Monday, June 29, 2009

Megan Abbott & Theresa Schwegel need your help!

Help Edgar Award winners Theresa Schwegel and Megan Abbott! They're going to be barnstorming the following cities (see below) over the next few weeks, promoting their new books (Last Known Address and Bury Me Deep) and they're looking to see some true crime-related sites along the way. Places like the Scottsdale hotel where Hogan's Heroes' Bob Crane was residing when he was murdered, or the bank Bonnie and Clyde robbed back in 1930, or the strip club Jack Ruby used to own before he shot Oswald. If you know of any interesting crime-related sites or locales that they must check out, post them here or e-mail them to me to pass along.

New York City, NY / Oxford, MS / Detroit (Birmingham), MI / Austin, TX / Houston, TX / Phoenix (Scottsdale), AZ / Los Angeles (W. Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Westwood, Orange, Irvine), CA / San Francisco (San Mateo), CA

Complete tour schedule with dates at right (scroll to bottom of page). And don't miss seeing Megan & Theresa when they come to your town! Follow their Twitters as they travel: Megan Abbott, Theresa Schwegel.

Both Megan & Theresa contributed to the award-winning female noir anthology, A Hell of a Woman (edited by Megan Abbott; hardback, 978-0-9792709-9-4, $26; paperback, 978-0-9767157-3-3, $18).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

TOWER interview #1: Ken Bruen

The Tower Interviews
by Craig McDonald

In September 2009, Busted Flush Press will publish Tower (978-1-935415-07-7; trade paperback original; $15), a collaboration between award-wining crime novelists Ken Bruen (London Boulevard; Once Were Cops; The Guards) and Reed Farrel Coleman (Walking the Perfect Square; The James Deans; Soul Patch). Tower was edited by Edgar Award-nominated crime writer, editor and literary agent, Allan Guthrie (Kiss Her Goodbye; Two-Way Split; Slammer). In the following interview, the trio discusses the process of writing and editing a novel Edgar Award-winner Megan Abbott (Bury Me Deep) declares “baleful” and “swaggering.”

Edgar Award-nominated crime writer Craig McDonald (Head Games; Toros and Torsos) interviewed Bruen, Coleman, and Guthrie. Craig ("a genuine expert on the history of crime fiction" — Eddie Muller, San Francisco Chronicle) is an accomplished interviewer, and two collections of his interviews with major crime writers have been published: Art in the Blood (PointBlank Press) & Rogue Males (Bleak House Books; May 2009). Here is the first interview, with the "Pope of Galway" himself, Ken Bruen!


Craig McDonald: Tower began with you…
Ken Bruen: Yes, and halfway through, I thought it would really work as a two-hander.

CM: This is your second time collaborating with another author. You have such a distinctive voice. What entices you about blending your prose with another writer’s work?
KB: I think because I was always told it can’t be done and that always gets me thinking… Oh yeah?

CM: When/how did Busted Flush enter the picture?
KB: Well, first we love David and the publishing company and he seemed to get the book better than anybody.

CM: Was your portion of the Nick narration written and then the rest of the plot thrashed out between you and Reed, or did you leave him a clear course for his sections of the novel?
KB: I did my piece and then let Reed run with it. I have to say, he did the real Trojan work and made the book sing.

CM: Did you go over or add anything to Reed’s portions of the novel?
KB: Not one single word. His work was so good that I had truly nothing but admiration.

CM: Did he change anything of yours in the Nick narration?
KB: No. We deliberately kept it the two distinct points of view.

CM: Yes, there is a “Rashomon” quality to the novel in the sense we get certain key events from the particular perspectives of the two narrators. Was this your idea, Reed’s, or something you came to in tandem?
KB: It evolved as Reed began to write his part. It wasn’t a definite plan but took shape as Reed’s narration deepened.

CM: Nick is named for Hemingway’s Nick Adams. Hem’s Nick’s relationship with his father is a running theme through Hemingway stories. Your Nick has father issues; your Nick also flirts with playing father to a Down Syndrome child. How important do think father/son tension is to the mind or development of a writer?
KB: Vital. At least in my case. And it seems to add that tension that is always underlying that dynamic.

CM: You’ve remarked you look for music that fits a character in the process of writing your books. What kind of tunes does Nick favor?
KB: No two ways about it, he’s a real Tom Russell kind of guy.

CM: How did Al Guthrie come to serve as editor for this project?
KB: David asked him and Al, being the soul of generosity he is, readily agreed and phew, sure did one superb job.

CM: Did Al’s handling of that task require anything significant from your end in terms of changes or additions?
KB: Very little, apart from one or two brilliant changes that made a huge difference.

CM: Any other collaborations coming down the pike?
KB: No, I’m back to flying solo. Means double the work, dammit.

