The Throes of Crime with Erik Arneson

I'm thrilled for my good friend and all around great writer/editor/comic writer/boardgamer/dude, Erik Arneson, and the recent release of his debut short story collection, THE THROES OF CRIME. the-throes-of-crime-finalCalculating hitmen. Corrupt politicians. Sociopathic rock singers. Incompetent private investigators. Sword-wielding orangutans. You'll find them all in THE THROES OF CRIME, a collection of 26 short stories and six true-crime essays by Derringer Award finalist Erik Arneson.

Arneson's stories, which flow effortlessly from dark noir to wicked humor, have been published by Thuglit, Needle, Otto Penzler's Kwik Krimes, Akashic Books' Mondays Are Murder, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter Online, and more. THE THROES OF CRIME also features seven brand-new short stories, never before published anywhere.

All proceeds from THE THROES OF CRIME benefit the James & Jeanne Arneson Memorial Scholarship Fund, which provides financial support to graduates of Wilmot High School in Wilmot, South Dakota, who display an aptitude in creative writing by authoring a short story. The goal of the scholarship is to encourage students from Wilmot to continue writing fiction well beyond high school, to tell the stories that only they can tell. Powerful stories and funny stories and magical stories - stories the world is waiting for, even if it doesn't realize it just yet.

THE THROES OF CRIME is your debut collection. Congrats! Give me the quick pitch!

Thanks! The Throes of Crime is a collection of 26 short stories and six true-crime essays. Some of the stories are brand-new; others were previously published by Thuglit, Needle, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter Online, Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, and more. The essays were first published in Duane Swierczynski’s great comic book The Black Hood.

All proceeds from the book go to a scholarship fund set up in memory of my parents to benefit graduates of Wilmot High School in Wilmot, South Dakota.

Did you notice any themes emerge over the course of putting the book together?

Some themes definitely emerged even though the stories cover a variety of times, from the mid-19th century to the present, and locations, from St. Petersburg, Russia, to Superior, Wisconsin. The table of contents is split into categories like crimes of vengeance, crime in the workplace, and partners in crime.

There’s also -- despite there being some pretty dark, noirish stories in the collection -- a good amount of humor to be found in the book.

Given your background in government, have you worked politics into your fiction?

How could I not? One of my favorites (“Twitter and Coke”) is a story written entirely in the form of tweets about a politician who really, really should not be allowed to use Twitter unsupervised.

Another (“All Alone”) is set in 1951 Philadelphia, a time when the city was embroiled in a vast web of corruption by public officials. It was so bad that at least six city employees wound up committing suicide.

What draws you to writing crime?

The fact that the stakes are so high for everyone involved. And it usually doesn’t matter if the crime seems silly on the surface, like stealing used french fry grease. If someone commits a crime, there’s probably something going on that’s worth exploring. Desperation, jealousy, greed, fear -- those are powerful things and endlessly interesting to write about.

I especially enjoy stories that touch on how the human spirit can continue to shine in life’s darkest moments.

Favorite Shotgun Honey memory?

Shotgun Honey is an amazing website. As editors, we received so many great submissions. I always loved opening a story from an author I’d never heard of before and being blown away. But my favorite memory is easy: Hanging out with you, Jen Conley, and our fearless leader Ron Earl Phillips at Bouchercon in Albany, New York.

If you could turn one of your stories into a board game, which would it be? Why?

I love this question. I’m going with “Dairy of Destruction” because the idea of a board game about a gang of barnyard animals plotting to take over the world delights me.

Top 5 board games?

My list of favorite games is always changing because there are so many great games available today. It’s a fantastic time to be a board gamer!

Pandemic Legacy is at the top of the list. Brilliant and compelling. The gameplay is superb, and the storyline that evolves over the course of repeated plays is unlike anything I’ve experienced before in a board game.

Other current favorites include Ticket to Ride: Pennsylvania (building train routes in my home state -- hard to get better than that!), Codenames (a truly genius party/word game), and America (an excellent party/trivia game). Finally, it’s been far too long since I’ve played Betrayal at House on the Hill; there’s a new expansion called Widow’s Walk that I’m looking forward to playing.

Thanks, Erik! Check out THE THROES OF CRIME on Amazon.

Erik Arneson lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and editor, Elizabeth. His first book, THE THROES OF CRIME, is available now. He hosts the Title 18:Word Crimes podcast. His comic book FORTUNE is available from Comixology, Indy Planet, and NoiseTrade. Find him at ErikArneson.com.

Wrestletown is Go!

Wrestletown is go! Temp Cover

Officially announcing the launch of my debut novel, WRESTLETOWN, on Inkshares! WRESTLETOWN is an illustrated novel featuring cover and 10-15 illustrations by the incredible Andrew MacLean (Head Lopper, Image Comics).

Inkshares is a publisher that functions similar to Kickstarter (crowdfunded) except it is by copy and not dollar amount (therefore pursuing a goal of reaching readers and avoiding vanity press issues, etc). My local bookshop, Papercuts J.P., published their debut anthology with them, and I've been very impressed with the quality of books I've seen them put out. Wrestletown is a success at 250 copies (POD) pre-ordered, upgrading to an offset printing at 750 copies. Inkshares provides editing, marketing and distribution (functioning like any other publisher). The campaign runs through October 30th, with publication in 2017.

You can read the first five chapters of WRESTLETOWN on Inkshares, and each week I'll be sending out updates to backers on inspiration and story. An official cover reveal is set for late July/early August with interior illustrations to follow.

I hope you'll give the book a shot and consider supporting the campaign. WRESTLETOWN is my favorite work to date and the most fun I've had writing.

Let's kick this pig!

