Interrogation—Kate & Dan Malmon

Who: Kate and Dan Malmon

What: Kate Malmon is the author of numerous documents that were written for the Minnesota Judicial Branch, and you’ve probably never read any of them. She is also a book reviewer for Crimespree Magazine. You’ve probably read some of those reviews.

Dan Malmon is an avid reader of crime fiction, mystery fiction, comic books, science fiction and fantasy. If your parents were afraid it would rot your brain, he’s read it. Or it’s on his TBR pile, waiting to be read, stressing him out.

Kate and Dan are also the resident reviewers for the Writer Types podcast.

Where: Minnesota

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

You two are among the most recognizable reviewers on the Indie crime/mystery scene and conference circuit. How did you fall into reviewing?

Kate: We’re “the most recognizable reviewers”? Really? That’s not false modesty; we thought just my mom read our reviews.

Dan: I think he’s saying he saw our picture on that milk carton.

Kate: Dan has always been a comic book reader. He picked up his first book in 1987: West Coast Avengers #1. I hung out in a comic book shop in high school. I didn’t necessarily read any comics, but I was aware of the X-Men, Batman, and other titles. Dan always tried to get me to read different comics, but I wasn’t interested. Why would I want to read about spandex-clad, anatomically-incorrect people? (I was exposed to a lot of Jim Lee & Rob Lefield books in high school.) He finally won me over when he suggested I do a “live reading” of a comic book on Twitter. So I would read old Dr. Strange and Batman books and post my comments about it under #KateReads on Twitter. I thought it was entertaining and it made the comics a little more fun to read.

At the 2011 Bouchercon in St. Louis, Crimespree Magazine’s Jeremy Lynch approached us about doing book reviews for their website saying, “You know that funny stuff you write when you read comic books? Yeah, we want you to do that for the blog.” We said yes and our reviewing careers were born.

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Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#22)

 

There was a time, in the early 80s, when Minneapolis was a hotbed of post-punk activity. One of a handful of American cities that was starting to shape the alternative rock revolution that gave us grunge and pop punk. These days, most conversations about this golden era in the Twin Cities revolves around The Replacements and Husker Du. But what about Soul Asylum?

All three bands went on to sign with major labels, but only Soul Asylum was able to turn that opportunity into mainstream success. So, they are mostly remembered for “Runaway Train.” The band won one Grammy Award and suddenly the three genre-bending albums they made for Twin Tone Records were forgotten. Well, I’m here to tell you that you’re missing out.

By far my favorite song from that era is “Closer To The Stars.” The drumming is muscly, the guitars and backing vocals soar and the lyrics are great. The song seems to be a coming of age story at first glance, but it’s also a cautionary tale about trying to be something you are not. The narrator starts out cheering for the protagonist, but ultimately judges her. Prophetic, perhaps, given the career that Soul Asylum has had, at least according to the revisionist punk historians.

Read the lyrics for “Closer To The Stars” here.

Check out the “Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song” YouTube playlist:

 

Previous installments in this series:

S.W. Lauden’s short fiction has been published 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.

Interrogation: Anthony Neil Smith


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Who: Anthony Neil Smith

What: Chair of the English Department at Southwest Minnesota State University, and author of ten crime novels, including YELLOW MEDICINE, ALL THE YOUNG WARRIORS, and WORM. He likes cheap red wine and tacos. He still scoops out the cat box every week. It’s humbling.

Where: Minnesota

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

I just read WORM and really dug it. It made me smile and it made me grit my teeth, but mostly it made me feel dirty—in a good way. What was the inspiration for this story? How close is the published novel to the one you set out to write?

Worm ANSThe inspiration was my mother-in-law telling me about the oil boom in North Dakota, which I hadn’t heard too much about. At the time, I was working on a stalled idea about some blue-collar guys in Sioux Falls robbing the small, storefront “casinos” that are all over that city. But it wasn’t coming together, even though I liked the characters. So I went off to finish ONCE A WARRIOR instead, but I started researching the NoDak boom. I ended up watching hours and hours of videos on YouTube from guys who worked the fields, giving advice to people who might want to come to it—sort of a “get the real story” deal. And some filmed the job itself, especially the truck drivers. I read a bunch , too, but those videos hooked me. And I could imagine my band of casino robbers becoming oil workers instead. But at first, I considered *maybe* this was a way to continue the Billy Lafitte series…but that didn’t work either. And then, I had a heart attack at the halfway mark. After that, I felt that the book, while not especially personal, was personal to me because of what it took to get it done. I’m in great health now, got a stent and all that, but finishing that novel the summer after the attack was damned important. It turned out exactly how it should’ve, I think.

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