Friday, December 31, 2010

Chin Waggin'

As you all probably already know, Richard Godwin runs a fan-friggin-tastic interview series, Chin Wag at the Slaughterhouse, where he chats with authors about a wide range of subjects.

I'm honored to be the latest edition of this series, though slightly embarassed about that whole me throwing a chair aspect of the interview . . . sigh. Guess no one is perfect.

Top Five for 2010

Naomi Johnson runs the excellent blog, The Drowning Machine, and works with the magazine Needle. She's here at DBK with her selections and, for the first time, someone has called me a gentleman without adding, "you're making a scene"...

Somewhere during the year I lost count/track of the many short stories I've read. I've never been good at keeping track of anything, and my memory is notoriously unreliable. Often I remember I liked (or didn't) a story, but not why; the details of the story, even the concept, will have vacated my memory cells and all that is left is the residue of my emotional response to the story. So in trying to select the five stories I most enjoyed this year, I considered only those that made enough of an impact that I can clearly recall each story. Even so, whittling this list to five means leaving out some damned fine story-telling. Ever the gentleman, Chris Rhatigan allowed as how my selections needn't all come from on-line sources, but I'm a conformist by nature and since that seems to be the unspoken rule other contributors are (mostly) playing by, I'll follow suit. Some of these stories were published prior to this year, but I'm always a bit late to the party. In no particular order:

My Name is Priscilla
 by W.D. County. (Spinetingler). A sad, wrenching tale about a little girl with a special ability. This story reflects the guilt that children often assume for the actions of people well beyond their control.

Raising the Dead by Patricia Abbott. (The Back Alley, Vol. III, No. 1). This is a story that my own imagination, limited as it is, could never have created. But the beauty of it is that this tale about a photographer with a gruesome taste in portraiture is so perfectly believable.

60+ by Keith Rawson. (A Twist of Noir). Rawson has a gift for making me laugh and just a wee bit nauseous at the same time. This story, about a man eavesdropping on a bickering pair of seniors, is a prime example.

Taking a Line for a Walk
 by Nigel Bird. (Beat to a Pulp). A simple story about a school custodian who loses his job, yet Bird always seems to strike a universal chord in readers while playing a unique melody.

Cold by Ian Ayris. (Pulp Metal Magazine). A quiet tale of life-long grief and guilt that packs an enormous punch; Ayris never overstates, never over-explains. He simply creates a world of cold interiors to (forgive me) chilling effect.

Naomi Johnson blogs about crime fiction at The Drowning Machine. Through a remarkable combination of generous and nearsighted editors her stories have been published at  A Twist of Noir, Powder Burn Flash, Southern Cross Review, and Encounters.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Five Top for 2010: Chris F. Holm

Chris F. Holm is one helluva writer—go buy his short story collection, 8 Pounds, you will not regret it. Best 99 cents you’ll spend. He also has renamed this series Five Top, which I, must admit, I like more than Top Five.  

When Chris asked me to put together a list of my top five stories of 2010, I was psyched.  I mean, who wouldn't be?  I, you know, read stuff, and obviously (as anybody who wants to write for a living is wont to think) I must have Big Important Things to say about said stuff.  But when I sat down to actually put together a list, I found it was a hell of a lot harder than I anticipated.  The more I combed through my collection and poked around online, the more I was reminded of the tremendous shorts I've read this year.  And though I've narrowed my list to five, I've got to say, the process was brutal.  I mean, no Patti Abbott?  No Kieran Shea?  Or how 'bout that Gowran story in the first Needle?  Any of them could've just as easily made this list, and they're just the tip of the iceberg.  I may have to write a couple more lists, just to soothe my soul -- and to do justice to the folks who brought it hard this year.  But Chris asked for five, and five it shall be.  So, without further ado, I give you my list of Five Top Stories of 2010.  (See what I did there?  "Five Top" instead of "Top Five"?  Clever, no?  Oh, wait -- this probably qualifies as "further ado."  Anyways, here's my list.)

