Interrogation—Robert R. Moss

Who: Robert R. Moss

What: As part of the Washington, D.C. music scene in the early 1980s, Robert played bass in Artificial Peace and Government Issue. He’s toured the country, and his music was released on Dischord Records and other labels. In DESCENDING MEMPHIS, Robert tells a detective/coming-of-age-story set just after the birth of rock ‘n’ roll.

Where: Portland

Congrats on the success of your debut novel, DESCENDING MEMPHIS. What was the inspiration for this story?

Thank you for asking. It began with a question. What if Johnny Cash never made it as a musician, but instead became a detective with all the character traits, quirks and flaws of the Man in Black? I considered writing such a story, and mentioned the idea to a friend who happens to be a lawyer. He saw it as a legal issue. Meaning, the Johnny Cash estate might not look favorably upon such an endeavor. So I created Tommy Rhodeen, a small-time private eye in Memphis whose dream is to make it big in rock ‘n’ roll. It was the right decision.

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New GRIZZLY SEASON Review

Really love this new GRIZZLY SEASON review over at Sons Of Spade. This guy has been a supporter of the Greg Salem character from the beginning. He’s also a big fan of punk rock. Enjoy!

 


BCC Cover FinalS.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, was published on October 11, 2016. His novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.

“Grizzly Season” Cover Reveal

Grizzly Season Front CoverThrilled to share the cover of the second Greg Salem novel with you! GRIZZLY SEASON picks up where my debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, left off. Rare Bird Books will release it this October, but I’ll have a handful of copies with me at Bouchercon in New Orleans.

Here’s the synopsis: Former Los Angeles police officer Greg Salem and his sidekick Marco escape to a remote cabin in the backend of the Angeles National Forest, only to have their peaceful retreat upturned after stumbling across the marijuana farm operation called Grizzly Flats. When the drug lord Magnus Ursus’ latest marijuana crop leaves Greg’s hometown and closest friends in disarray—setting off a series of explosive scenes including high-speed motorcycle chases, violent porn shoots, high-altitude gun fights, Mexican drug smuggling and murder—Greg is forced out of retirement to avenge his home and save the lives of those closest him.

BCC Cover FinalS.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available from Rare Bird Books. The second Greg Salem novel, GRIZZLY SEASON, will be published in Oct. 2016. His standalone novella, CROSSWISE, is available now from Down & Out Books.

For Your Consideration

rsz_screen_shot_2015-12-11_at_70054_am

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.

My 29 Favorite SoCal Punk Songs

My debut mystery novel may be named after a fictional SoCal punk band called BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, but the music that influenced this murderous story is very real.

Up above you’ll find a playlist including 29 of my favorite punk songs by SoCal bands from the 70s to the 2000s. I’m loosely defining SoCal as the region between San Diego and Santa Barbara for the purposes of this playlist. Likewise, the definition of “punk” is also pretty loose because it’s one of those words that means something different to everybody who uses it. So save your aggression for the pit, bro.

rsz_screen_shot_2015-09-08_at_101842_am-2The list currently includes Descendents, Red Cross, The Dickies, The Runaways, Circle Jerks, The Gun Club, Black Flag, X, Pennywise, The Bags, Unwritten Law, Minutemen, Face To Face, Agent Orange, War Called Peace, Lagwagon, Simpletones, Social Distortion, Adolescents, Black Randy & The Metro Squad, Wasted Youth, Germs, Rocket From The Crypt, Fidlar, Smut Peddlers, The Vandals, D.I., The Leaving Trains and Fear.

There are, of course, hundreds of other songs I could have included—and my “favorites” change from week-to-week—but I think this list would make my protagonist, Greg Salem, proud.

Take a listen and let me know what SoCal punk songs you would add in the comments below.

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 on November 3, 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#23)

Even 27 years after I first heard it, Fugazi’s “Waiting Room” still fills me with a certain angsty anticipation from the moment the opening bass line kicks in. It’s three minutes of post-hardcore perfection that triggers some kind of Pavlovian response in me. And while I may not publicly drool as often as I used to, I do find myself almost hypnotized by the pulsating tension and mysterious lyrics.

