Graham Wynd interviews me about TOO MANY CROOKS , comedy, music and more!
I asked a bunch of Brit Grit writers about their favourite Christmas book, film and song, and this is what they said:
Well my favourite Christmas book has to be John Updike and Edward Gorey’s ‘The Twelve Terrors of Christmas.’ Film has to be Lon Chaney as The Wolfman. I love old horrors especially at Christmas! And song has to be ‘Fairytale of New York’ as I adore The Pogues and Kirsty! (I remember when they were called Pogue Mahone! Kiss my arse in Gaelic!)
I’m going to be really tedious and say ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.‘ Still gets to me every time. Music-wise, Jona Lewie and ‘Stop The Cavalry’. Christmas book? That’s a difficult one, I never much liked Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’ and don’t really recall others specifically about that time of year as I would probably have avoided them like the proverbial. So can I have a play instead? For which I nominate Steven Berkoff’s one-man short play ‘Harry’s Christmas‘. Devastating.
The book has to ‘A Christmas Carol,’ obvious I know but it’s the only actual Christmas book I can remember reading! I know when I see other choices I’ll kick myself (so if you have any suggestions, let me know) For film I’d have to go with ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’, although ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ comes a close second. And song – there are so many – but ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ has the right blend of sweetness and melancholy for me.
Book I can’t really look beyond Dickens with ‘A Christmas Carol’, though you can’t beat a winter’s evening in the warmth with a book from a favourite author. Film Being a cynical and hardboiled crime writer is fine for 364 days of the year, but the remaining day has to be reserved to watch “It’s A Wonderful Life”. Song, all of Kate Rusby’s “While Mortals Sleep” is great and the use of a brass band gives it that distinctive Yorkshire feel that warms me.
Book – ‘The Grinch who Stole Christmas’ by Dr Seuss Film – ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation’. Song – ‘White Wine in the Sun’ by Tim Minchin
“The Spy Who Came For Christmas” by David Morrell, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “Silent Night” by Bing Crosby
Favourite book –‘The Mystery Of The Invisible Dog’ (it takes place between Christmas and New Year. Favourite film – either ‘Scrooged’ or ‘Die Hard’. Favourite song – ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ by Slade.
Book: ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Film: ‘Die Hard.’ Song: ‘Feed The World.’
‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ – I can’t count how many times I’ve seen it – ‘White Christmas.’
‘The Long Shadow’ by Celia Fremlin. ‘The Bishop’s Wife’ (Cary Grant, David Niven).’The World of Winter’ by Bing Crosby
Here we go: Christmas Book – ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charlie Dickens, Christmas Film – ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, Christmas Song – ‘White Christmas’ – SLF.
Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Deep Throat’, Frank Zappa’s ‘Bobby Brown.’
Okay, right now, off the top of my head: my favourites are Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Bad Santa’, and The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’.
Book/ story – ‘A Christmas Carol’, Film – gotta be a Bond, not traditional, of course, but the nostalgia of a Christmas evening Bond flick, Song – I would say Slade then again, I have a tradition of listening to Frank Sinatra at Christmas.
Um…’Little Women’, ‘The Long Kiss Goodnight’, and oh, everyday a different answer so….Darlene Love, ‘Christmas Baby Please Come Home’. Best Xmas LP ‘A John Waters Xmas’.
‘The Little Matchgirl’ by HC Anderson for book, or ‘Mog’s Christmas’. The best and most underrated Christmas film ever is ‘Scrooged’. Song has to be ‘Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M’. Tune.
Oh easy, Charles Dicken’s ‘Christmas Carol’, ‘Merry Christmas Baby’ – Elvis Presley and film would have to be ‘Home Alone’.
‘Run Run Rudolph’ by Chuck Berry, ‘Diner’ (Barry Levinson) and ‘The Christmas Star’ (it’s a short story, so I hope that counts) by Mina Lewiton.
Can’t think of an Xmas book but ‘Die Hard’ and ‘Fairytale of New York.’
My favourite book is ‘Sausagey Santa’ by Carlton Mellick III, song is ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ by Slade, but film is a toss up between ‘The Santa Clause,’ ‘Elf,’ and Ron Howard’s ‘The Grinch’ – I like the garishly colourful and OTT ones!
