Funny Little Frog by Graham Wynd

Crime Fiction, Fahrenheit 13, Fahrenheit Press, Fiction, Flash Fiction, Graham Wynd, K A Laity, Noir, Noir Songs, post punk, Punk Noir Magazine

The row of houses stood much the same as he stepped down from the train. They had browned, as if muddy showers from passing busses had caked in the sun, baking to a tobacco stain of the pub floor. Unintentional outcomes of the smoking ban, eh?

 

Sebastian wondered if she changed the locks, but his key fit and turned and he stepped inside. The afternoon light cut through the frosted window, lending a sparkle to some dust motes in the gloom. The flat still smelled like boiled onions. His parka hung by the door, no doubt full of two year’s dust.

 

‘Who’s that?’ Her voice sounded thin but angry, more brittle than before.

 

‘It’s me,’ he answered unthinkingly like a thousand times before, unprepared for how loud his words sounded in the stillness. Sebastian dropped his bag and crossed to the sitting room door.

 

She stared at him, remote in hand. ‘I thought it was Davy.’

 

‘Hello, mum.’

 

‘So you’re out.’

 

‘I wrote you.’

 

‘I know.’ Her lower lip thrust out like a child’s pout. If this was the worst he could bear it. ‘I suppose you want to be staying here?’

 

He shrugged. ‘If I can. Until I get settled.’ He noticed the stripe of captions across the bottom of the screen. Was she losing her hearing?

 

‘I’ve had a hard time of it. No one in my family ever spent time inside.’ The emphasis cast aspersions on her absent partner. He would have brought up Uncle Frank, but he hadn’t actually been jailed, had he? Knifed on the way to the court house.

 

But all he said was, ‘I know, mum.’

 

Despite her grumbling, she heaved herself out of the chair and put the kettle on. Buttering some bread for them both, she caught him up on news for their street: who died, who worked, who moved away—why she kept the sound low and the captions on because that dirty pair on the corner would bring their yappy little mutt to do its business on her front and she wasn’t having that.

 

‘And Renee?’ He couldn’t bear the suspense any longer.

 

His mother snorted. ‘Working at Marks and Sparks that one. Taking classes at the business school too, I hear. Quite the little entrepreneur.’

 

For the first time since he got out, Sebastian smiled.

 

‘Have you got it out of your system now?’ his mother asked as she shook a few fingers of shortbread onto a plate.

 

‘Got what?’

 

‘This violence! You know I can’t stand violence.’ Her mouth drew up into a little bow of disapproval. He tried not to think of all the times she’d screamed for Tyson Fury to beat his opponent to a bloody pulp. But sure, violence was bad.

 

‘Yes, mum.’ He wasn’t sure it was true. Sebastian knew he had it in him, but for the two years he’d been away, nothing had provoked him. Some quiet midnights it all ran through his brain like a film, that Saturday in the club. That bloody bruiser Cunningham—scourge of the town, or at least the east side. Normally everyone just gave him a wide berth, especially when he’d had a pint or ten.

 

But that night Cunningham had fixed on Renee.

 

She had been looking good. Sebastian marveled at the way her hair bounced above the glittery eyes. He didn’t know how women got their eye brows to look like doll perfection but she was a living doll that night in a knock out of a dress. Not red but darker—burgundy maybe. Sebastian was just up at the bar to order when he heard Cunningham go off on all the things he was going to do to her, his lascivious tongue hanging out as he bragged.

 

Sebastian didn’t recall punching him. He did see the teeth later, in dreams. He remembered the blood. There was just so much of it. It wasn’t his fault, the court decided later, that Cunningham had stepped back into that bar stool, tangled his legs, fell and snapped his neck. Misadventure, sure—but he started it. Sebastian didn’t really notice his broken hand until it had already been bandaged up. He didn’t protest as they read the sentence.

 

Renee was safe. That was all that mattered. They ought to have given him a medal.

