John Wisniweski interviews Dana King

Crime Fiction, Dana King, Interviews, John Wisniewski, Private Eye, Punk Noir Magazine

JW: When did you begin writing, Dana? Did you write short stories? 

DK: I did start with short stories, in 1993. I was in the process of getting divorce and what I had been calling my musical career was coming to a close. There was talk of a recent trumpet audition having been fixed, which is no crime but it meant a lot of people spent time and money flying to the audition not knowing the winner had already been decided. I wrote a short story about a private detective who used to be a trumpet player who is asked to look into it. It’s sort of a parody of Mickey Spillane and used my friends as characters. It was great fun to write and everyone liked it, so I wrote another for my job at the time, then another for the next job until people said I should think of writing a novel. Looking back, I have the same feelings most authors have about their very early works, that I had no idea what I was doing and I’d never show them to anyone now. On the other hand, that first story was the basis for my third Nick Forte novel, The Man in the Window, which did earn me a Shamus nomination, so it couldn’t have been all bad.

JW: Any favorite crime pulp authors?

A: I have a handful who started out in the pulps but made their names as novelists, and it’s the usual suspects: Hammett, Chandler, Cain, John D. Macdonald. I guess strictly speaking Donald Westlake and Evan Hunter (Ed McBain) cut their teeth on the tail end of the pulps but are of a different generation.

JW: Could you tell us Dana, about writing your book The Man in the Window which won the Shamus award?

DK: Actually, it didn’t win, but I like the way you think.

The Man in the Window takes Nick Forte back to his musical roots and also marks the beginning of his descent as the violence and injustice he’s encountered start to wear him down. The original short story was written as a satire and much of the humor remains in the book, but the novel is much darker. The title refers to the final scene, where Forte catches his reflection and starts to wonder what kind of man he is becoming. By the time we get to the next two Forte books (A Dangerous Lesson and Bad Samaritan), as well as his guest appearance in Grind Joint, Forte is more accepting of what he has become and starts to embrace it. I have an idea for a story down the road where he essentially becomes his own psycho sidekick.

JW: What makes a good crime novel? What inspired you to write?

DK: To me a good crime novel allows me to look at situations through the eyes of one or more or the characters and play along. “What would I do here?” or “How would I feel if this happened to me?” I’ll confess that means I don’t “get” everyone. I’m not going to name names but there are great writers out there, whose greatness I readily acknowledge, but their stories don’t reach me because I can’t identify with the characters’ situations.

I was inspired to write after that first Forte story was well received. I was out of work and had large chunks of time to read and a good library nearby. I picked up some Robert B. Parker novels and read of how much he was influenced by Raymond Chandler, so I read some Chandler. I read The Big Sleep and that put the hook in me. Then I watched Double Indemnity because Chandler wrote the screenplay, which led to me reading Cain’s novel. That reeled me in. For those who haven’t read the book, get busy. The ending is quite a bit different from the movie and one of the most powerful I’ve read. I remember finishing and just sitting there holding the book thinking, “Damn.” The people who are that good can meet comfortably in my living room (I would not be there), but reading something like that is the carrot that dangles in front of all writers.

JW: Could you tell us about creating the Nick Forte character, Dana?

DK: Forte was easy: he’s me. He’s the main character of the first story I wrote with thinlydisguised descriptions of my friends playing the supporting characters. He’s my age and size (at the time I created him, that is), a divorced dad who’s painfully aware that no matter how much energy he devotes to being a father it’s not the same as actually living in the house, and has a musical background that’s a couple of careers distant from what he’s doing now.

James Ellroy once said that Chandler wrote the kinds of main characters he wished he was and that Hammett wrote the kinds of main characters he was afraid he might be. Nick Forte is the man I’m afraid I could be if given his circumstances, experiences, and skill set.

JW: Is Penns River a location you created, or a real locale? 

DK: Penns River is real but not under that name. It’s an amalgam of three small cities in Western Pennsylvania where I grew up. I use an many real locations as I can and read the local paper on the Internet to keep current with what’s going on there and grab the occasional story idea. These are towns where the economy dried up in the 70s when the steel and aluminum industries pretty much left the Pittsburgh area. Pittsburgh recovered and is back probably better than ever, but many of the smaller cities up and down river did not. Pens River is one of those cities.

JW: Could we talk about Grind Joint and Wild Bill. What may have inspired you?

DK: Very separate inspirations for those two.

Wild Bill is that rare example of what non-writers think happens all the time: it came to me in a dream. Well, the ending, anyway. I was in that half awake, half asleep state and the germ of a scene came to me. I let my imagination wander and by the time it was done I had the climactic scene and the plot twist set. Took me several years to come up with a story that led to that ending. There was a major mob trial in Chicago that opened up some inside material on the Outfit that picked up about the time Gus Russo’s outstanding book The Outfit left off. I knitted the two together and came up with a book
I’m proud of even though as my only standalone it doesn’t get the attention of the series books.

