Guest Blog: Danny Hogan – Them Old Westerns


Last weekend I visited my local second hand bookshop, the Two Way Exchange in Brighton’s North Laines area, in my search for pulps. As usual this meant perusing the crime section and heavily scrutinising the Science Fiction wall. I found very little apart from an sf number entitled Ginger Star which I bought for novelty reasons. I was on my way out when I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye. It was a glint of light hitting the barrel of a Colt .45. Wielding this oldschool piece was righteously mean looking cowboy in full fig. The battered Stetson with the rim curled at the sides, denim jacket, batwing chaps, the lot. At his aft was naught more than a sage bushed desert and bright blue sky. He was Marshall McCoy’s Nevada Jim and he was planning on bringing justice to a lynch happy town according to a small piece of blurb. Thus, tucked away in a small corner of the shop that was practically obscured by the custodian’s counter, I discovered the Westerns section. Nobody had been by this way in a long while. I blew the dust off of the dog eared tomes shoved into Gaffer tapped racks and found stacks of pulp westerns in all their garish glory. Although I would count MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman and the Redskins as one of the best stories I have read so far, I wasn’t sure about westerns as a genre. I had read a few Zane Greys and I did not like the pace of them, so I bought two just to try them out. They were Gun Flash – A Nevada Jim Western by Marshall McCoy and McGee by Alex Hawke. The latter attracted me because of the blurb on the font cover: “McGee had nothing he could call his own – except a lust for vengeance.” Yeah, simple language, job’s a good’un.

 

I took them home and totally devoured them. Where had this stuff been my whole life, I asked myself. Apart from the punchy language, and great dialogue I realised instantly the attraction they held. They were the perfect antidote to today’s living. Pure escapism. They’re set in frontier lands, unpredictable and dangerous. Little town’s where living is simplified and everything is cut down to the bear essentials. You have a saloon or two, a store, a hotel and of course the court house, which is usually run by a hopelessly inept dullard, or a corrupt bastard (like real life I suppose). There’s no having to meet targets and deadlines, no 78 emails – not including junk – on a Monday morning and no god forsaken mobile phones. They are peopled by dastardly villains and their idiot henchmen and feisty ladies who are nobody’s fools. The protagonists are usually quiet loners, quick with their fists and fast on the draw. They always have the best lines which are kept to as few words as possible; something that any student of fiction should take a look at.

 

If people do read this and then go out and buy up all the Westerns then I feel a bit like I’m shooting myself in the foot. Because of their current lack of popularity the Westerns section is a sure fire way to find original pulps. They tend to go as quick as you please in the crime and sf sections. I had to knock someone the fuck out over an original Mickey Spillane, last time I found one. So if you do go out and buy a load of Western’s be sure to leave a few copies for Ol’Danny, d’ya hear?

 

Ends

Bio: Danny Hogan is the founder of Pulp Press http://www.pulppress.co.uk/ and the author of Killer Tease. He was brought up by thieves and bandits in West London, and led a life of crime in Paris. He currently resides in Brighton where he reads and writes and deals with other peoples problems.
danny@penpress.co.uk

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Guest Blog: Bruce Grossman – Dr Who

Now for those familiar with the site Bookgasm which I write for my inner geek comes through every once in a while. But since I write a column over there that is mainly in the crime/men’s adventure/pulp vein. I rarely get chance to truly geek out. My name is Bruce Grossman and I grew up a Dr Who geek. Now let me explain these were the days that PBS was the only place you could see the show. These were the times that finding any information about the show was hit and miss depending on the comic book store you would go to. Dr. Who was unlike Star Trek or Star Wars where every one at least knew of them. Even if they never saw the movies or shows they at least understood what you were talking about. But as a sixth grader in Rhode Island it was not what you would call a topic of your friends. I mean trying to explain Dr Who to people who have never watched it. Was about as easy as explaining colors to a blind person.

See Dr Who was truly the extreme of geekiness back then. But I lived my little geeky life keeping my love for this weird British sci if show to myself. Even when someone would bring it up they would just slam the awful effects. I would keep my love to myself. It was just not something I could truly express the joy the show gave me. Now yes the effects were lacking. But that is not what kept me entertained. No matter how many times my local PBS would repeat the same stories over and over. It was the writing of the stories. If you don’t believe me rent The Pyramid of Mars or The Talons of Weng Chiang. You just get sucked into these stories so fast that you forgive its short comings. Trust me there is a huge difference seeing these shows with child like eyes and now a person in his forties. What scared the crap out of me as a kid: giant rats, human eating clams, giant insects, and Daleks. I see them now as working on a budget like effects.