 

He couldn’t resist very long. Out the door and down into the centre where more shops had closed. The empty windows multiplied like shadows of a plague. The big block letters of M&S defied the darkness and he pushed through the double doors, eyes eager to find her.

 

She was folding jumpers for a display. It was like magic how the rumpled knits smoothed under her hands, lining up in a neat pile. ‘Hey, Renee.’

 

Her smile warmed him. All those nights he’d gone to bed with her smile before him, that photo cut from the paper—having one-sided conversations. Thoughts of her got him through the long two years. Anticipating this moment had given him life.

 

‘Hello.’ Her look was expectant. ‘Can I help you?’

 

‘It’s Sebastian.’

 

She stared and then a spark of recognition. ‘Oh, from number 12. Not seen you in a while.’

 

‘No.’ He wanted to say so much, but the words jammed in his throat as if he had swallowed something living, struggling and choking him. Everything in his mouth sounded so stupid. You saved my life.

 

‘Renee! Lunch!’ A voice behind him sounded matronly—kind but firm.

 

‘That’s my break,’ Renee said apologetically. ‘Do you want me to get someone else for you? They’re real sticklers about being timely on our breaks.’

 

‘No. Just looking.’

 

‘See you round.’ She patted the stack of jumpers and then turned away. For a moment Sebastian thought to chase after her, to explain everything, but he let her just walk away.

 

As Sebastian stood on the empty street, the rain began to fall. It was funny, but he felt like a ghost. Was he even real?

Bio: A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Publications include LOVE IS A GRIFT and EXTRICATE from Fox Spirit Books, SATAN’S SORORITY from Fahrenheit 13 Press,  as well as tales in the 2016 Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks and the Anthony Award-nominated Protectors 2: Heroes . Wynd’s stories have been translated into German, Italian, Polish and Slovene. See a full list of stories (including free reads) here. Find Wynd on Facebook and Twitter.

love-is-a-grift

Existentialism in Noir by K. A. Laity

David Goodis, Existentialism, Graham Wynd, International Noir, K A Laity, Noir, Non-fiction, Patricia Highsmith, Punk Noir Magazine, Writing


shoot

A few years back I was on an existentialism panel at NoirCon that went a bit off the rails (those who were there may recall why) so we never really got deeply into the topic. It’s hung around in the back of my brain pan for a while and two recent reads pinged a few sparks around that got me thinking about different ways of embodying existentialism.

The first book had been one of those gaps in my noir reading: Down There AKA Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis. You probably know the Truffaut film even if you haven’t read the book. I sort of thought I had, but I hadn’t. If you know Goodis at all, you know not to read his books when you’re feeling low. The most painful sort of existentialism that might be summed up as the “just put one foot in front of the other because that’s all there is” school. Edward Lynn is the titular player and he’s playing hot music when his brother Turley staggers into the bar and upends his life.

But we find that’s not the real beginning of the story. We backtrack eventually to find out how this prodigy went from concert halls to an ex-wrestler’s dive bar. And we meet Lena, the first bright ray of sunshine and an all-right dame who makes Eddie remember what it’s like to want to live.

Things don’t stay that way: this is bleak stuff with some great jazzy prose in between. The last line, “He saw his fingers caressing the keyboard” epitomises the alienation Goodis makes you feel. There is no hope. All you can do is just soldier on.

tremor

In some ways, the existentialism of Patricia Highsmith’s The Tremor of Forgery is even more disturbing. Howard Ingham goes to Tunisia to work with a director on a screenplay only to find out the director has committed suicide back in New York—in Ingham’s own apartment no less. He decides to hang around anyway and work on his book about an unrepentant con man, feeling superior to both the locals and to the other American resident, Francis J. Adams, the purveyor of All-American propaganda behind the Iron Curtain (it’s 1969) arranged by a private donor.

Without all his normal social interactions, Ingham goes to pieces. His moods swing, he loses interest in then fanatically loves his lukewarm girl friend. His writing goes great. His writing stops. He enjoys Tunisia. He hates it. In short he has no moral centre. And things get weirder. The director may have committed suicide because of Ingham’s gal. Adams is maybe CIA or something or maybe it’s all his imagination.

