Interview: Paul D. Brazill

too-many-crooksHey, it’s the Duke of Brit Grit, that Paul D. Brazill! So what’s this new book of yours out this weekend?

Too Many Crooks is my latest Brit Grit novella and is published by Near To The Knuckle. It’s set in England and Poland. It’s a mix of pulp, farce and the grotesque. No change there, then. Though there is a bit of romance in this one …

The blurb says:

Too Many Crooks is a blackly comic Brit Grit romp from the author of Guns Of Brixton and Kill Me Quick!

When high-class fence Leslie Hawkins meets Peter Rhatigan in a sleazy London pub, he offers her the chance to get her hands on the Totenkopfring, a legendary piece of World War Two memorabilia. However, after a violent encounter with a member of a biker gang, things soon spiral wildly and dangerously out of control. Meanwhile in Poland, Dr Anna Nowak finds an amnesiac Englishman half-dead in the snow…

Too Many Crooks by Paul D, Brazill is a fast-moving and action-packed cocktail of bodies, bullets and death-black comedy.

How many crooks is too many? Is there a scientific basis for this claim?

Well there is a veritable cornucopia of crooks in Too Many Crooks. There are gangsters, a jewel thief, a biker gang, a mental neo-nazi politician. In fact there are pretty much only crooks! How they all collide is part of the fun, of course.

Are there more pop song references in this book or comedy classics?

Well the shadows of the Carry On films and Ealing Comedies hang heavy over the book, as per usual, and there are lots of top tunes from the likes of Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, and The Flys.

Should readers begin at the beginning and read all the way through or can they jump about from tale to tale?

Well, it’s a novella, so there’s only one story so it’s best to start at the beginning or it may not make sense. It may not anyway, of course!

Are there really large American themed bars in Warsaw? What on earth for?

There are indeed though not as many as there are overpriced Irish pubs. A Polish pub was once spotted …

What’s next from your prolific pen?

My novella A Case Of Noir will be re-published by Near To The Knuckle in March and there should be another novella out a bit after that. And I have a story in the debut issue of Switchblade Magazine.

Pre-order TOO MANY CROOKS! here.

Paul D. Brazill‘s books include The Last Laugh, Guns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, and Kill Me Quick! He was born in England and lives in Poland. His writing has been translated into Italian, German and Slovene. He has had writing published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime. His blog is here.

Interviewed by Linda Sands

Hey, that award-winning writer Linda Sands has grilled me with her 10 Questions. Drop by to see if you really should put haggis on your burger…

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Interview: Dana Fredsti, Murder for Hire

mfh-195x300Connie Garrett knows that a trenchcoat and a fedora don’t make a detective. She’s the co-founder of Murder for Hire, an acting troupe that specializes in spoofing, not sleuthing. When MFH performs at a sleepy coastal community’s mystery gala, celebrating the works of a famous hard-boiled mystery writer, the bodies start stacking up, and Connie finds herself on the case whether she likes it or not. Now Connie is committed to solving the murders while trying to keep both the show-and her love life-afloat.

Was this story inspired by your own acting experiences?

Murder for Hire was definitely inspired by real life events. My best friend and I had a murder mystery oriented theater troupe in San Diego many years ago (I will not say how many, other than to admit that I had to actually add cell phones in by the time the book was first published). Many things in MFH actually happened, including a confrontation with a truly horrible woman who tried to get us fired from one of our jobs. She actually said that we’d ‘never work in this town again.’ She caused a lot of stress for us and our actors, so we decided to kill her. In a book, of course! So we wrote the first draft of MFH, which was rewritten several times over the years before actual publication fifteen years later.
God, I feel old now…

Is acting a good preparation for writing?

For those of us that like to write, I think it gives much experience to draw from. But I don’t think the crossover works for everyone because there are plenty of actors with no interest in writing and vice versa. Where I think acting experience really helps a writer is prepping them for public speaking and publicity. So many authors are introverts and find the whole process of promoting themselves and their works to be akin to torture. I personally love it, but when I first started acting I was a lot more self-conscious than I am now.

 What skills are similar?


Hmmm… the ability and delight in stepping away from the real world for a while and making it as real as possible to the readers/audience.

 So, are there any characters based on real experiences?

Well, see above for the woman who inspired MFH in the first place. Her name and appearance were changed to protect the innocent (that would be me), but at least one of her scenes pretty much followed the true to life version of it. A lot of the characters in MFH are based on real people. Some are conglomerations of two or more people. Some are completely made up. The two main characters, Connie and Daphne, were definitely inspired by me and Maureen (my best friend), but the difference between the first and final draft is very noticeable because I’d managed to achieve distance and perspective. Which made for a better book.

