Friday, October 28, 2011

A Talk With Julia

Okay boyos!  Time to talk to a fair wee lass from Ireland--residing-in-Canada, Julia Madeleine.  I have to come out and say this; the lady makes me slightly jealous.  She is, among other things, one of the writers in the Drunk On The Moon Series, and her take on the PI-turned-Werewolf, Roman Dalton, was excellent.

But that's to be expected from Julia.  She has, like so many of us, been writing for years.  For her it's been writing as a career in the beginning and before other opportunities came along--and that urge to write has stayed with her.  Now she is back creating some really great stories and novels and she's showing the universe that dark, twisted, murderous minds can be found in the feminine form as much as in the male form. 

And, like I've always said, "If you really want to torture a man, just ask a woman to . . . ."
Er  . . . . never mind.

Personally I am as happy as a six year old kid playing in a summer rain storm in the deepest mud hole I could fine knowing that Julia is a fellow Trestle Press writer.  That growing epublisher is making waves and expanding exponentially and is only going to grow bigger and more interesting as the months and years roll by.  It's good to see that both Julia and I are one of the original authors to come aboard.
I decided to ask Julia the traditional six questions.  Plum her thoughts, as it were, on what and how she writes.  Dig into her sick (and I say that with the most loving respect, Julia!) little mind in an effort to understand what terrors she like to bring to her fictional perps.  So, without further ado, lets get to it.

1. A woman who loves the dark hard boiled/noir life style. How did this come about?

 Probably all the drugs my mother did in the 60s while I was in utero. Or maybe it was the beatings I took as a kid by my two older brothers. I had to develop my scheming skills early on to learn how to pit one against the other and protect myself. But really I think it was a regular diet of old horror movies that warped my childhood brain. I owe it to Alfred Hitchcock.

 2. Are you more into noir or hard boiled or horror? Meaning; do you write stories where the character cannot possibly get out of his/her situation unscathed (noir)--or where at the end of it all, the main character survives (hard boiled).

 I think I like psycho-noir best. Where you have a main character like the protagonist, being mentally unhinged, yet see themselves as perfectly justified in their dastardly deeds. I like psychological suspense. Whether or not the main character survives I think has more to do with the particular story that’s being told. I don’t always write happy little endings where everything gets tied up in a neat little bow, sometimes a bleak ending is what the story needs, sometimes not. But I like it all: noir hard boiled (over easy with a side of toast) and horror.

 3.Our publisher, Trestle Press, loves to do a continuing series of short stories with their writers. Are you doing a series? And what/who resides therein?

 Yes, I’m doing The Devil’s Music series. It’s about Sadie, a femme fatale character who is actually the daughter of the devil. She has an insatiable appetite for music. And she enjoys time travelling to different eras, collecting the souls of all the great musical legends who have signed a contract with her. It’s lots of fun.

 4. Describe your writing habits--do you write by fits and starts? Or are you more methodical and planned?

 I’ve been both. But I find planning a novel works best. Nailing down an outline first, writing a quick draft with an emphasis on getting down the main plot points and then going back in subsequent drafts and refining it, expanding on the main ideas. It helps to know the direction of the story and what you want to accomplish. Writing short stories is a lot more simple.

 5. Your favorite authors, who are they and how did they influence you? And . . . do you base your writing style off any one of your favorites? Or do you blend all of them into an amalgam you call your own?

 Growing up I read nothing but horror, King, Koontz, Poe, Anne Rice. I think they were very influential as they’ve been with countless writers. In college I was encouraged to focus on literary fiction. One of my instructors was fond of referring to writers who penned genre fiction as hacks, which I always thought was narrow-minded. So I read a lot literary fiction back then: Margaret Laurence, Michael Ondaatje, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates. I’m sure they’ve influenced me. I love Janet Fitch, Evelyn Lau, and Mary Gaitskill. As for crime fiction, James M. Cain, Stuart Neville, Jenn Ashworth, Chuck Hogan, are some of my favourites. I don’t try to write like anyone else, I prefer to develop my own style but I’m definitely influenced by some of the writers I admire.