So with this new Dr Who series that started a few years ago. Kids not only get much cooler effects and monsters. There are some top notch stories to keep them coming back for more. Also there is a wider audience that has now embraced the show. I can’t wait to see how they are going to pull off the last two episodes of David Tennet’s run as the Doctor. Especially after watching Water Of Mars which featured ideas which were never broached in the old series. Being a Dr who fan is not the badge of geekness it once was. It’s more the feeling of finally getting our due for a series and character we loved so much. And for the record my five favorite stories:

1. Talons of Weng Chiang (Tom Baker)

2. Blink (David Tennet)

3. Pyramid of Mars (Tom Baker)

4. Inferno (John Pertwee)

5. Being Human/Family of Blood (David Tennet)

Bruce Grossman is a writer for a book review site called Bookgasm. Where he covers a variety of books in his weekly column Bullets, Broads, Blackmail & Bombs. http://www.bookgasm.com/tag/bullets-broads/ Sometimes his inner geek will appear but most of the time its his music geek side that is dominant.

Guest Blogger: Frank Duffy – Football


Football by Frank Duffy

One of the things you have to get used to when you live abroad, apart from the fact that that they don’t sell cigarettes in tens, and there seems to an absence of pasty retail selling outlets, and even more shockingly, that they’ve never heard of White Lightning cider, is that of nearly all the people you come across, whether they’re heavy drinking expats with a cheap sideline in performance art or animal buggery, aka ‘we were once involved in the entertainment business’ (former Butlins holiday camp reps are notoriously adept at migrating where there are no sex offenders lists), or whether you are talking to one of the indigenous folk who have but the barest knowledge of where you come from, which is a fair trade considering we have no intention of learning their language, is that we are all looking for a connection of some sorts.

Now I’m not talking about that connection, but about the things we look for in others when we first meet, the interests, the corresponding obscure habits, the self-confessed taste for big-budget 80’s action films, and so on. Okay, yes, it is a little bit like that connection, the dance of the perpetually inebriated, as I have often called it; drunk on our new potential partner’s fondness for Bram Stoker and fizzy orange pop, how else could it not be likened to downing six pints of eleven percent proof Polish beer with your hand clapped to your head in feigned outrageousness. Anyway, I digress. But this connection is something we instinctively gravitate to the moment we open our mouths, like prospecting for verbal gold dust, shifting through the small talk and the sarcastic asides meant to demonstrate a wit hitherto unspent, and seizing it till it’s ragged and lifeless or the alcohol and money has finally, thankfully, run out.

And with me, this connection with a lot of the people I meet is bloody football. Footie. The classless game, the beautiful game, a game of two f**king halves, and endless moronic sound-bites, which make my head hurt and my ears bleed.

In fairness I think telling people I’m from Liverpool is what does it. Though I sound as much like a Scouser as I do Scandinavian bagpipe player. Having been brought up in a village on Merseyside it only qualifies that you’re a Scouser when abroad. People always are always asking where I grew up, and I always offer Liverpool. It’s easier that way. It makes me sound more interesting. What? Tell them I grew up in a provincial northern village where hotwiring tractors, and sheep rustling was the norm? No, thank you.

But I was born in Liverpool and half my family (lapsed Catholics except for the immense proliferation of cheeky scamps) live and work there. So, in my eyes, if only mine, I bag Liverpool as my place of origin.

And this is where I have inadvertently shot myself in the proverbial foot so many times in the past. Especially here in Poland. Mention to anyone that I come from near Liverpool, and you can practically guarantee that there response will consist of two words: Jerzy Dudek. They will say these two words with such hushed reverence that I’ve often wondered whether these sanctified words are endowed with possible magical properties…such as Open Sesame, or ‘make mine a double scotch on the rocks’. They will nod so vigorously that I find myself doing likewise; it is as if these two words combine to form a higher form of cultural consciousness which bridges our two distinctively cultural worlds.

Now for those of you not in the football know, for those of you who orbit what I call the world of planet normal, Mr Dudek was the former goalkeeper of the Polish national squad, and formerly the No 1 for Liverpool, most importantly helping them win the European Championship in 2005. His heroic status on Merseyside is only surpassed in intensity in Poland. The Poles are big fans of English football, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool being the big four. So when their former national goalkeeper manages to steer Liverpool to the championship for the first time in over 20 years, you can bet your bottom dollar that my vague proximity to that great city is brought up as often as ‘do you like LFC?’. It cannot be avoided, and if the truth be told, I quite like it. For all my avoidance of anything smelling remotely of patriotic Englishness, I’m somewhat proud of my birthplace, though please don’t ask me about the goddamn Beatles.

