Friday, November 30, 2012

The Previous Little Thing

By Russel D Mclean

Yeah, we’re all being lazy this week.  But since I was tagged ages ago by the awesome Zoe Venditozzi and have now been retagged again in the DSD next big thing week, I figured I might as well finally answer these questions and become part of an internet meme.

It seems most people I would tag or who I would expect to respond have done so. But I invite you, freely, to take this meme and run with it. With my blessings.

So without further ado, here’s a little bit that also serves as the public airing for the potential title of the next McNee novel (release date currently uncertain so hold yer horses):

• What is the working title of your next book?
Mothers of the Disappeared

(the title was given to me by the awesome Canadian author Sandra Ruttan a few years back, although the proposed book was utterly different in form then but now the title fits better)

• Where did the idea come from for the book?
Probably the ideas shop. Ha!

No, each McNee book furthers a background story while dealing with its own central crime. In this case, I was intrigued by the idea that an apparent victim of a crime would eventually come to believe the person arrested and charged with committing it may in fact be innocent. It’s a pretty horrific crime, and the whole moral quandary that erupts felt perfect for throwing in McNee’s path as he’s dealing with some fallout from the last few books.

• What genre does your book fall under?
Romantic cosy? Science fiction adventure comedy musical tragic romance?

Or hardboiled?

Yeah, guess I’m going with hardboiled crime.

• What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Ones who show up in front of the camera and remember their lines.

I still maintain that in an ideal world the recurring villain of the McNee novels would be played by Dundee’s own brilliant Brian Cox. The rest of the cast is up for grabs, though, especially McNee.

• What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Bad shit happens, some of it to good people.
(I really can’t give away much of the plot just now - - I can’t until its in a readable form and in front of my agent and publisher’s eyes, but trust me its there and its beautifully brutal)

• Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m pretty traditional about my novels. Why? I like working with authors. Despite egomaniac ideals to the contrary, no book is actually written by one person. You need those other professional eyes on it, too.

• How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Three months. But then, writing is easy: rewriting’s where things get tricky. And long.

• What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Good ones, I hope.

I guess if you dig PI novels by guys like Ross MacDonald, Lawrence Block and George Pelecanos, but wish they wrote about Scotland, you might get a kick out of what I’m trying to do (but they’re all so much better at it than I am, except for the Scottish stuff).

• Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The promise of an advance. Even if it is a small one.

That and I love writing. Adore the process. If I hadn’t done this one, I’d have done something else.

• What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There’s some good old fashioned violence and swearing in there, alongside some real painful emotional stuff. And since it’s the fourth act of five in an on-going story, reader’s who’ve been along with ride since THE GOOD SON should hopefully be put through the ringer. In a good way.

Oh, and if you do read this (or any of my books) you will get a warm fuzzy feeling inside from knowing that I get to eat another meal thanks to you. And doesn’t that warm your cockles and pique your interest?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Jay Stringer's Next Thing

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Why, thank you for asking. I assume, of course, you're asking me about RUNAWAY TOWN, which is due from Thomas & Mercer on March 26th? Well, it's working title was, "this second book needs a title." But then I listened to a Replacements song, as I do whenever I'm stuck, and it all came together.
2) Where did the idea come from?
I've still got four months to think of all the really good lies, so for now I'll say it came from the need for the Miller trilogy to have a second act, and because of a mix of social issues I wanted to write about and crime fiction habits that bugged me. 

3) What genre does your book fall under?
It's crime. It's also a mystery, and a modern urban tale. Interestingly though, I wrote this before I found out what everyone else already knew -that Pluto was no longer a planet- so this book is set in a solar system with nine planets. So it's also science fiction.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in
a movie rendition?
What, you want me to read the book to you, too? No, sorry, I expect my readers to do some of the work themselves. Pick your own cast.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Gangland Detective Eoin Miller has been keeping out of the game, working on recovering from a knife attack and avoiding his addictions, but he gets pulled back in by an explosive new case.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Can agented authors not self pub? Sorry. Being a dick comes so naturally to me. The book is proudly represented by Stacia Decker and the Donald Maass Literary Agency, and published by Thomas & Mercer. I may have put the 'proudly' bit in myself.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
Seven or Eight months.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Kindly reviewers have compared my previous Miller book to Lawrence Block and George Pelecanos. But I think I should leave comparisons to other people, because I only have my own book in mind when I'm writing. I will say it's both similar too, and a departure from, Old Gold. 

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
That's one of those things I've not got a good enough answer for yet.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Howsabout the longer pitch; Still recovering from the physical and mental scars of Old Gold, gangland detective Eoin Miller has been staying out of the game. When local crime boss Veronica Gaines comes to him with a new case, talking of a rapist targeting the vulnerable immigrant community, Miller's Romani blood won't say 'no'. Miller's attempts to find the attacker lead him into a moral maze of betrayal, corruption, racism and revenge. Is there a difference between punishment and justice? Who decides? When figures from his past step back into his life, with questions of loyalty and family ties, he has to fight to keep his life from falling apart under the weight of his obligations. 

Or I could tease you with the fact that I've just written the final chapter of the Miller trilogy. I know how it ends and you don't, nananananana.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Steve Weddle's NEXT BIG THING

By Steve Weddle

Yesterday, we learned of Dave White's Next Big Thing. The day before we learned what Snubnosers have cooking. Today it's my turn, thanks to the uber-talented Thomas Pluck, the force behind the LOST CHILDREN anthos.

So, my turn to say some stuff about what I'm working on. OK.

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Trimalchio in Shreveport

2) Where did the idea come from?

My psychiatrists suggested this as a form of constructive therapy. They've proven to be right on pretty much everything except the apology letter to that nice author I seem to have accidentally offended a few months ago with a blog post. Other than that, they're batting a thousand.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Your question amuses me, but I am far too cool for labels. Pestering authors about the "genre" of a novel is so gauche.

3) b) But you're just a writer, not an author.

Sod off.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The lead is a handsome ginger in his early 30s, so maybe Robert Redford from 60 years ago. Or maybe that guy who was in Hitchhiker's Guide and The Office. I like him, but I don't think he's a ginger. Also, I do not know much about movies, but people keep talking about the Cohen brothers. I don't know what they've acted in, but maybe one of them. They seem popular.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

After a lapse in judgment nearly cost him his marketing career, Alex Jackson returns to Shreveport to help resurrect a dying strip club, prevent a political disaster that could destroy his company, and convince his high school crush that he's now boyfriend material, all while avoiding the help of his mother, who just wants "what's best" for him.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 

Whatever the agent says.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Ask me when I'm done. I got a boost from NaNoWriMo, but it's gonna be a while yet.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It's like Fletch meets The Gold Bug Variations, with some of the lighter parts of Cormac McCarthy's The Road thrown in.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Please refer to my answer to Question The Second. Also, the stubborn refusal of my insurance company to continue its coverage of pharmaceutical options.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

One reader? Seriously? Not "readers'" ? Shit.

Dave White's Next Big Thing

By Steve Weddle

So there's this NEXT BIG THING meme going around in which authors tag each other (heh) with ten questions. Since Dave White is out today and my answers are set for tomorrow, I figured I'd answer for Dave today. You're welcome, big fella. 

