Safe Inside the Violence nominated for an Anthony Award

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In a bit of belated blogging news...SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE has been nominated for an Anthony Award for Best Anthology or Collection! Couldn't be more thrilled, humbled and honored to see it listed alongside such a fantastic line up of nominees - especially Protectors 2, which features my short story, "Snapshots."

BEST ANTHOLOGY OR COLLECTION Safe Inside the Violence - Christopher Irvin [280 Steps] Protectors 2: Heroes-Stories to Benefit PROTECT - Thomas Pluck, editor [Goombah Gumbo] Thuglit Presents: Cruel Yule: Holiday Tales of Crime for People on the Naughty List - Todd Robinson, editor [CreateSpace] Murder Under the Oaks: Bouchercon Anthology 2015 - Art Taylor, editor [Down & Out] Jewish Noir: Contemporary Tales of Crime and Other Dark Deeds - Kenneth Wishnia, editor [PM]

Protect-heroes-Ingram-coverfront1 Jewish Noir cruel-yule-cover COVER_Murder Under the Oaks_x2700

Check out Bouchercon 2016 for the full list of Awards.

Art Taylor quickly pulled us together last week for a little chat on short fiction. Check it out at SleuthSayers and give these books a look!

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See you in New Orleans!

Advance Praise for Federales

federales.v2Excited to be a month out from the release of FEDERALES and thought I would share some early reviews. I am honored to receive such nice words from writers whose work I enjoy and have tremendous respect for. "In his debut novella, Christopher Irvin deftly captures the frustration and futility of the Mexican Drug War. Part character study, part thriller, FEDERALES reads as a brutally human parable that tells a story that is sadly all too real." -- Johnny Shaw, Anthony Award winning author of Big Maria and Dove Season

"FEDERALES is stripped lean as a body dropped in the desert, as unrelenting as the sun that beats down on it. In here, there's no concern for what's right or what's moral, only what's inevitable."-- Nik Korpon, author of Stay God, Sweet Angel

"Christopher Irvin's FEDERALES is an absolute gut-punch of a novella. The story of one man s search for redemption and justice within a Mexican system that has long-forgotten the meaning of either will haunt you long after the last page is turned."-- Todd Robinson, author of The Hard Bounce

"FEDERALES is a sweaty, feverish sojourn into a fetid limb of the Mexican drug war, where sentiment, principles and fellow feeling have no place. Christopher Irvin's read will carry you swiftly through to the fitting end."-- Sam Hawken, author of The Dead Women of Juárez

“Chris Irvin displays a rare gift for creating atmosphere in this slow burn noir thriller. Federales is sneaky good. A few pages in and you’re hooked. A few more and you can’t breathe. Essential reading from an outstanding new talent.”-- John Mantooth, author of The Year of the Storm  and Shoebox Train Wreck

“Sleek and fast as a bullet, FEDERALES brings the seamy and deadly Mexican underworld to life—and signals the arrival of a major new talent.“-- Nate Kenyon, award-winning author of Day One

FEDERALES drops on March 4th, 2014. Pre-order now available for paperback. E-book forthcoming.

Interview with Terrence McCauley

Most of you who visit this site know I do a little 'book a week' post each month to review/promote writers and their work. For a few months I've had plans to follow up some of those reviews with author interviews. Alas, life got busy (as it tends to do) but here we are (better late than never) kicking it off with SLOW BURN crime/pulp author TERRENCE MCCAULEY.

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Winner of the 2013 Stalker Award for most Criminally Underrated Author, McCauley is the author of two novels,  PROHIBITION and SLOW BURN, as well as numerous short stories in THUGLIT, THE CRIMSON MASK, NOIR NATION, ATOMIC NOIR, THE KENNEDY CURSE, THE BIG ADIOS, and SHOTGUN HONEY, among others. He also is an editor for the FIGHT CARD series and GRAND CENTRAL NOIR, a charity anthology.

Prohibition     Grand Central Noir     Slow Burn

What kinds of fiction did you read growing up? What grabbed you and still sticks with you today?

Growing up in the 80s (I'll be 40 in February), I actually hated to read. I was more of a movie/tv kid. I'd fall asleep trying to read, even if it was necessary for school work. But I was fortunate enough to come from a family of story tellers, so I was surrounded by plot development and characters, though I didn't even know it at the time.