 6. When it comes to the human race, are you a pessimist or an optimist? And does either one seep into your writing?

 I’m an incurable optimist. My mother always said, “Count your blessings, not your sorrows”. Words I live by. As far as my writing, I don’t know, I write about some pretty fucked up people, characters that inhabit the dark side. Maybe my writing is just a medium to let the demons out so I can stay focused on living in joy. I know that when I'm not writing, I'm less happy.

NO ONE TO HEAR YOU SCREAM, available now on Amazon. THE TRUTH ABOUT SCARLET ROSE, scheduled for release Dec. 2011. Visit Julia's website for updates

So there you have.  One talented writer.  One you should go out and discover for yourself.  You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Eleven From The South Side

Okay, I decided to bite the bullet.  Create a third short-story series with Trestle Press.  I'm already involved in the Smitty series--that dark eyed hit man of mine.  And recently I've created Marissa Hamm and Mike Bean, two homicide cops who are, shall we say, constantly at war with each other. 
So heck fire, why not add a THIRD series to the writing frenzy! 

Actually this isn't really adding a third series.  Turner Hahn and Frank Morales, as you already know, have been around longer--far longer--than either Smitty or Hamm and Beans.  Turner and Frank or the originals.  The first characters of mine who popped out of my head and became living, breathing entities.  Old friends of mine--two whom I cherish greatly.  Long before Trestle Press, and long before Smitty or Hamm and Beans came along, Turner and Frank had been hitting the ezine markets regularly.  They're unique brand of 'whodunits,' mixed in with their own form of camaraderie, make them different.  Interesting.  Believable.

Or at least, that's what I think.

So it didn't take much time to scrounge up eleven short stories featuring these two. 'Thought I'd list the stories and briefly offer a short description.  You know . . . maybe get you interested in the two when they finally hit the market.  (nothing like a little shameless self-promotion.  Eh, me hearties?)
So here's what you should expect:
1. Just Stupid: A friend of the two is charged for murder.  He was at the wrong place, wrong time, and . . . well, just stupid.

2. Goddess:   Some women you trust.  Some you shouldn't.

3. The Curious Mr. Klaus: It's Christmas!  As deadly as ever.

4. Family Ties:  A family you probably wouldn't want to get chummy with.

5. Coercion:   Sometimes 'by the book' gets you nowhere.

 6. A Day Off:  Even cops should have a day off.  Right?

 7. Burn Away: Let's just say it; deadly is deadly.

8. Silence:  Sometimes both the victims and the perps get to you.

 9. Cracker:  You need to have a droll sense of humor in this job.

 10. The Dead Don't Complain: But they do talk to you.

 11. We Found Beatrice Bonner:  Serial killers are not your friends.

Eleven stories that are, when it comes to the solving of homicide cases, a Caesar's Salad of murderous intent.  Eleven From The South Side is not out yet.  But it will be soon.  Between now and then we might change the cover art a little--although I'm thinking it's pretty damn good as is.
If you buy this I think you'll like what you find.  Turner Hahn and Frank  Morales are two guys you'd want to have on your side.  Or to just sit down and share a beer or two at your favorite watering hole. I'll let you know when it's available.
(after some interesting discussion on Facebook, the second book cover will be the one to come out. Good choice)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another one of those Blimey Brilliant Brit Writers . . . sheez!

Okay, Eunice . . . call me whacked out!  Yes dear; I'm gonna talk/interview another one of those Brit writers.   You know the type--the smooth talking, sophisticated, cool-under-fire Brit that just makes you shake your head and wonder how American public education has so failed inquisitive minds.

(Yes, Eunice!  I said 'inquisitive minds!'  Not 'inconsequential minds . . .!'  We're not talking about ME!!  Get the hair remover gel out of your ears and try to listen!)

Today's interview is with the brilliant Richard Godwin.  Author, playwright, blogger, reviewer. And damn good at all of'em.  I'll betcha he'll even wash windows if you asking nicely.  Anyway . . . . Richard was kind enough to let me ask him the six-questions motif I try to mold for each of the writers who will allow me to question them.  And . . . as expected . . . his answers create an interesting little treatise on The Art of Writing.