And it was this instantaneousness of connection, this sudden leap into each others’ metaphorical arms, which began to reveal something about myself I had up to this point never quite owned up to. You see, the thing is, and I don’t want to sound as if I’m years late coming out the football closet, but I’m not a football fan. Of course I have rolled along in many a conversation acting as if I was, preening my knowledge gleaned from Match of the Day the night before, debated the fallacy of the latest midfield striker gifted the England No 7 jersey, and cried and raged at each World Cup Match failure. But this is expected of every Englishman, especially those abroad. Violent dismissal of one’s roots is one thing, but the roots are so deep, so stubbornly implanted, that if you were to attempt to dig them out, you’d find them curled tight about the Jules Rimet cup, proud and defiant. You just can’t take the football out the Englishman.

Or can you?

The problem with football coming from a city like Liverpool is that it is unique above all others because of one glaring fact. It is not that Everton is the other major team coming from the city (also a big club, and the team alongside Arsenal which has played for over forty years in the top flight), nor that their fans, while heavily opposed to each others’ good fortune (praying for catastrophe and relegation to befall each other like all good supporters are taught from birth), are the only two groups who do not find the time to go out and pleasantly bottle each other to death for daring to wear different tops. Liverpool is so close knit, so begrudgingly respectful, so enamored with its own romanticism, that the familial allegiance of supporting two different teams unofficially prohibits dad from head-butting Uncle Steve into next week. You just can’t beat up member of your own family over football. Not in Liverpool. No, the problem is that anyone coming from outside of England are usually unaware that Everton actually exists. Such as the average Polish football supporter. Now in itself this wasn’t originally a problem. Oh, my knee-jerk reaction was to fully update the ignoble buffoon who had mistakenly made this most erroneous of judgments, that you rest can rest assured on. I guess that was my lovely heritage. But what arose from this was a gradual dawning of biblical proportions. I began to feel less and less cantankerous towards whatever villain had managed to leave Everton out of the football equation, and actually begun to feel sort of…well…indifferent. I told myself I was simply isolated from my weekly fix of football, that I was one of those chaps who would stay up late and catch two hours of lower league football into the early hours of the morning, and that having this amputated from my social calendar was understandable. But I also reminded myself that there had been a period in my life where I’d stayed awake every single night for six months to watch omnibus editions of WWC wrestling (the whore cousin of WWF), and endless reruns of Prisoner Cell Block H segueing into eternity. It was clear I was a man of nocturnal patterns, a hangover from my short-lived university days.

Now for some time I subconsciously debated with that part of myself that was aware, that was prudent and willing to accept defeat, that it might just be a coincidence of which I had yet to unravel. I was stubborn, you see. And so I continued with the great charade.

That was until the European Championship Final of 2005.

It goes without saying that neither man nor beast shall deviate from their team of choice once they have set out their stall and proclaimed their devotion. It as much spiritual endeavor as it is a pointless one. I know two brothers who still argue about one brother’s change of support from Liverpool to Everton in the mid 1980’s. The brother who remained ‘loyal’ has never let the other brother forget that he’d jumped ship when he was just 8 years old. They are both now in their late thirties.

And this is where I finally came of age and could no longer sidestep the obvious conclusion to which was I was heading with such agreeable force and speed.

On the night in question I was one of eighty people gathered before a gargantuan TV screen in a pub in the Polish town of Zielona Gora. That I was a supposed Evertonian, did not come into it. I was every inch the Liverpool fan; small though I am, my vociferous support drowned out three-quarters of the congregation. I told myself that I was only vocalizing such eagerness in salutation to my brothers. But the truth was there, propelling me from my seat, making me wave my arms around, inserting the required passion necessary at times like these.

It could not be ignored any longer.

Never before in the annals of football history had one man laid claim to one football team, and then just as quickly flipped sides like the toss of a dazzling, but petty coin.

But what had once shackled me to annoying bouts of football discussion, of which I expertly proved that one can talk shit with the best of them given enough time and encouragement, now unshackled me and bade me good day and good riddance.

Without realizing it Everton themselves, by being the lesser known of two teams, had allowed me to escape back to the normality I had dreamt about.

So, if you happen to come across me somewhere in the middle of Poland, a chance meeting, an unfortunate sharing of a dilapidated carriage on the antiquarian Polish train service, don’t engage me with tales of Wayne Rooney, or bait me with predictions of England’s imaginative progress into the World Cup Finals next year.

I really don’t care. I just don’t like football.

As the late and great Patrick McGoohan once said: ‘I am not a number, I am a free man.’

My bio: Frank Duffy is a writer from England currently living in Warsaw, Poland. He knows Paul Brazil by default, though it might have been a case of mistaken identity. He writes horror usually, loves evading the pitfalls of a regular job and empathizes heavily with Mickey Rourke on the importance of dogs. He shares a website with his saner alter-ego Steve Jensen on ‘The Journal’. Here:

http://coaction.wordpress.com/

#FridayFlash/ Guest Blogger: Jeanette Cheezum – My Neighbor Jacob


My Neighbor Jacob by Jeanette Cheezum

Thank God, Jacob a lonely widower in his sixties lived across the street and came to my rescue. Things always broke down and I was alone with the kids. I’d fix him a meal when I had a few extra dollars and the kids loved to hear his stories about the old country
( Ireland ). I wondered why Jacob’s children never came to visit him.

