A Little Trip to London and Scotland

I was in beautiful sunny Scotland for the last week or so, with a few days in hot and sunny London as well. I tend to visit those isles during freakish weather. When I visited Ireland, we had thirty minutes of rain. Don’t tell anyone, lest they kidnap me and stick me in a dungeon to keep the clouds away. It was a lovely trip. That word was said quite a lot on the trip. That and delightful. Scotland’s natural landscape truly does evoke powerful emotions which obliterate the brain’s thesaurus. Or perhaps it’s the whisky and the beer.

sunset ruins
Sunset and Ruins on the Isle of Skye

We arrived in London for a friend’s wedding at the Naval college, went on a great Jack the Ripper tour with London Walks, then met writer Ian Ayris at The Grapes pub in the East End and talked until closing. Great fellow, that Ian. His novel Abide with Me was released to rave reviews, and he has a great story in Protectors as well.

Rob Roy's Grave
Rob Roy’s Grave

Then we took a train to Scotland with a crowd of loud children in the quiet car, and I drove 848 miles on the wrong side of the road and survived several near-death experiences across the roundabout infested, wind scoured kilt-scape. Firs stop: Oban, where we met the magnanimous Fiona “McDroll” Johnson for fish and chips. The best of the trip. McDroll has several story collections and a novella series out, and we edited the Lost Children anthology together. She writes with great power.

Fiona "McDroll" and me
Fiona “McDroll” and me

Next to Skye. A gorgeous isle of castle ruins, unique geological protuberances and wildlife, we crossed its 20 miles on a one lane road among oil trucks and tour buses. The beautiful setting made up for the stark raving terror. We had a terrific meal of fresh seafood in Portree, along with a few glasses of smoky Talisker’s scotch, the Port Righ port-barrel finished being my favorite. We also visited the Dalwhinnie distillery and enjoyed their distiller’s edition and 25 year very much.

Eilanan Donan castle
Eilanan Donan castle

On the way out we stopped at Eileanan Donan castle, one of the biggest and most evocative, but also where Highlander was filmed, which was the important thing. Here I am, the master of your destiny:

TomSword-sml
The Kurgan in his natural habitat

From there to Loch Ness, where we caught some rain and ducked into a pub to enjoy a night of traditional music at Ghillie’s rest, where local musicians wander in and join the band. The next day took us to Inverness and the coast, where we hopped a boat to see a dozen plump north sea bottlenose dolphins settling down to lunch. We hugged the coast and stopped in Aboyne to see the Highland Games, where I regrettable didn’t join the shotput event despite having set the record in my Freshman high school year, thanks some pestering old injuries. That and I had no kilt. Maybe next time. I do want to learn to toss the caber.

Castle Pat Benatar
Castle Pat Benatar

South we hit Castle Dunnotar, one of the last fortresses to hold out against the British invader, then St. Andrew’s cathedral, whose tower has existed since the first millennium. Saw the RSS Discovery, which explored the Antarctic.  From there we drove straight to Edinburgh.

St. Andrew's cathedral
St. Andrew’s cathedral

In Edinburgh we saw Mary Read’s Close, which is an alley from the old city that was built on top of in the 1900’s. Much of it remains and it is a curious if dank window into the city’s past. We also saw the Military Tattoo play outside the castle, and met up with Allan Guthrie, Nigel Bird, and Tony Black & family in Portobello, and spent a fine evening chatting over pints and chai. Overall it was a great trip and I can’t wait to return to Scotland and the East End of London, visit my friends once more, and have more time to relax and explore.

Nigel Bird, myself, and Allan Guthrie
Nigel Bird, myself, and Allan Guthrie

Acapulcolypse, and more in NIGHTFALLS: Notes from the End of the World

Katherine Tomlinson’s new anthology, NIGHTFALLS: Notes from the End of the World  is now available from Dark Valentine Press. It includes my story “ACAPULCOLYPSE,” about a nebbish mass murderer with biological weapons on a cruise ship set to view the world’s final solar eclipse. It’s a comedy.

plus stories of armageddon from Patti Nase Abbott, Nigel Bird, Col Bury, Chris Rhatigan, Matthew C Funk, Richard Godwin, Sandra Seamans, Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw, AJ Hayes, Allan Leverone, Jimmy Callaway and more.