Truth is, this is one of those brilliant songs that really sounds like it’s saying a lot without saying much at all. Instead of intricate detail, we get broad strokes and powerful imagery that evoke feelings of frustration and isolation. As if “the waiting place” from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, The Places You’ll Go has been stripped down to its non-psychedelic core to reveal the mind-numbing horrors beneath. And three decades later that’s just what the doctor ordered.

Read the lyrics for “Waiting Room” 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.

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.

Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#14)

I decided I wanted to write about a Husker Du song this week. So I pulled up their catalogue and started diving in. A lot of it felt like a trip down memory lane, but there were a few songs that I hadn’t heard in a couple of years—or at least I hadn’t paid close attention to the lyrics. One of them in particular was “Books About UFOs” from “New Day Rising.” It’s fitting that this one was written by drummer Grant Hart because I have been so obsessed by the excellent documentary about him, “Every Everything.”

When I was younger, I think I connected with Bob Mould’s songs because of the angry heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics, and straight-ahead driving energy. These days I tend to prefer Hart’s bouncier instrumentation, whimsical observations and sometimes downright psychedelic lyrics. And “Books About UFOs” might be one of the best examples of how he managed to create such great punk and hardcore music by using a broader palette than many of his contemporaries.

The song’s narrator is obsessed with a girl whose eyes are always on the sky. It gives him the opportunity to study her the way that she does the planets. It’s the perfect celebration of long-distance crushes, but also pays homage to freaks who proudly plant their flags. I’d say that it might be the perfect Grant Hart song, but there are too many to choose from.

Read the lyrics to “Books About UFOs” HERE.

Previous installments in this series:

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 in October 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#8)

I didn’t discover Generation X until a few years after they ceased to exist, but that is the beauty of music. I picked up the vinyl for their self-titled debut at an incredibly cool beach cities record store that was weirdly staffed by some first wave Hollywood punks. Looking back, I can almost imagine them sniggering at my enthusiasm for this awesome new band I had “discovered.” Lucky for me, those dudes were super cool and turned me on to a tons of music that I still love to this day.

But, back to Generation X. For starters, how cool does Billy Idol look on that album cover? Everything about the band’s aesthetic gave American kids like me a peek into the mysterious London punk scene. That is also true of the mid-tempo punk ballad, “Kiss Me Deadly.” Whether or not I totally understood how it felt to “stand in rank for the thirty bus uptown” or “hustle down the Fulham Road doing deals with Mr. Cool,” this song did what the best short stories do—it transported me to a place I had never been before.

Read the lyrics for “Kiss Me Deadly” by Generation X right HERE.

Previous installments in this series:

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, Dead Guns Magazine, 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 by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Interrogation: Frank Portman

PORTMAN 1Who: Frank Portman (a.k.a. Dr. Frank)

What: The singer/songwriter/guitarist of the Bay Area punk band Mr. T Experience and the author of three young adult novels including most recently KING DORK APPROXIMATELY, a sequel to the coming of age cult classic KING DORK.

Where: San Francisco

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

You published your debut novel, KING DORK, in 2006. What made you want to write a Young Adult novel at that time? Do you think you will ever write a non-YA novel?

In 2004 my band released it’s final/most recent album and attempted to tour on it and promote it in the usual way, not realizing that in the time since the last time we’d done that the world’s music consumers had all gotten together and decided not to buy records anymore.  The tour disintegrated at the end as they always do, leaving me at a loose end and running out of ideas now that recording another essentially valueless album and touring to promote its valuelessness was out of the question despite it being pretty much the only thing I knew how to do.  Writing a YA novel was suggested to me by an agent who was a fan of my songs and who thought the sensibility in them could work in fiction.  I had nothing but time so I gave it a shot.

King_Dork_coverThere’s a lot of arguing over “what is YA” these days (similar to the “what is punk?” trope that used to bedevil me way back when.)  Teen fiction is certainly where I feel most comfortable, and is a logical place to go from rock and roll, which is teenage music if it’s anything.  As a frame for fiction, exploring the teenage self coming of age has a quite a bit going for it, as I am certainly not the first person to note.  And this tradition is a long and great one that I’m pleased to be a part of.  That said, what makes a book YA is that it is marketed that way.  I’m fortunate that this marketing has worked so well for my books, but even in a different marketing category I’d write them the same way.  Which is a roundabout way of saying, I guess, that I don’t see the great gulf between YA and “non-YA” that the question assumes.

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