Tuesday, March 20, 2012


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A new crime fiction journal that mixes interesting, hard-hitting non-fiction with some of the best short fiction in the genre.
The lineup is:

Scott Phillips on the Factory novels of Derek Raymond
Ray Banks on film adaptations of Charles Willeford’s books
Lawrence Block on his various experiments with storytelling styles
Chris Rhatigan’s long interview with author Julie Morrigan
John Kenyon's interview with author Chris Offutt
John Kenyon's review of the three novels of John Rector

It also features brand new crime fiction stories from Jack Bates, Ken Bruen, Alec Cizak, Matthew C. Funk, Chris F. Holm, Craig McDonald, Court Merrigan, Thomas Pluck, Keith Rawson and Todd Robinson.


An interview with Grift Publisher John Kenyon:

1. You've spent most of your adult life as a reporter. Did any of your experiences lead you to hardboiled crime fiction?

Unlike some who have emerged from this job with a notebook full of ideas, I suppose I was driven to write about crime at least in part because of a lack of it in my day job. Of course, I have covered almost everything but cops and courts in my career, so it's no surprise that I didn't write much about crime. Really, I'm sure my motivation to turn to fiction was much like that of most people who earn a living writing news: Forced all day to stay within the confines of truth and facts (regardless of what those clever wags always so quick to criticize the media may suggest), it's nice to go home and spin out a tale made up of whole cloth. Sure, I'll pull bits and pieces from things I've reported on -- the novel I'm working to polish draws on the most newsworthy event to hit our area in 50 years -- but only in bits and pieces. I've yet to be so influenced by something on the beat that I've had the desire to fictionalize it.

2. How did the idea Grift develop?

There seems to have been an explosion of outlets for crime fiction over the past five years or so. Thanks to the ease of starting a sophisticated web site or utilizing print-on-demand technology, several people have launched publications of one kind or another. I've long had it in my head that I wanted to do something like this myself. The boxes in my basement full of issues of a music 'zine I published in the 90s (back issues available cheap!) kept me from taking that leap. The above-mentioned developments render that worry moot; Grift is print-on-demand, which means no inventory, no overhead. With that out of the way, I decided to do this. That said, I wouldn't have done so if I didn't think Grift would offer something different. I love Needle and Pulp Modern and other new-ish crime fiction magazines. But they are fiction-only. I wanted something that blended fiction and non-fiction.

There are outlets that do offer that mix; Crime Factory does it best. But I believe Grift is different from these, as much in tone as anything else. As I say in the submission guidelines, "Avoid things on either end of the intensity spectrum: we are not interested in cozies, nor are we impressed with stories drenched in buckets of blood with high body counts. Make us think, challenge us; it’s not the size of the gun, it’s what you do with it." I think this issue bears that out. There is a place for the ultra-violence of the so-called psycho-noirs -- and I read and enjoy it when it's done well -- I just don't want to publish it. Selfishly, I wanted to make the magazine that I want to read. I accomplished that. I hope enough other people share my sensibilities to make it a worthwhile endeavor.

3. The table of contents appear above. As I've said to you privately this is the most ambitious and extraordinary first issue of any kind I've ever seen. Was gathering all this material as daunting a job as I'd guess?

Thank you, Ed. That is high praise coming from you. It wasn't as daunting as one might expect. At my web site, Things I'd Rather Be Doing, I have interviewed and become friendly with many crime fiction writers over the years. After deciding to do this, I made a list of the people I knew that I wanted in this magazine. About half of them are in this first issue, and others have said that when they have something they think would fit, they'll submit it. The crime fiction community is full of nice, encouraging, supportive people who were willing to trust me with their work, despite having seen nothing more than a slick-looking web site. My hope is that their faith is justified by the final product, and that they and others will be willing to contribute in the future as a result.

4. What was your biggest obstacle in putting the issue to bed?

Time. A busy day job, two young kids full of energy, my own writing and reading... my romantic notions of chipping away at this in my free time quickly gave way to the reality that I would need to approach it like a part-time job. Now that I know the demands of getting an issue out, I hope to moderate that some, but I'm aware that to do this right, I'll need to dedicate significant time to it.

5. Since every magazine supposedly has a mission what do you see Grift's as being?

In short, to offer a good read. As I said above, I want this to offer a mix of insightful non-fiction and the best short fiction available. If someone reads the entire thing and wants more, I'll be happy. If they read something here and go in search of more from the people who contributed, I'll be ecstatic. I also want it to look great, and I'd be remiss if I didn't give a lot of credit to the designer, Tod Foley. He's an old friend who worked with me on that old music 'zine. We've both gotten a lot better since, and I'm excited for people to see the result.

6. What comes next for Grift?

If I'm able to manage it time-wise, we'll have two more issues in 2012, settling into a thrice-yearly schedule. I'd love to see more submissions on the non-fiction side of things. All but one non-fiction piece in this issue was solicited. They're great, and I think it makes for a nice blend, but the magazine will get stale quickly if the contents are limited to what I can conceive. I want long-form, New York Review of Books-style reviews that take an author's entire body of work into consideration when weighing a new work. I want essays that look at various eras, or sub-genres, or settings. I want probing interviews. I also would like to see more diversity in contributors. Save for interview subject Julie Morrigan, this is a magazine by and about white guys, mostly between the ages of 30-50. The big reason for that is that I received only one submission from a woman, and that one I hope to run in a subsequent issue. My hope is that once people see the magazine and what it offers, it will spark ideas and lead to a greater number of submissions.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I am sure GRIFT will be around for a long time given how well John did with his last venture: Grimm Tales.

Kelly Robinson said...

This sounds right up my alley.