Maybe Ingham kills someone. But if he does, no one seems to care.

He travels. He moves out of the hotel. His girlfriend visits. He’s not going back. He’s going back. It gets to the point you don’t know what’s real. Ingham certainly doesn’t. How much of this is Highsmith’s own xenophobia, racism and misanthropy? It’s all subsumed in the noise. Even Ingham’s final words are obscured, “unheard in the shuffle of sandals, the din of transistors, the blare of the unintelligible flight announcements” and the possible and ever so apt murder weapon, “the typewriter in his hand weighed nothing at all now.” It’s all messed up. As Denise Mina warns in the introduction, “Her books will make you reckless.”

Think I might be up for a trip to Tunisia. It’s not like anything means anything, right?

K. A. Laityis an award-winning author, scholar, critic and arcane artist. Her books include How to Be Dull,White RabbitDream Book, A Cut-Throat BusinessLush Situation, Owl Stretching, Unquiet DreamsChastity Flame, and Pelzmantel. She has edited My Wandering UterusRespectable HorrorWeird Noir, Noir Carnival and Drag Noir, plus written many short stories, scholarly essays, songs, and more. Follow her on TwitterInstagram or Facebook.

She also writes crime as Graham Wynd and historical fiction as Kit Marlowe.

Recommended Read: Love Is A Grift by Graham Wynd

Fox Spirit, Graham Wynd, International Noir, K A Laity, Paul D. Brazill, Punk Noir Magazine, Recommended Reads, Short Stories, Supernatural Noir, The Fall, Tom Waits, Victoria Squid

The first story in this tasty collection is Love Is A Grift – a twist on classic noir and crime fiction tropes that sharply changes its location – Ireland, Belgium, Finland, Scotland – and POVs – a hit-man, a femme fatale, a patsy – as it cleverly tells its tale.

Hammer Films, Girl On A Motorcycle, Tom Waits, Max Fleischer cartoons, Mark E Smith, Dorothy Parker, small-town Americana, domestic and dystopian noir and much more are all gleefully thrown into the noir mix along the way.

Graham Wynd’s Love Is A Grift is a lethal cocktail of noir short stories liberally spiked with a dark and delicious wit and is highly recommended. 

love-is-a-grift

 

Black Lizard (1962) by Graham Wynd

Films, Graham Wynd, International Noir, K A Laity, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine
Screen Shot 1
I have a new favourite caper movie thanks to The Cultural Gutter’s Carol: Black Lizard (黒蜥蜴 Kurotokage) from 1962. Based on the novel by popular 30s mystery novelist Edogawa Rampo (AKA Taro Irai) the book was adapted for the stage by no less than Yukio Mishima himself  who appears in the 1968 film of the novel (see the fantastic write up at Die Danger Die Die Kill!) but the first versions directed by Umetsugu Inoue, who also directed films for the Shaw Brothers.
Screen Shot 2
 
Machiko Kyo (best known from Rashomon) plays the titular character, a criminal mastermind and master (mistress?) of disguise who’s intent on kidnapping gem heiress Sanae right from under her father’s eye. He’s hired self-proclaimed ‘best detective in Japan, Kogoro Akechi (Minoru Oki). Sounds pretty pedestrian, right? NO. Singing and dancing and cross-dressing and romance happen AND THEN MORE. Some of the twists you’ll guess but what’s in the caves, probably not. 
Screen Shot 3
 
It’s a hoot, a delight, a surprise and I could not be more delighted to have seen it. Would make a great double feature with Tokyo Drifter because it’s got some of the same colour sensibilities but wayyyyy more 60s camp sensibility. Just see this clip which Carol lured me in with where the Black Lizard makes her escape with a little soft shoe. You will see why I am already imagining JaQuel Knight with the ghost of Bob Fosse whispering in his ear choreographing a new version with Janelle Monae in the starring role (hey, I can dream). Check it.
 