I should tell you Richard has a damn fine book out called Apostle Rising.  A dark novel filled with raw emotion and dark noir.  A novel about crimes not solved; about monsters not brought to justice.  About the raw emotions of doubt, shame, and regret that play upon the minds of those who prey upon in the night.

We share space in an anthology called Laughing At The Death Grin.  And he's been kind enough to say a few supporting words about some of my stuff.  If you're looking for an excellent writer who writes a tight story filled with those little strings that, when plucked, activate an emotional response in you--you have to discover Richard.

Okay.  Enough of the talk-talk.  Here's Richard answering the six questions I slapped him with.  Enjoy.

1. The art of writing dark, grim tales of violent loss and luckless souls. Where does
this talent come from in which you possess such large quantities?

I am best known for my crime and horror writing it is true, but I also write literary pieces and have been shortlisted for them. I write poetry too.
I'm interested in motivations and digging deep into the psyche. Crime is a great vehicle for that because with pathological crime there is an archaeology, if you like, of a person's soul. I have spent a good deal of time thinking about the darker aspects of humanity and that has translated into my fiction. These characters make for a good story, no one wants to read about a bland neutral character.

There has been an on-going debate over what is the difference between noir and
hard boiled writing. Share some of your thoughts on this debate if you don't mind.
It's a hard one and truthfully no one agrees. I think Noir differentiates itself from hard boiled in its emphasis on losers, people who fuck it up because they have to, because it's etched in acid into the walls of their bleeding apartments. It's almost as if the Chorus of a Greek tragedy is telling the story. Also, the figure of the femme fatale is a key Noir one not necessary to hard boiled. There is an atmosphere to Noir that is like the translation of the lighting of Noir films into prose. It gives an undercurrent of redundant morality being eroded or raped by circumstance while the inherent flaws of the characters warp their lives. It also leaves things less resolved, it is more morally ambiguous.

When you write, what is your process? Do you plan extensively? Create a 'bio'
of your characters? Outline?

I only plan my novels and that process can be extensive with accompanying research. My stories I just sit down and write.

You've been hopping back and fourth from Europe and the US, along with the
rest of the world, for a long time. You've therefore have sampled hard boiled/
noir writing from all over the world. Are their similarities? Differences?

There are differences. The UK and US are similar apart from the class issues inherent in British thinking and certain idiosyncrasies of style. If you read the Italian writers there is more of an engagement with the unwritten rules of social engagement, of the habits of families, as is inherent in Italian culture. I think Gianfrico Carofiglio's The Past Is A Foreign Country is a fine novel that delves deep into temptation and transgression. The Italian style is arguably more descriptive than the US. This is also evident in film making, with directors like Pasolini using longer camera shots than the US film makers. Take a Cuban writer like Leonardo Padura, Havana Black is infused with at times Marquez like descriptions but honed to crime writing, the Latin style resists some of the more edited narratives of US crime writing, it engages in a romantic sense of danger. One of the great Noir novels in my opinion is the German author Alfred Doblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz, which although a great Expressionist novel, and part of the heady flowering of the Weimar Republic, bears many of the characteristics of Noir writing. Expressionism and Noir are similar, historians have argued Noir grew out of Expressionism. The films use similar lighting techniques and both genres emphasise certain themes. The central character of Berlin Alexanderplatz is a hopeless criminal who has got out of prison for murdering his girlfriend, slips into a debauched alcoholic existence and falls prey to Nazi forces who corrupt him further. You know from the beginning he doesn't stand a chance. Dostoyevsky's Crime And Punishment, one of the greatest novels ever written, has a lot of Noir in it although it is impossible to pigeon hole it. Raskolnikov messes up the killing of his landlady and we know he is going to fall apart. The genius of Dostoyesvsky is in getting inside his head.

'Apostle Rising' is your current effort. How's it going, sales wise, and what
compelled you to write it?