I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas on the planet. I quite like some of the old traditions, but hate the modern, consumer-driven, hyped-to-hell-and-back, be-perfect-or-else-you’ve-failed version, which tends to bring me out in a severe case of Bah Humbug. So my choices of reading, watching and listening matter over the festive period tend to reflect this.
Favourite Christmas song: there’s a special mention for Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ which brings back happy memories of school Christmas parties. But the winner, hands down, is ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty McCall. Any Christmas song that includes lyrics like You scumbag, you maggot, You lousy old faggot gets my vote every time, and the harmonies (even with lead singer Shane McGowan apparently on such a massive bender he could barely stand up during recording) are amazing.
Favourite Christmas movie: I can’t really handle all those mushy-gushy sanctimonious ‘isn’t family wonderful’ type movies that you’re supposed to like at Christmas. But Home Alone won me over the first time I saw it. It has just the right blend of mischief, quirkiness, and sheer evil joy, from parents forgetting one of their own children, to Macauley Culkin’s 8 year old dreaming up ever nastier ways to keep the burglars out of the family home. Great fun!
Favourite Christmas book: this one really had me stumped. I wasn’t sure if there were any specific Christmas books, and when I googled, I’d never read most of them and wasn’t keen on the rest. However, my favourite as a kid was probably ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C S Lewis for the sheer magic and inventiveness of the story. Although these days, I probably have more sympathy with the Wicked Witch than I ought to. Imagine: always winter but never Christmas. I can think of worse things…!
HAVE A BRIT GRIT CHRISTMAS!
‘As always it’s laugh out loud funny between bouts of wincingly painful chaos brought on by characters who are as unlikely as they are vivid: gangsters who are feeling their age, hitmen who miss, hoods who want to go straight, and an actor so far up his own arse he thinks he’s god — or maybe just Batman.’
Read the rest here.
Kevin S. Cummings reviews Kill Me Quick! over at his blog. He says:
‘Kill Me Quick! by Paul D. Brazill is #12 in a 13 series list of quality crime novellas published by Number Thirteen Press. The latest Brazill offering goes down like two Alka-Seltzers and spring-water in a crystal tumbler during day two of a three-day hangover.’
Meanwhile, Graham Wynd reviews The Last Laugh and says:
‘From the first to the last you won’t know whether to laugh or wince more but you’ll keep turning the pages until you get to the end and then start badgering the man for more.’
‘This novella is a crazy crime jukebox that takes in everything from crooners to croakers without missing a beat. The soundtrack of Seatown touches on its once great era then follows as it slips down to the end of its rope, lurching a last drunken dance at your cousin’s wedding.’
Read the rest HERE!
Most of the time when I think of the 70s I think of it as the most horrible time to be kicking around. Bad hair, bad clothes, arena rock and disco—at least until punk came along and kicked it all to the curb for a while. But then I remember cool things like glam and the Velvets and the Stooges—and a lot of terrific spooky movies, full of ambiguous and often downbeat endings. These are the movies in the back of my head that played while I was writing Satan’s Sorority.
Of course the big mama of devil horror is The Exorcist. It’s holds up as a fascinating film, though a lot of the horror these days for folks is seeing a child go through horrendous medical tests with doctors who are just speculating. While it’s not quite the classic 1968’s Rosemary’s Baby is, it made more than a few people believe that there might be something brewing up from the land of brimstone. Some of them were cheap ripoffs of better films, like The Mephisto Waltz, a Faustian tale with Jacqueline Bissett, Alan Alda and Barbara Perkins – or Look What’s Happened to Rosemary’s Baby.
But there were some born-to-be-B pictures that have kept their cheesy charm over the years, like the rural devil’s sects in The Devil’s Rain, which featured Ida Lupino, Ernest Borgnine and Shatner, as well as introducing a kid named John Travolta. In the same year, Race with the Devil, gave a twist on the city folk out gallivanting where they ought not be, like The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In that one, Peter Fonda, Loretta Swit and Warren Oates show what happens when happy vacationers accidentally witness ritual murder. Uh oh!
Of course a big fave is The Omen. Gregory Peck and Lee Remick and Doctor Who and the Carmina Burana against a wicked little boy and the awesome Billie Whitelaw (“I am here to protect thee”). And David Warner! I saw all the Omen films. The first one is the best but in the second one there’s William Holden, Lee Grant, and the man bisected by an elevator cable, which is ALWAYS IN MY MIND when I step on an elevator (which explains the weird look I get). The third one has Sam Neil, so there you go.