If you read it before 12/21/12, you can say “I’ve got Mayan, where’s yours?” and be all smug before the sky bursts into flame.

nightfalls cover

Night falls out of the gutter…

First, Ryan Sayles interviewed me for Out of the Gutter. He has a column there called The Noir Affliction. Ryan is a very funny guy, though I had to throw him around a bit, and he took a few shots at me. Probably the most entertaining interview I’ve done in a while. He asks me to define noir, and I turn into the Hulk.

Read it at The Noir Affliction.

Secondly, I’m very proud to be in Katherine Tomlinson’s NIGHTFALLS anthology, out soon from Dark Valentine Press. The last day on Earth… how would you spend it? If you’re Terence Nightingale, star of my story “Acapulcolypse,” you want to take out as many human beings as possible on your own, which is a real bother when you faint at the sight of blood. The anthology benefits Para los Niños, an organization in Los Angeles that helps at-risk kids and their parents succeed in education and in life, and contains 28 more tales from the likes of Matthew Funk, Sandra Seamans, Allan Leverone, Nigel Bird, Chris Rhatigan, Col Bury, Christopher Grant, Patricia Abbott, Jimmy Callaway and Veronica Marie-Lewis Shaw.

 

 

 

Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT is out!

The anthology I’ve been working on since January, to benefit PROTECT and the National Association to Protect Children, is now available.

PROTECTORS includes a foreword by rock critic Dave Marsh, and fiction by Patti Abbott, Ian Ayris, Ray Banks, Nigel Bird, Michael A. Black, Tony Black, R. Thomas Brown, Ken Bruen, Bill Cameron, Jen Conley, Charles de Lint, Wayne D. Dundee, Chad Eagleton, Les Edgerton, Andrew Fader, Matthew C. Funk, Roxane Gay, Edward A. Grainger, Glenn G. Gray, Jane Hammons, Amber Keller, Joe R. Lansdale, Frank Larnerd, Gary Lovisi, Mike Miner, Zak Mucha, Dan O’Shea, George Pelecanos, Thomas Pluck, Richard Prosch, Keith Rawson, James Reasoner, Todd Robinson, Johnny Shaw, Gerald So, Josh Stallings, Charlie Stella, Andrew Vachss, Steve Weddle, Dave White, and Chet Williamson.

The book is now available for Kindle, and the pages at Barnes & Noble and Kobo will be live soon.

For updated order information, including how to order it directly through Paypal (generating the largest donation; you can upload the Kindle or ePub file to your reader, or read it on your PC) go to the PROTECTORS Official Web Page.

The book will also be available for the Apple iPad and on Smashwords. Our designer is working on the print edition, which will be available at Amazon and in bookstores.

The wait is over… go be a Protector!

The Protectors Anthology is coming…

For a year, I’ve been working on a follow-up anthology to Lost Children, the charity anthology inspired by Fiona Johnson‘s flash fiction challenge, hosted at Ron Earl PhillipsFlash Fiction Friday. It is nearly complete, and will be available September 1st. Here is the full list of contributors. 100% of proceeds will go to PROTECT and the National Association to Protect Children – the army fighting what Andrew Vachss calls “the only holy war worthy of the name,” the protection of children.

Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT

Stories by:

Patti Abbott
Ian Ayris
Ray Banks
Nigel Bird
Michael A. Black

Tony Black
R. Thomas Brown
Ken Bruen
Bill Cameron
Jen Conley

Charles de Lint
Wayne D. Dundee
Chad Eagleton
Les Edgerton
Andrew Fader

Matthew C. Funk
Roxane Gay
Glenn G. Gray
Jane Hammons
Amber Keller

Joe R. Lansdale
Frank Larnerd
Gary Lovisi
Mike Miner
Zak Mucha

Dan O’Shea
George Pelecanos
Thomas Pluck
Richard Prosch
Keith Rawson

James Reasoner
Todd Robinson
Johnny Shaw
Gerald So
Josh Stallings

Charlie Stella
Andrew Vachss
Steve Weddle
Dave White
Chet Williamson

40 stories. One cause: PROTECT

In a few weeks, the e-book will be available across all formats. The print edition will follow.

Cover art by Kim Parkhurst. Interior design by Jaye Manus. Cover design by Sarah Bennett Pluck. Print design by Suzanne Dell’Orto. Edited by Thomas Pluck.

