Dave ‘Killer’ Zeltserman – An Interview.

This month sees the publication of the brilliant KILLER by Dave Zeltserman.

In Killer, Leonard March walks free from jail after fourteen years’ hard time served after turning state’s witness against his Mafia boss Salvatore Lombard. Killer is the third part of Zeltserman’s “man-out-of-prison” trilogy – the other two being Small Crimes and Pariah– and it’s a hell of a read.

Look what the big kids say:

Killer is a major novel of crime and likely the book that will win Dave Zeltserman a much wider audience.Ed Gorman

‘To put it simply, Killer is a brilliant character study that will rip the literary rug right out from under the reader’s tightly-curled toes.Corey Wilde, The Drowning Machine.

“With graphic imagery and exciting twists, this novel is impossible to put down and has a surprising ending. A brilliant read.” The Aberdeen Press and Journal

Dave was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about Killer and his writing in general.

PDB: Dave, in twenty five words or less, can you pitch me your new novel KILLER?

Dave: A meditative look into the mind of a killer.

PDB: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer all have protagonists who are very bad men that have done some very bad things. Doesn’t this go against the mandates of creative writing classes in that the ‘heroes’ of those books aren’t sympathetic?

Dave: I think most readers are going to find Leonard March, the protagonist of Killer, a sympathetic character, at least through most of the book. Yeah, he was a hit man, but he leaves prison as little more than a toothless old wolf howling at the moon. He’s got all these forces working against him, and he’s introspective as he tries to figure out how he got to where he is.

Kyle Nevin, my protagonist from Pariah, is a different beast entirely. Kyle is a force of nature, and like of forces of nature–hurricanes, tidal waves, volcanoes–it can be fascinating to see the destruction that he brings those unfortunates that get in his way.

Just as noir masters like James M. Cain and Jim Thompson could keep readers fascinated watching their noir protagonists inevitable descent into hell, I think the same is true with Kyle, except I think even more so given his utterly destructive and unrepentant nature.

PDB: Is the location of Killer an important part of the story?

Dave : Most of Killer takes place around Boston, but not really in it, with areas like Waltham, Revere and Winthrop taking center stage, but the flavor of these areas are important to the story and atmosphere. Boston is much more important to Pariah as a lot of South Boston mob lore is worked into the novel.

PDB: You once said that writing Small Crimes was a very ‘instinctive’ thing? What did you mean by that?

Dave: At some point the subconscious taking over, and adding strong thematic elements that weren’t planned, or necessarily intended at an intellectual level but worked their way into the book regardless.

Let me give you a more concrete example with Killer. Killer is written as alternating present and past chapters. Before I started writing I had the present chapters outlined at a very detailed level, but I was going to wring it with the past chapters, and make each one Leonard committing one of his mob hits.

At some point that changed without any real planning, and instead the past chapters ended up having a strong arc of their own, and connecting to the present chapters in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

PDB: Has your writing process changed over the years?

Dave: Not really. I still write very detailed outlines before starting. I still find myself deviating from these outlines as the book becomes something organic–a living thing so to speak. But while new and unexpected plot threads and characters are born, I always end up working my way back to the original outline.

I tend to struggle with my 1000 to 1500 words a day like I’ve always have, and then go on a blind writing fury when I get within 7000 or so words of the ends, finishing those in one sitting. The only real change is I’m closer to the mark now when I finish.

My earlier books needed far more revising–Pariah and Killer and others needed very little revising from their first drafts.

PDB: What’s in the pipeline for Dave Zeltserman in 2010?

Dave: Other than Killer, I have two more novels and a bunch of short stories.

Outsourced is a different kind of crime novel than my ‘man out of prison’ novels. In this one a group of desperate software engineers come up with a brilliant plan to rob a bank with things not quite working out as planned. Think Ocean’s 11 and Falling Down, which not too surprisingly, John Tomko, who was a producer on both those movies, is involved in the film development of this, which has been optioned by Impact Pictures and Constantin Film.

The Caretaker of Lorne Field is not crime, and I think is a book that is really going to surprise readers who’ve gotten to know my crime fiction. The basic premise of this is that a field has been weeded for over 400 years by a succession of caretakers, with the mythology being if the field isn’t weeded, the world will end. Now in the present day, the current Caretaker believes this myth but finds that most of the people in his small town no longer do, and his job becomes increasingly more difficult. A balancing act is performed through the book on whether he’s crazy or knows something nobody else does.

As far as short stories, Julius Katz and Archie will live on in Ellery Queen, and I also have stories in the next Thuglit anthology and Damn Near Dead 2

Dave Zeltserman’s website is here

His blog – SMALL CRIMES – is here

Killer will be available from Amazon

The first chapter of his unpublished novel Vampire Crimes is here

Colin Graham at On The Wing

On The Wing is a non fiction site from FULL OF CROW. The editor is Michael J Solender of NOT fame ( MJS has a great NEW story at A TWIST OF NOIR BTW). Pop over there to read a fascinating article from Our Man In Belgrade, Colin Graham…

Independence in the Balkans? Colin Graham Sheds Light on Strange Actions of Late.’

Well worth a look!

#fridayflash/ Guest Blogger: Erin Cole – Sweet Darkness

Sweet Darkness

by Erin Cole

As soon as the front door closes, our lips lock in a wet fury. I reach to unbutton my shirt, but he forces my arms against the wall, pinning me at the wrists.

“Stop,” he hushes.

His mouth is hot on my neck, biting and sucking and his hands weave fistfuls of my hair like chains of gold. I push against him, but his broad stature absorbs my strength. I know he likes it, so much that he rips my shirt open, hungry and determined with palms full of flesh and fingers seeking damp warmth beneath my skirt. Desire burgeons and soon he takes me hard and deep in the hallway of his apartment.