Grind Joint is the result of driving through my old home town in Western Pennsylvania and seeing an abandoned strip mall. Two formerly major department stores (Ward’s and Penney’s) connected by some local businesses and restaurants. All the business moved out at least ten years earlier and the building looked it. I lived in Maryland then and the state was pushing casino gambling as a way to solve the state’s economic issues. I pointed to the abandoned mall and said to The Beloved Spouse, “They should put a casino in there. Everyone in Penns River gets well.” After that it was a matter of thinking how such a casino would affect the exiting power structure in town.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT DANA KING HERE, AND BUY HIS BOOKS HERE!

dana-king-400

John Wisnieski interviews Jason Beech

Close To The Bone, Flash Fiction, Flash Fiction Offensive, Interviews, Jason Beech, John Wisniewski, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine, Shotgun Honey, True Brit Grit

When did you begin writing, Jason? Did you begin by writing short stories? 

I started writing in the late 1990s, but only to see if I could. I didn’t write anything that a
publisher would touch but the two books did teach me to finish something and to recognise what did and didn’t work.

I’d never thought of writing short stories until I became serious about writing in the early 2010s when I discovered the classic sites of Flash Fiction Offensive, who were the first to publish something I wrote, Shotgun Honey, Pulp Metal Magazine, and more.

Any favorite crime authors?

My favourite crime author is James Ellroy, and that’s just for The Black Dahlia and American Tabloid. I’m into Walter Mosley, Paul D. Brazill, Keith Nixon, Tom Leins, Kate Laity, Ian Rankin, Ray Banks, and lately, Matt Phillips, Paul Heatley, Jake Hinkson, Tess Makovesky, and Thomas Pluck.

I need to read more Aidan Thorn and get involved in Nikki Dolson, Beau Johnson, and Angel Luis Colón.

Could you tell us about writing your novel City of Forts? It is a coming-of-age story as well as a crime novel?

City of Forts is both coming of age story and crime novel. Four kids discover a body in the basement of an abandoned house in an uninhabited development on the edge of a disused, decaying factory. This place is their escape from the town they live in and they don’t want anybody finding out about a body that will bring the outside world into their oasis.

They all have their problems. Ricky’s mum works two jobs to make ends meet because his dad has gone west and seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. So Ricky has to look after his younger brother, and he hates it – does his best to hide the kid in their home while his mom works so he can go out and live his life.

Bixby is homeless. He’s escaped foster care and has no intention of going back, but it means living in the abandoned houses as social services narrow their search for him 

Lizzie has to contend with a useless dad in mourning for a dead son, with a vicious girlfriend and a drug habit. Lizzie’s looking beyond the town and her teenage years to a life with broader horizons. Tanais just wants friends after being dragged round the country by her parents. She makes a friend in Bixby, but he turns on her when he finds out what Tanais’ dad does. The body they found is not some nobody. A gangster Ricky calls Tarantula Man searches for him, and he’ll kill whoever’s in his way to find his whereabouts. The kids need an ally. Maybe rich man, Mr Vale, will help them out. Maybe Floyd, the greasy wanderer who seems to know everything they’re doing. It all barrels along to a bloody end.

So yes, it’s coming of age, but there’s violence, death, betrayal, and sweaty palms that go along with it.  

Are there any crime films that you like? Any film noir?

I’m behind on a lot of films. I want to see the old Cagney gangster films. I need to see The Kill List. Tons to catch up on. There’s the obvious I like: The Godfather parts 1 and 2, Goodfellas, Casino, Mean Streets, Heat, and so on. My favourite film noir is The Last Seduction, starring Linda Fiorentino. What a twisted bit of work that is. Fiorentino should have been huge on the back of this. Where did she go? I enjoyed Blue Ruin.
And, I know Ellroy dropped some abuse on it recently, but LA Confidential is a great piece of film noir, and Russel Crowe’s best performance in any movie

What makes a good crime novel?

  A great crime novel induces a feeling of dread. The best ones are those which, when you’ve got your head on a pillow and you’re half-knackered, make you sit right up and lose your breath for a second or ten. It doesn’t always need a mystery. Matt Phillips’ Know Me from Smoke and Countdown both let you sense what’s going to happen, but he builds a fear for the characters he’s drawn so well that your palms become clammy and you want to look away – but you can’t.

Same with Jake Hinkson’s The Posthumous Man. Starts off innocuous, but by the end you’re in full-on “Noooooooo” mode.

What will your next book be about, Jason?

Barlow Vine just killed a man – his lover’s lover. Now he’s heading from Spain back to his
hometown to escape his actions in the vain hope they won’t catch up with him. Never Go Back is a wild ride featuring nurses, strange kids in Edwardian garb, one blinding headache, and dead-eyed killers who want to use him for their own ends. It’s a cold, murderous homecoming – and he’ll need the luck of every bastard to survive it all.
The book is out in November, published by Close to the Bone

Could you tell us about the short story collection, Bullets, Teeth, & Fists. How is writing a short crime story different than writing a full length novel?

