Saturday, March 23, 2013

My (Our?) Changing Reading Habits

Scott D. Parker

I always find it interesting when one of my own odd habits is shared by another.

I've made no secret of my embrace of e-reading. I started with my Palm Pilot III and then onto my then-color Palm Zire. I still have both devices and I somewhat easily made the transition to small-screen reading over a decade. Granted, it was not my go-to reading device but, when a spare few minutes showed up in the workday, it was nice to pull out the device and read some lines.

Thus, when I got my iPod Touch and it's brilliant screen and fantastic fonts, I was already primed. The apps--all of them: Nook, iBook, Kindle, Stanza--were filled with reading material, both fiction and non-fiction. Not only did I still find those spare minutes in the workday, I also found myself reading on the iPod at night. It was a fantastic reading companion.

In the years since, I have acquired a Nook Simple Touch e-reader and an iPad. I like the iPad, of course, and do read a lot of material on it, but I find myself gravitating towards the Nook for straightforward fiction reading. I tend to think of the iPad as the nice hardback book and the Nook and the light, rugged paperback.

With all of the fantastic ebooks out there, and, truth be told, with their lesser cover price, I have increased the number of books I purchase electronically over traditionally. Now, I love the feel, the smell, and the pleasure of turing pages like any traditionalist, but I also love the economy (both price and size--i.e., no need for physical storage) of e-reading. And the samples you can download and read are fantastic. I have branched out and tried things and bought things I might not have.

I can do all of these things from the comfort of my house, my office, or wherever I have a Wifi connection. Consequentially, I don't always go into bookstores, much less than I used to. When I do, however, I've developed a strange little pattern. My favorite tables at Barnes and Noble are the trade paperbacks. I love their size and feel. More often than not, I'll browse the covers--you cannot truly browse online--and when I see something I think looks interesting, I'll read the back cover. If that hooks me and I have my iPod with me, I'll download the sample onto the Nook app. That way, I get to avoid the impulse buy--I'm a veteran of impulse book buying, a recovering one, you might say--but still get to give the book another chance.

More and more, however, I'm leaving the Ipod at home, preferring my simple phone for communication and pen and paper for any note taking I need to do. Additionally, I get to get my nose out of a little screen of glass and actually see the world. In these cases, I'll still browse the tables and shelves in Barnes and Noble, but I'll have to write down authors and books.

And, lo and behold, last Sunday, I was doing just that. Two science books had caught my eye--Space Chronicles by Neil DeGrasse Tyson and The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements by David Berlinski [can't, for the life of me, prompted me not only to pick up that book but download and read the sample]--and I was busily writing the authors and titles when a gentleman said to me, "You have a Nook?"

I looked up, confused. How in the world did he know? I had neither Nook, iPad, or iPod on me. I said yes, and he nodded with a knowing look. "I do the same thing," he said. That is, he comes to the bookstore to browse, find books he likes, and then downloads them.

It was a nice little event, knowing that I'm not the only one with odd habits, but it was his age. He was slightly older than me. That, to me, was key. It told that e-reading is not limited solely for the young. We middle aged folks do it as well as the older folks.

On another tangent of e-reading, I happened to read this passage from Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey, a SF book set far in the future when mankind has colonized the solar system:

The OPA man,, Anderson Dawes, was sitting on a cloth folding chair outside Miller's hole, reading a book. It was a real book--onionskin pages bound in what might have been actual leather. Miller had seen pictures of them before; the iead of that much weight for a single megabyte of data struck him a decadent.

Interesting, no? A throwaway line from a SF book about something that, in 2013, seems so natural. Traditional paper books will never die. Of that, I'm convinced. I will almost always still purchase them--I'm reading one now: Alan Dean Foster's Icerigger--but I really do love the convenience and portability of ebooks. And I'm glad that I'm not alone in the odd idiosyncrasy of changing reading habits.

For those of y'all who do read ebooks, how do you find your titles other than reading book reviews?