Apostle Rising is selling really well considering it's a tough market in the middle of a recession. It is receiving great reviews and reviewers are saying that it straddles crime and horror. It also has a killer surprise. I wrote it because I was interested in the idea of a character who has shall we say, disowned his fractured identity, I am being careful not to give away the plot here. Who we think we are, the roles we engage in, the parts we play for the people who inhabit our lives, are all based on the idea of identity, which literature has always shown to be tenuous. Strip that down and take it apart and look at what lies underneath it. If you don't face the darker parts of yourself someone is going to use them for their own advantage. How do you catch a killer who has no identity? That's the puzzle the novel solves. That aspect of the central character of Apostle Rising opened up a lot of avenues for exploring the criminal mind. I also wanted to explore the effect of evil on the police since I think that is a huge part of a homicide officer's life.
Here are two brief quotes from a couple of reviews:

Mike Stafford writes in the magazine BookGeeks:

Apostle Rising is a fine contribution to the genre. Rare for a crime novel, it has a lyrical, almost poetic style, beautifully written and well constructed. On the strength of this offering, Godwin is a welcome addition to the world of the full-length novel.’

Leslie Wright writes in Seattle PI:

‘The suspense and mystery are superb; you never understand the emotional depravity until the end. It is an end you never see coming. Castle is a charismatic and likable character. Jacki is tough and yet she too is a figure that draws your sympathy. I would recommend this novel for those who love thrillers. The tension keeps the read going, and leads you in an unexpected direction. Godwin has created a great whodunit. This book stays with you long after the final page.’

All the reviews can be accessed from the Media Page on my website .

What are the qualities, traits, nuances you look for when you decide you like
a certain writer and his work. Or to put it another way--what is it in a writer you look for when you decide to become a fan?

That's an interesting question. I read such a huge range of things that it is hard to put into a few sentences what I look for. I think if I had to pick a few out they would be style, depth, dialogue, and structure. There are many writers who are popular but I find their style falls flat. I always like an author who digs deep. Dialogue is key to good fiction. And the best novels are edited so you don't feel any scenes are padding, they need to serve the purpose of advancing the story.


Like I said.  One cool dude.  You should find him.  He's worth the trouble.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Sant of a Writer

Okay, kiddies!  Time for an interview with another of those flashy British writers.  This time up it's a bloke by the name of Darren Sant.

Darren is another one of this writers found in the stables of ebook publisher,  Trestle Press.  I don't know if you've noticed or not, but Trestle Press is rapidly becoming the 900 lb. gorilla in the epublishing market.  They're collecting new writers, fresh writing styles, and even some old, experience writing talent at a phenomenal rate.  And they're marketing plan is refreshingly bold and dynamic--something I'm sure Darren appreciates greatly.  I know I do.

Darren is one of those writers who doesn't so much write noir/hard boiled (although he does) as he writes the wickedly wiry horror shtick.    His stories have appeared in the Brit anthology series Ragepacket Vols. Four and Five, and he has a series with Trestle Press called Tales of the Longcroft Estate.

Brit writers bring a whole new flavor when they write horror,noir, hard boiled----or at least, for American readers they see something different and unique in their writing.  And Darren's stories are excellent.  Can't quite pen it down exactly what is different about their style of writing.  But most all of them I've come across and have enjoyed reading are . . .shall we say . . . different.  (Different in a complimentary sense, boys)

So I thought an interview would be interesting.  Without further ado, here we go;

1. Writing is a tough game. How long have you been writing and are you at that point in considering yourself a successful writer?

I’ve been writing for about fifteen years. At first it was poetry and humour. These days it is short stories flash fiction. If your definition of success is being published I’d say that for the amount I write I’ve had a good proportion published in one form or another.

2. What genre do you prefer writing, and how do you go about separating yourself from the rest of the pack?

I’d call my genre urban noir. Gritty, dark tales in and around urban environments. I think that to some extent we all have our own style. I like to add humour to my tales and my humour is pretty much distinctive to me. I’d also say that I seem to have to make a moral point a lot of the time. This is something I don’t usually plan it just sort of ingrains itself into my writing.

  3. Do you believe/want to write a series, or do you prefer to write short-stories and/or stand alone novels?

 At the moment at least I prefer to write short stories. I am currently writing a series of short stories for Trestle Press. It is called Tales from the Longcroft Estate. Whilst each tale is a stand alone short story the overall setting of the Estate remains the same for each of the stories. Some characters within the stories will be mentioned, if not occasionally, used in more than one story. It is a finite setting and that is my intention to give the reader some familiarity with each tale. I want them to get to know the Longcroft Estate and its residents.

