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Wake From Death and Return to Life by Andrez Bergen

June 9, 2016 by  •
It’s always a pleasure to welcome Andrez Bergen back to the blog. Andrez is one of my all-time favorite authors, and someone who I believe consistently produces some of the most creative, complex, and challenging fiction around. He’s also a machine when it comes to producing said fiction, so much so it’s hard to keep up with the guy. His latest, Black Sails, Disco Inferno, co-authored with Renee Asher Pickup, is out now and he’s here to talk about an old friend who makes an appearance in it.

Andrez BergenWake From Death and Return to Life

Ever had a character you’ve channeled that it hurt to let go? Once I finished writing One Hundred Years of Vicissitude in 2012, that was how I felt about Kohana, one half of identical twin geisha born on the first day of the Great Depression in 1929. I pulled an all-nighter to complete copy-editing, sent the finished thing to my publishers Perfect Edge Books, lay down – and dreamed about the woman.

She’s been hovering (on precarious geta clogs) in the peripheral ever since.

I’ve had other characters that mean a great deal to me, like Floyd from Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, Mitzi (Bullet Gal), Jacob/Jack in Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa?, and most recently Trista’s role in Black Sails, Disco Inferno – the new book I did with fellow writer Renee Asher Pickup.

Yet Kohana remains some kind of personal enigma, a representation of so many concepts, with human dreams, strengths, and failings all the same.

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A Lot of the Story Left to Tell by Joe Clifford

May 31, 2016 by  •
It’s an honor to welcome Joe clifford to the site today. Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the crime fiction community has known about Clifford’s work for quite some time. From getting short stories published places like Shotgun Honey, Thuglit, and A Twist of Noir, to working as the editor of the The Flash Fiction Offensive, to his first two novels Wake the Undertaker and Junkie Love, Clifford has been a mainstay in the crime fiction community. He took things to the next level, however, with the release of the first book in his Jay Porter series, Lamentation, in late 2014. Lamentation was well received by readers and critics alike, garnering a starred review from Publishers Weekly and earning an Anthony Award nomination for Best Mystery Novel. Now, with the second Jay Porter book, December Boys, about to drop and the writing of the third already under his belt, Clifford has stopped by to talk about what it’s like to settle in to writing a series.

Joe CliffordA Lot of the Story Left to Tell

A week from today, December Boys, my second book in the Jay Porter thriller series, comes out with Oceanview Publishing. I won’t say I almost forgot about it because that sounds terribly disingenuous and ungrateful, neither of which I am. But the release did creep up on me a bit, only because since writing DB, I’ve completed two more novels, including the follow-up, Cold, Cold Hills (technically you don’t italicize until the book is actually published. My editing nerd runs deep), and a standalone.

I feel almost guilty writing that. Raised Catholic, I’ve had that particular emotion hammered deep. I was talking with my buddy Tom Pitts the other day, remarking how strange it is that we both published our first books little over five years ago. Time is relative (as is, well, everything), but it seems nuts when I think back to getting out of grad school in Florida, hobbled from a motorcycle wreck, $100K in student loan debt, and living, to quote Craig Finn, in a rented room. Back then having a single book published seemed so fantastic. Perhaps the only thing stranger is that I’d find myself writing a series.

When I was penning Lamentation, the first Porter book, I did leave enough threads for a possible sequel. But in all fairness, I’ve always been delusional when it comes to art, where I’ve employed a Go Big or Go Home philosophy. My friend Joe Loya says a writer needs to know his/her audience, and then write the hell out of his story for that audience. Meaning, if you want to write an old-timey yarn with a hard-drinking PI come Sin City, which is what my first novel, Wake the Undertaker, is, fine. Just know you are going to have a different (i.e., smaller) draw than if you target a bigger, broader crowd. Niche is nice; I’d rather be Gillian Flynn or Paula Hawkins.

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My Journey With Hard Times by Les Edgerton

May 16, 2016 by  •
It’s truly an honor to welcome Les Edgerton to the site today. There are a lot of people out there writing noir, but Les is the real deal. His life experiences give his writing a verisimilitude you can’t learn from a book or earn via an MFA (though he also has one of those), and his razor-sharp way with words and highly tuned sense of pacing is nothing short of masterful. I’ll be reviewing his latest novel, Bomb, in the next couple of weeks, but not one to let grass grow under his feet, Les is already deep in the writing process for his next book, Hard Times. In fact, it’s a story that’s been haunting him, waiting to be written, for over sixty years.

Les EdgertonMy Journey With Hard Times

Elizabeth has given me a wonderful opportunity to appear on her blog, and she told me I could talk about anything I wanted to except I wasn’t to even mention a certain basketball player who I won’t name, but whose initials are Stephen Curry… So, I won’t.