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Problem with Parker

By Russel D McLean

“When a fresh-faced guy in a chevy offered him a lift, Parker told him to go to hell.”*

That’s how readers met professional criminal Parker in 1962.  Parker strode across the Brooklyn bridge, after escaping near death and deciding to get the money he was owed by his double crossing accomplices. Donald E Westlake had imagined this character on just such a stroll (except Westlake wasn’t out for revenge, just fresh air), the professional thief springing almost fully formed into the writer’s mind.

“His hands, swinging curve-fingered at his sides, looked like they were moulded of brown clay by a sculptor  who thought big and liked veins… the office women looked at him and shivered. They knew he was a bastard, they knew his big hands were born to slap with, they knew his face would never break into a smile when he looked at a woman. They knew what he was, they thanked God for their husbands and still they shivered. Because they knew how he would fall on a woman in the night. Like a tree.”**

There is no questioning the danger that Parker represents within the first page of The Hunter. We don’t know who he is and what he wants, but we know he’s dangerous and he doesn’t give a damn for anyone. And we know that while men don’t want to be him and women don’t want to be with him, that he’s still someone we can’t help but watch, can’t help but be fascinated by. He’s beyond the “bad boy” that we’re used to. He’s a whole different beast. He’s terrifying and alluring; utterly amoral in the truest sense. And he’s a dream to Hollywood; a guy who has no qualms about getting physical, who will single mindedly and ruthlessly pursue his goal.

So why can’t anyone get him right when they try and bring him to the silver screen?

Eight times, movie-makers have tried to get to grips with this force of nature posing as a criminal. And six times so far, they have failed. Even the first time out, when Jean Luc Goddard turned Parker into a woman for Made in the USA, the medium of film utterly failed to understand what made Parker, well, Parker. Nothing to do with the sex changes, but a lot to do with the attitude. As with many film makers who would follow, Goddard would fail to understand the essence of Parker.

“Usually I don’t put an actor’s face to the character, though with Parker, in the early days, I did think he probably looked something like Jack Palance. That may be partly because you knew Palance wasn’t faking it, and Parker wasn’t faking it either. Never once have I caught him winking at the reader.”***

Maybe Westlake never got his wish, but Hollywood almost got it right in 1967. Lee Marvin – using the name Walker – appeared on screen in a character-defining performance for the movie Point Blank. Sure, Marvin talked a little more than the Parker in the books and there’s a little scene where we see him woo his wife that feels slightly off base, but never once does Marvin wink at the camera. He doesn’t even have to hurt someone to scare the hell out of them. All it takes is a look and you see a man who doesn’t care who he has to walk through to get his money back. This version of Parker is completely stripped back. He has one goal. He wants the money he’s owed. And he’ll do anything to get it back. Even when he’s told the money is gone, he acts like he doesn’t understand. Economics of crime be damned, Parker’s owed money and once he’s got it, that’s him done.

Parker is a man defined by what he does. And what he does is steal. He doesn’t do it for kicks so much as he does it because, well, what the hell else is going to do? His amorality makes him the most moral man in his world. Parker won’t kill you unless he has to****. He won’t get in your way unless you have something he wants. And he won’t wisecrack. He doesn’t know how.

All of this (and the on-screen winking) is why Mel Gibson was among the worst choices to remake the by-then classic movie under the title Payback in ’99. Every time I catch this movie I think about Raymond Chandler on Allan Ladd:

“A small boy’s idea of a tough guy.”

That’s Mel all over in Payback. Parker/Porter smirks and gurns his way through the movie, with this kind of ironic smugness that belies everything about the character. Marvin, unlike Gibson, had an instinctual understanding of the essence of Parker: he’s a professional. He is, in Donald E Westlake’s own words, a “man at work.”

Which is why, when the appalling Slayground (with Peter Coyote as “Stone”) came out in ‘83, the film failed even before they deviated so far from the plot that it became a bizarre London-based slasher film with Mel Smith popping up in a bizarre guest appearance.

Stone emotes. All the time. Talks about his feelings. Shows concern for characters that Parker would consider to be idiots best left to their own fate. It’s hard to see how he has the reputation he does, given how appalling his planning of the initial robbery is, and then his plan to deal with the fallout… well I’m not sure what the plan was exactly, but somehow it involves a plane to London just one step ahead of a killer who’s modelled after the then-popular psycho killers of straight to video nasties. It’s a bad film, and a truly terrible approach to the character.

