Guest Blogger: Jim Wisneski – An Honest Hitman


AN HONEST HITMAN by Jim Wisneski

Most hits were pretty easy. It wasn’t like the movies or books where things get overly complicated. The only hard part was to get the person isolated so once they were shot you could leave the scene in normal fashion.

Oh, and always use just one bullet. This game of unloading a clip into a body is reckless and stupid. First, police will instantly know it was a hit and will go right for the spouse which was where half of Billy’s hits came from. Second, it was a waste of ammo which costs money.

Billy’s hits were so good he had never been questioned once. Even on the numerous times when the other spouse broke down and admited to hiring a hitman. It made Billy laugh when he tried to figure how many Adam Smith’s or Jackie Jones’s were in jail or being questioned for his murders.

Well, it wasn’t murder. Not in Billy’s eyes. It was a job. Just like if an executive of a big company steals another’s idea or something.

Sitting in an old white Honda that he stole, Billy waited for his next victim to come out for a smoke break. Billy didn’t know the persons name. He never knew their names. He didn’t care. The only he cared about when getting the perfect shot. Depending on the request, Billy always aimed for the heart. Even liars and cheaters deserved an open casket in his opinion.

Billy checked his watch.

Three minutes to go.

Then he’d have the Honda returned within ten minutes and back home within thirty.

This case seemed pretty solid because the man he was going to kill had a lot of enemies. He was a defense attorney. He’d probably gotten rapists and murderers kept out of jail and all those victims families would be suspects.

But not Billy.

One minute to go.

Billy slid out the silenced weapon and prepared himself for the shot. Once the victim walked out of the building and to the right, a bullet would storm through his chest. Then Billy would duck down and wait a few minutes before starting the car and slowly driving away. Casual. It had to be casual.

Counting down the seconds, Billy heard a dog bark.

A beautiful golden lab stood on the corner and barked towards the car.

Billy made a kissing sound and clapped his hands and dog slowly walked towards him.

“Come on boy!” Billy yelled.

He laid the gun back on the seat. Part of this hit wasn’t to kill a dog so he had to keep it out of the way and keep it from barking in his direction.

The dog trotted forward then stopped. It turned and moved back to the corner.

There was only twenty seconds left until the victim would cross at the corner of the alley.

“Wanna treat?” Billy yelled. “Come on.”

The dog walked back. Once it got to the door of the car, it turned and ran again. Billy recognized these movements, the dog wanted to play.

“I can’t play, I have to work,” Billy said opening the door.

He slowly stepped out. He had ten seconds either grab the dog or chase it away and then get back in the car and shoot the victim. No matter what though, Billy couldn’t let the dog get hurt.

Billy’s foot touched the pavement and the dog came running towards him again. Eight seconds to go. Billy stood up and clapped his hands. The dog was at an arms length away. Six seconds to go. Billy turned to let the dog jump in the car and felt a sharp pain in his chest. He looked down and saw his shirt absorbing the blood at a fast rate. He looked around but everything became hazy. He saw the victim standing on the corner. Billy smiled and knew he still had a chance. Then he’d deal with his own bullet wound. He swallowed and reached into the Honda. Before his hand could touch the weapon he felt great deal of pressure on his head and heard the sound of his skull being crushed.

It was a second bullet wound. Thankfully for Billy it was the last he’d even encounter.

_

“Seven thousand,” Barry said hanging a laptop case to a man.

“Do I need to count it?”

“No, I don’t play those games. But hey, I wanted to ask about the dog, that was pure genius.”

“Yea, I knew Billy. He thought he was the best. We were friends when we were kids. We wanted to grow up and be cowboys and fight bad guys. I remember going to his house. He had a golden lab. He loved the dog so much. Then one day it got hit by a car and had to be put to sleep. He never had another dog after that. But I knew he had a soft spot for dogs.”

“Well, you sure do your homework. I can’t believe it. I still can’t believe my wife put a hit on me.”

“I could take of her, if you want. I’ll give you a returning discount.”

“Eh, not today,” Barry said waving his hand at the hitman. “I think it would be better to see her face when I come home tonight alive. See what she does. But I have your number.”

“No you don’t,” the hitman said smiling. “The phone’s been destroyed.”

“Well, what If I need your information again?”

“I’ll contact you soon.”

“What about the dog?”

“I returned it back to the yard I stole it from.”

“Boy you guys won’t stop at anything will you?”

The hitman tapped the laptop case and smiled.

“Just another day at the office.”

Barry stuck his out to shake the hitman’s hand. The hitman shook his head and pointed behind Barry. Barry turned and threw his hands up half expecting the other hitman, Billy, to be there. Nobody was there. Barry turned back around and the hitman was gone.

Barry walked to his car faster than normal and checked over his shoulder every few seconds. He started his car with his eyes shut waiting for it to explode. It didn’t. He smiled as he stood at the front door to his house knowing he did the right thing by hiring an honest hitman.

“Honey, I’m home!” he yelled walking through the door.

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

Killer by Dave Zetlserman

Killer by Dave Zeltserman

I don’t have the skills to write proper reviews but I will say that Dave Zeltserman’s KILLER is a cracking book.

I was lucky enough to get a proof copy from Serpents Tail and was as pleased as punch drunk.

