There’s a lot of cool, multi-talented folks on the indie literary scene, but in my humble opinion, none more so than Gabriel Hart. Poetry, Music, Fiction and Non-Fiction, like the mythic Midas whatever he turns his hand to is Pure Creative Gold.
When I hit the literary scene on twitter in February of 2020. I was wet behind the ears, scrounging around for beta readers for a novel I’d recently finished and had a signed contract for. Gabriel Hart was one of the first authors who kindly volunteered their time to help me out with editing and other literary advice. Now, I’m lucky enough to consider him a friend.
I caught up with Gabriel to ask him a few questions about his work and creative processes.
Hi, Gabriel, thanks a lot for letting us pick your brain today for the Punk Noir readers. To start off, can you tell our readers how you got into the literary scene?
I hesitate to call anything a scene because that’s usually its death knell once it becomes so defined, but I fell into crime and noir totally by default because I didn’t really know what else to call my style of writing. I mean, there’s misbehaving and conflicted characters and booze and drugs smeared all over it, and I know I read a lot of crime/noir but what comes out on my pages I feel is different, more along the line of early Grove Press stuff — those authors are what I’ve read the most, the stuff that’s really gotten under my skin and comes out my pores into the ink. But the crime community sort of took me in and still “have” me but I really can’t deal with a lot of the recent confines of it, especially on a social/political level. I’ve sort of found my more idiosyncratic crowd and they’re like, waaaaay over here, far away from traditional genre fiction – it’s younger, more vibrantly defiant and exploratory crowd many refer to as ‘transgressive fiction’ but that term is already getting so played out and misunderstood by Johnny Come Lately’s and desperate edgelords totally missing the point. Whatever it is, I pray to God it never becomes a scene cause then I’ll just have to go somewhere else.
You’re best known for your twin-novella Virgins in Reverse/The Intrusion. How did those novellas come to fruition and what were your inspirations for those stories?
The two parts of the book are interwoven stories of coming-of-age alcoholic personal apocalypse. Virgins in Reverse started out as a love letter I was writing the love of my life at the time, and then I just kept writing until there were 120 pages of it. There were emotions I couldn’t put into words so I had to create vast phantasmagorical allegories within a hard-boiled L.A. soap opera. The Intrusion is my clinical study into the correlations between alcoholic blackouts and spirit possession written in prose — it’s a tough story for me to re-read, as even the most absurdist Vampire’s Kiss type parts feel too real to me, too soon.
What advice would you give for up-and-coming indie authors?
The minute you feel anything becoming too insular, self-referential, judgemental, or self-congratulatory, bounce. See what other writers are up to, the ones who aren’t being so fucking loud all the time. Don’t just read or write one thing in one style. That’s why so many staunch genre writers tend to be so bitter — they might be great writers, but they’ve built a cage around themselves.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve got a guy hustling my novel The Devils of Blackout Beach to publishers right now, so I’m trying to stay busy to keep my mind off that existential white-knuckling. Writing a ton of short stories right now, and then in October my collection Fallout from Our Asphalt Hell will be out from Close to the Bone. Twenty short stories that I hope bridge the gap between pulp and more literary-stylist fiction.
What is an issue you care about deeply?
As a punk rocker forever trapped in his own stereotype I’m always concerned with the American class divide, class issues in general. My parents are in their 70s and 80s and still have to work for a living – I feel like that’s an issue indigenous to our country. I’ll be screaming “it should have been Bernie” for the rest of my life. Seeing what’s happening in Los Angeles where Skid Row’s tentacles are reaching some of the wealthiest neighborhoods, where now the elite are forced to face their conscience stepping over homeless on their own front lawns, I think we are seeing an obvious tipping point. I live in the high desert, where our area is pretty economically depressed – the tourists here tend to only see the beauty of our nature and forget about all those struggling up here.
What music are you listening to now?
Jake Blackwood just sent me him and Ryan Madej’s Ghostpowder cassette. It’s so fucked. It’s not so much music as it is field recordings of the damned. Earlier today I listened to Sandy Shaw – I love all that 60s girl group stuff. More than anything though I’ve been digging silence, especially since everything is starting to open back up. We’re gonna miss all that solitude if we don’t already.
What novel are you reading?
I just finished The Dregs Trilogy by Chris Kelso, one of my favorite new to me writers. I’m also toggling between In Just the Right Light by William Soldan and Not Yet Vol. 2 by Manuel Marrero. I can’t wait to read Human Shaped Fiends, the new meta-splatter western by Chandler Morrison.
What was the last thing you ate?
BBQ Teriyaki tuna over rice and nori. For in-between meals, these days I enjoy a Kratom or two.
If you could go on a drinking binge with five other writers dead or alive who would it be?
I don’t wanna bother the dead guys so I’d say, no contest: Manuel Marrero, SA Cosby, Jean-Paul Garnier, James Nulick, and Steve J. Golds.
What would you like written on your gravestone?
“See what happens when you try?”
Author/songwriter Gabriel Hart lives in Morongo Valley in California’s High Desert. His Palm Springs/Spring Break noir novelette A Return To Spring (Mannison Press) is out now. He’s also the author of the dipso-surrealist twin-novel Virgins In Reverse / The Intrusion (Traveling Shoes Press), which contains a foreword by art-damage provocateur Tav Falco. His debut book of poetry UNSONGS Vol. 1 will be released by Close to The Bone (U.K.) April 2021. Other works can be found in Pulp Modern, ExPat Press, Black Hare Press(Australia), Crime Poetry Weekly,Shotgun Honey, and Bristol Noir. He’s a monthly columnist for writing resource site Lit Reactor, pulp-culture aggregate EconoClash Review, and contributor to Los Angeles Review of Books. Hart is the ringleader of the L.A. based punk Wall of Sound group Jail Weddings. Their third album Wilted Eden was released in 2019. Their previous album Meltdown: A Declaration of Unpopular Emotion (2013) was voted Best Album of The Year by L.A. Weekly, followed by Best Band of the Year in 2014.
Hart is represented by Scott Miller at Trident Media Group.
Stephen J. Golds
Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.
He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine.
He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His books are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows I Thought I Saw Once, Cut-throat & Tongue-tied, Bullet Riddled & Gun Shy and the story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.