New Episodes of the Word Crimes Podcast

Word Crimes Podcast LogoSeason 4 of the Title 18: Word Crimes podcast is underway!

We’re three episodes in, and all three have featured an outstanding new reader, Mary Wilson, a reporter and producer at Slate’s The Gist.

So far, Mary has read “Thoroughly Murdered Millie” by April Kelly, “Knockout” by Eryk Pruitt, and “A Nice Pair of Guns” by Nick Kolakowski.

We have a lot more great crime fiction lined up this season, including stories by Lawrence Block, James Grady, Lyndsay Faye, and many more! I’m completely pumped about season 4 and I hope you enjoy it, too. (Our longtime partner in crime, Scott Detrow — though busy with his gig at NPR — still plans to contribute a few stories this season.)

Check out the Title 18: Word Crimes podcast at, on iTunes, on Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

N@B in Queens was Amazing

Alex Segura and Scott Adlerberg know how to throw a party.

Noir at the Bar in Queens was amazing. I’m still pinching myself to make sure that’s really me in this photo of outstanding authors:

Noir at the Bar in Queens - June 2016

Left to right, that’s Alex Segura, the nearly hidden William Boyle, Angel Luis Colón, Jill Block, Lawrence Block, Sarah Weinman, Scott Adlerberg, me (nearly fading into the background), Jen Conley, Thomas Pluck, and Rob Hart. Lyndsay Faye is seated in front of the gang, and I think Jason Starr had to leave before the photo was taken.

Everyone was on their game — so many great stories were told! And the venue (The Beast Next Door) was perfect. If you get a chance to attend a Noir at the Bar event in your area, don’t miss it.

Noir at the Bar - Queens - June 2016

Noir at the Bar in Queens: June 26

Noir at the Bar - Queens - June 2016Later this month (Sunday, June 26, to be exact), I’ll be reading at NOIR AT THE BAR in Queens, New York.

The lineup is… intimidating.

MWA Grand Master Lawrence Block.

That one name is enough reason to make your plans right now. But the lineup of amazing authors continues…

Jason Starr. Sarah Weinman. Lyndsay Faye. Rob Hart. Alex Segura. Julia Dahl. Jill Block. William Boyle. Scott Adlerberg. Thomas Pluck.

Plus (as if you need more reasons to join us), my old Shotgun Honey buddies Angel Luis Colón and Jen Conley will be there, too! (Jen’s new book CANNIBALS is out now and getting great reviews.)

N@BQ5 (super-helpful acronym) will take place at The Beast Next Door, 42-51 27th St., Long Island City, NY. The fun starts on Sunday, June 26, at 6 p.m. And it’s free.

I hope to see you there!

NoirCon2012 Recap

NoirCon 2012NoirCon 2012, a small convention dedicated to the art of noir, has come to an end. I also attended NoirCon 2010 (it takes place every other year, so the next one is in 2014). Both were excellent events, packed with interesting panel discussions, one-on-one interviews and speakers. Organizer Lou Boxer does a tremendous job.

There were many, many highlights. Here are just a few:

A panel called “The Movie was Better” featured Lawrence Block, Anthony Bruno and Duane Swierczynski with moderator Ed Pettit. Some great tidbits: Swierczynski’s Charlie Hardy books (Fun & Games, Hell & Gone, Point & Shoot) have been optioned for a television series… Bruno novelized the screenplay for Seven, but the producers wouldn’t give him any video or stills as the movie was being made so he had no idea it was raining 90 percent of the time… Block was not influenced to change his burglar character Bernie Rhodenbarr in any way whatsoever after the 1987 film Burglar starring Whoopi Goldberg in the title role. (The movie also starred Bobcat Goldthwait, so what are you waiting for?)

On that panel, Block also discussed the importance of on-site research for modern writers who want to get the setting of a scene just right: “Between Google and Wikipedia, there’s no reason to ever leave your house.”

The keynote speaker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler, spoke about cinematic technique as it applies to novels. He used examples from Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon and Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (the latter, being published in 1861, obviously didn’t draw from film for inspiration, but nonetheless used the novel’s equivalent of establishing shots, slow motion, etc.). It was a great talk.

