A Sense Of Community

“Crime writers are the nicest people.”

You hear it everywhere you go, from bookstores, readings and signings, to magazine articles, blog posts and podcasts. For a genre that seems to revel in darkness, death and desperation, crime authors can be some of the kindest souls you’ll ever meet. Need proof? Read on!

Bouchercon 2018

I recently spent four days with my crime writer pals at the Vinoy Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida for the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. There are a few prominent crime fiction conventions throughout the year—many focused on a specific crime sub-genre—but Bouchercon is probably the best known. I was on a couple of interesting panels while I was there, but spent most of my time doing interviews for the Writer Types podcast with my co-host Eric Beetner. We’ll have long-form interviews with Lawrence Block, Lee Child and Ian Rankin in upcoming episodes, but for now you can listen in as we ambush 30+ authors on the convention floor and in the bar. There were so many talented authors there that we split our coverage into two episodes:

Deadline: A Tribute To William E. Wallace

In 2017 we lost William E. Wallace who was a writer, a fan, and a friend to all who loved the crime fiction genre. A retired crime reporter, William pursued his love of writing producing short stories, novellas and short novels that he published on his own or through small presses like Shotgun Honey and All Due Respect. Aside from promoting his own works, he diligently trumpeted the underdog and promoted the works of indie publishers and authors alike.

This collection is a tribute to William, for all he had given and all that he has left behind. The stories within these pages are written by authors and colleagues who wrote with and wrote about. Featuring stories by Jen Conley, Eric Beetner, Joe Clifford, Sarah M. Chen, Rob Pierce, Renee Asher Pickup, Eryk Pruitt and Travis Richardson, among many others. My contribution is called “Hot Water.”

Pick up your copy of DEADLINE: A TRIBUTE TO WILLIAM E. WALLACE. All proceeds will benefit the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, whom, like William, speak for the underdog and uphold freedom of speech.

Noir at the Bar LA: Chilled To The Marrow

Oct. 28th will be a very special Noir at the Bar reading event in Los Angeles. Beyond an amazing lineup we will be raising money for crime author Duane Swierczynski whose daughter, Evie, has been battling leukemia.

The incredible Noir at the Bar LA line up—one of many such #TeamEvie Noir at the Bar fundraisers across the country this same weekend—includes Sara Gran, Attica Locke, David J. Schow, Christa Faust & Gary Phillips, Anna Snoekestra, Aaron Phillip Clark, Dennis Palumbo and the man himself, Duane Swierczynski.

But why wait until Oct. 28? Donate to #TeamEvie NOW.

S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna novella, CROSSWISE, and the sequel, CROSSED BONES. His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATIONGRIZZLY SEASON and HANG TIME. He is also the co-host of the Writer Types crime, mystery and thriller podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

Interrogation—Peter Rozovsky

Who: Peter Rozovsky

What: An editor, photographer, and reviewer/critic/essayist. He has written the Detectives Beyond Borders international crime fiction blog since 2006, created Noir at the Bar in 2008, and has written essays and introductions to books including SUNSHINE NOIR; Barry Forshaw’s NORDIC NOIR; FOLLOWING THE DETECTIVES: REAL LOCATIONS IN CRIME FICTION; and THE CULTURAL DETECTIVE: REFLECTIONS ON THE WRITING LIFE IN THAILAND. He has shot the covers for novels and story collections by Reed Farrel Coleman, Domenic Stansberry, Charlie Stella, Ed Gorman, Linda L. Richards, and Tony Knighton.

Where: Philadelphia

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

How has crime fiction evolved in the 11 years since you started your blog?

The demise of the P.I. novel has happened about eleven times since 2006. Irish crime writing, particularly that from Northern Ireland, shows signs of gaining the attention it deserves (or at least Adrian McKinty has started to win awards). And I’m not sure whether this is a trend or just my evolving of tastes, but I’ve been paying more attention to newish publishers: the lamented 280 Steps, Down & Out, and writers who fit that mold, people like Johnny Shaw and Jay Stringer.

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Interrogation—Michael Pool

 michael-pool-noirWho: Michael Pool

What: Author of the crime noir novella, DEBT CRUSHER, as well as the coming noir short story collection NEW ALLEYS FOR NOTHING MEN. He is the Editor-in-Chief for Crime Syndicate Magazine and the organizer for Noir at the Bar Seattle. He is also the one-off bi-monthly host of Noir on the Air for the Authors on the Air Radio Network.

Where: Seattle

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

I just finished your great new short story collection, NEW ALLEYS FOR NOTHING MEN. How did this collection come together? How many of the stories were previously published and how many are brand spanking new?