How would you compare writing this novel to writing the Ashley Parker novels?


Oh jeez… There’s no way to really compare because MFH was so closely based on real life events (and wish fulfillment ’cause killing off people who have been total asshats without fear of being arrested is AWESOME) that writing it was… well, it was easy. Mind you, it needed the rewrites it eventually got, but that first draft… I think it was a three-week process.

Come to think about it, I still kill off people who piss me off in real life in my novels… So as far as that goes, I enjoy it as much in my Ashley Parker novels as I did writing Murder for Hire.

Do you always start out with a clear plan or do you feel your way along with a story?

First draft of MFH was outlined. The murderer, though, did not cooperate and ended up being changed after the first draft was finished. That made for a better book because there were all these built in red herrings pointing to the character who was originally the villain. The first Ashley Parker book was not outlined beyond a page of ‘this happens and there are these characters and, and, and… zombies!’ Now that I’m working with Steve Saffel at Titan Books, everything has at least a basic outline. I still find some of the best ideas happen when I’m doing research and something will spark an idea that leads me down a completely different path than expected.

 Will there be more novels in this vein? 


I really want to finish the sequel to MFH. I started it quite a while ago and have three chapters waiting for me to get on with it.

What’s next for you?











I’m currently working on the first in new urban fantasy trilogy based on the Lilith mythos for Titan Books (which is, btw, a UK publisher), which is going to be released next year. I’m also working the first of a science fiction trilogy with my husband David Fitzgerald (an awesome writer!) that’s also being published by Titan Books. It’s called TimeShards. I’m stoked (that’s my Southern Cal surfer gal coming out there) about both series. Additionally I’ve got a story coming out in the latest V-Wars anthology, edited by Jonathan Maberry (he also writes the wraparound stories for the books), as well as a story in the upcoming Joe Ledger crossover anthology Joe Ledger: Unstoppable, which is being edited by Jonathan and Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and features characters from various authors’ universes interacting with characters in the world Joe Ledger.

What are some of your favourite crime stories or writers? Films that inspire? 

Not so much into crime stories as I am mysteries, really. Favorite authors off the bat: Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, Marlys Millhiser, Juliet Blackwell, Terry Shames, Susan Shea, Lisa Brackmann… that’s just a start. As far as films? Classic film noir for the win as far as inspiring MFH!

 
Is writing better than acting?

And yes, writing is MUCH better than acting. I can wear pajamas and don’t need a boob job to do it!!!

Dana Fredsti is a novelist and screenwriter, B-movie actress, zombie aficionado, exotic and domestic feline advocate, swordfighter, wine lover and beach glass junkie. She writes the best-selling Ashley Parker series: Plague World, the sequel to Plague Town and Plague Nation, is available now from Titan. Murder for Hire is out now from Fox Spirit Books.

Guest Post: Patti Abbott

Shot in DetroitI’m happy to host Patti Abbott today to talk a little bit about the writing process behind her second novel SHOT IN DETROIT. The book has been generating a lot of buzz, building on the fine reputation of CONCRETE ANGEL.

BLURB: Violet Hart is a photographer who has always returned to cobble out a life for herself in the oddly womblike interiors of Detroit. Nearing forty, she’s keenly aware that the time for artistic recognition is running out. When her lover, Bill, a Detroit mortician, needs a photograph of a body, she agrees to takes the picture. It’s an artistic success and Violet is energized by the subject matter, persuading Bill to allow her to take pictures of some of his other “clients,” eventually settling on photographing young, black men.

When Violet’s new portfolio is launched, she quickly strikes a deal, agreeing to produce a dozen pictures with a short deadline, confident because dead bodies are commonplace in Detroit and she has access to the city’s most prominent mortician. These demands soon place Violet in the position of having to strain to meet her quota.

As time runs out, how will Violet come up with enough subjects to photograph without losing her soul or her life in the process? A riveting novel of psychological suspense, Patricia Abbott continues to cement herself as one of our very best writers of the darkness that lies within the human heart

Do you consider genre when you write? Did you write SHOT IN DETROIT as a crime novel? How about CONCRETE ANGEL?

I lack calculation, or perhaps better phrased as control, which is probably a bad thing for someone trying to find success in writing. I am a pantser rather than a planner. And when I sent Shot out for the first time (it was initially titled Raising the Dead) the very kind editor who agreed to read it, said, “My God, woman, forty pages have gone by without a body?” This was from Hard Case Crime and I clearly did not understand the demands of that genre. The body count in the their books is high and the bodies fall quickly. I should have been aware of it after reading many of their books. I should have calculated or exercised control over what I needed to succeed with them. But instead I went merrily along writing the book that I seemed to only work out on a subconscious level.

And as someone who does little planning or outlining, I also never think, “Hey, it’s time for another murder.” It may happen, but I never planned it. I am as surprised as a reader might be when it does, wondering when my character came up with that idea. When did he get so angry?

Getting back to the question of genre, when and how does a story find its way into genre fiction? If there is any murder at all in a novel, is it then crime fiction? Well, that would widen the gates considerably. We’d have to usher in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, THERESE RAQUIN. I would instead say that crime cannot be incidental to the plot in genre fiction. It has to be the focus of it. What we are most interested in, maybe even to the diminishment of character.

With Mr. Ardai’s critique in mind, I decided to begin the second novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, with a murder. But it’s a bit of a cheat because Eve Moran is not your typical murderer, and her first and only murder was an accident. But throughout the book she engages in most other crimes. A crime novel? I was not sure and called it domestic suspense. In many ways, her crimes are the result of mental illness. And if I was able to control or even outline a novel, I probably would have added another murder along the way. Her father might have made a good victim. Her husband?

Shot in Detroit veers even further from the definition of genre. We are not much interested in who killed the people who die in the book. Hopefully we are interested instead in what being around murder or death, in even being invested in it as a photographer, does to a woman like Violet Hart. How it both softens and hardens her over six months. But if twelve men die, it can rest easily on the shelves of crime fiction for me.

So have I written two genre novels? Are both crime novels? I would say yes.

Visit Patti’s blog for all kinds of interesting discussion, including her weekly round-up of Friday’s Forgotten Books.

Interview: David Cranmer

13015470_1050953218285801_8371846958973310511_nThe road may have finally gotten to Jack Laramie. After a heated incident at a roadside diner, uncharacteristic of the wandering P.I., he decides he’s in need of a break and accepts a steady gig as a handyman at the ranch of an elderly farmer. Thinking he’s going to have an easy time of it tending to the chickens and pigs, Jack soon finds that it isn’t so different from his usual job when family secrets and money-hungry scoundrels threaten to pull him into a web of deception that might just tear him down. This “Drifter” is the seventh installment in the series and the first written by the series creator. Includes the Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles short story “Missing” by Edward A. Grainger.

Tell us about TORN AND FRAYED and the Drifter Detective series: where did it all start?

Under my pen name, Edward A. Grainger, I’ve had a bit of success with a character named Cash Laramie who was a marshal in the Old West. To fill out the character’s life story he had a daughter named Veranda Jane and she gave birth to Jack Laramie, aka The Drifter Detective. I approached a very good friend, Garnett Elliott (RED VENUS, DRAGON BY THE BAY), and asked him if he would be willing to pen a few adventures based on my characters. Luckily, he was willing and I presented my idea of a WWII veteran nomading about 1950’s America in a beat up DeSoto with a trailer hitched behind that doubles as his home. Garnett masterfully (and I can’t overstate that enough, yes, MASTERFULLY) wrote the first three books setting the tone for the series. I then brought in hardboiled legend Wayne D. Dundee (Joe Hannibal creator) and Pulp Modern’s Alec Cizak both to write additional Drifters of their own. Garnett came back to write a fourth and then there’s my current addition, TORN AND FRAYED.

You mentioned on Facebook that you’ve used your eclectic tastes in reading to make this book veer away from the standard tropes of the genre. Could you say a little bit more about how?

Life is rarely well-ordered and the good guys and gals seldom win outright. Often there is no tangible answers to be had and we are left with more questions than answers. So I wanted Jack Laramie faced with people acting for reasons that he’ll (and we the readers) never completely understand the motivations … or, that are presented as murky at best and that goes for the main protagonist. In one of my favorite passages, Jack feels like he’s being led to his death and chickens out, running away which he notes is not something his grandpa Cash Laramie would have done. In a comical interlude, Jack is carrying a weapon that jams in a moment he needs it the most only to have it discharge later at a rather inopportune time.

Why did you wait until the seventh book in the series to jump in? After all, as editor you could have done so at any point, right?