"Kid Eddie" by David Cranmer (writing as Edward A. Grainger)
The Western Online

Look, I like Westerns fine.  But I'm not, like a lot of folks who're a fan of the genre, a Western fetishist.  Which is to say it takes more than a barkeep with a handlebar mustache, a charming lady of ill-repute, and a shootout at high noon to get me excited about a story.  So when I say Grainger's Cash Laramie stories are some of the best I've read in years, there's no implicit "if you like that sort of thing."  They're just flat-out fantastic -- a marvelous blend of crime and Western, with a modern sensibility (and cultural sensitivity) that breathes fresh life into the latter genre.  I could've picked any of Grainger's tales for this list, but I chose "Kid Eddie" because the namesake character is so beautifully drawn, he stuck with me long after I finished the story.

"For the Children" by Stephen Blackmoore
Needle #2

I could wax rhapsodic about why I loved this story so much, but honestly, nothing I could say would be half the enticement to read it as its stunning opening paragraphs.  It's an opener I wish I'd written:

They take pictures.

Latanya Miller, African-American, fourteen years old.

Walking home from school.  Wrong moment, wrong spot.

White SUV screeches by.  Flash and chatter of a Tec-9.  Car disappears around the corner, smoke blowing from the window.  Leaving Latanya Miller bleeding out on the sidewalk.  Screaming for help, screaming from the pain.  And her classmates rush to her side, cellphones at the ready.

And they take pictures.

(Seriously, how beautiful and devastating was that?  You know you need to read the rest now.  And you won't be sorry when you do -- this Blackmoore guy's got chops.)

"Beat on the Brat" by Nigel Bird
The Drowning Machine

The thing about punk rock is, the kids who get it -- really get it -- will tell you it saved their lives.  And if I had to bet, I'd say Nigel Bird really gets it.  This tale, a loving homage to the Ramones, walks a razor's edge.  It's at turns brutal and bittersweet -- not to mention all kinds of stylish.  I'd not heard of Mr. Bird before I read this story, but you'd better believe once I read "Beat on the Brat" I sought out everything I could from him.  I dare you to read it and not do the same.

"Fetish" by Hilary Davidson
Beat to a Pulp

If there's a knock on Hilary Davidson's writing, it's that her stories are so damned riveting you don't notice until the second time through how pretty her sentences are.  Like many, my first exposure to Hilary's writing was her Beat to a Pulp debut "Insatiable" (which went on to win the Spinetingler Award for Best Short Story on the Web), so it seems fitting it's her return to Beat to a Pulp I've chosen here.  "Fetish" reads like the flip-side of the "Insatiable" coin; while "Insatiable" was, at heart, about a character governed by perverse sexual appetites, "Fetish" is a tale of someone who's learned to leverage such appetites to her own gain.  And both stories are told with such mastery, it's only a matter of time before Davidson becomes a household name.

"Nothing Personal" by Steve Weddle
Crime Factory #1

Oscar Martello is not a man you want to fuck with, and in "Nothing Personal," Weddle shows you why.  This story's a smorgasbord of things Weddle does well: roiling, uncomfortable tension; creative violence that never fails to surprise; characters that never feel like characters so much as living, breathing (though sometimes not for long) people.

And yet, a confession: this short is just the second best I've read from Weddle this year.  The best was a yet-unpublished story called "Purple Hulls."  In fact, "Purple Hulls" was maybe the best thing I've read all year full stop.  Why am I taunting you all by telling you this?  Because if you're here, you're a fan of short crime fiction.  Some of you even publish it.  And I'm here to tell you, you oughta go bang on Mr. Weddle's door and not stop till he finds that story a home.  (Metaphorically speaking, of course; you don't want to wake the neighbors.  And after reading what Martello did to folks who showed up at his house in the dead of night, maybe sticking to a polite e-mail is a good idea.)

So there you have it: five of my top stories from 2010.  Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a couple more lists to make...