The heat inside him crests and suddenly, he grabs my throat, blocking air from my lungs and blood to my brain. A surge of panic drowns me with horror, for I’m the one who labeled him potentially dangerous—

“His fists are quick to clench.”

“Do you want him on the security floor?”

“We have no choice. Double his medication.”

Strong hands tighten around my throat, but in the black of his eyes, I see a gentle flame. With breath desperately absent, sensations swell inside me, intoxicating my perceptions in a velvet numbness. I can’t help but give in to the pleasure, the sweet darkness.

Drifting into a reverie state, I picture him taking my hand and leading me to his lithium park where I comfort him, assuring his troubled, schizophrenic mind that everything is all right. I sit on top of his lap and hold his face, telling him,

“No one is chasing you. You are safe.”

“You don’t know her.”

“Please take your medicine, Jonathan.”

“Do you love me, Jess?”

“Yes…no matter the risks.”

Or insanity. I’ve studied his charts, the abnormalities in his cerebral tissues, but love pays no heed to medical analysis—or romantic regulations—and I let him have all of me.

Crisp acoustics return, reverberating with a kaleidoscope of light. I wake with a jolt on the floor of his apartment to another voice, the sharp timbre of an angry woman.

“Who’s crazy now, Jonathan?” Madness wavers a brand-new gun in her hand.

“Please, Eli don’t…,” but my lover falls to the floor in a fan of blood.

I lunge, but too slow to escape the path of her jealous vengeance, the target of her bullets. I drop beside him in tremors of violent pain, revolted over my gross error—his stalker was real.

I braid my fingers in his, feeling them pulse in mine…a glint of hope, but the velvet numbness returns and sweet darkness veils me once again.

© 2009 Erin Cole

BIO: Residing in Portland Oregon, Erin Cole lives with her husband and three children. She is working to publish her mystery novel, Unearthing Jev, and has started the sequel, Wicked Tempest, on accident. When she isn’t writing, she is thinking about writing and when she isn’t thinking about writing, she is either in a chocolate-induced coma or is experimenting with sensory deprivation. She blogs at Listen to the Voices.

Clarity Of Night short fiction contest

Yesterday, I sent off my entry to the CLARITY OF NIGHT Silhouette” Short Fiction Contest

Jason Evans is the mastermind behind this and previous CON contests. It’s produced some cracking stuff from writers like Sandra Seamans, Cormac Brown and oodles of others.

Here’s the deal :

‘ Using the photograph for inspiration, compose a short fiction (or poetry) piece of no more than 250 words in any genre or style. Send your entry to me by email at jevanswriter at yahoo dot com before 11:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 13th (Eastern Time, United States). I’d prefer attachments formatted in Microsoft Word (please see the format request below), but if you have something more exotic, you can paste the text into the body of an email (no docx formats, please). Each entry will be posted and indexed.

Now for the goodies. The following prizes are up for grabs:

* 1st Place: $50 Amazon gift certificate
* 2nd Place: $30 Amazon gift certificate
* 3rd Place: $25 Amazon gift certificate
* 4th Place: $20 Amazon gift certificate
* 5th Place: $15 Amazon gift certificate
* Readers’ Choice Award 1st Place: $25 Amazon Gift certificate

But this is about more than prizes. I hope you take advantage of the opportunity to meet and interact with your fellow writers. Our different perspectives, styles, and skills shine when we all start at the same place. It’s a great opportunity to learn from each other.


1. 250 words maximum.
2. Titles are optional, but encouraged. Titles do not count toward your word count.
3. One entry per person.
4. Any genre or style is welcome. If you choose to submit poetry, you must have narrative movement within the poem if you wish to compete with the prose pieces for the prizes.
5. The copyright remains with you, the author; however, you grant me worldwide first electronic publishing rights to post your entry on this blog indefinitely.
6. Judging will be conducted by me, Jason Evans. For an explanation of the judging criteria and scoring system, see A Note on Judging. You can also read the winning entries from past contests.
7. Please provide a name for your byline. If you have a website or a blog, I’d be happy to link your site to your byline. If you don’t have a website or blog, feel free to include a short bio. A bio does not count towards your word count.
8. At the close of the contest, I will give the date and time for the announcement of winners.
9. After the winners are announced, I will post what I liked most about each entry in the comments.
10. The Readers’ Choice Award is awarded by vote of the contest participants. The entry with the highest number of votes wins. The rules for this portion of the contest will be posted after the entry period closes.
11. Public critiques in comments are encouraged, but must remain respectful. I reserve the right to delete comments and ban participants who do not abide by the collegial spirit of Clarity of Night contests.
12. For prior contests and their results, see the links on the sidebar.

Format Request:
These are not rules, and I will not reject an entry which does not conform, but if you follow them, my work in running the contest is much less. For that, I will be eternally grateful!

1. Single space lines, and double space paragraph breaks.
2. No tabs or indents for new paragraphs.
3. If you have italics in your text, please code it for html by putting a begin italics code where it starts and an end italics code where it ends.
4. Although it’s rarely used, handle bold and underline the same way.
5. Write your title at the top of the document left justified in title case (first letters capitalized). On the next line write your byline left justified (example, by Jason Evans). Add two blank lines, then begin your story.

Welcome to this latest contest! Entries will be posted starting January 6th.

Help spread the word!’

Can’t say fairer than that, can you? My story, The Last Supper, is here.

Strangers On a Blog – Nicole Hadaway and I swap blogs.

