Recommended Read: Small Change by Andrez Bergen

small changeWhen hardboiled private eye Roy Scherer inherits an unwanted side-kick, in the nerdy form of Suzie Miller, they soon embark on a series of wild, way out and weird adventures.

Andrez Bergen’s Small Change is an interconnected collection of short stories and vignettes that  smartly mixes up Raymond Chandler with Jim Jarmusch and Scooby Doo.

Small Change is sharp, witty and a hell of a lot of fun.

Short, Sharp Interview: Andrez Bergen

bullet galPDB: What’s going on now?

What’s not going on now is p’raps a better question, particularly overseas! In my own walled-up ballpark here in Tokyo my daughter is about to compete in her first ballet competition at age nine, while I’m set to release the 12-issue trade paperback of my noir comic book ‘Bullet Gal’ via Under Belly Comics in North America, just started a new noir series called ‘Trista & Holt’ (a ’70s crime-oriented revamp of Tristan and Iseult) via IF? Commix in Australia, and I’m working on my next novel ‘The Mercury Drinkers’.

 

PDB: How did you research this book?

‘Bullet Gal’ is my kiss-off homage to film noir and hardboiled literature of the 1930s and ’40s, mostly related to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett —thrown in with the off-beat science fiction of Philip K. Dick and artistic sensibilities of Dada and Terry Gilliam. So, the research? Growing up with this stuff, along with comic book art from Jim Steranko, Will Eisner and Jack Kirby.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

Jeez, that’s a toughie—they all have their moment in the sun depending upon the mood I’m in. But I think I’d swing with my second novel ‘One Hundred Years of Vicissitude’ (2012). There’s something there that I just really love.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Fave film bounces between ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘The Big Sleep’. Book-wise I’d best cite ‘The Maltese Falcon’ as I’ve read it thirty-odd times. Song? Easy—Ary Barroso’s ‘Brazil’. TV programme is tough. Let’s go with ‘Black Adder II’ for now.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Yeah, I think so—most of my stuff is set in my hometown Melbourne, even though I’ve lived in Tokyo going on for 14 years.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Ha Ha Ha… shhh! Every now and then. Not to often, I swear!

PDB: What’s next?

Focusing on ‘Trista & Holt’ (I just finished #5, and I think the arc will be about 12 issues) along with the new novel, and working with Matt Kyme and a bunch of artists on our next ‘Tales to Admonish’ anthology. Otherwise applauding Cocoa at her ballet performance!

Tobacco -Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez BergenBio: ANDREZ BERGEN is an expat Australian author, journalist, DJ, comic book artist, and ad hoc saké connoisseur who’s been entrenched in Tokyo, Japan, for the past 14 years.

He makes music as Little Nobody and previously ran groundbreaking Melbourne record label IF? for over a decade, before setting up IF? Commix in 2013 in collusion with Matt Kyme.

The duo do a comic book together titled Tales to Admonish.

Bergen has also written for newspapers such as The Age and the Yomiuri Shinbun, as well as magazines like Mixmag, Anime Insider, Australian Style, Remix, Impact, 3D World and Geek Magazine.

He’s published four novels: The noir/sci-fi novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (2011), surreal slipstream/fantasy One Hundred Years of Vicissitude (2012), comic book, noir and pulp homage Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? (2013) and the gothic-noir mystery Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth (2014).

Bergen is current working on novel #5 (The Mercury Drinkers).

In 2014 he unveiled his first graphic novel, a 144-page adaptation of Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat that Bergen both wrote and illustrated, along with the monthly comic book series Bullet Gal.

In 2015, all 12 issues of Bullet Gal have been collected together as a 348-page trade paperback, and he’s started a brand new series called Trista & Holt.

He’s further published short stories and sequential yarns through Crime Factory, Shotgun Honey, Snubnose Press, Solarcide, Weird Noir, Big Pulp, 8th Wonder Press and All Due Respect, and worked on translating and adapting the scripts for feature films by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), Kazuchika Kise and Naoyoshi Shiotani, for Production I.G.

Guest Blog: DEPTH CHARGING THE BLACK & WHITE by Andrez Bergen

BLACK-WHITE-comic-COVEROver the past three months I’ve rammed through Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting’s entire run on Captain America, their superb reconstruction of the birth of Marvel heroes in the ’40s (The Marvels Project) and the duo’s recent work on espionage thriller Velvet.

I also rifled through issues one to twenty of Brubaker’s horror-noir Fatale with artist Sean Phillips, all of Matt Fraction’s insanely cool take on Hawkeye with artists David Aja, Annie Wu and Francesco Francavilla, and other recent comics like Black Science, Red Sonja, From Above, New Avengers, and Day Men.