Killer is the third in Zeltserman’s ‘bloke gets out of prison’ trilogy and fans of the other two – Small Crimes & Pariah– won’t be disappointed.

It grabs you by the lapels from the very start and proceeds to give you a good kicking, leaving you in a crumpled heap in the corner.

I think KILLER is out in January 2010 and it’s well worth checking out.

Guest Blogger: Jason Michel – Post Apocalypse Now!


Post-Apocalypse Now !

(A personal reflection on films for The End Of The World) by Jason Michel

The film “The Road” has just been released in France. It is the latest in a long line of films dubbed sweetly, “Post–Apocalypse”, and seen and classified by such people who classify such things as a kind of sub-genre of Horror or Sci-Fi, yet really they seem to occupy an odd place that is theirs and theirs alone. It is a place that starts with a barren and arid hope and often ends with even less.

It is a place that I can hang out in like Beatniks are drawn to a café full of black coffee.

I’ll tell you poor mortals why.

Now, your more famous Science Fiction Movie has had its fair share of big bucks scapegoating governmental propaganda in its history. The political influences know that people always want to see a bigger explosion. With Invasion Of The Body Snatchers in the 50s and War of the World’s supposed Anti-Commie message and Independence Day with its blatant scenes of Islamic Fundamentalists adding to the overall horror experienced by its “civilised” audience of a money leeching SFX extravaganza with a plot so simplistic that even a member of your average Reality TV show could have done better.

Horror tends to show us things that go bump in the night and taps into that irrational and unreasonable side of us that only really comes out in everyday life in our dreams or after four bottles of wine.

Post-Apocalyptica pops its scorched head up from time to time.

This is one of those times.

And its message has always been a lot more subversive than its first grizzled impression.

Charlton Heston was the 60s godfather of such films, before he became the gun wielding fiend that terrified liberals from California to Manhattan. Each of the characters he played came from the same basic mould; a tough world weary misanthrope angry at his species for their greed and stupidity, snarling and shouting so whenever the opportunity allowed. A hippie gone bad.

The threat of nuclear annihilation and the idea that humans were not the end all of the evolutionary process overshadowed Planet Of The Apes and its subsequent sequels.

The threat of the baby booming generation and humanity’s voracious appetite for breeding without control and to the detriment of all other species informed the classic Soylent Green.

Finally, The Omega Man showed us a world after the threat of biological weapons of mass destruction in the wake of The Vietnam War became a reality.

The Sixties also saw the rise of the most famous sub-genre of all Post-Apocalyptica. The zombie flick. Shuffling into our consciousness in 1968, George A Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead changed our perception of the zombie forever. Gone was the idea of Voodoo witchdoctors reanimating corpses to do their bidding. It was now replaced by something all the more insidious. A creeping mindless horde of undead cannibals. So influential was this film and its sequels that oodles has been written about them. From their satirical counter culture stance on the military and The Vietnam War in the form of the pompous General to their comment on our consumer society. To say that these films were mindless rubbish was really missing the point. They are a glorious modern day Grand Guignol.

The Mid-Seventies brought with it its own social upheaval and counter culture – Punk. Its chaotic battle cry of “Anarchy!” permeated throughout pop culture. Film was no exception and another great piece of Post Apocalyptica was George Miller’s 1979 feature, Mad Max and its sequel Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. In 2006, the co-scriptwriter James McCausland wrote in an article on peak oil, “George and I wrote the script based on the thesis that people would do almost anything to keep vehicles moving and the assumption that nations would not consider the huge costs of providing infrastructure for alternative energy until it was too late”.

The Noughties have brought with them a slew of worthwhile efforts not seen since the Sixties, such as 28 Days Later, a film that added a new slant to the zombie movie and showed that normal humans are even more frightening than the infected that they are running from. This film also heralded a new wave of zombie flicks that continues today including a decent remake of Dawn Of The Dead and Romero’s own Land Of The Dead as well as the emergence of the Zombie Comedy with Shaun Of The Dead. Zombies have well and truly gone mainstream with even Channel 4 in England showing Charlie Brooker’s splendid Dead Set, a zombie story set in a reality TV show.

Another of note is the intelligent almost biblical Children Of Men with some fantastic action scenes and genuinely gritty sets, in a story concerning the worldwide infertility of women and the consequences on a species knowing it’s going to die.

We are now living in our own Sci-Fi world, with portable communication devices and a worldwide communication network. We have everything we want at our fingertips. Computers are everywhere and are so ingrained in our way of life that most are invisible. We can enter into virtual worlds of our own making and live out our fantasies however high or tawdry. Our species life expectancy is longer now than at any time in the past. We should be happy. But we’re not.

I see the Post-Apocalyptica all around me and I have to admit that I don’t feel that much hope for the future. Not to say that I am right. Or some kind of eco-avenger. I do my bit, don’t drive, don’t want kids. If there is any hope in all this it is a quote from the biologist Lynn Margulis, “Gaia Is a Tough Bitch”. Nature will sneeze and off we tumble, but when Rome begins burning I’ll be on my veranda with a Strawberry Daiquiri, searching for my violin.