1) What is the working title of your next book?


2) Where did the idea come from?

I was emailing with Sarah Weinman and Jason Pinter one night and we decided it would be neat.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Mystery/Thriller/College Romance/Craft Beer/Noir

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I picture a young James Gandolfini (Rutgers, 83) for the lead and Calista Flockhart (Rutgers, 88) as the love interest.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When an assistant basketball coach discovers a new recipe for India Pale Ale worth killing for, his life turns into one big fast break of terror.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My first two novels, WHEN ONE MAN DIES and THE EVIL THAT MEN DO, were published by a major house and well received.I independently published WITNESS TO DEATH, my most recent novel.That one was called one of the best dozen crime novels of the year.

Whether it's independently published or one of the major offerings from a big house, I hope people enjoy reading it.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Well, I've been thinking about some of the aspects of the novel for a long time. The actual sitting down and writing has been about a year so far.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

It's a bit like a Spenser novel. One of the good ones.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

To be honest, it was DSD's own Steve Weddle. Hearing him go on and on about writing is kind of like seeing an eighth grader try to dunk a basketball. At some point, you just want to show the kid how it's done.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

I've created Twitter accounts for all the characters and the last page of the novel will be a recipe for the craft beer featured in the story.

Monday, November 26, 2012

10 questions about your next book meme starring the Snubnose Press players

The Do Some Damage crew was asked to consider participating in a meme that's floating around where authors answer ten questions about the project that they're working on.  I believe that some of the other DSD'ers are going to participate during the week.  Since I'm the only non-writer of the group I asked some of the Snubnose Press authors to answer the questions.  Below are their answers. 

Jedidiah Ayres is the author of the short story collection A F*ckload of Shorts

1) What is the working title of your next book?

I’m open to suggestions

2) Where did the idea come from?

The collected anecdotes of a friend of mine who survived a few crazy years working in a kitchen in a ridiculously, comically corrupt river town.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Crime? Sure, but not really a thriller. Coming of age? Okay, but don’t expect to take away many valuable lessons. Drug Novel? Maybe. But without all the boring-ass cleaning-up or blacking-out bits.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in the movie rendition?

The ones that like getting naked a lot.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This book could’ve been titled Hunter S. Thompson’s Kitchen Confidential, but that’s not the vibe I’m shooting for.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It won’t be self-published. I’m not represented by an agency. Dear agency, would you like to represent me?

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Kiss my ass.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmmmm… Ask the Dust meets Trainspotting by way of The Andy Griffith Show? Now and On Earth thumbs a ride through a Controlled Burn On the Road? The Wanderers join Sailor & Lula for a swim through The Shark-Infested Custard? Katja From the Punk Band decided that You Can’t Win when she tried to Steal This Book and reaped The Ice Harvest?

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My buddy. In fact, we’re collaborating. He just had an amazing collection of true stories that were begging to be strung together and teased into a novel.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Sex. Drug-dealing. Gun-running. Cooking. Molotov Cocktails. Sex. Fisticuffs. Baseball-bat-icuffs. Bikers. My smooth-ass prose. The author’s recently leaked celebrity sex tape.

Court Merrigan is the author of the collection Moondog Over the Mekong.
1) What is the working title of your next book?

The Three Days and Nights of Lamar Tilden

2) Where did the idea come from?

Frustration? It just seemed like it had been a long time since I had had a good, novel-length idea, so I sat in a chair, goddammit, until I had one.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Crime & suspense & noir.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Billy Bob Thornton would be the title character, Meryl Streep for Lamar Tilden's wife Mary Leigh, Clint Eastwood would be Lamar's father, Phillip Seymour Hoffman would be Holt Marsh, Sean Penn would be the priest, and then, you know, since I'm dreaming, I'd give a bunch of unknowns their first shot at being the minor characters. I like unknowns, being one myself.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Someone else has always run farmer Lamar Tilden's life, but when Holt Marsh jibes him a bit too far inside a grain bin, Lamar buries him in corn. Now he has three days to set a lifetime of cheek-turning to rights before the trucks empty the bin, Holt's body clumps to the bottom, and a cell slams shut on Lamar forever.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

An agency, I hope. Seeking representation as we speak.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

It's not done yet, but I'm aiming for an even three months.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I came up with the idea while reading Mystic River by Dennis Lehane and The 25th Hour by David Benioff, so those books will have their artful fingerprints all over The Three Days and Nights of Lamar Tilden. In its final form, I'll also be proud if the book bears some resemblance to Nate Flexer's criminally under-appreciated The Disassembled Man and also Les Edgerton's The Bitch, both wonderful noir portraits of villainous minds in fierce decline. If I get really lucky, there will also be shades of Frank Bill's Crimes in Southern Indiana and everything by Daniel Woodrell.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

What if you committed the ultimate crime and didn't run? What if you stayed to face down a lifetime of meekness? And what if you had three days to do it? Wyobraska farmer Lamar Tilden is about to find out.

Ryan Sayles is the author of The Subtle Art of Brutality & Brian Panowich is the author of numerous stories.
1) What is the working title of your next book?

C'mon and Do the Apocalypse! - co-written with Brian Panowich

2) Where did the idea come from?

Panowich did an interview with a horror website where he said he's like to see John Wayne take on the zombie apocalypse. That got me thinking and I Facebook'ed him about writing that story and I'd write one and we'd bundle them together like a split record the old punk and hardcore bands used to do. He wound up writing another thing entirely but the project is up, getting ready to launch.

Panowich says -  Ryan Sayles called me up one day with the idea of doing a flip book in the vein of the old '90s IMAGE comics, where a story was featured on both sides of the book. Read one, flip it over to read the other one. The comic book nerd in me loved the idea, and any reason to ride Ryan's coattails worked for me. We thought Zombies would be a good place to start.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Noir and horror. Panowich's story is about a good man trying to keep his friends and family alive during the opening minutes of the apocalypse and mine is about a douche bag who has learned how to capitalize on running a harem of zombies until hippies show up. And as usual, hippies bring carnage and mayhem.

Panowich says - Warped Necro Erotica. Or maybe Self Help.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Eric Roberts would be my lead. All the way. A much fatter, greasier version of Doug Hutchinson (Percy Wetmore from The Green Mile) would be the john named Angelou, and then two smelly hippies would be the hippies.

Panowich says - My half of the book is called My Wife Dawn...And The Dead and I think I should be self-cast in every part. Like a skinny tattooed Nutty Professor but badass. Of course Sayles would be cast as My Wife Dawn.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Two of the greatest noir writers the world has ever seen take on a much-ignored topic: zombies.

Panowich says -  Come On Do The Apocalypse: The new greatest story ever told.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self. We just want it out there.

Panowich says - We're playing that one close to the chest, but I'll give you this. Two words. Bidding. War.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

A week. Each of our stories is about 15K words. It took each of us about a week for the draft.

Panowich says - Over breakfast, the morning of the deadline.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Well... none really. They fall squarely into the zombie genre. Panowich's is fairly close-quartered--inside a house--and mine takes place on a farm. The scale for these isn't too grand, but this is something he and I are going to keep doing and the next ones will be bigger in scope from what it sounds like.

