Read my guest column here: From The Atari Times to The Throes of Crime
I’m pleased to report that my new short story “Heritage” is now available at Shotgun Honey!
“Heritage” is set in Superior, Wisconsin, where my father was born and raised. The action takes place on a snowy New Year’s Eve.
This is my first story at Shotgun Honey since December 2012. I was an editor at the site for most of 2013 and all of 2014 and 2015. It’s a thrill to be back as a writer!
I hope you enjoy it.
Akashic Books loves stories about place. Their amazing NOIR series includes dozens of location-focused anthologies such as DETROIT NOIR, NEW ORLEANS NOIR, and MOSCOW NOIR. (Taking a parochial view of my home state, they’ve published collections set in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.)
On their website, Akashic has a series called MONDAYS ARE MURDER, where place is also preeminent.
I couldn’t be more pleased that they chose to publish my story “Sugartime” — set in the City of Brotherly Love — as part of MONDAYS ARE MURDER. “Sugartime” involves two Philadelphia politicians, ambition, corruption, and a hitman. It’s bound to have a happy ending, right?
This is the second story I’ve written featuring the same main character, a used bookstore owner who has a much more dangerous side job. The first was published by Shotgun Honey in 2012: “12 Before 9”.
One final note: This story’s title comes from a song by the band Poole (off the album The Late Engagement), which also happens to count among its members my friend Harry Evans.
I don’t remember exactly how or where, but when I was writing the short story “All Alone” (now part of the anthology Shotgun Honey Reloaded: Both Barrels Vol. 2), I stumbled across the phrase “deader than four o’clock.”
It’s a great phrase, instantly evocative, so of course I used it in the story — one character looks at another and pronounces him “deader than four o’clock.”
I saw the talk this weekend on Netflix, and it’s both delightful and a little bit spooky:
The mystery of four o’clock in the morning has also been explored by NPR.
And you don’t want to miss The Museum of Four in the Morning.
Submissions are now being accepted for Shotgun Honey’s third anthology, Locked and Loaded: Both Barrels Vol. 3, which will be published by One Eye Press later this year.
We’re looking for great crime fiction stories between 1,500 and 4,500 words long. If you’re interested, check out the complete submission guidelines. The deadline for submissions is May 11, 2014.
My story “All Alone” was published in the second SH anthology, Reloaded: Both Barrels Vol. 2, but this is the first SH anthology I’ll be an editor for. I’m really looking forward to reading some great stories, so get to it!
If you want to read 2013’s best crime fiction short stories, the Derringer finalists are the right place to start. Winners will be announced on March 31.
Chris is one of my fellow editors at Shotgun Honey, and a terrific writer. Here’s an early look at what you’ll get when you read FEDERALES:
Mexican Federal Agent Marcos Camarena dedicated his life to the job. But in a country where white knights die meaningless deaths, martyred in a hole with fifty other headless bodies in the desert, corruption is not an attribute but a scale; no longer a stigma but the status quo.
When Marcos’s life is threatened, he leaves law enforcement and his life in Mexico City behind for a coastal resort town—until an old friend asks him to look after an outspoken politician, a woman who knows cartel violence all too well. Despite his best efforts, Marcos can’t find it in his heart to refuse, and soon finds himself isolated on the political front lines of the war on drugs.
Inspired by true events, Federales is a story of survivors’ compulsive devotion to a cause in the face of ever-darkening circumstances.
Today, the Troc is listed on the U.S. Register of Historic Places — it’s the only 19th century Victorian theater still in operation in the United States — and hosts musical acts and special events (such as a recent screening of John Carpenter’s 1998 film They Live, with a special appearance by one of the movie’s stars, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper).
But the venue has a long and colorful history.
According to the official history on the Troc’s website:
The Trocadero Theatre was first opened in 1870, offering musical comedies and traveling minstrel shows under the name Arch Street Opera House. Later, vaudeville and burlesque came to its stage with notable professional showgirls performing burlesque during the 1950s.
The Theatre was refurbished in the late 1970s for use as an art house cinema and fine arts theatre. In the 1980s, the Theatre was remodeled as a dance club and finally for its current use as a concert hall and live music venue.
“All Alone” is set in 1951. It opens with a scene in the Troc, as Oscar Cain — fictional bagman for Mayor Barney Samuel — is entranced by the performance of a new burlesque dancer. Later in the story, Cain returns to the Troc.
The new Shotgun Honey anthology (RELOADED: Both Barrels Vol. 2) is now available, and I can’t wait to start digging into it. I’m especially looking forward to the contributions by Patti Abbott, Eric Beetner, Joe Clifford… I could list everyone in the book, but it’s easier (and true) to say I’m looking forward to all of them.
And I’m extremely pleased that my story “All Alone” is part of RELOADED, which is available for the Kindle and in paperback. Thanks to editors Ron Earl Phillips, Jen Conley and Chris Irvin for including me, and for all the work they put into this collection.
“All Alone” takes place in Philadelphia on a single day: October 29, 1951. The city was at the center of scandal after scandal. Things were so bad that on that date, just days before the election to choose a new mayor, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran an editorial — on the front page — with this headline:
Ward Boss Rule A Blight on City:
Vote to Smash It!
Republicans had run Philadelphia for many decades, and the Inquirer theorized that, “Any political party that has possessed a monopoly of governmental control for more than 60 years is bound to be burdened with such an accumulation of abuses that the average voter might well question the wisdom of granting it further lease of power.”
The editorial then describes the “scandalous abuses in the city administration, waste of public funds and widespread graft and corruption” plaguing the city, including:
I love the target in the “O” of the title, the color scheme, the artwork, the fonts … everything about that cover.
And I can’t wait to read the book, which is due out Sept. 10. Just take a look at the 25 authors with stories in this anthology (the full list is on the back cover, below) and it’s easy to see why I’m so honored to have a story of my own included.
Click on the images to see larger versions.