I’m slow—plain and simple. TORN AND FRAYED was originally scheduled to be the fifth and then sixth entry. I kept pushing it back and if it was possible I would have pushed it back even farther. I’m a bit of a tinkerer with my own pieces.

How does this fit into the larger picture at Beat to a Pulp?

I feel The Drifter Detective is our most fully realized series with the least amount of ‘damn, wish I had done that a bit differently’ regret. And for fans of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles it is a nice continuation, of sorts, that deepens the overall canon.

From the editor’s perspective, what would you like to see more of?

After years of championing the Hemingway sparse school of less is more, I’m leaning now toward the Vladimir Nabokov/Saul Bellow approach. Mind you, I still want crime, mystery, Westerns, etc., but pumped up with some stylish prose. That would catch my eye faster than anything else.

Pseudonyms: how useful are they?

A pseudonym, in my case, allowed me to write Westerns freely. Before ‘Edward A. Grainger’ I was the BEAT to a PULP guy who occasionally wrote crime short stories. Grainger became the author who wrote noir Westerns like Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles, basically, it gave me much more room to navigate. Oddly, my pen name, became more popular than my real name. I tried releasing a collection of hard-boiled stories a couple of years ago and it sold pitifully. So TORN AND FRAYED is under David Cranmer because it’s not a Western. Fingers crossed I don’t drive the Drifter Detective series off the road and into the ditch.

DavidCranmer_ap14_wb-hs-bwWhat’s one book you think more people need to read, one that’s meant a lot to you?

I guess it would be THE STRANGER by Albert Camus (THE GREAT GATSBY a close second). It wasn’t conceived as a noir novel but it is about the darkest piece of fiction I can think of to recommend. The plot concerns a guy who is ambivalent to life. He views those around him as almost insects under a microscope. After murdering a man on the beach, he shuns a priest brought to his cell and vehemently dismisses him. As he faces death he welcomes the “cries of hate” of the those watching his execution.

Check out all the great titles at BEAT to a PULP and drop by David’s blog The Education of a PULP Writer. You can also find BEAT to a PULP on Facebook and Twitter. Buy Torn and Frayed here.

Rogue: Keith Nixon

Keith Nixon knows The Fix and has been said to play Russian Roulette, so he’s a rogue for sure —

1) Who’s your rogue?

The name he goes by these days is Konstantin Boryakov, he’s ex-KGB and hides in, of all places, Margate. Konstantin had a small, but significant part in my debut novel, The Fix. Since then he’s developed into a main character and has his own series of books. A man with a dark past and a darker future he spends his days attempting to avoid trouble because he’s been in more than the average person. The trouble is Konstantin can’t help himself…

2) What crime would you really want to get away with?

Who says I haven’t already?

3) What author can’t you do without?

The trouble here is my tastes have changed over the years. Who was big for me 20, 10 or 5 years ago isn’t necessarily now. I used to read loads of sci-fi – Moorcock and Asimov in particular – but I’ve shifted to thrillers and crime in the last decade. At one time I read everything by Robert Ludlum, these days he does my head in!

4) What movie best captures the criminal life?

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

5) Are you a criminal mastermind or just a mild-mannered dreamer?

In the real world unfortunately I’m a wage slave, which just goes to prove I can’t be that much of a criminal mastermind!

Find Keith online:

Buy it at Amazon US or UK.

Rogue: Ryan Bracha

The very artsy Ryan Bracha, who came up with all the promo for this anthology and its trailer, too, shares a few facts with us today.

Who’s your rogue?

He’s an unnamed dad, estranged from the kid’s mum, taking his son out for his birthday. What starts out as a bitter reminiscence turns into something altogether more sinister.

What crime would you really want to get away with?

Big time hustler stuff, like, in a team of grifters, pulling huge cheeky scores over any one of the crooked scumbag millionaires we’re overrun with. I’d be known as The Wizard’s Sleeve.

What author can’t you do without?

Irvine Welsh. No question. His inventiveness with bringing a tale to life knows no bounds. If we’re talking crime fiction, I think Elmore Leonard takes some beating.

What movie best captures the criminal life?

Requiem for a Dream, or Trainspotting. The extreme lengths that people will go to, to feed addiction. That’s crime for me. The highs and lows of resorting to petty crime for a short term buzz.

Criminal mastermind or mild mannered dreamer?

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Www.Facebook.com/ryanbrachaauthor

@ryanbracha

Www.ryanbracha.webs.com

Buy it at Amazon US or UK.