So Tote the Note appeared in All Due Respect Issue 4, Waylon, On Rerun was in Thuglit Issue 18, Two Feet Deep was in Heater Magazine Vol. 3 No. 9, An Art Show Mating Call was in Urban Graffiti, Life of a Salesman appeared in That Other Paper (now defunct), Franklin and the Finger was in Flash Fiction Offensive, and Midnight at the San Franciscan was published as an ebook stand-alone novelette earlier this year as a promotional lead up to New Alleys for Nothing Men. The other five have never been published before, either for lack of submission or because they just never landed anywhere. Actually three of those five are my favorite stories in the collection, oddly enough. Seems like it always works that way.

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Interrogation—Eryk Pruitt/ Noir at the Bar, Bouchercon

NOIR BAR RALEIGHWho: Eryk Pruitt

What: A screenwriter, author and filmmaker living with his wife Lana and cat Busey.  His short films FOODIE and LIYANA, ON COMMAND have won several awards at film festivals across the U.S.  His fiction appears in The Avalon Literary Review, Pulp Modern, Thuglit and Zymbol, to name a few. In 2015, he was a finalist for the Derringer Award for his short story “Knockout.” His novels, DIRTBAGS and HASHTAG, are available in e-book and paperback. He is also the founder of Noir at the Bar, Durham, and organized Noir at the Bar,  Raleigh Bouchercon.

Where: Durham, N.C.

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

How did you first find out about Noir at the Bar? Did you attend Noir at the Bar events in other cities before you launched the one in Durham? 

I kept stumbling upon them across the internet and wanted to attend one, possibly get the stones to read at one after a while. I traced them back to Jed Ayres and asked him what Durham had to do to get one, so I could experience it. He said “You got to start one yourself.” He helped me find authors who would drive to Durham and it was a blast. We had great readers and afterward, I had a night on the town with Grant Jerkins, Peter Farris and Charles Dodd White, which could not be beat. The next one we did featured eight authors from the immediate area. We had another. I’ve read in Baltimore and at Shade in New York City. It was my first time up there and man, it was a total hoot. I’ve never met nicer people.

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Learning How To Read

I did a Lit Crawl LA:NoHo reading last night at the Laemmle Royal in Santa Monica. Probably my fourth or fifth such reading in public. Got another one coming up next Wednesday downtown. It doesn’t make me want to vomit the way it did a couple of months ago—so that’s progress.

I’ve got a ways to go before I’m “good” at it, but I’m starting to figure a few things out. For one, it’s clear to me that the goal should be to read from memory. Looking down at the page for most of the reading, with only the occasional awkward peek up at the audience, just isn’t cutting it. That’s going to take some serious work.

The other thing is laughter. Whether I’m the one doing the reading or I’m in the audience, hitting a comedic moment in a reading is a real ice breaker. Sometimes that can be the actual text, but a lot of the time it’s in the delivery. Those moments when the author reacts to the gruesomeness of their own work, tries to read in a challenging character voice or does a funny hand gesture at just the right moment.

The story I read last night was called “Fix Me,” and at 1,300 words it was probably the longest thing I have read out loud to date. What I discovered is that once I was into the story, I kind of lost all sense of time—like I didn’t know if I had been reading for a minute or twenty minutes. It made me a little self-conscious, worried that I was boring the crowd. And then I reached a funny point in the story, I got a couple of loud laughs, and everything was alright.

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I guess the main thing I have learned, both as a reader and as an observer, is this: writing is solitary, but reading is performance. The two might be related, but need to be approached differently.

Lucky for me, I’ve gotten great advice from a couple of pros. Check out these interviews with Eric Beetner and Johnny Shaw for tips on how to deliver a memorable reading of your work.

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.

Should Writers Learn How To Read?

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I’ve been thinking a lot about Spalding Gray recently.

I was lucky enough to have seen him perform in the early 90s, long before I ever committed to being a writer. It was a period when my love of reading—which really didn’t develop until my late teens—drew me to spoken word performances by artists like Gray, Henry Rollins, Jim Carroll, Eric Bogosian, James Kate SchatzMcLure and Jello Biafra. These days, my love for spoken word is more about storytelling podcasts like The Moth, Radiolab, The Truth, Word Crimes, This American Life and Snap Judgement.

And I still go see writers and storytellers perform live whenever possible. Holy cow, have you checked out Shane Koyczan? I saw him read to a room full of public radio listeners who laughed and cried at his insanely poetic storytelling. And while you’re at it, check out Kate Schatz too. Two nights ago I went to see her read from her book “Rad American Women A-Z” to a room of cross-legged children, and it was just as inspiring.

And EverythingThat same night I read Oliver Sacks’ piece about Spalding Gray for the New Yorker entitled “The Catastrophe.” The column describes, in heartbreaking detail, how the genius monologist, writer and actor descended into a suicidal spiral after a tragic car accident in Ireland. I read the article a few months after watching Steven Soderbergh’s touching 2010 documentary about Gray’s life, “And Everything Is Going Fine.

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