Over at Ellery Queen Magazine’s blog, Peter Hochstein asked me and a few other crime writers about what makes poker such an interesting game. He also talks about a 57-year running game that’s had Lawrence Block, Don Westlake, and Otto Penzler at its table. An intriguing read…
And Libby Cudmore is at Crimespree talking TV shows, and asked several of us our favorites. I talk about how Crime Story influenced me, and many others discuss everything from Murder She Wrote to NYPD Blue.
What else is new?
I’ll be signing at Farley’s Bookshop in New Hope, Pennsylvania with my fellow crime writer Jen Conley on Saturday August 5th, from 1:00pm to 4pm. It’s one of my favorite bookshops, so drop by even if you don’t want to see us or have us sign your books. I’ll be stopping at the nearby Triumph Brewing afterwards for a refreshing libation…
Dave White, author of the Jackson Donne mysteries, Jen Conley, author of Cannibals: Stories from the Edge of the Pine Barrens, and myself. Come join us, it’s sure to be a blast…as we open the safe and make off with the loot.
Barnes & Noble Morris Plains
1940 Route 10 West
Morris Plains, NJ 07950
I got tagged by Ed Kurtz, author of Bleed, Control and others, to join in The Next Big Thing blog tour. Normally I don’t jump in for these things but he’s a good guy and it’s an easy way to talk about works in progress, and let readers know about other writers they might enjoy.
1) What is the working title of your next book?
Blade of Dishonor, a novella for Beat to a Pulp. (I’ve mentioned Bury the Hatchet a lot on the blog, and it is still in progress, but this will be done first.)
2) Where did the idea come from?
David Cranmer asked if I’d be interested in writing about an MMA fighter tussling with ninjas over a stolen sword. How could I say no to that? David published my mixed martial arts fighter tale “A Glutton for Punishment,” and I grew up on ’80s ninja movies and the Shogun Assassin “baby cart” samurai films. It is set in the present day, but the action begins in World War 2. I enjoy writing this so much that there may be a prequel written in the era of feudal Japan.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Adventure. Pulp is not a genre and “men’s adventure” paperback originals aren’t either, really. Adventure covers it, with a little War thrown in.
4) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Mixed martial arts fighter Reeves comes home from Iraq to help his wheelchair-bound grandfather run his Army-Navy store, and becomes embroiled in a centuries-old battle between ninja and samurai over a priceless and powerful Japanese sword.
5) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters?
Reeves, the MMA fighter, would be played by Joel Edgerton. He was in Warrior, he played a fighter and made it look real. Plus he’s got those sad eyes that women like, and looks like someone went over him with coarse grit sandpaper. My kind of hero.
His grandfather Butch, the wheelchair-bound war vet would be played by Ed Asner. He’s big, old, and angry as hell. Better known for comedy, but the man is a firestorm. The villain is a Japanese businessman, who could be played by Tadanobu Asano, best known for his role in Thor.
And his brutal henchman Mikio would be a good role for Hiroyuki Sanada, who is in “Revenge” and the new Wolverine film. He has the scruffy, beat down look. Tara, the gal with the suped-up muscle car, could be Gina Carano, but Tara is an art major, not a fighter. She’d break a fired chunk of pottery over your head, not try the flying armbar. She’s more of a Christina Hendricks, tough on the inside.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is a work for hire for Beat to a Pulp press.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft?
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Action-oriented thrillers like the Jack Reacher novels by Lee Child and the Pike novels by Robert Crais, but grittier. War novels like The Short-Timers, James Brady’s The Marines of Autumn. I won’t say there’s nothing like it out there, but I haven’t read anything close. Maybe my readers can enlighten me.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My great-uncles all fought in World War 2, in Europe and the Pacific. The book is dedicated to them. They never talked in detail about the War, but their feelings were made clear. And I’ve been fascinated with Japanese culture since I was a kid. I loved Clavell’s Shogun, the Lone Wolf and Cub manga–I read all 28 volumes–Musashi, the yakuza gangster movies of Suzuki, Takashi Miike, Takeshi Kitano, and of course, the samurai films of Kurosawa and Hiroshi Inagaki, any movie with Toshiro Mifune in it.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
The story follows Reeves in Part 1, then his grandfather Butch Sloane, in Part 2. Butch was a commando in the Devil’s Brigade. It is meticulously researched, and while we are in the trenches for all of the story, if you look up the battles date by date, what weapons, who fought in it, and how they won, it will satisfy all but the most unforgiving. It’s fiction, after all. I took license here and there, but I put the characters into real situations. The Devil’s Brigade existed, they fought the battles in the book, and if I change history, it is to insert the lost history of a grand plan that failed. The Devils were the inspiration for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, only they were even badder.
And if you enjoy mixed martial arts, I trained in them for seven years. I write them realistically. I know a pro and amateur fighters and trainers, and I write them with respect. But also show just how brutal this training translates into combat outside of the ring.
This story is as tight and intense as anything I’ve written, fast-moving and thrilling while giving you plenty to think about. With enough action for three movies, much less one.
I’m tagging five writer friends you may know about already. If you don’t, I recommend you get acquainted with them, they are fantastic. I will admit, they have all talked to me about their projects or mentioned them on social media, so I dub them not only to spark your interest, but because of my own. They haven’t let me down yet, and I want to know what irons they got in the fire.
Josh Stallings is a film editor by day, and the author of the Moses McGuire crime thrillers by night. And I mean long into the night. We shared a hotel once, and when our sleep apnea machines were not dueling into the night like two Darth Vaders arguing over a dinner check, he was tip tapping away into the small hours. And the work shows. The McGuire books, Beautiful Naked, and Dead and Out There Bad, are two excellent tales about a bad-ass Marine who survived Beirut but never really came home. He’s a strip club bouncer, muscle for hire, and when he’s not trading slugs and elbow strikes with the bad guys, he’s at war with the demons within himself. The poetry of James Crumley’s sad, elegiac prose and the rip roaring action of Robert Crais.
