Getting Foxy

webDrag Noir

Fox Spirit Books items this week:

A terrific review for DRAG NOIR over at British Fantasy. It’s taking a while, but people are discovering this book that brings a unique twist on the noir genre:

What I like about the anthology is that K.A. Laity has taken the time out to make sure she has made her idea live up to the expectations of many noir and drag readers. She has literally had the authors featured here go into the minds of their characters to bring them to life with all their problems, shattered dreams, bad love lives.

Well done to all the writers in this collection: you stepped up to a challenge and brought stories that were fresh ans surprising.

I’ve also got a piece on the Fox Spirit blog today about the necessity of promoting your books. Drag Noir is a good case in point. It’s been a long term commitment, continuing to get the word out to people who don’t know about it but who will appreciate it when they do. People can’t read a book they don’t know about. Let your excitement be known.

And always check whether You Left Your Biscuit Behind.

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Venice and More

Apologies for dropping out of things lately: insanely busy trying to catch up. Lots of ways to entertain you, however. Example: read this wonderful review of Drag Noir that came out when I was literally on my way out of the country. Thanks, Plenitude Magazine and Latonya Pennington. The process of finding your audience can be slow, but when you do find them it’s so gratifying.

If you’re interested in crime writing at all, check out this issue of TEXT magazine: Crime Fiction: The Creative/Critical Nexus, edited by Rachel Franks, Jesper Gulddal and Alistair Rolls. I am very happy to have my close analysis of Dorothy B. Hughes’ The Expendable Man [PDF download].

But you want pictures, right? The whole album can be found here, but let me show you a glimpse of this amazing city (click pictures to embiggen). And there’s still the manuscript exhibit to upload!

Reviewed: Drag Noir

Starburst Magazine has a quite nice review of Drag Noir up that highlights the good work Fox Spirit is doing and gives specific kudos to some of the fantastic stories in this collection:

One of the nice things about the small press is that you tend to find more original and clever ideas amongst them, especially when it comes to anthologies. Fox Spirit Books tend to specialise in seeking out new talent and coming up with bright new themes. Drag Noir blends two things that work so well together it now seems obvious. The grim, gritty and hyper-sexualised noir genre and the glorious world of drag. Both share similar histories, and it’s easy to imagine a top hat and tails wearing Gladys Bentley rubbing shoulders with the characters from The Postman Always Rings Twice…

Read the entire review here.

Chuffed to say the least! And here’s Gladys to sing for us, because we know what we like.

NoirCon 2014 – Part 4

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Let me wrap things up: I’ve let them drag on too long, probably because I have been busier than a one-armed paper hanger since I got back. Or something like that. Fun ends and work returns and there is so much to do: I was grading papers on the train and sketching out a story in the hotel. There are no breaks for writers: there’s only writing and not writing.

There was the party though: or rather, the awards dinner. Some people really swanked up for it. I was, alas, short of any sparkling wardrobe options so I went as I was and hey, writers — so there were a lot of people to blend in with. Once again Absolutely*Kate whipped the troops into cabs, though at least a couple of the cabs had trouble getting their GPS to locate the Sheet Metal Worker’s Union Hall on the river. Swanky place!

None of the writers could quite believe that there was an open bar, but when the word spread it was like seeing a fire pass through a forest.

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There was singing, there was dancing there were ravens on the table. We had a very nice meal and a lot of chat, quite like a shindig and many tasty treats.The 4th David L. Goodis Award was presented to Fuminori Nakamura
 and the 4th Jay and Deen Kogan Award was presented to Bronwen Hruska
. Howard Rodman presented Eddie Muller with the Anne Friedberg Award for Noir Film Appreciation and Preservation and there was live music courtesy of The All Star Jazz Trio: Bruce Klauber, Bruce Kaminsky,and Andy Kahn. We danced. At some point I was inducted into the mystical order of the Black Rose Society (but my lips are sealed — for now). And there was a piñata that looked like Frank Sidebottom at the Day of the Dead. Nakamura cracked it open with a few good whacks. And then we went to the Marriott for more drinks.

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The next morning we were all (when I say “all” of course I mean those of us who were not drinking late into the night) up early for Steve Hodel’s second talk “Most Evil” in which he sketched in the case for his father as a potential candidate for Zodiac. “I’m not saying ‘he did it’ but I think he should move toward the top of the list of suspects.” Wow, it’s chilling. The weight of the evidence is really quite compelling and the thought of discovering your father as not just a killer but perhaps one of the most notorious killers of the 20th century is gob-stoppingly shocking. Despite a lot of the Black Dahlia evidence conveniently disappearing (George Hodel had procured abortions for a number of Hollywood and LAPD folks in the 40s and 50s) and Zodiac evidence being unavailable, Hodel makes a solid argument for the connections that will chill you to the bone. Do pick up his books if this is something you’re up on because wow.

I had to catch a train and missed the closing ceremony at Port Richmond Books as well as Godwin and Jay Gertzman’s Hybrid Noir panel, which I would have *loved* to see, but duty beckoned. Two years until the next one — can we wait that long?

Many thanks to the fabulous organisers, Lou Boxer and Deen Kogan, who manage to pull off an amazing experience.

