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Hard Bite by Anonymous-9

November 9, 2012 by  •
Anonymous9Inside my head I try to keep the truth black and white, no grey area: I like to kill. – Dean Drayhart

Hard Bite by Anonymous-9 features a paraplegic vigilante, his enforcer (an extremely well-trained capuchin monkey named Sid), a pissed off mother (who just happens to be the de facto head of a Mexican drug cartel), a savvy streetwalker, a boatload of Los Angeles law enforcement, enough blood to float the Titanic, and a guns blazing finale.

Now, I know a sizable portion of my regular readers are as “off” in the head as I am, and for you lot that will be all the description you need to be hooked. So, off you go. Buy the book.

For those of you who want a little more, here we go.

Dean Drayhart used to be a normal guy. He worked a boring but lucrative job in insurance, had a wife and lovely seven-year-old daughter, and while he was aware of the fragility of life – how can you not be looking at actuarial tables and statistics all day – he never really thought about death in terms of himself or his family. That is not until a hit-and-run driver destroyed everything Dean held dear.

Now his child is dead, and his marriage is as distant a memory as his ability to use his legs. He lost a hand too, and his GI tract hasn’t been quite right either since the accident, which had the added insult of “squashing [his] large intestine to mush.” Now, well, Dean’s on a first name basis with death these days. Initially it was in terms of considering suicide, “which lost its appeal contemplated deeply,” but instead turned into an obsession with seeking vengeance on hit-and-run drivers.

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Moondog Over the Mekong by Court Merrigan

November 8, 2012 by  •
Moondog Over the Mekong by Court MerriganYesterday Court Merrigan stopped by for a guest post, in which he very creatively presented via animated gifs a reworking of his short story “The Scabrous Exploits of Cyrus & Galina Van, Hellbent West During the Third Year of the Harrows, 1876.” The story is as wonderful as you’d imagine given the title, and Merrigan’s tongue-in-cheek retelling of it via gifs was truly inspired.

So it comes as no surprise that along with “The Scabrous Exploits…”, the dozen other stories which make up Merrigan’s recently released collection, Moondog Over the Mekong (Snubnose Press), are equally as creative and inspired. And though I’d love to talk about every one of them, I do want to leave you some things to discover completely anew for yourself, so I’ll just highlight a few of my favorites.

“The Cloud Factory” kicks the collection off, and quickly sets the tone for what’s to come. Seemingly a straightforward story of a guy driving his meth maker/dealer buddy to the bus station for his “last ride” out of town having finally quit the business, things take a hard left about a third of the way in and the story morphs into something very different. It’s a quick, neat study in how a lifetime of spinning your wheels can explode when that futile spinning suddenly finds unexpected traction.

“The Last Ladder” takes the old adage age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill and plays that out in the wonderfully wicked story of cocky young drug dealer Jeff and his unlikely delivery “boy,” the nearly 70-year-old Roy. Broke, a widower, and with a bad back in desperate need of surgery, Roy seems like the perfect candidate to accept whatever he’s given and do Jeff’s bidding without question. Oh, man, does Jeff have another thing coming.

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Where Do Ideas Come From and What Will They Think if I Write Them?! by Anonymous-9

November 8, 2012 by  •
It is my extreme pleasure to welcome to the blog today the woman, the myth, the legend… Anonymous-9.

Anonymous9Where Do Ideas Come From?

None of my ideas come fully formed. Inspiration is unusually sourced. For instance, way back in 2008, I was eagerly searching for e-zine publishers for my third and fourth short stories. One site looked promising but said no stories with cats in them would be accepted. I felt this was heavy-handed although the publisher had every right to set rules. Focusing on cats as a problem seemed misdirected instead of illuminating the problem underlying the cats (an avalanche of cloyingly cute story submissions perhaps?).

Anyway, my subconscious mind got hold of it and the very next idea that came to me involved a badass, hardboiled cat. Feeling faintly defeated from the get-go, I scribbled the idea down anyway, on the back of an envelope while in the car.

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Why So Serious? by Court Merrigan

November 7, 2012 by  •
And now for something completely different, Moondog Over the Mekong author Court Merrigan.

Court MerriganNoir tends to take itself pretty seriously, all death and affliction and, well, darkness. I’ve been no exception; my story THE SCABROUS EXPLOITS OF CYRUS & GALINA VAN, HELLBENT WEST DURING THE THIRD YEAR OF THE HARROWS, 1876 is proof of that. But there’s more than one way to skin a story, right? We don’t have to be so damn serious all the time, do we?

So, supplementary to your reading this story in the next issue of Needle and also in my short story collection MOONDOG OVER THE MEKONG, I lightened up a little, and so present to you that same story told via animated gifs.

