Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Letters from the Egg Carton by Rebecca Bohn

In Letters from the Egg Carton, Rebecca Bohn (better known to the noir community as RS Bohn) has crafted compelling micro fiction that demands multiple readings.

I use the term micro fiction loosely -- this collection leans more toward prose poems. These condensed bursts don't so much tell stories as suggest stories. Every piece invites the reader to create their own interpretation -- to continue the story where she left off, or imagine another route the story could have taken. (Hence the multiple readings thing.)

Bohn also possesses a keen ear for the music of words, which she uses to great effect in both tragedy and comedy. It's this quality that makes Letters from the Egg Carton a joy to read -- she is a true virtuoso with language.

I highly recommend this compact, thoroughly original, and delightfully absurd collection of Bohn's work.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Twofer and ShortStory365

That splendid chap Nigel Bird is offering a twofer on Pulp Ink and my new collection of noir tales, Watch You Drown.

I'm throwing down too: Buy Watch You Drown and get a free copy of Bird's gut-wrenching work of Brit Grit, Smoke. Just email me at chris_dot_rhatigan at gmail.com.

On an unrelated note, I've been posting at ShortStory365. This is a cool site -- the goal is to read a short story and post about it every day for the whole year. The challenge is open to one and all. 

My latest there is on CJ Edwards' "Framed," over at TFFO. 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Watch You Drown

It's here folks. 

My short collection published by Pulp Metal Fiction. 

Exclamation point. Exclamation point. Exclamation point.

Stories about desperate people doing desperate things.

Some stuff you've never seen before, some stuff with the stamp of approval of top pubs like Shotgun Honey, Beat to a Pulp, A Twist of Noir, Yellow Mama, and Dirty Noir.

And awesome cover art from the paintbrush of Jason Michel. 

Only 99 cents at Amazon, Smashwords and Amazon UK

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology

The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology (ed. by Ron Earl Phillips, Thomas Pluck, and Fiona Johnson) contains 30 stories about children who have been neglected, abused, or otherwise marginalized. The collection itself lives up to its cover--these are powerful, often shocking, stories.

Here are a few that stuck out to me...

"Probably, Right?" by Lynn Beighley is a very fine piece of very short fiction. It's about a witness who reasons away responsibility and avoids an uncomfortable truth. Beighley possesses a strong, confident voice and, in a tight space, creates a memorable narrator.

"One Night" by Roberto C. Garcia is a particularly crushing piece about a neglected child. This is a straight family drama rendered in excruciating detail.

"Keisha" by Susan Gibb is the kind of story that--as someone going into teaching--makes me tremble. Even hard-working, well-meaning teachers can only do so much. This piece exudes a quiet, real sense of desperation.

"On and On" by JF Juzwik. Like AJ Hayes once said, JF Juzwik is like a submarine--even when you don't see her, you can't forget about her. (Apologies to AJ if I messed up his quote!) This is a smart, acidic, wrenching tale about a little girl in a seemingly hopeless situation.

Benoit Lelievre has an excellent entry as well with "Under the Gaze of Saturn," a story that weaves in tough economic times with the lost children theme in a non-linear narrative.

As usual, I can't get around to all the stories I dug in here, but the bottom line is that the money goes to a good cause and you get a great read. Check it out at Amazon and Amazon UK.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dead Money by Ray Banks

Dead Money is about Alan Slater, a failing door-to-door salesman whose screwing around behind his wife's back. The novel opens with Slater at a casino with his "friend," hot-headed, high-stakes gambler and all-around asshole Les Beale. Beale is in the habit of convincing Slater to hang around with him as a sort of moral support/check on his explosive temper.

The one night Slater bows out from these festivities he gets a frantic, 2 a.m. call from Beale. Out of some sense of loyalty (or not?), Slater gets out of bed and helps Beale dispose of a dead body. Poorly.

From here, he enters a world of shit.

