Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Agent From Hell

I got an e mail yesterday asking me if I'd ever had trouble with an agent. I said that in almost thirty years I'd had trouble only once. I've had five agents and they've all done well for me with the usual ups and downs. The one exception was the agent who almost was. This is an archive post.

April 07, 2004
Last night I talked a little about my early days as a writer. While I'd sold a good number of cheesy stories to low-scale men's magazines, and an equal number of unmemorable stories to low-scale literary magazines, I could never finish a novel. Here I was approaching my fortieth birthday with maybe (and I don't exaggerate) fifty unfinished novels. I usually gave up around chapter four or five.

Then I met Max Allan Collins, not only a pro but an important one. He let me read his books in manuscript and it helped me see that writing novels was not the result of magical spurts but rather the result of writing two or three or four pages a day, just the way I did with my short stories. Al (Max) gave me two pieces of advice that I still honor. Look at each chapter as a short story. And never look back until you've finished your first draft. Thus encouraged, I wrote and finished my first novel, ROUGH CUT (Al even gave me the title).

Al liked the novel, suggested some revisions, and offered to help me find an agent. The latter proved impossible. Nobody wanted to handle me. One agent said, "Your hero is more psychotic than your villain." And in retrospect, he was right. A deeply disturbed guy, my hero.

My novel sat on my desk for a couple of months until one day I read about this "hot" new agent who'd had a lot of success with first novels.

I wrote him a pitch letter, he asked to see the book. Then he called to say that he liked it. But. He liked it but he didn't know if he wanted to take it on because the voice reminded him of Dick Francis and he hated Dick Francis' books. At that time I'd never read a single sentence by Dick Francis. The agent asked if he could hold on to my book and think it over. I was encouraged, even though I thought his routine about Dick Francis rather odd.

He turned out to be the Hamlet of agents. For three straight months, sometimes twice a month, he'd call and go through this dramatic monologue of what he liked about my book--a very humble first mystery, truly--and what he disliked about my book. Once I said to him that I'd finally read a Dick Francis novel and liked it quite a bit--nothing profound but the guy was slick, fast and surprisingly dark; and he hated rich people as much I do--but that I couldn't see any similiarity between us. He said to please give him a few more weeks.

He called one day when I was in a black mood and I told him to forget it, no more Hamlet, no more Dick Francis, send the fucker back post haste. He seemed genuinely shocked by my anger.

I next sent the book to St. Martin's next where a very young assistant editor--one who would have one of the fastest rises in the publishing history--read it in slush and liked it enough to pitch it at the editorial meeting. This was only his second such pitch. He was, I imagine, nervous. It took him several tries, as I recall, but he finally got the job done.

Book appears, most of the reviews are good. I set about writing a second novel so self-indulgent that it almost ended my career. My editor gently suggested that I put it in a drawer and "think about it for awhile." I immediately set to work on a more straightforward mystery.

One Sunday I got an especially nice review in "Newsday" (I think it was) and my editor called to tell me about it. Then a little later I'm working away and the phone rings. I pick it up and it's Hamlet. He congratulates me on the review and tells me (I'm not making this up) that I owe him 10% of the advance and that he expects to handle my next novel. He claimed to have spent a lot of time on my book. In a rather loud voice I told him what I thought of him and then slammed the phone down.

This has been a True Agent Horror Story. I spent a long Sunday afternoon with four agents in a posh Chicago Loop restaurant a few years ago. They all got pretty sloshed and guess what? They spent a couple hours regaling me with True Author Horror Stories. Believe it or not, they have even more stories about us than we do about them. And they're all true, too.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Glad Tidings

Ed here: This may have happened before tbut if so I can't remember when or where. Tom Piccirilli has been nominated twice in the same paperback original category for the International Thriller Awards. Congratulations, Tom.

Best Paperback Original:
SHADOW SEASON by Tom Piccirilli
URGE TO KILL by John Lutz
THE COLDEST MILE by Tom Piccirilli
NO MERCY by John Gilstrap


Ed here: I realized when I saw this on No Fear Of the Future that I've been reading Neil Barrett, Jr. stories for at least fifty years.
He's one of those writers who has not only survived a long career he's used his tenure to get better and better and better. It's nice to see his enormous talents formally appreciated.
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2010

Neal Barrett, Jr., named 2010 SFWA Author Emeritus

COCO BEACH, FLA. – Neal Barrett, Jr., author of The Hereafter Gang, named by the Washington Post as “one of the great American novels,” and Interstate Dreams, recognized as an award-winner by the Texas Institute of Letters, will be honored as Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America for the 2010 Nebula Awards® Weekend in Coco Beach, Fla.