I know I’ve seen Satan’s School for Girls but I don’t remember a thing about it. When I think of devilish girl’s schools, I go right to Dario Argento’s Suspiria, one of my favourite movies period. The lovely Jessica Harper as Suzy Bannion, the terrific Goblin soundtrack, Argento’s bloody palette of riotous colour and, of course, UDO! I don’t even much mind that they conflate witches with devils: after all people have been doing that since the fifteenth century, so maybe I should give up on trying to school them (never!).
Which reminds me of Ken Russell’s The Devils. It is criminal that the film is not available (cheap repros and cut versions abound: don’t be fooled!). Bernard Rose just hosted a screening of it in L.A. to huge acclaim, so there’s an audience for it. When I worked in the video store in Hollywood in the 80s, I remember it being in one of those oversized boxes. I first saw it back in the mid-70s and was totally knocked out. Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed?! How can you not love this film? It’s totally wild. It deserves a proper release.
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, including SATAN’S SORORITY from Number Thirteen Press and EXTRICATE from Fox Spirit Books. See more stories (including free reads!) here.
In 1950’s America, Sandra’s parents send her off to a small town university in order to keep her out of trouble. While there she encounters Trixie Faust and the rest of the Sigma Tau Nu sorority. Blood, sex and satanism quickly ensure.In spades!
Satan’s Sorority by Graham Wynd is a smart, witty and marvelously well written slice of pulp fiction. Full of great lines and clever asides, Satan’s Sorority is another winner from Number Thirteen Press.
Satan’s Sorority is out NOW from Number 13 Press! I just came back from Bouchercon where I gave out loads of ‘I’m pledging Sigma Tau Nu’ badges, plus I got to read from my story ‘Life Just Bounces’ at the big Murder Under the Oaks reading and then signed more books than I have ever signed before, thanks to the big guns that are in that collection.
PDB: How did you research your latest book/ short story?
I joined a satanic sorority and made a blood pledge – aw, who am I kidding? I did attend a certain Connecticut institution at one time that has a notorious Greek row but not notorious for Satanism as far as I know. Also as part of my job I do historical research into magic. I did have to check dates (and cheated when they didn’t quite fit!) and pore through archives to see how tabloids were covering sensational crimes in 1958. Probably the best research was watching a lot of crap occult films in the 1970s – well some of them were good, great in fact! I loved the often ambiguous endings of them, but that’s like a whole post in itself.
PDB: Which of your publications is the most successful?
Probably Murder Under the Oaks but I have high hopes for Satan’s Sorority. It’s just dying to become an indy horror film! I suppose over all the Chastity Flame series has sold the most units but nothing big enough to make me change my lifestyle.
PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme of 2015?
Oh, I don’t know. Mad Max: Fury Road probably wins for film. It was just so wonderful and I love the soundtrack so much. Drum crazy! Television: I absolutely loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. Making fairy scary again like it should be, and so dark. Books? Well, friends aside because I don’t want to piss anyone off by not mentioning them – my friends all write awesome books and you should check them out – I’m deep into The Big Con by David Maurer. It inspired The Sting and it’s all about how the big con games flourished in the early 20th century. Fascinating stuff. I think I need to write a self-help book that teaches people to live like con artists.
Oh yeah. I’ve mostly set my crime stories in Britain or Europe, but I’m using a few US settings now because apparently the big publishers prefer that. I’m experimenting with using the Hudson Valley (where I spend half the year) as a setting, but I just seem more naturally inclined to set stories in Britain. Maybe it was all the stories I read as a kid – or my immersion in classic British humour at the formative age, around the same time as all those cheesy horror films, but those are the voices in my head.
PDB: What’s next?
Amongst other things, I’m working on a novel inspired by a song by the Royale Brothers, who were an awesome Connecticut band. Noir, death, downward spirals and betrayal: the usual sort of thing. And I’ve already thought up a sequel to Satan’s Sorority so now I just need to see if it does well enough that anyone wants it. I always have about ten projects going on. It’s nuts.
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. Wynd’s novella Satan’s Sorority is out now from Number Thirteen Press. See more stories (including free reads!) here.