The first Bullets, Teeth, & Fists is where I really learned to write. I published all the stories as a way to get my newly minted blog on the road and showcase what I could do. The first one is a mix of crime, thriller, paranormal, and slice of life. My favourite story in there is Bring it on Down, about a shy kid who finds his personality but goes off the rails along with his new-found confidence. A short story is a sugar rush. I often write them when a spark hits. I get it down there and then, if I can. If I’m in the middle of something I’ll take a note so I don’t forget. But it can take a day, sometimes more, and you’re done. You leave it alone for a week, come back, iron out the typos and plot/character missteps, and you can move on. They scratch an itch and explode a
satisfying “Aaaagghh.”

However, there’s nothing more satisfying than writing a full-length novel, knowing you can do it, getting into the weeds and coming out the other side with a full length beard, shattered, and in need of a wild act to celebrate the achievement.

Then I go back to writing a few short stories to make sure I can still write – because I wonder, after I’ve done longer work, if I still have it in me.  Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 2 is a little darker and bigger, and includes a couple of novelettes. Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 3 is out in early 2020, with one of my favourite shorts I’ve ever done.

http://author.to/JasonBeech

jason beech

 

John Wisniewski interviews Albert Tucher

Albert Tucher, Crime Fiction, Down and Out Books., International Noir, Interviews, John Wisniewski, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Stories, Shotgun Honey

When did you begin writing, Albert? Did you write short stories?

In the mid-1980s I became fascinated with medieval Roman history, especially the tenth century and the story of Marozia. She ruled the city of Rome for several years until her own son overthrew her in 932. (In fairness, she was conspiring to kill him.) I wrote about fifty pages of a novel (on paper with a manual typewriter). I’m afraid now to go back and look at it.

In the summer of 2000 I was suddenly single and looking to make changes. I signed up on a whim for a fiction writing class at the Union County College in Cranford NJ. Tom Cantillon was the teacher. I thought I would work on Marozia, but I took a detour. See below.

I wrote three Diana Andrews novels before deciding that a publishing resume might help me sell them. I got into short stories and have published almost 100 of them. I guess I like them!

Any favorite crime authors?

Ross Macdonald converted me from science fiction to crime. These days Michael Connelly, the Abbotts, Patricia and Megan, Jen Conley, Todd Robinson, Kevin Catalano, just for starters. I’m leaving out more than I can include, or we’d be here all day.

How did you create the Diana Andrews character?

One of Tom Cantillon’s weekly assignments was an action story. From somewhere came a mental picture of a man and a woman standing by a car parked on the shoulder of a deserted highway. I decided she was a prostitute and he a cop, and just to make it interesting I made him the bad guy. He wanted to kill Diana (I knew her name immediately), and she had to stop him.

But I couldn’t think of a motive that would play in 1500-2000 words until I made the cop a woman also, and the motive became sexual jealousy. A man is paying Diana and ignoring the cop.

Yes, I failed the Bechdel test before I even knew it had a name. I hope I have made up for it since, though.

That story because the first chapter in my Diana novel DO OVERS, still unpublished.

How do you add a gritty realism to your writing? 

It turns out I picked a good theme for that, because prostitution is inherently gritty. It’s just a matter of finding the telling detail.

In 2006 I met a young woman in the business. (I found her online. The internet has completely remade the business of prostitution, but that’s a topic in itself.) I planned to interview her for an hour or so, but I ended up meeting with her about a dozen times until she left the business in 2008. She gave me such great material that I’m still living off it. Quite a few of my short stories come straight from her casebook.

She told me, for instance, about a realtor client who always had her meet him at whatever property he was showing that day. The idea was to come as close as possible to getting caught. Of course I had to use that, and of course Diana and her client had to get caught. (The story is “The Full Hour,” in the anthology Black Coffee.)

She also read my stories and commented on them—on her own time. I doubt many women would have done that, and it shows how lucky I was to meet her. Above all, I learned that within fairly wide limits I couldn’t get it wrong. If something sounds plausible, it is plausible, and someone in the business does it or would do it if the situation arose, whether it’s a sexual practice, a business practice, or a way of relating to a client.

In my Hawaii stories I get a lot of mileage from inserting Hawaiian Pidgin phrases into my dialog. Which is more evocative—“They have good food,” or “They get da ono kine grinds?” I use Pidgin sparingly, largely because I am not an expert in it, but I think it zeroes the reader into the setting.

What will your next book be about?

The next book in my Big Island of Hawaii/Detective Errol Coutinho series is tentatively titled Blood Like Rain. I’m starting to enjoy the ensemble cast of these books as much as Diana herself, and that’s saying a lot. They give me two more tough chicks to write about, criminal defense attorney Agnes Rodrigues and Officer Jenny Freitas, and that’s what I live for.