Panowich says - That's a ridiculous question. Clearly this is groundbreaking stuff. No comparisons can be made.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I know I enjoy the mindless horror aspect of zombies. They're everywhere nowadays. And I love writing slaughterfest-type things. So for me, after reading Panowich's horror interview  I immediately started thinking about it. Then I couldn't think of anything else. I have a fairy-tale/zombie story up at Amazon called "Straw House, Stick House, Brick House, Slaughter House" where a fairy makes her living cleaning up zombie infestations and gets hired to protect the three little pigs from the Big Bad Wolf. The BBW has decided his final solution to getting the pigs is sell his soul for the power to command a zombie horde. So there's that, which greased the wheels for me doing zombie stuff.

Panowich says - Like most things I write, my motivation was simply to impress Ryan. That and the fact that my wife Dawn deserves libraries full of books written about her. She's gorgeous, smart, funny as hell, and the only person I'd want next to me during a battle with hordes of the undead.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

We've created a single universe for all this to take place inside. It's the first volume of any number of stories we'll generate over the coming years. Panowich lined up a great artist to do the cover so all in all we've got a good package.

Panowich says - Not to give too much away, but your going to want to get in on this from the ground floor. Buy this book for a chance to say you knew us back in the day, before the movies, the TV spin-offs, the scandals, or the eventual prophesies. Put away your inhibitions, and Join me and my comrade Ryan down the path to enlightenment. Take your first step into our future, put your right foot in and Come on, Do The Apocalypse.

Tom Pitts is the author of Piggyback

1) What is the working title of your next book?  


2) Where did the idea come from?

I was thinking about how modern technology could play into the age-old scenario of the hooker who blackmails the john

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Fiction or crime/fiction or thriller.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I don’t know. I’ve been asked this question before about other stuff of mine. I’m not the type to envision an actor as a character in my work. To me, it kind of locks the character into a box I’m not comfortable with. It’s a bit like watching an animated movie when you know who is doing the voices. When that happens, it’s tough to get Ray Romano’s face out of your head while you watch the wooly mammoth.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When two young hustlers, caught in an endless cycle of addiction and prostitution, decide to blackmail an elderly client of theirs, they find that their victim has already been targeted by a much more sinister force.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s been queried to a few agents. We’ll see how it goes. The first one said the characters were far too “unsavory”, which I took as a great compliment. I knew then I was definitely on to something.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

About four months at about three hours a day, four days a week (on a good week.) It eclipsed all my other writing. I love that time when your only focus is to push a story forward.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I have no idea. Isn’t that the point, to try to come up with something original? If there is something like it out there, the few people who have read the first draft couldn’t come up with any comparisons.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When I down and out and living in the street, I saw the hustlers working up on Polk and Sutter in San Francisco and always wondered what drove them. What they did gave me the shutters. They were sickly and dangerous-looking, the epitome of sleaze. Damaged individuals living in a depraved world. Even in my state of eroded morals, they were gone, so much further down the path of no return. They were true nihilists, living for the next fix and waiting to die. I thought maybe there was a story there, something horrifying, yet realistic. It started out as an idea for a longer short, maybe a novella, but then it the story took over and it kept going.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

The tale is definitely not for everyone. When Joe Clifford read it, he said he had to take a shower afterword. It’s disturbing to say the least. But if you like your stories rough and sleazy and full of violence, then this one is for you.

And … you’ll never wear a lobster bib again without thinking of Hustle.

Craig Wallwork is the author of To Die Upon a Kiss, forthcoming from Snubnose Press.

1) What is the working title of your next book?

The Sound of Loneliness.

2) Where did the idea come from?

I had fallen on that old writer’s adage of “write about what you know”.  The problem I found was I knew very little.  The only reoccurring themes I could draw upon in my life was the fallacy of love and the pain of loneliness, both of which I had either witnessed growing up, or experienced firsthand.  The second problem I encountered was that all the novels I had read at the time dealt with these issues by burying the suffering under subtext or metaphor.  It appeared to me there was a lot of talk but no one was actually saying anything.  Then, while holidaying in Greece one year, my wife found an old tatty paperback of John Fante’s Ask the Dust in a cafe.  She read it and said I would like it because it was a novel with balls.  I didn’t know anything about Fante, but in that book he taught me how to deliver raw emotion, to offer words that on paper were so brutalised you couldn’t help look upon them with sadness and empathy.  Had it not been for authors like Fante and Knut Hamsun, the bones of an idea about a lonely man searching for love in a hostile town would have remained stripped of its flesh.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

 Underbelly fiction.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Adrien Brody in the lead of Daniel Crabtree because he looks emaciated and vulnerable, even though he is always in good health.  My knowledge of English female actresses of around 15 years of age is limited, and I think that’s a good thing.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

“Amidst the clamour of life, the sound of loneliness is the most deafening of all.”

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The book has been picked up by an independent press called Perfect Edge Books and will be released on January 25th 2013.  They have an awesome list of authors attached to the label including Andrez Bergen, Caleb J Ross, Nik Korpon, Michael Gonzales, Amy Biddle, Christopher Dywer and Anthony David Jacques.  We’re all very excited about its future.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

The first draft came quick.  Probably around 6 months, which when you’re working a full time job and trying to withhold your grasp on sanity as well as being a dutiful husband, is a quick turnaround.  But that first draft was essentially a pastiche of Fante and Hamsun, with elements of Bukowski thrown in.  It was honest, but the narrative was too antiquated to sound believable.  It got a few rejections based on this.  I guess I was just exhausted with it and put it under the bed and wrote something else.  It was almost three years before I looked at the manuscript again, and like the pain of being dumped by a lover who treated you unfairly but you were too blind to see it at the time, the distance allowed me to understand the error of my ways.  Several revisions came after, and a few more during the editing phase.  It is now a solid little novel that I’m hoping will stand the test of time.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

As mentioned before, Ask the Dust by John Fante and Knut Hamsun’s HungerHating Olivia by Mark SaFranko and some of the novels by Dan Fante (John’s son) like Mooch, Chump Change and Spitting Off Tall Buildings influenced the rhythm and brought the “voice” of the narrator more into the 21st century.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My family, my hometown, the people I met while boozing in the pubs, poverty, the need for change, the shit on the streets, the blood in my mouth, pregnant clouds, pregnant teenagers, the stench of stale ale and the hunger in my stomach, all were seeds planted in the allotment of my mind and blossomed and took macabre forms that were eventually rendered out on the page.  Writing this novel was more an exorcism than a biography.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Regardless of what I’ve said, this is a very funny book.   I wrote it very much like a person delivering an anecdote of a terrible incident: at the time, when living out the scenario, humour is far from your mind, but in retrospect, having lived through the experience, the details are delivered in a much more light-hearted manner.  The Sound of Loneliness is essentially about a man who went through hell just to offer a joke to the world.

Aaron Philip Clark is the author of The Science of Paul and A Healthy Fear of Man

1) What is the working title of your next book?

The Furious Kind

2) Where did the idea come from?

A true story a friend told me about the 1985 death of an undocumented worker in Los Angeles and the police officer who helped cover it up.

3) What genre does your book fall under?