Lynn Beighley delivers pills of sharp and subtle humor hidden in the steak of her fiction… like she’s sneaking medicine to one of her two Bernese Mountain dogs. She cut her teeth as a tech writer, but her short stories have appeared in journals and all over the web. She brilliantly depicts our fractured modern lives, interweaving social media personae with cold splashes of reality.
Steve Weddle is the editor for Needle: A Magazine of Noir and the creator of hitman Oscar Martello. Steve often combines hardboiled grit with absurd and fatalistic humor, but is also capable of fascinating introspection, as in the story he wrote for the Protectors anthology.
Jen Conley is an editor for Shotgun Honey, and no one captures the attitude and dialogue of New Jersey like she does. Her stories have appeared in ThugLit, Protectors, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter and elsewhere. Her characters are so full of life they claw their way off the page.
Chad Eagleton is a two-time Watery Grave International finalist and Spinetingler award nominee. His socially conscious crime fiction packs a wallop. Chad has also been researching novelist Shane Stevens, who wrote the first serial killer novel and was the basis for Alex Machine in Stephen King’s The Dark Half, and also happens to be one of the most underappreciated writers of his time.
I’m eager to hear what their fierce imaginations are up to… aren’t you?
And if you want a taste of how I write Edo Period Japan, with samurai and yakuza… read “Shogun Honey,” which I wrote for Sabrina Ogden when she was at Shotgun Honey.
Sunday night, a group of writers convened in Greenwich Village, like their kind had many times before. Not at the Lion’s Head (it’s long gone) but at Shade, on Sullivan Street, a cozy corner snug where Big Daddy Thug- also known as Todd Robinson, editor of ThugLit and a fine writer himself- holds reign. He and Glenn Gray, the Doctor Demento of Noir- called on me and a cadre of New York area noir-tistes to shake down the house with hardboiled tales, and we packed the place, to the proprietor’s delight.
Taking the cue from Jed Ayres & Scott Phillips fantastically successful Noir at the Bar in St. Louis- which spawned one of the best story collections to come out last year– Todd & Glenn invited us to read, rub elbows and shoot the unholy shit. A great time was had by all, and with the weather keeping the pub’s shutters wide open, passersby peeked in and listened while we shot the place up with short hard tales and gripping excerpts from these square objects made of bound paper that we old folks call ‘books.’ Speaking of books, Glenn Gray raffled off copies of the original Noir at the Bar collection, Scott Phillips novel Rut, Lucius Shepard’s A Handbook of American Prayer, Todd raffled copies of the ThugLit collection Blood, Guts & Whiskey, and Jason Starr gave away copies of The Pack.
I was late thanks to this new atmospheric phenomenon known as ‘rain,’ which the public transportation systems of the New York tri-state area are still struggling to cope with. I missed Justin Porter reading his story “The Headstone,” but we did get to chat. We train with the same MMA animal, Phil Dunlap at Advanced Fighting Systems. From one look at Justin, he’d kick my monkey ass six ways to Sunday unless I sat on him first. I came in while Cindy Rosmus- editor of Yellow Mama– read a bloody tale involving puttanesca sauce, which made me hungry.
We had quite a lineup- Jason Starr read from his novel Tough Luck, which has been optioned as a feature film. A Brooklyn tale of a kid caught up with mobsters and bookies, this one looks like a winner. Jason’s second novel of The Pack, entitled The Craving, hit the streets today. If you’re looking for a gripping take on the werewolf tale, look no further.
Next up was Jonathan Hayes, reading from his novel A Hard Death. I went home and ordered it. He reads the opening scene, where a kid biking along the Everglades runs into two bad men, and my beer went warm in my hand as I paused to listen to it. If you know me, you know I can give no higher praise.
Wallace Stroby read a poem of his that appeared in The Lineup, the crime poetry site; he has a followup to A Cold Shot to the Heart out, entitled The Kings of Midnight, starring Crissa Stone, whom Kirkus Reviews called “crime fiction’s best bad girl ever.” Matt Melitta, an Iraq vet and journalist, read a chilling excerpt of a novel in progress, about a soldier recovering from a comrade’s suicide. I hope we get to read the rest soon.
Todd Robbins- no relation- and author of The Modern Con Man, read several excerpts of his book on the grift, all good stuff. Who doesn’t love a good con? Jen Conley read her fantastic story of Metalhead Marty in Love, which really brought me back to my high school days. You’ve read her in Shotgun Honey, Needle, and Beat to a Pulp, where my favorite tale of hers, “Cannibals,” appears.
I read my story “Black-Eyed Susan,” which first appeared in Aldo Cacagno’s Powderburn Flash, then Johnny Shaw brought down the house with his hilarious homage to the men’s adventure tales of the ’70s, Chingón: The World’s Deadliest Mexican. If you liked Machete, you can read that at Blood & Tacos. He kindly gave me an ARC of his next novel, Big Maria, which sounds even wilder and more fun than his first, Dove Season. I loved that one, and I look forward to reading this one.
Todd finished up the night, and it took serious cojones to follow Johnny, but Todd knocked it out of the park. Todd just released a short story collection, Dirty Words, and I suggest you check it out. Todd crafts down dirty noir tales that capture New York blue collar fatalism and riddle it with humor, and often, gunfire. Great stuff.
The night was a great success, and I hope we do another one in a few months. Any writers or readers who’d like to join, visit us at our Facebook page: Noir at the BarNYC