Along the way I backpedalled into classic stuff like The Spirit by Will Eisner, Miss Fury by Tarpé Mills, the Jim Steranko run on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Kazuo Umezu’s Orochi Blood, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V for Vendetta, Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä, and Hergé’s Tintin.

I also stumbled once more into the fairly hilarious (and dated) Avengers comics from the mid 1960s by Stan Lee with Don Heck and Dick Ayers — I mean, in #25 alone Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) has a crush on Captain America. Hawkeye is jealous and calls Cap an over-aged square. Pietro (Quicksilver) is kind of like background wallpaper. And Hawkeye then defeats Doc Doom with a “Sneeze-Smog Arrow”. Of course. The Fantastic Four from the same period (by Lee with Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott) has aged far more gracefully.

Meanwhile, book-wise, I was being buffeted by Jedediah Berry’s The Manual of Detection; a hundredth reread of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, and way too many Dr. Seuss tomes to count (with my daughter Cocoa).

Thing is, at the same time, I’ve been making my own comic books with artist Matt Kyme (our Tales to Admonish series), assembling an anthology of sequential art noir by a bunch of other artists (the Black/White project we just released), and finishing up my fourth novel.

That’s titled Depth Charging Ice Planet Goth, will be published mid-year via Perfect Edge Books, and is no doubt subliminally influenced by all of these things (above) along with nudges and winks at three of my favourite comic book artists (Kirby, Mills and Steve Ditko) and a whole wealth of 1980s post-punk/goth music. The cover painting, by French artist Kmye Chan, was chosen as much because of its references to manga and gothdom as it was for the likeness to the art of Ditko.

Zig-Zag_Drezz-RodriguezI think my head is a bit of a mess, but messiness has its good points since you’re not exactly thinking straight, and creativity bounces off at right angles.

Which brings me back (in black?) to Black/White, that comic book anthology I mentioned, which captures the mind-bending artwork of guys from the UK (Andrew Chiu), the USA (Nathan St. John), Canada (Drezz Rodriguez, Michael Grills) and Argentina (Marcos Vergara) — messing with my hack words.

It’s the art that speaks volumes here.

Their focus? Noir, tongue firmly in cheek on some occasions; withheld in others. Set in a near-future Melbourne, these yarns veer into the territory of crime, graf, femmes fatales, assisted suicide and post-apocalyptic dystopia — and that’s just for starters.

Black/White is being published by our indie Aussie comic book house IF? Commix in March 2014, with the digital version available already to pre-order online — for just $1 — at the website: iffybizness.weebly.com

Bio: ANDREZ BERGEN :

AUTHOR PROFILE @ AMAZON
http://www.amazon.com/Andrez-Bergen/e/B009I1QB2I
Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat / Who is Killing the Great Capes of Heropa? / Tales to Admonish

MUZAK as Little Nobody and Funk Gadget
http://www.beatport.com/artist/little-nobody/69970

Senior Writer/Editor @ Impact magazine (UK)
Writer/Editor @ Anime Update / Gaijinpot / JapaneseCultureGoNow! / Yomiuri Shimbun

Comics @ IF? Commix
http://iffybizness.weebly.com

The Tobacco-Stained Sky: Out Now!

tobacco stained sky

And it includes my yarn Murphy’s Bright Spark.

The Tobacco- Stained Sky is an anthology edited by Guy Salvidge & Andrez Bergen, published by Another Sky Press and based around the noir/dystopia of Andrez Bergen‘s novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat.

WRITERS

Andrez Bergen

Gerard Brennan
Kristopher Young
Guy Salvidge
Josh Stallings
Gordon Highland
Chad Eagleton
Paul D. Brazill
Julie Morrigan
Liam José
Chris Rhatigan

Tony Pacitti
Nigel Bird
Chad Rohrbacher

Jay Slayton-Joslin
Devin Wine
 
ARTISTS
 
Matheus Lopes
Michael Grills
Marcos Vergara
Harvey Finch
Nathan St. John
Drezz Rodriguez
Andrew Chiu
Andrez Bergen
 

K A Laity’s Weird Noir: Coming Soon

I’m pretty damned chuffed to have a story in K A Laity’s WEIRD NOIR  anthology.

Black Moon Rising’ is a  DRUNK ON THE MOON  yarn which gives a bit more back story to Detective Ivan Walker and Duffy.

