Monday, November 19, 2012

Allan Leverone . . . good man. An even better writer

In today's Cavalcade of Devious, Dark Writing Minds is a feller by the name of Allan Leverone.  Good man.  One hell of a writer. (and dammit!  I gotta say, except for certain amount of hair missing, he reminds me visually of some one.  Jes' can't remember the dude's name!)

But Allan is one of those writers who excels in the dark reaches of the mind.  Sink into one of his stories and you sink into an ocean of dark mood.  Or abject horror!  Really, you gotta love a writer who brings out your suppressed emotions and hidden fears and exposes them fully and unabashedly for all to see.

I'm always curious to hear another writer's views on the nuts and bolts of his profession/obsession.  For many of us it actually is more of an obsession than a profession.  How a writer writes, and thinks about writing, is instructive to me.  As, I suspect, it might be to a large number of bloggers who tune in occasionally and read this blog.

So without wasting another word, let's get to it.  And keep an eye out for question number five and his answer.  That one hit home for me.

1.      All right, up front and to the point: you write dark mystery and dark horror. But which one is closest to your heart? And tell us why.


I like to write books and stories where the protagonist faces challenges above and beyond what he feels capable of overcoming, and then see how he responds. When he does, I throw more stuff in the way. It’s the classic genre fiction recipe. Once you start down that road, the difference between mystery and horror becomes much less than you might think. It’s a difference of degree, more than anything else.


Horror, mystery, cozy mystery, noir, they all contain many of the same components. Generally speaking, the body count – and the gore component - might be higher, say, in a horror novel than a cozy mystery, but at their hearts, the genres share many similarities.


Closest to my heart? For me, it all boils down to whatever I’m working on at the moment. I’m currently in the editing phase of a thriller set at the end of the Cold War titled PARALLAX VIEW, so right now I love thrillers the most. If you had asked me this question six months ago, when I had just released the second of two consecutive supernatural suspense novels, my answer would probably have been horror.


I’m a genre writer through and through. I have nothing against literary fiction, but I write books I would want to read, and I’ve been reading King, Poe, Child, Block, Westlake and other genre masters for as long as I can remember.



Find Here
2.      It seems like a lot of horror folds into the plot the supernatural. Is that because the supernatural represents the mysterious unknown that surrounds us? Or does it speak more about the dark fears inhabiting all of us in our subconscious?


The monster under the bed. Or in the closet. Who hasn’t gone to bed at night and heard a noise you couldn’t identify, and pictured a fanged monster shambling down the hall, gibbering and bloodthirsty? I hope it’s not just me.


I think the fear of the unknown is ingrained in all of us, and it goes back to the earliest days of our species, when we huddled in caves trying to keep the night and its dangers away with little more than fire and superstition. The supernatural element in horror fiction puts us back in bed with that monster shambling down the hall; it brings us right back to our ancient roots, where every snap of a twig outside that cave entrance represented the possibility of violence and death.


If you think about the modern world, the horrors we face are things we understand to some degree, even if we abhor them. Kidnappers, rapists, pedophiles – they might be the worst of the worst, but their offenses can be studied and quantified. With the supernatural, an element of uncertainty is added into the mix. How can the revenant be overcome? Is it even possible?




3.      You inhabit a field that is literately bursting at the seams with others who write in a similar fashion. How do you separate yourself . . . make your own distinctive style . . . and promote yourself?


That’s a question every writer not named Lee Child or Steve Berry or Stephen King probably struggles with. I know I sure do.


A few years ago I attended Thrillerfest, held annually in July in New York City. A big part of Thrillerfest is the Craftfest portion, where readers, aspiring writers, and fans can attend workshops given by some of the biggest names in the thriller genre. I was fortunate enough to attend one given by Lee Child, and he said one thing I’ll never forget (it’s been awhile, so I’m paraphrasing here): everything’s been done, and probably by a better writer than you.