CM: The Celtic Tiger — has it officially ceased its roaring? How are things in Ireland as the world economy continues to go to pieces?
KB: Today’s paper has a photo of 500 people lining up for food parcels. I cannot tell you how that just destroys me.

CM: What’s next for you? There are rumors of a rather different kind of Jack Taylor novel, and of a memoir dated for release this year…
KB: The new Jack Taylor is finished and titled… The Devil. And it deals with, yup, the supernatural. Scared the hell outta me. Not going down that road again.

CM: London Boulevard and Blitz are going before cameras. You’ve done some acting. Can we look forward to Bruen cameos?
KB: Alas, yes, as I’m just about the worst actor in the world. I have three lines in London Boulevard.

CM: What’s the status of the Jack Taylor adaptation?
KB: It begins filming in September as four TV movies and the actor playing Jack is… Guess? Not me, thank Christ.

CM: I saw something the other day that indicated you might be writing a children’s book. Can you share a little more about that?
KB: It’s titled Peter and His Magic Pencil. It’s about a little boy who can make his mum, friends, etc., happy by writing it down in his notebook. Alas, he also discovers that he may have to erase some of the joy as in the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for.” It was a joy to write and Eoin Colfer has nothing to worry about. It was a one off, for [my daughter] Grace.
Look for the 2nd & 3rd interviews to run soon. Tower will be published in September 2009. Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman will both appear at Bouchercon in Indianapolis! Booksellers / librarians: Order Tower through Consortium Book Sales & Distribution, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

BFP interviews Austin bookseller Scott Montgomery!

Scott Montgomery runs the mystery section of Austin's BookPeople, Texas's largest independent bookstore.
BFP: Tell us a little about yourself.
SM: Grew up in my family’s horse business outside of St. Louis and was in love with books and movies early on, particularly crime fiction and westerns. Studied film and went to L.A., spending eight years eight years as a failed screenwriter. There I was a customer and eventual employee of The Mystery Bookstore in Westwood, one of the more respected bookstores in the country. The two managers “Dark Bobby” McCue and Linda Brown (no nickname that can be publicly given) showed me how to use my passion for the genre as a selling tool. The place was a life preserver in a place I was getting sick of. When I decided it was time start saving money to get out, my new landlord was serving evictions on all of us that moved in years ago when rent was low in a rent controlled section. A settlement got me to Austin, fourteen years after I said I wanted to live here after I visited it for the first time. Now life is talking about books, writing, drinking Shiner, and flirting and dancing with fun women. All of that done while listening to some of the best music in the country.

BFP: Tell us a little about BookPeople & Austin.
SM: BookPeople is the largest independent bookstore in Texas. It has the size and selection with the knowledgeable and passionate staff of your small local store. Everybody cares about the written word and is quite knowledgeable. Many of us also like to discuss zombies and barbecue, I don’t know if there’s a connection.

My partner in crime, Charlie Cale, are considered the mystery guys. With inventory managers Raul Chapa and Allison Laubach; buyer, Elizabeth Jordan; and floor manager and all-around papa bear Bryan Sansone, we’ve turned our section into Austin’s defacto mystery bookstore with more niche books genre aficionados can discover. There’s The Dark Alley display dedicated to hardboiled noir (my favorite), and two book clubs The 7% Solution (general mystery) and The Hard Word, dedicated to the tough stuff. This summer we’ll have authors like Craig Johnson, C.J. Box, Megan Abbott, Joe R. Lansdale, and Karen Slaughter, making in store appearances.

BFP: Who are some of your favorite authors?
SM: I hate this question, since so many of my friends are writers. Dashiell Hammett, Max Allan Collins, and Elmore Leonard got me interested in the genre. I’m a sucker for stylists like Peter Rabe, Jim Thompson, and Richard Stark. Of the current gang, Craig Johnson has one of the most original voices out there, along with Joe R. Lansdale, Megan Abbott, Christa Faust, and Duane Swierczynski (talk about stylists), and Reed Farrel Coleman is the greatest living PI writer, I don’t even consider that an opinion. Those names, many more, and James Crumley was a god.

Outside the genre, Elmer Kelton is probably my favorite western writer and is much more than that and I’m blown away by Richard Matheson’s craftsmanship and subtle depth in no matter what he wrote.

BFP: Favorite books?
SM: Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest for the impact, Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye for the poetry, and James Crumley’s The Last Good Kiss (possibly my favorite) for tying everything and more together. Others would be Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River, Craig Johnson’s The Cold Dish, Reed Farrel Coleman’s Walking The Perfect Square, and Elmore Leonard’s Freaky Deaky. This list could go on forever.

When it comes to westerns, Kelton’s The Day the Cowboys Quit, based on a true story when ranch hands went on strike along the Canadian River in the 1880s and Richard Matheson’s Journal of the Gun Years.