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DOWN THE DARKEST STREET with Alex Segura

The past couple of months have brought a double dose of multi-talented author Alex Segura in the form of Polis Books re-issuing SILENT CITY, his first novel featuring Pete Fernandez, along with a new book - the follow-up - DOWN THE DARKEST STREET. I really enjoy Alex's take on the PI, and it's a pleasure to have him stop by and answer a few questions regarding his latest releases. Here we go! DTDS-e1458140880212

Chris: The PI story is classic - one that countless authors take on each year. With SILENT CITY and now DOWN THE DARKEST STREET, you've received high praise from the likes of Megan Abbott, Laura Lippman, Brad Meltzer, Reed Farrel Coleman, and more. Who's this Pete Fernandez? What's drawing readers to his story?

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Alex: When we meet Pete in SILENT CITY, he's hit bottom. He's lost his father, his fiance has left him, he's moved back to his hometown of Miami in shame, he's working a dead-end job and he's basically fallen from grace, career-wise. He's gone from being an on-the-rise sports reporter to being a mediocre copy editor. He's also drinking himself to death. He's got only a few friends left and is floundering. But then he gets pulled into a missing persons case and finds that spark again - and as he pulls and tugs at the thread, he finds it leads to a bigger, more dangerous mystery. Unfortunately, being inspired or motivated doesn't solve our problems, so he's still kind of a fuck up. His story isn't just about solving the crime - it's about fixing himself, and that's something I think anyone can relate to.

We see him fail and stumble, but we also see him use his smarts and experience to help others. He's a flawed person and a conflicted hero, and I think  that's part of the appeal. He's not your polished PI with a stack of cases and the office. Hell, you should see where he ends up by the middle of DOWN THE DARKEST STREET. These are the formative moments for Pete - we're not meeting him in the middle, we're starting at ground zero with him.

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Chris: You mention the setting of Miami and Pete's job as a reporter - two of my favorite aspects of the first book as both are foreign to me and I found your take to be very engrossing. How did these pieces find their way into the story? Have you set stories in Miami, or featured reporters as characters before? If so, how has the place/person evolved in your writing?

Alex: First off, I'm glad you liked the setting and Pete's job. I really wanted to showcase the Miami I remember and know, as opposed to some commercialized version. Whenever I see Miami portrayed on TV or in movies, I tense up - because I've had so many experiences where the Miami I see on the screen just doesn't ring true. I wanted to show Miami as a sprawling, complex, dangerous and off-the-rails place. Not a tropical getaway, even though it can be that to some people. I wanted to show the Miami residents see, as opposed to the one tourists see. I worked in newspapers for a big part of my early professional life, so I knew that world, and I love newsrooms - the sense of urgency, the workmanlike vibe, the flow of information. It struck me as the perfect place for someone who would eventually evolve into being a private eye of sorts. I toyed with having Pete be a reporter at first, but realized that someone like him - basically destroying himself slowly - wouldn't be able to hack it. That's why I set him up as a kind of fallen star: a former reporter relegated to desk duty and hating every second of it. This opened the door to him tapping into his inquisitive skills to do other stuff, like investigating a murder mystery, for starters. Most of my crime fiction is set in Miami, including a few short stories - the bulk of it comes via the Pete books, though. But my interpretation of the city evolves because Miami itself is always changing. I live in New York now, and while I come home to Miami 2-3 times a year, I'm always amazed at how much it's changed. I try to be as true as I can when researching stuff, and usually take time out of trips back home for fun to do some legwork for the next book - but I also want to preserve Miami as I remember it, too, so the Miami of the Pete books may not be identical to Miami as it is now, but it's my riff on it. (I hope that makes sense!)

Chris: Totally. Do you think it has gotten harder or easier to write about Miami since you left? Does your ability to see the city as an 'outsider' give you more insight or flexibility than if you were still in the weeds?

Alex: Different. I mean, I started SILENT CITY after I'd left, but Miami was fresh in my mind. Now I've lived in NY for over a decade. But I go back to Miami pretty regularly. But it means more research - more keeping up with the news and trying to keep up with how the city's changed or evolved. That said, I write fiction, so there's some wiggle room. I can keep a bar or restaurant open longer in Pete's Miami, even if it's closed in real life. I can tweak things as long as I'm in the ballpark. But it is a bit trickier to write about Miami now, so it's something I'm very mindful of and work hard to stay true to

Chris: Let's talk crime fiction for a moment. With your day job at Archie Comics you are exposed to slice-of-life, horror, super heroes, high school intrigue - you name it. What draws you back to crime, again and again? Feeling the itch to tackle another genre?

Alex: I have a few comic book ideas I want to explore, but they're in the very early stages. I've always had a soft spot for sci-fi, and I've written a few things in that genre. I would love to do a Star Trek novel or comic, if that ever comes to pass. I'm a sucker for that universe. But crime fiction is my main wheelhouse. I don't see it as a limiting genre - there's so much ground you can cover, you know? Hardboiled to cozy, noir to humor. It really allows you to explore the human condition and showcase the stuff people are dealing with through the prism of a crime. At its best, crime fiction rises above just a caper or a whodunnit - it gives you a sense of the struggles people are experiencing, of place and how everything fits together. I'm hesitant to even minimize it by trying to keep it in one big crime fiction box, but yeah, it's the most liberating kind of story to write.

Chris: Speaking of outside the genre - any writers/creators outside the genre who influence or inspire your work?

Alex: Great question. I love Don DeLillo, Philip Roth, Cristina Garcia, Stephen King, Cory Doctorow, Kelly Braffet, Junot Diaz, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Marisha Pessl, Chuck Wendig...those are just a few off the top of my head!