I’m off to write a caper novel now —
Screen Shot 5
Bio: A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Publications include LOVE IS A GRIFT and EXTRICATE from Fox Spirit Books, SATAN’S SORORITY from Fahrenheit 13 Press,  as well as tales in the 2016 Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks and the Anthony Award-nominated Protectors 2: Heroes . Wynd’s stories have been translated into German, Italian, Polish and Slovene. See a full list of stories (including free reads) here. Find Wynd on Facebook and Twitter.
love-is-a-grift

TORCH NOIR by GRAHAM WYND

Films, Fox Spirit, Graham Wynd, International Noir, K A Laity, Music, Noir, Noir Songs, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Story In A Song

 

libby

Libby Holman (1904 – 1971) by Sarony New York, ca. 1928.

The torch singer Libby Holman had a life so wild there have been at least two films inspired by it. In 1904 she was born to what had been a well-to-do Jewish family in Ohio—that is until her uncle embezzled all their money. Young Elizabeth graduated from the University of Cincinnati but she soon headed to Broadway to pursue the glitter. She became pals with actor Clifton Webb (noiristas know him as Lyle Waldecker in Laura), who dubbed her ‘The Statue of Libby’ (witty guy).

 

They both appeared in the revue The Little Show in 1929, which proved to be her big break. Her torchy rendition of the bluesy ‘Moanin’ Low’ struck a chord and she had curtain calls every night to hear her sing it again.

 

Soon everyone on Broadway was gaga for her sexy delivery and her signature style: she has been credited as the inventor of the strapless dress. Holman lived up to the reputation with an eclectic love life including lovers included DuPont heiress Louisa d’Andelot Carpenter (who stood by her through a lot), actress Jeanne Eagels, and the writer Jane Bowles, as well as Montgomery Clift.

 

The real drama that inspired the films, however, was her marriage with tobacco heir Zachary Smith Reynolds. Seven years her junior he was nonetheless completely obsessed and used his wealth to fly around after Holman until she agreed to marry him and give up her career. That lasted a year: she was a born performer. His snooty family hated her theatrical friends visiting the estate in Winston-Salem. At a party where she told her husband she was pregnant—rumour had it, by Albert Bailey ‘Ab’ Walker and not by Reynolds—yet another argument flared and then a shot rang out. Reynolds was found shot in the head.

 

While authorities accepted the death was suicide, a coroner’s inquiry suggested murder. Holman and Walker were charged. Then some weird things happened. Local gawkers saw the heavily-veiled Holman at court and a rumour that she was ‘mixed race’ stirred up the hand-wringers. Holman biographer Milt Machlin also suggests that anti-Semitism played a role. All the controversy riled up the Reynolds family who pressured the DA to drop all the charges. Libby was free and gave birth in 1933 to her son Christopher Smith “Topper” Reynolds.

 

The films, not surprisingly, focus on this time. Reckless (1935) stars Jean Harlow, William Powell and Franchot Tone. Harlow’s Mona Leslie is a stage star, William Powell the gambler/manager who loves her but won’t admit it and Tone is the wealthy playboy who drinks too much and convinces her to marry him one night when they’re both drunk. Regrets and a hangover ensue.

 

Sing, Sinner, Sing! (1933) is an odd little film that clearly capitalises on the notoriety of Reynold’s death without really going into any of the details. Sad torch singer and drunken impulsive rich guy leads to tragedy. But there’s screwball humour too, which is part of what makes the film so odd. As it’s out of copyright, we remixed clips from it to create a music video for the theme song to LOVE IS A GRIFT, because Libby Holman is the kind of torch singer we hoped to evoke. Leila Hyams gives the singer Lela a wistful air even in the few happy moments.

 

Later in life Libby Holman devoted a lot of her time and money to environment concerns and fighting for civil rights, but her life was also hounded by tragedy, including the death of her son. Eventually she succumbed to suicide in 1971. Her Connecticut estate Treetops has been preserved environmentally by joining it to the Mianus River State Park and her manor has become the home of the Treetops Chamber Music Society. It’s a lovely legacy for the singer.

