Bouncing Back from Bouchercon

Yes, it always takes a while to recover from a conference: luckily I had a visit to Brigadoon to ease me into it. The net effect of a big conference like Bouchercon is to remind me that I am a very tiny minnow swimming in an enormous ocean. On the bad days, that’s discouraging. On the good days, it brings out my competitiveness. So it goes. I got to meet a lot of folks I’ve known online forever and hang with some folks I don’t see much.

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Absolutely*Kate shows her amazement that we had to wait over an hour to get our drinks at City Beer Hall.

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The passing of the seal of office: awww! Outgoing SinC pres Hank Phillippi Ryan gives the seal to Laura DiSilverio.

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At last we meet! The fabulous Mollie Cox Bryan looking great.

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The Empire Plaza was a strange place to hold the con: the lack of a bar at a writers convention meant people didn’t hang around.

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There’s a wind tunnel under the edge of the Egg when it’s blowing. Small children were carried off by it.

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Luring people into the Weird Noir Carnival: we gave away copies of the book and the official Noir Carnival three card monty-ready deck.

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Jan Kozlowski reads from “Corkscrewed” in WEIRD NOIR

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Chris Irvin reads from “The Things We Leave Behind” in NOIR CARNIVAL

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Heather Graham wrangled a bunch of would-be rock star writers together for a big party at Red Square. A fun night out!

There’s more — once I can clear out the Dropbox enough to get the rest of the photos downloaded, like the Noir at the Bar reading. I was really glad to meet up with folks like Les Edgerton, Thomas Pluck, Vince Zandri, Helen Smith, Terrence McCauley and Rita, to see the mighty Joe Lansdale — and of course Debi and Jan were great to hang out with, especially in the quieter moments. Best panel, hands down — bad girls (of course). Ooh, and there should be a group photo of the Mavens of Mayhem dressed in the QoE‘s logo.

Perhaps someone took pictures of my panel…oh, wait. There is this one just after, but it’s missing Les.


Bloody Scotland / Bouchercon

bloodyscotI’m going to be on the road a lot the next few weeks. Saturday I head off to Bloody Scotland — alas, only for the day — and then Tuesday I’m Stateside bound, back to NY for a few weeks to see my pals and enjoy Bouchercon. I’ll apologize in advance because I know I won’t see everybody while I’m in NY (sorry!) but I hope to see as many of you as I can. Maybe I can talk Bertie into us giving a housewarming party…!

As much for myself (so I can find it later) as for anyone who wants to catch up, here’s my planned activities at the cons so far:


Dark Deeds: Louise Welsh & Denise Mina
10:30 AM – Albert Halls

Picture This: Denise Mina
2:00 PM – Academy Suite

Keeping Secrets: Charles Cumming & Chris Morgan Jones
3:30PM – McLaren Suite

The Great, The Good and The Gory: Stuart McBride & Val McDermid
5:00 PM – Albert Halls

Thrilling Tales & Psychological Twists: Zoë Sharp & Julia Crouch
6:30 PM – McLaren Suite


Programming Schedule/Authors Choice Schedule

Mavens of Mayhem Bouchercon/SinC Reception
Wed 6:00 PM – Book House, Stuyvesant Plaza

Pre-Bouchercon Get Together
Wed 8:00 PM – City Beer Hall

Close to the Borderline: Pulp fiction, baby!
Les Edgerton, Frank DeBlase, Jack Getze, K. A. Laity, Howard Owen, Josh Stallings
Thu 1:20-2:15 – Room 3

Sisters in Crime Breakfast
Fri 7:30 AM – 74 State

Weird Noir Carnival: Fox Spirit Books
K. A. Laity, Jan Kozlowski & Chris L. Irvin
Fri 1:30-2:00 – Room 5

This is just the *I have to be there* events. I haven’t looked through the schedule and I know a lot of pals are on panels, so I will sort that. In general I’ll probably be found at most panels labeled “noir” or ones featuring my fave writers. Please let me know where you’ll be or if you see something I won’t want to miss, point it out to me! There’s so much going on. When in doubt, look for Chastity Flame!

Chas 3 X 3 PC web

Fox Spirit at EdgeLit2


What a delightful thing to see all the shiny books crowding together like this! In just about a year Fox Spirit Books has released a variety of titles that beautifully represent their raison d’être: mixing up genres at will, refusing to conform to old categories. And succeeded brilliantly!

Not only was it wonderful to see all the books together, but to see many of the skulk themselves gathered together, too. Pop over to the official write up for more pictures and details (which is where I pinched the pictures from). We had a wonderful launch for NOIR CARNIVAL with bearded ladies, dog-faced boys, tattooed men and more. Chloë and James read from their stories and tantalised the audience, then everyone enjoyed cupcakes and wine and bought books!

Despite the horrible heat I had a grand time, and it was great to have a chance to hang out with Madame Yates much more. She’s of that small number of people I gladly breakfast with 🙂 I’m having a little visit with Adele now, plotting more plans for Fox Spirit and world domination.


Dancing with the Zeitgeist

Just remember, we were there first.