Any favorite crime/pulp authors?

’ll name a few and undoubtedly feel like crap when I leave someone out: Jen Conley, Patti Abbott, Anonymous-9, Paul Brazill, Todd Robinson, Kevin Catalano, Kristen Lepionka, for starters.

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ALBERT TUCHER HERE.

SH-THJG-Full-Cover-Tucher-150dpi

 

John Wisniewski interviews Beau Johnson

Beau Johnson, Crime Fiction, Down and Out Books., Indie, Interviews, John Wisniewski, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Stories

JW: When did you begin writing, Beau? Did you write short stories?

Hi John, thanks for having me. I have written seriously the last ten years or so, once my youngest was out of diapers. It was then I found the time to get back to what I started before “life” (as I’ve been known to say) got in the way. I’m primarily a short story writer and have never published anything over five thousand words. One day I’ll crack the novel nut. You just wait and see!!

JW: Could you tell us about writing “A Better Kind of Hate”? What inspired this
Collection of stories?
Hmm. I would have to say Bishop Rider inspired A BETTER KIND OF HATE. I mean, once I’d written four or five stories about him and realized I had something with legs, well, things sort of took off from there. It’s been fun too, and I have always told his story out of sequence for some reason, so it’s always nice when pieces of his life I never knew existed start falling into place.
JW: How did you develop the Bishop Rider character, did you see him as your

Alter-ego?
Ha! I would say Bishop and I are as far from each other as people can get. I’d like to say I could go out and do what he does, but besides defending myself and the people who put up with me, I have too much empathy to vanquish people in some of the ways that he does. As for how he came to be, well, I came up with April Rider first, Bishop’s sister, and only after she is raped and murdered by six men in masks does he enter the fray. It’s a different kind of beginning, that’s for sure, but seeing where the big guy and I are now, I’d take it no other way.
JW: What makes a good pulp/noir story or novel? Any favourite pulp/noir authors?
Well, I think that may be more subjective than I like for a first date, John. I mean, we HAVE just met. Nah, I kid. For me it’s many things, a collection of sorts, but I guess I’d go with voice if pressed. Character coming in at a close second and plot for third. I also enjoy a good revenge tale, preferably with some dark humour thrown in. As for the names you require, there are just too many to choose from, too many greats out there, and I’d hate to miss someone and forever feel poorly because of it. However, I will mention my master, my great Uncle Stevie, and that it was his book Misery that put me on this path.
JW: What will your next book be about, Beau?
ALL OF THEM TO BURN is also a collection of shorts, but one which deals with Bishop Rider and Co. in a way that THE BIG MACHINE EATS and A BETTER KIND OF HATE did not. There are also other, unconnected tales, sure, but I found myself filling in some of the gaps in Bishop’s story, from close to the beginning of his struggles and right up to the end of his life. If might deal with a baton passing of sorts as well, but either way, as I’ve been known to say: the struggle will conclude.
BIO: Beau Johnson has been published before, usually on the darker side of town.  He is the Author of A BETTER KIND OF HATE and THE BIG MACHINE EATS, both published by Down and Out Books.  Look for Bishop Rider’s continuing struggles in ALL OF THEM TO BURN, coming 2020, also from Down and Out Books
beau johnson

John Wisniewski interviews Tom Leins

All Due Respect, Brit Grit, Close To The Bone, Down and Out Books., Interviews, John Wisniewski, Punk Noir Magazine, Shotgun Honey, Tom Leins

How did you begin writing, Tom? I believe you were a film critic before you started writing books?

I started writing fiction in around 2002 – half a lifetime ago – and my first ever short story, ‘The Box’, was included in an anthology by a UK publisher called Skrev the following year. I notched up a bunch of publications in small-scale British literary magazines over the next five years, and switched to writing crime fiction in 2006-2007, when my reading tastes shifted.

I have managed to make a living from putting words on a page since about 2006 – agony uncle, film critic, telecoms journalist – but I don’t think I’ll be paying the bills with my fiction any time soon! Watching and reviewing films for a living was fun while it lasted, but a job that combined DVDs and print media already feels like something from a bygone era…!

I took a break from fiction between 2011 and 2014, but I haven’t really looked back since. Last year I published two short story collections: Meat Bubbles & Other Stories (Close To The Bone) and Repetition Kills You (All Due Respect), and I have two more books on the way this year: Boneyard Dogs (Close To The Bone) and The Good Book (All Due Respect).

I’m really proud of all of these books, but the stuff I’m working on at the moment is even better: darker, nastier, funnier. I can’t wait to share it with people!

Any favorite pulp authors?

To be completely honest, there is a gaping hole in my traditional pulp fiction reading list.  I’ve got a box in my loft full of unread Hammett, Chandler, Spillane, MacDonald etc, and while I’m sure I’ll get around to reading them one day, they are fighting for attention with a lot of new content.