NoirCon 2014 – Part 1

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I headed off to NoirCon. It was a misty morning so the fog floated over the Hudson as the train rumbled south. Before you knew it we were passing under the George Washington and pulling into Penn Station. After a relatively quick and painless change, I was on my way to Philly. I’d already missed the Noir at the Bar night, but there’s only so many classes I can cancel (>_<) I got some grading done that night and was ready to dive into the dark the next morning.

And dark it was, kicking off with Steve Hodel‘s talk on the Black Dahlia killer — or as he called him, “Dad” O.O Yes, really — and worse, there’s a lot more murders he can be convincingly linked to in that time. There’s a good write up at Out of the Gutter, but suffice to say the crowd was riveted, convinced and horrified all at once. What must it have been like to put the pieces together (after his father’s death) and come to that realisation. Hodel, who refers to himself as the ‘black sheep’ because he became a cop, has done a thorough job. If you’re a true crime aficionado I highly recommend checking out Hodel’s work. Because the real gutting thing is that the most gruesome aspects of the killing was the ‘murder as art’ angle. Deeply disturbing stuff.

Page & Richard

Page & Richard

Of course the first thing was catching up with friends like Richard Godwin and his lovely wife Page.

Next up were Jean W. Cash, Joan Schenkar, and Robert Polito, biographers of Flannery O’Connor, Jim Thompson and Patricia Highsmith respectively to talk about the links and rifts between Highsmith and O’Connor who seem to have similarly dark imaginations but could not be more different — nor could the two biographers. Schenkar is a hoot and as lively and loopy as her superb tome on Highsmith while Cash is a genteel and soft-spoken academic, but together they gave great anecdotes and talked about the few chance interactions between the authors, two of the greatest American voices of the 20th century.

Over lunch we got to see a short film courtesy of Jeff Wong, Ross Macdonald—In the First Person (1970), which had been rescued from obscurity where the author talks about his writing and life with Margaret Millar, whose work is coming back into print and long-overdue recognition. Always interesting to see writers talk about process. Which is my excuse for skipping the next panel to have a drink with Patti Abbott — yes, after all these years we finally got to meet face to face after a lot of near misses. Skål!

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I’m going to have to do this in pieces as I have to run just now, so if you want to skip ahead read fellow Existential Noir panelist Carole Mallory’s write up.

Happy Drag Noir Halloween!

Whoohoo! It should be live now! Just click the picture and get all the DRAG NOIR goodness for yourself. You may also want Fox Spirit’s other release today, WICKED WOMEN.

DRAG NOIR: this is where glamour meets grit, where everyone’s wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not) and knowing the players takes a lot more than simply reading the score cards. Maybe everyone’s got something to hide, but they’ve got something to reveal, too. Scratch the surface and explore what secrets lie beneath — it’s bound to cost someone…a lot. Introduction by Dana Gravesen and Bryan Asbury , The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin , Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky , No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon , Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker , Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates , Trespassing – Michael S. Chong , Chianti – Selene MacLeod , The Changeling – Tracy Fahey , Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett , Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates , Protect Her – Walter Conley , King Bitch – James Bennett , A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill , Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan , The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden

And because I’m usually better about celebrating Halloween, here’s a prezzie for you: all three HARD-BOILED WITCH stories are free today only! Get them all and catch up on your reading before number four comes out. Just click the pictures.

 

White Rabbit Hops

I’ve been a bit off kilter of late, but slowly catching up with things. Here are some links to places I have been flogging my latest book with all my puny might (have to work on that upper body strength).

Guest Posts

I’m over at Richard Godwin’s for a Quick Fire at the Slaugherhouse where I talk about the genesis of White Rabbit, a bit about Extricate/Throw the Bones and the forthcoming Drag Noir collection that features Richard and a host of fine writers. Richard’s also got a really lovely remembrance of AJ Hayes over at All Due Respect.

Mollie Cox Bryan had me visit and yammer on a bit about ‘What is Noir?’

I talked about the history of Spiritualism, Fakes and Table Rapping — topics that figure in the novel — over at Charlene Raddon’s blog.

I was also in the spotlight over at Annie’s Book Stop in Worcester, where I talked about all kinds of things. Drop by and see for yourself.

 

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Reviews

Heh, and he gave me a lovely and extremely flattering review, too:

White Rabbit is a marvelous and potent cocktail of crime fiction, screwball comedy and the supernatural. A cracking yarn choc full of brilliant lines that reminds you of Wodehouse, Preston Sturges and the Coen Brothers and yet is like nothing you’ve ever read before. Fantastic stuff. More please!

Mr B is aces. And a fine one also from the QoE: “White Rabbit” is a fun, intriguing story that sucked me in, took me on a corkscrew ride and never let go until the end. A wonderful blend of magical, gritty noir fresh from K.A. Laity’s literary cauldron.

I know, you may think she’s prejudiced because she designed that superb cover, but look here at this review over at Tony’s Thoughts that recognises what a wonderful job she did:

I love this cover. It screams Art Deco like a bakelite phone (there is one mentioned in this book). Did I mention how much I love this cover? This needs to be a poster, with shell shaped up-lighters.

He also goes on to say a lot of nice things about the insides of the book, too 🙂 I’m pleased to see interest slowly building. Small publishing lives in the long tail.

Just so this isn’t all about me, here’s a picture of Charlotte bouncing on a trampoline: cute as a button, isn’t she?

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