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Confabulation by Ronald Thomas

November 7, 2012 by  •
Reaching The End, Then Not by Ron BrownThe drive was silent, and for a few minutes Henry could remember what his life had been like just a few weeks before.

The mind is a powerful thing. It can lead people to accomplish tremendous things, both admirable and abominable. To do either, however, requires drive and focus. So what happens when you suddenly realize you’re consumed by a focus you have no memory of setting your mind to, something you are compelled to accomplish without understanding why?

That’s the situation facing three individuals in Confabulation. Once a happily married man and productive employee, Henry Adamson has become obsessed with the idea that his wife is in mortal danger. He can’t remember why he thinks this, but with every fiber of his being he knows it to be true.

Simon Klein and Carolyn Hansford are also having strange experiences. Simon is experiencing bizarre episodes of vision loss, while Carolyn is suddenly in possession of an amazing wealth of information she’s been able to leverage for financial gain, information she has no memory of obtaining.

On the surface the three seemingly have nothing in common, neither in relation to one another nor in the events they are experiencing. That is until they are each contacted by someone claiming to know what’s happening to them, someone who offers up fantastic tales of government conspiracies and a shadow organization manipulating psychic abilities. When events conspire to bring the three together they must figure out whom to believe, but how can you trust a stranger when you’re not even sure you can trust your own mind?

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Genre? by R. Thomas Brown

November 5, 2012 by  •
I’m pleased to welcome R. Thomas Brown back to the blog. The last time he was here was in conjunction with his outstanding release, Hill Country. Today Ron’s here in support of his latest release, Confabulation, a story which takes him a little outside the confines of his straight up crime fiction background.

Reaching The End, Then Not by Ron BrownI love crime fiction. I like reading it, writing it, editing it. Really, I’m just a huge fan. Okay, maybe I’m not the target audience for PI stories, but the genre and I are good friends.

I also like speculative fiction. Epic fantasy, hard sci-fi from time to time. I like contemporary fantasy most (yeah, maybe it’s just urban fantasy, but I like rural settings, too.) And, sure, I like the blending of them as well. Chris Holm and Chuck Wendig in particular are doing some things that I just love.

So, I tried my hand at writing a story that pulled together the kind of crime fiction I like to write (some call it laconic, some overly violent, some weird people actually like it) with some paranormal elements. What came out of that was Confabulation, a story that centers on the paranoia of not being able to discern reality.

It’s still a fast moving tale (I think) and still works mainly with normal people struggling against assaults. This time, though, the assault aren’t guns and fists, but hallucinations, false memory, and the occasional brain melting.

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Blood & Sawdust by Jason S. Ridler

October 31, 2012 by  •
Jason S. Ridler“Shouldn’t we both be afraid of something badass enough and strong enough to scare her?” – Milkwood

It’s a very perceptive question Francis “Milkwood” Mace poses to his young friend, Malcolm Tanner. After all, the her in question is Lash, one of the few surviving members of an ancient bloodline and the vampire who turned Milkwood. But let’s back up for second…

Thirteen-year-old Malcolm (first introduced in Jay Ridler’s short story “Blood & Sawdust” in his collection, Knockouts) and his older brother make their meager living betting on the underground fight circuit. His brother’s in it strictly for the money, but Malcolm is a true fan who knows all the fighters. At least he thought he did.

That was until the night he saw Milkwood fight for the first time. Short, pudgy, with a face only a mother could love – and that’s before taking a beating – Milkwood was utterly annihilated in his fight, a human punching bag who absorbed an inhuman amount of punishment. Dragged out the back door of the fight club and left for dead, Malcolm figured he’d seen the first and last of Milkwood.

So imagine Malcolm’s surprise when only a few hours later he runs into a Milkwood who is not only conscious and vertical, but who looks like no one’s ever laid a finger on him, much less a beating of epic proportions. Malcolm begins to piece things together when he realizes he actually has seen Milkwood fight before, except it was as a masked character billed as Stretch Armstrong…who was also beat to hell and back. In fact, those in attendance that night four months ago were sure Stretch had suffered a broken neck.

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The Devil Doesn’t Want Me by Eric Beetner

October 31, 2012 by  •
Eric BeetnerWho ever thought killing two girls would be less of a cock-up than keeping one alive? – Lars

Most people would certainly think killing two people would cause significantly more problems than not killing one. Then again, most people aren’t 47-year-old mob hitman Lars. Killing’s what he does, and he’s damn good at it. Well, he was until recently anyway.

For the past seventeen years he’s been on the trail of Mitchell “Mitch the Snitch” Kenney, an accountant who turned on Lars’s employer, Nikki Senior, resulting in half a dozen members of “the family” going to prison. Mitch got the Witness Protection treatment from the feds, and at Nikki Senior’s behest Lars has been patiently hunting Mitch down ever since.