At first glance, that’s a pretty deflating thought. If everything’s been done, why bother?


But the point he was making is just the opposite. Don’t try to be the next Lee Child or the next Elmore Leonard or the next Dean Koontz. Be the first Allan Leverone, be the first B.R. Stateham. Write what appeals to you and tell absolutely the best story you possibly can. After that, it’s out of your hands.


When you think about it in those terms, it’s kind of liberating. I’m obsessive about editing and rewriting, but once I’ve put the book out in front of people, their reaction to it is out of my control. Some will like it, hopefully, and some won’t, but as long as you can look yourself in the mirror and not have regrets about the tale you told, that should be good enough.


As far as promoting goes, if I knew the answer to that question I would be selling a hell of a lot more books than I am! But writing novels is a marathon, not a sprint, the rare overnight successes notwithstanding. My goal has always been, and still is, to write the best books I can and build a solid core of readers, then hopefully expand that core with each succeeding book.



4.      What pleasures are there in writing for you? Do you find yourself sitting back and admiring a sentence, or a paragraph, or an entire book that you've just written? And how long does that pleasure vibrate within you?


I was lucky enough to interview the legendary Lawrence Block on my blog a few months ago, and one of the things I asked him was whether there were any characters or any books he would go back in time and change if he could. He said, “I’m embarrassingly fond of my own work, so they’re all my favorites. And no, I wouldn’t change any of them.”


If that attitude’s good enough for Lawrence Block, I see no reason to feel any differently. While I’m writing, if I can pound out something I feel works really well, I might sit back and enjoy the moment, but I revise a lot, almost compulsively, so rather than feeling self-satisfied, I’m usually filed with doubt and convinced what I’m trying to say could be said much better if I’d only get my shit together.


It’s been said that writing is revising, or something to that effect, so by the time my work is ready to go out in to the world, I’ve usually been working on it for so long that I’m sick of it and ready to move on to something else. It’s more a feeling of hopeful relief than anything else.



5.      Tell us about the business side of writing. How difficult is it to break into the bank vault called publishing success? Is there a thread of luck involved? Is talent the prevailing requirement to succeed? Are there any short cuts a novice might use to strengthen their chances of success?


Another great question, and another one I’m probably not qualified to answer.


First, the easy part: There are no shortcuts. A writer has to write. It’s like anything else – the more you do it, the better you’re going to get at it. Fortunately, most writers do it because they’re almost compelled to. Let’s face it: most of us are never going to write a New York Times bestseller. Most of us will never be able to support ourselves solely from our writing. If you’re writing to get rich, you should save yourself a lot of heartache and just take all of your money and buy lottery tickets. Your odds of success are much greater.


As far as achieving publishing success goes, I don’t think anyone would deny there is a thread of luck involved. Probably more than a thread. More like a rope. Like one of the ones they use to dock the Queen Mary. One of the things this “publishing revolution” has taught us is that there are scads of unbelievably talented writers out there who would never even have gotten a contract with a Big-6 publisher.


That’s not to take anything away from the folks who have written New York Times bestsellers. Most of them are talented, and it shows in their work. But talent alone isn’t enough, you have to be in the right place at the right time as well. It’s no different than in sports. Tom Brady was an unknown backup who would likely never have had the opportunity to play were it not for an injury to Drew Bledsoe, and Brady turned out to be arguably one of the top five NFL quarterbacks ever.


Talent and timing. My thriller, THE LONELY MILE, broke into Amazon’s Top 25 overall paid bestseller list back in February. I like to think I wrote a pretty darned good book, but let’s face it – StoneHouse Ink and I caught a wave at just the right time. If that hadn’t happened, the book would probably never have made a ripple.


6.      Tell us about yourself. What was the trip-wire that was stepped on which compelled you to become a writer? What are you writing on now? What does the future hold for you?