Chris: If Pete Fernandez had to leave Miami today and go elsewhere for your next book, where would he go?

Alex: He ends up going somewhere in Book 3, but it's still a Miami book. I've toyed with New York or Vegas for certain stories, but I think Miami has to always be an element. It's too big a part of him.

Chris: Any readings/convention appearances scheduled for 2016?

Alex: Yup! I'll be kicking the Down the Darkest Street tour at The Mysterious Bookshop on 4/12, which is also release day. After that I'll be doing appearances around New York, like Word Brooklyn and The Astoria Bookshop. I'm doing a few events in Florida, one at Books & Books and another at Murder on the Beach in Delray, in early May and I'll be at Bouchercon and Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee, to name a few. The full list is at my site, alexsegura.com.

Chris: What's next for Alex Segura?

Alex: Finishing up revisions on the third Pete book, Dangerous Ends, and powering through the first draft of the fourth, untitled Pete book. And ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES! That's hitting later this year, with art by Gisele and co-written by Matthew Rosenberg.

DON'T GET CAUGHT with Kurt Dinan

Annnnnd we're back! It's been difficult to keep up with the blog as of late, but I have some plans to keep it going, beginning with a series of interviews of some friends and colleagues with books coming out this spring. We're kicking things off with KURT DINAN and his YA debut novel, DON'T GET CAUGHT, which hits the stands on April 1st - tomorrow! Nice marketing trick for a book about pranks, eh? Well played, SourceBooks.

Kurt Dinan

You may recall Kurt giving me the third degree on his blog a few months ago. Here I return the favor, though I gotta tell you - it's tough when a book is so great. Yes, Kurt is a fantastic writer and a good friend of mine, so I'm biased...BUT prior to cracking DON'T GET CAUGHT I hadn't read much (if any) YA and just a few of Kurt's short stories, so I felt pretty good going in blind. Kurt kills it in his debut. You should grab this book because it's a ton of fun, but also for Kurt's use of voice, handling of an ensemble/team and tight plotting. Early reviews are excellent (especially over on Goodreads, where the book has been on fire for months.) But enough of this sweet praise. Read on!

Don't Get Caught

Chris: YA fans are over-the-moon for DON'T GET CAUGHT. What's going on here? Give a quick pitch and sell the rest of us on this big debut.

Kurt: The quick pitch: DON'T GET CAUGHT is a fast-paced, funny, and prank-filled caper novel about a group of outcasts out for revenge.  Or if you want the Hollywood elevator pitch, it's Ocean's 11 meets The Breakfast Club, but with a lot more dick jokes.  At least that was my intention when I wrote it.

Chris: Mmmmm, I smell a movie. Speaking of which, the voice of the narrator, Max Cobb, (my favorite aspect of the book) screamed film voice-over in the best way, taking me back to movies like The Sandlot and Stand By Me, among others. How did you go about developing it? Balancing the innocence and teenager hijinx. Did it naturally roll off onto the page?

Kurt: Oh man, I'm glad to hear that because I struggle with voice so much.  I honestly don't think it was until the 4th or 5th draft where I finally heard his voice and could write it.  If I remember correctly, I think it was writing, "This is a terrible idea.  It's stupid, irresponsible, and borderline suicidal.  But I'm going anyway"  as my opening lines where everything clicked.  Now, those lines don't start the novel in the final draft, but something in there made Max come to life.  After that, I had to go rewrite the whole novel to fit that voice, but it was fun work because I finally had it.

Chris: That's some serious persistence! Was fine tuning the voice part of the process of finding your footing writing YA fiction? What was it like moving from Horror to YA? Or were you always writing both?

Kurt: The move from horror to YA was easy because if I'm being honest, horror wasn't a good fit for me.  Like a lot of people I know, I spent my high school years reading Stephen King.  So when I started writing I wrote what I knew best.  I had some success with a few horror stories, yeah, but I learned that I'm not really that dark of a guy by nature, and it's hard for me to get myself in the right place to write that way.  YA though?  Writing smart-assed, euphemism-slinging, antiauthoritarian teenagers?  That's much more natural for me.

Chris: Speaking of smart-assed, euphemism-slinging, antiauthoritarian teenagers - you feature quite a few pranks in this book. What was the process like inventing them? Any you had to scrap during the editorial process?

Kurt: I did a lot of research on pranks, and then steroided them out to make them bigger and better.  The fun part was figuring out how to make a team pull the prank off, and then write it in such a way that the reader doesn't know exactly what's being done until the very end of the chapter.  I like to think of myself as a problem solver, so it was a fun exercise with each prank, thinking, "Okay, how exactly would you make such and such happen?"  I did scrap one prank from an early draft in which the Chaos Club had turned around the first ten rows of seats in the auditorium so that everyone faced each other like in a subway car.  I ditched that scene just to get the novel moving faster.  And at one point Wheeler had a different prank than the one he pulls in the novel, but for the life of me I can't remember what it was.  I do know that I wrote the prank he pulls on the football practice field on the writers' retreat where you and I met.  My only goal that weekend was to write that chapter, and I was worried I wouldn't get it finished.  I was in such a prank planning mode though that I knocked it out in a few hours, a first for me.

Chris: That was a great writers' retreat! I'm glad to hear you got some serious work done...unlike myself. It's all about the social interaction though, right? I'll keep telling myself that. Any retreats/conventions/tours lined up for this year? I saw you hit the big time at the American Bookseller Association's Winter Institute in Denver back in January.

