The Blood Red Experiment: Tom Leins

Featured Image -- 2588The Blood Red Experiment:
A Serial of Giallo-Inspired Novellas
Tom Leins
Didn’t Bleed Red

  • How did you first discover Giallo?

During my late 20s I worked for a now-defunct UK home entertainment magazine called DVD Monthly – a national publication which was improbably run out of a sub-let box-room on Marsh Barton industrial estate in Exeter. A grizzled old-timer known as ‘The Grifter’ quickly took me under his wing and introduced me to the dubious charms of what were dismissively termed the ‘back-end features’.

Among the regular back-enders were ‘5 Minute Film School’, which scrutinised various obscure sub-genres – the bulk of which weren’t even available on DVD. The Giallo film school piece captured my attention and prompted me to write about everything from Bruceploitation to Poliziotteschi to Hindi Horror in subsequent months. If it’s weird, violent and slightly shoddy I probably like it.

  • Do you have a favourite film or director?

One of my favourite movies within the Giallo sub-genre is probably Dario Argento’s feverish, mind-boggling Suspiria, which comes highly recommended.

That said, a lot of the Giallo films I have watched over the years are at the trashier end of the scale and were released by the Shameless Screen Entertainment label – instantly recognisable in the UK by their lurid yellow (Giallo inspired!) covers and DVD boxes.

When DVD Monthly was abruptly shut down, we literally filled bin-bags with whatever was lying around our grotty little office, and I managed to grab a bunch of these. Weirdly, I found a handful of Shameless DVDs in my attic as recently as last year… Anyway, it’s these deranged, cheerfully exploitative movies that have inspired my story in The Blood Red Experiment, rather than the more sophisticated work of Argento.

  • How would you pitch your story to potential readers?

Didn’t Bleed Red takes place in the Paignton Noir universe that I’ve painstakingly stitched together over the last decade. The story mashes up a number of familiar Giallo tropes – voyeurism and violence, sex and slaughter – with my warped world of shit pubs, grubby sex hotels and sleazy video shops. It sounds incongruous on paper, but I’m confident it works!

(And yeah, sure enough, there’s a deranged sex-killer in a motorcycle helmet running amok with a meat cleaver…)

  • What appeals to you about the serialised format of the magazine? And what were the biggest challenges in terms of serialising your story?

I’m a pretty lousy plotter, so this little project has been a really interesting exercise in forward planning! I have really enjoyed working towards a major cliff-hanger every 2,000 words – so much so that I’m going to adopt the same approach for my next novella. This ‘restriction’ has given my story a frantic, twitchy kind of energy, and it has been a lot of fun to write.

  • Finally, do you have any future publishing plans that you would like to share?

I will have some very exciting 2018 publishing news to share very soon, but I’m keeping quiet until the contracts have been signed. Suffice to say, it involves one of my favourite independent crime fiction publishers. Watch this space!

Bio:
tom-leins-summer-2017Tom Leins is a disgraced ex-film critic from Paignton, UK. His short stories have been published by the likes of Akashic Books, Shotgun Honey, Near to the Knuckle, Flash Fiction Offensive, Horror Sleaze Trash and Spelk Fiction. A novelette, Skull Meat, is available via Amazon.

https://thingstodoindevonwhenyouredead.wordpress.com/

 

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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.

Triple Whammy!

Wow, great news! The Anthony awards are out and I’m quite pleased to find myself in two nominated anthologies. My story ‘Life Just Bounces’ is in Murder Under the Oaks edited by Art Taylor and my tale ‘Mesquite’ appears in Protectors 2: Heroes which Thomas Pluck edited. I owe Tom a double debt of gratitude because he reminded me about the deadline for the Bouchercon anthology and I hastily turned my short comic play into a story just in time. Great to see so many folks I know on the list of nominees — it’s going to be a tough ballot to decide on in New Orleans.

