Recommended Reads: The Rain King by Kevin Lynn Helmick

The Rain King

A contemporary Western Noir. The Rain King is the story of, George Washington Parker, 107 year Comanche Indian, and the way he remembers his turn of the century travels through Oklahoma Territory with Ex-Confederate outlaw, Henry Faro as they pursue a genocidal preacher known as The Rain King.

‘The Rain King is a brilliantly inventive blend of gritty western and magic realism.’ Paul D. Brazill, author of A Case Of Noir and Guns Of Brixton.

Recommended Reads: Drive by Mark West

drive-small1Published by Pendragon Press, Mark West’s Drive is available as a limited (to 100 copies) edition paperback (which will contain an exclusive afterword) and unlimited ebook, across platforms.

“Drive takes you for a journey down the darkest alleyways of human savagery.  
A fast paced, high tension thriller that delivers on all fronts….”
- Jim Mcleod, The Ginger Nuts Of Horror
“Drive is a gripping, tense urban noir with prose as tight as a snare drum…”
- Paul D. Brazill, A Case Of Noir, Guns Of Brixton.
“Mark West writes the kind of fiction that gets under the skin where it lies dormant until you turn out the lights …”
- Dave Jeffery, author of the Necropolis Rising series

Short Sharp Interview: Mav Skye

SupergirlsCoverx600PDB: What is Supergirls?

Supergirls is what happens when you have two sisters born into dismal and dire circumstances grow up believing what they see on TV. They have no parental guidance. No adults to trust. There is nothing but television to define their reality, nothing but superhero comics to set their expectations. They watch Superman and believe it, they watch Leave it to Beaver, I love Lucy, Goonies and believe it.  They read Treasure Island and Supergirl Comics and Stephen King’s It, they believe it. As teens they watch Pretty Woman, Kill Bill, Austin Powers and believe it.

Now, the only thing that stands between their current miserable existence and their Little House on the Prairie dreams in one “Fat Bastard” named Frederick Bells. Dispensing justice upon him, and stealing his money, should be a piece of cake…except younger sister, May, is a schizophrenic, Bells is a serial killer, and this isn’t a Disney movie.  

Supergirls is the about the great gulf between what should be and what is.

PDB: Does the characters’ age have impact on how you write them?

I would have to say no. I try my best to kick my ego out of the way and give my characters free will. Whether 5 or 55, they choose their voice, not me. I go with their decisions, no questions asked.

In this case, Jenn and May are two young women who have been raised in the sewers of society. Their survival tactics are the seven deadly sins. Yet, their love and sacrifice for each other is pure and childlike, as are their dreams for a better life. We have two very child-minded women using their bodies and wits in the darkest and most “adult” of situations. It doesn’t make a very comfortable ride for them, but it’s a real kicker for us.

PDB: Did you do a lot of research for the book?

In general, I do hours and hours of research on any given story, even short stories, but not this one.

I wrote the rough draft of this book on the first anniversary of my stepdad’s passing. I was still grieving and wrestling with my emotions about him, we’d had a Jekyll/Hyde relationship. I was also struggling with my young son’s newly acquired mental illness. I felt like I had died inside. It hurt to think, breathe. I shoveled raw, poignant emotion into this story. It helped me cope.

On a lighter note, I did do some research on little things, like whether one could actually stuff a pistol into blue lace panties. Not very realistic, but it works in a story! Also, I needed to find the perfect visual for the “whistling deer head” which is a moose head mounted above a fireplace in Fat Bastard’s mansion. I finally found it in a burger joint I enjoy; you’ll see his head on the back cover of SUPERGIRLS the print version, or you can take a peek at him on my new Facebook page. I also researched taxidermy. May’s psychosis tends to reveal itself in surprising ways, including talking moose heads. I was rather horrified by taxidermy and decided that if we could hear the voices of mounted animal heads, they would be angry, wrathful things. This is exactly the role Whistling Deer Head plays when it decides to speak to May.

PDB: Is marketing of interest to you, or shouldn’t authors bother their pretty little heads with such things? 

Oh geez. Well, in my J.Mac writing years, I never thought about it. It was an absolute joy to interact, promote, share my work or others work on any given social media website. I loved it and had a lot of fun. After some of the aforementioned events, I’m a different person, there’s no doubt about it. I’m not as sociable as I used to be, that desire seems to have dissipated like smoke. All I want to do is put my head to the grindstone and smear my emotions and stories like ash across time and space. (What does that mean exactly? I don’t know, but it’s how I feel.)

Jason Michel invited me to co-edit Pulp Metal Magazine earlier this year, and that has helped me remember how much I loved interacting with others, and editing their work. I am grateful to Jason for helping me remember that particular joy. He’s a creative mongrel, a great person and friend. People should be running, not walking, to his Amazon page. A genius writer.

