Johnny Cash Anthology Roundtable

Last week, Gutter Books released their latest music-themed anthology, JUST TO WATCH THEM DIE: CRIME FICTION INSPIRED BY THE SONGS OF JOHNNY CASH. The collection was curated by Joe Clifford who got an Anthony Award nomination for his previous rock anthology, TROUBLE IN THE HEARTLAND: CRIME FICTION BASED ON THE SONGS OF BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN.

I was aware of Johnny Cash growing up, but didn’t develop a passion for his music until I discovered roots-influenced punk bands like The Blasters, X, The Cramps, Social Distortion and The Gun Club. By the time I reached college, Cash’s music was in heavy rotation on my stereo. To this day, one of the best concerts I ever saw was The Man In Black live at The Pantages Theater in Hollywood with Beck as the opener. So when I heard Gutter Books was putting this collection together, I knew I had to submit a short story. The song I chose was “25 Minutes To Go.”

Now that the collection’s out in the world, I’m thrilled to see my name alongside talented authors like Rob Hart, Jen Conley, David James Keaton, Lynne Barrett, David Corbett, Tom Hazuka, Mike Creeden, Nik Korpon, Sarah M. Chen, Terence McCauley, Gabino Iglesias, James Grady, Danny Gardner, Rene Asher Pickup, Hector Duarte Jr., Ryan Leone, James R. Tuck, Angel Luis Colón, Jennifer Maritza McCauley, Steven Ostrowski, Terri Lynn Coop, Max Booth III and Heath Lowrance.

In honor of the release, I contacted Joe Clifford and a handful of contributors to find out what Johnny Cash means to them. I think you’ll enjoy their responses almost as much as this fantastic anthology (which you can snag RIGHT HERE).

Joe Clifford—Editor

What inspired you to create a Johnny Cash-themed crime anthology? 

We did the Springsteen one, which did pretty well, in terms of sales. But, man, so many people wanted to be in it (and were sorta pissed at me for not asking them). So we tried to do another Springsteen one, but his lawyers said no. So I tried to think of another Americana artist who embodies that crime fiction spirit, and who better than Cash? So I asked a bunch of new writers (and then there were some more writers I didn’t ask who sorta got pissed.)

What Johnny Cash song were you surprised that nobody claimed?

I’ll cheat a little here. Ryan Leone took “Folsom Prison Blues,” but his story was originally called something else, and when he learned that no one had claimed FPB, he changed his title (which works better for the piece anyway).

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Writer Types Podcast—Episode 8

A software snafu delayed the release of the latest episode, but it’s definitely worth the wait.

Our featured interviews for episode 8 include Rachel Howzell Hall, James Ziskin, Ryan Gattis and Erik Storey. With special appearances by: Rob Hart, Todd Robinson, Jake Hinkson, Brad Parks, Brain Panowich, Joe Clifford and Val McDermid.

You can find our crime + mystery podcast wherever you listen or download:

SoundCloud

iTunes

Stitcher

If you like what you hear, please share it with your friends on the socials. If you really like what you hear, please subscribe and leave a review. That’s the best way to help us spread the word.

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S.W. Lauden is the Anthony Award-nominated author of the Tommy & Shayna Crime Caper novellas include CROSSWISE and CROSSED BONES (Down & Out Books). His Greg Salem punk rock P.I. series includes BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION and GRIZZLY SEASON (Rare Bird Books). He is also the co-host of the Writer Types podcast. Steve lives in Los Angeles.

2016: My Year In Interviews

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I got the not-so-original idea to interview other writers at Bouchercon, Long Beach a couple of years ago. At the time, I was new to the vibrant crime and mystery community and eager to learn about the people who were a few steps—or a few miles—ahead of rsz_screen_shot_2016-05-08_at_74929_amme in their publishing journey. Since then I have expanded my interviews to include a handful of publishers, event organizers, designers and bloggers.

I discovered pretty quickly that even the most hardboiled author was happy to indulge my questions, giving them serious consideration and, when asked, providing insightful advice about writing, publishing and marketing. This is a truly talented bunch of people. And a lot of them are funny too.

Two years later, I’m happy to say that many have become friends that I connect with regularly on social media, at annual conferences like Left Coast Crime, Noir at the Bar events around the country, and bookstore signings.

rsz_screen_shot_2016-04-08_at_75943_pm_2Looking back on 2016, I did 48 interviews. If you missed any of them, or if you’re looking to discover a talented new crime/mystery author, here they are again (along with links):

January:

Corey Lynn Fayman, Leslie Bohem, Jack Getze, Ingrid Willis

rsz_screen_shot_2016-01-24_at_50801_pmFebruary:

John L. Thompson, Rob Hart, J.L. Abramo, Bill Fitzhugh, J.T. Lindroos

March:

Brett Battles, Brian Thornton, Michael Lister, Gary Phillips

April:

rsz_screen_shot_2016-01-17_at_83408_amMarietta Miles, Jon Jordan, Jeff Newberry, C.S. Dewildt

May:

Christian Lee, Jen Conley, Glen Erik Hamilton, Sarah M. Chen

June:

Larry Wilson, Bryon Quertermous, Dharma Kelleher, Ryan Gattis, Joe Clifford

July:

rsz_screen_shot_2016-06-26_at_73433_pmBenjamin Whitmer, Jason Pinter, Greg Barth

August:

Mike Creeden, Nick Kolakowski, Erik Storey, Gabino Iglesias, Mike McCrary

September:

Alex Segura, Ro Cuzon, Erik Arenson

rsz_screen_shot_2016-09-05_at_34632_pmOctober:

Jay Stringer, S.G. Redling, Christa Faust & Gary Phillips, Michael Pool, Naomi Hirahara

November:
Lori Rader-Day, Andrew Nette, Bob Truluck, Angel Luis Colon

December:

Matt Coyle, Jonathan Brown

I look forward to interviewing more of you in 2017. Thanks for a great year!

grizzly-seasonS.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 Tommy Ruzzo novella, CROSSWISE, is available from Down & Out Books.

Interrogation—Jason Pinter

Jason Pinter photoWho: Jason Pinter

What: Founder and Publisher of Polis Books, an independent publishing company he launched in 2013. He is the author of five thrillers and one middle grade novel, with over one million copies in print worldwide, which have been nominated for the Thriller Award, Strand Critics Award, Shamus Award, Barry Award and more.

Where: New Jersey

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

Congrats on the third anniversary of Polis Books! What have you learned about the company you started over the last thirty-six months?

Well, being a business owner is far more difficult and complicated than being an editor or writer, which were my previous professions. It’s the difference between painting a room and building a house. I’ve been in dozens of editorial board meetings, publicity meetings, sales conferences, and pitched my own books in innumerable outlets, hopefully without boring people to death. But I didn’t have much more than cursory experience on the finance and distribution side, largely doing P&Ls (profit and loss projections) on acquisitions. Learning that side was the most time-consuming part, simply because I didn’t have a background in it, but I thankfully have good accountants and lawyers and am a total data geek and work very closely with our distributor, our bank, and our printing partner to make sure everything runs smoothly on the back end of the publishing equation.

Reading submissions, working on cover designs and promoting our authors is the fun part. That’s the muscle. That’s the stuff people see publically. But the other stuff, the skeleton, the support system that holds everything up, that’s been the biggest challenge but also one of the biggest rewards because I know we can do this.

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Interrogation—Rob Hart

pic1Who: Rob Hart

What: Author of NEW YORKED and CITY OF ROSE. His short stories have appeared in publications like Thuglit, Needle, Shotgun Honey, Joyland, and Helix Literary Magazine. Non-fiction has appeared at Salon, The Daily Beast, Nailed, Birth.Movies.Death., and the Powell’s bookstore blog. He’s been nominated for a Derringer Award and received honorable mention in The Best American Mystery Stories 2015. He’s also the class director at LitReactor and the associate publisher at MysteriousPress.com. 

Where: New York

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

CITY OF ROSE is your much-anticipated follow-up to NEW YORKED. This time around, Ash McKenna is brawling his way across Portland, Oregon. How did you pick the location for book 2?

It was originally supposed to be Austin, Texas. I wanted the book to be a spin on a Western—stranger rolls through town with a chip on his shoulder and saves the day. Like Shane or Road House. But I know way more about Portland than I do Austin, and it struck me as a really odd place to set a Western. That pretty much sealed it.

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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.

“Bad Citizen Corporation” eBook Available Now!

BCC Cover FinalThanks to everybody who pre-ordered the print edition of my debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. That one will be shipping Nov. 3 as promised.

The ebook is now available at Amazon!

Please click the link and check it out. Need a little more coaxing? Here are a few blurbs from some amazing modern crime and mystery writers:

“Carrying on in the tradition of musician turned mystery writers like Jo Nesbo and Bill Moody, S.W. Lauden’s BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION pounds out an impressive rock-and-roll thriller. The story comes on strong and never lags behind its neck-breaking beat. Greg Salem, part-time punk rocker, now disgraced cop, plays like the bastard love child of Poly Styrene and James M. Cain. Add to the mix murder and mayhem—the girl who got away, seedy bars, real estate scams, vengeful heiresses, and an oddball assortment of thugs from the old neighborhood—drop it all under the warm Californian sun, and you’ve got the hit song—and must read—of the season.”

—Joe Clifford, author of JUNKIE LOVE and LAMENTATION

“Beach noir with some serious punk rock bonafides. BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION is a rush of a debut novel that poses timely, thoughtful questions set to a breakneck tempo.”

—Rob Hart, author of NEW YORKED

BCC pumps fresh blood into the corpse of American mystery. Lauden debuts with the storytelling ease of a veteran author. It’s fun, sun-scorched, and salty as the beaches it hails from.”

—Tom Pitts, author of HUSTLE and KNUCKLEBALL

“Like a punk rock Lew Archer novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION challenges you to keep up with the twists and turns. A murder mystery that goes from sun-kissed L.A. beaches to dirty rock clubs in a story filled with damaged souls and the lasting bonds of friendship.”