BIO:

PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEE Jason Michel has been turned on, tripped up and stumbled over all around the world on an eleven year (so far) self imposed exile. He is a hack purveyor of penny dreadfuls and flash nightmares of daytime who now lives in France. He has recently published his first novel “Confessions of a Black Dog” and short story collection “The Wrong Mind And Other Fictions” at lulu.com and has had work published in various print and online magazines.

His work can be found at:

http://beatendog.blogspot.com/

He has just set up a new magazine that is looking for submissions that he describes as “A heady smorgasbord of odd fiction, cult celluloid, unreal doodling, lowbrow waffle & heavy, heavy music”. The website can be found here:

http://pulpmetalmagazine.webs.com/

PULP METAL MAGAZINE is LIVE!


Pushcart Prize nominee Jason Michel has a new ezine: PULP METAL MAGAZINE.He describes it as

“A heady smorgasbord of odd fiction, cult celluloid, unreal doodling, lowbrow waffle & heavy, heavy music”

The first issue is up now with fiction from Steve Jensen, Melanie Brown, me and others.;art by Jason, Jodi Mac Arthur and Kristin Fouquet;my regular column ‘I DIDN’T SAY THAT, DID I?’ and much, much more. Take a gander here: http://pulpmetalmagazine.webs.com/

Guest Blogger: Laura Eno – Tis The Season

Tis the Season

©2009 Laura Eno

Three days until Christmas. What was so jolly about it? Marcy slumped in the bus seat, trying to ignore all of the excited shoppers around her. Hard to do, since they banged their purchases into her shins as they made their way down the aisle.

She shouldn’t be on the bus anyway. Mr. Ho-ho-ho had taken their only car – again – to do some Christmas shopping. Or so he said. Marcy knew he’d been siphoning money for months. He’d told her that he’d had to take a pay cut at work, but she knew better. By her estimate, about $10,000 dollars had disappeared so far. He’d borrowed the car more lately as well, using this or that excuse so that he wasn’t available when she got off work.

She stared out the window, trying not to notice the festive lights wrapped around every lamppost. The bus route took her through the seedier section of downtown, past the strip joints tucked away in little shopping centers. Marcy spotted her car parked right in front of one of them, her husband standing on the sidewalk talking to a woman with long blonde hair. He gave her a hug just as the bus drove by.

Marcy seethed with anger, humiliation settled deep in her soul. Divorce would be too good for him. What was she, some five-year throwaway? Toss the frowsy brunette with the few extra pounds for a leggy blonde? No way. Not going to happen.

One of her coworkers often talked about a Haitian woman that could make things happen. She said that after years of trying to get pregnant, she’d gone to her and two months later found out that she was going to have a baby. Marcy called her friend as soon as she got home and got the woman’s number.

Her hand shook as she dialed, until Marcy called upon her anger to justify the step she was taking. The woman spoke in a lilting dialect, somehow at odds with the power that Marcy envisioned her having. They agreed to meet the next evening, with a price set and instructions to bring something personal of her husband’s, along with a lock of hair.

Marcy went to the woman’s house straight from work the next evening.

“Are you sure this is what you want?”

“I’ve been asking myself that all day. Yes, I’m sure.” Every time she’d had second thoughts about it, the vision of her husband with his arms wrapped around that hussy floated to the top.

The woman made a little doll, attaching the hair and comb that Marcy brought with string. She passed it through the incense smoke and chanted words that Marcy didn’t understand. After several minutes, she turned to her.

“It is done. Your husband is marked for death.”

The words sent a chill up Marcy’s spine. She hadn’t really known how she’d feel at this point.

“Do you know when or how?”

“No,” the woman said. “That is for them to decide.”

Marcy decided that she really didn’t want to know who ‘them’ were. She rushed home, afraid that she was going to throw up at any second. Her stomach settled a little as she prepared dinner, the mundane task of chopping vegetables a balm to her nerves.

The next morning her husband brought her breakfast in bed, along with a wrapped box.

“I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to give you this. I’m too excited about it. Go on, open it.”

Marcy unwrapped the box, staring at the tickets inside.

“I’ve been saving for months and driving the travel agent batty with my frequent stops by her office, but I wanted to plan the perfect vacation for us.”

Marcy looked at the travel agent’s business card. It was the leggy blonde. Tears dripped down her cheeks when she realized how wrong she’d been. He misread her crying.

“If you don’t want to go to Europe, we can pick somewhere else.”

“No. It’s wonderful. I-I don’t know what to say.”

“Just say you love me.” He smiled and walked away. “You enjoy your breakfast. I’ve got some chores to do out in the yard.”

“I love you,” she whispered. Then she heard the chainsaw start up.

Author Bio:

Laura Eno (http://lauraeno.blogspot.com) has written two YA fantasy novels and a paranormal romance. Her flash fiction has appeared in Twisted Dreams, The Monsters Next Door, Flashes in the Dark, 10Flash, House of Horror, The New Flesh, Everyday Weirdness and MicroHorror.

Guest Blogger: Matt Hilton – Genesis to Generation -or how characters are born

Genesis to Generation – or how characters are born by Matt Hilton

Recently I posted about a graphic novel ‘The Bronx Kill’ coming out from DC Vertigo Crime next January, and in the post I raised the fact that while growing up I was an avid comic book reader. It’s no real surprise; most kids of my generation were. But the subject got me thinking, and I realised that my novels these days are as influenced by my early comic book heroes as they are by the contemporary crime and thriller characters that I’ve grown to love.