From the time I first started reading I was in awe of the people who could write books and stories that held me in thrall. It seemed almost magical. Hell, it still kind of does. When I went to college, it was with the intention of majoring in journalism – I wanted to be a sportswriter. I changed majors after my freshman year, and that was the end of writing for me, for about the next three decades.



In January of 2006 I got back into it, with a sports blog at, and over the next nine or ten months, started to build up a bit of a following, and was really enjoying myself. Then I had an epiphany. Blogging about sports was fun, but what I really wanted to do was write fiction. So one day I just started.


Now I can’t stop. The feeling of creating worlds and populating them with all these characters, good and bad, who get into seemingly unresolvable situations, only to pull themselves out (sometimes) is like no other. Maybe I have a God complex, I don’t know, but I do know this: I will write until I die. A good day of writing is better than any drug.


Right now, I’m putting the finishing touches on a thriller titled PARALLAX VIEW. It takes place in 1987, at the tail end of the Cold War, and tells the story of CIA clandestine ops specialist Tracie Tanner, who is tasked with a fairly straightforward job: deliver a secret communique from Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev to U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Needless to say, things aren’t as they seem, and before long Tracie Tanner is knee deep in plane crashes, KGB spies, assassinations and double-crosses. It’s been a lot of fun to write and I hope it will be well-received.


After that, I’ll probably begin work on the third entry in my series of supernatural suspense novels that take place in a fictional little town in Maine called Paskagankee. Oh yeah, and I want to write a novella to submit to DarkFuse for their collectible hardcover horror novella series. Maybe write a couple of short stories.


Gonna be busy, I guess…


Thanks so much for having me. As writers of separate installments in the DRUNK ON THE MOON series featuring werewolf/PI Roman Dalton, I feel like we share a bond that’s even a little deeper than our mutual love for dark fiction. I appreciate the opportunity to bore introduce myself to your readers!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

And now, for an Encore . . .

Meet Les Edgerton.

Sure, he's been blogged before in here.  But you know it's like a bad penny . . . he keeps popping up over and over and over.

Besides, I like the guy!  And he's one hell of a writer.  He truly is gifted when he starts slinging words around.  Every writer has their own unique style.  As a reader you become acquainted with that style and then you accept it.  Accept it to the point you could recognize it anywhere.

Les' writing is like that.  Instantly recognizable.  Sometimes harsh (when he's writing crime novels), always vividly clear, an instant creator for some visceral emotional reaction erupting in your gut.

In other words . . . a damn fine writer.

So I asked him the other day, knowing he's publishing more 'stuff,' to come over and share a few words with us about what's cooking on the stove for him.  He was kind enough to agree.  Listen to what he has to say. 

The Master is in the house.

You asked me to talk about my newest book, which is a YA thriller out from StoneGate Ink titled Mirror, Mirror. It just came out in ebook format and in a couple of weeks will also be available as a paperback. Good timing—just before Christmas! So, if you have any teenaged girls you need a stocking stuffer for…

Here’s the synopsis:

You will never again pass a mirror without a slight chill... once you have read Mirror, Mirror. Elizabeth Mary Downing is a typical American teenager...almost. When she peers into a mirror, she sees someone else staring back--an image identical to herself in every detail save one--the mirror image has blue eyes. Elizabeth's eyes are brown! She is told by her mirror counterpart, "Liz", that she can enter any mirror she wants through "transtarence” and when curiosity prevails over fear and she enters the mirror, trading places with Liz, the horror begins as Liz wreaks havoc with what was a normal life. Elizabeth's attempts to trick Liz into going back into the mirror reflect both suspense and humor and just when all hope seems lost, she succeeds... only to discover she has to return to the mirror to reverse events and get her life back to where it was. She succeeds… only she leaves part of herself forever in the mirror.

This is a book I didn’t write for publication. Here’s how that came about:

Mirror, Mirror in Amazon
I wrote this book many years ago and not to publish it but just as a labor of love for my oldest daughter Britney. She was a voracious reader and I simply wanted to write something just for her that she could look at and say, “My dad wrote this for me.” In other words, I wanted her to be proud of me.