4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Edward James Olmos, Naya Rivera, John C. McGinley, and Paul Wesley

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A young woman seeks retribution for her mother’s murder and subsequent cover up with the help of a retired mob enforcer.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m not sure yet.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

I’m still writing (not enough time in the day).

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Bitter Fruit: A Novel by Achmatt Dangor

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The city of Los Angeles and Los Angeles history inspired me to write this novel.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

The characters are rather brazen and its likely the most hard-boiled novel I’ve written to date.

Todd Morr is the author of Captain Cooker
1) What is the working title of your next book?

Jesus Saves, Satan Invests is nearly done, and I’m working on another Cooke novel with the working title Best Laid Plans of Idiots and F*ckups

2) Where did the idea come from?

I wish I knew so I could visit more often.  I honestly do not remember when the first idea for either of these two stories began.  As with anything I’ve ever done, it starts with the first chapter which was written with little or no idea what was going to happen next.   Most ideas are found while running or driving my fairly long commute.  Some of my best ideas have come on hot days when I decide to run eight miles but only have six in me.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Crime is a major part of both books and all the major characters are criminals in some sense, so crime makes sense.  Snubnose  Press called Captain Cooker noir-boiled, so I would go with that.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

For JSSI I always picture Linda Hamilton circa Terminator 2, eighties Michael Bien would have a role too, and I could even picture a character as pre-governor Arnold.  Since this casting would require a time machine,  Gina Carano might work, Angelina Jolie, a Demi Moore comeback vehicle, or Jennifer Lopez just because she was good as Karen Sisco in Out of Sight. Since I don’t have that time machine to pick up Escape from New York era Kurt Russell, I suppose Michael Madsen would work for Best laid Plans.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

JSSI - It started with a message on her answering machine; ‘Jesus saves Satan invests’ and Janet, living comfortably off the spoils of her ill-gotten gain as the centerpiece of a blackmail ring, did  not need to know the caller was currently sharing trunk space with a fresh corpse to know it meant trouble.

Best Laid Plans - While in jail, thrill seeking, would be Robin Hood,  and home invader Chase needs Cooke’s help to protect both his money and his sister.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I do not have an agent; ideally I will be working with Snubnose Press again.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

JSSI – about two months, this is fast for me.  Of course, I wrote the first draft a while ago so subsequent drafts have taken longer.   Best Laid Plans is still in progress, but the first chapter was written in January 2012.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

JSSI – Thomas Perry’s Jane Whitefield novels, Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard  just for the Karen Sisco  character), Kick Ass (think a grown up Hit Girl).

Best Laid Plans - It’s not a heist, but it definitely involves a caper, so Richard Stark’s Parker novels come to mind, though that is probably wishful thinking on my part.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Once I’ve started a book the desire to see how the story ends, since I have yet to start a story knowing how things will play out.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

JSSI –Corrupt cops, outlaw bikers,  strippers, grifters, guns, car chases, explosions, and a door to door salesman.

Best Laid Plans – more fun and violence with Cooke.

Joe Clifford is the author of the collection Choice Cuts

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Lamentation.  Which is the name of the bridge in my small Northern New Hampshire town.

2) Where did the idea come from?

Jerry Sandusky.  Sort of.  It's really the story of two brothers.  But the Sandusky case provided me with a background and the plot to tell that story.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Commercial mystery/thriller

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Excellent question!  And, sadly, one I've already considered (I tend to picture my novels in terms of cinema).  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Guy Pearce, Frank Langella

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book

In Northern New England, Jay Porter encounters a mysterious hard drive, and is forced to confront his parents' death and estranged brother's addiction--delivering him to the dark heart of a small town's shocking secret.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I am going back into the agent pool for this one.  I had an agent before but got frustrated by the process.  I think this book is more commercially viable.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Couple months.  Hit a hot streak and rode it out.  Although that first draft was primarily an outline (like most first drafts).

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hilary Davidson's Damage Done, Scott Smith's A Simple Plan, maybe a little Winter's Bone, Russell Banks's Affliction.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I've been trying to write the story of my brother and me for years.  I was just about done with the draft when I read Davidson's The Damage Done and its sequel, The Next One to Fall, which I felt gave me follow through with my vision.  Both Davidson books are terrific, with real mainstream appeal, something I deeply admire and aspire toward.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

I work hard to be accessible.  I think of the parts of books that bore me.  And then try not to do that.

J.A. Kazimer is the author of Froggy Style, Shank, and the forthcoming Snubnose Press release, Dope Sick: A Love Story

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Unhappiest Place on Earth

2) Where did the idea come from?

My strong-dislike of Disneyland.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Romantic suspense

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Mila Kunis and David Austin Green

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When CIA assassin, Hannah Winslow, mistakenly kills the wrong target, she vows never to take another life, and leaves everything she loves behind to start a new life, a dull life complete with a fake identity, an overweight cat, and a new career bringing sexy back to the bottled water industry, but her former partner, Benjamin Miller has other plans for Hannah's retirement that includes multiple murders. (Yes, that is one heck of a long sentence).

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?


7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Working on it since September 2010. Just finished the first draft in October.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to write something different, in a different genre than I'm used to.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Lots of sex scenes, plus I reveal the secret to immortality. Here's a hint, try not to die.


Currently reading: 18 Days by Allen Miles

Sunday, November 25, 2012

So you've written a book....

By: Joelle Charbonneau

NaNoWriMo is almost over.  For those keeping score, by the end of today, those participating in National Novel Writing Month are hoping to have almost 42,000 words done by the end of today.  When the month is over, those who have been successful in their goal will have 50,000 words completed….depending on whether this is a novella or a novel or if the project was started before the month long challenge, you may or may not have completed a book.  However, regardless of whether THE END is just days away or a month or two off – CONGRATS!  You’ve written a book.  That’s an awesome accomplishment.  Every year I hear people around me talk about sitting down to write a book.  Very few ever accomplish that goal.  So regardless of when THE END comes – celebrate!  You’ve earned it. 

So, you’ve written a book.  Now what?

Well, without knowing what you want out of your writing career, I can only offer suggestions as to what not to do.   

Here goes: 

1)      Do not - Immediately start querying agents with the book you just completed. 

Why?  Well, in the first place, all writers need to reread and edit their work.  It doesn’t matter how great you are at your craft, there will be plotlines to tighten, character arcs to round out and sometimes whole scenes to scrap.  Never submit something you haven’t taken the time to polish.  

Second, industry professionals get thousands of submissions during the months of December and January from NaNoWriMo writers who are so excited to finish writing that they start querying before they’ve taken the time to polish their work.  Because of this, most agents are going to assume that a great number of the queries they receive aren’t for manuscripts that have been carefully revised, but instead are from authors still celebrating their THE END accomplishment.   

Revise and then wait until February until you submit so you don’t get lumped in with other writers who didn’t take the time to polish.  (You also don’t want to get grouped with the writers who make a resolution to finally submit that novel…which is why I suggest you wait until a month into the New Year.)

2)      Do not - Assume that your book is going to sell for big money and change your life.

Trust me—most authors never quit their day job.  A lot of genre fiction reaps advances of between $3,000-$10,000 a book.  Not exactly retirement money.   Make sure your goals are not set so high that you will fail even if you succeed. 