This realisation made me dig deep and look into the generation of my latest character, Joe HunterDead Men’s Dust and Judgement and Wrath – an ex Special Forces soldier now making his way in the world as a vigilante cum gun for hire. Reviewers have often compared Hunter with Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, automatically assuming that Reacher must be my greatest influence because both guys are tough ex-soldiers kicking the arses of bad guys. Well, it’s not so. I’m a big fan of Lee’s, and admire Reacher, but the big guy had no part in the formulation of Joe Hunter. Hard to believe? Well, it’s true. Some reviewers have pointed out that I thanked Lee in the acknowledgements page of Dead Men’s Dust. I did. But that was because Lee was kind enough to congratulate me and offer his support, and kindly agreed to read my book. He’s that kind of person; a true gentleman, and eager to help new authors establish themselves. I owe Lee my thanks ten-fold for that. But I didn’t base Hunter on Reacher.

Here’s how Hunter came about:

One of my favourite comic books growing up was 2000 AD, and the iconic character from the comic was Judge Dredd – a tough as nails, no-nonsense lawman in a dystopian future. Now, at the same time as I was reading 2000 AD I was also consuming volume after volume of the 1930’s pulp fiction of Robert E. Howard and H P Lovecraft. I probably started writing in earnest to emulate Howard and Lovecraft’s styles and rattled off many pastiches based upon Howard’s Conan and the Lovecraftian Cthulu mythos. While doing so, I also wrote a coming-of-age teenage novel, but to be honest I really wanted to write fantasy and horror. I wrote a couple of fantasy novels, the most notable of which was called Shadowstalker. It was a gothic horror, an action thriller, and it featured a tough as nails, no nonsense lawman in a violent and dystopian fantasy world. See the connection? I think that the character of Andra Kendrick was my way of paying homage to Judge Dredd, albeit Kendrick made his way through his world with a sharp sword as his law giver.

Along the way, I was also reading Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan, George G Gillman’s Edge and Adam Steele, the so called men’s action books of the 1970’s and early 1980’s. All of these tough dudes resonated with me in a big way. They still do. I loved their no-nonsense approach to doling out retribution.

Wanting to write similar stories, I gave up on trying to write fantasy/horror and went on to write crime and thriller stand alones – sadly, none of which I could interest an agent or publisher in either. So it was back to the old drawing board, or more correctly the old computer. I looked around at what was selling, what was on the book shelves, and looked at the contemporary authors around today. I loved the humour and the visceral action of Robert Crais and Harlan Coben, and the dark moody supernatural undertones of John Connolly. These were the authors I wanted to emulate. Something I realised immediately was that they all wrote about on-going series characters, something I hadn’t done up until then.

I’d just completed a crime thriller called Covenant of Dead Names which remains unpublished at this time. But I loved the characters of Phil Ellis and Dave Oxford, two tough guy private eyes, and thought to make their adventures into an on-going series. On the back of this I started writing Dead Men’s Dust (under the title of Jubal’s Hollow) with Ellis and Oxford as the leads. But, they just weren’t working for me. So it was back to the old drawing board again. At this time I looked back to my earlier creation of Andra Kendrick (who was loosely influenced by Joe Dredd, Conan and the weird goings on in Lovecraftian territory) and I thought; ‘maybe I can up-date Kendrick to a contemporary setting’. The only thing was, I didn’t want to write about a cop or a P.I. but I wanted a character with the skills and world experience to place him in very dangerous situations. Hence, I decided my lead would be an ex Special Forces soldier, now retired and adrift in the world. Influenced I guess by Mack Bolan, I made him a vigilante waging his own private war against the evil people of the world.

So I guess you’d say that Joe Hunter was born from Phil Ellis and Mack Bolan via Andra Kendrick and Conan the Cimmerian, all the way back to Judge Dredd. Dave Oxford became Jared ‘Rink’ Rington, Hunter’s best friend and brother-in-arms, and I moved their adventures from the UK to the much larger and culturally diverse USA, still a fantasy world of many readers this side of the pond.

When/if you look closely, you might recognise these influences in my writing. Even Howard’s and Lovecraft’s influence stays with me to this day – the bad guys from my first two books, Tubal Cain and Dantalion, are both characters you’d perhaps define as sons of ‘Weird Tales’. And watch out for a nod towards Mack Bolan in book three.

So there you have it, a potted history of the genesis and generation of my character, Joe Hunter.

If you’re reading this, I’d like to think that you’ll look back on your own past and think on how your own characters were born, and what their lineage is. You might be surprised at what you find.

BIO:

Matt Hilton is the author of the Joe Hunter Thriller series, including Dead Men’s Dust and Judgement and Wrath. The third book in the series, Slash and Burn, will be released 1st April 2010 in the UK.