4. A question that has to be asked; over the years what other writers have seriously influenced you in your work?

A difficult one for me to answer as my reading is very varied indeed. As a reader I just love a good story and often pick new authors if the story looks interesting. Although the humorous aspects of my writing are definitely influenced by people like Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Tom Holt.

However, I’d be the first to admit that I’m pretty new as a reader to the genre I write in. I’m going to name check some folk whose exciting writing inspires me to continue in this genre: Julie Morrigan, Allan Guthrie Paul D. Brazill, Nigel Bird, Chris Rhatigan, Nick Quantrill, Nick Boldock and Iain Rowan. Huge apologies to anyone I have missed there are just so many writers I admire in this genre at the moment.

 5. What is your take on the exponential rise of ebook publishing in regards to the more traditional form of publishing?

For the likes of me it is very exciting. Traditional publishers have needed a kick up the ass for quite a while now. Traditional publishers have been too slow to react to change and too focused on what is popular right now. Ebook publishing is bringing more speculative fiction to the market, which is great. I’m an uncomplicated guy I just love a good story regardless of genre. This explosion of new inexpensive reading in different styles and genres is great for a reader like me. Publishers like Trestle Press are doing new things like giving short story writers like me a chance to publish our short fiction. I believe that e-reading devices will lead to a resurgence in short fiction. People are developing new reading tastes, which is good. I personally believe that it is getting more people reading which is just great. I hope it has a positive effect on literacy standards too.

6. What's coming up soon that will have your name on it? Give us a brief description.

I am excited to be a part of Paul D. Brazill’s Brit Grit 2 anthology that is due out in a matter of weeks. My story Dope On A Rope is one of my more playful short stories. It features dark deeds but hopefully a few laughs, that is certainly my intention anyway.

Luca VesteRadiohead. It’s a serious tale set in the future. I guess you’d call it a science fiction story. I’m very pleased with it to be honest.
As you can see, Darren in his early developmental years as a writer may have watched Magnum, P.I. on the tube---but then, didn't we all?  Nevertheless, if you're looking for an excellent writer and some great stories, don't pass up this guy.  He'll grow on you.  You'll become a fan.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two Characters

All right, I admit it.  I'm an unabashed friend to my characters.  All of'em.  From the good guys to the ones who are . . . well . . . certifiably homicidal.  I like'em all.
(Eunice, I said homicidal!  Not matricidal!  But keep it up, woman.  Keep it up!)

Two characters come to mind which, really, puzzles me.  Smitty and Jake Reynolds.  Smitty is the died-in-the-wool killer who will take you out in the blinking of an eye.  The killer, if you will.  But only the bad guys . . . only the bad guys. Smitty's personality is more complex than what outwardly appears.  Up front he looks monochromatic.  Just a killer.  But if you get to know him . . . well . . . there's some deep waters there, captain.

On the other hand, Jake Reynolds is the art thief.  An art thief with a flaw;  there's a streak of something in him that cannot abide by someone getting away with murder.  He's a thief: a felon himself.  But murder is an anathema to him.  This 'flaw' traps him.  Usually when he is committing a felony by stealing a piece of rare artwork from someone, he stumbles across a dead body.  He's compelled to find the murderer and bring him to justice.

Okay.  Here's what puzzles me.  Compare Jake to Smitty, and in Jake you find a grinning, curly haired, overgrown kind of kid who enjoys life and being around people.  He's adventurous.  A pilot flying in a Royal Flying Corps squadron of World War One; or--after the war--a world-hopping traveller who has the knack of getting himself involved in another outrageous adventure.  He's generous.  He's cool as an Arctic glacier in tight situations.  He's good looking.

So why haven't people discovered Jake?  Smitty, the dark eyed Angel of Death is doing great with a growing legion of fans.  But not Jake.  So the question is---why?

I dunno.

Jake's first adventure can be found in Death of a Young Lieutenant.  Set in World War One, Jake has to solve three murders AND snatch from under the noses of an entire German army a Renaissance masterpiece.  The artwork is behind enemy lines.  And so is the first murder.  To say the least he has his work cut out for him.