Graham Wynd takes a look at THE NEON MOON: A ROMAN DALTON ANTHOLOGY.
‘Another fistful of fun from Blackwitch Press. A bunch of terrific writers run away with Paul D. Brazill‘s werewolf detective Roman Dalton and the dark madness of The City.‘
Nigel Bird takes a gander at GUNS OF BRIXTON.
‘the observations are sharp and the characters create small nuclear explosions as they collide with each other.’
Graham Wynd gets under the covers over at PULP METAL MAGAZINE.
Obsession: she understood obsession. He had noticed her a little—sort of goth, sort of emo—but it wasn’t until he knew the depths of her obsessions that he really took an interest. He sat behind her in English where Mr James always laughed that laugh that some of the lads thought hilarious, but most of the girls thought was creepy.
Over her shoulder Edwyn saw the label on the black USB stick she was bouncing up and down in her palm: 30 Versions of Warm Leatherette. He suddenly wanted her more than anything else in the world.
“Hey, can I get a copy of that?” He muttered the words low as everyone was packing up their books.
She looked up at him. Her black-rimmed eyes looked almost purple in the fluorescent light. “You like the song?”
“Yeah,” he lied. “But I only know one version.”
Check out the rest here.
I have a story ‘Headless in Bury’ in the new Fox Spirit anthology Missing Monarchs. It sets a PI named Wolf on the trail of the head of a long-dead King, St Edmund. There’s a bunch of great folks in this collection including Jo Thomas, Geraldine Clark Hellary and the always hilarious and blisteringly profane Chloë Yates. I also have a fun little tale about obsession over at Pulp Metal Magazine “30 Versions of Warm Leatherette” which is based on a true story. Well, only so far as my pal Marko gave me 30 versions of “Warm Leatherette” though on CD because he’s old school.
PDB: How did you research this book?
For once, I did: I used some of my medieval background because the story of St Edmund (as in the town of Bury St Edmunds) has him getting captured and killed by Vikings, who knock his head off. A wolf guards it until the monks can find him when the head calls them over saying “Here, here, here!” Or in the Latin, hic hic hic which sounds much better of course.
PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?
Right now I’d say the Fox Spirit novella collection Extricate & Throw the Bones which also includes a bunch of shorts. I think it’s where I first really found my noir stride and I’m really pleased with both those novellas and most of the stories, one of which Otto Penzler picked our of the blue to be in Kwik Krimes. It was my nod to Tony Hancock and Sid James so I’m chuffed (“Losing My Religion”).
PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?
Oh, I can never choose. I’m having the worst time choosing things for the crime course I’m teaching in the spring. It’s impossible making up my mind, so I finally told myself I just have to be a gateway drug: Chandler, Hammett, Sanxay Holding, Hughes, Cain, Highsmith, Millar, Himes, Thompson. Films I’m using—I had to cut down to three!—Third Man, Out of the Past, Night of the Hunter unless I change my mind and do one of the books after all (probably Maltese Falcon or Strangers on a Train). Television I’m behind on everything. Caught up on the first four seasons of Justified earlier this year and loved it. Oh and so excited about a third series of The Bridge because Saga is my hero.
Yeah, but it’s also a drawback because most of my stories are set in the UK but I’m not actually British so I’m not a British writer and US readers aren’t interested in British settings unless they’re cosies and I don’t do cosy.
PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?
Never—what’s the point? If it’s ever good news it’ll show up in my bank account. Otherwise it’s just depressing. There’s always somebody doing better than you.
PDB: What’s next?
I’m working on a new novel that’s noir in the vein of James M. Cain, rather than detective sort of stuff. People who get obsessed and then go too far because they can’t just walk away from a bad situation. And a dog. I said I wasn’t going to do any more stories with dogs in them, but maybe I lied. Or maybe I just don’t learn.
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. The novella of murder and obsessive love, EXTRICATE is out now from Fox Spirit Books; the print edition also includes the novella THROW THE BONES and a collection of short stories. ‘Headless in Bury’ appears in the MISSING MONARCHS Fox Pockets anthology, ‘The Tender Trap’ appears in EXILES: AN OUTSIDER ANTHOLOGY from Blackwitch Press, and the short story ‘Kiss Like a Fist’ appears in NOIR NATION 3.
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 Books. Drop by his Facebook page and give it a like.
Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW from Blackwitch Press.