3)      Do not - Immediately self-publish your book. 

I think self-publishing is a wonderful option for a great number of writers.  It provides a platform for backlist books as well as for novelists who have chosen for a variety of reasons to not traditionally publish.  (ie: book is too unusual, couldn’t find the right agent, the market is trending away from the topic so publishers aren’t interested, etc…etc…etc…)  However, while self-publishing is a great avenue for authors, it is also a seductively dangerous one.  All you have to do is format and upload to the publishing platforms and voila – you are published!  Immediate gratification after all those days of typing away in front of your computer screen.

However, while the rush you feel running around the house in your bunny slippers screaming “I’m published” is exhilarating, the after effects of the decision to upload your book will resonate long after that celebratory cheer has ended.  If you price your book correctly and market it well, people will buy it.  They’ll read it.  They’ll judge you—the writer—based on what they read.  Take care in making sure the product is the best one you can produce.  Edit.  Proofread.  Have someone else edit and proofread.  Design a kick-butt cover – don’t just slap anything on in order to make the process fast.  Don’t cut corners.  Trust me.  You and your book deserve better.

4)      Do not - Wait for this book to sell before beginning your next project.
So many authors wait for that first book to find a home before coming up with another novel idea.  They work so hard to query and polish and revise and resubmit that they never write the next story.  Trust me when I say my first book wasn’t good.  NO ONE should ever read that book.  But writing it wasn’t a waste of time because it taught me two important lessons.  1) That I liked to write.  2) That I could get to THE END.  Those were quite possibly the two most important lessons I learned in my professional writing career.  So, if this is the first book you’ve written, YAY!  Revise, submit and move on.  You’re next book will be better.  The next one better still.  Whether it is NaNoWriMo or whether it is the month of July, writers write.  End of story.

Congratulations.  You’ve written a book.  Now go write another one!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Being Thankful

Scott D. Parker

There was a moment on Thursday afternoon, Thanksgiving itself, when all the food was ready, all the folks who were coming to our house were present, the table was set, and, yes, the Houston Texans were already playing on the television. It was that moment of the prayer before the meal. As the head of my household, this duty fell to me.

In that moment, for just a second or three, I was speechless. There is so, so much I have to be thankful for. The most important ones are always true: wife, child, parents, her parents and siblings, extended family, and the health of all of them. I have a job which provides for the three of us. We have food, a house, and more than enough stuff to fill it to keep us entertained. Really, what more is there?

I'm not going to write about writing today. I'm just going to be thankful for all the things in my life. One of the fun ones is writing with this group of people here at Do Some Damage. Thanks, guys and gals, for letting me join in on this continuing experiment.

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Look, behind you! A Three Headed Monkey!"

By Russel D McLean

I love a good story.

 I love to feel involved.

I don’t care about the medium.

Which is why I’m not going to talk books or movies or even comics this week, but I’m going to talk about computer games.

I’m not a hardcore gamer. I have an xbox live account I rarely use. I don’t care much for multiplayer because my skills are laughable. But I like a good game, although it should be noted if the difficulty curve is too steep or I wind up not caring I will just put them down. I don’t play to become a crack shot or to admore the technical capabilities. I play for a more simple reason.

But first, some background: I grew up on the Spectrum computer and would waste hours of my life playing Manic Miner, Dan Dare (one of the most under-rated sideways scrollers of all time) and, yes, the Batman (1989) movie game replete with ludicrous car driving and puzzle solving sections.

 And then I got a PC. And for a while I played Captain Keene and messed with Sim City. All of these games had basic storylines – here’s who you play, here’s their objective – but beyond occasionally looking nice (I did like Keene’s graphics and the evil bouncing balls) they were not much cop in terms of story. You shot things. You jumped around. Or in the case of sim city you occasionally got really bored and sent in a hurricane or alien invasion to liven things up.

But I soon discovered THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLAND. And the jokes were great. And it was only at the end I realised the gameplay was not really that great. You merely chose the right response from a limited number of them and progressed through the story. The story. “I am Guybrush Threepwood. Mighty Pirate.” Guybrush had a personality (a dorky one). A quest. A path to follow. And a supporting cast. I played because I wanted to know this: What happened next? Does Guyrbush win Elaine’s heart? Does he ever become a mighty pirate? And is that really the second biggest monkey head he’s ever seen? I devoured the game. And its sequel. (and later its threequel). Why? Because the characters were fun (I still love Murray the Demonic skull from #3: “I will roll through the gates of hell…”) and because it was telling a story I cared about. Beyond solving puzzles, I wanted to know what happened next. (We’ll not talk about #4, by the way, which had about three good jokes and rubbish graphics - - the design was always an appeal with the MI games. Luckily Telltale games have recently resurrected the series with a rather successful instalment that also saw the return of Murray!)

 From there, I devoured Sam and Max Hit The Road* (again, Sam and Max were recently resurrected brilliantly by Telltale) and the excellent Grim Fandango. All of these adventure told stories. Stories with beginnings, middles, ends and some sense of character. It was an added bonus that you got to influence them. Of course, back then, there was no voice acting. Merely words on a screen and cheap animation. But it was worth it.

 I’m thinking about these old games because I’ve been letting off steam with some new games lately. I’ve found that First Person Shooters don’t really grab me (CoD: Modern Warfare was fun and then the difficulty level spiked and the story was absolute bollocks when you examined it; it really was aimed at the hardcore FPS geeks) and that the GTA games give you too much freedom. I spend so much time on the side missions that keep insisting on being important that I lose track of the story and stop caring. Especially because the characters are fairly one dimensional anyway. In fact I was getting bored with games again.

And then I played Max Payne 3. The story itself – a washed up ex-cop takes a job as a bodyguard in San Paulo, winds up investigating corruption and killing a lot of bad guys – is nothing new especially for a noir guy like me. But the gameplay was in service to the story. You felt like you were in the middle of Tony Scott’s MAN ON FIRE. Your character were drunk and on painkillers, blowing away bad guys like a machine and knowing that he has no choice in this because this is the only thing he knows how to do. There were attempts at pathos (not great ones, but they were there) and thank God there was some decent voice acting to sell you on the game’s reality. I played through it because I wanted to know What Happens Next. LA Noire did much the same, with a great script that somehow enlivened what should have been very dull gameplay (although it did commit a near unforgiveable narrative error near the end with a jarring POV twist that almost took me completely out of the game)

Two of the best Batman stories I’ve encountered recently were not in comics. They were: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, games I completed because the stories intrigued and delighted me. And by God, Mark Hamill is the second best Joker on screen*. These games had form, substance and sense of involvement that is unique to video games. They had rising action. They had character development, of a sort, and they really sucked me in. Giving me just enough of a feeling of freedom to think I was making a choice, but not offering me so much that I got bored.