Chris wrote his first story at the age of six. It got him sent to the principal's office. He'd like to think that right then is when he decided to become a writer. Since then, Chris' stories have appeared in a slew of publications, including Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Needle Magazine, and Thuglit. He's been a Derringer Award finalist and a Spinetingler Award winner, and he's also written a novel or two, which are currently out on submission. You can visit Chris on the web at

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top Five for 2010: Ian Ayris

Ian Ayris has lit the noir world on fire this year with 24 stories published to his name. He has a novel coming out from Caffeine Nights and runs the very informative blog, The Voices in My Head.

And I’m chuffed (as you Brits would say!) to have him with DBK today….

As others have said, to pick just five out of the quality pile that was 2010 is almost impossible without leaving out some absolutely beauts.  Apologies, therefore, to those that should have been in, but aren't.  In the end, I just picked the five that came to mind straight off. The ones that stuck so fast I couldn't shake em.

Here they are:

The Crucifixtion of Thomas Waltz - Richard Godwin in 'A Twist of Noir'

Gothic horror at its absolute finest.  Richard Godwin's tale of revenge sends shivers through me every time I read it.  It's the sort of story where knowing the ending merely serves to make each further reading more intense, more terrifying, as we inch further towards the inevitable conclusion. Richard's words, always so gloriously penned, sap the will with an illusion of beauty and righteousness that leave us totally unprepared for the horror of what we are about to condone. Chilling, brilliant, stuff.

The Wrong Mind - Jason Michel in 'Pulp Metal Magazine'

Jason Michel's tale of madness both delights and disturbs - as all great tales of such sort should.  The mental deterioration of the protagonist is so vivid, so dark and dripping, it's almost impossible not to become a little contaminated by the madness itself.  Incredible writing, and a final line that turns the whole thing on its head.  Mind blowing stuff.  Literally.

Relapse - Chris Benton in 'A Twist of Noir'

Brutal and chilling, 'Relapse' showcases Chris' ability to tell a tale stripped of almost anything at all.  What is so impressive in this tale is their is no sign whatsoever the writer is writing this for an audience.  He's merely telling a story.  And that sort of stripping away of writer ego and reader expectation can't be taught.  Chris lays it on the paper like roadkill on a slab.  If you want to know how to dip your pen in the ink of unvarnished truth and write with courage, you need look no further than Chris Benton.  

Smoke and Fire - Matthew C. Funk in 'Powder Burn Flash'

Matthew C. Funk is the kind of writer that I aspire to be.  Not a word does he waste. Each has a point.  A deliberate place and purpose.  Nothing is spared.  As for dialogue, no-one does it better.  And his BANG BANG BANG method of storytelling just has you fixed in time.  In 'Smoke and Fire', Matt displays all his brilliance.  Never tire of reading this one.  Never.

Savant - A.J. Hayes in 'A Twist of Noir

A.J. Hayes is Old School.  And he isn't.  He takes the conventional ingredients of noir and uses them with a freshness and imagination, a sense of being, that in 'Savant' is like walking through an ice-cold waterfall at midnight.  He toys.  He plays.  And his poetry is something to behold.  In 'Savant' we meet Jimmy.  And when you've met Jimmy, you won't ever forget him.  Not ever.  Alongside B.R. Stateham's 'Smitty', Jimmy is my favourite psycho of 2010.  Top stuff from a great mate.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Top Five for 2010: Me, Flash

A lot of y'all have said something along the lines of: "Rhatigan, why do you suck so much? Pick five? FIVE? Out of like hundreds of quality stories? You suck. A lot. Rot in hell."

Yeah, I hear that. But I think that, so far, these lists have done a couple of cool things--I've found so many good stories that I hadn't heard about. And, honestly, this is why I started this blog. To spread the word about the cool stuff I'd read and to hear from everyone else what cool stuff they'd read. (My challenge for the New Year: Stop using the word cool so much.)