The full cast list for WEIRD NOIR is :

WEIRD NOIR

Introduction

A Kick in the Head by Chloë Yates

Violets and Furs by Richard Godwin

Sins of the Brother by Karina Fabian

Across the Border by Hector Acosta

Corkscrewed by Jan Kozlowski

East of Écarté by Andrez Bergen

3 Kings and The Mark by Carol Borden

Black Moon Rising by Paul D. Brazill

The Darkness Cult by Jennifer Martin dalton blog

[untitled] by Katherine Tomlinson

A Diabolical Liberty by Jason Michel

Evil and Life by Asher Wismer

Gus Weatherbourne by Michael S. Chong

Wonder Woman Walks into a Bar by Leeyanne Moore

Charred Kraken with Plum Butter by Christopher L. Irvin

Yao Jin by Joyce Chng

Train Tracks by W. P. Johnson

Find out more about WEIRD NOIR at K A Laity’s gin joint. 

 

OFF THE RECORD 2/ LIFE ON MARS?

Last year, LUCA VESTE put together a terrific charity anthology called OFF THE RECORD.


The deal was that 38 writers would come up with stories based on song titles. 


And a corker of a collection it was too.


Well, LUCA has decided to put together another charity anthology. 


OFF THE RECORD 2 will feature stories based on film titles. All sorts of hep writers are involved, including Adrian McKinty, Andrez Bergen. And me. 


The title I’m using for my story is SILVER DREAM RACER.


So, if you haven’t already, pick up OFF THE RECORD as an ebook at AMAZON  or AMAZON UK and in paperback from LULU.


And, here is the story that I contributed to the first  OFF THE RECORD, to get you in the mood.

Life On Mars? 
by Paul D Brazill
Jed waited until he heard the door slam before he crawled over to the side of the bed and attempted to sit up. The room jolted as he moved. He took a deep breath and waited a few minutes before trying again. A cold worm of sweat crawled down his spine. His body prickled. Acid gurgled in his stomach.


It was Saturday.
 
He eased himself up. It would be good hour before Niki came back; she always did a tour of the charity shops on Saturday mornings, looking out for those old paperback books that she’d collected for as long as he’d known her. 
He opened his eyes, took another deep breath and then stumbled out onto the landing.
 
First stop was the bathroom. He wobbled onto his knees and held onto the toilet bowl as the bile burnt its way out of him. Tears poured from his red eyes.  He held onto the sink, eased himself up, and then rubbed his face with a cold flannel. He crept downstairs.
 
There wasn’t a great deal of debris from the previous night’s party; Niki had obviously tidied up a little as the night went on. But there was enough to suit Jed’s needs.
 
At the end of the night, before he’d gotten too drunk, he’d tried to remember to leave something in the bottom of each can of cider before opening a new one. Then he’d left them strategically around the front room, ready for the next morning’s pick me up.
 
Over the next few minutes he downed the dregs of each can; simultaneously gagging and smiling to himself as he felt the hangover slowly edging away. 


He sat down on the sofa and picked up an almost full bottle of blue coloured WKD from the coffee table. He remembered Niki chastising him for buying ‘that chav crap,’ saying that the chemicals in it were probably even more lethal than the vodka they were mixed with. He had to admit, it was pretty disgusting, but it would do the trick and keep tomorrow’s shakes and the horrors at bay.
 
A glance at the clock and Jed hurried himself. He picked up a glass and the bottle of WKD. He headed upstairs, taking two at a time, tripping and farting as he went.
 
The bathroom smelled of puke so he opened a window and sat on the toilet. He pissed and picked up the bottle of blue alchopop. He had a sip and poured the booze into the glass. Then he carefully filled the empty WKD bottle with the blue mouthwash that he kept near the sink. He washed the bottle out and filled it with the booze from the glass; it looked pretty much identical.
That would help his get through tomorrow morning. He took the bottle downstairs, yawned and trudged back to the bedroom.
 
A warm, womb like feeling crept over him as he went back to bed. Just before he sank into the quicksand of sleep, he thought he heard the front door open.
***
Cutter had known it was Jed from the moment he’d first clapped eyes on him. Mind you, he’d changed a bit over the twenty-odd years since he’d last seen him; he looked well respectable now, though, what with his linen shirts, sandals, Oxford don specs. But that weird walk was distinctive. It could only have been him. Little heel clicks like a Gestapo officer. That was Jed Bramble to a tee.
 
When they were teenagers, Jed and Cutter were a team. The first Clockwork Orange skinheads in town. They had a right old laugh, too. Especially on Friday nights, after they got kicked out of the Youth Club.
 
They’d started off smashing up phone boxes, putting in the Paki shop windows, tripping up pensioners. Beating up the odd tramp that was asleep in a bus shelter. And just after midnight, they kicked the shit out of the two old donkeys that were tethered up in the graveyard. Until one of them went blind and the other died.
 