Back to the question, I think we each have a different path to take when it comes to getting our books to readers. What works for you may not work for me or vice versa. What worked for you a few years ago, may not work for you now. The trick is to be flexible, keep plodding along, not letting your ego get caught up in the highs and lows, and focus on discovering what you enjoy. When the key fits the lock, the door will open, and the universe will provide.

PDB: What’s the best way to spend a Sunday?

I call every Sunday “Pirate Sunday” taken from the times when I used to write the Wicked Woman’s Booty series for Pulp Metal Magazine. These days, Pirate Sundays include spending time with my kids whether playing the board game Survive, watching Rocky for the millionth time, or playing soccer at the park. Then I kick back at night with rum, fuzzy socks, and my favorite psychopath or zombie show. Though, I always drink martinis when I watch zombies.

PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of the year?

There’s a wicked little horror romance I’m hoping to release in the fall called, Wanted: Single Rose. It’s my first full-length novel and has one kick ass femme fatale fox I’m quite excited about.

I’ve also written a sequel to SUPERGIRLS called, Night without Stars. I can’t give away too much, but I will say this– the darkness we discover in the first book plunges even deeper in the second. I disturbed myself quite a bit writing it! I hope to release it in early 2015.

Supergirls is available in ebook or print at Amazon and 50% off at Payhip.

Bio: When Mav Skye isn’t turning innocent characters into axe murderers, refinishing old furniture, chasing around her spring ducklings, or reading the latest horror novel, she’s editing at the almighty Pulp Metal Magazine.

She adores puppies, pirates, skulls, red hots, Tarantino movies and yes, Godzilla.

Especially Godzilla. 

Look for her wicked horror romance, Wanted:Single Rose, this fall and the second book in the SUPERGIRLS series, Night without Stars, early 2015.

Find Me: WebsiteTwitterFacebook Page, and Goodreads

Out Now! Ryan Bracha’s 12 Mad Men

12 mad men

The phenomenally talented writers involved in this innovative and ambitious project are:
Paul D Brazill (Guns of Brixton, A Case of Noir)
Gerard Brennan (Fireproof, Wee Rockets)
Les Edgerton (The Bitch, The Rapist)
Craig Furchtenicht (Dimebag Bandits, Night Speed Zero)
Richard Godwin (Mr Glamour, Apostle Rising)
Allen Miles (18 Days, This is How You Disappear)
Keith Nixon (The Fix, The Eagle’s Shadow)
Darren Sant (Tales From The Longcroft, The Bank Manager and The Bum)
Gareth Spark (Black Rain, Shotgun Honey)
Martin Stanley (The Gamblers, The Hunters)
Mark Wilson (dEaDINBURGH, Head Boy)

And narrated by Ryan Bracha (Paul Carter is a Dead Man, Strangers are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet)

The Blurb: At St. David’s asylum for the criminally insane there
are twelve residents. They call us that. Not inmates.

We all have a favourite colour. A favourite
member of staff. A favourite method of receiving
torture for the purposes of science.

We all have our reasons for being here.
Our stories.
Our tales.

Why don’t you come and hear them?

Twelve Mad Men is a groundbreaking literary collaboration. A novel which has a series of stories woven into the narrative, and featuring the finest independent authors from across the globe.

The number one best selling author of Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Killed Yet and Paul Carter is a Dead Man, Ryan Bracha, voices the narrator as he embarks upon his first shift as a night guard at St. David’s, and as he meets the residents there, it soon becomes apparent that there’s something very wrong in the water..

A Case Of Noir Around The World

a case of black

The blurb: In snow smothered Warsaw, Luke Case, a boozy English hack with a dark secret, starts a dangerous affair with a gangster’s wife. Case escapes to the sweltering Spanish heat where he meets a colourful cast of characters, including a mysterious torch singer and a former East End villain with a criminal business proposition. In stormy Toulouse, he encounters a blast from the past that is positively seismic which forces him to return to England and confront his past. A Case Of Noir is a strong shot of international noir from Paul D. Brazill. Published by Lite Editions and available as an eBook and in paperback.  And the book has gone global-

 

a case of Brazill

 

 

a case of sparrow

it’s been spotted in the US, the UK, France and Poland and in the hands of the likes of Tony Black, Jason Michel, Mark Hammonds, George Beck,  Richard Sanderson and K A Laity. And it’s even in Hartlepool Central Library in the hands of Denise Sparrowhawk!

a case of darren

A case Of sanderson

a case of cyprien

A Case Of Hammonds

A Case Of Jason

a case of Beck

Recommended Read: Noir City by Richard Godwin

noir cityIn Noir City, Richard Godwin unflinchingly and masterfully digs beneath the surface of London, Paris, Rome, Madrid and Dusseldorf, and the cities’ recalcitrant denizens, as he follows the trail of sociopathic gigolo Paris Tongue deeper and deeper into the darkness.