The other thing I've found with these lists is that there have been very few repeats. To me, this shows that, even within the circle of the crime fiction community, everybody has different tastes. So my picks aren't the best, but rather they're five stories I really dug and would, without hesitation, recommend to anyone.

That said, I'm going to cheat because I am a pansy. Today I'm doing top five flash and next week, top five short stories.

So, in no particular order:

In this Place, by Kieran Shea at Powder Burn Flash
Holyfuckingshit you need to read this. I can't imagine that any other writer could do more with a single paragraph. At the end of this story, I was huddled in a corner, shaking, begging for my mommy, and sucking my thumb. Every line ripped out a vital organ.

Depression by Chris Deal at MiCrow
The theme for the winter issue of MiCrow is the void. Deal throws you into that void without so much as an apology or a wave goodbye. This is a subtle and haunting story--like a python that wraps itself around your neck and squeezes away your breath.

Stupid is as Stupid Doesn't by Jimmy Callaway at A Twist of Noir
Callaway always rocks and this is no exception. Hilarious and brutal with crackling dialogue, this story is a great example of his natural, and inimitable, style. Check out his page of stories there--you won't be able to tear yourself away.

Stars by Ian Ayris at Thrillers, Killers 'n Chillers
Ian's gotten a lot of love in these lists and for good reason. No one writes descent into dark madness better right now, and Stars is a prime example of that. And the prose--in all of its droppin' g's glory--slices and dices like an "As Seen on TV!" product.

Greta at the Track by Christopher Grant at Thrillers, Killers 'n Chillers
Really I could've put any Greta story in here--no one makes em pay quite like her. In this tight little package, desperate loser Teddy thinks his luck is changing. Guess what? It's not.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Top Five for 2010: Jimmy Callaway

Before we get into it, definitely check out this interview with Richard Godwin at The Authors Show. Richard gets in-depth on his upcoming crime/horror novel Apostle Rising, which sounds like a fascinating and dark work.

And here with us today is that flash writing machine Jimmy Callaway. He’s one of the funniest and sharpest crime writers out there (just check out anything he's written at A Twist of Noir) and I’m excited to have him as part of the Top Five of 2010 series…  

Are you out of your mind, Rhatigan?  Out of the hundreds—nay, thousands—of quality short stories published this year, you want me to narrow it down to just five?  Why don’t you just slap a bullseye on my back, make it easier for all the far-more-talented-than-I writers, which by their sheer number alone, I’ll have to not include on this?  Ah, well.  Can’t kill a man born to hang, I guess.

Sobieck drives me nuts because a) he doesn’t write nearly as many stories as I want him to, and b) when he does, they make my paltry efforts look...well, paltry.  Even though he only seems to write two or three flash pieces per year, there are few guys I can think of who really wring all they can out of the format, who really respond so well to the word limits set.  You never get the same story twice from Sobieck.

Mekong Delta” by Chris Benton
When people say Chris Benton is a writer to watch out for, they’re not just talking about your own personal safety.  Relatively new to the scene, Benton has already shown that he has a deep well of material to tap and he is going to pull no punches in doing so.  I guess what I’m getting at here is that Benton is a border-line psychopath, and I’m grateful for more than one reason that he’s turned his considerable talents to the short-story form.

“Whale Food” by Josh Converse
I know good ol’ Billy-Bob Hayes already included this on his own top 5 for the year right here at the DBK, but never let it be said that Hayes and I never see eye-to-eye.  This story is just further proof that Converse needs to quit his day job and spend more time writing short stories.  Like, yesterday.

“The Takedown Heart” by Kieran Shea
The broken-down pro fighter is a noir archetype that is itself fairly broken down at this point.  But leave it to Kieran Shea to take on a bare-knuckled story like this and still get the reader’s juices flowing.  New rule, everybody: next time you wanna write a story with a boxer as the main character, read this story again and realize you’ve more than likely been beaten to it.
“Vox Staccato and the 8-Bit Mafia” by Garnett Elliott
The best thing about the Creepshow movies is the connecting story in each that strings all the smaller stories together, and this is because the moral to each of those is basically: “Fuck with a nerd at your own peril.”  Elliott takes the spirit of this to new heights in this geek-noir tale.  As thrilled as I was at this story, I was also a bit hosed since the guy beat me to this idea.  Ah, well.  The better writer wins.