After days of not seeing him in his yard and a visibly full mailbox, I decided to check on him. No one answered. What should I do? I called his number again and again and still no answer. Then I took it upon myself to go try the back door, with no available means of entry, I checked the windows. None were open. I placed a ladder against a wooden window frame of his bungalow. The blinds were closed and I felt like a failure. When I started down the rungs of the ladder something caught my attention…inside the corner of the window. A curtain not entirely in place and the blind was raised a couple of inches. My heart sunk, Jacob was on the floor spread eagle. I slipped trying to get down and ran home as fast as possible to call 911.

The ambulance arrived and another neighbor came to help break into his home.
Jacob hung onto life, barely. They administered CPR and gave him oxygen. I picked up his keys. The ride to the hospital was wicked, all I could think was . . . why didn’t he call me? Why didn’t I check on him earlier? Guilt ridden, I followed closely.

No one would allow me to be by his side. I drove back to his house and searched for his personal phonebook. He hadn’t written any last names. I dialed every number in his book. Finally, I reached his sister and she gave me the names of his children. Each one was less than cordial. I couldn’t believe they weren’t interested. This was their father. Until one of them blurted, “Apparently, you don’t know my father as well as you think. He killed my mother and served thirty years in jail. Is there anything else?”

Bio:

Jeanette is a charter member of the Hampton Roads Writers.

A veteran member and published on numerous online writing sites and E-Zine’s.

Published in two of Smith Magazine’s memoir books and in Six Sentence’s 6S Volume 2.

All three made the New York Times best sellers list.

Forthcoming book: Harbinger*33.

#FridayFlash/ Guest Blogger: Michael J Solender – Damn-it Janet

Damn-it Janet
by Michael J. Solender
Janet is mixing me a cocktail. She walks into the garden to get some fresh mint. Her Mojitos are a kind of witches brew that taste nothing like what we get at Pauli’s. That’s a good thing. The sludge they serve there is enough to make me swear off booze for good. They must water down their stock and pour bottom shelf, bargain booze into the high-priced bottles.

“Damn-it, Janet,” I holler as she’s coming in the kitchen, “We’re never going to Pauli’s again, why the hell do we go there anyway?”

“Sweetie, I hate when you call me damitjanit, don’t do that. I’m fixing us a pitcher so we can stay home and cuddle. We go to Pauli’s ‘cause your buddies hang out there and Pauli is allegedly your friend from Jew-school days.” She was mottling the mint leaves, that girl knew how to mottle.

“Jeezus, Pauli was a jerk-off then, and he was never my friend, his sister had huge knockers and a thing for me so I just pretended to like him to get hand jobs from Cheri. Hand jobs are a big deal when you’re 13, and she stoked me like the series of pistons on that straight-eight your brother drives. Bar Mitzvah class, was eons ago, how do you remember this shit?”

She was now getting intimate with Jose Cuervo herself and not paying the least bit of attention to me. She left the screen door ajar and I sat there watching as two little lizards scurry past my flip flops and straight into the pantry. I was never gonna catch those bastards and they were gonna die in there and stink the whole place up.
“Hoooneeeeyy! Jeezzus, you left the door open and we got Wild Kingdom comin’ in here! Ferchrissakes!”

“What? You want a Mojito?, Straight up or rocks? Whaddaya talkin’ about?”

“Jeezzus never-mind.” That’s all I had to do was tell her that there were two reptiles in the house and she would freak, I was up for a drink and memories of Cheri Zats got me wondering if I could talk Janet into some horizontal mambo action. “This is the life sweetie, Saturday, no plans, a pitcher of Mojitos and you are looking mi-tee-fine!”

“Forget it. I’m having my period and feel like shit. Keep the hell away from me, can’t we just cuddle without you wanting sex all the damn time. Jeezzus have another drink.” She was already on number two.

I got up off the coach and started over to the pantry for some nuts when those two, tiny iguana wannabes ran out and onto the large kitchen rug, but not before running right over Janet’s bare feet. Her scream freaked me out and didn’t do much for the lizards as they darted about up against the kick board but still on the rug.

I grabbed the corners, configured it into a giant quesadilla, trapping them on the inside and screamed at her to open the door. Her frosty drink in one hand, she leaned over and gave the screen door a push with the other and I followed through it, shaking those stunned mini-dinosaurs out onto the mulch.

The whole thing was over in 30 seconds and we both started laughing.

“C’mere my big strong man,” she said teasing my ass, “You need some loving after that.”