You should check Jake out and see what you think.  You might find you like this guy as much as you like Smitty.

(Eunice!  Put down that meat cleaver before someone gets hurt!  Namely . . . me!)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Murder the World Over

So the other day Paul D. Brazill and I were on Giovanni Gelati's blogtalk radio show talking about--what else--noir/hard boiled writing!  It's not like the three of us were going to be discussing molecular recombination and the rejuvenation of honest-to-god dinosaurs!
(as Bugs Bunny would say, "Ha! Ha! Ha!  What a bunch of maroons!)

Anyway . . . where was I?  Oh; writing noir/hard boiled.  The idea came up that Giovanni's Trestle Press should put together an anthology of great up-and-coming and maybe-already-arrived writers who swim in those murky, dangerous waters called noir.

(again Bugs Bunny; "Don't get me started on talking about noir.  It's too dark!)

I mean . . . come on!  Think about it.  Is the motive for murder the same all over the world?  Is the definition of murder the same in Baden Baden as it is in Casablanca?  Do cops work a case in Mogadishu as they do in Chicago?

Mmmmm . . .  I'm thinking maybe not.  Maybe there are twists and turns and dead ends and nuances none of us have ever considered before.  Culture and sociological norms come into play here.  What might be considered murder in Kansas may be just 'turning the cheek' in Uzbekistan.

So the idea is to find stories---writers---from all over the world and let's see how they do it.  How do they paint a scene . . . describe a body . . . develop characterizations . . .explore the human psyche.  There could be some amazing discoveries here.  New voices . . . old voices never before heard  (or maybe even forgotten) might rise to the top and just sit all of us on our duffs and amaze us!

So there's an invitation out now.  To any writer around the world who would like to contribute to this effort.  Write a story and send it in.  Trestle Press is . . . literately . . . dying to hear from you!   I'm going to be in the anthology; pretty sure Paul D. Brazill will be in there as well.  And best of all . . . it's not going to be a one-shot deal.  The first one goes down and meets reasonable success; more will follow.  New writers.  New short stories.

So why not submit?  What do you have to lose, bub?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Always Articulate Paul D. Brazill

Paul D. Brazill.  An Englishman now living in Poland (probably residing in a bar somewhere nursing something strong and alcoholic and dreaming up more mayhem).  Writer.  Bon Vivant.  World traveler.  And great at painting the darker side of 'the lost' found in every society.
The guy is the creator of the Drunk On the Moon series featuring a private investigator/werewolf named Roman Dalton.  A really innovative series where he created the character and wrote the first installment and then invited other writers to pitch in and continue the series along.  So far five DOTM installments are out.  More are coming.

He has short stories in about a half dozen or more ezines and anthologies all over the 'Net.  And he's been a driving force in Brit Grit; a collection of noir stories from some of the rising stars and current headliners in British crime fiction.

If you don't know who he is, you really need to get out more.  Or, at least, scour the internet more when it comes to writing dark noir fiction.  They guy is everywhere.  Brilliant, articulate---definitely twisted in the way he can compose a story--the guy is a joy to talk.  And what he has to say about writing and describing the dark side of humanity's soul is thought provoking.

Can't exactly remember how we met on the 'Net.  Doesn't matter.  Just know that somewhere along those electronic outings we clicked.  We became friends (or, at least, on my side I think we became friends).  Now we share a couple of publishers and so you could say we are stable mates.

I thought I'd ask him a few questions and sit back and see what he had to say.
1. Your word-choice, sentence structure, in your stories are so scrumptiously different. Where did you come up with that style?

Maybe it's because I don't really have clue what I'm doing!

I started writing Six Sentence stories and the 100 word stories for Flashshots because I knew that I may actually finish something before the liver explodes.So maybe it's evolved from that?

I've written song lyrics in the past, too- fancied myself as Johnny Mercer or Tom Waits - so maybe that's an influence.

But it's probably just becuase ad hoc, slapdash, twoddle!
2. Why noir and not hard boiled? What is it about Life's discarded souls which so attracts you to write about them?

To quote the Todd Browning film Freaks :'One Of Us! One Of Us!'

These are my people!