I thought this might be a good opportunity to talk about the writing process. At least the writing process that I employ.

Whenever I begin a novel, I always begin with an idea that has been rattling around in my brainpan for at least ten years, oftentimes more.

The novel I’ve begun to write these days has had a much longer gestation period. Its genesis stems from a short story I wrote when I was eleven years old and was published in several places. It was originally titled “A Mother’s Love,” which is fairly representative of the callowness I labored under at the time. When it came out in The Analecta, I had shed some of the sentimentality I labored under as a beginning writer and it emerged with the new title, “Hard Times.” It was later included in my first story collection, Monday’s Meal, with that title.

For many years, I was haunted by the woman in the story. From time to time, I’d begin writing a novel based on her original story, but nothing ever came of it. The thing was, the story hadn’t yet jelled in my mind enough to allow me to pen 75,000 words or more about her. I came close, several times, but the truth is I hadn’t yet gotten to the place where I could write her bigger story.

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Terminal by Marshall Karp

May 10, 2016 by  •
“You started out this morning in the morgue, and you ended with a room full of people who are getting ready to take the big dirt nap. If you work homicide, it doesn’t get any more fun than that.” — Terry Biggs

As much as Detective Mike Lomax really doesn’t want to undergo his prostate exam, finding himself in the middle of an active shooter situation is not the way he’d have preferred to get out of it. Yet, in perhaps the ultimate case of being in the wrong place at the right time, Lomax springs from the exam table and responds, complete with ass hanging out of a flimsy exam gown, to the unmistakable sound of shotgun fire in the medical office complex where his doctor is located.

He arrives just in time to witness the shooter kill himself while standing over the body of the doctor he’s gunned down. Investigation reveals the shooter, Cal Bernstein, was terminally ill with a brain tumor, and though there was no connection between him and his victim, a fertility doctor, it still seems like an open and shut case.

That is until a sharp medical examiner brings another case to the attention of Lomax and his partner, Terry Biggs. What first seemed like an unfortunate car vs. pedestrian accident, the pedestrian having been both intoxicated and in the street at night, needs a second look when the medical examiner finds a wound inconsistent with the trauma one would expect from the impact of a vehicle. Things takes a turn for the decidedly sinister when Lomax and Biggs learn the driver in that accident is also terminally ill, with stage IV lung cancer, and that he and Bernstein attended the same support group.

The harder Lomax and Biggs tug on the strings surrounding the cases, the bigger the puzzle that starts to unravel. Though it seems clear someone is hiring terminally ill people to commit acts of murder in exchange for a huge payment to their families, who is doing the hiring, and why, is the real mystery.

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Hustle by Tom Pitts (Down & Out edition)

May 4, 2016 by  •
Hustle by Tom PittsIf you missed Hustle by Tom Pitts when it was first released, good news—a new edition is now out from Down & Out Books! Jacket copy:

Two young hustlers, caught in an endless cycle of addiction and prostitution, decide to blackmail an elderly client of theirs. Donny and Big Rich want to film Gabriel Thaxton with their cell phones during a sexual act and put the video up on YouTube. Little do they know, the man they’ve chosen, a high-profile San Francisco defense attorney, is already being blackmailed by someone more sinister: an ex-client of the lawyer’s. A murderous speed freak named Dustin has already permeated the attorney’s life and Dustin has plans for the old man. The lawyer calls upon an old biker for help and they begin a violent race to suppress his deadly secret.

I reviewed the book when it first dropped, and here’s a taste of that:

Author Tom Pitts pulls no punches, uses no filters, and offers no apologies or excuses for the behavior of the people who inhabit the world of Hustle. The result is a strikingly stark, in no way glamorized look at drug addiction and two young men doing whatever it takes to feed that monster. Having said that, there is still an undeniable beauty to Hustle, an unvarnished truth that shines through in the prose Pitts brings forth, at times stripped down and raw, other times lyrical and hauntingly poetic.

You can read my full review here, and pick up the new Down & Out Books edition of Hustle at Amazon.

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April Skies by Ian Ayris

April 28, 2016 by  •
Ian AyrisSomething’s movin towards me. Gettin closer. Feelin its way in the dark. It’s took two years. But it’s comin.— John Sissons

John Sissons is working hard to put the events of the past behind him, events that landed him in prison for a seven-year stretch. (Abide With Me) Out for two years, he’s been working at a market stall several days a week selling produce.

When that job dries up, John signs on with a job placement agency that gets him in working at a door factory. It’s dreary, repetitive, soul-crushing work, but twenty-five years old and knowing it’s time to get on with being a man, John sucks it up and sticks things out.