BFP: Favorite movies / TV shows?
SM: The Wild Bunch, The Searchers, and Round Midnight, a film about American jazz musicians in 1958 Paris, and most of whatever Clint Eastwood is associated with, especially The Outlaw Josey Wales. As far as crime films go, Chinatown, Murder My Sweet, Heat, L.A. Confidential, Asphalt Jungle, and anything directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, or starring Robert Mitchum or Charles McGraw, a guy that sounded as tough as he looked. Basically, if anything wasn’t put on film after 1980, I’d survive.

TV would be Veronica Mars, The Wire, The Rockford Files, and even though it hurts my “guy cred," Gilmore Girls (the dialogue's great and Lauren Graham’s hot... that’s the story I’m sticking with).

BFP: What do you look for in a mystery/thriller/crime novel?
SM: My perfect crime novel delivers all of the standards in the genre presented in a fresh way with strong mood and dialogue, a look into social or human conditions with no pat answers, and a strong emotional pull. I think I just described every Dennis Lehane novel.

BFP: Author(s) you wish wrote faster?
SM: I believe in giving an author all the time he needs to deliver the best book, since I have hundreds of books to read in my to-read pile with more coming in. That said, I wish there were more James Crumley books.

BFP: Author(s) you wish hadn’t died?
SM: Crumley. I was lucky enough to spend some time with him a couple of years before his passing. By then, he was the aged lion who just wanted to hold court at whatever bar and entertain and be entertained by those around him. He had little tolerance for B.S. and sycophants. It was always comfortable to be around him, but it was always an adventure. You’d think about this character you’d hang out with, then read one of his books and be floored by a single sentence. What Hunter Thompson did with journalism and Peckinpah did with film, he did with the PI novel. Hopefully that’s what he’ll be remembered for, the books.

BFP: Authors/books you wish were back in print?
SM: Jeff Shelby’s Killer Swell and Wicked Break about part time PI and full-time surfer, Noah Braddock. They move at a furious pace, with great action and humor, so fast you don’t notice the depth of the them. L.J. (Livia) Washburn’s Lucas Hallam series, that deals with a former cowboy and Pinkerton agent, that works as PI between stuntman gigs in Twenties Hollywood.

The one that bothers me the most are the three John Van Horn novels written by Edward Wright. They concern a blackballed B-movie cowboy in the postwar L.A., who works as a collector for a casino owned by the actor who played his Indian sidekick. They are rich in lines like “the air was mixed with dust and regret” and strong humor, humanity, and style. The first book, Clea’s Moon, was as good as it gets, then each following books doubled in quality. It should be considered a considered a cultural crime that the last book, Red Sky Lament, that deals with the McCarthy era and draws modern parallels, is not in print in the U.S. Luckily he has a UK publisher for this series.

BFP: Books coming out soon that you’re most looking forward to?
SM: James Ellroy’s third book in the “tabloid trilogy”, the U.S. debut of Jason Starr’s Fake I.D. [out this month from Hard Case Crime!], and Swierzcynski’s Breakneck that he said was about, infidelity, car chases, and the end of the world. Two of my favorites, Reed Farrel Coleman and Ken Bruen will have a book out this fall. What intrigues me even more about it (Tower) is that Allan Guthrie’s the editor. That’s having the craziest person run the asylum.

BFP: New/unknown authors you’d like to tout?
SM: Clyde W. Ford has two books, The Long Mile and Deuces Wild, about a former New York cop and ex-con that works for a branch of Homeland Security. Ford uses his expertise in world mythology, tying it to hardboiled fiction and the modern world, dealing with a human hero caught between warring powerbrokers and story tellers as he tries to connect with his estranged son. If that’s not enough, he writes a hell of an action scene.

BFP: Favorite mystery magazine / blog / reviewer?
SM: I’m a huge Thrilling Detective fan. I can waste two hours there, no problem. Craig Johnson writes great post-its on his website, dealing with life as a writer and Wyoming misadventures that will get you buy until his next book. Swierczynski’s Secret Dead Blog is great. Joe Lansdale puts up a free story on his each week. For the most part, I look at the sites of mystery bookstores, particularly my old store and Murder By The Book to see what they’ve discovered and are touting. I realize I’m impartial, but I think booksellers have the best opinions on what’s good.

BFP: Do you have any dreams of writing yourself? If so, what kind of book would you love to write?
SM: I’ve done a lot of short stories I’m planning to send out and working on two novels. One is a rural hard-boiled that takes place in my Missouri stomping grounds with a guy trying to get revenge on the murder of his favorite barmaid. The other deals with an Austin PI looking into the murder of a singer who was in a band he used to belong to and uncovers the secrets his friends have been hiding.