This book has everything I want. It's fast-paced, sweary, overflowing with black humor, and fatalistic to the core. At the start, Slater appears to be a regular guy, but the more desperate he gets, the more awful he acts.

And as things get more fucked, Slater becomes more like the guy he hates -- he becomes more like Beale. Banks handles this with remarkable care and it feels genuine.

If this is the kind of stuff Blasted Heath is putting out, sign me up.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Over at A Twist of Noir

I've got one up at ATON today. This story is based on my years working at Springdale Stationery and Food Bag, two convenience stores in Stamford, CT. Some very serious lotto players there.

Thanks to Christopher Grant for publishing "Lucky Convenience" and the folks at CrimeFicWriters for making this a stronger story.

Also, check out Spinetingler today. Nigel Bird is among the nominees for best novella with his brilliant Smoke. Readers pick the winner, so head over there and cast your vote.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Pete Risley at All Due Respect

All Due Respect's twice-monthly format kicks off today with Pete Risley's "Bad Movie," a sharp story about bullies, geeks, a girl named Donna, and a zombie flick.

And here's the upcoming schedule for ADR.
2/1 Allerton Mead
2/15 Court Merrigan
3/1 Christopher Grant
3/15 Phil Beloin
4/1 R Thomas Brown
4/15 Thomas Pluck
5/1 Chris La Tray

And December will be Matt Funk month with two from the author who is probably still mourning the Saints' tough loss yesterday. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

BEAT to a PULP: Hardboiled

BEAT to a PULP: Hardboiled is one tight collection of fiction. A dozen bruisers in a neat package.

I don't usually mention forewords or intros, but Ron Scheer has a fascinating essay that kicks off Hardboiled. He argues that hardboiled fiction was born during hard times and has had a renaissance during our current hard times. It's an interesting historical perspective of the genre. 

Kent Gowran has a phenomenal entry with "A Small Thing at the Devil's Punch Bowl," a story that made a number of top five lists at this very blog. This is the quasi-surreal tale of Ray Perkins, who goes to Las Vegas searching for the long lost Jed Romweber. He finds some weird stuff there.

Patti Abbott's "Ric With No K" is about a court case involving a girl, her older boyfriend, her insane mother, and a scam. It's a poignant, character-driven piece with a raw sense of pain.

I also dug Ron Earl Phillips' "The Janitor." Mike owns a business cleaning up messes that most cleaning services would shy away from. But when his help doesn't show up, a young war vet named Conny Parker, Mike gets suspicious. He's willing to do what it takes to get him back. A tight, tense story about loyalty with some genuinely likable characters. 

"The Second Coming of Hashbrown" is vintage Kieran Shea. A guy on the straight-and-narrow is confronted by a seedy character from his past, Hashbrown, whose just been released from prison. I could listen to these two guys talk at a bar all day long. 

Every entry in here is very strong, including Benoit Lelievre's sharp boxing story "Second Round Dive," David Cranmer's gross and funny "Vengeance on the 18th," and Thomas Pluck's short, badass "Black-Eyed Susan." And all this for less than a buck at Amazon

Friday, January 13, 2012

Five You Can't Miss 2011: Alec Cizak

Alec Cizak is the founding editor of All Due Respect and the proprietor of the print publication Pulp Modern. He's also a damn good writer and has stories upcoming in Beat to a Pulp: Round Two and the novella collection Drive-In Fiction. His story, "Dumb Shit," is featured in the anthology Indiana Crime. And here he is...

Trying to pick five stories when there are at least a dozen new ones published a week on the Internet is pretty damn difficult. Here are five I enjoyed, though there were many, many more that deserve attention.

Two from Beat to a Pulp: Chris Holm’s understated “The Man in the Alligator Shoes,” and Glenn Gray’s disgusting and fascinating “Bigorexia.” (NOTE: BTAP's archives are currently down.)

I’m becoming a big fan of William Dylan Powell. His story “Road Kill” over at the Flash Fiction Offensive will make you a true believer as well.

Sometimes I like a good old fashioned gross out. Pete Risley offers up a doozy at Powder Burn Flash called “A Pizza with Legs.”

Finally, I got a kick out of Eva Dolan’s “The End of the Night,” featured at Shotgun Honey. Last line was nice and nasty. Made me smile.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Coming Soon...

Later this month, Pulp Metal Fiction will release a collection of my short stories, Watch You Drown. 

Fourteen fast-paced tales of criminals committing crimes. Kleptos stealing, dealers dealing, killers killing.

They drift through ordinary American places -- gas stations and big-box stores, shabby apartments and urine-soaked alleys -- fucking up everything as they go, leaving behind the nauseating stank of desperation.

Then there's one sci-fi bit about a tracker hunting down an android.

Just to fuck with you. And to blatantly rip-off Bladerunner.

Readers are already raving about the book People Magazine said was "littered with grammar and spelling errors" and Roger Ebert called, "The wost thing since Maid in Manhattan."

So you'll want to get your virtual hands on a copy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Top Five

Overall, 2011 was a good year for crime fiction. Sure, a few good pubs shut down (Dark Valentine comes to mind), but several good ones started up (Shotgun Honey, Pulp Modern, Dirty Noir, Near to the Knuckle). I discovered several new writers, and there's been a surge in the production of high-quality ebooks.

Enough of that, here are five stories from 2011 that stick out in my mind...

Dogs at the Door by Court Merrigan at Powder Burn Flash
This story just kicked my ass. A horrifying premise and a conclusion that equals it -- this one's got it all. Plenty of  good details to sink your teeth into (er, pun unintended) too. Merrigan's new to the crime scene this year, and I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of him.

Purgatory Sex Twins by Callan at A Twist of Noir
Where the hell did this come from? This is one weird story about a incestuous relationship that explores the depths of human depravity. A surreal, well-written tale that you will not soon forgret. Kudos to Christopher Grant for publishing this, too.

Once a Loser by Holly West in Needle #4
A teenager guy's mobster uncle dies and asks him to perform a mysterious chore. The kid gets his hands on some money and thinks it's his ticket out of snoozeville. Of course, he's wrong. This story is rich in detail and well paced, and I really like the main character.

Mantra by Jodi MacArthur at All Due Respect
Ian Ayris and MacArthur have the market cornered on writing about the crazies. "Mantra" focuses on a very creepy saleswoman and this piece oozes with dread. I can't say enough about Jodi's work -- and this is one of her best. By the end, I was going "One, Two, Three, Nails and Teeth go beneath..."

Hurt by R Thomas Brown at Powder Burn Flash
A twisted tale of a soulless woman gaining a soul through less-than-conventional means. I loved the idea for this story and the execution is perfect. Brown's another writer I discovered this year and I'm always on the lookout for his work.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Off the Record (ed. Luca Veste)

The idea that editor Luca Veste came up with for this antho was simple but smart: Every writer picked a song as the title of their story. It's got 38 selections, most are fairly short but pack a punch.

And 100% of the proceeds support two children's literacy charities. So if you don't buy it you're one greedy person who I won't be sending an xmas card to.

One of my favorites in here is Les Edgerton's "Small Change." Edgerton is a writer I've been hearing a lot about lately but hadn't yet checked out. Certainly I'll be looking for more of his work after reading this excellent piece. It's about a "writer" who's looking to get info from a criminal. It's a funny and perceptive work -- one of the finest stories about storytelling that I've seen.

As anybody whose been reading those top five lists knows, AJ Hayes is lighting the world on fire. And, appropriately enough, his entry is "Light My Fire." This is an unholy amalgam of friendship and art and murder  and insanity and I loved every word of it. One of AJ's best, which is saying a lot.

Julie Morrigan's "Behind Blue Eyes" reminds of her brilliant work in Gone Bad, an extremely tight tale about the limits of loyalty with cracking dialogue.

Simon Logan has perhaps the most original story in the collection with "Smells Like Teen Spirit." In this (not-too-distant) futuristic tale, graffiti artists are part of a corporate marketing scheme. I really enjoyed spending time in the dystopia he's created here.

There are so many more excellent stories in here and you can pick up OTR at Amazon US and UK.

(PS -- I have a story in here, too.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Five You Can't Miss: Absolutely Kate

Today's top five is from that stylish gal, Absolutely Kate, and she has five picks from the dynamic force that is her blog, At the Bijou. 

A*K:  I raise my right hand and do solemnly swear I supremely dig all the authors so juicily aforementioned here, and natch the joie de vivre of workin' with Rat-a-tat Rhatigan (and dubbing him that) in what turned out to be AT THE BIJOU's Noirathon this past year, (still going strong!) But I'm going to go back a bit in the time that was last year. Back to when authors took authors all the higher by bringing their good words'work and great vibes into some quantum kinda sync. It all started with the thrill of PAUL BRAZILL pointing out the kingpin of detective tales ROBERT J RANDISI doing a Barnes & Be'Nobled interview on, of all things ~ what Paul & I dig - the Rat Pack. Nuttin' but nuttin' held me back from goin' knock, knock, knockin' on that Mighty Man's door in the wee small hours of the mornin' (I found we both were up writing 'round 2:00, mebbe 3:00 am). RJR let me call him 'Pally' and the rest is dear history into the futures we'll all be kickin' up ... that said, some of these mighty fine authors joined me in the ~


My Five? No jive ~ 

This was Jools' debut in an ensemble cast, and shine she did with Dean and Sammy at the bar relating this cool cat character McGraw, an Irish dick that worked downtown. Dean sipped his martini. Sammy went on swell on what McGraw did tell ~ 'bout this sweet broad Celeste. She used to sing at Santini's. Dean remembered her as a cute kid . . . but OH! The story that linked those two for perpetuity past circumstance . . . (Read it. Feel it. I'm so gosh'darn happy to say, that tale's given birth to a novel in the works . . . for Morrigan magic means multitudes.)

"No matter how often Sinatra performed there, every two show-a-night performance was special.  Little details made a difference.  How the glasses were arranged.  The way each napkin was folded.  Which guest at the table got the check.  Skinny made sure he paid attention to the inconsequential tasks nobody else bothered with. " Yeah. Skinny D'Amato's joint. Back and forth to what's goin' down at the swanky Hotel Traymore. Atlantic City. Tough place. Tough characters. Tough tendency for Jersey Shore tough guy Kevin Michaels to tell a tale of crime behind the scenes of the main act. Make sure you order a double when you gulp this one down folks. This one's rich. There's a $10,000 hit on the line.

Yeah. RJR was our headliner. He said he'd shoot a series of short posts, sorta work the Lounge before hitting the Main Room. Man oh man can that man work a Lounge!  Learn who HIS favorite RatPacker turned out to be and step into his show-patter. It resonates I tell ya, and you just want to go readin' on more and more. Good thing -- the guy's penned out about 454, mebbe 500 books. Dig'em. But dig him. Gettin' juiced up with the adrenaline of other authors. And baby -- ain't that what it's all about?


What a hit a hit man makes . . . Is he lackey or lucky? You be the judge, 'cause "Who doesn’t want to sit at the cool kids' table?" Think Don Rickles as a wanna-be. Think dancin' girls all gone home and what kinda "favors" get asked to be shoveled ~  "Somewhere in there it turned sour and this Jewish kid from New York ended up in a pickle."  Only hardened crimewriter Eric Beetner can really show ya how a spade is called a spade . . . but in a Vegas desert? Dig it. But -- uh ... keep a safe distance, will ya?

And would we forget . . . 
Why do you read the thrill o'Brazill? Because like I do ~ you have NO CLUE what's gonna come on in atcha? Yep. Sure thing it'll take your mind for a trip you never packed a slick valise for. Metaphor past fast pace, this tawdry gem shines your mind up right spiffy. Hotels, casinos, the Greek Islands . . . and new ways to play "come blow your horn". But THEN what happened to an act that broke up? Don't let pieces of the ceiling hit ya on the head when you read this one folks. It's Brazill on a spree . . . always the gritty guy, with the wink in his eye that appeals so to me. Na zdrowie, dear one.

Absolutely*Kate, so proud past proud to know authors takin' authors all the higher in their soar . . .

PSSST ~ Anthony Venutolo's "DIVORCE YOUR LOVED ONE WITH DIGNITY" ... and Sean Patrick Reardon's  "BUNG HO!" sure rocked our RAT*PACK*REVUE too, and brought the house down with Matt Hilton's "YOU KNOW WHAT I LIKE".  (Hey, those guys know people who know people ~ I'd be more scareder than a dark alley with sharp objects and menacing noises to leave THEM out).

Friday, January 6, 2012

Five You Can't Miss: Ron Earl Phillips

Ron Earl Phillips is a multi-talented dude: He's editor of the flash fiction site Shotgun Honey and co-editor the charity anthology The Lost Children. He's also recently had stories in Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, and in the charity anthology Off the Record. Here are his five and I would agree with his assessment of 2011...

I may be myopic, short sighted, being an editor and avid reader of short story crime, all the same 2011 seemed to be a really good year with a lot of new and veteran writers stepping up their game, putting their best work out there. So it's hard, but here are five can't miss stories of 2011.

Carrrrleeee by Naomi Johnson (A Twist of Noir)

In 2010, Christopher Grant started an interesting project, the 600-700 story word challenge, where a writer would take a story number and use that as the exact word count. The challenge is still winding it's way to 700, at 670 words Naomi Johnson's Carrrrleeee was one of my favorites from the 2011 stories. So much fear and hopelessness packed into those 670 words, Naomi had the reader running right along side Carlee.

I also recommend following Naomi's blog, The Drowning Machine.

A Small Thing at the Devil's Punchbowl by Kent Gowran (Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled Anthology)

Love is a funny thing, you may not be looking for it, but sometimes it finds you. In A Small thing at the Devil's Punchbowl, Kent takes us on a quirky little tale searching for a lost son, what's found isn't what's expected. This is just one of several good stories in David Cranmer's Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled Anthology, but Kent's story alone is worth the 99 cent price tag times ten. Kent promises more stories in 2012, so I'm looking forward to that.

Oh, and he is the founder and co-editor of Shotgun Honey and has a snazzy new blog atKentGowran.com.

Choppers by Matthew C. Funk (The Flash Fiction Offensive)

I'm not sure when I first discovered Matthew C. Funk's Desire, a small, broken, corrupt Parrish of New Orleans. It was Choppers that solidified my desire to read more about Desire, the community that struggles in a post Katrina New Orleans. And would of course introduce us to Funk's defining protagonist, Det. Jari Jurgis. Choppers is an aside story, a story that builds the structure of Desire and its denizens.

Choppers is a fantastic introduction to Matt's work, but I recommend you dig into his impressive and growing short story bibliography.

Bleed Out by Trey R. Barker (Thrillers, Killers & Chillers)

Trey's been around a while, but absent in recent years. So his re-emergence on short story crime scene this year is my first experience with his work. I'm sold--hook, line and sinker--Trey has the goods. As recommended earlier Trey's 6/8 which appeared on Shotgun Honey is probably my favorite story of his to date. Being an editor of Shotgun Honey, I felt odd tipping the hat to one of our own stories (oops). Bleed Out is easily nearly shoulder to shoulder and was published earlier this year at Col Bury's Thrillers, Killers & Chillers. Trey writes a hellava cop story, but what I love about this story is how the hopelessness bleeds out like a melancholy melody. Much of Trey's work has a poetic, musical cadence.

Give Trey's website a visit: Bullets and Whiskey.

Black-Eyed Susan by Thomas Pluck (Powder Burn Flash)

Tom's the new kid on the list and is making quite an impression this year with stories at just about every online venue. If you haven't read him yet, where the pluck have you been? This New Jersey boy is a burning fire of fiction that I'm not sure anyone can contain. Black-Eyed Susan starts off with a bad joke that finishes with a horrifying punchline. This story also appeared in the Beat to a Pulp: Hardboiled Anthology.

Aside from writing like a demon, Tom helps me moderate Flash Fiction Friday from which he spawned the The Lost Children: A Charity Anthology. You can find his full hit list at his blog, Pluck You, Too!

That's my list, but I also recommend all the great offerings from Chris' Five You Can't Miss series. Thanks for having me.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Five You Can't Miss: Fiona Johnson

Fiona "McDroll" Johnson is the author of the very fine short-story collections Kick It and Kick It Again, and the co-editor of the charity anthology, The Lost Children. She blogs over at I Meant to Read That and she joins us at DBK today...

I've read so many stories this year and it's impossible to say if the ones below are my favourites but for a variety of reasons these are the ones that have stuck in my memory.

Smoke by Nigel Bird 
If you want to understand what is happening in contemporary society in Scotland, then Bird is handing it to you here on a plate; kids who have been failed by the education system, poor housing, poor employment and training opportunities, teenage pregnancies, alcohol and drug misuse and a criminal sub culture. Sounds bleak but for many youngsters growing up today, this is their reality and Bird moves into this world with such ease and makes these characters real instead of government statistics.

2. Guns of Palo Alto by Josh Stallings 
Like everything I've read from Josh Stalling, Guns of Palo Alto hits hard and leaves you bleeding but also has a huge amount of heart and a truth that can't be faked.

3. Legacy of Brutality by Thomas Pluck 
I'd read a few of Tommy's stories before I got to this one but when I read it I was just blown away. Here was a character in Denny that Tommy could finally get his teeth into and show everyone what a fabulous writer he actually is. What a year it's been for Mr. Pluck. He's a writing machine and 2012 is going to be mega for him.

4. FIX by Stephen Blackmoore 
I don't think I'm wrong in saying that Stephen Blackmore hadn't written a vampire story before this one and that he was pretty unsure about it. However, thinking back to all of the stories I've read this year, this one sticks in my mind. I loved that the main character is female and I really hope that he's going to build on this vibrant entry
into the dark side.

5. Two-Phones by Dan O'Shea  
I just couldn't name my top 5 without putting in something by the fabulous Mr. O'Shea. His writing flows like no one else's and now that I've listened to a few of his audio recordings I always hear his
amazing voice when I read his work. This little story was just beautifully constructed, seemingly simple but showing such a sure hand.


First off, thanks to everyone who has reviewed or mentioned Pulp Ink. Y'all are very generous folk. 

I was particularly thrilled that our little project made best-of-the-year lists from top writers like Heath Lowrance, Luca Veste, and Darren Sant. I mean, these dudes read a lot of books and it's very cool to see PI in such good company.

Also, last month we lowered the price of Pulp Ink from $2.99 to $.99. To me, it's pretty clear that this was a good decision. Here are our sales figures:

First 17 days of December at $2.99: Sold 9 copies. Total royalties: $18.81. 
Next 17 days at $.99: Sold 59 copies. Total royalties: $19.47.

So not only did we sell more than five times as many copies, we also made more money. Now this may have had to do with making those fine gentlemen's best book of the year lists, or may have had to do with the holidays--nonetheless, pretty clear that you sell a shitload more at the lower price. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Merciless Pact by R Thomas Brown

R Thomas Brown's debut novella, Merciless Pact, is a spare, vicious piece of horror writing. I was very impressed with his collection of fiction, Mayhem, and with this entry, Brown proves that he is just as adept at longer work.

Merciless Pact starts right in on the action: Greg is at home minding his own business when his "friend" comes over, holds him down, and vomits all over him. (This was definitely horrifying but, in my opinion, also pretty fucking funny.)

