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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Interrogation—Nick Kolakowski

rsz_img_0976Who: Nick Kolakowski

What: His short stories have appeared in Shotgun Honey, Thuglit, Crime Syndicate Magazine, Out of the Gutter, and various anthologies. He’s also one of the editors of Shotgun Honey. His short story collection, SOMEBODY’S TRYING TO KILL ME, was released in August.

Where: New York

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

Your excellent new collection, SOMEBODY’S TRYING TO KILL ME, includes seventeen noir tales. How did you select which pieces to include?

I listen to a lot of standup comedy: Patton Oswalt, Marc Maron, Maria Bamford, the sets that Robin Williams did in the ‘80s. All of those comedians alternate between quick jabs and longer setups, which allows them to build and maintain the energy of an hour-long set. When I started putting together this collection, I took some inspiration from that, and so you have the flash-fiction pieces lined up alongside the mid-length tales and the title novella. Hopefully that short-long-short rhythm allows the reader to catch a bit of a breather between the lengthier stories.

Beyond that, I knew I wanted to include the pieces that had been published in Thuglit, Crime Syndicate Magazine, and Reloaded (Shotgun Honey’s annual anthology). I’d also been working on the novella for years, off and on, and wanted it to finally see the light of day. Sprinkle all that with flash fiction from Shotgun Honey, and voilà: short-story collection.

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Interrogation—Chantelle Aimee Osman

CAO 1Who: Chantelle Aimée Osman

What: A freelance editor, creative consultant and former lawyer. She teaches writing across the country, as well as at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing. The author of the non-fiction series on writing THE QUICK AND DIRTY GUIDE TO… she has also published numerous flash fiction and short stories. She is also editor for the Romantic Times Digital Extras magazine, creator of the Anthony Award-nominated Sirens of Suspense website, and Fan Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime 2016.

Where: New York

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

Welcome! You were recently named Left Coast Crime Fan Guest of Honor for 2016. What kind of shenanigans and hi-jinx can we expect from you in Phoenix this February?

I’m still waiting for the message from the LCC board that this was all a big mistake. But, if they’re too embarrassed to tell me, I’m going to milk it for all it’s worth. Definitely stealing the light rail train that runs in downtown Phoenix, or as I now call it, “Chantelle’s Mystery Train”. And that’s one of the tamer plans. I’ve heard talk of a sedan chair. People tell me I have an issue finding the line between “not boring” and “massive embarrassment”.

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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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Origin Story

SupernaturalOne of the first stories I wrote got picked up by Akashic Books for their “Mondays Are Murder” series. I was three-plus years in and several revisions deep on my debut novel and looking for ways to branch out. At the same time, a friend had given me the excellent Ian Svenonius book SUPERNATURAL STRATEGIES FOR MAKING A ROCK ‘N’ ROLL GROUP and I was totally blown away. This book is highly recommended for anybody who has ever played in a band or wanted to play in a band, or is a fan of rock music and/or great writing.

Svenonius popped up again in my Facebook feed yesterday. He’d written a fantastic article for New Republic called “The Rise and Fall of College Rock: How yuppies and NPR gentrified punk“. Here’s one of many interesting excerpts from that piece:

“College rock could be defined as a middle-class and art-conscious permutation of radio rock, without the Year Zero pretensions of punk. Though just a scant decade earlier rock ’n’ roll or ‘rock’ had been vaunted as the vanguard of a new revolutionary consciousness, by the seventies it had become codified, established, and even conservative; particularly since its courtship of the country music audience with its ‘Southern rock’ gambit (which begat Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, America, Molly Hatchet, Crazy Horse, et al). At the other end of the spectrum from rock’s Southern affectation was rock’s punk mode, which—though initially entertaining—had become alienating, remote, militant, and noxious (-looking and -sounding).”

rsz_screen_shot_2015-10-27_at_65304_amReading that article got me thinking about Svenonius and how he led me to publish my first short story. After reading SUPERNATURAL STRATEGIES, I started poking around the publisher’s website. That’s how I discovered that they had a flash fiction series that seemed right up my alley.

But what to write? I hadn’t been typing long when I realized it was becoming a back story for my as-yet-unfinished novel.

Living with these characters for as long as I had, it was second nature to dive back into their world whenever I was in front of the computer. “Swinging Party” gives a little glimpse of Greg Salem’s drug addict drummer, Marco, fifteen years before BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION begins. He’s on a midnight raid, looking for things to steal to support his habit, when he makes a gruesome discovery. Since a few of you have read BCC, I thought you might be interested in an additional 750 words about one of the main characters.

You can find “Swinging Party” on the Akashic Books website HERE. Enjoy!

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.

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 (#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.

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.

New Short Story In Weirdbook #31!

Weirdbook31Very excited that my latest short story is out now in Weirdbook #31!

The story is called “Warrior or Princess?” and it’s about a time-traveling convict who tries to change the past. This one’s a little different from my previous short stories, but you will still find plenty of crime and guns—only through a Sci-Fi lens this time around.

I’m particularly proud to be published by Weirdbook because this is their first issue after a 20 year hiatus.

Weirdbook #31 features some amazing writing from the likes of John R. Fultz, Adrian Cole, Gary A., Christian Riley, James Aquilone, Paul Dale Anderson, Jason A. Wyckoff, Bret McCormick, Darrell Schweitzer, D.C. Lozar, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Gregg Chamberlain, Erica Ruppert, Janet Harriett, Llanwyre Laish and Kevin Strange.

Weirdbook has an incredible history and has published some fantastic writers over the years, including Stephen King, Joseph Payne Brennan, H. Warner Munn, Robert E. Howard, Tim Powers, Darrell Schweitzer—among many others. You can get a glimpse of that list right HERE.

Douglas Draa is the new editor, but W. Paul Ganley consults. Weirdbook is published by Wildside Press.

Check it out.

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