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 attentionchildren.blogspot.com.


  1. Damn. All these lists make me realize how few stories I read this year. Need to do some catching up ...

  2. I definitely agree, Eric. Makes me feel like I missed out on a lot of good stuff. Which is accurate!

  3. Ah, Jimmy. Your $100 virtual bribe is in the mail . . .

    What J.C. "The Prose Doctor" doesn't mention is his invaluable assistance with re-writes on the geek noir story.

  4. You were right Jimmy with your diagnosis, Just ask Emma, who has to share my bed as well as my fried chicken...

  5. Jimmy- Looking forward to reading all of them. Thanks for the tip off.

  6. Good calls. I'm a 100% proof Shea fan so top marks to you Jimmy for having them in there.

  7. with you and need to explore Benjamin Sobieck as he's a new one on me. thanks

  8. Shea, Benton, Converse, Elliot and my newest guy to admire, Sobieck. There ain't no better list out there. Now, about that reference to how well hung you are . . .

  9. Whoa. Just read that Sobieck piece--that's a swift kick in the ass.

    Felt like William Shatner was reading to me...

  10. unrelated, i tried to find you without a link and typed in http://www.deathbykilling.blogspot.com/
    it's not as good as here (obviously) but it's got a lot of pics to look at, superheroes mainly.