So, the fab horror writer Nicole Hadaway had this idea :

Criss cross. That’s what I thought of when I suggested to Paul that we swap blogs for one day this year. Just like in that Hitchcock movie, Strangers On a Train. I’d do his, and he’d do mine. Blog, that is — not murders!’

So how could I refuse!

Below is Nicole’s excellent story NEW YEAR’S TOAST and my little tale – New Year’s Revolution – is here:

Guest Blogger: Nicole Hadaway – New Year’s Toast

CHAPTER 16 – NEW YEAR’S TOAST by Nicole Hadaway

Neil walked down the cold, damp London streets. It was shortly after three in the morning, on what was now, officially, January 1, 1945. You couldn’t tell, really, that the New Year had been celebrated at all. Morale was rather low in London after nearly five years of air raids, bombings, evacuations and blackouts. Neil himself had finished his shift at the air raid siren station and was now headed to his mate Mark’s place for a subdued celebration. He couldn’t wait to get a taste of the black market whiskey that Mark had managed to get, for his hands were nearly frozen; this entire winter it had been so very cold.

So Neil walked along the deserted streets lined by terraced houses, thankful that the moon was still bright enough so he could find his way around without tripping over too many curbs or bumping into lampposts. It was bad enough that he’d had to serve as an air raid warden, but the fact that they gave him the night shift for that night was just intolerable. Though when he thought about it, a few scraped knees and cold fingers was a small price to pay for having escaped an entire war of army duty.

He’d been lucky that the injury on his right hand, received when, at the age of five, he’d stuck them in the meat freezer at the same time the butcher had decided to close the case, thus chopping off three fingers, had been his ticket out of serving in the army. He couldn’t very well shoot a gun with only two fingers on his dominant hand. Britain had still made him ‘do his part’ by manning the air raid sirens. God, the noise those things made; even though he wore earplugs, he didn’t think his hearing would ever be the same. Still, better than being a corpse on a Normandy beach, like his brother.

Neil pushed the glum thoughts about his brother from his mind by looking around at his surroundings. He’d left the part of the neighborhood where houses and apartments abounded, and now entered the warehouse district. To fill the silence, which only made him think of his brother more, Neil started to whistle, concentrating on the tune.

As he sucked in a breath to start another verse, he heard the flutter of wings behind him, like a bird or maybe a bat, which was odd, as there was nothing to attract birds on this street in London. There were no trees or fences for them to perch on, just the unlit streetlamps, like the one he’d just bumped into, and the warehouses that kept wartime supplies, such as the plethora of gas masks that all London citizens carried, even the babies. When he thought about it, the warehouses were probably perfect places for bats to nest in. Yep, that had to be it.

Neil mused on how he’d never seen a bat before, and he wondered if perhaps they minded flying about in such cold weather. He thought about turning on his lamp; the cowl over the top of it made the light shine downward, so it shouldn’t attract too much attention. Then he remembered that bats might be attracted to light, and he didn’t want the bat to get caught in his hair. He’d heard that bats could be awfully nasty if they flew in your hair – they got caught in it so badly that the only way to get them out was to shave your hair off. He had a bad enough time with women as it was; he didn’t need to be bald as well.

The fluttering over him stopped, and Neil heard what he thought was a low, soft thud! behind him. He turned around, partly out of curiosity and partly out of fear – did something just knock the bat out of the sky, why would it drop to the ground like that? Switching on his handheld lamp, Neil slowly, cautiously looked behind him.

There was no bird or bat, but a man, standing about ten yards away from Neil, well out of the glow of the lamp. In the moonlight, however, Neil could make out the man’s features; he was tall, with curly, dark brown hair, and light, piercing blue eyes that Neil could see as if they were only a foot in front of him in full lamplight. The oddest thing was that the man was standing with his hands on his hips, watching Neil, nonchalantly, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do. They stood like that for a few moments, staring at each other, until the man smiled, and started to laugh, slightly throwing back his head at whatever he found amusing.

Neil was worried. The war and the bombings had chased most of the crazies out of London, but this one must have stayed on for some reason. So he turned back and started walking briskly, hoping that Mark had left his door unlocked. Neil hadn’t bothered to turn off his lamp, let them fine me if they want; even better, I’d welcome a bobby right now to keep that nutter away from me. Mark’s small apartment was above a warehouse at the end of the street, about fifty yards from where Neil was now. He was thankful that he didn’t have too far to go to get away from the crazy bloke and out of the cold, which was hurting his throat and lungs as he sucked in air.

Neil hadn’t traveled very far before his breathing, heavier now from his increased pace, hurt too much, he slowed down. Forcing himself to breathe quietly, Neil listened for any sounds coming from behind him. Nothing. The absence of noise made him hope that he was no longer being followed. Neil chanced a look behind him, shining his light broadly around, and saw with relief that the crazy man was gone. Probably gone back into the warehouse or something, he reassured himself. As he turned his head back towards Mark’s apartment, a dense fog rolled past him. He coughed for a few minutes, thinking it was odd that the fog had suddenly appeared like this, out of nowhere, in the middle of these warehouses. But that’s London for you.

The fog cleared, and Neil could see ahead of him. An icy frisson of fear ran from the tip of his head, down to the bowels of his stomach. The crazy bloke was now in front of him, leaning against a building wall between Neil and the safety of Mark’s place. The man’s casual air was gone. He suddenly stood up straight in one movement, which was very strange because he hadn’t even bent his body. It was as if invisible wires had pulled him into a standing position. Then the man started walking towards him as if he expected Neil to just stand there and wait for him.

There was no way Neil was going to get messed with tonight. He hadn’t made it this far through the war, with its air raids, rations, and the threat of Nazi invasions, only to meet his end at the hands of some crazy on a back street of London. No sir, not tonight, especially not on New Year’s Day.