In high school, I had to read THE SHINING and my love of reading grew from there. I gravitated to action books like CATHEDRAL by Nelson DeMille and epics like TAI PAN by James Clavell. TAI PAN was the first book that made me want to take a shot at writing a story on my own. It took a while for me to actually do it, but the seed was planted.

As for the genres I read now, I'm all over the place. I read westerns, spy thrillers, pulp stuff and even zombie novels. I try not to get stale with my writing or my reading.

Much of your writing takes place in the 1920's and 30's. What about this time period keeps bringing you back?

I enjoy writing about the 1920s and 1930s because it's a simpler time in which to tell a crime story. I can focus on telling a story without worrying about describing modern crime techniques and technology. All of that is important and can lead to great stories, it's just not the kind of story I want to tell. I enjoy writing about that period of American history following the horrors of World War 1; a war we've unfortunately forgotten about in part because there isn't as much footage available about it as World War 2 and subsequent wars. World War 1 is also a very difficult war whose origins are difficult to understand. That war deeply affected the psyche of an entire generation of people throughout the world. I'm not talking about the supposed Lost Generation like Fitzgerald and Hemingway and others. They were drunks and flakes and bullies looking for an excuse to get drunk and would've found it even in the best of times. I'm talking about the regular people who came back from the war or lived through it here at home and had to rebuild their lives. The impact of the war and the resulting economic boom led to a dynamic time - Prohibition, The Roaring 20's (in spite of Prohibition) and The Great Depression. The era is filled with interesting characters in turmoil which makes for a great dramatic setting.

What do you think makes for compelling noir?

To me, compelling noir is bad things happening to imperfect people. Compelling noir also avoids stereotypes, like the alcoholic, haunted detective. The smoldering bombshell client with trouble in her heart and sin on her mind. The tough, but beautiful government agent. I roll my eyes when I read descriptions of stories like that and tend to buy something else. Of course, the protagonist has to be wronged in some way, otherwise their wouldn't be a story. But the characters themselves can be different and free from old time plot devices that may have worked decades ago, but have become somewhat clichéd now.

As we are nearing the holidays - What are some of your favorite books and short stories from 2013 that you recommend readers check out?

The best thing about being a noir/pulp writer right now, there are so many talented people working out there today - both in the long and short forms. Long form you've got Johnny Shaw's BIG MARIA  and Todd Robinson's THE HARD BOUNCE and Dana King's GRIND JOINT are all winners. Les Edgerton's THE RAPIST is a hard book to read because of the subject matter, but it's still a hell of a tale. Tim O'Mara's CROOKED NUMBERS and Charles Salzberg's DEVIL IN THE HOLE are both great.

As for the short form, damned near anything featured in THUGLIT or SHOTGUN HONEY/BOTH BARRELS are always good places to look for fiction. Stories by you [editor's note: yes... there were bribes involved], Nik Korpon, Jen Conley and Richie Narvaez are examples of some of the finest fiction in the genre. In my opinion, this is a great time to be a crime fiction writer, but an even better time to be a crime fiction reader.

Speaking of short fiction, I'd also ask everyone to take a look at GRAND CENTRAL NOIR, an anthology I edited where every single dime goes straight to a wonderful charity here in NYC called 'God's Love, We Deliver'. It's great fiction for a great cause.

Thanks, Terrence!

a book a week

For 2013 I made a resolution to read a book a week and review at least two a month. While I'm lagging a bit on reviews, I've done fairly well at keeping pace with my weekly reading. Here are a few of my recent favorites I think you'll enjoy... Crimes in Southern Indiana     Donnybrook

Crimes in Southern Indiana and Donnybrook by Frank Bill

Frank Bill has quickly become one of my favorite writers. CRIMES is a dark and twisted ride, dripping with authentic voice. It's a book that you should let sink in and take your time with over multiple sessions. It's easily one of my favorite short story collections, one that I'll continue to return to reread over the years. And given my praise for CRIMES, how could I not enjoy DONNYBROOK? Like a story from CRIMES, stretched to novel form, once DONNYBROOK gets hold of you, there is no putting it down. I read the book on a flight from Boston to Las Vegas in one sitting. Put these two in your library.

The Year of the Storm

The Year of the Storm by John Mantooth

A terrific debut novel from John Mantooth. Read my review here and pick up a copy when it's released on June 3!