“I thought..your period…”

“It never used to bother you..”
********
Michael J. Solender loves a good Mojito, especially after one or two earlier ones. He blogs here: http://notfromhereareyou.blogspot.com/

Guest Blogger: Keith Rawson – Anthony Neil Smith, a writer’s writer.




Anthony Neil Smith
, a writer’s writer By Keith Rawson

Writer’s writers get a bad rap. What’s a writer’s writer, you ask? Well, they’re the types of guys and gals who can tell a kick ass story and make their characters come alive on the page. They make them breathe and bleed. They make you give a shit and keep you turning pages. What else makes them writer’s writers is that it seems only other writers know about them. They’re the guys and gals who make you scratch your head and say: “Fuck, why aren’t more people reading these people?”

There are tons of writer’s writers in the world: Daniel Woodrell Reed Farrell Coleman William Gay Christa Faust Amy Hempel Stephen Graham Jones Clive Clevenger. Hell, up until a few years ago before Oprah made him her favorite fatalist, Cormac McCarthy was the king of writer’s writers. Nearly all of my favorite novelists are writer’s writers.

Don’t get me wrong, I dig a lot of big blockbuster style novelists. Ellroy’s the man. Mike Connelly keeps your nose buried until the last page is turned and then you want to go back to page one and start the whole book over again. Stephen King. Let’s face facts, the guy’s a national treasure in the States. But I like the so-called ‘little guy’. As a writer, I learn more from reading these kinds novelists, because it’s these of guys and gals who aren’t afraid to take chances structurally and thematically.

Case in point: Anthony Neil Smith

Let’s take a trip into the way back machine, kids. (Okay, not into the way way back.) It was around 2006 or 2007 and I’d been shot gun slamming novelists like Ellroy, Bruen, Stella (Charlie Stella is another of the great writer’s writers, and I owe more props and praise to Mr. Stella than this blog post can possibly contain.) Lehane, and Pelecanos.

I’m blitzed and buzzed about the possibilities of crime fiction. I’m thinking of actually dusting off the computer keyboard and trying my hand at writing again. (Like most writers, I hung up the ye old imagination machine for a few years and did nothing but fool myself into thinking that banging my head against a cube and living the great American suburban existence was enough to sustain me.)

Now don’t get me wrong, Lehane and Pelecanos, both are poignant, stylistic writers—and good, extremely generous men to boot—but Bruen and Stella, they’d really touched a nerve with me.

They were raw, gritty, and utterly original. And I wanted to find more writers who fit into the same mold as they did. I hit Amazon and their dandy little suggestions of who I might like if I liked so and so. I got tons of options thrown in my direction. Names like Swierczynski, Gischler, Banks, Guthrie, Abbott, Huston. Guthrie and Banks seemed like they were right up my alley. Same with Huston and Abbott. (Okay, the vampire shit from Huston seemed a little hooky at first, but then I actually read the Joe Pitt case files.) The Swierczynski and Gischler guys seemed a little out there. (I mean, come on, the Polish dude, his first book was about some guy who collected the souls of the recently deceased and kept them in a hotel inside his skull to help him track down some menacing secret, world ruling organization. Oh, and BTW, the guy housing the souls also used to be one of the recently deceased. . . .Yeah, weird. And the Gischler dude, most of the reviews for his books described his books as “Laugh out loud funny” And to be honest, I wanted bleak and gritty, not a Seinfeld episode with guns.) But in the end, I said screw it and placed my order.

After I placed my order, I received even more suggestions because I ordered the Polish guy and the hardboild stand up comic. Two of the names who came up: Doolittle and Smith.

I’d seen the Doolittle books in my local McBookstore, so I passed on them because I knew they were easy to find. The Smith guy though, I’d never seen his books around, so I clicked on the link for his book Psychosomatic and read the description: Femme Fatale with no arms and no legs wants her creep of a husband backed the fuck off, she hires a goon, goon goes a little too far and snuffs the bastard.

Sounded good, I changed my order. Order arrives, I read through the Banks and Guthrie novels in the blink of an eye. Same goes with the Polish guy’s two books and the comedian’s (He was a Hell of a lot harder than the reviews let on.) stuff. Then I picked up Psychosomatic and cruised through it. The thing was a hardcore looney tunes episode. It was crazy and off the wall and I buzzed through the 180 some odd pages in one sitting. Needless to say, I jumped back online and ordered his second novel, the Drummer. (I have yet to read it, however. Sometimes that’s just how the will of the TBR pile is.) I also got hipped to Smith’s blog, Crimedog One (http://anthonyneilsmith.typepad.com/) On the blog I read about the zine he used to edit, Plots with Guns (and about how he decided to revive it), and I read about his upcoming third novel, Yellow Medicine. I also followed along as Smith had his first “blog tour”. The blog tour was a fun read and I picked up Yellow Medicine to see what the big deal was and to see if Medicine was as fucked up zany as Psychosomatic.