I've always felt one of the flotsam and jetsam of life. Eternally discombobulated. So, it's natural for me to write about THOSE people and THAT world. The appeal of a mainstream life has eluded me, so there's no way I could write about it.
3. You've been a good friend and a vocal advocate for new writers struggling along in the same genre. Aren't you worried about singing too much praise of others and not enough about yourself?

Nah, I get more than my share of praise and attention.
4. A master short story writer, which do you prefer: short stories or novels. And tell us why, if you please.
I don't prefer either. There are a lot more novels around than short stories and I think great short stories are little treasures. The thing with a short story is that every line counts. Every line is seen. You can't hide. It's a more vulnerable form than a novel. Even a hardboiled short story.

A novel gives you more time and allows you to go of in different directions.Though, sometimes a writer can get lost and enjoy the scenery too much. But look at something like Declan Burke's 'Absolute Zero Cool.' there is so much in that book and it's ALL good. That is a great use of the novel's 'space.'
 5. Writing the short story--lot's of forethought involved before writing? Or do you kind of 'wing it' as you write?

Wing it. Always. I've never planned anything in my life. I start of with a word, image, phrase, sound and 'let the writing lead you,' as Chandler said. Or was it Joey?
6. Can we expect you to remain the master short story writer--or do you see your future drifting off toward the novelist side of the equation?

I'll be doing a couple more novellas but I'll always write short stories. Always write flash fiction.

It was great doing a piece this year for Blink Ink's Noir special - 50 word stories are beaut!
Like I said.  You need to get to know this guy.  Odd, wonderful, strange things comes out of his head.  Always fascinating to read.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Meet Jeanette Cheezum

This will come as a shock to you, I'm sure.   But I have friends. Yeah! Friends!   All walks of life--all kinds of political beliefs--all ages.  From all over the world. 
 (Gee Eunice!  Ain't the World Wide Web a spiffy thing!?) 

It amazes the hell out of me as well.

Jeanette Cheezum is one of those critters I call 'friend.'  Jeanette, as it turns out, is a lot like me;  she is a writer and a blogger.  In both, I readily admit, a little more talented than me.  But I won't hold that against her. 

She writes mysteries and children's stories.  The mysteries are along the lines of romantic-cozy-chic lit-whodunits.  (hope that's an accurate description of her work.)  Her blogging efforts can be found in her calvacadeofstars.

We met in Facebook. (Gee, that kinda sounds familiar!)  From there we've discussed some topics, made some comments--you know;  the things you do to get to know someone.   And she's been gracious enough to write a review on something of mine.

So it came to me one day;  why not interview Jeanette?  She has things to say.  She has an audience out there interested in her work.  So . . . why not?

With that thought in mind--here we go.  Questions I popped up for her to answer;

You write. What genres? And what is out there now?

 I write fiction, anything that comes to mind from six words to full length novels. Romance, murder mystery, noir and believe it or not children’s stories. I’ve written some non fiction but, it’s not my favorite. I feel I’m cheating, after all life presented it first.

How much of your novel is fiction and/or fiction based off your own experiences?

I’ve actually written four novels and only one (Fish Wife) has events/experiences taken from my life. But everything else is fiction. Well I take that back, my latest novel shows some knowledge of my background in the ophthalmic world. I was involved in that for thirty years.

When you write, how does the process begin and how do you keep that process going?

 I’m a prolific writer, sometimes I write a novel and a hundred short stories or poems within a year. I don’t need anything to keep me going at this time? I write on tablecloths, napkins and bits of paper wherever I am. I dread the day when this ability ends. Life inspires me to jot it down. Then I stack it up or tuck it in a drawer until I’m ready to give it the attention it requires.

What are those traps and pitfalls which keep you from writing? Or to put it another way, what traps and pitfalls suddenly crop up?

 The only thing that stops me is our family. I love each one of them and feel the need to be there whenever they need me.

I could have asked more questions--and did, as a matter of fact.  But I'm trying to judge his too many questions/not enough questions thing when it comes to interviewing others.  I plan to do some more interviews of other writers--and interesting people I snag in traps set out surreptitiously--in the next few weeks.

Who knows?  I might even get the hang of it.  Eventually.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Brother, was I wrong!