Beautiful prose and a claustrophobic sense of dread make Richard Godwin’s Noir City  a lyrical hybrid of noir,erotica,crime fiction and psychological drama worthy of Hitchcock or Argento.

Exiles Guest Blog:How I Wrote ‘Eating the Dream’ by K. A. Laity

Exiles cover preview (1)I’m trying to remember where this story came from. I know the title came first, but not really because before that came William Blake and the Red Dragon, but before that came Springsteen and songs of escape, but even before that came cars.

I grew up in a factory town where automobiles were the trade. Most of my extended family worked for the auto industry in one way or another. The reality of the auto industry hasn’t matched the promise of its sleek machines for some time; the ruins of it still smoulder in the hometown I left long ago. But romance of the open road has fueled the dream of freedom for as long as I can remember.

I still feel it when I hit the highway. I spent so long afraid I would never escape that the sight of a road stretched out before me buoys my spirit in an instant. I’ll probably never completely get over the whisper that cajoles, ‘You could go anywhere, disappear, start again.’

My old red Honda makes an appearance in this story. Sixteen years I had that car, hundreds of thousands of miles I put on it. Living in the UK,  I’m reminded again and again how people here have no concept of the size of the US: How the whole of this country could fit into just one of the medium-sized states. How you can still drive for hours without seeing another human being in some places, though it’s getting more difficult all the time. How states are as different as the countries of the EU, different worlds.

There’s an anonymity that all exiles know you can find in the darkened places where people drink and eat. Diners and pubs allow a certain camaraderie between strangers: brief, congenial, but definitely limited. But it’s good. Sometimes you have to be where nobody knows your name.

When you’re there in the dark corner, sipping your drink, look around. Under the brim of that hat may hide the eye of something extraordinary. Monster, magic, murder—maybe it depends on what you’re looking for. William Blake saw angels in his back garden as a child. Some people think that’s strange. Others long to find that magic. We read books for the same reason we take journeys: to see something new, to shake off the dust of the known and maybe, just maybe—to find the home that waits for us out there like a dream we can almost remember.

Bio: K. A. Laity is the award-winning author of White RabbitA Cut-Throat BusinessLush SituationOwl Stretching, Unquiet DreamsÀ la Mort SubiteThe Claddagh IconChastity FlamePelzmantel and Other Medieval Tales of Magic and Unikirja, as well as editor of Weird NoirNoir Carnival and the forthcoming Drag Noir. With cartoonist Elena Steier she created the occult detective comic Jane Quiet. Her bibliography is chock full of short stories, humor pieces, plays and essays, both scholarly and popular. She spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Galway, Ireland where she was a Fulbright Fellow in digital humanities at NUIG. Dr. Laity has written on popular culture and social media for Ms., The Spectator and BitchBuzz, and teaches medieval literature, film, gender studies, New Media and popular culture at the College of Saint Rose. She divides her time between upstate New York and Dundee.

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW from Blackwitch Press.

Exiles Guest Blog: How I Wrote ‘The Tender Trap’ by Graham Wynd

Exiles cover preview (1)The greatest exile is to be banished from the heart of one you yearn for; so much of art has been created with the fire of longing. To be on the cusp of winning—its greatest appeal—but to risk losing it—well, there’s no suffering quite like it. Or so we tell ourselves in the heat of the moment.

I love characters who think they’re so much smarter than they are. I suppose as someone who’s always suspecting there’s a lot I don’t know, it’s great fun to see the world from the point of view of someone who never doubts that they’re on top of things when they so clearly aren’t. It makes great comedy—Pete & Dud are a terrific example.

But it’s also perfect for the slow-motion smash-up that is noir. Even in a short piece like this you can see the spiral going down. Like his misunderstanding of Romeo & Juliet. Obviously he never finished reading it. But he takes on the Bard like a fashionable coat, thinks he looks good in it—and never looks below the surface.

Like most noir protagonists, he never takes that step back to see reality. You have to actively ignore the truth of things. And you’ll always pay the price of that blindness. Always.

Bio: A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. His novella Extricate is out now from Fox Spirit BooksDrop by his Facebook page and give it a like.

 Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW from Blackwitch Press.

Short, Sharp Interview: Martin Garrity

solarcidal tedanciesPDB: Can you pitch SOLARCIDAL TENDENCIES in 25 words or less?