They had to up the ante, though. Raise the stakes. Which was where the old puff came in. They got a lot of laughs out of him. He always let them into his house, hoping for a feel, probably. They’d drink his crap sherry and smash a few of his antiques, slap him about a bit and then piss off home. But that got boring, too.
 
Then, one night, they tried to use a fountain pen to take a big lump of wax out of one of  the old puff’s ears. Hacky they were. And he was squealing as they did it. He wouldn’t stop. Annoying, it was. Cutter lost his rag and slammed the pen hard, deep into the eardrum and the old bloke collapsed, blood trickling out. Jed freaked out. So they grabbed his wallet and burnt the place down.
 
Cutter didn’t see much of Jed after that and then Jed’s family moved somewhere down south. He saw him in the local paper once, though, getting his degree from some posh university. And that had been that.
 
A few years later, Cutter went inside for GBH and met up with Beetle Bailey, a bloke that was doing time for stabbing a blind man and setting fire to his guide dog.  They had a cracking time in the nick. Plenty of pills, home-made booze and ‘pets’.
 
When Cutter eventually got out, the probation sent him down south, since none of his family wanted anything to do with him. His home town was off limits, they said.
 
The half-way house where he lived was a shithole, though. Worse than prison. But seeing Jed the other week gave him an opportunity. A way out.
So, he’d started following him. Learned his habits. Found out where he lived. Where he hid the spare key.
 
And today, he’d waited until Niki had left home and headed off toward the park. Then Cutter had walked towards the house and let himself in.
***
Niki soaked up the sun as she strolled down the high street, a couple of vintage paperbacks stuffed under her arm. She’d been to the deli, too, and picked up some organic sausages and some cactus juice for breakfast. She swung the canvas shopping bag as she strolled into the park. It was a golden autumn morning.
 
She spotted a couple of the men from the halfway-house sat on a bench, smoking roll ups. She nodded to them and gave a weak smile.  They sat there every day watching the world go by. People usually gave them the cold shoulder but she thought they were harmless enough. Well, apart from the one with the pony tail and the bushy moustache. He gave Niki the evil eye whenever she saw him. But he wasn’t there now and Niki felt relieved, for some reason.
 
And, again, she counted her blessings. The kids were doing well at University; Jed and her had good jobs and were in good health. They had a nice house, in a nice area.
 
Not for the first time, Niki felt that the world was a benevolent place. That she was at one with the universe. That the stars and the planets had aligned to make her … a lucky woman. A contented woman.
 
The sense of well-being stayed with her as she walked home and only shuddered briefly when she walked up the garden path and saw that the front door was wide open.
The end.

Tobacco -Stained Mountain Goat by Andrez Bergen

 
I’ve seen The Future and and it’s … Noir. Tobacco- stained noir at that.
 
Andrez Bergen’s brilliant Tobacco-StainedMountain Goat is set in a Dystopian version of Melbourne, in a not too distant future, after some sort of catastrophe has wiped out the rest of the world.
 
The city itself is split into different parts. The uptown area is known as  The Dome, a squeaky clean and shining consumerist paradise where the plastic surgery enhanced and empty headed rich live.
 
Outside the Dome, though, it’s a little different. These are dangerous and mean streets, riddled with run down bars, fast food joints. And Deviants.


Now, most Deviants are ‘relocated’ elsewhere, keeping the city straight, but some go on the run and it’s the job of the Seekers to track them down.
 
Floyd Maquina is such a Seeker, enrolled so he can afford to pay for  his wife’s hospital bills. Maquina is a great creation – a boozy, chain-smoking, smart mouthed amalgam of every Private Eye you’ve ever seen n the silver screen.
 
Since the late part of the twentieth century, so many of us have seen the real world filtered through the television or film cameraman’s lens. And Floyd Maquina is just one of those people.
 
As is Bergen, of course. Tobbacco-StainedMountain Goat is littered, almost cluttered, with cultural references from Sam Spade to Kurosowa to Cabaret Voltaire to, more obviously, Blade Runner. And is in danger at times of drowning in the stuff but it doesn’t, due mainly to the great characters and Andrez Bergen’s  witty, snappy and immensely addictive writing.
 
With Tobacco-StainedMountain Goat, Bergen has created one of the most vibrant, inventive, exciting, funny and purely enjoyable novels I’ve read since I don’t know when. There’s no other way to say it: I bloody loved this book and I want more!

SHORT SHARP INTERVIEW: ANDREZ BERGEN

 
PDB: Can you pitch The Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat in 25 words or less? AB: Er… a tankard of classic noir, peppered with sci-fi, humour and a heart, and accompanied by a hardboiled herring or two on the side?