A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub. Publications include LOVE IS A GRIFT and EXTRICATE from Fox Spirit Books, SATAN’S SORORITY from Fahrenheit 13 Press,  as well as tales in the 2016 Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks and the Anthony Award-nominated Protectors 2: Heroes . Wynd’s stories have been translated into German, Italian, Polish and Slovene. See a full list of stories (including free reads) here. Find Wynd on Facebook and Twitter.

love-is-a-grift

Out Now! Love Is A Grift by Graham Wynd

Fox Spirit, Graham Wynd, International Noir, K A Laity, Noir, Noir Songs, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Stories

 

love-is-a-grift

Love is a Grift by Graham Wynd
Cover and layout by S.L. Johnson Images

Sex, Death and Crime: The essentials of Noir.

How does obsession begin? For one hit man it starts with a target he just can’t kill. She leads him on a deadly spree across Europe. With every step he’s in deeper. Each crime binds them together like a vow and only death can part them. But will it be his… or hers?

Love is a Grift and the other stories in this collection offer a fresh take on a classic genre, that begins with obsession and most often ends with death.

A new collection from Graham Wynd

LOVE IS A GRIFT
1. GALWAY—The Salt House
2. BRUXELLES—À la Mort Subite
3. HELSINKI—Ravintola Saari
4. DUNDEE—The Tay Bridge Bar

OTHER TALES OF DESPERATION
PSYCHO MOTORCYCLE DOLLS (1966)
BONNIE & CLYDE 97 THE TENDER TRAP
DON’T CALL ME DARLING
SMALLBANY
TOY MONKEY
HAM ON HEELS
BONKERS IN PHOENIX
MESQUITE
LIFE JUST BOUNCES
MASQUERADE
INEVITABLE
BROKEN BICYCLES
THE CABAL 187 THE OVEN
BLOODY COLLAGE
THESE TOYS ARE FOR TOUGH BOYS
SOMEWHERE IN SLOVENIA
REPETITION
COPPED IT
SPIRITS IN THE NIGHT
DO ANYTHING YOU WANNA DO
I’VE TOLD EVERY LITTLE STAR
REBELLIOUS JUKEBOX
30 VERSIONS OF ‘WARM LEATHERETTE’

Love is a Grift by Victoria Squid

Euro Noir, Fox Spirit, Graham Wynd, International Noir, K A Laity, Music, Noir, Punk Noir Magazine, S L Johnson, Victoria Squid

 

Love Is A Grift song
The theme song for Graham Wynd‘s new noir LOVE IS A GRIFT available from from FoxSpirit.co.uk. ‘Four cities, one woman… and a trail of bodies.‘ This song is what brought her to that point. See GrahamWynd.com for more.

Lyrics

Love is a Grift
©2019 K. A. Laity

Love is a grift, love is a con;
The only sure thing is he’s putting you on.
He’s a schemer, a thief and a dreamer.

Love is a grift, love is a con;
The only sure thing is he’s putting you on.
He’s a loser, a cad and a boozer.

Love of a stranger
Can lead you into danger,
And trusting in the one you know
Can take you places you shouldn’t go.

BRIDGE

Champagne and whisky
Then play time gets risky.
The night runs hot, you get a lift.
Love is a scam but it’s also a gift.

Love is a grift, love is a con;
The only sure thing is he’s putting you on.
He’s a chiseler, your heart is a prisoner.

Love is a grift, love is a con;
The only sure thing is he’s putting you on.
He’s a cheater, stealing is sweeter.

It’s a gift, it’s a grift, it’s a con…
Lead me on.