—Eric Beetner, author of RUMRUNNERS and THE DEVIL DOESN’T WANT ME

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.

 

 

Quick Quotes—The Week In Publishing

—Jennifer Maloney at Wall Street Journal

“We risk producing a generation of children who believe that a sentence such as ‘I bounded excitedly from my cramped wooden seat and flung my arm gracefully up like a bird soaring into the sky’ is always better than ‘I stood and put my hand up’.”— at The Guardian

“Short books have different economics in the digital era. Delivering data is so cheap that there’s no threshold that must be met to cover the costs of shipping and stocking. Paying someone to walk down a warehouse aisle or unpack a book and put it on the shelf—a big reason why the rule of thumb of an 80,000-word minimum evolved—is no longer a concern.”—Peter Wayner at The Atlantic

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Josh Stallings at Bad Cittizen Corporation

“Capturing the reader’s attention is one of the toughest tasks writers face. These days, that task must be accomplished quickly.”—B.K. Stevens at The First Two Pages

“When you’re publishing books from beyond the grave, anything is possible.”— Joe Queenan at Wall Street Journal

“We’ve lost the appreciation for simple messages these days. Somewhere along the way, we started associating great ideas with complex narratives, plot twists, and best seller’s lists; but simple truths found in children’s books are amongst the most powerful ideas out there.”—Autism Site

“Think of an outline as a roadmap. You can cut around construction or take a longer route to get in some sightseeing—but you’ll arrive at your destination (the completion of the first draft) so much sooner if you’ve got some semblance of a plan.”—Rob Hart

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, Dark Corners, 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.

Quick Quotes—The Week In Publishing

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Eric Campbell at Bad Citizen Corporation

“Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers.”—Ceridwen Dovey at New Yorker

“The best advice that I could give you about networking is STOP TRYING TO NETWORK. If the goal is to connect with people who like the sorts of things you like, just go be you and it’ll happen.”—Chris Holm at Maine Crime Writers

“While technology often seems to move at the speed of light, books grow like trees do: slowly, meditatively.”—Claire Fallon at The Huffington Post

“My buying-to-actually-reading ratio is 387 to 1. I buy a ton of books. I have actually convinced myself that buying books is the same as reading.”—Judd Apatow at New York Times

“The writer who can master the art and craft of defining their characters by their actions is going to be the author whose work gets read.”—Les Edgerton at Writers In The Storm

“Genres only start existing when there’s enough of them to form a sort of critical mass in a bookshop, and even that can go away.”—Neil Gaiman at New Statesman

“The history of the novel, as much as that of any other art, is a history of experimentation and change. And, after decades of post-postmodern confusion, the novel is finally in a new phase of form expansion.”—William Pierce at Electric Literature

“Writing is a very solitary act, and it’s the communities we build around that act that elevate us.”—Rob Hart at LitReactor

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 by Down & Out Books in 2016.

“New Yorked” Is Out Today

unnamed-1“New Yorked” is easily one of the best debuts I have read. The characters are smart, funny and damaged, and the plot takes some truly interesting twists without tying itself in a knot. Most of all, I liked the tone of this novel, which captures the heart of crime writing in a thoroughly modern way.

I was lucky enough to connect with the author earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from my interview with Rob Hart.

One of the many interesting things about NEW YORKED is the ongoing battle between “old New York” and “hipster New York”. How prevalent is that in real life? 

There’s some goofy shit in this book—like the guy who’s name is Ian but stresses that it’s pronounced “Eye-Anne.” That’s a real thing someone said to me once. I’m worried people are going to say a lot of this is ridiculous, not realizing I’ve seen and heard a lot of it. I’m endlessly fascinated by the new v. old clash. This place really will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not strong enough. People who’ve lasted wear it like a badge of honor, and really disdain people who show up out of nowhere and act like they own it. At the same time, New York is a city where people flock to live out their dreams and fantasies. It’s by nature a point of refuge. I’ve never read a book where I saw that play out, so I thought it would be a fun arena to play in.

hart1Is 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.

How did your experience as a former political reporter and a commissioner for the city of New York influence the novel? How did you make the transition from politics to writing fiction?

I was a reporter for four years, two of which were spent as a political reporter, then communications director for a politician, and after I left politics got a call to sit on a redistricting commission, as a commissioner. I got two things out of these gigs: Brutal efficiency and life experience.

The efficiency is—both reporting and politics are professions where if someone has to ask you for something, it’s already too late. You have to be able to do twelve things at once, and be fast and accurate and good at all of them. And I got to do and see some cool stuff that informed my writing. I like writing about New York, because I know a lot about it. The second book, set in Portland, was a little tough. I’ve been there half a dozen times, but I don’t know the beat of it. Which helped, a bit, because the narrator doesn’t either. But it really showed me how much New York is my comfort zone. As for making the transition—I’ve always been writing, it was just hard to find the time. My productivity exploded after I took the job with MysteriousPress.com, because suddenly I wasn’t working 24/7.

Read the whole interview HERE.
Buy NEW YORKED 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, 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.