The French had another stab at Parker in 1967 with Mise A Sac (based on the novel, The Seventh). I’ve heard good things about the movie but have never run across a print. It was never, to my knowledge, released with English subtitles. And lots of people have good memories of Robert Duvall in The Outfit. And I’ve never see the Chow Yun Fat starring Full Contact, which again is allegedly based upon the Hunter.

Marvin remains the touchstone. For me, and so many others. He doesn’t have to say anything to creep us out. Check the scene where he threatens the secretary by simply whispering something to her we can’t hear, and tell me you don’t get chills.

Will Jason Statham be able to match Marvin?

On the plus side of the column, they could have chosen Danny Dyer for the role. And Statham has a line in tough nut action. But it doesn’t look like it’ll be enough.

Statham’s persona tends to wink too much at the camera, exude a false machismo that’s designed for a specific kind of action fan. To work as Parker, Statham would need to dial back his blokey bonhomie and find a real sense of driving purpose that isn’t merely misplaced anger. Parker is about attitude. He’s not a man who cares about other people or about justice (even his own misplaced sense of it). He’s a man who cares about what is owed him, about the job and little else. He has no family, he has no love interest (other than Claire, who appears in the later novels, but even then there is the sense that if push came to shove he could still walk away from that relationship).

Admittedly, a brit has already played Parker in all but name. Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey was a Parker homage, with the lead played by Terrence Stamp. Admittedly, Stamp’s character was searching for his daughter’s killer – Parker doesn’t have family, or if he does he doesn’t care to mention them – but that single minded ruthlessness was all Parker and Soderbergh even admits the massive influence of the 1967 Point Blank on his style. Even screenwriter Lem Dobbs admitted to Parker fansite, The Violent World of Parker, that the original title of the screenplay (and name of the character) was “Stark” in clear homage to the pseudonymous creator of Parker.

Statham will have to pull something really special out of the bag to match Stamp and, of course, Marvin. He will need to give Parker more depth than his usual style allows for, let us see a man of massive intelligence. Parker may use violence, but it’s not always his end-game. He is, after all, an intelligent man. He’s cunning. Ruthless. Deadly. And unlike Statham, he never winks.

After all, he’s eluded Hollywood and the silver screen all these years, leaving onscreen only shadows and hints of his presence as though he was never really there to begin with. But then, that’s the way Parker likes it. He’s not in it to be famous. He’s in it for the job. There is no ego. Only money. That’s all he wants. The money he’s owed.

Maybe when Hollywood understands that, maybe then we’ll once more get the Parker we deserve.

*The Hunter by Donald E Westlake
***An interview with Donald Westlake at the University of Chicago Press:
****Look, let’s not mention the “rules” that Statham’s Parker waffles on about in the trailers; Parker never explicitly states his mortality, but we as readers merely understand it from observing him.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Runaway Victims

By Jay Stringer

First to a little bit of bidness. My second crime novel Runaway Town is out next week. But you already knew that, right? Did you know that the song of the same title is out this week? For Old Gold I released a Spotify playlist that acted as a soundtrack to the book.

I'll be doing the same for book 2, but I wanted to try something else. I even tried writing a song myself, but I'm so many years past being a song-writer that I don't think that skill is in my toolbox anymore. I was talking to a friend of mine -who writes catchy songs under the name 8-Bit Ninjas- and the book's title gelled with something he had in mind.

We discussed the themes of the book, and he channelled some ideas that had been kicking around his head. We share a hometown, though we've both moved away,  and the song he wrote perfectly caught the mood I'd had in mind while writing the book. He writes of being being used and abused, and of a town going wrong, and does it with a melancholy voice that could have belonged to the narrator of the book, but sets it to a driving chord progression and, and course, some 8-Bit catchiness.

Not only that, but the song is also a good listen while reading the rest of today's post. So why not give it a go? It's a fun idea that lead to a fun experiment and the result is a great song. I hear there may be an album soon.

It's less than a quid in UK moneys and is available on Spotify, Itunes, Bandcamp
Do it. 

Last week I waxed lengthy-like about some of the issues that spring from the setting I choose to write in. These are the things that you can't ignore. They might not be the story you first set out to tell, but if you pick a setting and then ignore that settings voice, you're going to fail. 

This week I wanted to talk about what first set me writing the book. And I better give out a trigger warning, just in case. 

Victims. Violence. 

"Some say land of paradise. Some say land of pain. Which side are you looking on?"
-Uncle Tupelo

Violence in fiction and the media seems to be a very relative thing. We have no problem seeing people being beaten, tortured, stabbed or shot, but if someone swears or -yikes- shows a little nudity we lose our shit. There is a debate to be had on the casualisation of violence. We know this because blogs have spent years having that very debate. I'm not talking about that, and I think violence has an important part to play in fiction. What sets my spine itching is the casualisation of victims. 

We live in a world full of victims. There are children, women, men, ethnic minorities and immigrants across the globe being turned into commodities, or beaten, or starving, or used as scape-goats. And in fiction we do some extremely violent things to these people, and often skate on by to the next bit in the story. I'm sure we've all heard of that million-selling book that purports to be about how men hate women and how they are used and abused. The same book and film that then goes on to depict a graphic scene of the woman being reduced to a victim. (But hey, it's okay, she gets a revenge scene later, so that excuses it.) Just as we see crime fiction that wants to talk about human trafficking (which is a valid issue to explore) but only in terms of impossibly attractive and well-lit women being forced to do kinky things on screen or page. If the choices we make in talking about exploitation are to exploit, are we examining the issue or using it? And it often seems to be the way. I watched the film Seven Psychopaths and there's a scene when the writer played by Colin Farrell is criticised for having terrible female characters. It feels like the films writer is speaking directly of his own work. Farrell thinks for a moment then says what his script is saying is that it's a terrible world for women. And it is. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has used that excuse at one point or another to excuse a blind spot in our work. But if you're aware enough to know -as it seemed the films writer was- that your work is weak on female characters, maybe just set about fixing that rather than cracking a joke? 

"They're making it easy not to try."
-8-Bit Ninjas

Victims also seem to be relative.

The media tells us that the aggressors are the real victims and that the real victims are to blame. We don't have to go far right now to see that at work. and this isn't just me being on a soapbox about the treatment of women, this is about the treatment of all victims. McFet would probably write a very interesting bit here about the treatment of the working class in fiction and the media, and he's right. We take away the human faces. It's all too casual, all too easy. 

There was a time when crime fiction didn't deal with grief very well. It was the dirty secret that all of the actions we wrote about would produce grief in the real world, but that got in the way of getting to the next bit of the story. Then we started to talk about this a lot, and writers started exploring grief. There are great writers out there who've been doing that very well for a while now. 

When I sat down to write Runaway Town I couldn't help but think about the other kinds of grief. Not just of someone we've lost, but of parts of ourselves that we're losing day by day, and of the parts of themselves that a victim never gets back after the event.  How does violence change us? What does it say about us when we choose who to inflict our violence upon? And how do we get back up again after having violence inflicted upon us?  I wanted to try-It's for others to decide whether I succeeded- to put my story eye to eye with these people. To let them talk about what happened and to not be looking for excuses to do anything else. 

"When this world was made, it was never meant to save everyone in kind. I don't believe God much had me, had me much in mind."
-Ben Nichols

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Love the writing, hate the writer

By Steve Weddle

I grew up Southern Baptist.

I heard "hate the sin, but love the sinner" quite a bit.

Hell, for all I know, it was coined about me, anyhoo.

The recent Orson Scott Card controversy (catch up if you need to) makes me consider a sort of "hate the writer, love the writing" approach.

Card's case is somewhat atypical. Generally, you hear of someone who has views with which you disagree and you say, well, he's entitled to his opinion. Or sh can think what she wants. It's a free country. (Depending on your country.)

Card is on the board of an anti-gay-marriage group that actively works against gay marriage. So, this falls into the action side of things, not just the opinion side. Does this matter? To some, yeah.

In fact, we have a long list of artists whose personal opinions have drawn fire.

Michelle Shocked (pictured) said the world could be destroyed if teh gays marry.

Does Madonna's pro-gay stance turn off her fans?

I'm sure folks on both sides of the argument have turned off fans at some point.

Something something Kirk Cameron.

Of course, this isn't just artists speaking out for or against gay marriage.

Eric Clapton lost fans when he went on a racist tirade back in the 1970s, when he said he worried that England was turning into a "black colony."

The stories about whether Jackson Browne beat up Daryl Hannah turned fans against him. Did he? Didn't he?

The Paul Simon vs. Los Lobos kerfluffle cost Simon fans.

The more we see of our favorite writers and singers and actors, the more likely we are to be turned off by their opinions and actions.

But should we allow that to turn us off from their works?

Are we obligated to say, "Well, Eric Clapton is a racist, so I'll no longer enjoy 'Promises'"?

If known hippie Jackson Browne did fight with Daryl Hannah, does "You Love the Thunder" become an abuser's anthem? If he didn't, does everyone need to apologize to him?

Sean Penn is a nutty liberal, so I hate Jeff Spicoli?

I'm not suggesting that we kick back and start teaching classes on the beauty of Hitler's paintings or Charles Manson's songs.

But what do we do when the artists we've grown to enjoy become monsters?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Why I Said I Will Never Write About a Serial Killer

by John McFetridge

And why I did.

Years ago I decided that no matter what, I’d never write about a serial killer. I seem to remember I had very good reasons.

It’s not that I wasn’t interested in murderers from way back. In high school in 1976 I saw a girl reading a paperback called The Family about the Manson Family while I was reading, Helter Skelter – talk about destiny. It’s probably a good thing she dumped me a little while later.

Through the 70s the Manson family was a big topic, they were easy to twist into whatever fear was on the top of your list – drugs, hippies, counterculture, cults, rock music, religion, politics, racism, breakdown of society, it was all there. 
I may have bought Helter Skelter on the same trip to the mall that I bought Alice Cooper’s, Welcome to My Nightmare.
At that time I don't remember hearing the phrase "serial killer" applied to Manson or any members of his family. They were "mass murderers" or "spree killings." Today there are a number of definitions of these terms, I think, and whole areas of study.
At that point I don’t think I’d heard the phrase “serial killer” at all. Apparently it was first used by the FBI or Anne Rule or an LAPD cop about Ted Bundy or Son of Sam or...
Anyway, I have no idea when I first heard the term and I’m not sure exactly when I became sick of it. All I know is that by the time Silence of the Lambs came out I thought that would be the end of the trend.
Okay, so I was wrong.

Really wrong.
I have no idea why serial killers have become so popular in fiction. Of course, I don’t really understand why vampires have become so popular or zombies. I used to think that vampires and zombies were symbols (or signifiers for the deconstructionists here) – you know, vampires for sexual longing and zombies for the love/hate relationship we have with conformity.

So what was the nerve that serial killers hit?
Anyway, now I don’t know if vampires and zombies are symbols of anything else or not.
When I started writing crime fiction I gravitated towards crimes that weren’t... insane, I guess is the word. The crimes were more business, so to speak, drug smuggling, prostitution, extortion – the murders usually happened when all other forms of business negotiations failed. The murders in my fiction aren’t the end goal of the murderer, they’re the last resort. Also, one of my personal interests is the way people form groups, the way we prioritize all the things we are – race, class, gender, sexual orientation – to decide which groups we are most closely aligned.
So, most of the criminals in my books are part of a group, some kind of organized crime.

Then, before I had started to think of writing a book set in 1970 I was just interested in the time and the events that year in Montreal. I’m getting old and nostalic about my childhood, I guess. But while I was reading about the political events of the time – the bombings, kidnappings and murder – I discovered that there was a serial killer in Montreal at the time. A guy named Wayne Boden killed three women in Montreal in 1969-70 and then killed a fourth woman in Calgary in 1971 and was caught.
There are very few mentions in the newspapers of the time about the murders. Some articles published more recently have claimed that single women in their early twenties (like all the victims) were warned not to go out alone and that a virtual curfew existed in Montreal at the time.
My research into this aspect consisted mostly of asking my sister – who was a single woman in her early twenties living and working in downtown Montreal at the time – about it and she had never heard of a serial killer in Montreal and she certainly had no memory of being warned not to go out at night. Montreal is a party city, afterall, and certainly was in the 60s and 70s.
This didn’t exactly make the serial killer personal, but I started to get a lot more interested. One of the things that I found most interesting was that this idea that women were warned about a serial killer seemed to be something that came up later – as if in retrospect people wanted to believe that women had been warned. The way they would be today. I think.
But from what I can see the idea of a serial killer was treated quite differently then – there was certainly no talk of a special police squad being dedicated to these crimes. At the same time a terrorist group (probably less than two dozen people altogether) was exploding bombs around the city and a special police task force, The Combined Anti-Terrorist Squad, was put together.
I started to think that very likely on the police force in Montreal at the time there were probably some cops trying to catch the guy who had killed three women and was likely going to kill more. Were they getting the resources that they needed?
I interviewed some cops who were active at the time and they remembered very little about the serial killer. Mostly they remembered that it was the first time in Canada dental records were used in a conviction (the killed bit all his victims on the breast, leaving very deep cuts).
I still don’t really understand why serial killers (or vampires or zombies) have taken over so much of our fiction these days, but when I decided to write about a young cop in Montreal in 1970 I included the serial killer as well as the bombings and kidnappings.
And I also included a little of the early study of serial killers, what I saw as the beginning of that study becoming mainstream.
So, why did that happen in the 1970s? What was the fascination with serial killers? Was it simply because that's when there started to be so many of them (the baby boomers were entering their twenties and that dempgraphic bubble has pushed up pretty much every stat as it passes through)?
If you're interested in serial killers, I'm curious about in what ways you are interested.

Monday, March 18, 2013

JA Kazimer Q&A

This week I've got a quick Q&A with Snubnose Press author JA Kazimer, whose novel Dope Sick: A Love Story was recently released. 

Brian Lindenmuth: Dope Sick has been around for awhile hasn't it? What's the story behind it and its publication?

JA Kazimer: Awhile doesn’t begin to cover it. I wrote the first draft around 10 years ago. It was bad. Really bad. I had no clue as to how to actually write a book, let along how to punctuate one . But there was something about the story, something that spoke to me, that I couldn’t let go.

I began learning the craft, and joined an online critique group site called Urbis. There, other writers, read the novel, and no matter how badly they reacted to my horrible use of adverbs and comma-obsession, they also saw something in the story.

After a good twenty revisions, and many, many years of rejections from agents and publishers, over 400, I nearly gave up on both writing and publishing this book. Then in 2007, as a last straw, I entered a writer’s contest. Dope Sick, then called Dope. Sick. Love., took third place, and I took another shot at it. Revision 25. Still nothing. By this point I knew this was a good book, if not even a great one.  I told my friends, my critique group, and other writers, this manuscript will be a book. It would get published.

Of course that took another 3 years. I’d stopped shopping the book in 2008, putting it away while I focused on the other works.  Once my other books took off, and I started gaining publishing contracts, I asked my agent to shop Dope Sick. She did. We had some interest, but I never felt like it had found a home. Too many publishers wanted changes I didn’t. Changes that would ruin that something I loved.

Until, one day, I was lucky enough to get an email from Brian asking for a peek. He explained he was launching a new press, a press for crime fiction, a press perfect for that special something. I sent him the manuscript immediately, sweating it out until he emailed back. Dope Sick: A Love Story had found a home.

Dope Sick is really a love story isn't it?

It is. But don’t let the words ‘love story’ fool you. This isn’t a harlequin romance. 

Love for the main character, Colin, isn’t easy; it’s dark, dangerous, and deadly. He has a deep and binding love for his addiction, even after two years clean. A twisted sick love for his murdered wife, a woman who betrayed him time and again. And finally, the prospect of new love, if he can stay alive long enough to fall. 

How does Dope Sick tie in to The Junkie Tales?

I wrote most of those stories as I was writing Dope Sick. It was a great way to include tales that couldn’t or didn’t fit into the story. I’ve always appreciated addiction fiction, and with so many stories, characters, and experiences, I needed a place for the words to go, hence The Junkie Tales. It’s also my first and only stab at something less genre and more literary, at least I thought it was.

Ian Wilde is a supporting character in Dope Sick. Now he has his own novel, Shank. Did you fall in love with this character and want to tell more stories with him. Will we see further Ian Wilde stories?

Honestly Ian just had to tell his own story. I do love him as a character, but I had no notion that the next book I’d write would be his. I just sat down to write, and his story, which I see as my ode to the hard drinking, bad-ass, smart-ass girl friday’s and thugs with hearts of gold crime fiction that I love.

I always felt like there is one more Wilde story in me. Not sure if it would be Ian, but I’m sure both Colin and Ian would make an appearance.

Fairy tales?! What's that all about?

Fairy tales, even the Disney ones, and crime fiction are two peas in a pod. Both are filled with fucked up stuff. Take Sleeping Beauty for example, her Prince Charming finds a dead chick in the middle of a forest, and he instantly thinks, I need some of that. Take away the tiara the horse Charming rides in on, and that’s totally a crime fiction tale waiting to be told.  

Plus I get to steal a bunch of fairy tale characters, so I don’t really have to work, and planted them into this urban the F***ed Up Fairy Tale series. Plagiarism really is an author’s best friend.

So far in my writing career I’ve been lucky and able to write whatever I want, from junkie stories to fucked up fairy tales.  I plan to continue to do that, unless someone offers me tons of cash. I’m totally willing to sell out and start writing middle-aged women’s bondage books.

Read any good fiction, crime or otherwise, recently?

I was lucky enough to read a not-yet published (but out soon) novel by fellow Snubnose author of Choice Cuts and Wake the Undertaker, Joe Clifford. The book’s title is Junkie Love, and it’s so damn good. Heartbreakingly good. I also just finished Robert Crais’ latest book, as well one of my favorite author’s, Tim Dorsey’s, newest book. I could go on for pages about books, but you’d probably stop reading, and go watch something more interesting like porn.

What's the best piece of advice you've been given?

A friend once said, “No one is remembered for the things they don’t do.”  Of course, at that moment, the thing I was debating doing was illegal in most states and required a lot of bendy parts. After a brief hospital stay, I took the advice to heart, also accepting the other side, which is, “You will be remembered for those stupid things you do too.” Since I really didn’t want to end up as a lesson in Darwin’s theory, I aim for the line between complete boredom and shooting up Liquid Drain-O on a dare.

What's next for you? What are you working on?

Right now my agent is shopping a romantic suspense novel. Hey, don’t judge me. I need the money.

As far as writing, I’m working on the third book in the Fucked Up Fairy Tale series. I’m about 20k from being done with the first draft. Then I have a novel called Bent I’ve worked on and off for the last 7 years. If you’ve read The Junkie Tales, maybe you remember the story, "Slut. Bitch. Whore."? If not, it’s about a junkie con man willing to do anything to fuel his addiction for both heroin and a porn star named Geraldine. Bent is his story.

Why should the person reading this interview buy Dope Sick and Shank? 
Easy. Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll.

Plus, really, $2.99 for hours of entertainment, how can you go wrong?


Here's the synopsis for Dope Sick: A Love Story

Once a famous rock star, Colin Wilde nearly dies on a dirty bathroom floor, a lethal dose of heroin in his veins and the name of his murdered wife, Lisa, on his lips. Two years later, finally clean and on the verge of a major comeback, he meets Zoe, a beautiful strung-out dancer. With her help, Colin maneuvers through the seedy world of sex, drugs, and record deals in search of a killer.


"I sat down at about midnight planning to read a hundred pages or so and did not put this tale of murder, sex, drugs, and even a little rock and roll down until it was done." Todd Morr, Captain Cooker

"A hard-hitting rock ’n’ roll mystery. Kazimer’s debut novel has it all: sex, drugs, murder, perversion, and more twists and turns than a Keith Richards trip to rehab. Trying to find his wife’s killer while clinging to the last shreds of sobriety, Colin Wilde navigates a musical minefield populated with shady promoters, crooked producers, scorned police and vengeful critics. His only salvation? The one woman he knows better than to trust. Dope Sick Love is a thrilling pop culture junkie fix." -- Joe Clifford, author of Choice Cuts and Wake the Undertaker

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Author wanted…self- motivated personalities please apply

By: Joelle Charbonneau

So, in recent days I’ve thought a lot about what it means to be an author.  I think much of my introspection has to do with the fact I’m editing the final book in my YA trilogy, doing copy edits for book 4 of the Rebecca Robbins series all which trying to get new pages done on my 3rd Glee Club book.  About a year ago, I would have panicked at the pile-up of work.  Panic = stress.  Stress = wasted energy.  Wasted energy = more time it takes to get the work done.  Today, I prioritize, focus and realize that I will get done what can get done and the rest will work itself out. 

This doesn’t mean I am not working every day.  I am.  But I have come to realize that the more I have learned in my publishing journey, the more I understand what I need to do in order to get the work done and still be excited about sitting down to work again the next day.

So, today I’ve put together a list of 5 things that in my 4 year publishing adventure I have decided are necessary for a person to survive as an author.

1)      Self-motivation -  Working at home is filled with distractions.  Only you can put your butt in the chair, your fingers on the keyboard and get the work done.  The discipline to do this is something that all authors need.  If you can find more excuses not to write than reasons to sit down in the chair and get words on the page – this is not the job for you.  Writers write.  End of story.

2)      Patience –  You have to be able to sit back and wait in this business.  You wait for beta readers to tell you what they think of your story.  You have to wait for replies and hopefully an offer of representation when you are querying agents.  You wait when your manuscript is on submission for an editor to love the book.  You wait for editorial notes, for copy edits, for page proofs, for reviews.  You wait sometimes a year or two from the time you get a contract until the day when your book is spotted in a bookstore.  Yeah – this is not a business filled with immediate gratification.  If you need a lightning fast pace…well, perhaps this job isn’t for you.

3)      An open mind – Writers love their stories.  We become attached to our characters and want readers to become invested in the conflicts we create.  But just because we write a story doesn’t mean we’ve chosen the best way to tell it.  Editorial feedback is a wonderful thing.  But it can also be a difficult thing.  Hearing someone tell you that something in the story isn’t working can be painful.  Some authors can get defensive when negative feedback is given.   The most important thing an author can do is remember that there are lots of ways to tell the story and editorial notes are about finding the best way.  Sometimes it takes several different tries to decide if a better way is possible.  My editor obviously loved The Testing when she bought it, but her editorial notes pushed me to make the story better.  And after I did, my editor pushed even harder to see what else was possible.  You have to be willing to remember that negative feedback or alternate suggestions aren’t telling you that you did something wrong.  They are telling you there might be something to write that is even better.

4)      A willingness to give up control – Publishing is a collaborative effort that involves a huge number of people, most of which you’ll probably never meet.  Aside from you the author, your editor, your agent (if you have one) and your publisher, dozens of people will be involved in the production of your manuscript.  And everyone will have a point of view about their piece of the production pie.  Type setting, cover art, jacket design, marketing campaign – none of these will be in your control if you traditionally publish.  Will you have opinions about them?  Sure.  My editors always ask me what I think of the cover designs that the art department creates.  But while that is true, that doesn’t mean I get the final say.  Heck – there have been 3 different covers for The Testing.  (The final was revealed this week.  I love it, but I had NOTHING to do with it.  Good since I can’t draw to save my life, but some authors might not feel that way.)  You have to be willing to voice your opinion and then step back and let those who get paid to support your book do the best job possible.  Not always easy when they have a different vision than you. 

5)      The ability to move on – Once the story has been edited and moves into production (copy edits, page proofs, advanced reader copies) the book is done.  Yes, there is work still to be done, and details to be handled, but the story has been told.  As much as you love it, you have to be able to wave goodbye, open up a new word document and start the next book.  Yes, you should celebrate the book that is coming through production and congratulate yourself when it hits shelves, but that story has been told.  The next one is waiting for you to fill the pages.  Because no matter what happens – a writer writes.