When she read it, she turned to me with luminous eyes and told me it was the scariest thing she’d ever read. Keep in mind she was about nine years old at the time so it wasn’t as if she’d read thousands of books. But, it made me feel great.

When her little sister Sienna came along, both Britney and I urged her to read it. She did and she had much the same reaction as her sister had. Scared the pants off of her! I thought for the first time that maybe it might be publishable, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Britney and I were talking about everyday things, when Britney suddenly said, “You know, Dad, after I read MIRROR, MIRROR, for about four years, I couldn’t look into a mirror at myself for more than a few seconds at a time before I had to look away. It just scared the crap out of me!”

And that’s when I realized it was publishable. I showed it to Aaron Patterson, the publisher of StoneGate Ink and he agreed and so here it is.

Not sure if it will capture today’s teens. The reason I say that is that there’s no cursing, no sex scenes, no vampires or zombies, nor any violence. It’s just a clean story that works on the reader’s imagination more than anything—kind of a throwback novel. We’ll see, I guess. The one thing that’s been nice is that I don’t have to warn parents to vet it before they let their kids read it.

The other book I’m very excited about is my forthcoming nihilistic noir novella, titled THE RAPIST, forthcoming from New Pulp Press both in paperback and as an ebook. It’s scheduled for March, 2013, but it may be released earlier. I rank this alongside my noir thriller, THE BITCH, as the best work I’ve ever done. It’s garnered absolute rave advance reviews, all along the lines of Allan Guthrie’s blurb, which says: “THE RAPIST ranks right up there with Camus’ THE STRANGER and Simenon’s DIRTY SNOW. An instant modern classic.”

Here’s just a few of the comments, all from the top crime and noir writers in the world:

1. …and the breathlessness, nausea, anger and confusion increase all the way to the end, at which point all I know is that the book is genius. Helen FitzGerald, author of The Donor, Dead Lovely and others.

2. Take a Nabokovian narrator trying to convince the reader of his innocence and filter it through An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge and you've got The Rapist, a raw and frightening journey through the inner psyche of a damaged man.

Brian Lindenmuth, Publisher, Spinetingler Magazine and Snubnose Press

3. Les Edgerton proves once again why he is one of the most exciting writers of this generation. The structure of this just astounded me. I've never read anything like it before. I've never been so engrossed in a novel as I was with this one. I had no idea Edgerton had this literary part of his writing. I don't know of any other writers that can go from crime fiction to literary so seamlessly. Edgerton should be very proud of this novel. Luca Veste, author of the story collections Liverpool 5, and More Liverpool Five.

4. The Rapist blends Camus and Jim Thompson in an existential crime novel that is as dark and intoxicating as strong Irish coffee. Les Edgerton pulls us into the corkscrew mind of Truman Ferris Pinter, a twisted man with skewed perception of the world, as his life spirals toward oblivion, like dirty dishwater down a plughole. It reminded me of Jim Thompson's Savage Night in its delirium. Paul D Brazill, Author, 13 Shots Of Noir and others.

5. William Faulkner on steroids or Hannibal Lecter on meth; neither as literate or frightening as Les Edgerton in his ground-breaking novel, The Rapist. Bob Stewart, author of The Blackness of Darkness, No Remorse and others.

6. A deathdream swan dive from the existential stratosphere plummeting into the personal hell of a tormented, broken psyche, The Rapist introduces us to a gentle and philosophical misanthrope named Truman Pinter, at once reminiscent of Albert Camus and Patricia Highsmith, even John Gardner’s Grendel and the journal of Carl Panzram. Thomas Pluck, editor of the anthology The Protectors.

