Interrogation—Tom Pitts

Who: Tom Pitts

What: He received his education on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, working, writing, and trying to survive. He is the author of AMERICAN STATIC, HUSTLE, KNUCKLEBALL, and PIGGYBACK.

Where: San Francisco

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

Congrats on the release of AMERICAN STATIC. What would you like readers to know about your latest novel?

Thanks! What to let readers know? Where to buy it! Down & Out Books tells me you can order this one from any bookstore, so have at it. As far as the story goes, if you enjoyed HUSTLE, I think you’ll love this. It’s fast-paced, down and dirty, and a ton of fun. Provided you have a twisted view of what fun is.

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Interrogation—J.L. Abramo

Noir at the Bar Denver 12-15Who: J.L. Abramo

What: He was born in the seaside paradise of Brooklyn, New York on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo is the author of CATCHING WATER IN A NET, winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel; the subsequent Jake Diamond novels CLUTCHING AT STRAWS, COUNTING TO INFINITY, and CIRCLING THE RUNWAY; CHASING CHARLIE CHAN, a prequel to the Jake Diamond series; and the stand-alone thriller GRAVESEND. His latest work is BROOKLYN JUSTICE.

Where: Denver

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

BROOKLYN JUSTICE is a fast-paced hardboiled read. Where did the idea for your P.I. Nick Ventura and this novel come from?

The Jake Diamond series is set primarily in San Francisco with occasional runs to Los Angeles. I very much enjoyed revisiting Brooklyn when I worked on GRAVESEND and wanted to return again. I also wanted to write a more dangerous protagonist (Jake has always been more over easy than hardboiled). Combining both interests led to a Coney Island private investigator who is more inclined toward seeking justice in his own terms and handing out punishment accordingly.

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Guest DJ—Tom Pitts

Tom Pitts has had a busy year. He is half of the editorial team that runs The Flash Fiction Offensive for Out of the Gutter. His new monthly podcast for Authors on the Air, “Skid Row Chatter,” has had great interviews with crime fiction luminaries like Todd Robinson, Benjamin Whitmer, Jack Getze and Les Edgerton. And somehow he still found time to promote his debut novel from 2014, HUSTLE, while releasing a killer novella, KNUCKLEBALL, as a follow-up.

Knuckleball_frontcover_dress_finHere’s what Mr. Pitts had to say about KNUCKLEBALL in our interview earlier this year: “The impetus for the story came to me while I was in Golden Gate Park walking the dogs. The whole Bryan Stow thing was happening at the time. Bryan Stow was the poor bastard who was beat down at a Giants game at Dodger Stadium and to this day has never recovered. The search was on for the assailants and that afternoon a police artist’s sketch came out with an accompanying description: 5’10” Latino male. That was it. The sketch, the description, it could have been anybody. They were describing half of L.A. So I wondered … man, if you knew someone who looked even remotely like that, you could really fuck them up if you fingered them. All it would take is some hatred and a phone call.”

Tom Pitts at BoucherSo what’s next? Well, rumor has to that Mr. Pitts is sitting on two new novels that fans like myself hope will see the light of day in 2016. In the meantime, he’s on the turntables this week spinning everything from John Prine and April Wine to Johnny Thunders, Black Flag and The Replacements.

If you need more Tom Pitts in your life, you can find him on his website, Amazon and Facebook.

Previous Playlists:

Guest DJ—Craig T. McNeely

Guest DJ—Angel Colon

Guest DJ—Josh Stallings

29 SoCal Punk Songs

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.

Bouchercon, Blogs, Burbank, Bay Area

Motley Crew

It’s been a busy week. Bouchercon, the Anthony Boucher Memorial World Mystery Convention in Raleigh, North Carolina was incredible. Great to hang out with friends, pick up some killer new books, learn a ton and otherwise lounge around bars and restaurants for four days with interesting people. The Noir at the Bar event that Eryk Pruitt organized was definitely a highlight. I was thrilled to read alongside Johnny Shaw, Les Edgerton, Jedidiah Ayres, Christa Faust, Ed Kurtz, Jen Conley, Thomas Pluck, Tom Pitts and Joe Clifford. I also got to sit in for a taping of Authors on the Air with Pam Stack and Tom Pitts who invited a room full of reprobates ranging from Brian Panowich, Nik Korpon and Warren Moore to Danny Gardner, Chris Irvin and Jack Getze. Shot some video of Jay Stringer and Angel Colon, too—we’ll see how that turns out.

The photo up top of me with Pam Stack, Tom Pitts and Joe Clifford is one of my favorites. It was shot by Absolutely*Kate. This one of me reading at Noir at the Bar in Raleigh was shot by the amazing Michelle Turlock Isler.

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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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Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#7)

This song is a perfect piece of jangly pop confection. It’s like Stephin Merritt is fronting a country band that plays Grant Hart songs at an English pub in the 60s. The chorus is hooky and the punk psychedelia of the bridge is a brief refuge from the bouncy melody. But it’s the lyrics that bring it all together.

The title seems tongue-in-cheek, as if this song will be about momentary regret. Instead, it encapsulates the petty spats that can potentially topple uncertain relationships. Couples get into ruts and we hurt the ones we love, so we’re left to apologize and try to figure out why we are so quick to anger. Given all the things that can undermine something so fragile, is there any better advice than this: “Let’s keep the freaking out to a minimum”?