Neil dropped his lamp, and then made two moves simultaneously. He turned to run – he was a pretty fast runner, and had kept in shape. He also pulled out his pocketknife and opened up the blade. He didn’t want to get into a fight; it had been ages since he’d been in one, and with his right hand he was well aware of his handicap. However, just in case…

Neil’s foot had barely touched the pavement when he was stopped dead in his tracks again, as there was now another man, one who seemed to have been standing behind him this whole time. A blond man this time, with pale skin, yet very dark, almost black eyes. A Nazi – oh my God, they’ve made it here! he thought in a panic. Before he could think of his next move, the man opened his mouth and, speaking English without any accent asked, “Hey Cray – how much longer? Daylight’s not too far away.”

“Awww, Denny, relax! They’re on double daylight savings time here,” an amused voice called out from behind Neil.

Neil heard a whoosh of air and before he could turn around, he felt a hand on his shoulder.

He turned towards the hand on his shoulder, and found himself staring into pale blue eyes. Eyes that seemed to bore into Neil, forcing him to drop the knife, which he’d been holding out, poised to strike. The man reached over with his other hand and took the knife, tossing it to the side, saying, “You won’t be needing this, friend and we’ve our own ways of getting your flesh and blood.”

Neil knew he should have been afraid – he was afraid – but he couldn’t move; for some reason, he was rooted to his spot. One part of his brain screamed fight, fight, fight!, but the rest just wouldn’t allow it. Maybe it was because he knew the man was strong and he could feel that his shoulder might break from the crazy man’s grip.

It did break. Neil heard a loud snap! and felt the pain shoot forth from his shoulder down his arm and across his chest. Through the pain, he thought he heard someone say, “Sorry chum, but I like it when the marrow gets into the blood, with the adrenaline. Makes it tastier.”

Neil tried to scream, but something was at his throat, almost strangling him. He felt the fire of his shoulder meld with the burning at his throat. All he could do was look up at the bright light of the moon as its white aura quickly engulfed his entire body.


Nicole Hadaway used to work as a lawyer, but now she only writes about such things as bloodsuckers and deals with the devil (sorry! she couldn’t resist a lawyer joke there!). After having lived in such varied places as Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Louisiana and even Monaco, she now makes her home in Texas. Her first novel, Release, was published in September 2009 and features vampires in a World War II setting. If you’d like to read more about her, you can go to her blog here:


The Last Shot Is The Deepest is at Darkest Before The Dawn

If you pop over to Darkest Before The Dawn you’ll find my story The Last Shot Is The Deepest. It’s one of a few stories that I’ve written about under worked Private Investigator Peter Ord. Other Peter Ord stories will appear in print in Harbinger *33 and Radgepacket 4.

I’ve noticed a couple of typos in there and hope Aldo can sort them out! However, hope you enjoy it!


Guest Blogger: Jim Wisneski – TWELVE


When Joe turned to leave the small, dim lit room, he knew he had about three steps until a bullet would tear apart his back. Even though he knew it, he still had to turn around and walk. Maybe it was the years of being in the business, but Joe swore he could hear the gun rubbing against the soft inside pocket of the other man’s jacket as it was being pulled out.

Joe simply let his knees give out so the first bullet would go by him. It hit a picture and sent glass and tiny wood splinters into the air. Before Joe could reach his gun and counter shoot, he sensed the man was going to fire again. Sometimes in these tense situations, people would freeze up if they missed. It wasn’t like the movies where triggers were easy to pull. Joe had nothing against this man and this man had nothing against Joe; they were just both doing a job. It sometimes took people hours to prepare to take that one shot and when they miss, it confuses them. Especially since Joe dropped before the shot, giving away that he knew it was coming.

But this guy, he must have watched too many of those gangster movies. His finger was like a magnet against the trigger.

Joe launched himself forward. The second shot missed. He threw himself up with his hands and sprinted behind a pillar in the room as shot three flew by and shot four hit the post. The post shook and the wood seemed to moan in pain.

Chances were the guy was just taking shots, hoping to get lucky with one of them. If he had to go back to Mr. Ronald without finishing a job, he’d get killed. On the spot. No questions asked.

The same didn’t hold true for Joe since he was the one who was supposed to be pinched off.

Joe was amazed at the stupidity of his boss, Mr. Ronald. Heistin’, robbin’, murderin’, pinchin’ – whatever anyone wanted to call it – there was a simple rule or question to ask before completing a job. . . “what’s in it for me?”

If the answer is nothing, it was pretty much given that you’re going to get whacked. Joe knew that better than anyone; he had sent plenty of guys on jobs that had no point other than the person never coming back. So when Mr. Ronald asked Joe to deliver a briefcase to this guy in a dark room at the end of town, he was concerned.

When Mr. Ronald told Joe he wasn’t allowed to see the contents of the briefcase, and when he said it, he looked away while shaking his ice cubes in his drink, Joe knew he was being set up.

Joe wasn’t afraid of death or dying, he knew his time would come. He was thrown back as to why Mr. Ronald was going to pinch him off. Sure, Joe was in his forties, but age doesn’t dictate capabilities. Joe had just proved it by dodging bullets from this guys gun. The guy Mr. Ronald was paying to whack Joe.

Joe knew how to play the game. One, never ask questions. Two, never turn around – just assume. If you ask questions, you die. If you turn around, you’ve wasted your one second of free time to move from the bullet. And if the bullet wasn’t from behind, by the time you turned back around, the bullet would be eating your heart. And if there was no bullet at all, front or back, you were just too damn paranoid to be heisting.