7. The Rapist is a disturbing look into the twisted mind of a narcissistic psychopath on death row. A vulgar odyssey reminiscent of Nabokov’s Lolita, although far more depraved, Les Edgerton has crafted a dark and brilliant story that leaves you as equally unsettled as it does in complete awe. Julia Madeleine, author of No One To Hear You Scream and The Truth About Scarlet Rose

Thanks for having me on, B.R.!
The man has his own blog, a very good one, called Les Edgerton On Writing.  You should check it out.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Drunk On The Moon Lives, Baby!

Roman Dalton.

Werewolf.  Ex-cop.  A really nice guy!

A few months back an English bloke I know by the name of Paul Brazill asked me if I'd be one of the original writers who would like to take a crack at writing a story about the good Mister Dalton.  His (Paul's) idea was to create and partially flesh out an interesting character (Roman) and then allow other writers to color in the rest of the man's personality.

As Spock would say on Star Trek; "Fascinating."

So I did.  Wrote a story called, 'Insatiable.'

A gruesome little story about one werewolf meeting another, and not so likable, werewolf.  Apparently a few people  actually liked it.

Roman Dalton still lives.  Paul has gone on to ask more authors to participate in this experiment.  I mean some really, truly, awesome writers who know their craft forwards and backwards.  It has become something of an international success.  American and European writers have pitched in their versions of R. Dalton--and every damn story has been, as the British say, 'spot on.' 

A new collection of stories is out.  So I thought I'd ask him to Paul make a serious pitch about the new anthology.

And by the way, if you don't know Paul Brazill the writer, you should really make an effort to discover him.  A good man and a very good writer.  A writer who doesn't write the usual generic blend of tiresome dregs found in genre writing.  It's dark, surprising, mean sometimes (in a good way), and fresh.  And the endings are never what you expect them to be.  Just the kind of stuff I like.

So here he is.  Talking about his creation, Roman Dalton.  Enjoy.

Guest Blog: Roman Dalton Howls Again by Paul D. Brazill.

Roman Dalton is a full time private eye and part time werewolf who prowls The City’s blood and neon soaked streets when the moon is full.

A few years ago, there was a buzz across the internet about Dark Valentine magazine, a cool and beautifully designed pulp mag that would feature horror, noir, fantasy — stories of all genres — as well as cross-genre stories. I knew of some of the people involved and thought that this would be a pretty classy joint indeed.

And I wanted in.

And this is where the confluence comes in.

For a while, I’d been thinking that the Tom Waits’ song “Drunk on the Moon” would make a great title for a werewolf story — Tom Waits was in the film Wolfen, and his gravelly voice could easily be that of a werewolf. Made sense to me …

And then I thought that, maybe I could raise the stakes even higher and write a werewolf noir…


And then, somewhere along the way, I wondered if some of my favourite dark fiction writers would like to dip a toe into Roman Dalton’s world.. Crime writers. Horror writers. Thriller writers.

B R Stateham, Richard Godwin, K A Laity, Katherine Tomlinson, Allan Leverone, Julia Madeleine, Frank Duffy, Jason Michel, John Donald Carlucci.

And the result was Drunk On The Moon – A Roman Dalton Anthology, published as an eBook and in paperback by Dark Valentine Press.

Here’s the book trailer, with music by Peter Ord.

So what has Roman Dalton been up to lately?

Well, he has a Facebook fan page.

A blog.

A Twitter account.

And a Roman Dalton story- The Brain Salad Murders- recently appeared online at Jeanette Cheezum’s Cavalcade Of Stars.

And more.

K A Laity’s Weird Noir anthology has just been published and it includes a story called Black Moon Rising, which gives us a bit more of Roman’s cronies Duffy and Ivan Walker’s back story.

And up next?

Well, the first Drunk On The Moon short story has been translated into Polish and will be published soooon! And more translations are waiting in the wings.

And there’s a second anthology on the cards , too, with stories from Matt Hilton, Vincent Zandri, J J Toner and more…

So, Roman Dalton is still howling! Why not join The Pack?

Paul D. Brazill