Elements of Crime – Thursday 7/11

Watchung Booksellers is a standout among local indie bookstores. Always a great selection of all genres. I even profiled them for LitHub’s feature My Favorite Bookstore.

They’ve had everyone from Judy Blume to Carol Burnett, and this Thursday at 7:00PM,  they host me, Alex Segura, Hilary Davidson, and Dave White for ELEMENTS OF CRIME. We’ll be discussing our influences, how we write suspense in this increasingly chaotic news cycle, and more.

Watchung Booksellers is located in Watchung Plaza, Montclair, at 54 Fairfield Street. Street parking is available, and it is footsteps away from NJ Transit’s Watchung Station on the Montclair-Boonton Line.

Everybody Watchung to(morrow) night!

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Friday Friday Monster Trucks (and Thrillerfest)

So who’s excited for Thrillerfest this year?

On  Friday, Megan Abbott will be interviewed by Lee Child, and George R.R. Martin will be interviewed by Anne Groell.

Saturday, James Rollins will be given the Silver Bullet award and interviewed by Steve Berry. It’s also the chance to see past ThrillerMasters, including Lee Child, GRRM, David Morell, and R.L. Stine.

This is the “biz” convention unlike “fan” conventions, such as Bouchercon. And as such, it’s the time to ask all the questions you may have about the craft and the business.

I will be on a panel Friday morning, hosted  by Ed Aymar, about editing anthologies, with Joe Clifford, Kathy Bennett, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Johnny Temple, and Wendy Tyson. It should be a good time, if you’ve ever had any questions about editing one yourself. It’s not as easy as you think, and the term “thankless” gets thrown around.

So, hope to see you there Friday!

Goodbye, Harlan.

Dear Mr Ellison,

I cannot conceal my annoyance that you have gone.

We lost a giant.

That’s not meant as a joke, though Mr. Ellison bore the brunt of cruel nerds who mocked his stature at every turn. The only time I met him was at ICON, held in Stony Brook College, when fans were begging for Simon & Simon to be kept on the air, and demanding a sequel to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, when they weren’t mocking Harlan on stage for being short. I think that was the last science fiction convention I went to, and it will remain so. The fandom is venomous, like a snake. A small part will kill you, while the rest can be amazing and beautiful… but I digress. I saw how ugly people could be. He was generous and gracious to me, he signed every book and shirt and record that I bought, and I shook his hand, a hard and knobby workman’s hand, odd for a writer. A fighter’s hand.

And boy, could be fight.

And damn, could he write.

If you haven’t read him, Deathbird Stories is my favorite. That and I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. You can get the collection The Top of the Volcano for a taste of his very best stories, too. Angry Candy is damn fine, as well.

We spoke on the phone briefly, when I asked him to contribute his stunning, award-winning story “Croatoan” as a reprint in Protectors 2: Heroes. He called me out of the blue, we had been corresponding by letters with the contracts, and he wanted to know who he was dealing with. We chatted for a while, he was 82 years old and sharp and snappy as always. “Hey, kiddo! It’s Harlan Ellison.”

To me, that was my “made it” moment, which most of us have, no matter how silly they are. Harlan Ellison called me.

In 1989, when I wrote Mr Ellison the infamous letter–which was showcased on Letters of Note, Flavorwire, and got me a gig writing an introduction to a Gerald Kersch collection, a writer whose work I was introduced to through Harlan–I must confess, I looked up his phone number and called it, after I mailed the letter. To apologize. He asked fans not to write, because he felt compelled to answer all correspondence–typed, by hand! imagine that now in a day when publishing professionals can’t be arsed to fire off form emails–and after I dropped my letter in the mailbox, I felt guilty. So why not bother him more, with a call?

I confess, he answered. And I was a coward, I hung up.

I prank called my literary hero. So I really deserved that letter, which makes me laugh to this day. He loved it. Being Harlan. Even stars burn out, and he had the energy of several. I’m glad I was alive to see his light, to shake his hand, to hear his voice. I’ll always be proud to have published his reprint. And yes, I put my story afterward. I didn’t want anyone else to have to follow him.

All a writer has is time and a portion of talent.

Thank you, Harlan, for sharing your time and talent with me. I’ll pay you tribute by using both my time and talent to the best of my ability.

Harlan Ellison letter

Thrillerfest

Thrillerfest is coming! I’ll be there Friday and Saturday this year. I’m on a panel for the first time, moderated by Ed Aymar, with Joe Clifford and others. We’ll be talking about putting together anthologies on Friday.