To my surprise, it was better. Much better. In fact, it was like I was reading an entirely different writer. Through his protagonist, Billy Lafitte, Smith had found his true voice as a novelist What I liked most about Medicine was: A) Lafitte was a total asshole. In fact, everyone in the book was a bunch shifty bastards. It was how I thought noir/hard-boiled was meant to be written. And B) Smith tackled two hot button issues: Terrorism and hurricane Katrina, but he did it on a grassroots level. He showed how the two issues affected every day people. I was also jazzed to find out he was writing a follow up to the book. Hoggdoggin’ And yes, it was twice the book Yellow Medicine was.

I could go on and on about Smith as a writer and as an editor. About how much admiration and respect I have for the man and his work ethic. About how he’s inspired me to be a better writer, to work harder. I think he knows all of that, but sometimes, you just have to say thanks.

Thanks, Neil, you’re a Hell of a writer. A writer’s writer.

PS I hope you write a book that Oprah really digs so you can become her new favorite bleaker than bleak novelist.

Keith Rawson
is a little known pulp writer who lives in the alkaline desert wastelands of southern Arizona with his wife and very energetic three-year-old daughter. His stories have appeared in such publications as Plots with Guns, Pulp Pusher, CrimeWav.com, Bad Things, Powder Burn Flash, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp and many others. You can find him most nights dicking around on either Twitter or Facebook. His blog Bloody Knuckles & Calloused Fingertips is here: http://bloodyknucklescallusedfingertips.blogspot.com/

Guest Blogger: Dave Zeltserman – Vampire Crimes


When Paul asked me to guest blog for him, I thought I’d show a different side of me. Anyone who has heard of me has probably done so through my crime noir novels, Fast Lane, Small Crimes and Pariah. Well, I’ve also finished writing a hard-hitting ultra-violent vampire noir novel titled, Vampire Crimes. Think Sin City with vampires, and fuck no as far as any sensitive vampires and teen romances goes. What I’m giving Paul is a short excerpt to provide a flavor of the novel, with this excerpt showing Metcalf—who is probably my most sociopathic creation—doing a little research in his private lab. I hope folks enjoy this short but different take on vampires. —Dave

Vampire Crimes by Dave Zeltserman

Metcalf’s private lab was reminiscent of some nightmarish scene from the Island of Dr. Moreau, and like Moreau’s laboratory, was a place of pain and abomination. For Metcalf, the lab served dual purposes; it helped him gain insights into the effects of the virus, and it acted as a deterrent to the other vampires in the compound from thinking about challenging his authority. The test subjects were all infected with the vampire virus. Some were originally brought in as “cattle” and had the misfortune of being chosen for this capacity—which was a fate far worse than being milked until illness or anemia set in; others were members of the compound who needed to be made examples of. All of the test subjects had their arms and lower halves removed; which made them appear like grotesque doll-like creatures. Some were pinned to their tables by spikes through their shoulders, others were chained along the walls. All of them were in the midst of experiments that would’ve made even the infamous Joseph Mengelev cringe in horror.

Metcalf strolled casually around his lab examining his experiments. Those that were capable of screaming out fought hard to hold their tongues; they knew their situations, however horrific, could be made worse. Moans escaped from a few of them, whimpers from a few others, but most kept quiet. Metcalf stopped at a table where a test subject had reached six months without being fed. The subject had shriveled to the point of looking more like a prune than anything that could’ve ever been human. Its eyes appeared dead, its mouth gaping open. Metcalf pulled the spikes out from its shoulders and carried it to a scale. Only thirty-four pounds. Before the experiment was started, the subject had weighed more than double that. Metcalf brought it back to its table and pounded the spikes back where they’d been. Not even a whimper. Metcalf had doubts whether it was still alive. If it were dead it would be the first time that he witnessed a vampire dying due to starvation. Using an eyedropper, Metcalf squeezed a drop of human blood into the thing’s gaping mouth. A sucking sound came from it.

“Still alive, huh?” Metcalf noted.

He squeezed the remaining blood from the eyedropper into the gaping hole. The glaze over the vampire’s eyes faded and a flicker of life shone in them. Metcalf slowly fed it an ounce of blood, and as he did so, the vampire plumped out like a raisin that had been dropped in water. Its stirred slightly, its tongue pushing out, then choking noises rattled from its throat as it pleaded for more blood. Metcalf continued to feed it blood until it was restored to its former condition. Four ounces of blood had brought the vampire fully back. The vampire lay with its chest heaving sucking in oxygen. Metcalf scribbled notes on a clipboard that hung on the edge of the table.

