What goes on, eh? Well, lots of things I guess. Looking back on the year so far, the biggest thing that pops into my mind is that we seem to live in a golden age of literature. I read an average of from four to six novels a week and the age of eBooks has ushered in a time of almost embarrassing riches. I’ve read more good and great novels in the past year than I can ever remember having access to.
Ebooks have ushered in an era unparalleled in history. We have more books available to us than at any time in mankind and they are relatively cheap, compared to former times. Man! I just wish I was younger so I could have more time to read. I feel like a hog in thigh-high slop! The landscape of the mind has never been richer.
Just this past year, and glancing at my Kindle, I’ve been able to read work by you, by Anthony Neil Smith, Joe Lansdale, Tony Black, Christopher Moore, Dietrich Kalteis, William Kent Krueger, Liam Sweeny, Chris Pavone, C.J. Box, Linwood Barclay, Jesse Sublett, David Baldacci, Gregg Andrew Hurwitz, Steve Weddle, Court Merrigan, Dave Jagger, Tess Makoyesky, Chris Pimental, Garreh Spark, Reed Farrel Coleman, Sam Hawken, Reavis Wortham, Martin Stanley, Jeffrey Deaver, Hubert Selby, Jr., Neely Tucker, Sherman Alexie, Jonathan Kellerman, Robert Crais, Ed McBain, Ian Ayres, Michael Punke, Joseph Finder, Lewis Grizzard, John Sandford, Robert B. Parker, Gar Anthony Haywood, Owen Laukkanen, James Lee Burke, Bill Crider, John Connolly, James Guiliani, Michael Connelly, James Grippando, Diane Lefer, James Sallis, Ace Atkins, Jean Genet, Pearl S. Buck, Jack Bludis, Bruce DeSilva, Richard Price, John Fante, Craig McDonald, Eryk Pruitt, Dave Barry, Lee Child, Richard Kalich, Matt Hilton, William E. Wallace, Milton Burton, Trey R. Barker, Mark Ramsden, George Weir, Darcey Steinke, Don Winslow, John Rector, Janey Mack, Maegan Beaumont, Patti Abbott, Max Booth III, Tom Piccirilli, John Roane, Jack Ketchum, Dante, Patrick Shawn Bagley, William Gay, Graham Wynd, Andrew Vachss, Rob Pierce, Bill Loehfelm, Harrison Scott Key, Walter Tevis, Tim Dorsey, Jeff Abbott, Matthew Stokoe, Martin Stanley, Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben, Larry Brown, Ken Bruen, Benjamin Sobiek, Duane Swierczynski, Ed Lynskey, Benjamin Whitmer, Allan Leverone, John Banville, Elmore Leonard, Bob Trulock, John Milton, John Bunyan, Josh Stallings, Carl Hiassen, Brian Evenson, Nigel Bird, Charlie Louvin, Declan Hughes, Tim O’Mara, Richard Thomas, Walter Mosley, Rob Brunet, Jake Hinkson, Jack Getze, Joe Clifford, Tom Pitts, T. Jefferson Parker, Anonymous 9, Allan Guthrie, Ian Rankin, William McIlvanney, Scott Alderberg, Richard Stark, Larry McMurtry, Judy Kelly, Grant Blackwood, Craig Furchtenicht, Richard Godwin, Ryan Bracha, Darren Sant, Nate Flecker, J.M. Taylor, Marjorie Brody, George Pelecanos, Mark Matthews, Ed Kurtz, Dana King, Frank Bill, Jedidiah Ayres, Jim Thompson, Charles Portis, Ro Cuzon, Michael McGarrity, Scott Alderberg, Scott Phillips, Craig Johnson, Rob Boley, Matthew Louis, Nic Pizzolatto, Don Carpenter, Charlie Stella, Alan Russell, D.B. Corey, Dana Kin, Keith Nixon, Tom Franklin, C.J. Howell, Frank DeBlase, Derek Raymond, Thomas Cobb, P.F. Kluge, Jenny Milchman, Jim Nisbet, J. David Osborne, Warren Moore, Henry Rollins, Howard Owen, David Sedaris, Donald Ray Pollock, Thomas Mullen, Steve Hamilton, David Housewright, Carl Hiassen, Robert Rotstein, Lee Goldberg, Ruth Jacobs, Dave Bushi, John Gilstrap, Adam Gittlin, Alan S. Evans, Martha Powers, Mark T. Conard, Garnett Elliott, Carole Mallory, Urban Waite, Jason Starr, Sara Gran, Honore De Balzac, Robin Martin, Johnny Shaw, Cormac McCarthy, Denis Johnson, Dostoevsky, Terrence McCauley, Robert Olen Butler, Jack Tunney, David James Keaton, Ryan Sayles, Brian Panowich, Kevin Lee Helmick, Patricia Highsmith, Kaira Rouda, Ambrose Bierce, Rick Bylina, Eric Beetner, J.L. Abramo, Simenon, Sean Dolittle, Carl Brush, Chris Rhatigan, Gerald Brennan, Charles Wileford, Jackson Meeks, Gil Brewer, James Crumley, Matthew McBride, Lesley Ann Sharrock, Pearce Hansen, B.R. Stateham, Julia Madeleine, Ray Banks, Edward A. Grainger, Ed Lynskey, Don Bruns, Luca Veste, Keith Rawson, Danny Gardner and, and, and… Actually, there’s more and I’m leaving off several I’ve read this year but just running out of room.
