it’s sort of a murder ballad-noir. Last year, I had a novella rejected by Number Thirteen (now, that sucker is in a fourth draft).

So, I did what any real writer does, I sat my ass in the chair and wrote another book.

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Christopher, your most recent release, REDBONE by Matt Phillips, is the seventh—so you are half way through. What have you learned about publishing along the way that you didn’t know before? What has been the most rewarding part of this experience so far?

C.B.: The most rewarding parts are the beginning and end of the process: going through submissions and getting excited about a writer with a lot of talent and a story with potential, and then finally seeing the end product and how excited the author is to get their book out to the public. In between is a lot of hard work, but all the authors have been really up for it and produced some stunning stuff.

As for what I’ve learned: everything else, from typesetting to social media. In particular: e-publishing is easy but producing quality manuscripts and books takes an incredible amount of time and effort.

the-mistakeMatt, do you feel any special honor or burden being the seventh release in a thirteen book cycle? Other than your own, which Number Thirteen Press release is your favorite?

You know, any time your work is published, it’s an honor. Halfway to thirteen is pretty damn cool in this case. Like we say in California, I’m stoked. This is my first book, so I feel a huge sense of pride and disbelief. I mean, I actually did it, right? But also, it’s like, I made all this stuff up… in my head. And now it’s out in the world. Kind of a trip.

Alright, at the risk of being pummeled by my fellow thirteeners, I’ll pick two favorites: OF BLONDES AND BULLETS by Michael Young and THE MISTAKE by Grant Nicol. The first is Number Thirteen’s initial release and it sets the tone—hard-hitting noir about how a good deed can really put a guy in some shit. The second is so atmospheric and well-written… Noir at its best. And, for good measure, it’s set in Iceland.

Click here to read the rest of the Christopher Black INTERVIEW 

Click here to read the rest of the Matt Phillips INTERVIEW

S.W. Lauden is a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Akashic Books, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published in 2016.