Jimmy Callaway lives and works in San Diego, CA.  For more, please visit

Saturday, December 18, 2010

THE QUICK... AND THE DEAD by Bill Crider

This installment of The Weekly Punch knocked me out.

Honestly, I usually dislike zombie stories. For me, zombies are the least scary and most boring out of the classic horror monsters.

But The Quick... and The Dead by Bill Crider ain't your grandpa's zombie story.

Crider deftly fuses two story lines together using razor sharp prose. The result is a truly disturbing tale that you will not soon forget.

In other happenings, check out an engaging interview with the director Yelena Sabel at Chin Wag At The Slaughterhouse.

A new issue of Pulp Metal Magazine is out with my story, A Sweet Deal. And if you missed their first birthday issue last week (as I did), you'll want to check that out while you're there--some great stuff by Paul Brazill, Ian Ayris, Richard Godwin, and more.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Link Loving

A brief interlude from DBK's Top Five of 2010 series...

I have a story up in the new issue of Yellow Mama called "Service with a Smile." It's about another average day in the life of a psychotic Target--err, I mean generic big-box store--employee and his interaction with the most pleasant of customers. As they all are. We love customers. Major props to the amazing Cindy Rosmus and startlingly good art from Jeff Karnick. And I'm stoked to be alongside such brilliant authors as Ms. Rosmus, Matthew C. Funk, Garnett Elliott and AJ Hayes.

The new issue of Needle is out! Featuring the work of The Funk (he's everywhere these days, ain't he?), Richard Godwin, Matthew Mayo, Matt McBride, Kieran Shea, Ray Banks, and a bunch of other awesome folks. So go order that!

A Twist of Noir's 600-700 series continues featuring the work of none other than ATON editor Christopher Grant with an intriguing twist in his series of Greta stories.

An interview with crime writer Richard Godwin will air Monday at The Author's Show. Richard asks such brilliant questions at "Chin Wag at the Slaughterhouse" that it was about time the tables were turned!

And a great interview with BTAP's evil mastermind David Cranmer at Women of Mystery, where you can win a copy of the anthology BTAP: Round One.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Walker Brothers - Deadlier Than The Male

Before we continue the series, I just wanted to plug an interesting contest over at John Kenyon’s blog. The challenge is to write a crime short story based on a fairy tale, and there will be prizes from Tyrus Books. The deadline is coming up soon, so get writing!

And now, for the tour-de-force that is none other than PDB...

The Top Five Crime Short Stories Of 2010:
Deadlier Than The Male
Paul D Brazill

It was raining. But then it always seemed to be raining when they came to town.

The bar was stiflingly hot and cluttered with Monday morning booze-hounds. I sat at a rickety table by the Wurlitzer jukebox and sipped my glass of golden delight down to the dregs. The ice shimmered in the wan light .

And then I heard the motorcycles. A purr turned into a roar. Then laughter. Female laughter. A chill split me like an ice pick.

The door bust open and in they came. Five Valkyries bringing the storm in behind them. The jukebox stopped mid song.

They walked over to the bar, picked up a bottle of whisky and stood in front of me.

I couldn’t have escaped if I’d wanted to.

‘Read em and weep, ‘ one of them said , handing me a wad of paper along with the bottle of booze.

I did as I was told.


What’s In The Cellar by Jeanette Cheezum at Thrillers, Killers N Chillers

This is how it starts: ‘1940: Deep in the woods of Georgia.
If it rained or snowed no one would come down to check on Lucy.’

This is a scary and sad, Southern Gothic tale of family secrets which unravels at a perfect pace and grips like a noose.