In Joe’s case, he risked turning because he knew this guy was an amateur. An amateur with terrible aim. Joe took a small handgun from his waste band and shot three random shots. He was hoping to scare the guy and get him to run out of the room and leave.

Instead, the guy returned with another shot into the wooden post.

Joe turned to his right and dove forward. He heard the pop of the gun and closed his eyes hoping he wouldn’t feel that terrible burning sting of a bullet. He ended up landing behind a couch. Two more shots hit the couch. Puffs of cotton shot into the air. Joe raised his gun and shot three times. He heard the guy move and then heard him yell.

A fake yell.

The guy dropped to his knees with an overzealous thud and he hit his gun a few times off the floor.

Just like the movies.

Joe was pissed now. This wasn’t a movie, this was real life. And if this guy was going to replace him on Mr. Ronald’s crew, it was nothing more than an insult.

Joe reached behind and felt something. Soft. Cushiony. He slowly lifted it into the air so it would appear like he was standing up. As soon as the not-so-dead guy caught a glimpse, he’d start shooting again. The pillow didn’t even make it a quarter of the way above the back of the couch and it went flying out of Joe’s hands as three bullets took it for a ride.

Taking a chance, Joe jumped up and shot three times at the man. He was able to roll out of the way and under a table. Joe took another shot at the floor – who knows, maybe it’d be like the movies and the bullet would somehow bounce and hit the guy. No such luck.

Joe stepped over the couch with ease keeping his eyes at the table. He could see the guy’s shadow huddled under it. He slowly moved left and was hoping to get around the table and shoot the guy in the back. Let him see what it’s like.

Before he could move to the end of the couch, Joe saw a shaky, silver gun move out from underneath the table.

Joe smiled. The guy had no idea what he was doing. Joe reached to the end of the table and pulled the lamp shade off the lamp on the end table. He moved with precision and stealth. He kept his legs locked and made sure they didn’t move. The guy under the table was looking for sound or movement. Joe tossed the lamp shade to his right and it hit the floor with a soft sound. The guy under the table pulled the trigger and Joe ran and circled the table.

He reached under the table and shot two times. Then he felt something that made him shiver. Something metal touching his neck. Then he heard the sound of someone laughing. He turned and was face to face with the guy and looking at the tip of the gun. The guy smiled and let out a long, well deserved sigh. Joe at that point had decided maybe it was time to retire. And in his business, retirement meant death. He had been around death since he was a kid – most of it not natural death – so it did not bother him that this guy was going to shoot him. It didn’t bother him that he didn’t know the guys name. It did bother him that he’d take to his grave a wondering of why Mr. Ronald pinched him off.

The best kills were the ones without words. They just happened. Again, unlike the movies.

Joe watched as the gun shook in the guy’s hand. He was afraid to pull the trigger. He hesitated because he knew that a flick of his finger would take Joe’s head and make it mush. That hesitation allowed Joe to raise his gun.

Two guns. Two different men.

Joe didn’t want to stand there and take forever to pull the trigger like they did in the movies. There wasn’t time for it. He pulled the trigger without blinking and without remorse.


Joe felt his face lose all color. His mind began to take an imaginary crayon and draw back his steps from first shot to last. Twelve shots. Twelve bullets. None left. He thought about the last two shots under the table that hit nothing but floor. Those could have been the two bullets buried in this guy’s chest right now.

Joe closed his eyes and waited for the bullet. Instead, he heard a click.

Opening his eyes, Joe saw the guys face. It was white. Empty.

The guy looked like he was in deep thought. Joe knew the look. He was planning. He was going to make Joe a counter offer. An offer to truce and go after Mr. Ronald for setting them up. Of course he’d say the word ‘them’ because he wouldn’t want Joe to know the offer was only so Joe didn’t kill him and because the guy had no other way to kill Joe.

While the guy was thinking, Joe pulled a second hand gun from his waistband and shot the guy three times in the chest. The guy fell slow with his face still in a thinking pose.

Joe stuck both guns back into his waistband and started to leave when the briefcase caught his eye. It was against the rules to look, but since Joe was supposed to be dead, what did it matter? Joe opened the case and saw it was packed with cash.

Joe closed the briefcase, turned and saluted the fresh corpse, and left. He estimated at least a hundred thousand in the case which would give him plenty of time to figure something out. Or maybe load up on bullets for a little pre-retirement rampage.

Short bio: Visit Jim’s writers blog at www.writersnwriters.blogspot.com – visit his personal blog at www.wizworld.wordpress.com – and visit his podcasting blog to hear some of his stories, novellas, and novels at www.jimcast.wordpress.com. Jim writes short stories, novellas, novels, and poetry. . . and music. Listen to some of his new songs at www.1album1month.wordpress.com. When he isn’t writing, he is thinking about writing.