The ones named, I’ve not only been privileged to read their work, but in almost all cases have read all of their books.
So, that’s what I’ve been up to. Oh, and I had a new book come out myself, titled BOMB!, from Tom Pitts, Joe Clifford and the gang at Gutter Books. Working on a couple of new novels and just returned from Iowa where I was interviewing folks for a new version of a baseball book I wrote several years ago on the history of Perfect Game USA. Working with an established screenwriter on a joint effort.
Getting ready to head down to San Antonio in May to do an annual 8-day workshop/retreat, the long-established Writers Retreat Workshop, led by Jason Sitzes and Gail Provost. Really looking forward to that as Joe Lansdale is going to be in attendance this year unless he has to fly off to Hollywood, which is entirely possible. Gonna do a Noir @ the Bar hosted by legendary Scotty Montgomery who runs the Mystery People portion of Texas’ biggest indie bookstore, Book People. Gonna get drunk up in there!
My biggest honor of the year (and probably ever) is that Anthony Neil Smith (Doc Noir for his friends) dedicated his fantastic novel, HOLY DEATH to me. That counts as my life’s biggest honor and I’m truly humbled by it.
Thanks for this, Paul. And, I’m going to feel bad when I realize I’ve left off somebody from the list of those I’ve read this year. Those were just the eBooks on my Kindle, most of them.
I recently released my noir novella THE WHISTLING SANDS. Usually, my stories are set in northeast Wales, along the English- Welsh Border; however, THE WHISTLING SANDS is set in West Wales, although the main protagonist, Ned Flynn is from northeast Wales and has all the cultural and social baggage that usually accompanies that. The novella is an homage to Jim Thompson and James M. Cain, a modern take on the classic noir tale featuring the femme fatale. It’s also about obsessions, lies, trust, deceit, the stories we tell each other, and more importantly, the stories we tell ourselves. Like so much of my work, landscape plays a vital role in the novella; especially how place affects us, remote rural and coastal settings triggering our darker impulses. There’s also an homage to M R James and the psychological effects of the unknown.
Now that I’ve completed my Ph.D., I’m writing a new set of novels entitled WELCOME TO HOLY HELL. These are a noir, crime, hardboiled mix. Three separate tales set in northeast Wales in the 1970s,1980s, and 1990s. The first novel is set during the drought and long hot summer of 1976. I’m enjoying researching and writing it, as it’s something I’ve wanted to write for a while. It draws its influences from Barry Hines’s KES and Jim Thompson’s THE GETAWAY, and of course, the influence of place, and regional identity play a key role. After that, I want to write a few more Flynn novellas as his story isn’t over.
I’m taking a break from short stories for a while to concentrate on the above novels and novellas.
Although, having said that, I’ve recently placed a short story in the forthcoming PLOTS WITH GUNS, which I’m very excited about. It’s a noirish coming-of-age tale, again set in the long drought of 1976 in northeast Wales.
I’m also compiling a short story collection which I’ll be pitching to any interested parties shortly
BIO: Math Bird lives with his wife and family in northeast Wales. His stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, Radio 4 Extra, and Radio Wales, and published in various magazines and anthologies.
Recent stories can be found in: Shotgun Honey, Plots With Guns, Plan B Mystery Magazine, All Due Respect (7) and his Pushcart Nominated Story ‘The Devilfish’ is available in Pulp Modern (9).