But of course this isn’t always the case. GEARS OF WAR 2 promised “an epic story of betrayal and redemption”, and ultimately delivered a cheesefest of immense and sometimes laughable proportions. But, like a good action movie, I stayed for the insanely fun set pieces and ignored the often terrible script and the fantastically flat voice acting. And yes, while I’m currently enjoying the Stephen King indebeted Alan Wake, for a game with a lead character who’s supposed to be a writer, wow that dialogue’s fantastically cliché (and lets not start on the fragments of his novel scattered around the place) - - but its enough to keep me asking, “what happens next?” because that level of interactivity is what lifts games above the clichéd scripts, and explains why so few of them work when transferred to other mediums (Res Evil movies are the worst offenders, but also the Silent Hill films are so ludicrously pedestrian when I used to have to play the games only in the daylight hours I was so scared by them)

Computer games are evolving. They have the potential to tell intriguing stories on a cinematic level, although right now the scripting tends to be somewhere in the level of TV productions in the early nineties; showing sparks of potential but all too often treating the viewer/player with a certain amount of disdain as though they’re worried about people paying attention to what’s happening on screen and have to spell it all out.

But I think a Wire moment is coming. I think that slowly, games are becoming a legitimate and new form of storytelling. But developers have to balance between gameplay, challenge (I’d rather know what happens next than keep dying or failing at a task - - CoD, I’m looking at you) and script. They have to move away from cliché and into something new. They have to appeal to people looking for a good story and bear in mind those who, like me, may not be that interested in the challenge of shooting things and may be looking more to get into the story and the characters, to become part of the world and the narrative unfolding before them.

Will computers games have their Wire moment?

God only knows. But I look forward to finding out**

*The first of course being the masterful performance from the late Heath Ledger in THE DARK KNIGHT

**but never at the expense of spending time with The Literary Critic, of course.***

***I am not contractually or otherwise obligated to say that but just thought I'd throw it out there,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

TERMINAL DAMAGE for your holidays

This week billions of you have become reacquainted with our TERMINAL DAMAGE collection, first discussed at this very blog.

The book is a collection of linked stories taking place in and around an airport during the holidays. You'll see characters from one story pop up in another story. Writing my own story was fun, and reading those from the others was amazing. Sometimes I forget what good writers I get to hang out here with.

As Erik Arneson said:
TERMINAL DAMAGE is a great collection of short stories. Chances are, you'll enjoy some more than others. Every story is entertaining, but the inter-connected nature of this book is terrific and helps the whole become more than the sum of its parts.

As this is the holiday season and folks are travelling, we wanted to re-share it with you. So for the past few days it's been FREE in the Kindle store. At some point, that free will revert to the 99c here in the states. (In the Britains, I think it's something like seventy-four stones. (I do not completely understand foreign currency.))

You can get the book at

Also, NEEDLE magazine is having a signed giveaway drawing thing thanks to friend-of-the-blog Chris F. Holm. Find out about that here.


Now, something I wanted to share with you folks.

Patrick Rothfuss, fantasy author, is doing some really good stuff year-round helping people out via Heifer International. The church we found after the other church kicked us out for not hating teh gays enough was big into Heifer International. I like what they do.

So, anyhoo, Mr. Rothfuss is doing This Thing that is The Opposite of Black Friday. I think it would be cool if you checked it out.

Ideas for you today:

1. Get some FREE (or cheap) TERMINAL DAMAGE
2. Grab your chance at some signed Chris F. Holm
3. Buy a goat for a village and get cool stuff or get cool stuff and a goat, which is also cool.

Happy Thanksgiving. Unless you're British, where I think they celebrate Boxing Day instead. (I do not completely understand foreign holidays.) Also, a belated Happy Thanksgiving to our Canadian friends.

PS: Edge of Black from JT Ellison just came out. More here.

What should I... *trails off, drooling*

My brain is a bit of a scrambled mess right now.

I'm taking a graduate course, which I believe I've mentioned here, and the writing I'm having to do is academic.  Extremely repetitive.  Different.  Not bad, just different.

I have a baby.  He wakes up in the middle of the night.  He cries.  He's ridiculously cute.  I think about him a lot.

Work is busy.  That's why they call it work.

Rutgers is going to the Big Ten.

Basically, there's a lot of static right now.  So I'm not reading.  I'm not writing fiction.  I pick up a comic book every once in a while.  But I haven't felt this out of the loop with the writing world since 2002.

But there is some light ahead.

My class is done in 3 weeks.  I'll have some time to myself.  I'll get to finish Sean Chercover's THE TRINITY GAME, and read Dennis Lehane's LIVE BY NIGHT and our own Jay Stringer's OLD GOLD.

But I'll probably need one more.

So give me a suggestion world.  I'm out of the loop.

What should I read?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Modern Noir - a visual guide

[This is how I spent part of my Sunday, so I hope folks find this useful]

Noir is often considered as a genre, or sub-genre, and is usually associated with crime fiction.  Really though, it is more like a style of fiction, or even a strain of fiction, rather then a sub-genre that doesn't have to be limited to crime fiction.  In recent years a lot of authors have self-identified as noir or even neo-noir (a term that I don't like) writers but even that can be misleading since some of the best noirs weren't written with that goal in mind.

Since it pops up here and there and in unexpected places noir winds up becoming a type of fiction that you have to search for and not always find, which is part of what makes a great noir story so rewarding when it is found.

Noir has been historically resistant to firm definition and any attempt at defining what it is probably says more about the author of said definition then the term itself.  Rather then re-hash what noir is or isn't I instead decided to created a visual guide to modern noir with the only commentary being that I genuinely love all of theses books and I believe them to be noir.

A couple of random notes:

-As much as I love old crime fiction, old pulps, and classic noir my reading preference of late is for noirs from the mid to late 70's on, so that is the focus here. Some great noirs have been published in recent years by small  and unlikely publishers, hopefully this guide points some of them out. Also, I believe that modern noirs sometimes get left out of noir discussions.

-They are in no set order.

-The board is a work in progress and I'll add new covers as I discover them or remember to add them. So check back if you like.

-If you don't see a book here you can read in to it or not. Maybe it means something, maybe not.

-I've written about noir a few times now. I am not an expert, just an enthusiast.

Here's my visual essay, or guide that I created.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Giving thanks

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Happy Thanksgiving week!  (And for you who do not live in America – happy two weeks until December!)

Here at Do Some Damage we talk about all things criminal and writing related.  Our themes are occasionally dark.  Rejection discussions and thoughts on the state of publishing can be disheartening.  As in all jobs, writing has its ups and its downs.  It isn’t always easy.  It isn’t consistently fun. 

However, today, as we in America start this week of Thanksgiving, I want to say how thankful I am for the chance to do what I do.  No matter how frustrated I get or overwhelmed I feel when I am not sure I can do justice to the story I am telling, I am grateful I am a writer.  I am thrilled I get to do a job that I love and that readers are willing to spend time with the characters I create.

More…I am thankful for everyone who has supported my wild notion to follow this career path…my mother, my husband, my father and father-in-law (whom I miss this week and every week), the rest of my family as well as all my friends who have stuck with me throughout the years.  I don’t know what I would do without you.  And you have no idea how grateful I am for the writing community for the support you give me every day.  My fellow Do Some Damage bloggers humble me with their insight, their passion and their commitment to their craft.  Truly, I am blessed.

No one ever knows where life will take them.  You can plan and plot all you like, but life never goes as expected.  If it did, I would not be writing books.  I would not be blogging with this great group of writers.  I would not be who I am today.