Matt Blogs at Matt Hilton Thrills at: http://matthiltonbooks.blogspot.com/

and with Col Bury, he posts short crime, horror and thriller fiction at Thrillers, Killer ‘N’ Chillers at: http://thrillskillsnchills.blogspot.com/

and has his website is at: http://www.matthiltonbooks.com

#fridayflash-Guest Blogger: Anne Billson – The Morning In Question



THE MORNING IN QUESTION by Anne Billson

You know when you’re away from home, and you wake up and lie there, trying to work out where you are and how you got there? When I woke up on the morning in question it was just like that, except the moment went on and on. It wasn’t amnesia, because I knew who I was. I just couldn’t work out where I was, or how I’d got there; there was a blank space where those memories should have been. I felt a bit groggy, but that was nothing unusual. I always felt groggy when I woke up. I need three cups of good strong coffee before I can even look at someone else without wanting to rip their head off.

But there was no coffee. Just the odour of stale cigarettes. I disentangled myself from the clammy bedclothes and struggled into a sitting position. I was wearing an oversized T-shirt printed with some sort of slogan I couldn’t even begin to read upside-down. The room was the colour of Lucozade; I hauled myself out of bed and tugged at the orange curtains. They were made of some sort of man-made fibre that sent my fingertips into shock, and the runners kept jamming as I tried to draw them back. The window was stuck, or locked; either way, I couldn’t make it open. Then again, there wasn’t much incentive to open it; the view was of a multi-storey carpark. I couldn’t see the sky.

As far as I could make out, it wasn’t dark, but neither was it light, exactly; it was like that dullness you get just before a rainstorm. But at least with the curtains open I could see the room. Not that I really wanted to, I realised, now I was looking at it. The predominant theme was orange and beige: orange curtains, orange bedspread, orange painting of what looked like an exploding tangerine, beige carpet, beige wallpaper peeling off around the seams. The furniture was not so much G Plan as Z Plan.There was a faded brochure on the bedside table. WELCOME TO THE HOTEL VALLOMBROSA. I flicked through it. Laughing, happy couples. Tartan carpets. Rooms flooded with light. Rooms that bore no resemblance whatsoever to the one I was in.

I wondered whether this could be some sort of reality TV show in which unwitting victims were plunged into bizarre situations so their hilarious reactions could be caught by hidden cameras, but concluded it was unlikely; I couldn’t see much entertainment value in my stumbling around like a sleepwalker, or sitting on the edge of the bed, wondering what to do next. Or perhaps I’d been kidnapped? Apparently not, because the door wasn’t locked; it opened on to a beige corridor. There was nothing to prevent me from leaving the room. But first I would need to get dressed.

I took off the T-shirt, which finally allowed me to read the slogan on the front: MY BOYFRIEND WENT TO BANGKOK AND FUCKED UNDERAGE PROSTITUTES AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT. I returned to the kidnap theory; someone must have dressed me while I was asleep. No way would I wear a T-shirt like that, not unless someone was threatening to shoot a puppy. At least the room had an en suite, if you could call it that. More of a cubby-hole, really. The toilet wouldn’t flush properly, and there was no paper. The shower made noises like a sheep being strangled; I rinsed myself under a dribble of water that alternated between freezing cold or scalding hot. The bathtowel was streaked with yellow stains, so I patted myself dry with a tiny handtowel. Out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed something scuttling across the cracked tiles of the shower stall, but steadfastly refused to turn my head.

Some things it was better not to know.

It did cross my mind that this was probably some sort of hell.

Later on, I put it to Hilary. “This is hell, right? And I’m being punished for something I did. Or something I didn’t do. I’m not a believer. I mean, I wasn’t a believer.”

Hilary frowned. “May I refer you to Step Four of our Twelve Step Plan? There is no such thing as heaven or hell.”

“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven,” I said.

She peered at me suspiciously. “That’s just the sort of thinking that gets you into trouble.”

I said, “Whatever.” It was the first time I’d ever uttered the word in such a context, but the occasion seemed to warrant it.

Whatever. I was trapped in the world’s worst hotel, with what I was now realising was the world’s worst luggage. Who the hell had packed this stuff? Not me, that was for sure. The nylon suitcase contained a scratchy tartan dressing-gown, a frilly white suspender belt but no stockings, a push-up bra that obviously wasn’t going to fit, a white crochet bikini that obviously wasn’t going to fit either, a turquoise smock-top that would make me look eight months pregnant, a skimpy lime-green vest, five non-matching grey socks, some pink plastic flip-flops and a pair of brown shorts which looked about five sizes too big. No jacket, no shoes, no jeans, no T-shirts which didn’t have obscene slogans printed on them. Obviously, I’d ended up with someone else’s suitcase. Someone pear-shaped, and with no taste.

I put on the lime-green vest and cinched the shorts around my waist with the cord from the dressing-gown. Under the circumstances, it was the best I could do. Why would anyone pack clothes like these when they weren’t on holiday? And to judge by the view from the window this was no holiday zone. This was Swindon, or Slough, or Croydon.

Or worse.

Bio: ANNE BILLSON is a novelist, film critic and photographer who has lived in London, Tokyo and Croydon, and now lives in Paris. Her books include SUCKERS (an upwardly mobile vampire novel), STIFF LIPS (a Notting Hill ghost story) and THE EX (a supernatural detective story), as well as several works of non-fiction, including SPOILERS, a selection from her 25 years of film criticism. She reviews films for the TV pages of the Sunday Telegraph and writes a film column for the Guardian.

