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—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—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.

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.

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.

Sometimes The Best Short Story Is A Song (#21)

Ryan Adams has put out a lot of music since he left Whiskeytown to become a solo artist in 2000. Just this week he released a song-by-song cover of Taylor Swift’s album, “1989”. Whiskeytown only released three albums of their own in the five years they were together. The song “16 Days” is one of my all time favorites. It’s from the band’s second album, Stranger’s Almanac.

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