Okay, call me cheerfully confused, Eunice

(I said confused, Euncie!  Not certifiably bananas!  And if you want to go that route, just look in the mirror, you daffy woman!)

The series of short stories and novellas I'm writing for Trestle Press has had a revamped cover design.  Now one design fits all six of the installments.  The only difference being a different title for each and a different volume number.

I gotta admit, the cover is striking.  It grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go.  Which . . . fittingly enough . . . is a talent the dark eyed assassin featured in each of the stories does quiet efficiently as well.

(Eunice!  I said throat . . . throat!  I didn't say it grabbed a hold of THAT!  Get your mind out of gutter; maybe at least up as high as the curb!)

And I gotta admit the new design has paid off.  Amazon.UK on Monday had the above cover rated at #71 in Kindle books and #100 in books overall.  Holy--fricken--cow!  That's the first time anything I've written has ever been rated.  And yes, Eunice.  Over the decades I've written a lot of 'stuff.'  You know . . . another one of those struggling writers of fiction pounding along in a genre absolutely inundated with gazillions of other writers like me writing the same damn thing.

The odds of success are slim.  The odds of even being 'discovered' abysmal.  So the idea that the British market has found Smitty makes me . . . well . . . . you know.

The curious thing about this is that the publisher and I had a discussion about the cover design--about using only one cover for all the stories.  I agreed to it, but I'll be honest;  I had my doubts.  Yes, I wanted the cover to be eye catching.  But I was concerned about the same design used over and over would not work out in the long run.

Hmmm . . . . I admit I was wrong.  And I'll happily admit it.

Every writer wants to succeed.  I want to succeed.  My definition of 'success' is surprisingly modest in comparison to others.  Not looking for untold riches.  Don't really care about fame.  If I could pay the bills and have a few of my fans admit they were glad another one of my stories came down the pike, I would be standing in tall cotton, brother.

Maybe this new design will get the job done.  Maybe it'll create a snowball effect and suddenly others will 'discover' Smitty.  Who knows?  My gut tells me hope for the best but plain for the worse.  That makes sense.

But whoever said a writer/dreamer had to be sensible?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Giving Brith to New Characters

Two new characters popped into my head Tuesday night.  Both complete and fleshed out.  Had to immediately sit down and write a short story.  Later submitted it, and sooner or later it'll see the light of day.

The two are homicide detectives.  Mike Bean and Marissa Hamm.  Hamm and Beans, as their fellow police officers call'em.  Male and female.  Both of them as fun to be around as being with an old Grizzly who's supporting a major hang over.  They're partners--and not by choice.  Both are verbally loud--maybe even defined as verbally abusive.  And they go at it like cats and dogs.  Like Cossacks and Turks.  Like Packers and Bears.  Every day.  Without let up.  Sooner or later I expect one to shoot or knife the other.  It's inevitable.

And that's the fun in writing about these two.  Sooner or later . . .

But it got me to thinking.  For some time now I've wanted to write stories along the Nick and Nora Charles frame work.  You know, the classic duet of husband and wife found in The Thin Man.
The problem is Nick and Nora were man and wife.  And they enjoyed being in each other's company.  Hamm and Bean are not married.  And they may, or may not
being with each other.

Nick and Nora's lively verbiage between each other was both fun to read and to see in the classic Thin Man movies.  One was as witty as the other.  And both played off each other marvelously.

So why did I not come up with a erstatz replica of Nick and Nora, and instead came up with two people completely at lugger heads with each other?  I dunno.  But my gut feeling is telling me it doesn't matter.  Hamm and Bean(s) are two characters who have something going with each other--in a writer's sense of creating stories.  There's a chemistry there and I can safely say a number of stories are rumbling around in the ole noggin.  Stories that--in spite of all the other writing assignments filling my plate--are going to force me to bring to the forefront and do first.

Hang on.  Wait until this duo sees the light of day.  I'll let you know and you can decide for yourself.  Maybe they're as good as I think they are.  Maybe you'll tell me differently.  Which would be good, by the way.  Imput from readers is what I want.

Oh, by the way . . . the title of the first short-story?  You guessed it;  Hamm And Bean