So today, to celebrate this week of Thanksgiving, I ask you to share what you are thankful for.  And I want you to know that last, but not least, I am very thankful for all of you.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo Update #2: When Lightening Strikes

Scott D. Parker

You know you are in some sort of momentum groove thing when you wake up at 5am thinking about your book. That's what happened to me this week. In the past five or so years that I've kept my typical up at 6am/asleep by midnight routine, my bodies internal clock has mostly reset to this rhythm. Regularly, on Saturdays, I'l wake sometime around 6, realize it's Saturday, and then return to sleep. Irritatingly, of course, are those week days when the internal alarm rings at 5:45, or 5:30.

Tuesday, I think it was, the alarm rang at five, and the second thought I had--after looking at my watch and realizing it was, fact, five o'clock in the AM--was "I know what I'm going to write about today when I get to my person writing session." In the dark, with that thought cloning to my brain, I smiled. In all the months of writing struggles I've had, I've never had a thought like that since the days I was writing my first book. It was then that I knew, no matter how this book came out, I'm pretty sure I'm on the right path.

But I still struggled this week. I'm behind on the official 1667-word per day count--I'm writing this Friday night and don't know how many words I'll get down after I'm done with this--but I'm firmly in control of my main goal: create (again) a writing habit. I've been using my Streaks app on my iPod and I've got a nice string of red Xs in a row. Not going to break that, you know.

Some of those red Xs denote days where I churned out over 2,000 words, others, not so much, and it's those days when I always doubt myself. I seem to always have that inner critic that's whispering "Don't bother. It's all crap." Yeah, well, it may be crap, but it's crap I'm going to finish. That spirit of moving forward towards a goal is what I'm really holding on to.

It's a good thing, too, that 5am wake up call. It was like a little lightening strike that sent a current through me, told me I was on to something. The other lightening strike that landed in my house was the kind you don't want to get.

My son's 2nd grade teacher, Michelle Friou, passed away quite suddenly this week. He's in 5th grade now and Ms. Friou is, to date, the best one he's had. What makes the news shocking is that she was younger than my 43 years. Always vibrant Ms. Friou had an infectious smile that literally made you smile as well. She loved, loved teaching and her students were the better for it.

In the fall of his 2nd grade year, when my boy was having a few "conduct issues" at school and Ms. Friou learned that he wasn't bringing home the conduct sheets, she was disappointed, to say the least. She walked him out of the school personally and told my wife. She also told Austin that she wanted him to restore her faith in him. By giving him that second chance, he understood that the world is not only the result of first-and-only chances, but seconds, thirds, fourths, or how ever many it takes to get things right. By the end of that 2nd-grade year, after his grades improved and his conduct became a non-issue (and Ms. Friou was awarded Teacher of the Year by her peers), I knew what I had learned the previous autumn was a fact: Ms. Friou was one-of-a-kind.

She also proved herself important to our family when she wasn't just a teacher. As my wife and I agonized in our decision to remove our boy from one school and put him in another, we called Ms. Friou for her advice. It was a huge decision for us, a turning point in my boy's life. Were we right in moving him? Upon learning that the new school would have a class size of about ten, Ms. Friou summed everything up succinctly: "It's a no brainer." Even though I was leaning towards to move, that ended my worry over the matter. Most of the weight of the decision was lifted from my shoulders. So I was very happy when, last week, my boy and I saw Ms. Friou at the grocery store and she specifically asked him how he liked the new school. And I got to thank her again for her advice. I told my wife that very night how excited Ms. Friou was for our boy in his new school. With the tragic news of Thursday, that last meeting has some personal significance. I am personally happy that I got to thank her one last time and for her to know that she made a difference in our family.

And if that's happened with our family, I know she has touched countless others as well.

Life is so, so precious. Too often, we just take it for granted. I know I[] do. The people in our lives really do matter, even the ones we fight with or love or merely see in passing. Even when the everyday stresses of work, home life, family life, parent life seem overwhelming, I always pause--and more so since Thursday--and remember the basic fact: I'm alive. When bad lightening strikes as it always will, we deal with it and move on, hopefully with a little bit more understanding of the world. And, naturally, when the good lightening strikes, as elusive as it is, always pause to experience it, relish in it, and soak it in.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Taste for the Macabre

By Russel D McLean

minor updates were made to this article on 20 Nov 2012

This evening I should have been stuffing myself silly. Instead, what I’m doing is digging some groovy painkillers and generally tripping out thanks to a wonky back muscle.

But if I wasn’t doing that I would be in the company of trained Osteopath (and crime writer) Caro Ramsay for the west coast launch of The Killer Cookbook, a fantastic new book that combines two of my favourite things in the world: cookery and crime fiction.

The cookbook finally reveals the recipe for Stuart MacBride’s infamous mushroom soup, alongside Craig Robertson’s Human Blood Pudding, and more tantalising recipes from the likes of Ian Rankin, John Gordon Sinclair, Val McDermid and so, so many more. Oh, and me and Michael Malone have a garlicky face off mid way through the book as we argue over the best recipe involving chicken and increasing cloves of garlic (Of course mine is a traditional peasant dish and therefore very very authentic, being as I look like a peasant).

But what kind of crazy fool, I hear you ask, would create a book of crime writer’s recipes? What possible reason could there be for such a thing to happen?

The answer is that the crazy fool is the aforementioned Caro Ramsay who started on the book as a way to help the brilliant Million for a Morgue Campaign; a fund raising exercise that is very close to my heart. For those who don’t know, Dundee (where I write about) is trying to raise a million quid for a centre for forensic excellence. Why Dundee? Well, Professor Sue Black works here, and she is one of those remarkably smart and dedicated at the forefront of forensic research. She has identified victims in mass graves from war torn countries, she has assisted in some amazing and terrifying investigations and between all that has found time to advise the brilliant Val McDermid on the best ways to add an air of forensic authority to those already terrifying Tony Hill thrillers.

The CAHID (Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification) is at the very heart of the morgue and has done some remarkable things including help identify victims through facial reconstruction and identifying peadophiles through images of their hands grabbed from obscene video  and images.

But what does all this have to do with the Killer Cookbook? Well, every penny from the cookbook when sold direct from the website* is going towards raising this million for the new centre for excellence. Yes, the printers and (more importantly) the contributors don’t get a penny. Everyone involved is doing this for a greater cause. And also because we really want to share these recipes with you. These are the foodstuffs that have either influenced our plots or characters or else have helped us through the sheer hard work involved in crime writing. So I urge you, please, go out and buy a copy. Help contribute to a brilliant cause and widen your taste palate at the same with fiendishly good recipes from some of the most criminal cooks on the face of the planet (and me).

*An earlier version of this post implied that copies sold from booksellers also give 100% of the cost to the cause. This is not true, but I believe a good percentage will still go to the morgue so you will still be helping the campaign - and helping your local bookseller at the same time!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cashing That Cheque

By Jay Stringer

We’ve just moved into a new flat. For the first time I have an office, a room with a desk (and a beer fridge) for me to sit and write. It set me thinking about work ethics, and what type of full-time writer I would be.