Credits

released March 20, 2019
LOVE IS A GRIFT

© 2019 K. A. Laity — Nicnevin Music / ASCAP

Victoria Squid -Vocals
Julie Beman -Piano
Eric Bloomquist -Bass
Rich Germain -Drums
Brian Slattery -Trombone
Produced and arranged by Julie Beman and Eric Bloomquist
Engineered and mixed by Eric Bloomquist at Cool Ranch Studio
Artwork by S. L. Johnson Images

love-is-a-grift

Short Story in a Song/ Noir Songs: Richard Harris—MacArthur Park by Graham Wynd

Graham Wynd, Jim Thompson, Jim Webb, K A Laity, Music, Noir, Noir Songs, Non-fiction, Punk Noir Magazine, Short Story In A Song

 

 

For some, the opening notes of ‘MacArthur Park’ provoke joy—for others panic, especially if it’s on a tinny car radio and there’s no escape for the next seven minutes. Songwriter Jimmy Webb has said many times that he’s given misleading answers to the perpetual question of just what the hell this mock epic pop song is all about.

 

‘My fallback position after all these years is I will tell you that I’ve told deliberately false stories to people.’

 

One of the reasons for his coyness on the question might be the murderous history behind it. Inspired by reading too many Jim Thompson novels (always a bad idea) after a bad break up, Webb sought to put himself into the mind of a serial killer. He chose MacArthur for its association with gruesome murders, but the more direct inspiration came from the so-called ‘trash-bag murders’ (never mind that the victims were all young men and boys) making headlines in mid-60s Los Angeles.

 

Instead Webb imagined a killer desperate to control an elusive woman and unable to do so, killing her. In spring—a time of renewal—he was burning ‘in love’s hot fevered iron’ as she ‘ran one step ahead’ or if she was wise, many steps. But he catches her. He keeps her ‘yellow cotton dress’ as a memento, remembers the life he squeezes out of her like the chirps of birds, ‘tender babies in your hands’—transferring the act of murder to her hands instead of his own. The old men playing checkers offers a winking nod to Ingmar Bergman’s Seventh Seal (of course death and the crusader play chess but that doesn’t scan).

 

It’s his first murder and he is sentimentally attached to its memory: ‘there will be another song’ for him, another dream, another murder, but this one will remain important: ‘after all the loves of my life / You’ll still be the one.’ Cold comfort for her after he has drunk the wine while it was warm (a hint of cannibalism or at least haematophagy). For the narrator his power grows with each murderous thought: ‘I will take my life into my hands and I will use it’ seems to suggest that the lives he lusts for belong to him. By killing he ‘win[s] worship in their eyes’ and yet as he extinguishes the life his sorrow returns, for ‘I will lose it’. He has to repeat the act, vowing ‘I will have the things that I desire’ completing his rendering of the women into mere objects that he will claim.

 

The famous surreal chorus is the moment of his psychic break. All reality slips sideways. The grass melts. The cake (his sanity) dissolves in the rain, a repetition of the moment when he decided murder was the only way to keep her forever. The knowledge of his horrible act returns (‘I don’t think that I can take it’) and just as fiercely gets thrust away (‘Oh no!’) again and again.

 

The orchestration and Richard Harris’ impassioned delivery sell the morbid tale with all the trappings of romance and heartbreak (rather like the film version of Hughes’ In a Lonely Place), building sympathy for a cold-hearted killer. Or I just dreamed it.

Find out more about GRAHAM WYND here.

love-is-a-grift

The Mike Hodges School of Writing School by K A Laity

Anne Billson, Films, Graham Wynd, K A Laity, Mike Hodges, Non-fiction, Patricia Highsmith, Paul Mayersberg, Pulp, Punk Noir Magazine, The Fall, Writing


mike hodges

“I create things out of boredom with reality and with the sameness of routine and objects around me.”

Patricia Highsmith, Plotting and Writing Suspense Fiction

If films about writers are to be believed, all you have to do is live an interesting life, write it down, and change the names. Making things up always fails, like Romeo and Ethel the Pirate’s Daughter. Mike Hodges goes further to suggest that cynically manipulating the truth is the true way to success. The director whose work spans gritty neo-noir like Get Carter and the sublime silliness of Flash Gordon, made two films about writers decades apart, but they share some interesting qualities.

pulp

Pulp (1972) features the legend Michael Caine as the man who grinds out the titular tripe, first glimpsed in an office where panting typists churn out his fevered stew of sex and violence to support his indolent emigrant lifestyle in the Mediterranean. He’s tapped to ghost a veteran actor’s memoirs (Mickey Rooney in top form) then everything starts to get strange. Generally thought of as a cult classic, it mixes in a host of winking nods to the genre and ambles along to an odd conclusion.