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently? AB: Film-wise, I’m constantly raiding the coffers of the old school – especially since I’m doing a lot of watching with my six-year-old daughter. In the past month we’ve been stuck into the Marx Brothers, classic Warner Bros. cartoons from the ’50s, and looking at Ray Harryhausen romps.

 
When Cocoa’s asleep, I’ve had the chance to re-watch stuff like ‘The Maltese Falcon’ and ‘Niagara‘ (which I’m actually using as a teaching tool in a movie class). 


I don’t get out to the cinema all that much here in Tokyo because they’re a little expensive. I did dig the ‘Captain America’ movie, which surprised me – it was fun – and I’m an admirer of Terrence Malick, so ‘The Tree of Life‘ was always going to grab me.On TV every Sunday morning, Cocoa and I religiously watch the kids’ anime ‘Precure‘, about super-powered girls in the mold of ‘Sailor Moon‘. I recently got the first three seasons of ‘The Mentalist‘, and my wife and I are whizzing through that. We love it!Books have been tricky since I’m flat-out with my own at the moment, but in recent months I have had time to read some absolute gems like ‘The Bastard Hand’ by Heath Lowrance, ‘Beautiful, Naked & Dead’ by Josh Stallings, Pearce Hansen’s ‘Stagger Bay’, Guy Salvidge’s ‘Yellowcake Springs’, Tim Maughan’s ‘Paintwork’, Gerard Brennan’s ‘The Point’, ‘The Cleaner’ by Brett Battles, Declan Burke’s ‘Absolute Zero Cool’, Chris F. Holm’s ‘Dead Harvest’, your own ‘Drunk on the Moon’, and so on.


I’m currently reading Adam Christopher’s ‘Empire State’ – which I just started, but I’m really digging it. I also got back into Raymond Chandlera lot, late last year – I’m a huge fan.There are some great writers doing very cool things, and while I’ve read bits and pieces of their work, I would love to invest a lot more time into reading the output from talented bods like Gordon Highland, McDroll, Nigel Bird, Chad Eagleton, Matthew C. Funk, Anthony Neil Smith, Julia Madeleine, Matthew McBride, Urban Waite, Victor Gischler, Doug Gelsleichter and Chad Rohrbacher. Many of these, I have to say, were recommended by the very cool Elizabeth A. White, who deserves a medal for all her support of the fledgling noir/crime writers out there.


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

Short answer this time! Yep, I do think so – although occasionally I get a bee in my bonnet about how I would’ve handled a character or situation myself. I’m more like that with movies and TV shows. My wife swears I’m psychic since I always pick the killer in the whodunnits.

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

I’ve done some music for stage performances and short indie films you’ve never heard of, but I would love to have a shot at writing for film or TV. I actually started out as a student writer/director just after I finished uni, but realized I was a crap director and I didn’t have any money to pay for it all – and my mates were poor actors who weren’t committed. Bah!

PDB: How much research goes into each book? 

Funnily enough, with ‘Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat‘, not much at all by the time I finished the final manuscript – most of it was sources from my own head space or influenced by movies I’d watched a hundred times. When I started the editing process with Another Sky Press, however, Kristopher Young and Bob Young were far more focused on accuracy (thank god!) and made sure I got a ton of things right.

With the new novel, ‘One Hundred Years of Vicissitude‘, I’m doing a lot of legwork and research since most of it is based in Japan, from 1929 on.


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

These tools are insanely useful, something I discovered in recent years while I was doing the promotion for my music (as Little Nobody, etc.), but unfortunately I do believe they’re starting to tire and become less effective. Probably this is down to the glut of options (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Soundcloud, even MySpace still hanging round like a bad smell) and the proliferation of people like me hawking their goods. People get jaded. Still, they’re free and they’re fun – and I’ve met a lot of very cool people via these platforms.


PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?
  

 
Ha Ha Ha… can I say too much? I’m still doing electronic/techno music stuff under the Little Nobodyalias, and just got one of my tracks remixed by Detroit veteran Alan Oldham (DJ T-1000).Book-wise I’m pushing on with my second novel, ‘One Hundred Years of Vicissitude‘, and should have a final draft ready by April – fingers crossed.But I’m also organizing an anthology for Another Sky Press that’s based around the noir/dystopia of ‘Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, with several bloody brilliant writers and artists involved. Yep, artists as well – I decided this week to make it partially a graphic novel. We’re looking to have all the stories in by the end of June, so we can edit and have it out by the end of the year. I don’t want to name names just yet – that gives over-committed people the chance to back out! – but I will say I’m staggered (and chuffed, of course!) by the line-up.