More Music Not to Miss

What am I listening to today? Here’s a couple of things. I’ve known Alan Savage for a while — probably a friend of Mr B‘s. He has a new collection out that captures the feel of summers gone by and even has some William Blake. It’s got me almost believing in the sun again:

I know I learned about Lys Guillorn from Julie Beman, who’s a fine musician in her own right. We’re going to hear Lys play this weekend at a Connecticut Swan Day event. How to describe this album? Lazy days, sort of country, werewolves, ghosts and vampires show up, mellow — and more summery, too. Maybe it will get warm again.

Oh, and must not forget: Downtown Boys! Stephanie and Marko have seen them play at Willimantic Records. Check out their 7″ and new single Monstro. Kick ass punk music!

New Passport Ordered

2015-03-19 09.19.12It makes me nervous to give up my passport. I feel like one of the folks in Casablanca, waiting waiting. It’s not that I imagine I might have to suddenly jump on a plane and leave the country in the middle of the night.


But I feel as if some essential part of me has been handed off into the void. It was necessary: my passport expires in May and I already have my ticket to go back to Scotland (of course). There should be plenty of time, yet it’s impossible not to image things going awry.

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I like having all the stamps that show places I’ve been: in and out of the UK, to Switzerland this year and Italy before that, back to Finland and my 2-page visa for Ireland. I want to add even more in the next one and made sure to order the thicker book.

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I wish I could get a Norwegian passport: the new American ones are so hideous you’d think they were designed by someone in Duck Dynasty or some other ‘murrican sort of group. I don’t suppose I’m allowed to cover it with Hello Kitty stickers. Alas.

SpeakEasy Radio: Mollie Cox Bryan and Liz Everly

SpeakEasy sqwebSpeakEasy Radio today features a chat with authors Mollie Cox Bryan and Liz Everly to discuss the state of publishing in two very different genres: mystery and romance. What are the challenges for authors in the world of social media when the industry is in such a kerfuffle?

Check out Mollie Cox Bryan and Liz Everly online!

Read Tempting Will McGlashen from Liz at Tirgearr Publishing and drop by Lady Smut.

Try Mollie’s Cumberland Creek mysteries and get a taste of Mrs. Rowe’s recipes.

A few technical issues intruded, so the last bit is cut off, alas! Note to self: double check all the settings before hitting the schedule button.

SpeakEasy Radio: Fox Spirit Books head, Adele Wearing

St Urho Hopper“Heinäsirkka, heinäsirkka, mene täältä hiiteen!”

Happy St. Urho Day! As usual, we commemorate the saint (or his wife) who chased the grasshoppers out of the vineyards in Finland in the usual manner — by fire-grilling the grasshoppers! No, wait — that’s just a cool design made by S. L. Johnson who thought this holiday a little crazy but a good excuse to make a hellfire hopper. I love it.

SpeakEasy sqwebToday brings another episode of SpeakEasy Radio: I chat with Fox Spirit Books head, Adele Wearing, who talks about starting her small press, folding in her love of martial arts and how much she loves her readers, writers, artists and staff. Fox Spirit Books include TALES OF THE NUN & DRAGON, EMILY NATION, THE STARS SEEM SO FAR AWAY, EUROPEAN MONSTERS, WHITE RABBIT, DRAG NOIR and the entire Fox Pockets series.

SpeakEasy Radio: Valerie Polichar and Me

SpeakEasy sqweb

On a new episode of SpeakEasy Radio, Valerie Polichar, of Huge Shark and If This, and I chat about living a creative life and dealing with all the attendant difficulties that requires from time management to finding work that pays yet doesn’t exhaust all your energy and a million other things along the circuitous paths that got us where we are.

Review: Diagnosis by Alessandra Bava


Alessandra Bava
Dancing Girl Press

Life is short: I find I have less and less time to review books because I am too busy writing them. Consequently I only review books that I simply have to urge people to read. Like this one: poetry is an investment. A slender chapbook takes no time to read cover to cover if you read it the same way you read prose. Don’t do that.

Ideally, you should read poetry aloud and think about the words, really listen to them as you pronounce them. Repeat them, savour them.

Bava’s work is incredible always. Her poems are a knife to the gut hidden in a beautiful bouquet of words. Like the earlier Guerilla Blues, Bava digs deep into her blood for inspiration. Dedicated to Sylvia Plath, the poems delve into the dual impulses of the wild hare and the contemplative analysis.

“Beneath this shiny fur the flesh is raw–”

In the poem ‘Sister’ the poet promises: “I won’t really kill you / You won’t really have to die / You’ll be a part of me / You’ll run in my blood”: those lines capture the loving, devouring hunger behind the so-called agony of influence. We have to do it. It may be a trap, but the magic is continually reborn.

The tension between the need to understand and analyse is always at war with the need to feel and create. The titular poem offers the coldness that our roles can lock us within: the metal clang of the jail door, the label we love and yet reject. Even caged, Bava suggests, we are always free:

“Here I am. An exiled troubadour feeding on scraped plaster words, the monarch of a reign of minor beasts and bricks.”

Long may she reign.

Out of My Head: Noir Bizarre

©SLJohnson 2015

Where do ideas come from?

Creative folk get asked that a lot and the answer is always everywhere, but sometimes I find it interesting to write down the chain of sparks that started a fire, so to speak. I know “Ham on Heels” started with a conversation I had with Stephanie Johnson (Flint & Steel, baby!).

Of course I can’t recall at all what led to that image or what the conversation was about but as she often does, Stephanie turned the idea into a cool image. We both laughed with delight and I saved it on my ‘to-do’ list to write the story. I should check the email’s date to see how far back that was but it’s been a while.

So the next thing I did, in keeping with the rigorous creative process I maintain, was forget all about it. Or not exactly forget, but forget why I had this image in my head. Gradually it was replaced with the cool image that Stephanie made and there it languished.

And quite unexpectedly one day the story popped into my head, whole and Athena-like. Was it the same story? A new one? I have no idea. Seriously. I don’t know, but I wrote it and sent it to Jason at Pulp Metal Magazine who has a taste for the bizarre and it made him laugh, so he published it (it’s good to know editors’ tastes). Stephanie even tweaked the image a little to make it more perfect (I thought it was already!). I hemmed for a moment over who would get credit, me or Graham Wynd, but it seemed so quintessentially noir despite the bizarre, that in the end I went with Graham.

Yes, I have those conversations with myself. Oh, and my other selves. I contain multitudes.

Graham is on Twitter now, too. Follow him for more crime-related stuff.