Guest Blog: Maxim Jakubowski – Courmayeur’s Noir in Fest Festival – Part Two

maxim_jakubowskiTWO DECADES OF NOIR IN FEST by

Maxim Jakubowski
The Noir in Fest film and literary festival moved to the mountain ski resort of Courmayeur, in the Valle d’Aosta in December 1993. A small and wonderfully picturesque town at the foot of Mont Blanc, and just a few miles away from the Mont Blanc Tunnel which connects it to France, Courmayeur already had minor film connections as it was where Errol Flynn had begun filming his ill-fated version of William Tell with the great cinematographer Jack Cardiff before money ran out and the film crew had to do a runner (leaving canisters of rushes behind which the festival dug up some 70years later and screened in the presence of Flynn’s widow); mountain scenes from a James Bond Italian rip-off movie starring Sean’s brother Neil Connery were also shot there in the 1960s, which gave the festival the excuse to screen the film, alongside other Italian spy spoofs of the same period, in 2008 with Neil present, and a most entertaining presence he was too(he retired from the film world early and is now a happily-retired Edinburgh property developer quite untainted by the family stardom.)
The festival usually takes place a week or so before the actual ski season begins so the festival-goers and attendant delegates, guests and press are usually divided between a half dozen hotels and much socialising takes place throughout and often well into the night at the many cafes and hotel bars of the town. The formal part of the festival usually presents 10 or so brand new films from all over the world in competition, with added retrospective streams, shorts, children’s events and a slew of panels involving filmmakers and up to 12 or so writers, both local and foreign, presenting their latest books to have appeared in Italy. In addition, every year the festival presents the Raymond Chandler Award for life achievement to a writer present (although on a couple of occasions it has gone to a film person like Quentin Tarantino and actor Farley Granger). Past recipients have included Graham Greene, JG Ballard, Frederick Forsyth, PD James, Scott Turow, Robert Bloch, George Pelecanos, James Crumley, Ian Rankin, John Grisham, Spanish authors Alicia Gimenez Bartlett and Manuel Vasquez Montalban. Uruguayan Osvaldo Soriano, John Le Carre, Elmore Leonard, etc… The award is an actual Brasher Doubloon, a small but significant gold coin. The festival also hosts the awards for best Italian unpublished and published novels of the year, respectively the Alberto Tedeschi and Scerbanenco prizes.
I was one year asked to be part of the film jury and was imprudently late for breakfast on the second morning, only to find out that my fellow judges had elected/nominated me as Jury President. On another occasion, as one of the few Brits present, I was invited on stage (on live Italian TV to boot) to accept the best actor award on behalf of Jeremy Irons, to sighs of heavy disappointment in the audience when they realised Irons had not made the journey and most were wondering who I was! By the way Jeremy, the award, a lovely silver sculpture, is still now in a box in my side room waiting for you to pick it up after a dozen attempts to get you on a London film stage have failed! So I am now part of an exclusive past jury festival president’s club, including recent veterans like James Sallis, Peter James, Dario Argento and others!
There have been significant and lasting friendships made in the Courmayeur events and bars over the years, and the creme de la creme of international crime fiction have all made their way through Courmayeur’s narrow streets and, often, snow. Some years, things click better than others, but there have been memorable moments to say the least: Stella Duffy arm-wrestling with James Crumley, Val Kilmer and Richard Price behaving like spoilt brats, Peter Weller of ROBOCOP fame (but who also directed an Elmore Leonard film adaptation) raiding the Royal e Golf Hotel wine cellar and treating all writers present to expensive wines evening after evening, Mark Timlin returning from the bar so knackered that he took a shower fully dressed to sober up and woke the next morning six hours later still under the shower and with his room flooded, Don Winslow proving he is the funniest man in crime writing (not quite the image one expects from his somewhat dramatic books), Walter Mosley going shoeless and proudly displaying the holes in his socks, the late actress (and Wim Wenders muse) Solveig Dommartin outrageously flirting with every man present while passing through on her own honeymoon, Swedish author Asa Larsson giving an interview on a raised stage and realising too late she had been liberally displaying her knickers to the whole audience and finding the whole thing a delightful hoot, John Grisham giving his Chandler acceptance speech in Italian and revealing later that he had been rehearsing the 15 line opus for 3 months on end with his (Italian) barber, a trip to the top of Mont Blanc when my mobile phone rang just as we were exiting onto the viewing platform at the highest part of Europe simultaneously with Arnaldur Indridason’s phone, as we were both on the same network which was welcoming us into French airspace… Of such small things are memories made.
Over the years, the festival has migrated from an old, crumbling cinema to temporary accommodation in a sports arena down in the valley below and for the last couple of years to a brand new cinema complex with all technical mod cons built specially for the festival, next to the Congress Centre where many of the debates take place. In addition, after the Royal salon the majority of the literary events have moved to the Jardin de l’Ange, a purpose-built Alpine wooden structure with an unbeatable view on the mountain peaks. And my expanding waistline is a side tribute to the quality of the food in the local restaurants!
This year’s festival took place between the 7th and 13th December and proved to be one of the more convivial ones, thanks to guests like James Sallis, New Zealand actress Melanie Lynskey (HEAVENLY CREATURES, UP IN THE AIR), my colleague in crime Adrian Wootton, Jonathan Rabb, Matt Haig, Tarquin Hall, Italian authors Simona Vinci, Andrea Pinketts and Gianni Canova, German writers Sebastian Fitzek and Zoran Drvenkar, Jonathan Trigell, Spaniard Juan Madrid and of course, this year’s winner of the Raymond Chandler Award, the avuncular Cuban author Leonardo Padura, whose British publisher from Bitter Lemon Press flew over to celebrate with.
Best film was given to Hong Kong director Johnny To for VENGEANCE; the jury’s special prize was awarded to BLACK DYNAMITE, a delightful parody and homage to 1960s blaxploitation movies directed by Scott Sanders written by and starring Michael Jai White, both of whom were present throughout the festival. There was an audience award for Daniel Barber’s HARRY BROWN, starring Michael Caine, and acting awards were shared between Serb director Emir Kusturica for his first film as an actor in L’AFFAIREFAREWELL and the petite, but fierce and scary French actress Florence Loiret-Caille for her role as a semi-incestuous sister in LA DAME DE TREFLE. Florence and I shared a car back to Geneva airport at the end of the festival and in the flesh she is as shy and kind as she is possessed and demented in the movie. Ah, acting!
So, if you happen to be in Europe around Courmayeur festival time, I urge you to give it a go. The setting is divine, the event is a must, and entrance to all films and literary events is totally free, so certainly something to consider. See you there in 2010 for the festival’s 20th anniversary?
Maxim Jakubowski


MAXIM JAKUBOWSKI ( his Wikipedia entry is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_Jakubowski ) is a publisher – coming soon MaxCrime -and former owner of the world-famous Murder One bookshop in London’s Charing Cross Road. As well as being a writer and editor of various cult publishing imprints, he is acknowledged as a disturbing and controversial voice in contemporary fiction. His collections have sold massively, he is a regular on TV and radio where he is an expert on crime, erotica and film, and a Guardian columnist. He is literary director of the prestigious CRIME SCENE festival held at London’s NFT in July.