See Anne Billson’s articles, stories & photographs at http://multiglom.blogspot.com/
Browse and buy Anne Billson’s books at http://stores.lulu.com/billson


Pulp Metal Magazine – looking for submissions.


Very soon I will be writing a regular column – -for the new ezine: PULP METAL. Pulp Metal is the brainchild of Our Man In France – Jason Michel AKA The Beaten Dog.

It will be called I DIDN’T SAY THAT, DID I?

They are on the look out for contributors, especially in the art/ comix sections but also in fiction/ non fiction etc.

Take a preview peek here:

http://pulpmetalmagazine.webs.com/

If anything blows your skirt up get in touch.

Guest Blogger: Cormac Brown – The Ballad Of Paulie Decibels


“The Ballad of Paulie Decibels” by Cormac Brown

(rap-style)

Into the dark mind he delves
You may go up to eleven, Nigel
But Paulie Decibels goes up to twelve

The Gods of Noir give their benediction
To the verses, the curses and the new blood
Of Paul’s crime fiction

Decibels with the maddest of the mad flow
He’s a wild mix of Ted Lewis,
Chandler, Bukowski, and Poe

He makes the inmates applaud in their cells
He makes the Jezebels swoon
The critics can’t quell
The volume of Paulie Decibels’ tune

Bio:

Cormac Brown is my pen name. I’m an up-and-slumming writer in the city of Saint Francis and I’m following in the footsteps of Hammett…minus the TB and working for the Pinkerton Agency. A couple of stories that I’ve stiched and stapled together, can be found here: http://cormacwrites.blogspot.com/

Cormac Brown wrote “Le Chat Noir” for the Seventh Issue Astonishing Adventures Magazine http://www.facebook.com/l/53518;issuu.com/astonishing/docs/aam7

As well as “All The Better To” for the Sixth Issue of AAM
http://www.facebook.com/l/53518;issuu.com/astonishing/docs/astonishing_adventures_magazine_6

His story “They Come From Above” appeared in “Beat To A Pulp,http://beattoapulp.com/stor/2009/1122_cb_TheyComeFromAbove.cfm

Guest Blogger: Jodi MacArthur – Classy Like Frank

Classy Like Frank

By Jodi MacArthur

I sat on the edge of the bed whirling the knife in my hands. I was bored. What she had to say might have been interesting…but it didn’t matter. None of it mattered. She’d be dead soon.

“Sometimes I wanted to scream because I felt so awful. I didn’t want to see my past, the people in my past that is. I felt afraid of the future. The present felt hopeless. My religion hurt. I didn’t know what I believed anymore. My heart hurt. I felt so lonely. I didn’t know how to fix any of it.” Janelle rubbed her temples and sat back against the headboard.

She wore a tight black summer dress with a veiled hat. Kind of classy, like the older times when that guy, Frank something, used to croon to pretty girls. What didn’t fit were the dainty silk gloves with the red cross-stitch roses. Something didn’t strike me right – perhaps it just didn’t match. “Not that I don’t appreciate the job and money you offered me,” I said. “But I hardly think those are reasons a woman should hire someone to off herself.”

“Maybe, maybe not, but I can’t see anyway out of it. If you don’t mind me asking…is this your first?” she asked.

I nodded.

“I hope to make it easy on you. And thanks for coming on such short notice.”

“No problem. It’d help if I didn’t know so much about you.” I meant it too. Janelle was a real sweetheart. Course, rich folk knew how to put on a show when they were trying to get something they wanted. She was already getting what she wanted from me. That cost her a couple thou. I suppose that makes her genuine, but rich people – you never know with those sorts.

“I’ve stashed the money in a place you would never find. The only way you are getting it is at the end of my story.” Janelle folded her gloved fingers in her lap. Her blue eyes were gorgeous – sincere.

“Yeah, yeah, so why don’t you keep telling me then.” My eyes were drawn to the silky gloves again. Rich people, you know, you can never know why they do the things they do, or wear the things they wear. Besides when it’s your last day, last hour, last breath, you want to choose your favorite items whether they matched or not. Maybe the gloves held good memories for her? I just wish she’d shut up so I could get on with my life. Blah, blah, blah…I’m so rich and sooo depressed. I should just stab her already.

“You will be happy to know there isn’t much more to tell. I wrote a best seller, made millions. Happiness should be there, but it isn’t. I am miserable.”

“I thought insane people were supposed to be happy.”

Janelle gave me a look.

“Not that you are insane…or anything.”

“The problem is,” she swung her legs over the bed and sat up, “I just really don’t want to live anymore.”

“No millionaire I know just ups and decides there’s no reason to live.” Not that I didn’t mind inheriting a few thousand of it. Perhaps I could retire in Mexico and sip out of coconuts or something. Did they have coconuts in Mexico? They had senoritas. I knew that.

“Okay, fine, I’ll tell you.”

“Yeah, tell me.” I twirled the sharp knife she had given me between both hands.

“I’m being followed. I’ve been followed for years.”

I stopped twirling the knife and looked at Janelle. “By who?”

“My step father, the sick fu-, person.”

I raised my eyebrows.

“I’m not the swearing sort,” she explained.

“Ah,” I said back.

“I’m going to pour myself a last drink of wine. Would you like a drink, mister…”

“George.”

