Monday, March 29, 2021

UNLOADED: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns


With recent, horrific gun related murders as a backdrop, our society continues to argue about gun violence. The call for commonsense laws and local community efforts to raise awareness about gun safety is a starting point, but a point we should have been at years, if not decades, ago.

On the fifth anniversary of its publication, Do Some Damage takes a look back at the ground-breaking, Anthony nominated anthology UNLOADED: CRIME WRITERS WRITING WITHOUT GUNS and the equally popular follow-up, released in 2018, UNLOADED VOLUME 2.

Both collections were edited by Eric Beetner and authors for the first collection included; J.L. Abramo, Patricia Abbott, Trey R. Barker, Alec Cizak, Joe Clifford, Reed Farrel Coleman, Angel Luis Colón, Hilary Davidson, Paul J. Garth, Alison Gaylin, Kent Gowran, Rob Hart, Jeffery Hess, Grant Jerkins, Joe R. Lansdale, S.W. Lauden, Tim O’Mara, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Pitts, Thomas Pluck, Keith Rawson, Kelli Stanley, Ryan Sayles, and Holly West. While bestselling authors E.A. Aymar, Chris Holm, Dana King, Nick Kolakowski, Lori Rader-Day, Bill Crider, Laura McHugh, James R. Tuck, Scott Loring Sanders, James Ziskin, John Rector, Sara Paretsky, and many more contributed to UNLOADED VOLUME 2.

All the writers provided their stories for free, and the proceeds from both anthologies were and continue to be donated to States United to Prevent Gun Violence, a nonprofit organization that supports gun violence prevention groups across the country.

The main objective of these two anthologies, both featuring tales of suspense, crime, and mystery, but no guns, is to draw the reader in with the action, tense story line, and pace they are used to from crime tales. With a variety of settings featured, the point that violent crimes can and will happen everywhere is effectively driven home. That violence can be unintentional, planned or fueled by rage is secondary to the tragic mark it leaves on the characters.

The collections speak to how the stories, with or without guns and much like society, will continue to thrill even in the absence of guns. In fact, when the crutch of a gun is removed, the writers create plenty of wicked ways to end a life; baseball bats, incinerators, trains, and cash registers. And the plots are interesting and hair-raising, as well; think a simian on the loose, a dying serial killer out for one last thrill, or androids with buried secrets. All of the stories are creative and dynamic, featuring traditional and non-traditional protagonists up to their necks in trouble and willing to go to extremes to come out on top.

These are tough tales, brutal stories that will leave the reader thoughtful and unnerved. A highly suggested collection with quite a bit to say about our society.

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