Pillow Talk by Jodi MacArthur at Beat To A Pulp

This is how it starts: ‘Henrietta wrapped her arms about her pillow. "I'm still awake, Charlie. I can never sleep anymore."

A mundane domestic start to a brilliantly written story full of fantastic images, great twists and turns and creepy, nasty moments.

In Gods Own Time by Sandra Seamans at A Twist Of Noir

This is how it starts: ‘“You know, I was seventeen and pregnant the afternoon my daddy died. Somebody put a shotgun to his head and blew his brains all over the Lazy Boy.’

It starts with a kick and keeps on kicking. A short, sharp shot of noir. A perfectly crafted hardboiled tale of revenge.

Moose Get’s His Money’s Worth by Julie Morgan at Radgepacket Online

This is how it starts: ‘The man was bent forward, jeans pooled round his ankles, hands braced on the back of the battered old settee. Moose stood behind him, fingers on the buttons of his 501s, wondering how in hell it had come to this.’
A Brit Grit Damon Runyon. A dark comedy of errors with cracking dialogue.

She Got Hers by Pamila Payne at The Journal

This is how it starts.: ‘Sidney knew it was a mistake to let her drive, but after what happened in the city, he just didn’t have it in him to fight anymore.’.

A freewheeling noir road trip where David Lynch crashes into They Drive By Night somewhere close to The Twilight Zone.


I dropped the sheets of papers, drained the bottle of booze and collapsed against jukebox, bringing it back to life. And this is what played

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Top Five Stories of 2010: Chad Eagleton

Today’s top five is with Chad Eagleton, whose fine work has been published in many venues, including the new and excellent collection, Discount Noir. And after reading his list, I'm now inspired to write a story about a "a midget prostitute and her razor-wielding chimp trying to smuggle tiger penis into a Tantric commune hidden within the Vatican." Now there's an idea that, as they say in the journalism business, has got legs.

Parnell’s Girl by Matthew C. Funk
Thrillers, Killers, n Chillers

Too many crime stories rest on their laurels, eschewing anything “real” about human existence and choosing the easy shock appeal of aberrant behavior and brutal violence without ever making a statement about…well, anything. Those stories are about as interesting as listening to teenagers play what’s-grosser-than-gross.

Matthew C. Funk doesn’t write those stories.

“Parnell’s Girl” showcases Funk’s immense and enviable talents: simple, direct prose that still manages to be stylish and evocative; an acute ear for dialogue; masterful use of the twist. And it’s the latter that sets this particular story apart for me. Often writers labor to concoct endings that surprise through trickery and deceit or by the simple art of pulling something nonsensical out of their ass. However, in “Parnell’s Girl,” the twist comes simply, from our own perceptions and biases as readers of crime fiction.

Funk is good enough that if I weren’t looking forward to his next story, I’d probably punch him in the dick out of spite.

Crimefactory # 1

I don’t care about car racing, football, or basketball. For an Indiana boy that doesn’t leave me with much to be proud of about my home state.

Until Frank Bill came along.

There’s a reason why he now has a two book deal with Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. People far more eloquent than me have praised his work, so I’ll just say that he’s operating at a level most of us will never reach.

His name alone is worth the price on the cover.

“Trespassing Between Heaven & Hell” is no exception.

Beasts by AJ Hayes
A Twist of Noir

When flash fiction is good, it demonstrates the ability to create character, setting, and plot with a miser’s pittance of words. Bad flash fiction is the equivalent of watching someone do half of a sloppy cartwheel and then being expected to clap at their ingenuity.

“Beasts” is good flash fiction.

I’ve always thought that one of the best compliments you can pay a writer’s story is to tell them that you haven’t forgotten it, that it stuck with you more than an hour after reading it.

It’s been four months since I read “Beasts”.

Life on the Mesa Keith Rawson
Beat to a Pulp

No matter with what criteria you judge him, Keith Rawson is impressive. His work ethic makes the Amish feel lazy. His output could cramp the fingers of most of the old pulpsters. He co-captains one of the finest crime magazines around. He’s a husband and a father. He works a day job.