Kurt: I just found out my book release party is on April 6th here in Cincinnati, so I'm looking forward to that.  I'm also a guest at the Ohioana Book Festival in April, and the Pickerington Teen Book Festival in June.  There are a couple of others in Ohio I'm hoping to attend as well.  But yeah, the ABA Winter Institute was big time, and I spent most of my time looking over my shoulder worried that the book police were going to arrest me for slumming.  I know you're supposed to "act like you've been there" and all of that, but putting me in a signing room with Richard Russo and Kwame Alexander is a bit ridiculous.

Chris: Getting back to the kids for a moment - I was on a panel the other day at Boskone and we were discussing the idea that every character in a story is a hero, that they have their own story where they are they hero, even if it isn't the main narrative. I think this idea applies to DON'T GET CAUGHT in how you really developed the whole cast. They have their own struggles, problems at school/home in addition to the group's goal/conflict throughout the book. How did you go about developing each story? Do you have a favorite?

Kurt: It's funny you brought this up because I gave each of the five characters an arc thinking I had to.  It wasn't until I got into revising that my agent and editor both told me I didn't have to go to that length.  But I love ensemble casts and used The Breakfast Club as a template.  By the end of that film you know a good amount of each of those characters.  I wanted each member of the Water Tower 5, the kids looking for revenge in the novel, to each have his/her motivation for doing what they do.  Of those five, I think I like Wheeler's arc the most.  I like the idea of the classic screw-up deciding to turn things around while still not changing who he is at his core.  Like Wheeler says, he upgrades who he is, but doesn't do a new install.  So he can be more responsible without being completely responsible, which no one would like.

Chris: I love that line about upgrading versus a new install.

It wasn't until I got into revising that my agent and editor both told me I didn't have to go to that length.

I find this statement fascinating as it reads to me like they said the book was good enough as is and that you didn't need to go the extra mile. Could this be attributed to the YA market/readership? Can you expand on this a little? Terrible plans, eh? Keeping them in high school? Do you envision ever taking these characters post high school?

Kurt: In an early revision note, I'd been asked to make Stranko, the vice principal, and sort-of-antagonist in the novel, a little less moustache-twirly.  I humanized him some, and then wondered if I needed to do the same with the other four characters in Max's crew.  I'd given them all arcs on purpose, but wasn't sure if I'd gone far enough.  I was told, yep, you're fine.  Actually, giving those characters arcs is what helped me figure out the pranks.  Adleta, the lacrosse player with the terrible father, had to have a sports-related prank, and Malone, with her sexting scandal, had to get revenge on the girl who sent her picture around.  It really was pretty helpful.

Keeping anyone in high school is torture, for sure, but as much as I dig these characters, I'm not planning to write about their post-high school lives.  I would at least like to mess around with them during the senior year though.

Chris: You know every interview is going to bring up the sequel(s). Anything outlined/planned out? What's next?

Kurt: I have the basic idea for a sequel, and know a few of the pranks that will be pulled and why.  I've started an outline and even some of the writing, which is a fun task because I like these characters so much.  Hopefully I get approached to write a sequel soon because I have terrible plans for all of these characters.  I mean, there have to be repercussions for the pranks they pulled, right?  Do any of us really ever truly get away with anything?

Chris: Do any of us really ever truly get away with anything? - now that's a hell of tag line for a sequel. I'll let you have the final word!

Kurt: The last word?  Okay, I can do that.  Look, reader of Chris' blog, I get it, you read a lot of crime, and, like Chris, maybe you don't read a lot of YA.  But here's the thing, I read a lot of crime, too.  In fact, I pretty much bow at the altar of Donald Westlake, the master of the comic caper novel.  DON'T GET CAUGHT is in that vain, just with high school kids and a lot more dick jokes.  If you happen to read the novel and not like it, Chris promises he'll refund your money.  What a good guy he is!

Get your copies of DON'T GET CAUGHT

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RECAP TIME! On to 2016

Bent Eight I've been neglecting the blog a bit as of late. Between the holidays and kicking off the new year with a new book, I've let things slide. BUT IT'S NEVER TOO LATE, KIDS. NEVER!

Here we go!

2015 was pretty rad.

My second novella, BURN CARDS, dropped in April from 280 Steps, followed by my debut short story collection, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, in November, also with 280 Steps.

SitV-wraparound BURNCARDS

On the comics front - my first full-length issue, CHARRED KRAKEN, based on my short story, "Charred Kraken with Plum Butter," hit ComiXology in December. I also did a small print run, which turned out really well (and which you can still hit me up for!) I wrote a lot more...but it's all still in development or on the DL. Fingers crossed for some progress this year.

I highlighted some of my favorite reads of the year over at Spinetingler Mag.

Speaking of 'best of' lists...

Ian Rogers picked BURN CARDS as a favorite novella of the year.

SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE landed on lists from Paul Tremblay, Gabino Iglesias and Scott Adlerberg.

SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE also recently received two wonderful reviews - one from Papercuts J.P. over at Literary Hub, and the other over on Crime Syndicate Magazine.

And I kicked off the year chatting with Pam Stack on Authors on the Air, and the crew over at Miskatonic Musings.

I can't thank you all enough for the support and kind words over the past year, especially when it comes to SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE. It still feels a bit unreal to see how well people connect with the collection, and the variety of stories that are singled out as favorites.

NEXT UP!

2/19 Noir at the Bar Boskone! Cohosting with Errick Nunnally, featuring Dana Cameron, Christopher Golden, James Moore, John Langan, Sarah Langan, Paul Tremblay, and Melinda Snodgrass.

2/20 Boskone Panels

Hidden Heroes 10:00 - 10:50, Harbor III (Westin)

Sometimes the hero of a story isn't its true protagonist. A commonly accepted example is Sam Gamgee in The Lord of the Rings, who more and more centers the action as the story concludes. What other examples occur to us? Why might an author choose to focus on someone other than the hero? Can the hero ever be the antagonist?