MG: It’s an anthology, a ‘Best Of’ from content featured at the Solarcide website. Edgy, weird stories. Some funny ones too, but with a dark humour.

PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

MG: Not much of a film buff, and I am always playing catch-up with TV, so I’ll stick to the books and music for this one. I listen to a lot of heavy metal and rock music, and there are lots of good things coming out of both Europe and the US. If I had to plug one band right now, then it would be Jess and the Ancient Ones, a Finnish project that play some top of the line psychedelic rock music. They put out CDs in 2012 and 2013, both great listens. A lot of people I play them to are surprised by how they sound. They have a trippy, funky sound. Probably more accessible than a lot of the stuff I listen to. They have a great vibe and quality musicianship.

Reading-wise, I am really digging Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy. I read the first part, Annihilation, a few weeks back and am currently most of the way through Authority. A third instalment is due later this year and I will be all over that when it drops. I would recommend these books to just about anybody, but especially those who like their fiction to have a curious slant to it. It’s a weird world that is unfolding through these volumes.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

MG: Yeah, I think so. I know that when I sit down on the sofa with an actual book, I am in a different frame of mind to what I am in when I am reading a story submission, reviewing somebody’s work, or editing my own. I guess if something is presented to me as finished work, then I am going to approach reading it in a different way. Maybe regular writers are going to be less forgiving of typos or what they consider to be sloppy writing but plenty of people that don’t write are quick to spot that stuff too.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

MG: Not especially, or at least, not at this time. Never say never, but I am more hobby writer than I am career author. I do it because it is fun, not to make money. Writing for TV and the like seems to me a really competitive and high-octane field, and I think it would stress me out. I don’t think it would suit me at all, I like to dawdle around and spend ages on a silly flash fiction piece. Regular writing deadlines might kill me. Also, I don’t write much in the higher word count territory.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

MG: My own work—not a lot to be honest. But as I mentioned, most of my work is daft flash fiction and silly short stories. They are sourced more from inane daydreams than they are from any kind of research.

The authors that I help to publish in our anthology projects? Some of those guys and gals are much better authors than me. Some of the stories are dripping in the kind of detail you know can only come from good research, and maybe more importantly, life experience. The opening story in Tendencies, by Jessica Leonard, is a somewhat unconventional account of a new mother’s experience of the “miracle” she just went through. It is loaded with detail, to the point where you feel parts of the story as much as you read them. And that’s a male reader’s feedback. I would love to be an observer inside the minds of female readers of that story. I imagine the response to be a strong one.

Also, I have to wonder how many MI5 and FBI lists some of these authors must end up when the internet companies flag up their browsing history. The stories Solarcide deals in are always dark in nature, but then authors like Bryan Howie show up, and then the game changes. Howie is a master of dark fiction and his work feels well researched. It is authentic and he tells the story with authority. His story (co-authored with his buddy K. A. Hunter) in the Tendencies anthology is about bestiality. For visceral reading, it’s a story that I think competes with any short story Chuck Palahniuk has written. That’s all I’ll say here.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

MG: If we are only talking about Facebook and Twitter and the like, then sure, they are useful. If we expand it to include the great writing forums and online workshop groups etc that are out there, then I change my answer to vital. There is no substitute for finding yourself in a supportive writing community environment. Many people do not have access to this kind of group away from the computer, but you can find it online and it really does make a difference. It always has been one of the better sides of the internet, the ability to connect and share with people who have a similar passion to yourself. These communities have been immeasurably helpful to me, and I like to think they have allowed me to help others.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

MG: For a little while, I am going to be enjoying the fact that Solarcidal Tendencies is finally finished and released. (It has been a long time in the making, probably two years all in all)

After that, my next project is another that has been a long time coming. Corridors is a collection of my own work, the aforementioned silly shorts and daft flash. It’s something I have been tinkering with a long while, adding bits here, taking bits away there. It’s not far off done now though. I am looking forward to unleashing it.

And I am taking part in a writing competition over at the Lit Demon website. This is the third incarnation of the WAR tournament and more than sixty authors are involved this time. It features prompted short story duels, with reader voting to determine who progresses through each round. It’s a whole lot of fun and it’s great for productivity. I have a fairly decent record from the first two tournaments, so hopefully I don’t let myself down and get eliminated in round one!

Bio: Martin Garrity hails from Mansfield, England. He is an avid fan of dark fiction and a heavy metal disciple. Alongside his partner in crime, the reverend Nathan Pettigrew, he co-edits the literary website Solarcide and its associated anthology projects. He likes to refer to Solarcide as “part publisher, part porfolio, part playground.” All kinds of fun things happen there.