“An unholy mixture of Jim Thompson and American Psycho” – Time Out
“It memorably evokes the ghosts of Cain and Hammett and delivers some of the scariest writing since American Psycho” – City Life (UK)
“The hard sexy edge of Henry Miller and the redeeming grief of Jack Kerouac.” – Mystery Scene
“Proudly pornographic… the most comprehensive rendering of S&M variations ever to make it in to mainstream fiction” – The Literary Review

Books by Maxim Jakubowski
Life in the World of Women (1997)
It’s You That I Want To Kiss (1998)
Because I Thought I Loved You (1999)
The State of Montana (2000)
On Tenderness Express (2001)
Kiss Me Sadly (2002)
Confessions of a Romantic Pornographer (2004)

Edited by Maxim Jakubowski (with Mike Ripley):
Fresh Blood
Fresh Blood 2 (1997)
Fresh Blood 3 (1999)

Fresh Blood Set (2001)


not from here, are you? – Laura Eno picks The Friend Catcher as best Flash story of the year!

Over at

not from here, are you?

Michael J Solender has asked for some Goodbyes, Hellos and favorite flashes from some friends of the NOT. http://notfromhereareyou.blogspot.com/2009/12/not-end-of-world-just-end-of-year.html I’m very pleased that the talented Laura Eno has chosen my tale The Friend Catcher as her fave flash story of 2009.

My own choice was BEHIND THE CURTAIN by: Kieran Shea

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone and thanks for stopping by.

Blink Ink Print PDF and ebooks

Full of Crow Press have a bundle of cool ebooks available for download. I have a story in one of them-LESS THAN THREE– called M.

FOC genius Lynn Alexander, along with Doug Mathewson, has also produced the first issue of Blink-Ink -Print. A FREE PDF is now available

Blink-Ink Print #1 features writers like Offbeat Jim, Michale J Solender,Jelena Vencl Ohlrogge, Kristin Fouquet, Zack Moll and even me with OLD TOWN, MIDNIGHT.

Guest Blogger: Steve Jensen – Showcase :Frank Duffy

Showcase – Frank Duffy

Biography: Frank Duffy was born in Liverpool in 1971. He started writing when he was just eight years old, but it has only been in the last five years that he has started writing seriously. His inspirations are varied, though he has a passion for all things dark and eerie. He has a number of publishing credentials to his name, having placed stories in both the U.K. and abroad in such magazines as Here & Now: Tales of Urban Fantasy, The Ethereal Gazette, Visions, Insidious Reflections and Estronomicon.

He currently lives and works in Poland as private school teacher, in the fascinating city that is Warsaw. Frank lives with his partner Ewa, his two dogs B and Mr Mole, and devotes most of his time to thinking-up new ways to unnerve himself.

Published stories: The Seat (Here & Now), The Box (The Ethereal Gazette), Where It All Started (The Ethereal Gazette), The Examples (Insidious Reflections), The Inevitable Change (Visions), Others’ Pain (Visions), Cycle (Pulp Metal Magazine). Frank’s short story False Pilgrim is now available to read in Estronomicon, the magazine produced by Screaming Dreams Press.

At present Frank has half-a-dozen stories under option. He is also hoping to place a novella, a near-future satire called Leaving The Room. Work in progress: The Dark Soldier, (a novella), co-author Steve Jensen. Deadline, (a novel). False Pilgrim and Other Stories (a collection).

Introducing…Frank Duffy

Please give us a little background on yourself and your writing career.

Frank: I was born in Liverpool in 1971, but grew up in large provincial village just down the road. I attended a Catholic all-boys school, which was still in those days floundering under the misapprehension that caning and general acts of arbitrary violence against their pupils was an acceptable norm of the education system. Naturally, it has since made its way into my work.

As for my writing career I’ve been writing ‘seriously’ for five years now. When I say seriously, I mean that I started to submit my work. I’ve written for as long as I can remember, which is to say since I was eight years old. I’ve placed stories on both sides of the Atlantic, and I seem to hover between what the industry calls speculative fiction (when they don’t want to say horror), and outright bona-fide horror.

She blinked her eyes rapidly, batting the gentle tide of white which was slowly submerging her and made another decision. It would hurt, but she had no choice but to act. Nicky counted…one…two…three…, and with a cry that escaped without her knowing it, she was sitting upright. Her head did not spin or roll, but instead obstinately refused the gravity of her concussion. She dug her hands into the snow that bordered her like the chalk outline of a corpse in a murder scene.‘ (‘For Me’ by Frank Duffy)

When did you first aspire to become an author, and was there a particular book which inspired this?

Frank: Actually, the first thing that made want to aspire to be an author, wasn’t a book, but a teacher I had in junior school. Her name was Mrs. Cardwell, and she used read to us (‘us’ being a relative term… children from my year aged 7, and the ‘bigger’ pupils who were 8 or 9) from a book of traditional ghost stories every Monday morning, straight after school assembly. Of course this was a children’s book, but the effect was nonetheless quite staggering. I remember it was raining outside, and all the children, about forty of us in total, sat around her while she read to us. It was quite exciting as you can imagine for a child of seven.