The Hard Bounce

The Hard Bounce by Todd Robinson

Well written and fast paced, Robinson's tale of two bouncers on the trail of a missing teenager in Boston is hard to put down (especially since I live in Boston). The book feels historical in a sense that it captures a gritty part of the city that is all but gone (strange coincidence just before I read THE HARD BOUNCE, The Boston Phoenix shut down). Another great debut novel that I highly recommend.

Needle

Needle Fall/Winter 2012 edited by Steve Weddle

Worth it for Dan O'Shea's story, "The Shroud of Turin," alone. I rarely (and I mean rarely) have to put down a book, but this one got to me. If you are a father (especially a relatively new one such as myself), O'Shea's tale of a father struggling to take care of his son will break you heart.

I'm Not Sam     The Passenger

I'm Not Sam and The Passenger by Jack Ketchum

I've recently been on a bit of a novella kick. I won't venture into the plot of either - as with much of Jack Ketchum's work, the less you know the better, and doubly so with I'M NOT SAM. THE PASSENGER was included in one of the paperback editions of Ketchum's novel RED (one of my favorite books). I'M NOT SAM is new and available solo. Both of these stories will horrify and continue to lurk in your brain.

Fierce Bitches

Fierce Bitches by Jedidiah Ayres

I'm a fan of the guys at Crime Factory and as soon as I saw the blurbs for FIERCE BITCHES, I knew I had to pick it up. Ayres brutal novella is reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino - a kind of Pulp Fiction meets Django Unchained. Lightning fast pace combined with an interesting structure that will keep you glued to the page. The book felt partly experimental, and if so, it was a resounding success.

Catch My Killer

Catch My Killer by Ed Kurtz

Kurtz knocks it out of the park with the first of the Sam Truman series. Enjoyable characters (especially Sam) and a great sense of humor. Reminded be a bit of Charlie Huston's Joe Pitt series. Ron Earl Phillips has an in depth look at the Sam Truman series here. Looking forward to reading book two - The Last Invasion by Brandon Zuern.

Thuglit Issue 4

Thuglit Issue #4 edited by Todd Robinson

Because it's a crackin' good issue and I've got a story in there to boot!

What about you, readers? What's on your nightstand?

Next on deck:

Penance  Broken Branch  The Street  Choke Hold  Fags and Lager  Capture  Lush Situation  Abyss

Penance: A Chicago Thriller by Dan O'Shea

Broken Branch by John Mantooth

The Street by Ann Petry

Choke Hold by Christa Faust

Fags & Lager by Charlie Williams

Capture by Roger Smith

Lush Situation by K.A. Laity

Staring into the Abyss by Richard Thomas

Bet It All On Black

A couple of weeks ago I was very pleased to announce my short story, "Bet It All On Black," was published in THUGLIT Issue 4. It is the inspiration for my first novel, BOTTLED, and one that I'd been toying with for some time. In fact, at one point I was planning to self-publish the tale in a magazine of sorts. But due to harassment from some of my best writing buds, I held onto it and after a few tweaks, received a nice little note from Big Daddy Thug. As part of the magazine process, I commissioned Joe DellaGatta for two pieces of artwork. Joe's a fantastic artist and he nailed the illustrations for the story. I've been holding on to the art for awhile, but I figured...why not share the love?

Check it out below, share them around - and most importantly (if you haven't already done so) - go grab THUGLIT Issue 4! (ebook / Print)

Bet It All On Black

Bet It All On Black 2

THUGLIT Issue 4 ToC

Through The Perilous Night by Anton Sim Going In Style by Eric Beetner Bet It All On Black by Christopher Irvin Brass by Roger Hobbs Under The Bus by Albert Tucher Gallows Point by Sam Wiebe Allure Furs by Patti Abbott Of Being Darker Than Light by Garrett Crowe

THUGLIT Issue 4

Thuglit Issue 4

Check out that cover! THUGLIT Issue 4, featuring my story, "Bet It All On Black," is now available in both e-book and print formats. I'm stoked to have my work included in such a respected publication alongside some fantastic writers. Huge thank you and shout out to Big Daddy Thug for accepting my work (his new novel, The Hard Bounce, is getting serious praise .)

Full Table O' Contents:

Through The Perilous Night by Anton Sim Going In Style by Eric Beetner Bet It All On Black by Christopher Irvin Brass by Roger Hobbs Under The Bus by Albert Tucher Gallows Point by Sam Wiebe Allure Furs by Patti Abbott Of Being Darker Than Light by Garrett Crowe

Skip the Sunday paper and pick up a copy for less than a buck!