Slowly, things seem to be taking a turn for the better. John settles into the pattern of the work, the money’s coming in, and he even starts dating a young woman who works in the factory office. And then news arrives that changes John’s world forever.

Ronnie Swordfish, the man John’s testimony helped put in jail for murder two years ago, has been killed in prison. John knows that doesn’t mean his problems are over, they’re just beginning. Ronnie was a nasty piece of work, but one who had a circle of friends and family who are incredibly loyal…and who are now equally incredibly pissed off at John.

John may have served his time, but as he soon learns some debts are never really paid.

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The Little Wine Guide by Ariel Heart

April 25, 2016 by  •
As a constantly evolving wine aficionado, I’m pleased to be a stop on Ariel Heart’s Pump Up Your Book blog tour in support of her new book, The Little Wine Guide. What follows is some information about the book and how Ariel came to write it, as well as your chance to enter to win a wine basket. — EAW

The Little Wine Guide by Ariel HeartThe Little Wine Guide Book Blast

“Don’t know much about wine? From Cabernet to Chardonnay, from buying wine to enjoying it; this jam-packed little book removes the mystery and makes learning about wine fun. The Little Wine Guide is presented in a conversational tone and helps you discover what interests you in the world of wine as you embrace your personal wine style.

Ms. Heart is a wine enthusiast on her personal wine journey who found most books on wine either too textbook, too long, or packed with information she didn’t need or want to know. Eventually, she was collecting the information that she found pertinent to enjoying wine without a degree in viticulture. She thought others might like to have the short cut to the core material as well. Thus was born the idea for The Little Wine Guide.”

Book Excerpt: You have decided it’s time to learn a little about wine. You don’t want to get carried away, but you would like to get a handle on why you like some wines yet others are just yuck. Maybe you were at a friend’s house and the wine your friend raved about tasted nasty to you, but the recommendation at the restaurant was the best wine you have ever tasted. Perhaps that guy or gal in your life enjoys wine and you want to know some basics at least. You have come to the right place my friend.

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The Office of Lost and Found by Vincent Holland-Keen

April 22, 2016 by  •
The Office of Lost and Found by Vincent Holland-Keen“My name is Thomas Locke. I am a private detective and what I’m about to say might sound strange, but it is absolutely true.”

Vincent Holland-Keen’s (Billy’s Monsters) debut novel The Office of Lost and Found is fueled by a cast of wonderfully quirky and endearing characters, and unfolds as several parallel, if time-bending, plots.

Thomas Locke is not just a detective, he’s a detective capable of finding anything, anywhere, no matter how long lost or how well hidden. He is the “found” half of The Office of Lost and Found.

Locke’s partner, Lafarge, brings new meaning to the term shadowy, literally appearing only as a tall, dark figure cloaked deep in shadows. He is the “lost” half of The Office of Lost and Found, and you better be sure you really want something lost before seeking his help, because things Lafarge loses stay lost. Permanently.

Originally published in 2011, The Office of Lost and Found has been out of print for several years…until now.

Publisher Fox Spirit Books has gloriously given new life to The Office of Lost and Found with a paperback edition that includes a new cover design and layout, as well as an appendix featuring a bonus short story, notes, and drawings.

The Office of Lost and Found was not only one of my Top 10 Reads of 2011, but is one of my favorite reads ever. You can read my full review here, and pick up a copy of the new Fox Spirit Books edition on Amazon and Amazon UK.

Vincent Holland-Keen is an author, artist and video director currently residing in the North of England. He works for a major metropolitan university as a business analyst/system designer. To learn more about Vincent, visit his blog or find him on Twitter.
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Down the Darkest Street by Alex Segura

April 20, 2016 by  •
This was old Miami, classic, historic, with a coat of paint over something darker and more dangerous.

It’s been a year since we last saw Pete Fernandez in Silent City. And while he made it out of the events of that book alive, he may wish he hadn’t.

Fernandez has lost his job as a journalist, his marriage has fallen apart, his best friend was killed, and he’s learned those closest to you are the ones whose betrayal hurts the most—and are the ones that you never see coming.

And in case you think life is taking a turn for the better for Fernandez, Down the Darkest Street opens with Fernandez in an alley getting his ass kicked as a result of his drunken antics in the bar he’s been making home for the past year.

Not a complete lost cause, Fernandez decides to try and get things back on track by attending AA, and in short order seems to have the train once again rolling in the right direction. Of course, it wouldn’t make for much of a story if Fernandez didn’t get into trouble, so author Alex Segura quickly derails Fernandez’s train to happily ever after.