At the end of this she read Walter De La Mare’s poem, ‘The Listener’ to us, and asked the older kids to go home and write a story on what they felt the poem was about. Us younger kids weren’t asked to do this, but nevertheless I went home and wrote my own version of events anyway.

The first book which had an impact on me was most probably Ramsey Campbell’s collection ‘Demons By Daylight’. I remember being too young to appreciate what was going on when I read the stories, but I knew that there was something special happening.

The first novel that had a similar influence on me would have to be Stephen King’s ‘Christine’. I’ve gone back many times to ‘Demons By Daylight’ because there’s so much to savor, and as an aspiring writer, there’s an awful lot to learn from reading it time and again, but I haven’t read ‘Christine’ in over 25 years.

‘Father Jose got out of the van. He walked along the pavement and up to the back of the vehicle. Inside something thumped the walls. The metal rippled from the repetition of the commotion, concentric circles of violence and emotion that drew the attention of nobody but a young boy in a sleeping bag. The priest opened the back of the van, stood aside as the door slid upwards, rolling and twisting on its motored chain. He pulled himself into the back and crouched down by Liu’s eldest daughter. He had shackled her to the floor, her arms and legs encased in heavy bracelets chained to iron loops set into the floor. He produced the fourth key and held it front of the face of the creature.”It’s time,” he said.’ (‘The Last Supper’ by Frank Duffy)

Which contemporary writers do you admire?

Frank: Obviously like a lot of other aspiring writers in horror, Ramsey Campbell is without doubt somebody I have admired for a long time. But I tend to find that the writers I admire are usually outside of horror, such as Penelope Fitzgerald, Michael Chabon, and Truman Capote.

Of course there are many writers in horror whom I do admire, and whose work I love, but they are too numerous to mention here.

What do you consider to be the major themes in your writing?

Frank: If you’d asked me that several years ago I might not have been able to answer. It took other people to point out what was staring me in the face, namely that a lot of my stories deal with people who feel out of place, not lost in the physical sense, but somewhere in a mental landscape of their own design.

‘Simmons lay half on the bed, his back arched, the woman with the broken nose embracing him, pulling him towards her with one hand. Her other hand was in his partner’s mouth, up to the wrist, bulging in the depths of his throat; a face Harrison had trouble recognizing swung towards him, its eyes pleading. The woman grasped Simmons tighter as she forced the hand further, and slowly moved her head in Harrison’s direction. “He needs more than me,” she said. His partner flailed a useless hand at the naked back of the woman. “Want a try?” she asked.’
(‘The Signal Block’ by Frank Duffy)

What do you feel is the most important and fully-realized story you’ve written?

Frank: It changes week to week. But for now I’d have to go with, ‘And When The Lights Came On’. This story encapsulates what I want to do stylistically, but more importantly, I think it shows me finally embracing the story, the idea, running with it in as many directions as possible, letting the beast out of the bag.

Which books have influenced your thinking, and your writing, more than any other? And whose writing style do you aspire to equal?

Frank: That’s such a difficult question to answer because I’m always discovering something new every year. The list is fortunately endless. But two examples of the kind of work I have recently been thinking about would be Paul Auster’s ‘The Music of Chance’, which showed me the many wonderful ways in which direction and narrative can be used to complete a truly personal perspective, while Ramsey Campbell’s ‘Midnight Sun’has been instrumental in showing me the awe of traditionalism in the supernatural can be reworked into a modern setting to create something at once beautiful and horrifying.

I would be a liar if I said I didn’t aspire to write like these writers, but of all the writers whose work technically impresses me, that would have to be Michael Chabon. I want to write like Frank Duffy, but I wouldn’t mind having a little bit of what he’s had.

How has living in Poland influenced your work?

Frank: Enormously. Poland is much like England in that its history is reflected in everything you look at. Whether it’s a derelict piece of communist architecture, a brand spanking new residential block, or Chopin’s former residence, the physical landscape generates the kind of feeling I get from being anywhere in England.

Which is surprising given that Polish people in general are not at all superstitious, and have no time for horror. Given their history that isn’t surprising.

‘The stark brilliance of the underground had begun to show him things he’d rather have not thought about; the stamp of indefinite weariness on so many faces had shocked him; the seemingly arbitrary explosions of unexplained violence had given each train ride an abnormal musicality all of its own…the screams, the yelling…the uncontrolled language. Of course the city had eventually clamped down on it, deploying regular patrols in a pattern difficult to predict, but the faces never changed, nor did the sense that the train was taking them someplace other than home or work.’ (‘And When the Lights Came On’ by Frank Duffy)

What are your future writing plans?

Frank: Well, I’m working on a collection at the moment, and after that I’m probably going to rework a near-future satire. My ultimate goal is to find a publisher for a novel I’m working on called ‘Deadline’. But generally just to keep writing.

Visit Frank’s website here: http://coaction.wordpress.com/

Read False Pilgrim by Frank Duffy here: http://www.screamingdreams.com/ezine.html

The Tut is one of My Little Corner’s TOP 10 stories!

If you haven’t checked out Sandra Seamans’ MY LITTLE CORNER, you really should. Sandra is one of the best short story writers around and, as well as her musings, MY LITTLE CORNER is an essential database of short story markets.

Sandra has chosen her top ten online short stories and, along with the likes of Hilary Davidson, Patti Abbott and Cormac Brown, she has picked my story The Tut which was at BEAT TO A PULP earlier this year.

Thanks very much Sandra and also David and Elaine at BTAP!

The link to MY LITTLE CORNER is:


The link to The Tut is: