Interrogation—Brian Thornton

Who: Brian Thornton

What: Author of nine books, including THE BOOK OF BASTARDS and THE BOOK OF ANCIENT BASTARDS, in addition to serving as collection editor for the crime fiction anthology WEST COAST CRIME WAVE. His short fiction has appeared in such venues as ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and the Akashic Books anthology SEATTLE NOIR. A native Washingtonian, he is currently serving his second tour as Northwest Chapter president for the Mystery Writers of America.

Where: Seattle

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

You and I met at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago when we were both guests on the Noir on the Radio podcast. Tell me about the short story you read that night.

“Half Smart, No Nerve” is both the shortest thing I’ve ever written for me, and my first paying fiction. I wrote it over a decade ago, in response to a notice on the venerable Rara Avis Hard-Boiled & Noir Fiction email discussion list that a new British publication called BULLET UK was seeking contributions of stories 1,000 words or shorter in length. At the time I was trying my hand at short stories, having already gotten my first “mistake” novel out of the way.

It had never occurred to me to even try to write something that short, so I gave it a whirl, spent three hours on it, emailed it to BULLET UK, and was delighted when they accepted it. I got 25 pounds for my trouble (still have the check.). Easy peasy.

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Less Is More

Noir SlamTomorrow night I join 18 fellow writers at The Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles for Noir Slam— “a fierce, fast-paced trip to the edge of modern noir.” Just look at that list of readers! We each get one minute—60 precious seconds—to tell a complete story. It’s an interesting challenge.

I tried looking through my novel and my novella for 150 words that would work, but everything seemed like it would take a minute or more just to set up. So, I decided to write something specifically for the event. As with most things in life that are challenging, I turned to Ozzy Osbourne for inspiration.

See you tomorrow night in downtown LA!

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.

Cozy vs. Noir: Thoughts On Genre

Cozy vs. NoirIf you write or read books under the greater “mystery fiction” umbrella, then you will be familiar with these two popular sub-genres—”cozy” and “noir”. Here is how Wikipedia defines the two:

  • Cozy mysteries, also referred to simply as “cozies”, are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.
  • Noir fiction is a literary genre closely related to hardboiled genre with a distinction that the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Other common characteristics include the self-destructive qualities of the protagonist.

I know, I know: Freakin’ Wikipedia?! But they make it so easy. It also seems pretty accurate.

Genre has been on my mind a lot recently because I got invited to participate in an  awesome event on the first night of the California Crime Writers Conference. It’s called “Cozy vs. Noir” and it is sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and hosted by the one, the only, Eric Beetner. I am absolutely thrilled to take part, but the whole concept has got me thinking.

Luckily, I have interviewed some great authors who have strong opinions on the subject. We’ll start with Rob Hart, author of NEW YORKED (out June 1 from Polis Books):

unnamed-1Is NEW YORKED a crime novel in your eyes? How important is genre to you as a writer?

Genre discussions make me go cross-eyed. If I was pressed I’d say it’s a little noir, a little literary. But I’m firmly in the class of: A good book is a good book, and I don’t care if it’s YA or poetry or literary or crime or a cookbook.

(Read the whole Rob Hart INTERVIEW)

And Scott Adlerberg, author of JUNGLE HORSES:

JungleHorsesIs it important to you as a writer to jump between genres?

Is it important to me? It’s not so much important as a question of what works for a particular story. With JUNGLE HORSES, as I was doing it, it seemed to work. The second part, the fantastic part, just grew out of the noirish part, without strain, I felt. I wouldn’t try to force genres together just to be odd or “different.” But what’s fun about genres is how fluid and flexible they are and how you can play around so much with them. There’s a lot of ways to be inventive.

(Read the whole INTERVIEW)

So, if you’re in L.A. on June 5, please stop by. The event is free and open to the public. If not, I will let you know how it went afterward, right here.

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.