Read the lyrics for “Sorry For Freaking Out On The Phone Last Night” by The Mr. T Experience 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, 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: Will Viharo

Experience the Thrill–SeattleWho: Will Viharo

What: A pulp novelist, freelance writer, B movie impresario, and lounge lizard at large. One of his novels, LOVE STORIES ARE TOO VIOLENT FOR ME, has been optioned for a film by Christian Slater since 2001. For many years in the San Francisco Bay Area he programmed and produced a roving “cult movie cabaret” called “Thrillville,” hosting hundreds of live B movie/burlesque shows as “Will the Thrill” along with his wife, Monica Cortes Viharo, AKA “The Tiki Goddess.”

Where: Seattle

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

I just finished A MERMAID DROWNS IN THE MIDNIGHT LOUNGE and my head is still swimming. Great stuff. How did this story begin for you? What are some of the most unexpected ways in which it evolved?

I actually first began writing this novel—which turned out to be my personal favorite of all my books—back in 1997. I’d just split from my first wife of like three months, so I was emotionally devastated, and I was working my ass off 12 hours a day as an Aero delivery driver in San Francisco while living in a cheap little hovel over in Oakland, near Lake Merritt, walking distance from the Parkway Theater, which had just been reopened and renovated as a combo movie house/restaurant by some friends of mine, who asked me to host and program a weekly midnight movie show, which I initially called “The Midnight Lounge.” These same friends had founded Wild Card Press and published my novel LOVE STORIES ARE TOO VIOLENT FOR ME back in 1995, but frankly they were professional dilettantes and quickly dropped the press in favor of the much more lucrative film exhibition/food racket, which proved very successful, until the entire business collapsed due primarily to internal turmoil in 2009. pulpcollection2By that time I had pretty much given up on ever achieving my dream career as a novelist, though I still wrote and published a lot of freelance articles on pop culture and such. Plus my live show, now locally famous as “Thrillville,” garnered a ton of local publicity, establishing my “brand name,” though not in my field of choice. I was also happily married to my “lovely assistant” from my cult movie show, Monica “the Tiki Goddess” Cortes. We were wed at the Cal-Neva in North Lake Tahoe with a Rat Pack/mariachi ceremony/reception on May 31, 2001, exactly four years after I first met her at my screening of Jailhouse Rock on May 31, 1997. So I was no longer lonely, the main source of much of my literary therapy. Anyway, I’d put down MERMAID once the theater took off and I was hired as a full time publicist/programmer. But when the company abruptly folded, my backup career went with it. Now, suddenly without a steady income again, facing a return to the series of crappy odd jobs I’d been sustaining myself with since age 16, I was back in familiar, full-on panic mode.
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California Crime Writers Killing It

900px-Flag_of_California.svg

March has been a great month for fans of California crime fiction. A few weeks ago, LA-based author Eric Beetner published the full omnibus edition of his serialized novel THE YEAR I DIED 7 TIMES on Beat To A Pulp press. And just today, SF-based author Tom Pitts published his baseball-themed crime novel KNUCKLEBALL on One Eye Press.

I was lucky enough to interview both of these Golden State crime writers earlier this year. You can check out a couple of quotes from those interviews below, or click the link and go straight to reading their books. That’s what this all supposed to be about, right?

[Tom Pitts Interview excerpt] How does KNUCKLEBALL differ from HUSTLE stylistically or thematically?

Tom Pitts Photo 2I wrote KNUCKLEBALL back in 2011, right before PIGGYBACK and HUSTLE. It was my first longer work, and therefore holds a special place for me. I had to go back in last year and bang out some dents, fatten up the ending, but it’s still the book that warms my cold black heart. It’s definitely got a different feel than
HUSTLE. The theme of family, no matter how discordant, is at the core of the book.

The impetus for the story came to me while I was in Golden Gate Park walking the dogs. The whole Bryan Stow thing was happening at the time. Bryan Stow was the poor bastard who was Knuckleballbeat down at a Giants game at Dodger Stadium and to this day has never recovered. The search was on for the assailants and that afternoon a police artist’s sketch came out with an
accompanying description: 5’10” Latino male. That was it. The sketch, the description, it could have been anybody. They were describing half of L.A. So I wondered … man, if you knew someone who looked even remotely like that, you could really fuck them up if you fingered them. All it would take is some hatred and a phone call.

Read the Tom Pitts INTERVIEW

Buy the BOOK
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Interrogation: Tom Pitts

Tom Pitts Photo 2Who: Tom Pitts

What: Tom Pitts received his education on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, working, writing, and trying to survive. His novel, HUSTLE, and his novella, PIGGYBACK, are available from Snubnose Press. His new novella, KNUCKLEBALL, will be released by One Eye Press on March 24th. He is also an acquisitions editor at Gutter Books and a co-editor of the Flash Fiction Offensive.

Where: San Francisco

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

HUSTLE dealt with some pretty dark subject matter, but I found myself cheering for most of the tragic characters. Why did you decide to tackle junkies/hustlers in this novel? 

I was tired of reading characters who were drug addicts whose habits didn’t ring true. You know, junkies who had a needle in their arms when it was convenient to the story, but would then forget about having to shoot up as the plot unfolded—or never experienced withdrawal symptoms. That’s just not the way it is. In reality, there aren’t too many guns out there on the street, because street people sell ‘em for drugs. Nobody has a car, they don’t even have bus fare. Street life is miserable. It’s a desperate kind of lifestyle and I see it get misrepresented all the time. I wanted to throw my two cents in and show a different side to what people think of as the underbelly.

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