Time’s a bastard, however, and both Lars and Nikki Senior are getting old. This doesn’t cause too much grief for Lars, who’s settled into a life of isolation, yoga, and listening to 70′s hard rock while moving throughout the Southwest in his quest to find Mitch.

Nikki Senior’s having more of an issue, specifically with his issue, Nikki Junior. Seems Junior’s ready to take over the family business, and he’s not keen to wait until the old man actually shuffles off this mortal coil. Junior’s making a power-play, and one of his first orders of business is to tie up loose ends…namely, “Mitch the Snitch” and Lars. Junior thinks Lars is a relic, and decides the best way to kill off the old blood is with new; enter hotshot up-and-comer wannabe hitman Trent.

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Fight in the Lonesome October: This Ain’t Your Sister’s Vampire Novel! by Jason S. Ridler

October 30, 2012 by  •
I guess it’s only appropriate that as Halloween approaches The Ridler is back to take over my site for yet another guest post. Hell, the guy’s been around so much between guest posts and my reviews of his work I’ve had to give him his own section in the site’s archives! So, please allow The Ridler to explain how he came to write a vampire story, despite the fact he hates vampire stories.

Jason S. RidlerVampires. How the hell could I write about vampires? It was a challenge I’d set myself back in 2002, just three short years after I started writing. They were and remain the most popular and pervasive horror trope on the planet. In high school, I had friends who loved Anne Rice and Poppy Z. Brite. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was becoming a pop culture phenomenon. Paranormal Romance was taking over the planet!

But as far as I was concerned, vampires sucked donkey shit. At least how they were presented in the sampling I’d seen. They were like elves, a glorified aristocracy. They actually were stronger and faster and more deadly by virtue of their existence; they were, if you will, born better than you! And the image of the romantic vampire, or repentant kind, with distant stares and brooding intensity? Snore . . .

I mulled on that a bit when someone asked me why I didn’t write about vampires. “They seem popular! Everyone likes them! Why not write about them instead of wrestlers or gutter drunks or junkie musicians?”

Why indeed.

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One Hundred Years of Vicissitude by Andrez Bergen

October 29, 2012 by  •
Andrez Bergenvi·cis·si·tude noun \və-ˈsi-sə-ˌtüd, vī-, -ˌtyüd\ 1. the quality or state of being changeable; 2. a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance.

December of 2011 brought me one of the best gifts I’ve ever received, but Santa wasn’t the one who delivered it. No, my personal Kris Kringle was author Andrez Bergen, who was kind enough to provide me with a copy of his book Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. I thought the title and cover intriguing, and set about reading. Damn! Not only did TSMG end up being one of my Top Reads of 2011, it is one of my favorite reads ever.

Naturally, I wondered how he could ever possibly top it. Well hold on, ladies and gentlemen, because with One Hundred Years of Vicissitude Bergen is once again taking readers on a wildly enchanting journey down the rabbit hole to an ethereal world rich with Japanese and pop culture, one which seamlessly melds history and the hereafter.

Though not a sequel in the traditional sense, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude is built around the character of Wolram E. Deaps, last seen in Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. When we last saw him, however, things weren’t going too well for Deaps, so much so in fact that Vicissitude begins with the following observation on his part: “First up, a disclaimer. I suspect I am a dead man.” He suspects correctly.

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Guilt Edged Mysteries: A Piece of Pulp History by Eric Beetner

October 29, 2012 by  •
I’m happy to welcome author Eric Beetner back to the blog. Eric’s latest book, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me, was recently released by Guilt Edged Mysteries, an imprint whose history Eric’s taking a look back at today.

Eric BeetnerIn 1947 when Dutton needed a place to stash the harder boiled books coming in to their offices, they decided to set up a separate imprint. A tough book like Mickey Spillane’s I, The Jury wouldn’t mingle well with the upper class of Dutton’s roster. This was a new era in tough guy writing, noir with a sharper edge. And Guilt Edged Mysteries was born.

In the nine years Guilt Edged originally existed they published 82 hardcovers, including those first seven in the Mike Hammer series and pulp classics like Fredric Brown’s The Fabulous Clipjoint and The Screaming Mimi as well as Lionel White’s Clean Break which later became the basis for Stanly Kubrick’s film noir classic The Killing.

As a vintage pulp junkie, you can imagine my delight when Guilt Edged was relaunched earlier this year. And my mind was further blown when I got the news that the new Guilt Edged wanted to publish my book, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me. I immediately ran off to learn more about the short-lived imprint.

Not that there was a lot to learn aside from the titles, a chronological list can be found here. In looking at the books they chose to publish it is easy to see that they were rounding up the books with more extreme violence (for the time), pulpier plots and tougher tough guys. Female authors were few and far between and often used the time-honored trade of disguising their gender with initials, like with the book Murder At Drake’s Anchorage by E. Lee Waddell. The E. stood for Eleanor.