Interrogation—Beau Johnson

Who: Beau Johnson

What: His short stories have been published by Out of the Gutter Online, Shotgun Honey, Spelk, HST, and the Molotov Cocktail.  His collection of shorts, A BETTER KIND OF HATE, was published by Down and Out Books.

Where: Ontario

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

Congrats on the release of A BETTER KIND OF HATE. Can you tell us a little about how this collection came together?

Thanks for the congrats!  It’s been quite a ride.  The collection came together because of many people, too many to name.  I will give you a couple, however—Tom Pitts and Eric Campbell.  The former put the idea of a collection in my head.  The latter is the person who allowed this idea to bloom.  All in all, I’m forever indebted.

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New Flash Fiction

I love flash fiction. I love reading it. I love writing it.

Unfortunately, I don’t get the chance to publish much of it these days. So I was thrilled to see my short story, “Secondary,” up at Spelk Fiction. I originally wrote this one for a two minute reading at Bouchercon, New Orleans in 2016. It was also read by a cozy author at the California Crime Writers Conference MISCAST event last June.

And now it’s up at Spelk, a great site for flash fiction under 500 words.

Give it a read. I hope you dig it.

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

Interrogation—Michael Pool (Short Stack Books)

Who: Michael Pool

What: Editor of the new short story collection, FAST WOMEN AND NEON LIGHTS: EIGHTIES INSPIRED NEON NOIR (Nov. 1 from Short Stack Books). He is the author of the crime noir novella, DEBT CRUSHER, and the collection of noir short stories, NEW ALLEYS FOR NOTHING MEN, as well as the creator and editor of Crime Syndicate Magazine.

Where: Colorado

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

Congrats on your fantastic new short story collection, FAST WOMEN AND NEON LIGHTS: EIGHTIES INSPIRED NEON NOIR. Tell us about the concept.

I’m quite nostalgic for the 1980s, from the music to the movies to the culture. It’s a very strange nostalgia, though, in that the 80s were a time when nearly everything became corporate and commoditized, especially music and film and fashion. I sort of feel that if you look back it’s a point where our culture took a darker turn towards money and greed and consumption, though, of course, those things all looked very glamorous on the surface. I wanted to put together a collection of noir short stories that really reflected this dialectic aspect of glossy surface and soulless underbelly. I talk a little more about this in the anthology’s introduction, actually, so if you want to hear more, pick up a copy of the book!

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Interrogation—Erik Arneson

Who: Erik Arneson

What: His short stories have appeared in ThuglitNeedle, Otto Penzler’s Kwik Krimes, Akashic Books’ Mondays Are Murder, and many other places. THE THROES OF CRIME is his first published book. His comic book, FORTUNE, is available from Comixology, Indy Planet, and NoiseTrade.

Where: Pennsylvania

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

Congrats on the release of your excellent short story collection, THE THROES OF CRIME. How did this project came together?

Thank you! I’m glad you like it. This is a collection of stories that have been published by various magazines and websites, plus a handful of brand new stories.

The first thing I remember publishing was a four-page, handwritten newsletter called The Atari Times back when I was in third or fourth grade. I wrote it, my father photocopied it, and we distributed free copies to people in our development trying to drum up some subscriptions. That didn’t work—I think there might have been a second issue, but I couldn’t testify to that. But it did plant the seeds of interest in self-publishing, or indie publishing.

So when I had enough short stories ready that the collection would be a good size—it’s just under 50,000 words—my natural inclination was to compile them and put it out indie style. I’m fortunate to be married to an incredible editor, Beth, and to know a super-talented artist, Dillon Samuelson, who created the skull for the cover.

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Interrogation—Jen Conley

V__3CEEWho: Jen Conley

What: Her short stories have appeared in Thuglit, Needle: A Magazine of Noir, Crime Factory, Beat to a Pulp, Protectors, Pulp Modern, Trouble in the Heartland: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Bruce Springsteen and many others. She has contributed to the Los Angeles Review of Books and is one of editors of Shotgun Honey. 

Where: New Jersey

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

I just read your excellent short story collection, CANNIBALS: STORIES FROM THE EDGE OF THE PINE BARRENS. How did this project came together?

I’d always wanted to do a collection, but I found that just writing for a collection was really difficult. So I put my goal aside and just wrote my stories. After a few years, I found that I had enough, and that I was happy with every story—not just sticking in some filler tales—I had my collection. Then I met Eric Campbell from Down and Out Books and I pitched it to him and it was a go.

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Interrogation—Christian Lee (Centum Press)

Who: Christian Lee

What: Founder and Publisher at Centum Press. He also currently serves as the Chairman and Chief Marketing Officer of Allegiant Publishing Group, Centum Press’ parent company. He previously served as the Marketing Manager at Something or Other Publishing, and briefly as the Vice President of Distribution and Marketing at Helm Book Publishing.

Where: New Hampshire

I came across Centum Press on social media and was intrigued by the concept. How did you come up with it?