“Please, no more…I’m begging…end it…please…end it…” the vampire forced out, its voice not much more than a hoarse whisper.

Metcalf looked up and made a shushing noise to the vampire before moving on to check on other experiments. Although some of the vampires were made into these “guinea pigs” to teach the others in the compound a lesson, Metcalf took no sadistic pleasure in what he did, but neither did he feel the slightest hint of remorse. As far as he was concerned, these creatures didn’t even rate as lab mice, and he felt the same compassion towards them that a scientist might towards bacteria that was being examined under a microscope. These experiments allowed Metcalf to understand the virus at a more practical level, and that was all that mattered to him.

Smiling, he thought about how he could write a book on the subject…


Bio: Dave Zelsterman‘s novels include, Fast Lane, Small Crimes, Pariah and Bad Thoughts. His next novel is entitled KILLER. His Dark Crime Fiction website is here: http://www.davezeltserman.com/index.html

Guest Blogger: Nick Quantrill – Influences …


Influences…

Early next year I publish my debut novel, ‘Broken Dreams’. One of the consequences is that I’m increasingly asked about my writing, with one of the first questions usually being, ‘who are your biggest influences?’ It’s a tricky question. I could rattle off a list of great writers whose work I admire greatly, both massive sellers and relative unknowns, but to say they’ve influenced me seems a bit of a stretch.

 

Crime writing was always the obvious destination for me. I was a manic reader from an early age, working my way through the entire Famous Five series (or so it seemed…) before devouring Conan-Doyle as a teenager. What I needed, once I’d come to terms with my lack of ability at football and my inability to master the guitar, was to make the leap from being a writer in my head to being a writer who actually wrote something. The answer was right under my nose in my home city of Hull.

 

I first met Paul Thompson in the early 1990s when he was fronting a band called Lithium Joe. Aside from being a big fan of the band, I started to get to know Paul. My initial reaction was that the man needed a slap; a really big, painful slap. But it was my mistake. What I thought was arrogance was justifiable self-belief, as the band walked the walk, spending the best part of ten years self-releasing a string of records and touring the north of England extensively, all self-funded and self-managed. At the time, hanging around on the fringes of the band was little more than a laugh for me, but in some way it got under my skin and stayed there

.

When Lithium Joe called it a day, it would have been easy for Paul to say enough’s enough, especially with a wife, two children and a day job in tow. And that’s what I thought he’d done for a couple of years, but in 2003, Joe Solo was born, and it pretty much coincided with me thinking more seriously about what I was going to do as a writer. Recording in his shed as a solo artist, his drive was back and this time I was swept along. If he could find the time, then I was sure I could. For better or worse, I started posting short stories on my website and on MySpace. Nothing went to waste, nothing was left unread in a drawer, and eventually I had a completed novel and a small readership.

 

We operate in different fields but the example he sets remains inspirational and a huge influence. I make no great claims in relation to my own abilities, but if my endeavours have an ounce of the integrity of Joe Solo’s work, that’ll do for me.

 

Bio : Nick Quantrill is a crime writer, based in Hull. His debut novel, ‘Broken Dreams’, will be published by Caffeine Nights, March 2010. For more information, see www.hullcrimefiction.co.uk

Joe Solo can be found at : www.myspace.com/joesolo

Guest Blogger: Linda Stamberger – Florida Noir

Linda Stamberger Florida Writer

I consider myself a Rennaisance woman. I am a painter, I am interested in film-making, but first and foremost, I am a writer. At this point in time, fiction writing is my newest venture. I taught myself how to be a fiction writer by re-writing my manuscript a total of nine times over the course of a year, and reading a lot of good suspense novels.

With my fiction writing, I try to incorporate the elements of romance and passion in with a suspenseful plot. These are real characters, with real feelings, in over the top or often troubling situations. They feel and love passionately, because their emotions are involved. In fiction, a writer must show emotion and have something that the reader can relate too. Non-fiction is all about facts and information in general. Going from non-fiction to fiction felt like switching from one side of my brain to the other, but I have enjoyed the process, and hope to find a new audience for my current work.

To find out more about Florida and the Florida genre visit my blog at: http://floridaeastcoastfun.blogspot.com/

FFF#10 – Right In the Kisser


Okay, he’s my entry into Cormac Brown’s Friday Flash Fiction challenge. The starter sentence is in blue.


Click on the post header for a link to the site.

Right In The Kisser by Paul D. Brazill


The old camera had been in a box for decades, the pictures never developed, and now with the prints in his hand his blood ran cold from looking at the images that came from it.

The photo – showing it’s all too familiar cast of characters – was a blast from Nick’s past that was positively seismic.

Looking at the photo, it was like being in Dallas again.The motorcade was an uncoiled python creeping down the boulevard. The rich kid with the 5000 watt smile was waiving to the great unwashed like a Roman Emperor or a Messiah. His wife stood beside him him and there was Nick – crouched over on a grassy knoll, a high powered rifle in his hands.