First he has Emily, Fernandez’s ex-wife, move in with him to regroup as her new marriage hits the rocks. An encounter with her husband, Rick, puts the case of a missing woman on Fernandez’s map, and before he can stop himself Fernandez is reaching out to his best friend Kathy Bentley, his partner in Silent City and still a journalist with the paper that fired Fernandez, for assistance looking into the matter. They soon discover that Rick’s missing friend is not the first woman to go missing recently, and the details they uncover have a disturbing resemblance to the crimes of a known serial killer. One who was executed over twenty years ago.

Unfortunately for Fernandez, when he starts looking into the abyss it does more than look back—it comes after him and everything he holds dear…with a vengeance.

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Hey, Kids, Collect them All: The Awful Truth About Completism by Gavin Scott

April 18, 2016 by  •
It’s a pleasure to welcome Gavin Scott to the site today. Gavin has extensive experience in radio, film and television, having spent twenty years working as a reporter for the BBC and ITN, as well as in Hollywood as a screenwriter on projects with such film royalty as Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Gavin’s new novel, The Age of Treachery, first in a new series set in post WWII England and featuring ex-Special Operations Executive agent Duncan Forrester, is out now from Titan Books.

Hey, Kids, Collect them All: The Awful Truth About Completism

I suspect the syndrome began when I read the backs of serial packets in the 1950s and was urged by the manufacturers of Shredded Wheat and Rice Crispies to make sure that I had the complete set of the plastic Space Men/Pirates/Guardsmen/Divers/Miniature Nuclear Submarines that they were offering. Sadly, I was rarely able to eat enough Rice Crispies or Shredded Wheat to succeed: but the lust for the complete set was planted.

I think in literature the process began with the Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge, if only because the art on the dust jackets of the adventures of the boys at Jennings school was so colorful and full of delight.

Interestingly, although I loved Captain W.E.Johns’ Biggles books, I was never tempted to try to collect them all because there was simply so many– and the same applied to Richmal Compton’s magnificent William books.

I think the enthusiasm for complete sets really took hold courtesy of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. At the age of 11, a newly arrived emigrant in New Zealand and staying at a Salvation Army hostel in Cuba Street, Wellington, I discovered in the window of the bookstore opposite a hardback copy of the John Murray edition of His Last Bow. It had a white cover decorated with the magnificent painting of Sherlock Holmes holding, of all things, a cockerel. It was some years before I was able to get a copy for myself and by that time I had discovered that the painting was one of a whole series of Holmes which decorated the covers of all the books in the Collected edition from The Adventures onwards.

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The Long Goodbye by Ian Ayris

April 13, 2016 by  •
It is an extreme pleasure to welcome Ian Ayris to the site today. I don’t know what Ian’s middle name actually is, but I secretly think it’s Midas, because everything he writes is pure gold as far as I’m concerned. His debut novel, Abide With Me, completely blew my doors off and was one of my Top 10 Reads of 2012. He followed that up with the complex and powerful novella One Day in the Life of Jason Dean, a story built around a hit man whose enthusiasm for the job is fading fast—like fading by the hour fast. Today, Ian’s here to talk about his newest novel, April Skies (out tomorrow from Caffeine Nights Publishing), an unexpected sequel to Abide With Me. Why unexpected? Well, Ian previously explained how difficult it was to write Abide With Me, so I’ll let him explain why writing the follow-up was unexpected, and why he was so scared of letting readers down.

Ian AyristThe Long Goodbye

I began the writing of ABIDE WITH ME – my debut novel – some time in 2010. I never plan anything I write, and ABIDE WITH ME was no different. What I discovered very quickly, however, was whilst I thought I was telling the story of Kenny – a young lad with unspecified autism – the story I was actually telling was that of John, the narrator of the book.

As the story unfolded, and John began to tell me of his childhood years, various aspects of my own childhood began to filter into the book. I wrote the final few chapters of ABIDE WITH ME with tears running down my face. At the end of it all, I was emotionally shattered. That’s when I realised I’d stopped telling John’s story a long way back, and the story I was really telling was my own. Not the plot, as such, but the themes and the characters. Each were intrinsically a part of me, and always had been.

By the final chapter, I was broken.

I had nothing left.

The book was incredibly well received – something I hadn’t anticipated. In hindsight, ABIDE WITH ME was all about the purging of myself, the making it out alive. I had no thought that it might touch others as it did.

There were two constant themes to the feedback I began to receive – ‘What a great film it would make’ and ‘When is the sequel coming out?’

There would be no sequel. I was sure of that. After the first one broke me in half? You’ve got to be kidding. In terms of the story, there was ample room for a sequel, but I refused to write one simply because people wanted me to. The story, for me, had ended.