TFest XIII panel graphic SHORT STORIES, EXCERPTS OR NIGHT OF THE FLOOD

I hope to see you there.

“The Third Jump of Frankie Buffalo” at Tough Crime

I have a hardboiled crime story up at Tough Crime, called The Third Jump of Frankie Buffalo. It draws on my years at Port Newark and a Korean War vet I knew named Bill, and I hope you like it.

I really like what Rusty Barnes is doing over at Tough Crime. One story by Matthew Lyons, “The Brothers Brujo,” was chosen by Roxane Gay for inclusion in this year’s Best American Short Stories. And it’s a paying market. There will be a print edition later this year. The crime fiction scene has lost some great mags recently, but Tough Crime and Down & Out Magazine are helping fill those shoes. Let’s do our best to make sure they aren’t concrete.

spoiler:

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We Got the Beat…and a Go-Go’s themed anthology, edited by Holly West

It’s a bit early to crow about, because this drops in March 2019, but I’m thrilled to have a story in Holly West’s first anthology: Murder-a-Go-Go’s, all stories inspired by the songs of the Go-Go’s, with an introduction by band member Janet Wiedlin.
My story is “We Got the Beat.” Originally I chose “This Town,” but my idea fizzled and I asked if this was taken. And it wasn’t! One of their big hits! I read my story at KGB Bar a while back and it killed. I channeled my inner 15 year old and went wild. The line-up is fantastic, check it out. And be patient….
Holly is a great story writer herself, having been nominated for an Anthony award (and the short story nom has a LOT of competition!) and had her story “Don’t Fear the Ripper” collection in Otto Penzler’s collection of the greatest Jack the Ripper stories. Her historical mysteries MISTRESS OF FORTUNE and MISTRESS OF LIES are great reads, check them out.

Murder-A-Go-Go's Line Up

Anthony! Ant’nee! Ant! Tony! Tone! Tee!!!

That’s Italian mother for “Anthony.” You’re welcome.

And thank YOU and everyone who nominated Bad Boy Boogie for an Anthony Award for best paperback original! The good folks running Bouchercon this year in St. Petersburg Florida announced this year’s nominees, and you can read them all here at the 2018 Anthony Awards site.

I’m thrilled that my first Jay Desmarteaux crime novel was nominated, and it’s in great company:

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Honored to be nominated with Lori Rader-Day, Nadine Nettman, James W. Ziskin, and Eryk Pruitt! The winner will be announced on Saturday September 8th at the convention.

This is my second nomination, Protectors 2: Heroes was nominated for best anthology in 2016, but there were so many great authors in that one, the honor was shared. And so is this one. My publisher Down & Out Books and editor Chris Rhatigan helped me get the book into fighting shape, and early readers Holly West, Elizabeth Kracht, Lynn Beighley, and others all had a hand. Thank you all, and thank you readers for your great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, for spreading the word, and everyone who put Boogie on their Anthony ballot!

I’m hard at work on Jay #2, Riff Raff, set in the wilds of Louisiana, and this will kick me in the pants to get it done a little more quickly.

Congratulations to all the nominees. Here are a few I’m especially happy to see:

Jen Conley and Hilary Davidson for their short stories. They are both two of my favorite writers to read, and spin a great story. Special congratulations to Susanna Calkins, whose first published story was nominated! Alex Segura and Joe Clifford for their Bill Crider award nominations for best novels in a series, they’ve created great characters we love to follow. Dan & Kate Malmon for their best anthology nom for Killing Malmon, which was a hilarious theme and inspired so many great stories. Eric Beetner and S.W. Lauden of Writer Types Podcast, my fellow damaged writers at Do Some Damage, the folks at Jungle Red Writers, and Kristopher Zgorski of BOLO Books for creating great online content. Jordan Harper, Kristen Lepionka, and Christopher Irvin for their best first novel nominations. This is always a tough category and they wrote their hearts out. She Rides Shotgun was one of my favorite recent crime novels, and deserves the Edgar it nabbed. Attica Locke and Don Winslow for best novel. Bluebird, Bluebird and The Force were both great reads.

There are folks I nominated who didn’t make the top five, it seems, and that’s rough for everyone. I had given up on this one, and woke up to a surprise. Want proof? I wrote about Awards Season Depressive Disorder at Do Some Damage. It’s still something to keep in mind, even if I am a firm believer in the “it’s an honor to be nominated” mantra. It is an honor.

Keep writing the books you want to see, and you can’t lose.