Nothing goes right for Greg after that. He slowly morphs into an animal only concerned with consuming food and sex whenever he can. He's inexplicably drawn to a sinkhole in the woods, where he encounters a character who is kind of like the evil twin of the Space Coyote from The Simpsons. The only way out of this curse is to make a pact with the evil spirit.

Brown doesn't waste words in this tightly plotted tale of psychological agony. He maps out Greg's descent into madness and never veers from the course. It's dark to the core.

Also, I had a lot of questions to muse on after reading Merciless Pact: How much agency does Greg really have? Are Greg's friends really trying to help him? Is Greg an awful person or just a person? Does Greg just invent the entire thing? (Don't get me wrong -- there's no Fight Club kind of ending here. Nonetheless, I thought this might be the case...)

Anyway, this is a great, fast read. Go pick it up at Amazon for $2.99.

Monday, January 2, 2012

ALL DUE RESPECT: Submissions Open

First off, everyone should boogie over to ADR and check out John Kenyon's latest. One kinda thick-headed mobster gets into some serious trouble in this funny and unpredictable story.

Also, ADR is now open for submissions. As I've said in the past, when I take over in May, I plan on keeping things similar to what Editor Alec Cizak has established. But there are two changes:

1) ADR will begin publishing two stories per month, one on the first and one on the fifteenth.

2) I'm changing the word count to 1000-5000. (Previously it was 2000-5000.)

So give your best crime fiction a polish and sent it on over.

Five You Can't Miss: Julie Morrigan

Julie Morrigan is putting us all to shame with her production. She released four e-books in 2011 -- her novels, Convictions and Heartbreaker, made it to many best books of 2011 lists. Her two short story collections, Gone Bad and The Writing on the Wall, have also earned many well-deserved accolades. Find out more about her excellent work at her web site. And here she is with five from last year...

It’s that time of year. The time when we have to make a list and check it twice, make tough choices and pick our favourites, and it never gets any easier. My thanks to the writers whose stories I have listed here for providing such rich and varied entertainment. My thanks and my apologies to those whose stories I have thoroughly enjoyed, but didn’t have room to mention.

Heart Shaped Hammer — Sean Patrick Reardon
Of all Sean’s excellent short stories, this is perhaps my favourite. It’s so beautifully written, the present day action and the story of what led to it expertly interwoven, a tale of love and loss and, ultimately, revenge. Superb stuff.

Skinny Latte — Chris Rhatigan (at Shotgun Honey)
One of many by Chris that I could have chosen, Skinny Latte is an absolute cracker. Dark, sharply observed, full of great dialogue and description, and the ultimate cautionary tale for controlling parents. Fantastic!

Padre — AJ Hayes (from Pulp Ink)
AJ Hayes is one of my favourite writers. I could have picked any one of his excellent stories to include in this selection and it would have deserved its place. I chose this one because I found it compelling, chilling, and wholly believable, and it stayed with me long after I had finished reading it. A staggering combination of brutality and compassion, ‘Padre’ shows humanity not in black and white, but in the murky shades of grey that most of us are painted in. Stunning.

The Damp Fedora — Absolutely*Kate
Again, I chose this story of Kate’s because it stayed with me long after I read it. If you’re familiar with Kate’s writing, you’ll know how rich and lyrical it is. If you’re not, this is a cracking introduction both to it and to Detective Nelle Callahan. Stylish and sassy, she’s quite the dame. (And so’s Nelle!)

The Tut — Paul D. Brazill (From ’13 Shots of Noir’)
I’m a big fan of Paul’s stories: the spare prose, the eye for detail, the dark humour. Perhaps especially the dark humour. ‘The Tut’ is classic Brazill, a tale of repressed anger, disappointment, seething resentment, bad choices, and, ultimately, disaster. Perfect!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Full Dark City

CJ Edwards first popped up on my radar with "The Peeper," a razor sharp short story over at All Due Respect. Edwards has revamped his blog to focus on short fiction and his first post is an interview with Alec Cizak on his new publication, Pulp Modern.

Cizak never bullshits and this interview is well worth checking out.