She uncorked a merlot; probably some fancy shmancy stuff from France or wherever rich people import their wine.

Why not? “Sure.”

She poured two drinks and brought one to me.

“So he messed with me when I was little. Cheated on my mom with a handful of the neighbor ladies – even her best friend. My mom found out, confronted him about it. He convinced her that she was the crazy one. He told her that I’d made up lies about him, that the neighbor ladies were just jealous. She believed. They divorced a year later anyway. It was his idea. I swore that one day…one day.” She drew her finger across her throat like a knife.

Ironic. That’s what I’d be doing to her soon. “So call the cops.”

“I did… but there’s no proof. They can’t do anything if there is no evidence.”

“So hire a security guard.”

“That’s why I hired you.” She smiled for the first time.

I didn’t like the way she said that or the way her gloved hand was sliding underneath the pillow. “I thought you hired me to kill you.”

“I hired you to kill him, but unfortunately he shot you, after you stabbed him with my kitchen knife.”

What? I looked down at the kitchen knife in my hand and stood.

Janelle set down her glass on the nightstand, and slipped a pistol from beneath the pillow. “The body is in the closet – over there.”

I looked over at the closet door. It was slightly ajar. There was a trickle of crimson on the white carpet. What was this chick trying to pull? I wanted my money. “Look, lady. I came here to do a job.”

She stood and squeezed the trigger. I felt the bullet hit my stomach. I dropped my wine glass. It landed with a soft plop on the carpet. I watched her silk gloves holding that killing machine. Rich people, you never can tell when they are putting on a show.

Janelle drew back the hammer. “I’m sorry, George. Really, I am. Thanks for listening. And,” she nodded towards the closet, “for him.”

Bang.

Bio:

Jodi MacArthur
Exiled in deep southern Texas, Jodi is a Seattle author hoping to write her way back to the Pacific Northwest. In her spare time, she twitters at her beloved finches, Hitchcock and Emily, and drinks coffee – but never at the same time.

Find her blog and links to her writing here:
www.jodimacarthur.blogspot.com

Guest Blogger: Joseph Grant – Is The Great American Novel Dead …or Just Undead?


Is the Next Great American Novel Dead…or Just Undead?

by

Joseph Grant

Of late there is a penchant in the book business for literary cannibalism. Not that writers these days are stealing phrases or pages from unsuspecting writers living or dead, but outright plagiarism, unlike the oh-so-mortal writer, is alive and well and will likely never die. It would be bad enough if that was the only problem, but it is much worse than that. What is occurring as a trend in today’s literary marketplace is the wholesale theft of entire novels in the guise of a trendy literary ‘mash-up’ of genres, for the lack of better words.

A mash-up by definition is when an artist combines two ideas and blends them together to create a hopefully seamless entity, hence a mash-up. Back in the day, it was called ‘sampling’. Back in the day before that, it was called stealing and or plagiarism but even then it was usually confined to a small part of the whole.

The current movement in literature is to take an existing classic and interject, say, a zombie or vampire or any such monster will do, really and market it as a semi-original work of fiction. This is tantamount to literary grave-robbing, let alone sacrilege to treat a masterpiece with such glib rancor. Insult is then added to the author’s already injured memory by the no-talent hack of a writer tacking their name onto the author as if the author, many years dead had risen from the grave like one of the atrocious added-on characters the new author has created from his small black and white TV mind and somehow co-authored what amounts to literary desecration. It’s as if the publishing world has lost its identity and now allows literary graffiti to be tagged along the walls of immortals. One wonders if the modern-day author has suddenly stopped thinking and writing the Great American Novel and looked into the literary mirror and saw plagiarism and coattail-riding as something in which to aspire.

Is this a generation’s “payback” for having to suffer through the works of esteemed authors like Austen, Melville, Shakespeare & Hawthorne in school? If this is a generation’s thumbing their nose at tradition and having a laugh, I’m not getting the humor, I’m afraid. It is a glaring omission and admission of a literary business in trouble and in the process of imploding. The true question is: ‘Why are we eating our own?’ The answer is of course an unequivocal one. It is literary lethargy. Instead of trying to write well, we take the literary lazy road out and we write upon the literary bathroom wall in the form of parody.

This is not to say that there aren’t great writers working today in cafes and in homes all across the country to write the Great American Novel. Search your bookshelves and you may see some of them yourself. But where are the writers of tomorrow? It’s tragic to think that they are writing monster parodies of classics. Doesn’t that strike you as empty and pathetic? It does me.

The problem lies with the literary agents who reject struggling writers, but yet sign this literary pabulum into print. Yet, we writers are at the mercy of such inept beings. Instead of finding the next aforementioned Austen, King, Hemingway, Rowling or Cornwell, they’re too busy signing the next great unimaginative plagiarist. It’s no wonder that a real writer can’t catch an honest break, so to speak.

It’s tragic that great writing is being prevented from publication because publishing itself became too big an insolent child and merged with corporations that hired agents and publishers to baby sit the industry; people who had more interest in the bottom line than the written one. As little as twenty-five years ago, it was still possible to get an unsolicited manuscript into a large house and receive an acceptance without using a middleman. Before publishing became a business, it had been run by intellectuals, whereas, it’s now run by businessmen.