I think publishers such as All Due Respect, Close To The Bone and Shotgun Honey are the ones delivering the pulp fiction goods nowadays. They all specialise in short, violent books with a solid emotional core. I also gravitate towards the kind of writers who publish multiple books each year, as that kind of work ethic appeals to me, and stays true to the old-fashioned pulp sensibility. There are too many great writers to namecheck here, but pulp enthusiasts should definitely make a beeline towards those publishers.

Your books, like “Slug Bait” sometimes contain horror elements. Do you like horror and mystery writing, as well as crime/pulp?

Yes, very true! In recent years my raw, undiluted approach to crime fiction has started to blur at the edges: the story titles have got more visceral, the antagonists more ghoulish, the imagery more horrific and the sense of foreboding more pronounced. I find a lot of contemporary crime fiction – especially at the mainstream end of the scale – too bland for comfort, so I’m doing my best to redress the balance!

This whole ‘Paignton Noir’ world that I have strived to create over the last decade or so is highly stylised, and I like to use that to my advantage. There were some notable supernatural elements in both of my short story collections – Meat Bubbles & Other Stories and Repetition Kills You – but these sporadic incidents are viewed with the same sense of hardboiled cynicism as Joe Rey views the rest of his cases, and hopefully they don’t drag unsuspecting readers too far out of the narrative.

I have no idea whether my genre-blurring tactics are too horrific for crime fans or too tame for horror fans, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take. I’ve also got some grisly new material up my sleeve which plunges deeper into horror territory than ever before. Watch this space!

As far as horror fiction goes, it represents a pretty minor component of my overall reading experience, and I watch far more horror movies than I do read horror books – something I should definitely rectify. That said, I always appreciate it when writers manage to successfully fuse crime and horror to create something new and warped. That always piques my interest!

What have the reviews been like for your books? How do reviewers describe your writing?

The reviews have been pretty good so far. I’m always delighted when anyone takes the time to write about something I created – and other people’s interpretations of my work are endlessly fascinating! A lot of people enjoyed my debut e-book, Skull Meat – which is pretty extreme in places – and those endorsements gave me a lot of confidence, and made me realise that I didn’t have to tone down my vision.

When a reader really connects with a book it’s an unbeatable feeling. That said, I’m disappointed that Repetition Kills You – my literary jigsaw puzzle – sank without a trace, as I’m really proud of that book: concept, content, everything. Not every book is going to find an audience, but I was looking forward to see what people made of it. (I’m working on an appropriately brutal sequel, so hopefully that will give the first book a much-needed boost!)

Reviews are also a useful supply of feedback, and I try to respond to any points that reviewers touch on in my subsequent books. Readers expect a series character to evolve, and any question marks over Joe Rey’s persona are really useful to me.

Words like brutal, gritty and violent are pretty commonplace in the reviews – all of which are highly appropriate!

Could we talk more about “Repetition Kills You”? How was this book different than your others?

Repetition Kills You comprises 26 short stories, presented in alphabetical order, from ‘Actress on a Mattress’ to ‘Zero Sum’. Combined in different ways, they tell a larger, more complex story. The reader has to join the dots and choose their own beginning and ending. The alphabetical angle was inspired by an old J.G. Ballard story from the 1960s, but the ruptured narrative owes as much to Quentin Tarantino’s movies Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.

Repetition Kills You was actually the first book I completed, and everything else I have written has slotted in around it. Because of that, I think that it works well as an opener for the uninitiated, but it works even better if people read the books in the ‘official’ order!

It’s a self-contained book, but I’m enjoying the task of joining the dots and exploring the events that precede Repetition Kills You. The book also digs into certain aspects of Joe Rey’s past, and introduces a few key characters who figure heavily in the sequels. I like trilogies, and this book is the first of three interlinked books. Make no mistake, Rey is about to enter a world of pain in the next book, and it all goes downhill from there…

Anyway, I think that anyone who enjoyed Skull Meat, or Slug Bait, or Meat Bubbles will enjoy it as much, if not more, but the non-linear A-Z concept must be a little bit too jarring for readers, which is a real shame!

Bio: Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK.  He is the author of the Paignton Noir novelettes SKULL MEAT, SNUFF RACKET, SLUG BAIT and SPINE FARM and the short story collections MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES (Close To The Bone, June 2018) and REPETITION KILLS YOU (All Due Respect, September 2018).

A Ticket To The Boneyard - Tom Leins Boneyard Dogs feature 2

 

John Wisniewski interviews Maxim Jakubowski

Anthology, David Goodis, Films, International Noir, Interviews, Jim Thompson, John Wisniewski, Maxim Jakubowski, Mike Hodges, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine, True Brit Grit, Writing

JW: When did you begin your career as a writer /editor of pulp writing,  Maxim?