The scary thing about Rawson, though? And lean close now, because he’s probably listening too.

…He’s always getting better.

“Life on the Mesa” is Rawson at his best. It’s a polished diamond; an absolutely flawless example of pacing, the proper use of the flashback, and how to sketch both character and environment. “Mesa” is a story so sharp it cuts straight through the normally, shatterproof glass that separates crime and horror fiction.

The Vigg Train by Christopher Pimental
Out of the Gutter #6, The Sexploitation Issue

Labels get thrown around a lot.


One of the problems with labels is that lesser writers will ape one particular aspect of what defines a label (a movement?) without understanding its purpose or its intent. A good portion of online crime fiction is frequently dominated by writers who think that merely concocting something involving a midget prostitute and her razor-wielding chimp trying to smuggle tiger penis into a Tantric commune hidden within the Vatican is alone, in itself, worthy of rock star adulation.

Christopher Pimental defines transgressive in ways those writers can never hope to understand with a skill and purpose they don’t have. “The Vigg Train” is something you must experience for yourself.

 When you’re done, if you think you’re still up for it, seek out “The Bitch Pit.” It’ll make you delete all your midget prostitute and razor-wielding chimp tales.

Chad Eagleton lives in Indiana with his dog and a wife who's hotter than a mook like him deserves. His work has been published in Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Bad Things Pulp Pages, Beat To A Pulp, Darkest Before The Dawn, Crimefactory, the now defunct Pulp Pusher and Muzzleflash. You can read his story "The Black Friday of Daniel Maddox" in the collection Discount Noir. Fans and stalkers can find him at or

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top Five of 2010: John Kenyon

John Kenyon is a writing group buddy of mine and a fellow Iowan. He also runs a blog at Things I’d Rather Be Doing, where he recently had an interesting interview with Hard Case Crime’s Charles Ardai.

Also interesting to note that I haven’t had any repeats yet (other than Nigel Bird’s Beat on the Brat), which just goes to show how much fantastic stuff is out there. And here's John's contribution... 

King by Dave Zeltzerman
Beat to a Pulp
The kids taunt elderly Mary Crowley, the crazy-seeming lady who feeds the pigeons in the park. If only they knew what really went on. This veers closer to horror than crime, but it's a haunting story that showed me early in the year how powerful online short fiction can be.

Passed by Kieran Shea
Plots with Guns
A father on death row has one last request of the son he beat and left behind. This is powerful, gritty stuff from someone who has become one of my favorite crime fiction writers. There isn't a lot of direct action, but the story never flags as a result. He keeps you invested the whole way.

Seven Days of Rain by Chris F. Holm
From 8 Pounds
When I picked up Holm's collection, I thought, "I have a handful of published stories. Maybe I should put out a collection." Then I read stories like "Seven Days of Rain" and decided to keep those foolish notions to myself. Holm can really write, and here he lets the story unfold in tantalizing fashion, ending with a real wallop.

Beat on the Brat by Nigel Bird
Needle No. 2
I've just started reading Bird's stuff in the past few months, and every time his stories pack a real emotional punch. This does that and manages to juggle three narrators successfully in just a few pages, and offers a bit of alternate Ramones history for those of us paying attention.

Someday We'll All Be Free by Ray Banks
Crime Factory No. 2
Banks is one of my favorite crime novelists -- his Cal Innes series is top-notch -- and it's always interesting to see him do something with shorter work. Here, he deftly weaves in a lot of Motown details in a way that drive a story of somewhat misdirected revenge and redemption.

John Kenyon is a newspaper editor in Iowa. He has had stories published in Beat to a Pulp, Crime Factory, ThugLit, Muzzle Flash, Powder Burn Flash and Demolition. His story "Cut" appeared in the ThugLit anthology Blood, Guts and Whiskey, and "A Wild and Crazy Night" was a Spinetingler award nominee.