I’m in no real rush to be full time. I think the idea is often a very bad one. Certainly a full time novelist. I have many friends and colleagues who get to tick the ‘full time’ box by diversifying, by writing for the screen, for games, for comics. I think that’s something I’d like to try my hand at someday, because it’s an interesting enough mix to keep both the mind and the paycheck alive.
But I’m in no rush to get there.

Part of it is my writing style and interests. Having a full time job that pays the rent and puts food on the table means that when I sit down to write, I can write what I want. I don’t want to even think about being a full time writer unless I can still have that luxury, that freedom of expression, and it’s only a rare few that get to that point.

The other reason is voice. In my youth I liked being loud and outgoing, as I’ve grown older I’ve quietened down and would rather sit and think than go out and shout. I know all too well that, if I were a full time novelist, I could fall into the trap of becoming a hermit. If you have the luxury to choose what to do with all of your hours, then you become limited by what you would choose. Having a day job means getting out and interacting with people. It means spending large chunks of my time coming across views, opinions and voices that I would not otherwise have done. In short, it gives me stories and characters. I wouldn’t want to lose that.

I’m coming into the industry at a time when it’s harder than ever to be a full time writer. But I think the idea has also been overplayed. To a certain extent it’s a myth, and to look back at many of the great writers and novels of the past is to look at people who found other ways to pay their rent, and at books that were written at midnight after a long shift.

But this past week has still seen me spending way too much time wondering what kind of full time writer I would be. Would I wear a suit, or work clothes of some kind? Would I keep strict office hours and maintain the daily routine of a working-class work ethic? Would I write for six hours? Would I write for two hours then mess around on the internet?

I’d like to think I’d have the work ethic. In fact, I’d like to think that the discipline and time-management I’ve shown in writing in between full time jobs would extrapolate out into a prolific and dependable output if I was full time.

But it also leads me to a rant.

I’ve been debating the ethical issues of writing a lot this year with friends and fellow writers. I’m known to get on my high horse from time to time. I’ve already made it clear on DSD that I’ve had major problems with some of the decisions that comic book companies have taken this year, and with writers and artists who’ve taken that work. And I’m not here today to go back over that wound, but I needed to mention it to give an example, to give some context to a much wider issue.
One defence that I often hear for writers taking on ‘bad’ projects is “I have a mortgage to pay,” or “I have a family to feed.”

Well, you know what, don’t we all.

With all respect to the fact that we’re in a very bad job market, there are still options.  If you need to pay your bills, go find a job that does it. Go flip a burger. Work in a call centre. None of us have a given right to be money-earning writers, and just because you’ve done it in the past doesn’t mean you should always do it.

There are many jobs that we might not like but that will put food on the table without us having to screw over another writer or work for a bad project. And I’m sure people might point to the obvious here. “Who defines ‘good’ or ‘bad’ jobs?” Well that’s pretty easy. The writers who use “bills to pay” as an excuse are already defining it for us. They know the job smells funny, that’s why they’re using that line.

To say that you have to take one of these projects, ‘because you have bills,’ is to say that you choose to take the project, because any of the other jobs in the world don’t match 100% of your chosen criteria. It’s also incredibly patronising and insulting to all of the other people.

This ties into a second bug-bear. This is a recent one, so I’m putting this out there fully expecting that I may have crossed this line myself in an interview, and that people should feel free to point out in the comment section if I have. It’s the thing of writers being asked “why become a writer?” One of the most common answers –usually well meant as a self-depreciating joke- is “It’s the only thing I was any good at.” Or similar variations, like “I suck at everything else,” or “it’s the only thing I know how to do.”


I tell you, that doctor who helped you out last time you were sick, it’s a real good thing that they sucked at everything else and had to be a doctor. I’m real glad that there are so many people who grow up dreaming of flipping burgers, making coffee or putting sandwiches into plastic wrapping so that I can go about my life as a part-time writer. Because if any of them had had to settle for a fall back  option, or learn a new skill, we’d all be in trouble.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Walls of the Castle from Tom Piccirilli

This is Release Week for Tom Piccirilli’s new book, The Walls of the Castle -- the first title in the new Black Labyrinth imprint.

Recently Mr. Piccirilli was diagnosed with brain cancer after a golf-ball sized tumor was found in his brain. While the tumor has been removed he still has a long way to go. Therefore, Dark Regions will be donating 20% of the hard cover proceeds and 100% of ebook proceeds to help cover Mr. Piccirilli’s treatment and fight against cancer.

Want to know about this awesome new book? Well, here ya go:

In the labyrinthian maze of endless corridors, annexes, and wings of the enormous medical complex known as The Castle prowls a grief-stricken man determined to redeem himself and bring justice for those victims incapable of doing it for themselves.

During the four months that his son lay dying, ex-con Kasteel lost his job, his wife, and nearly his mind.  He became a fixture at the Castle, a phantom prowling the halls in the deep night, a shadow of his former self until he faded from sight and was forgotten altogether.

Now, without any life to return to, he takes it upon himself to become the Castle's guardian.  He lives off the grid hiding among the hundreds of miles of twisting passages, rooms, offices, and underground parking structures.  Despair, confusion, and terror are the natural state and trade of any hospital:  Not only must the patients endure disease and infirmity, but others are victims of physical and sexual abuse from the outside world or from cruel security guards.

The Castle was originally a colonial Dutch settlement: a village that grew into a town which grew into a city and at last became a hospital.  Kasteel has lost his very identity to this place, taking for himself the original Dutch name for "Castle."

Kasteel sleeps in empty operating theaters, sneaks food from the cafeteria, hacks into computers, and is privy to both staff and patient files.  Using his skills as a burglar he tracks down the attackers, the deceivers, and the killers.

In the psychiatric wing's day rooms and gardens long-suffering patient Hedgewick is Kasteel's only friend.  Hedgewick sees his father's ghost and claims to fight in a gladiatorial arena while the hospital guards bet on the winners.  Kasteel and Hedge often meet in the Fool's Tower, a ten-story high steeple once used to quarantine yellow fever victims a century ago, overlooking acres of gardens.  A place where family members go to pray for their loved ones, and the distraught often commit suicide.

But a new name is now whispered in the Castle: Abaddon, the ancient name for the angel of death.  A brain-damaged woman has visions and speaks only to Kasteel.  Abaddon is a killer, a man lost to the Castle like Kasteel himself, wandering the corridors searching out victims.  Even as Abaddon hunts the innocent, Kasteel hunts Abaddon, eager for a final showdown that may at last set him free.

An atmospheric yet action-packed, mature psychological thriller that is part examination into the bonds of family and part treatise on the nature of identity, THE WALLS OF THE CASTLE explores the deepest areas of what makes us who we are.   With a noir sensibility and complexity of character, the novella is a hybrid psychological thriller that's part suspense tale, part family saga, and part literate mystery.

About the Author

Tom Piccirilli is an American novelist and short story writer. He has sold over 150 stories in the mystery, thriller, horror, erotica, and science fiction fields. Piccirilli is a two-time winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for "Best Paperback Original" (2008, 2010). He is a four-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award. He was also a finalist for the 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Award given by the Mystery Writers of America, a final nominee for the Fantasy Award, and he won the first Bram Stoker Award given in the category of "Best Poetry Collection."

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