Weird Noir

and then came:

Fortunately, we’ll be out first:



Before this makes its debut (thanks Aaron Sikes for the heads up):

Nice covers, though I have to say I prefer our punk aesthetics (go QoE!)

Noir Carnival: Cover Artist, SL Johnson

noir-carnival-web-finalHow I Created This Book Cover, or Adventures Inside an Artist’s Mind

SL Johnson

I was delighted to be asked to create another book cover for Fox Spirit books – not only is Adele a doll to work with (she gives me freedom!) but my ace pal Kate is editing it and some very fabulous authors are part of the anthology.

It is generally known that I don’t like to talk about my “creative process.” To me, the “process” part is the boring technical stuff, of not much interest to anyone. Do you really want to know how much time I spend going through fonts? No. [Ed: Yes!]  The “creative” part is the magick – that is the ‘back of the head’ creative well that gives me the flashes of inspiration I need to start a project and also is hard to explain.

When I first read the words “Noir Carnival”, instantly an image for some creepy dead clown head thing popped into my mind, as it would for anyone. At first I rejected it, as it was similar to the “Weird Noir” cover I had just finished, but then I do like to create variations on a theme – it stretches the mind a bit more. Plus, the opportunity to create something ghastly and disturbing but with my own weird humor snuck in is irresistible, so I pursued the idea.

I had another idea that was far more complicated, not as striking, and more difficult to see as a thumbnail online.  Oh, see, here’s where “process” creeps in….the image ought to to be eye-catching, speak to the work, hopefully make everyone happy (including me!) and look super cool as a thumbnail or printed on a cover. Or on a wine mug. [Ed: It looks awesome on all kinds of products!]

So, as I was drawing the skull, the image shifted a bit in my head- it was originally going to be more circus-y, perhaps something that looked really benign until you got a second look. Nope, not a great idea. Blood spatter as clown hair? Oh, yeah. Bullet hole in head? Keeping it! Garish clown make-up? Well, let me tell you, THAT was freaky enough to give me the creeps. Off the red mouth makeup went. Off went the black band around the eyes. Off went the cheek paint. Keep the top hat and bow tie? Oh, indeed. And let’s take out some of the teeth, shall we?

By this point, I had four decent-looking possibilities, but after asking some folks, artists and non-artists, to look at it, I narrowed it down to two, then let it sit for a couple of days and made my final decision. Sent it off and was rewarded with the comments that the publisher was finding the image to be really freaky. Success!

I’m so sorry – you look sleepy – can I get you some coffee….?


[Ed: Despite the artist’s self-deprecations, I find this fascinating and do check out the faboo images you can get on all manner of merch — I’m especially fond of my book covers, but also the PUNK ROCK JUKEBOX!]

Weird Noir

Cover Reveal: Noir Carnival


Here’s the fantastic cover for the upcoming Fox Spirit Books anthology Noir Carnival: no surprise, Stephanie came through with the awesome yet again. Wow! And you thought Weird Noir was going to be a tough act to follow. If that cover doesn’t give you nightmares, you might need to fill your bed with spiders. I’ve made the final choices of the stories — and was it tough! I had no idea what the book would look like before I started reading them, but slowly the shape emerged. Some good stories I had to turn down because they just didn’t quite fit. Another reason to remember that rejection may not be the end of the line.


Table of Contents

Introduction: Caravan ~ K. A. Laity

Family Blessings ~ Jan Kozlowski

In the Mouth of the Beast ~ Li Huijia

Idle Hands ~ Hannah Kate

The Things We Leave Behind ~ Christopher L. Irvin

She’s My Witch ~ Paul D. Brazill

The Mermaid Illusion ~ Carol Borden

Natural Flavouring ~ Rebecca Snow

Madam Mafoutee’s Bad Glass Eye ~ Chloë Yates

Buffalo Brendan and the Big Top Ballot ~ Allan Watson

Carne Levare ~ Emma Teichmann

Leave No Trace ~ A. J. Sikes

Fair ~ Robin Wyatt Dunn

Things Happen Here After Dark ~ Sheri White

Mister Know-It-All ~ Richard Godwin

Trapped ~ Joan De La Haye

The Price of Admission ~ Neal Litherland

Take Your Chances ~ Michael S. Chong

Young Mooncalf ~ Katie Young

The Teeth Behind the Beard ~ James Bennett

Chuffed I must say! Tip o’ the chapeau to Chris Irvin who urged me to send off the review copy here.

Raven Crime Reads

Product DetailsOn the gritty backstreets of a crumbling city, tough dames and dangerous men trade barbs, witticisms and a few gunshots. But there’s a new twist where urban decay meets the eldritch borders of another world: WEIRD NOIR. Featuring thugs who sprout claws and fangs, gangsters with tentacles and the occasional succubus siren. The ambience is pure noir but the characters aren’t just your average molls and mugs—the vamps might just be vamps. It’s Patricia Highsmith meets Shirley Jackson or Dashiell Hammett filtered through H. P. Lovecraft. Mad, bad and truly dangerous to know, but irresistible all the same….

I will be the first to admit that I am not normally a huge fan of the short story form, so this was a jolly good wake-up call to my previous avoidance of them, maybe having read too many bad ones- so thank you contributors! What strikes me most about this collection is the sheer…

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