BFP: What accomplishments are you most proud of?
SM: Helping establish books I love, particularly The Cold Dish and Walking The Perfect Square, as some of the top selling books in the stores I’ve worked; BookPeople’s 35% increase of sales in the mystery section last year; and anytime an author says “You really understood my book.” Those things and finally moving to Austin and finding peace of mind in a life of crime (and a western whenever I can).

BFP: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
SM: A) This is a great genre to be a part of. Even though many authors have used it for great allegory, there’s no need. Like Hammett, Ross Macdonald, Crumley, and George Pelecanos you can directly deal with the here and now. A lot of our best writers are doing that right now and setting the bar a little higher each year.

B) Anybody within visiting distance of BookPeople should check out our new book club, The Hard Word. I stole the name from a great Aussie caper movie starring Guy Pearce and Rachel Griffiths. We meet on the last Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. to discuss a book of tough guys with codes, dangerous women with passion, dealing with lives and actions that don’t always lead to happy endings. On June 27th, we’ll be discussing Queenpin with a call in from Megan Abbott.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

BFP author news!

David Handler (The Man Who Died Laughing) has just placed a new thriller with Severn House. In Click to Play (due this fall), a dying child star from television's golden age reaches out to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with an explosive revelation: The real truth behind the most famous murder spree in Hollywood history. A secret so shocking that it will absolutely destroy the beloved U.S. Senator who is poised to become America's next president. Handler has had a bit of success in thriller writing: He co-authored the international bestselling thriller Gideon under the pseudonym Russell Andrews. Visit David's website for more information on Click to Play, upcoming signing events, and his other titles (including his BFP-published Hoagy & Lulu mysteries!).

Zoë Sharp has been nominated for the 2009 CWA Short Story Dagger for "Served Cold," a story that was published first in BFP's 2007 female noir anthology A Hell of a Woman (edited by Megan Abbott; hardback, $26, 978-0-9792709-9-4; paperback, $18, 978-0-9767157-3-3) and was published in the U.K. for the first time in The Mammoth Book of Best British Crime (edited by Maxim Jakubowski; Constable & Robinson). That makes the fifth nomination/award for A Hell of a Woman (see the right-hand column for a list of the others). This is particularly nice as Busted Flush will be publishing Zoë's first three Charlie Fox thrillers (and the fifth) in the U.S. next year (and "Served Cold" features Charlie Fox in a cameo appearance)!

More early praise for Tower (by Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman; paperback original; $15; 978-1-935415-07-7)...

“[A] small, intimate book with a limited cast and compact, explosive plot—and it is seamless… gritty, with sharply drawn characters and an unstoppable pace.”—Linda Brown, The Mystery Bookstore (Los Angeles, CA)

Tower is the crime fiction equivalent of Joe Strummer and Lou Reed collaborating on a concept album and going way past the concept. In fact, the story wouldn’t carry the emotional gravity of the two protagonists if only one writer was telling both their stories. It’s difficult to picture any other two craftsmen, besides Bruen and Coleman, doing this and balancing the book’s lyrical mood and crisp pace. I couldn’t wait to get a copy to read. Now that I have read it, I’m even more impatient to get copies to sell to the fans of both authors and to introduce them to a whole new audience.”—Scott Montgomery, BookPeople (Austin, TX)

"This book has everything going for it, and I think it's going to be a big seller. Grab it in September and see if you agree."—Bill Crider, Edgar Award-nominated author of Murder in Four Parts (read his entire review here)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BookExpo & the Consortium catalog!

I returned on Sunday from my first BookExpo as a publisher with a distributor! Although I didn't have an alcove in the Consortium area like a few of the other CBSD presses, I did stop by to visit with a couple of the fine Consortium salespeople, the first-rate staff of Soho (there's a new Martin Limón book out this fall!... how excited am I??)... and I got to see Busted Flush Press make it's inaugural appearance in the Consortium catalog. And what a thing of beauty it is... at my day job -- Houston's Murder By The Book -- the Consortium catalog (see left) is the one that we probably look forward to the most... inside are some of today's finest small crime presses, like Soho, Akashic, Bitter Lemon, and Serpent's Tail... and you never know when you'll encounter something of interest from the other publishers, like Small Beer's first crime novel, Hound (coming out this fall) or Exterminating Angel's upcoming The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines. I'm proud to be in such august company. If you're a bookseller or librarian and you'd like a Consortium catalog, please go here or call (800) 283-3572. And if you're not one of those and want to view a .pdf of the Fall 2009 catalog, please go here.

Oh, and if you're a bookseller or librarian and have had difficulty obtaining BFP titles (like Reed Farrel Coleman's first three Moe Prager novels) in the last month because of the transition, Consortium now has the books! Please contact your sales rep or call the aforementioned (800) 283-3572.