I would like to thank everyone who submitted stories for the collection, and everyone who assisted me with this project, and everyone at PROTECT.

Book Blast: Bird, Ellison, Abbott, Beat to a Pulp and more

Several books by authors I admire have hit the streets recently. But first, let me get this out of the way. My friend Sabrina graciously opened the door of her blog to me, and I have a guest post up about why I wrote “Little Sister,” my story for last year’s Lost Children Charity Anthology.  Sabrina is a great friend, and my ideal reader: a passionate fan of crime fiction, who likes a story fraught with action, real stakes, and bloody thrills. She always puts her heart into her reviews, and if you like thrillers and noir, I highly recommend you follow her blog.

First up, my friend Nigel Bird- one of my favorite short story writers- has written his first novel. Some are calling it “teacher noir,” about a Scottish schoolteacher who tries to help one of his troubled students, and ends up in over his head. Nigel is the author of the excellent story collection Dirty Old Town, and last year’s smashing novella Smoke. In Loco Parentis is available at Amazon.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B0082FR9ZO&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Megan Abbott is one of noir’s rising stars. She began with powerful nods to the classics, and last year she wrote The End of Everything, a daring novel about an abducted girl in the Detroit chi-chi suburbs. I first read her in the L.A. Noire story collection, where her tale of Hollywood sleaze “The Girl” knocked me out of my socks and into next week at the same time. Now she’s tackled the high octane and brutally competitive world of high school cheerleading with DARE ME, and Dave White gives it a great review at his new blog, Beer ‘n Books. Dave is an IPA hound, but he has great taste in beer. He also writes a pretty good yarn himself, like Witness to Death.

Buy Dare Me at Indiebound
  http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0316097772&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
Beat to a Pulp Round Two is out, and editing superstar David Cranmer has put together another stunner of a collection. This time Charles Ardai, Bill Pronzini, Patricia Abbott, James Reasoner, Glenn Gray and Steve Weddle are on the card, among other champs, contenders and ringers. And look at that cover. David is one of my favorite editors to work with, and he really knows how to rope together a collection. Maybe he learned a little from Cash Laramie, his western marshal?
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=plyoto-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0983377510&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

And last but not least, the first author to influence me and make me pick up the pen was Harlan Ellison. Maybe you’ve read of our infamous correspondence? Well, Harlan began writing juvenile delinquent tales, before he broke the chains from pulp SF and created his own audacious flavor of speculative fiction. And some of those tales were racy, collected as “Sex Gang,” under the pseudonym Paul Merchant. They’ve been out of print, until now. Kicks Books is releasing them with the only slightly less squirmy title, Pulling a Train.

I don’t see the Ellison book available at my local indie or at Amazon yet, but these are what I’ll be reading this summer… once I catch up and read Dead Harvest, The Adjustment, City of the Lost, Edge of Dark Water, and That’s How I Roll!

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page

Yellow Mama and All Due Respect

When it rains, it pours.

I’m extremely proud, “chuffed,” even, to have stories in both All Due Respect – the long form crime fiction webzine started by Alec Cizak and now run by Chris Rhatigan. Chris also reviews fiction at Death by Killing, co-edits the Pulp Ink anthologies with Nigel Bird, and is a fine writer himself. Alec has moved on to Pulp Modern, and has a few novels under his belt as well.

This story is my tribute to Elmore Leonard, and was originally written for a beach noir contest at Do Some Damage. I expanded and edited it, and I love the characters so much that they will appear in a novel sometime soon. A bit of pulp caper set in Antigua, where two honeymooners need help from Hazeldeen, a barmaid at their resort, and drag her into their “White People problems.”

White People Problems, in All Due Respect

Yellow Mama, named after Alabama’s electric chair, is a crime zine edited by author Cindy Rosmus, who had a cracking tale in last month’s Hardboiled magazine. Yellow Mama caters to dark noir and horror, and my brutal revenge story shows the lengths one man will go to, to avenge his family. Sometimes revenge is a real bear.

Play Dead, in Yellow Mama

I hope you like them. If you do, please leave a comment here or at the source, and share the links with your friends. I’d really appreciate it!

Monday I’ll announce the winner of the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader: Flush Fiction giveaway, so stay tuned. 

© 2012 Thomas Pluck
I post on Twitter as TommySalami ~ My Facebook Page