How Story Works 11:00 - 11:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

Pixar filmmaker Andrew Stanton claims in his TedX talk that "the fundamental promise of a story is that this tale will lead somewhere that is worth your time." Is there more to story than a well-told promise? What is story? How is it constructed? What compels us to consume story in all its forms?

2/26 Reading at KGB Bar in Manhattan 7:00 - 9:00pm

Prime Time Crime - heading down to NYC for a reading with Scott Adlerberg and Jason Starr.

Hope to see you guys out there!

That's all for now, but stay tuned for more posts on books, WIP updates, interviews, and more as I get back into gear.

December Giveaway! aka Got Reviews?

IMG_8762 I love small press. I can't say enough good things about 280 Steps and their support for SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE over the past few months. It's been a lot of fun and I hope some of the momentum carries over into 2016 and beyond.

But as writer and proprietor of Broken River Books, J David Osborne, described so honestly in his recent blog post - Money Money Money Money (Cha-Ching) - there's only so much a small press can do. It's also on the author to drive sales and promotion of their work.

So what works? How does one do this effectively? I'm not sure anyone really knows. I'm repeatedly followed, unfollowed, and followed again on Twitter by "best-sellers" with thousands of followers in an attempt to make a quick buck. Then there's the relatively recent trend on Facebook to treat it as an impersonal selling tool as well, becoming 'friends' with as many strangers as possible in hope of increasing one's audience. I'm not sure how successful either of these strategies are, but they are too hard a sell for me. Everyone draws a different line in the sand. On the opposite side of the spectrum you have people who won't market at all and criticize those who do. It's impossible to please everyone, especially when there is no clear answer to the question - what makes books sell?

Reviews help, that's for sure. Online, in print, word of mouth - all drive algorithms and discussion that can only boost a book's signal. With that in mind, I have a deal for you:

Leave an honest review for SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE by 12/13 and be entered to win a copy of WHAT HAPPENED HERE: Year One at Papercuts J.P. - a compilation of exclusive works by authors who visited Papercuts J.P., Boston's newest independent bookstore, in its first year - featuring my story, "The Push," a pseudo-sequel to "Digging a Deep," (from Safe Inside the Violence) as well as work from Paul Tremblay, Jennifer Tseng, Rory Flynn, Catie Disabato, and many more. 300+ pages of pure AWESOME.

Where? On a blog, newspaper, Amazon, Goodreads, the palm of your left hand in permanent marker. Be creative, I don't judge. Tell your people and spread the good word!

On Monday, 12/14 I'll randomly pull a name and announce the winner here.

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Thank you all for your continued support!

Week One Recap

Whew! Made it through a whirlwind of a release week. Thank you all so much for your amazing support, especially to those who came out to the launch party (packed house!) last Friday at Papercuts J.P. I couldn't have wished for a better night. Here are a couple pics from the event (by Jabari Asim)

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and another by Papercuts J.P.

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In other news, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE received two incredibly kind reviews last week. I'm still pinching myself (and dreading...in a good way, the novel I need to rewrite this winter):

From LitReactor, where the reviewer called the book "a collection everyone should read — particularly if you’ve ever dreamed of writing this kind of fiction."

And MyBookishWays: "In his short story collection, ‘Safe Inside the Violence’, Irvin provides more proof that he may be the best new writer on the crime scene today."

Reviews have started to trickle into Goodreads and Amazon as well (thank you!) It's exciting to see the variety of stories readers report as their favorites, or those that stuck with them. Like all authors, I greatly appreciate the time and effort it takes to leave a review. I'm not sure anyone is certain how they function in the algorithms of these sites, but they certainly give books a boost. Thank you for spreading the word.

Hope to see you Wednesday at Brookline Booksmith!

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Pub Day!

SitV-wraparound It's alive!

SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE is now available through Amazon and your favorite independent bookstores (Give them the title or one of the ISBNs and you should be good to go.)

SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE ISBN-10: 8293326700 ISBN-13: 978-8293326700

Alex Segura interviewed me for his newsletter, Stuff & Nonsense. You can check out the interview HERE, but I also recommend subscribing. His weekly interviews (every Friday) cover a wide range of creatives and are always worth checking out. Do iiittttt.

I also received a bit of local coverage in the JP Gazette.

Here's my updated schedule through the holidays, including new stops in Libertyville, IL (north of Chicago) and Columbus, OH.

11/13 – Launch Party at Papercuts J.P. @ 7pm

11/18 – Reading event with Jason Starr at Brookline Booksmith @ 7pm

11/27 – Black Friday Signing at Dreamland Comics, Libertyville, IL @ 1-3pm

12/3 – Mystery Night signing event at the New England Mobile Book Fair @ 6-7pm

12/21 – Noir at the Bar Columbus at Kafe Kerouac @ 7pm (more details coming soon!)

As always, thank you all so much for your support and spreading the word. The run up to the book's release has been wonderful, and I hope you enjoy the collection. Thoughts/comments/reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are much appreciated!

See you on the road.

15 minutes of Reddit Fame

I'm settling into work this morning when a friend posts a link to the below photo on my Facebook wall: Safe_Adlerberg

Hey! It's a wonderful photo of Scott Adlerberg and his son reading together in NYC...and he's reading my book! Pretty cool, I think. Then things get a bit surreal. The photo (as of this posting) has now been viewed over 1.3 million times on imgur.com, spawned multiple threads on Reddit - BIG and small - even trending to #1 on the site.