Butler’s latest novel, The Hot Country, is available from Mysterious Press and features an early 20th century war correspondent, Christopher Marlowe Cobb, who travels to Mexico during that country’s civil war and witnesses a priest being shot.

Megan Abbott may be the best panel moderator in the history of panel moderators. She’s funny, smart and keeps things moving. The True Crime panel with her, Alison Gaylin, Wallace Stroby and Dennis Tafoya was a clear standout. David Fincher’s 2007 film Zodiac was singled out several times for being an excellent true crime movie, a sentiment I completely agree with.

In the one-one-one interviews, Jeremiah Healy did a great job interviewing Otto Penzler (of Mysterious Bookshop and Mysterious Press fame), while Swierczynski did an incredibly entertaining interview with Block. The Swierczynski-Block interview was, hands down, the funniest hour of the show.

When Swierczynski pointed out that Block’s career started with Gold Medal paperbacks, which many people didn’t consider to be “real books,” and is now in the era of e-books, which many people don’t consider to be “real books,” Block responded with: “Right. I’ve been writing not-real books for over 50 years.”

The interview touched on Block’s use of pseudonyms, the speed with which he writes, the number of countries he’s visited (about 160, though “now, we’re finding that staying at home is a perfect way to prevent jet lag”), and much more.

Block’s dry sense of humor was evident throughout. Discussing one particular editor, he said, “I never met him, and I’ve always been grateful for that.” And when people ask him how he wrote a book, his answer is, “I took those particular words and put them in that particular order.”

Block said the books he’s probably most proud of are When the Sacred Gin Mill Closes (1986, featuring private investigator Matt Scudder) and Small Town (2003, a stand-alone novel).

I could go on and on, since nearly every panel, interview and speaker could qualify as a “highlight.” (I really should mention the final panel, Crime in Primetime, which featured extended discussions of the television series Breaking Bad, The Shield and Hill Street Blues. Terrific stuff.)

But for me, the best part of NoirCon was meeting so many great people, including the incredibly down-to-earth Mr. Penzler, David Corbett (I took his class at LitReactor earlier this year and he’s a wonderful teacher), fellow Temple alum Jon McGoran (whose tremendously cool-sounding book Drift will come out in July), Dustin Kurtz (marketing manager at Melville House, who was kind enough to help me find a great book for my wife: Death and the Penguin by Andrey Kurkov), Peter Farris (author of Last Call for the Living), Shannon Clute (of, Liam José (of CrimeFactory) and William Lashner (who is hilarious and made the Jewish Noir panel a riot).

UPDATED: For more about NoirCon, check out:

Gallagher has also posted some clips to YouTube. Here’s a 27-minute clip from the keynote address by Robert Olen Butler:

Here’s a 30-minute clip from the Swierczynski-Block interview:

And here’s a four-minute clip of Block from the awards ceremony, in which he discusses David Goodis:

NoirCon 2012 Begins Today

NoirCon 2012This morning in Philadelphia, NoirCon 2012 begins. (Here’s a great look at the convention from the Philadelphia Inquirer.) I’ll be there all three days, and I’m looking forward to the many great panels, including:

  • Good Country People (Southern Noir): Peter Farris, Vicki Hendricks, Jake Hinkson, Jonathan Woods, and moderator Joe Samuel Starnes
  • L.A. Noire: Lawrence Block, Duane Swierczynski, Megan Abbott, Joyce Carol Oates, and moderator Jonathan Santlofer
  • True Crime: Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin, Wallace Stroby, and Dennis Tafoya
  • Crime in Primetime (TV’s most innovative noir series): Jared Case (THE SHIELD), Rich Edwards (BREAKING BAD), and Thomas Kaufman (HILL STREET BLUES)
  • I’m also looking forward to the one-one-one interviews, with Jeremiah Healy interviewing Otto Penzler today and Duane Swierczynski interviewing Lawrence Block tomorrow.

    There’s no doubt that NoirCon 2012 will be fantastic. I’ll be tweeting about it from time to time if you want to follow along @erikarneson.