Nick’s arthritic hand shook as he stuffed the photo in a file with the others; the hypocritical hippy rock star outside the hotel in New York; the spoilt blond princess being hounded by a pack of baying paparazzi in France. They were all his work.

He’d hoped to retire and leave it all to the bad dreams but today he needed to do one last job.

This time it was personal.

Nick slowly walked into the bedroom, the rifle behind his back.

‘Darling. It’s time for your shot,’ he said.

The end.

Guest Blogger: Eric Beetner – Keep it simple, stupid!

Keep it simple, stupid!
by Eric Beetner



When Paul asked me to guest blog at under 100 words I asked, “How the hell am I going to do that?” Then I asked, “How the hell does he do it again and again?”



If you’re on this blog you know Paul’s work in the flash and micro fiction worlds and know the power economy and brevity can create. In my recent novel One Too Many Blows To The Head (there’s 7 words right there!) the word count was slightly over 80,000. Keeping it brief is a skill. Right when you have it figured out you run out of –

Guest Blogger: Albert Tucher – EARLY NOIR


EARLY NOIR by Albert Tucher
Is the year 936 A.D. early enough for you?


I’m working on a stand-alone story set in the city of Rome in the early tenth century. A later historian referred to that period as the Pornocracy (Rule by Whores). Whore-in-Chief was a woman named Marozia.

She was born around 890, which would make her a small girl in 897, when the political enemies of Pope Formosus propped him up on his throne and put him on trial, never mind that he had been dead for a year and a half. Since Marozia’s father was a corrupt local politico, she may have witnessed the proceedings. I like to think of that trial as one of her formative influences.

At the age of about fifteen she may have become the mistress of Pope Sergius III, but historians dispute the issue. She outlived two husbands, and after number two, she decided to rule Rome on her own. One order of business was assassinating Pope John X, who had been a friend of her mother Theodora.

Serious Mommy issues there.

Marozia appointed a few nonentities to the papacy, but her goal was to install her eldest son once he was old enough. John XI may been the son of Sergius III. See above. She succeeded in 931, and she seemed invincible.

Enter King Hugh of Arles in 932. He was a descendant of Charlemagne with a claim to the title Holy Roman Emperor. Marozia offered to have her son the Pope crown Hugh, if Hugh would make her his empress. Hugh agreed, provided that she allow him to eliminate a complication, her second son Alberic. Marozia considered this a fair trade.

Alberic did not. At the wedding feast Hugh treated the young man with contempt. Alberic ran out into the street and riled up the Roman mob with a xenophobic harangue. The Romans chased Hugh from the city and proclaimed Alberic their ruler.

He may have been as young as sixteen, but he ruled the city for more than twenty years, and there was no kidding around. His first act was to imprison his mother for the rest of her life. No information survives about her death, but Hugh’s remarriage in 936 gives a hint about the date.
Still later Alberic made peace with Hugh and married his daughter.

Marozia’s grandson through Alberic became Pope John XII, one of the worst popes in history. Several later descendants also became pope. Some historians believe that the Pope Joan legend is a folk memory of Marozia.

They call them the Dark Ages for a reason. Sources about Marozia are sparse, and they leave room to wonder how evil she really was. In fact, the only contemporary chronicler who tells a coherent narrative about her is one Liutprand, Bishop of Cremona, who on the one hand rescued her from oblivion, while on the other assassinating her reputation for all time. He obviously had a problem with her refusal to keep to a woman’s proper sphere.

All of which means I can write what I want.

The Marozia story has everything that spells noir: sex, greed, ambition, betrayal, self-deception. I have been trying to use this material for years, and the current story is the first that seems to work.

I’ll let you know.


BIO: Albert Tucher is the author of the Diana Andrews suburban prostitute stories, almost thirty of which have appeared in ThugLit, A Twist of Noir , Out of the Gutter, and other hardboiled/noir publications. He has several novels about the character that are looking for a home.


Guest Bloggers: Tony Black, Al Tucher and more


Gents. One year ago yesterday I did my first blog post. It was about a collective noun for crime writers. (If you CLICK on the post header you’ll go to the post itself, if you can be bothered!) Well, to celebrate my year of blogdom I’ve asked a few people to do guest blogs and- lo and behold- most of them have said yes! We kicked off yesterday with Mr. Tony BLACK who gave us a top post on Mr Ken BRUEN. Over the next few weeks there will be Guest Blogs from Al Tucher, Michale J Solender and…? Well just wait and see! So: take a gander at Mr Black’s post and please leave a comment. And your fasten seat belts, it’s going to be a BUMPY ride!

Writer, Editor, Teacher.

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