The comments run the gamut of love and hate, speculation as to how Scott has a book that hasn't been released yet (BEAR IS DRIVING! HOW CAN THIS BE?) and arguments over whether or not the photo should have been taken and/or posted (over 1,000 comments as of this posting on the larger of the two threads.)

Scott's a friend and a terrific writer. He plans to touch on these events over at Do Some Damage in the near future, so I'll let the star of the show tackle his internet fame and use the rest of this space to clue you in on his books:

Check out his novella, JUNGLE HORSES, and forthcoming novel GRAVEYARD LOVE.

Jungle Horses is a hell of a tale that will take you on a mind-bending trip, and while you have to wait until early 2016 for Graveyard Love (I had the privilege of recently reading an ARC) you're in for something special. I won't spoil an ounce of plot, but there are echoes of both Les Edgerton's THE RAPIST and Tom McCarthy's REMAINDER in the best possible ways. Grab 'em while their hot and tell your friends.

Until next time.

Never a dull moment.

Bouchercon Bound & MORE

Greetings! I've been a bit absent from the blog (a new baby will knock it to the bottom on the list of priorities...) but I'm gearing up for Bouchercon and a busy fall with the release of my debut short story collection, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, so here goes a quick update:

BOUCHERCON!

No panels or readings for me (yet?) but I'll be dropping off a huge stack of ARCs and milling around the convention/bars for the long weekend. Thursday night's Noir at the Bar hosted by Eryk Pruitt is a must, as well as Tom Pitt's interview of Les Edgerton and Jack Getze on Friday. Looking forward to seeing a lot of great friends. Crime writers are the best.

I'll also have some copies of CHARRED KRAKEN for sale. $5 for 28 pages of kick ass weird noir with art by Artyom Trakanov, colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick, and letters by Thomas Mauer!

Charred Kraken_layout

Still want a copy but not going to be at Bouchercon? Got you covered. The following weekend I'll have a table at...

MICE

October 17-18 - FREE comic con at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I'll be hanging at table D12 (Doucet Hall) with my buddy Joe DellaGatta. A lot of fantastic creators on the list this year. Come out and say hello!

miceMap2015

And last but not least...

SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE TOUR

The Goodreads page is GO and pre-order is up on Amazon for paperback and e-book. Want to order from your local independent? Not a problem - they should be able to order it now as well, if not in the next week.

In the pipeline:

10/22  Noir at the Bar Boston V at Trident Booksellers & Cafe

11/13  Launch Party at Papercuts J.P.

11/18  Brookline Booksmith - author event with Jason Starr

I'm hoping to do a little Black Friday signing in the Libertyville/Vernon Hills area north of Chicago, and a Noir at the Bar Columbus (Ohio) close to Christmas. Stay tuned!

WHAT HAPPENED HERE

PCJP logo

One of the most exciting additions to Jamaica Plain in the last year has been Papercuts J.P.

Not only have they won recognition from the Boston Globe Magazine as Best of the New, from the Improper Bostonian as the Best Book Nook, and hosted a fantastic selection of authors, both local and from across the country - they've also been incredibly supportive of my writing. (See you in November!)

What better way to kick off a one year anniversary than with an exclusive collection?

WHAT HAPPENED HERE: Year One at Papercuts J.P.

Papercuts J.P is using Inkshares to publish an exclusive 300+ page collection of new and collected works from the authors that supported the store during its first year. I'm excited to be contributing a story in support of such a wonderful store - one that gave a serious booster shot to both my reading and writing. The story ties to a new piece I wrote for SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE (more on that later...) so it's safe to say if you are a fan of my previous work, you'll definitely want to consider pre-ordering a copy - not to mention for heavy-hitters including Abigail Thomas, author of A THREE DOG LIFE, and Chris Hedges, New York Times bestselling author of WAGES OF REBELLION.

Speaking of pre-orders - if you click the link above you'll see that the way Inkshares operates is by pre-order:

What this means, simply, is that this book will only be published if we can collect 1000 preorders of our book. We believe we can do this with your help! We have identified a strategic plan to get buzz building around our project and know this can happen if we work together, from the ground up. Publishing through Inkshares allows readers (you!) to decide what gets published—not editors or agents. We need your help to make this happen and we will do our damnedest not to disappoint.

I hope you give WHAT HAPPENED HERE a shot, and be sure to stop in Papercuts J.P. when next in Boston/Jamaica Plain!

 

Protectors 2: Heroes

PROTECTORS 2: HEROES is now available for pre-order. I'm proud to be a part of a project supporting such an essential organization.

Protect-heroes-Ingram-coverfront1

I hope you guys check it out!

From editor, Thomas Pluck:

Here’s the full table of contents, from legends to rising stars to emerging writers, all who support PROTECT’s cause, protecting children from all kinds of abuse and exploitation. 100% of the proceeds are donated to Protect’s lobby. If you’re unfamiliar with PROTECT, they are the political lobby of the National Association to Protect Children, whose victories include the Circle of Trust act and the HERO Corps, which hires wounded veterans to assist law enforcement in hunting online predators.