MJ: I never meant to specifically be involved in what you term ‘pulp’. From early childhood I was an avid reader and quickly found out that I actually wanted to write stories and all followed from there. My early tastes (and career) were for science fiction and fantasy, although I also read a lot of crime and I began publishing my first stories in magazines in France, where I was then living, from the age of 16. But because I was bilingual I read and was aware of what was being written in English and one day convinced a Paris publishing house to allow me to edit a volume of the latest in British SF, and that became my first anthology.

JW: Any favourite pulp writers?

MJ: Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett, Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Fritz Leiber, many of which I Iater had the opportunity to publish when I began work in publishing per se 

JW: What makes a good crime/suspense novel?

MJ: If I knew, I would have written it. As it is I keep trying again and again and as soon as a new novel of mine is published, I realise I can do better and start another! It’s very much in the eye of the beholder, the right alchemical blend of locale, characters, plot and feelings.

JW: What did you think of the film version of Get Carter? Do crime novels tend to make good films, when adapted? 

MJ: I’m a great fan of it (and actually director Mike Hodges is a good friend of mine; and I published his first novel a few years back). Although it differs greatly from the book which is equally good. Generally I prefer original scripts to book adaptations, but a few do stand out like Carter or Falling Angel or turn out even better in the case of The Godfather, which maybe points to the fact that mediocre books can make great movies while important ones do not, as they already occupy a level which even film at its best can’t reach.

JW: Are there any writers that you could tell would become a huge successes through their early writing? 

MJ. Lots of new writers have impressed me immensely; even more so as for past 6 years I’ve been a judge for the Crime Writers’ Association First Novel Dagger so seen a lot of debuts, but as to predict who is going to be ‘big’, so much depends on marketing spend and promo publishers allow it and the unpredictable quirks of the book trade. Have spent most of my life in book publishing and all too aware that quality is not always the issue. Right now my two tips for the future are Chris Whitaker and Lou Berney but who knows if they will make it big. 

JW: Do you have a new collection of stories that you are editing, Maxim? 

MJ: Am currently editing the 3rd volume in what I hope will become a regular series of anthologies, each on a different mystery theme, for US publishers Mango. First one, Historical, has just been published. Next, Amateur Sleuths and Private Eyes is delivered and out in autumn and now working on 3rd, Impossible Crimes and Puzzling Deaths, for 2020. And my fairly major general crime anthology Invisible Blood appears in UK and USA next month, with stories from many of the biggest names in the genre, including a new Jack Reacher tale by Lee Child. 

I had taken 4 years off editing anthologies as I was busy on a series of books outside the genre, eleven in all, most of which made the Sunday Times bestseller lists, albeit under a pseudonym.

MAXIM JAKOWSKI’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE IS HERE.

Maxim

John Wisniewski interviews Robert Ragan

Interviews, John Wisniewski, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Robert Ragan

 

robert-ragan.jpegJW: When did you start writing, Robert?

RR: As a child I use to make up scary stories and drawing horrible pictures to go along with them. I won essay contests at school. When I was 19, I tried to write poetry every day, I did that for 10 years.

 

JW: Did you write short stories?

 

RR: When I was 29, I started writing short stories. I have been writing them ever since. Short fiction has become my true passion as far as the arts.

 

JW: Any favourite crime/noir writers

RR: The first crime fiction I remember reading was in prison. I read a novel by Donald Goines. Favourites? I’d have to say Don Winslow and Frank Bill. Lately, I really enjoy reading crime fiction at Punk Noir Magazine, Flash Fiction Offensive, and Shotgun Honey. I really enjoy short stories by Morgan Boyd and Tom Leins.

 

JW: What makes a good pulp/crime novel?

RR: In my opinion a good pulp/crime novel has a good story line, characterizations, and mystery involving anti-heroes dealing with violent situations.

 

JW: Any favourite noir films?

RR: Reservoir Dogs, and Training Day. One of my favourite crime stories was HBO’s The Wire.

 

JW: Besides writing crime noir, Robert, you also write poems. What may inspire you to write? 

RR: Personal life experiences, conversations with people from different walks of life, dreams, and music; countless things can inspire me.

 

JW: Could you tell us what your next book will be, Robert? Any future plans and projects?

RR: I like writing in a number of different genres. Crime Fiction, Horror, Comedy, even stories with romantic elements. I don’t exactly know what direction I’m going in next but it will definitely be a short story collection.

 

Bio: Robert Ragan from Lillington NC lives his life for art and writing. He has stories and poetry online at Vext Magazine, Outlaw Poetry, The Dope Fiend Daily, The Rye Whiskey Review, Drinkers Only, Under The Bleachers, Cajun Mutt Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Synchronized Chaos, Terror House Magazine, and Rust Belt Review, Horror Sleeze Trash. Alien Budha Press has published his short story collection “Mannequin Legs and Other Tales”

Bio: John Wisniewski is a writer who resides in NY. He has written for the LA Review of Books, AMFM magazine, and Perfect Sounds Forever. This is his first article with Punk Noir.

Dietrich Kalteis Interviews Paul D. Brazill

Dietrich Kalteis, Interviews, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine
dietrich k

Punk Noir Magazine hovers in the shadows of the late lamented Pulp Metal Magazine. It’s an online arts and entertainment magazine that looks at the world at its most askew, casting a bloodshot eye over films, music, television and more. There are interviews, reviews, news, poetry, fiction, micro fiction, and flash fiction.

Punk Noir’s editor Paul D. Brazill is a talented writer whose books include Last Year’s Man, A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton, and Kill Me Quick. He was born in England and lives in Poland, and his writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. He’s also been published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.

Dietrich: First off, Paul, the new magazine really is all things noir: movie reviews, book reviews and excerpts, radio, opinions, advice, music, even poetry. And with some highly talented writers weighing in. Please tell us about the direction you have planned for it?

PDB: All of the above and a whole lot more! The world is our lobster. We are your huckleberry! I’m interested in and enjoy a wide range of things that fall under the arts and entertainment umbrella, as are most people, I think. I didn’t see any reason to limit what goes up on the site to fiction or non-fiction. We’re all 21st century boys and girls, after all.

Dietrich: What type of submissions are you mainly looking for?

PDB: For non-fiction, I’m more interested in enthusiasms. If something – a film, a song, a beer, for example- really blows your skirt up, then write it up and send it my way. For fiction, I think flash fiction works best, as do novel excerpts. Poetry in nice and punchy too.

Dietrich: What is punk noir exactly?

PDB: Both punk and noir are words that have been so overused and misused that they pretty much mean nothing now. They’re random adjectives that are regularly added in a scattershot way, so combining them allows a lot of scope for the site. No sense? Nonsense!

Dietrich: Do you think there’s a growing interest and fascination with noir and crime fiction?

PDB: In Europe, crime fiction is a massive seller, for sure – mostly police procedurals. On TV too. They’re great comforters.  But ‘true noir’ with regard to Jim Thompson, Derek Raymond, Patricia Highsmith et al, not really. As I’ve said before, crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos, and noir is about bringing chaos to order- maybe the real world is chaotic enough for most people.

Dietrich: In your own writing which has been referred to as brit grit and punk noir, you seem drawn to music and humor mixed into your writing. What is it that makes it work?

PDB: Well, it certainly doesn’t work for everyone or I’d sell more books! But you can only be your own judge. I write what tickles my fancy in the hope that other people enjoy it. And some do, if not many.

Dietrich: Who has influenced your writing over the years?

PDB: Television, songs, books, comics, films, the music press, jokes, people – a veritable cornucopia of odds and sods!

Dietrich: So, what’s up next?

PDB: Well, the main focus for the next couple of months is getting posts up at Punk Noir Magazine, and there’s some good stuff coming up too, I can tell you.  For me, I’ve stories in a couple anthologies that will be published in the next few months, and I’m plodding away with the writing, as per usual. I’ll probably have a couple more books out next year.

Thanks for the interview!

This interview first appeared at Dietrich’s blog.

Cullen Gallagher interviews Paul D. Brazill

Cullen Gallagher, Flash Fiction, Interviews, Music, Non-fiction, Paul D. Brazill, Polski Noir, post punk, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine, Vic Godard

Long ago, I interviewed one of my favorite noir writers, Paul D. Brazill, about his then-recent novella, Kill Me Quick! Whether it was fate, circumstance, or just laziness, Pulp Serenade sort of faded away and I shamefully did not publish the interview. Now, years later, I’m trying to make amends. Paul was kind enough to update the interview with a little bit about his newest work, Last Year’s Man, as well as a short story, “No One is Innocent” (published over at Retreats from Oblivion).

Your story “No One is Innocent” was later incorporated into the novel, Big City Blues. Can you tell us a little bit about Big City Blues and how the short story found its way into a longer work?

With Big City Blues I wanted to have a bundle of OTT characters collide in London. The blurb says: ‘British coppers, an American private eye, London gangsters, international spies, and a serial killer known as The Black Crow all collide violently and hilariously in Big City Blues.’ I changed the main characters from No One Is Innocent a bit to fit in with the bigger story.

The jukebox in “No One is Innocent” plays Jane Morgan’s “The Day the Rains Came.” If you could program your perfect bar jukebox, what would be on it?

There are far too many to choose from but any jukebox without Tom Waits, Sinatra and Dusty Springfield isn’t a real jukebox.

Last Year’s Man is your new novel, what’s it about and what inspired you to write it?

A troubled, ageing hit man leaves London and returns to his hometown in the north east of England hoping for peace. But the ghosts of his past return to haunt him. I always liked the idea of the comedian Tony Hancock as a hit man or gangster and Last Year’s Man is my stab at that.

The setting of Kill Me Quick! is Seatown, a shithole town populated by has-beens, screw-ups, and half-assed ex-musicians who never made it. Is this place for real, or what inspired it?

 
Seatown is a grotesque version of my home town, Hartlepool, and the areas around the town. A lot of it is based on real people and real situations but by throwing them all together at one time it makes the quirky sides of the town seem all the more bizarre. There are, of course, lots of normal people doing normal things in Hartlepool but there’s no fun in writing about them.
There are so many great details about the life of a musician, from grimy bars to band breakups to business scams. This isn’t even the glitter and glam of VH1 Behind the Music, but the real-deal grit. What is your own background in music, and did any of the details come your own musical experiences?
My oldest brother was a musician who mostly played in hotel bars, working men’s clubs, on cruise ships and the like. I played in a couple of post- punk bands. I’ve been around musicians of various shades of success all of my life.  Many musicians’ reach exceeds their grasp and vice versa, so it can have a tragi-comic aspect to it that suits my spin on noir.
Lots of music is referenced through the book, including Tom Waits, Julie London, Fairport Convention, and John Martyn, but none is so surprising as Dire Straits. This must be the first noir book to mention that band. You describe them as the sound of gloom. Do you really hate Dire Straits that much, and just what is so bleak about them to your ears?
I don’t mind them in small amounts, to be honest. Knopfler is a very tasty guitarist. Never been a fan. They signify a certain pastel cloured, ’80s, hotel bar corporate rock sound, though.
 
More than a couple people are wearing Doc Martens. What’s the cultural significance, and do you still have a pair yourself?
I haven’t worn Doc Martin boots in my life! Not with my feet! They are very Brit Grit, though. Like Fred Perry, Carry On Films and marmite.
One of your characters defines irony as “when the audience knows more about what’s happening than a character and knows that the character’s making a mistake.” So, do you think all noir is inherently ironic?
As I’ve said before, I think noir has a lot in common with slapstick, in that the characters are on the verge of falling down a metaphorical manhole all the time. They usually think they know what’s going on but haven’t a clue!
Apparently no good shows happen in Seatown any more … so tell me, what’s the best and worst shows you’ve ever seen?
Gang Of 4 at Middlesbrough Rock Garden, Magazine at Redcar Coatham Bowl, Ennio Morricone at the Barbican Centre, Lyle Lovitt ant Hammersmith Apollo were all great. Both times I saw Kinky Friedman. Both times I saw the Subway Sect. Leeds Futurama Festival in 1979 – Joy Division, the Fall etc. I don’t remember the crap ones: enough with those negative waves, Moriarty!
Give me some music recommendations! What are some of the best British punk bands that people don’t talk about as much as they should?
Although British punk was about re-inventing rock muic, some of the best bands were the ones that were anti- rock. Subway Sect, The Prefects, ATV. They had a different approach to music and lyrics.
One of your characters says, “Democracy drags things down to the level of the lowest common denominator. In music, that’s usually the bass player.” Why does everyone always make fun of bassists? 
I used to play bass, so … It does seem that bass players are not so much the ugly friend but the mousey one you always forget about. There are many exceptions of course: Barry Adamson, Bootsy Collins, for example.
 

Shifting gears, I have some questions about other projects … Roman Dalton, werewolf P.I., began as one of your stories, but now other writers are taking a spin with the character. Why open it up to other writers, and what’s it like seeing other people use your character?

I actually thought the Dalton world was a good one that I didn’t have the ability to exploit fully. Letting someone like Allan Leverone or Matt Hilton take a bite of it put more meat on its bones, he says mixing metaphors.
 
What’s this about the Polski Noir project on your website? Who does the translating?
Polski Noir is a webzine where flash fiction in English is translated into Polish. The translations are done by my friend Marta Crickmar and her students. Writers published so far include Patti Abbot, Richard Godwin, K A Laity.

What are you working on now? Any upcoming publications you can share with us? Small Town Crimes is a flash fiction and short story collection that will be out from Near To The Knuckle at the end of the month. I’ve just finished a follow up to Last Year’s Man. It’s called “The Iceman Always Rings Twice.”

“The Iceman Always Rings Twice!” That’s a great title. Do you come up with titles before you start writing?
That title was suggested by Daniel Moses Luft on Facebook when he found out I’d written a yarn called “The Postman Cometh.”

 

This interview first appeared at PULP SERENADE.

Pulp Serenade Banner Sept 2015

A New Punk Noir Interview

Dietrich Kalteis, Interviews, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine

I recently had an ‘Off The Cuff’ chat about Punk Noir Magazine with crime fiction author Dietrich Kalteis. 

‘Dietrich: What is punk noir exactly?

PDB: Both punk and noir are words that have been so overused and misused that they pretty much mean nothing now. They’re random adjectives that are regularly added in a scattershot way, so combining them allows a lot of scope for the site. No sense? Nonsense!’