I’ve only recently got around to Croupier (1998) thanks to Anne Billson and I can’t believe it took me this long. I think a lot of it had to do with how it was marketed as a crime film—which it is, but that’s not what’s interesting about the movie. From the first Clive Owen voice over he sounds like Guy in Your MFA who is writing ‘noir’ in his ironic Chandler persona. I may never get over the first shock of Owen as a blonde though. His girlfriend (fabulous Gina McKee) is clearly keen to think of him as a writer—so romantic! She’s disappointed when he takes a job as a croupier though  astonished at how much he’ll make.

Croupier-2

One of the things I appreciate about the script is how his whole back story in South Africa is built in little pieces throughout the film but never spelled out completely. Owen’s Jack is so tightly wound yet so clueless about himself. Gradually he begins to think about writing a novel about his co-worker, then at last just straight up autobiography (released anonymously). Of course it’s a success: imagination is overrated.

Bonus Alex Kingston, too.

paul mayesbergThe weirdest thing may be the writer, Paul Mayersberg, who has worked in and written about the film industry, as well as penning the Pulp-worthy erotic novels Violent Silence and Homme Fatale. Better known for scripts like The Man Who Fell to Earth and Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, he also wrote and directed The Last Samurai (1988). No, not the Tom Cruise one: the Lance Henrikson one. Who knows what happened between script and release, but the results were not stellar. On IMDB there are several scathing one star reviews along with a ten out of ten stars review, so who knows? Maybe it’s a hidden gem. I suspect it’s not.

Writing is hard. Live a life someone else can write about and you will probably be better off in the long run.

K. A. Laityis an award-winning author, scholar, critic and arcane artist. Her books include How to Be Dull,White RabbitDream Book, A Cut-Throat BusinessLush Situation, Owl Stretching, Unquiet Dreams, Chastity Flameand Pelzmantel. She has edited My Wandering Uterus, Respectable Horror, Weird Noir, Noir Carnival and Drag Noir, plus written many short stories, scholarly essays, songs, and more. Follow her on TwitterInstagram or Facebook.

She also writes crime as Graham Wynd and historical fiction as Kit Marlowe.

LAITY author photo

 

What can be more noir than February? – #Fahrenbruary by Aidan Thorn

Aidan Thorn, Chris Black, Fahrenheit 13, Fahrenheit Press, Graham Wynd, Noir, Non-fiction, Number 13 Press, Paul D. Brazill, Pulp, punk, Punk Noir Magazine, Shotgun Honey, Writing

rival sons

If you’re a reader of these pages I imagine you like your entertainment dripping in noir and with the spirit of punk running right through its core. So, I probably don’t need to introduce you to Fahrenheit Press and its hard-boiled and experimental imprint, Fahrenheit 13. But you may not be aware of the levels of dedication Fahrenheit readers have for what this wonderful small press is doing. Next month is February, and I know I didn’t need to tell you that because if you’re like me you’ll dread its arrival every year. It’s just far enough away from Christmas that it feels like a distant memory and the green shoots of spring and summer feel like they’ll never arrive. But this year the fans of Fahrenheit Press have decided to brighten things up with a celebration of dark, disturbing, funny, experimental, engaging, sad, heartfelt and just plain brilliant fiction. Yes, for fans of great fiction from this year forward February has been re-branded – .