And hey! That Frank Duffy has an interview up with me on Facebook. It’s public so you should be able to see it here. Fun interview to do. You should check out the other interviews Frank has done with folks on his author page.

Pulpcore

Hey, do you like some fine German-language noir? Look no further than PULPCORE! Now available and FREE! Kostenlos! Get stuck in. Practice your German or give it to you friends. As you can see it’s a stellar lineup.

TOA/V: It’s Not Repetition, It’s Discipline + I’ll Be Your Mirror

IT’S NOT REPETITION, IT’S DISCIPLINE
The Fall Definitive Documentary

The filmmakers admit the subtitle was added by the record company who put out the DVD and not something they aimed to do (and believe me, it’s not). This is a fan-made doco, filmed in bits over twelve years and then edited together. Other than footage of the band, you will not see a female face. Hardcore male fans who are interested only in other hardcore fans and ‘experts’ who look like themselves. It’s a bit curious in a band that has always had women in it (at one point Mark E. Smith was the only male in the band) the fandom is staggeringly male, to the point that Fall gigs are about the only concerts where there’s no line at the ladies.

The interviews that are here are sometimes interesting, Rollins in particular. Grant Showbiz offers some interesting behind-the-scenes tales. The ‘rare’ Mark E. Smith interview is the usual cat-and-mouse event that amuses the long time fans and probably confuses those unfamiliar with the jester-in-chief of the band.

The DVD will probably suit hardcore fans. It’s not something that will win over any new fans except those already destined to join the fold whether they know it or not.

Ill Be Your Mirror

I’LL BE YOUR MIRROR
Una Baines / Keith McDougall

I contributed to the campaign to publish this comics memoir and I could not be happier. Baines who was in The Fall, played with Nico and as well as founding The Fates and Poppycock, has a rich bounty of experiences to share. Her story’s beginning makes for a fascinating snapshot of the 1970s in Manchester. McDougall’s art has a kind of vintage underground/alt comics vibe (in the vein of Roberta Gregory, Mary Fleener and Carol Lay). Baines’ perception of the limits of her religious upbringing and her introduction to feminism and rock-n-roll come alive in the pages with both a charming sense of innocence and the dangerous power of true awakening.

Then one day a strange man walks into her life at a fair and she finds a partner in adventure. They share music and discuss politics and in a wonderfully drawn sequence, drop acid together.

This comic is such a delight and the best part is the last page says “To be continued” — and I certainly hope so as this will be a terrific memoir to enjoy for fans of music, Manchester, women, comics, revolutionary spirits and all.

See also: Furia by Fates

Catch up with all the overlooked A/V at Todd’s blog.

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.

Rogue: Gary Duncan

Gary Duncan photo.jpgSpelk Captain, Gary Duncan is our Rogue of the day; check out his site for fine flash fiction you can read when you only have a little time — and enjoy when you have a little more.

  1. Who’s your Rogue?

An Imperfect Arrangement is about bad people doing bad things. Bill: the once-feared but now fearful gang boss. Don: the hired muscle who may or may not know the whereabouts of Bill’s missing £10,000. Rick: Bill’s idiot son who has never let common sense get in the way of a stupid idea. And Frank: the fixer, enforcer and confidant whose loyalty to Bill is matched only by his own instinct for self-preservation. An Imperfect Arrangement is about doing whatever you have to do to get by and survive.

  1. What crime would you really want to get away with?

Whisper it softly, but I think I already have.

  1. What author can’t you do without?

James Ellroy. If I could have more: Don Winslow, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane. Non-crime, Martin Amis.

  1. What movie best captures the criminal life?

I was going to say Carlito’s Way, but I see Aidan Thorn has already bagged that. I’ll go with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid [Ed: an awesome film]

  1. Are you a criminal mastermind or just a mild-mannered dreamer?

I’d like to say the former, but I’m afraid it’s the latter.

Gary Duncan – contacts:

Buy it at Amazon US or UK.