Guest Blog: Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal by Joshua Swainston

“The Cadillac toured west across Interstate 90 cutting through Montana.  It was night and the wet snow exploded in tail-light red against my windshield like tiny fireworks. She stood at mile maker 316. She wore a yellow rain slicker and held out her thumb. I might not have seen her if I were more focused on the road. The car slowed and pulled off to the shoulder.” 


valentines dayValentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal is a collection of short crime noir theatric readings along with hopping music collected in a homage to the radio programs of the 1930’s. The album came out on, you guessed it, Valentine’s Day 2015 and is available now for digital download at:

Why do an audio production of crime noir stories? I’m glad you asked. The answer it two fold. 1) The source of our respective genre stems from the radio broadcast and dime store pulp of prohibition America so it felt like a great way to honor those get history crime fiction. (I cannot speak for my European peers in this way)  and 2)The idea of producing crime audio production has lingered in the back of mind since I was a young boy.

radio daysWhen I was a kid I remember seeing Woody Allen’s Radio Days. For week I felt sad that I missed out on an entire era where communities collectively listened to voice actors, folio artists, and musicians working in unison to create a seamless entertaining narratives. The mystic of the radio. Unlike the black and white 12” tube television my family had at the time, radio left much of the story to the imagination. The artistry involved was to hint enough to allow the listener to be carried away. Television is a passive method of entertainment, but radio required engagement. I remember asking by Father about radio shows soon after seeing the movie and he introduced me to Jack Benny, Spike Jones, and The Shadow.

Unfortunately I was born in a time when the radio drama has found its way into niche obscurity. Furthermore showing interest in an antiquated medium didn’t win many friends in the teenage years. So unfortunately my love of the format spent many years dormant.

the shadowIn private, I tried my hand at script writing. This is well before I found the rhythm of my words and the results were clunky at best. One of the works was attempted as a recorded basic horror production titled Experiment #9 about a medical experiment gone wrong.

In more recent years I’ve written a number of crime related stories that have found homes in Revolt Daily, Out of the Gutter, Shotgun Honey, etc. As well as written my first novel, The Tacoma Pill Junkies. And for the last year I have been serving at the Editor-at-large for an online literary magazine, Creative Colloquy. Though writing is, and will always be, my main distraction the kid in me still wanted to produce the radio show.

In January of 2015 the opportunity arose to accomplish one of my childhood goals. I was asked by a local book store, The Nearsighted Narwhal, to put together a promotional reading of my book. The Narwhal also provides services in graphic design, button making, and audio recording. Quickly the idea formed that instead of a reading we could produce something more tangible, a joint recording between Creative Colloquy (providing the stories and readers) and the Narwhal (providing the recording, sound effects and mastering).

THE TACOMA PILL JUNKIES_CIn a matter of weeks we received over 40 submission form interested writers. We selected the seven most conducive to the audio format that stayed true to the genre. We have a few hardboiled stories, a tale of revenge, thieves, murders, revenge and justice all under all packed into 55 minutes.

The entire project took less than two months from posting a call for submissions to finished album in the hands of noir lovers.

Creative Colloquy and the Nearsighted Narwhal is excited to be presenting the writers: L. Lisa Lawrence (South Sound Magazine), Jack Cameron (Tacoma Stories), Christian Carvajal (The Weekly Volcano), Jenni Prange Boran (Blue Bunny), Gregory Knight Miskin, William Turbyfill (Literally Tacoma), and Michelle Biddix-Simmons.

On the music side we have some great tracks from: The Happy Sinners, Dennis Ellis and The Bad Things.

creative cCreative Colloquy is a submission based literary site. Our aim is to share the South Sound’s rich literary talents and foster relationships built upon our mutual admiration of the written word. Contact them on Facebook, Twitter (@Cre8iveColloquy) or

narwhalThe Nearsighted Narwhal is a store whose sole focus is the myriad forms of the DIY culture.

Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal sells for 5$ USD and can be downloaded here: If you like it tell your friends.

Short, Sharp Interview: Joshua Swainston

THE TACOMA PILL JUNKIES_CPDB: Can you pitch The Tacoma Pill Junkies in 25 words or less?

Drugs, and the working class real people who take them. There’s also a serial killer, ya know, for fun.

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

In the book the characters talk extensively on what media they are interested in. There is a line from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, “It’s not what you like but what you are like that’s important.” I think you can tell a lot from characters (people in generally really) by what they like so I try to incorporate what I’m into, into what I’m writing.

At this moment: I think anyone with a pulse should listen to Mark Ronson’s Versions album. If you aren’t dancing by the end, you’re probably dead.  There is a great anti-self-help book by Jack Cameron called Ruin Your Life that anyone who has flirted with self-destruction should read.  As for movies, Ben Stiller did a really great job in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. On the other end of the spectrum, my all-time standby flick is Battle Royal. It’s just so beautiful and violent.

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

I hope so. I don’t want to spend the rest of my reading life being critical of everyone else’s work. I want to get lost in the story.

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

I think writing for a production would be challenging. When you write a story, you craft everything. It’s just you and your world. With any talent and a little luck the reader come out feeling what you intended them to feel. In productions there are too many people involved. The write is not the soul deity in his own world but merely the jumping off point for directors, producers, actors, editors, etc. I’m not ready for that yet.

PDB: How much research goes into each book?

4 years of heavy un-prescribed pharmaceutical use. 10 years of merchant sailing. 6 months working at the Tacoma Mall. Some of this time overlaps.

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

It is a cheap and efficient way for writers to connect to their readers. Social media reflects the changes of what people are interested in so quickly that sometimes it’s hard to get a barometer reading on what’s happening. This can be good or bad. In the current world of shortened attention spans it helps to have a presence of Facebook or  Tweeter simply to remind people you exist.

PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?Joshua Swainston

I edit for a literary website,, and we are getting a huge amount of momentum behind that. I’m also struggling through my next novel, untitled as of now, it’s about a five month sailing job I did on the last American flag steam ship.

Bio: Joshua Swainston has worked as a mechanic, merchant sailor, courier, loan shark, club promoter, Ryder truck rental agent, MC Donald’s grill cook, taxi driver, valet, coffee roaster, wine distributor, psychologist assistant, UPS man, Disney Store stock boy, and played Santa Clause. His short stories and flash fiction are printed in A Twist of Noir, The Frist Line, Fuck Fiction as well as others. While writing editorials for the Weekly Volcano, he won a Washington Press award for his piece about Ivan the Gorilla, “The Silverback of South Tacoma.” His self-published novel, The Tacoma Pill Junkies, was releasedin February of 2013 and can be found at