Centum Press is actually an idea that I had been thinking about for a while. Probably for six months before I even shared it with Marc Estes, the other co-founder of Allegiant Publishing Group, which owns Centum. Essentially, I came up with the idea for Centum Press by trying to answer a both simple and complex question: how could we get dozens of people promoting a single title? I chose doing an anthology because it’s a lot less “corporate” than having some kind of referral program and because I’ve always enjoyed shorter fiction. I also wanted to do something that would allow authors to get a lot more from their work. I think it’s really pretty deplorable that we don’t think twice about paying four or five bucks for coffee but don’t even think about the fact that authors get paid next to nothing, in many cases, for their work.

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Interrogation—Christopher Irvin

Who: Christopher Irvin

What: Author of FEDERALES and BURN CARDS. His short stories have been featured in several publications, including ThuglitBeat to a Pulp, and Shotgun Honey. His short story collection, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, is out this November from 280 Steps.

Where: Boston

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

Since you’re about to publish SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, a tremendous collection of 13 short stories, I’m going to ask you one question about each story. First up is “Union Man”. What inspired you to write a period piece about a man caught between a rock and a hard place during a steel mill strike?

Thank you for the kind words and interview! I wish I had more notes on “Union Man.” I write by hand a lot and have tried hard to keep to a journal since 2012 (I’m finishing up my third). I have a small paragraph from early in 2013 about researching the steel strikes (I recall looking at a lot of photos and articles online), and I sent off a draft to friends for critique that May. It’s unfortunate as it’s a favorite of the collection, but I do know at its heart that it’s my ‘fatherhood story.’ My first son, George, was born in August of 2012 and a clearly recall this being the first piece where I incorporated my sense of being a father, the responsibilities, etc. It was a story that I had to write, and even though I knew pretty much from the outset where it needed to go—for narrative reasons and to make an impact—it was still difficult to write.

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Interrogation—Patricia Abbott

Who: Patricia Abbott

What: The author of more than 140 published short stories, one of which won the Derringer in 2009 (“My Hero”). She is the co-editor with Steve Weddle of DISCOUNT NOIR and the author of two ebooks: HOME INVASION, a novel in stories, and MONKEY JUSTICE (stories).

In 2015, Polis Books published her first print book CONCRETE ANGEL, which garnered a starred review from LIBRARY JOURNAL and a good review from BOOKLIST. In 2016, Polis will publish SHOT IN DETROIT. Both are standalone books. Figuring out how to write series detective stories is still in her future. She is also the senior movie reviewer for CRIMESPREE MAGAZINE.

Where: Detroit

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

I just read CONCRETE ANGEL and found it to be funny, dark and devastating. How did the multi-decade tale of Evelyn “Eve” Moran and her daughter Christine come together? Why is shoplifting central to the plot?

Shoplifting, most especially a crime of women, always interested me. I was guilty of lifting a skirt once myself. Rachel Shteir, in her cultural history of shoplifting, THE STEAL, makes the point that, in crime as in everything else, who you are has always mattered. Kerry Segrave, in SHOPLIFTING: A SOCIAL HISTORY—a study frequently cited by Shteir quotes Dr. David Reuben, writing in McCall’s in the nineteen-seventies, to the effect “that most amateur store thieves were married women between the ages of thirty-five and fifty-five. What they had in common, he said, was unhappy marriages, obesity, depression. Their sexual relationships with their husbands ranged from unsatisfactory to nonexistent. In effect, their lives have been drained of all emotional satisfaction. An afternoon roaming through a department store is a substitute for social relationships with other human beings.”

Does this sound like Eve? Eve was thus able to get away with shoplifting in the small towns that catered to military personnel. The stakes were upped in Philly though as shoplifting became an epidemic and stores found ways to clamp down on practitioners.

CONCRETE ANGEL was an amalgamation of two true stories: one that of a childhood friend and her mother, and the other a newspaper account. In both of them the woman shoplifted and the daughters stood guard in some fashion.

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Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#24)

I had a room-mate in the mid-90s that produced a fanzine from our living room. I mostly helped him assemble and staple it prior to shipping, but I also wrote the occasional review or interview. It was a pretty good trade-off given the amount of new music that was mailed to him on a weekly basis. That’s how I discovered Guided By Voices, Zumpano, John Spencer Blues Explosion, Railroad Jerk and a host of other 90s Indie rock bands. Among my many musical discoveries during that period, Jonathan Fire*Eater remains one of my favorites.

The band had a crypt-kicking, 60s garage rock sound mixed with a dramatic darkness shared by bands like The Cramps, Pulp and Nick Cave. “Give Me Daughters” was on their 5-song 1996 EP, Tremble Under Boom Lights, which established them as critical darlings. This narcissistic tale starts with a hypnotic organ line before crashing down into the story. Our protagonist envisions his demise via a motorcycle accident, causing him to wish for children who can carry on his bloodline. It’s a murky vision of a future where he hands down his peculiar wisdom to three daughters that worship at his feet—and possibly the only one in which he survives into old age.

Read the lyrics for “Give Me Daughters” HERE.

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.

New YouTube Channel For Your Ear/Eye Holes

 

I have been doing a weekly music feature on this blog for the last four months called “Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song.” And now I’ve created a YouTube playlist to go along with it. I’ll be updating the playlist every week as I add a new song.

The series is an exploration of the lyrical narrative in some of my favorite music. Last week I posted my 21st installment about the classic Whiskeytown track “16 Days.” For those of you new to the concept, here’s a complete list of all the songs featured to date starting with the most recent:

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.