The brain-child of two book bloggers, The Beardy Book Blogger (https://beardybookblogger.wordpress.com) himself (a man I only know as Mart) and Matt Keyes from It’s an Indie Book Blog – (https://itsanindiebookblog.com), will be a month-long celebration of some incredible books and authors that perhaps fly under your radar, but really shouldn’t. I was a fan of Fahrenheit Press before I ended up on their author list and so I’d have been supporting this initiative regardless of personal interest. But with Fahrenbruary nearly upon us I would like to highlight a format that’s much overlooked in literature that the likes of Farhenheit Press (through Fahrenheit 13) and Shotgun Honey are helping to give a voice to again, the novella. OK, so I do have to declare an interest – I write novellas (I may even have just shamelessly plugged both of my publishers in the last sentence), but I was a fan first, and I reckon if you’re reading these pages you might be too – but there’s a chance you don’t even know it yet.

when the music's overBetween 2013-15 an incredible project popped up called Number 13 Press. The mission, publish 13 novellas in 13 months. It was run by Chris Black and fuck did he achieve that mission. He published 13 brilliant individual pieces of fiction that found wide critical acclaim and gave readers new voices to read. I was lucky enough to be the tenth ‘Thirteener’ and I found myself amongst some truly astonishing company, the likes of Matt Phillips, Grant Nicol, Paul Brazill, Graham Wynd, B. R. Stateham, Robert White, Mark Ramsden, Richard Godwin, Ariana D. Den Bleyker, Steve Finbow, Michael Young and Turlough Delaney.  All unique voices bringing something different to the shorter form of writing. And, having recognised what a great and diverse collection of books Chris Black had put out, at the start of 2018 Fahrenheit Press took Number 13 Press under its wing and Fahrenheit 13 was born. So, this post is not only here to make you aware of the wonderful reader led initiative that is Fahrenbruary but also to make a pitch that if you want to take part – and you should – you consider taking a look at these atmospheric noir novellas, I don’t believe you’ll regret a moment.

For me the novella is the perfect form and the Fahrenheit 13 collection are the perfect example of it. We constantly hear that people don’t read anymore, I get it, we’re all busy – I know I am and that’s why I discovered the novella. I found novels that I used to be able to read in a week were taking me a month or more to get through – I was forgetting what had happened at the start by the time I got to the end! Step up the novella. For me this form is so gripping, let’s take the Fahrenheit 13 releases as an example of why. The author has to quickly pull the reader into the story with atmosphere and a hook, just look at the opening of Stateham’s A Killing Kiss. Fans of Stateham will be familiar with his Smitty character and here the reader is dragged into a criminal underworld with our hero. The characters have to be so well formed that the reader will instantly understand and form a connection with them – you don’t have to like them, or even be like them but they have to be well drawn so you go with them. Take Phillips’ title character Calvin Redbone in the pressure cooker piece that is Redbone, the reader feels every injustice, every emotion and every bit of pain along the way – we feel the book. In novellas we have to be quickly emerged into the world and therefore the setting is equally important, take Finbow’s Down Among the Dead where during its short length we move between modern day London and twenty years before in Belfast, both locations and time periods are described vividly and yet not a word is wasted. Then of course there’s perfect plotting – perhaps the most important element of all, whether it’s the unfolding in front of your eyes unknown even to the lead character plot of Young’s Of Blondes and Bullets or the manipulative and seductively brilliant rise of Sandra Delites in Satan’s Sorority these novellas are plotted to the nth degree.

So here ends my brief love letter to the novella, with their cinematic length, rich characters, atmospheric writing and page turning plot there’s really nothing a fan of great fiction shouldn’t love. In this time pressured world, where everything and everyone is screaming for our attention why not spend a few hours each week in the company of a good short book – and I promise there’s no better place to start than at Fahrenheit 13. This Fahrenbruary, pick up a novella or two (fuck it, buy the lot) directly from the Fahrenheit Press website and fall in love with reading all over again.

a tYou can keep up with what’s going on and tell others about your experiences this Fahrenbruary across social media by searching and using .

Bio: Aidan Thorn writes dark fiction about families and conflict. His short stories have been widely published across various anthologies and web mags.

His novellas When the Music’s Over and Rival Sons are available to buy now.