This is not to say that agents all agents are out for blood or have no true insight. There are still agents out there who read for the pleasure of reading, just as there are writers who still write for the pleasure of writing. Only when agents stop signing celebutards, fallen politicians and half-assed hacks instead of real writers will literature be able to look at itself in the mirror again and not see a monster looking back.

BIO: My short stories have been published in 147 literary reviews and e-zines, such as Byline, New Authors Journal, Underground Voices, Nite-Writer’s International Literary Arts Journal, Howling Moon Press, Hack Writers, New Online Review, Literary Tonic, Six Sentences, NexGenPulp, Is This Reality Zine , Darkest Before Dawn, strangeroad.com, FarAway Journal, Full of Crow, Heroin Love Songs, Bewildering Stories, Absent Willow Literary Review and the Absent Willow Anthology and Harbinger* 33 a story in the anthology of horror, Northern Haunts, as well as three UK literary reviews, Bottom of the World #1 & 2 and Cupboard Gloom and Write This. I have won “Story of the Month” at Bartleby-Snopes Literary Review. I have written for The New York Bar Guide (as a reviewer) and in various newspaper articles that have appeared in The Pasadena Star, Whittier News and the San Gabriel Tribune. I have published a work of verse, Indigo, with Alpha Beat Press and have completed my first novel. I currently reside in Los Angeles . NOTE: Six stories of mine have been recently featured in 6S Volume 1&2, a collection of short stories by various writers available at Amazon. I also write a monthly newsletter column for Literary Mary.

Guest Blogger: Cameron Ashley – BACK IN BLACK (AND WHITE)


BACK IN BLACK (AND WHITE) by Cameron Ashley

Ten years ago, I walked into the old Kill City on Greville Street, started talking to the English bruiser behind the counter and walked out with books by Eddie Bunker and Andrew Vachss.


The bruiser’s name was David Honeybone. He turned out to be a total sweetheart and somehow I ended up being recruited for his new magazine. It was called Crime Factory. It ran from 2000-2003 and I loved this thing. Man, I loooooved it. Everyone who worked on it loved it: ask Craig McDonald. People who were written about in it loved it: ask Ken Bruen. We had subscribers all over the place – a modest but okay number, the way I understand it, especially for a magazine produced in Preston.

The plug got pulled for a variety of reasons, none of which it’s really my place to go into, but when it happened, it was a heartbreaker.


I went off to Japan for a few years, taught, traveled, wrote a big-ass horror novel that still sits on my hard drive and came home to Melbourne.


I missed CF.


I would pester Dave about it from time to time during our semi-regular drinking sessions and he basically told me that he’d put it to bed and that was that. Fair enough.


I still missed CF.


Then a funny thing happened. I got bored having comic pitches rejected and started doing short stories again for the first time since the mid-nineties. I got to know, amongst others, guys like Paulie D, Chad Eagleton, Frank Bill, Keith Rawson and the guy who pretty much forms a pulpy mini hive-mind with me, Jimmy Callaway. These guys are good. Like, really, really good. They are also cool and they are helpful and they are driven.

I thought about CF. I told Keith about CF. We shot emails back and forth, put together some names and tee-heed to ourselves online.


I got Dave drunk and told him about it. He got a spark in his eye and he nearly buckled. In the end though, his resolve held. The spark might’ve been caused by the Mountain Goat with the Jamie chasers…


He did, however, let Keith and I go for it.


It’s not going to be the same. It’s going to be online, for one. We’re not going through print headaches, thank you, and we have other stuff to write. Keith and I are not designers. We are not editors. I type with two fingers and have a stress ball by my keyboard. Keith, I dunno how he types except he’s mostly naked when he does it.

Call it Son of Crime Factory. Call it a bad idea. Call it biting off more than we can chew.


Whatever.


CF returns in January 2010. It continues in the spirit of the original, but is souped-up with some extra crazy fiction. Contributors? We have some names involved. Not going to drop any just yet, but, trust me, they are good and will surprise you. The new CF might not look super-flash, but within its lo-fi pages will be a lot of gold and you’ll be able to download it and print it off in all its old-school zine glory instead of having your retinas burned out by reading the screen.


Who knows how long we’ll last? Maybe we’ll wrap up after nine issues in honour of Volume One. Maybe Keith and I and others will keep it rolling in its new kind of hippie co-op way for years. Whatever happens, we’ll make it good for the duration.


Someone bought the Kill City name, moved it to a basement shop along Swanston Street and gave up selling new books. About a quarter of the place is crime and, really, there seems little interest in preserving whatever legacy, no matter how minor, the original shop had outside of a sandwich board with the old logo on it.


Us? We’re going to make Dave proud. So much so, he’ll want to help out. Just wait.


If you want to email us, you can: crimefactoryzine@gmail.com


If you want to tweet us, you can: @crimefactory


Site and launch date to be confirmed. Stay tuned. Good times guaranteed.


Cameron Ashley lives in Brunswick, Melbourne. He’s done stories for Plots with Guns, a Twist of Noir, Powder Burn Flash, The Flash Fiction Offensive and is upcoming at Darkest Before the Dawn. He figures it’s about time he attempted a novel set at home, since he complains about the general lack of quality in Australian crime fiction constantly (foot, meet mouth).

Writer, Editor, Teacher.

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