Table of Contents: When!? by Linda Sarah The Questions by Alison Arngrim City Water by Allison Glasgow Black and White and Red All Over by David Morrell Silvia Reyes by P.J. Ward Plan B by Andrew Vachss Gatekeeper by Richard Prosch The Night Watch by Susan Schorn One Night in Brownsville by Gary Phillips Silverfish by S.J. Rozan Parental Guidance by Scott Adlerberg Superhero, With Crooked Nails by Rachael Acks Angel by Terrence McCauley Mr. Nance by Linda Rodriguez Something I Said by Bracken MacLeod El Puente by Rios de la Luz Mesquite by Graham Wynd Level 5 by C.R. Jahn On the Road to La Grange by Karina Cooper Reprisals: Enmity by John A. Curley The Whistler in the Graveyard by Chad Eagleton (illustration by Dyer Wilk) Solar Highway by S.A. Solomon Jibber Jabber by Reed Farrel Coleman Doll: A Poem by Jyl Anais Ion (illustrations by Jyl Anais Ion) Doggone Justice by Joe R. Lansdale The Occurrence of the Black Mirror by Teel James Glenn Sister Cecilia by Hilary Davidson Croatoan by Harlan Ellison® Little Howl on the Prairie by Thomas Pluck Things Held Dear by Neliza Drew 49 Foot Woman Straps It On by Laird Barron Moon Over the Midwest by Elizabeth Amber Love Sixth Floor by Albert Tucher Adamsville by Clare Toohey Point of View by Will Graham High Meadow Storm by Wayne Dundee Out of Context by Joelle Charbonneau Lone by Alex Segura (illustrations by Dennis Calero) Love and Valour on ‘the Victorian Titanic’ by Gill Hoffs Just Pretend by Martyn Waites Freak by Charles de Lint The New Heroes of the Old Fairgrounds by K.L. Pereira When the Hammer Comes Down by Josh Stallings Stretching Fifteen by Angel Luis Colón Bounty by Jerry Bloomfield Light-Bringer by Laura K. Curtis Hercules and the Spawn of the Titans by Michael A. Black How to Paint Your Dragon by Andrew D’Apice Don’t Fear the Ripper by Holly West Two Views by Tim Daly A Hundred Pearls by Errick Nunnally Snapshots by Christopher Irvin Deceit by Joyce Carol Oates The Perfect Weapon by Zak Mucha An Open Letter to the Children of the Secret by Dionysios Dionou Behavior is Truth by Gwyndyn T. Alexander Pigeons for Protect! by Linda Sarah

Friday Reads: The 280 Steps Sampler

Catch a sneak peek of SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE in the 280 Steps Sampler, as well new works from Ed Brock, Jonathan Ashley, Eric Beetner, Joe Ricker, and more.

bite-of-crime-fiction-large

FEATURING...

Fall 2015

Safe Inside the Violence by Christopher Irvin Out of Mercy by Jonathan Ashley Thieves' Market by A.I. Bezzerides Long Haul by A.I. Bezzerides You Can Kill Anyone by Leonard Fritz Dirty Water by Marc E. Fitch To The Core by Josh K. Stevens Pale in Death by Ed Brock

New Releases

Delving Deeper by Josh K. Stevens Walkin' After Midnight by Joe Ricker HASHTAG by Eryk Pruitt Rumrunners by Eric Beetner Scratch the Surface by Josh K. Stevens Burn Cards by Christopher Irvin

Selected Backlist

The Cost of Doing Business by Jonathan Ashley Stumped by Rob Kitchin The Red Right Hand by Joel Townsley Rogers Music for the Dead by Luis Gutiérrez Maluenda A Night for Screaming by Harry Whittington The Shooting Gallery by Hugh C. Rae One-Eyed Jacks by Brad Smith The Carrier by Preston Lang Portrait in Smoke by Bill S. Ballinger Tough Luck L.A. by Murray Sinclair

Cover Reveal!

safe-inside-the-violence SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, a collection of short stories, available November 10 in Trade Paperback and eBook from 280 Steps. I'm very proud of how this book turned out - it's some of my most personal work - and I can't wait to share it with everyone in the fall. Stay tuned for more info!

Bonus - my first radio interview with Steven Nester on PRX for Poets of the Tabloid Murder went live this week. Steven is an excellent interviewer, and I had a lot of fun discussing BURN CARDS, noir, writing, and more. Check it out *HERE*

 

BURN CARDS Goodreads Giveaway

280 Steps is kicking off March with a Goodreads Giveaway for BURN CARDS

BurnCards_books**Hot off the Press**

About BURN CARDS:

Mirna Fowler believes she has been cheated in life, growing up in a broken home alone with a drunken and gambling-addicted father. Now she works at a small hair salon in Reno, doing her best to survive while she saves money for school. Hoping to get a degree that will take her places.

But in the wake of her father's death, Mirna inherits his extravagant debt, an amount of money she can never repay. As her fractured world begins to crumble, the search for the truth sets her on a path where life hangs on her every move.

Advance Praise for BURN CARDS:

“With a character you care about and a momentum you can't avoid, BURN CARDS is aces. This fast-moving novella pulses with enough energy to power all the casinos in Nevada.” - Steve Weddle, author of Country Hardball

"the shit-kicking streets of a dead end desert town have never been meaner." — Joe Clifford, author of Lamentation

"This bare-knuckle noir pulses with energy and punches hard." — William Boyle, author of Gravesend

"Irvin illuminates the city of Reno itself, casting the flickering glow of his sharp observations into every dark corner of the city and bringing forth a rogue’s gallery of gamblers, dreamers, and burnouts who are all heading for the same bitter end." — John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm

Feeling lucky but still want to pre-order? GOT YOU COVERED

Stay tuned for information on upcoming events & thanks for your support!

Pre-order BURN CARDS

BURNCARDSComing April 14th from 280 Steps in paperback and e-book.

Advance praise for BURN CARDS:

“With a character you care about and a momentum you can't avoid, BURN CARDS is aces. This fast-moving novella pulses with enough energy to power all the casinos in Nevada.” ---Steve Weddle, author of Country Hardball

"the shit-kicking streets of a dead end desert town have never been meaner." --- Joe Clifford, author of Lamentation

"This bare-knuckle noir pulses with energy and punches hard." --- William Boyle, author of Gravesend

"Irvin illuminates the city of Reno itself, casting the flickering glow of his sharp observations into every dark corner of the city and bringing forth a rogue’s gallery of gamblers, dreamers, and burnouts who are all heading for the same bitter end." --- John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm

Pre-order is live on Amazon!

Return to the Blogosphere!

BradyNothing like a Patriots trip to the Super Bowl to kick start the ol' blog. (Yes, it's true I'm a Bears' fan, but until they move past Cutler..woof.) At least we could laugh about this guy: rex-grossman-fuck-it-im-going-deep

Annnywho, so I've been working on several projects (some I've shared, some I haven't). It's been a lot of fun, especially the comics, but anxiety inducing as well. Fingers crossed for 2015 to be a big year.

I've also taken a lot more time to read and enjoy the process. Writing is hard enough, especially for those part-timers who squeeze in their time at the keyboard around a full time job and family. Sure, I still aim to write every day and I know it will be a slog, but it's an adventure more than anything else - one that I'm going to enjoy. And probably ramble on here, a lot.

Time to get nostalgic

Whether it's reminiscing while writing KAYFABE about watching wrestling as a kid with my brother, reading/writing comics (more on that some other time), having a two and a half year old developing his own interests, or hell, turning 30, I'm on a huge nostalgia tour...

Comics

Brandon Montclare's HUGE comic collection inspired me to pull out my Punisher comics and get them bound through his recommendation: Herring & Robinson. H&R is awesome. I shipped out close to 100 comics, and two months later I have these beauties on my shelf:

photo(8)And at close to $20/book (the 'no frills' package), they are even cheaper than if I had tracked down the trades. Highly recommend Herring & Robinson if you are looking to get some books bound.

Speaking of Brandon Montclare - you all should check out PODCORN, a weekly comics podcast with Brandon and Amy Reeder (Rocket Girl creators), and editor extraordinaire, Chris Robinson. The show is a lot of fun and often presents insightful discussion on the comics industry.

While we're on the topic of podcasts...add John Siuntres' WORD BALLOON to your list. The interviews are long, but well worth your time - so much so that I've thrown in as a patreon supporter for the show.

Round out a top three with iFanboy. It's a great, witty review show that has me reaching for more comics each week.

Back to Fantasy

The-Return-of-NagashI haven't seriously read Sci-fi/Fantasy in years (probably since the last GoT book) but Games Workshop got me with their The End Times series. I played a lot of table top miniatures games - Warhammer, 40k, etc. - in Junior High and High School, but when I got to college a lack of time pushed me into other gaming that didn't require such a commitment. I still kept tabs on the fiction (Games Workshop, especially nowadays, pumps out an insane amount of books) but one of my complaints was the company never moved the needle when it came to pushing the story. Major characters never changed/grew. When an event they ran (Storm of Chaos) didn't turn out as they hoped, they basically paved over it, pretending it didn't happen.

Well, The End Times is awesome, and again, hugely nostalgic as it deals with kills off characters I read about as a kid. Unfortunately it's been a little hit and miss since Josh Reynolds' crushed it out of the park with the first entry, The Return of Nagash, but it's still a lot of fun. I have high hopes for the finish.

Wrestling...I should be back to editing... so I'll just leave you with this video, which I think perfectly captures the magic of the late 1980s/very early 1990s:

More on this tomorrow:

Duke_DellaGatta

Back to work!

Friday Reads - NATCH & March Madness

Happy Friday, readers! Next week marks my hopeful return to the blogosphere. Between the holidays and juggling several WIP, I've really let the blog fall to the wayside. I plan to fix that with a bunch of updates, reviews, etc. Onward!

FRIDAY READS

First up, check out John Mantooth's Patreon page for his new novella, NATCH, which you can snag for a mere $3. I think it's some of John's best work, and if you enjoyed his short story, "A Sojourner's Guide to the Black Warrior River Bottoms (And Beyond)," in The Big Click, you will love NATCH. (and if you haven't checked out The Big Click yet, I urge you to do so. Some excellent short fiction in there.)

Here's the first line of NATCH to tempt you...

Before he was Natch, before he met Buzz and let her cut his hair, before he walked the Moon Bridge like a tightrope and was baptized under a shower of stars, he was Joe, just plain ole Joe, lost to the wilds of Northern Alabama, the windowless downtown Birmingham crack houses, the train yards north of there where he’d sit and make plans for Memphis, the outlying areas—wastelands, he thought of them—where he met others like himself, mirror images of lost boys gone crooked on meth amphetamines and the hard, cold loneliness of the road.

...you know you want to keep reading.

Next up, Broken River Books Year Two: March Madness

BRB's first Kickstarter was a huge success that got the small press off at a sprint. J. David Osborne aims to release TWELVE books on the same day this go around.

37517135457b61a1dc483ba6699914c2_largeI've been chomping at the bit for William Boyle's short story collection, DEATH DON'T HAVE NO MERCY, and with eleven more to choose from, I'll be buried in books. Check 'em out and prep the wallet.

Keep reading & see you Monday.

Friday Listen - CRIMINAL WORDS

Sure, you've got your Friday Read, but how 'bout a Friday Listen?

criminalwords4Enter Erik Arneson and Scott Detrow with CRIMINAL WORDS, an audiobook full of crime fiction short stories — written by the likes of Joe Clifford, Jen Conley, David Cranmer (writing as Edward A. Grainger), Chris Holm, Erik Arneson, Tom Pitts, Steve Weddle, and me [woo!].

Download away [for free!] HERE. You've earned it.