The moved was announced by SFWA President Russell Davis.

“I am very pleased and proud to be a part of the upcoming Nebula Awards ceremonies in Florida, and have the chance to talk to the people I respect the most---the writers who do the job every day that I've done since I could hold that blue crayon up straight,” Barrett said.

Barrett is known in the science fiction and fantasy world for works such as Through Darkest America, Dawn’s Uncertain Light and Prince of Christler-Coke, and a number of outstanding short story collections such as Perpetuity Blues, Slightly Off Center and A Different Vintage. Barrett has published more than 50 novels and 70-plus shorter works since his first sales in 1959.

“I sold a short story to both Galaxy and Amazing at the same time,” Barrett said. “I was certain this meant it would be smooth sailing in this profession from then on.”


“I have a great respect for many of the editors and publishers I’ve worked with,” Barrett said. “And I’d like to say how much I admire the contributions of the small press, houses such as Subterranean Press and Golden Gryphon. I’m proud to say that a lot of what I feel is my best work is due to the editors of these presses.

“Like many professional writers, I’ve written westerns, mystery-suspense, horror, noir, air war stories, the Hardy Boys, Tom Swift, novelizations such as Judge Dredd, Barb Wire and Dungeons & Dragons,” he said. “One of my all-time favorite jobs is writing comic books--I think I’ve turned out over a thousand pages by now. That’s what writers do, you know--they often do what needs to be done. And I’ve found that a real pro puts everything he or she has into whatever project comes along. You name it. I can’t tell you how many names besides mine are out there over the work I’ve done for a series or special projects."

The 2010 Nebula Awards® Weekend will be held in Coco Beach, Fla., May 13-16. The date was chosen to coincide with the scheduled launching of the Shuttle Atlantis on Friday, May 14. The Nebula Awards will be presented at a banquet on Saturday evening, May 15. Vonda N. McIntyre and Keith Stokes will be honored with the SFWA Service Award, and Joe Haldeman will be honored as the next Damon Knight Grand Master. For more information, visit

Monday, March 29, 2010

Turner Classic Movies: Odds Against Tomorrow

Ed here: I watched this last night, thought the TCM summary said it best.

Odds Against Tomorrow

Three men - an embittered ex-con (Robert Ryan), a former cop (Ed Begley) who was fired from the force for illegal activities, and a chronic gambler (Harry Belafonte) - try to change their lousy lot in life by forming a partnership in crime. But a plan to heist a payroll from a small-town bank in upstate New York is doomed from the start because of the racial tensions within the group.

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) is often acknowledged as one of the last films to appear in the film noir cycle which reached its height in the post-World War II era. However, this crime thriller is much more complex than the standard genre entry. While it's certainly gritty and downbeat in the best noir tradition, it also works as an allegory about greed as well as a cautionary tale about man's propensity for self-destruction. Financed by Harry Belafonte's own company, Harbel Productions, Odds Against Tomorrow allowed Belafonte to exercise complete creative control over the film's conception and to handpick an expert cast and crew to bring his project to the screen. In an article in the New York Times, Belafonte said, "The character I play is not thrown in for a racial thesis, but because the bank robbers - played by Ed Begley and Robert Ryan - need a Negro who can enter the bank as a colored delivery man. While Robert Ryan hates the Negro, it is not merely a racial antagonism. He hates everybody, and the Negro is no stereotype of sweetness and light either. No brotherly love saves everyone here. Their hatred destroys them both."

Robert Ryan gives one of his finest performances here as the pathetic, venom-spewing racist Earle Slater. Off screen, Ryan was a compassionate activist who was committed to such liberal causes as SANE and the ACLU but on-screen he was often cast as angry, misanthropic characters who occasionally expressed themselves through violence. Crossfire (1947), Beware, My Lovely, and On Dangerous Ground (both 1952) are probably the best examples of this typecasting. Shelley Winters and Gloria Grahame also have minor supporting roles in Odds Against Tomorrow but while their scenes are brief, they both make indelible impressions. You can also spot Cicely Tyson, Wayne Rogers, and Zohra Zampert in tiny roles.

Odds Against Tomorrow was filmed on location in a small town in the Hudson River Valley, New York City, and at the Gold Medal Studios in the Bronx. Director Robert Wise completed the film between his Oscar-winning productions of I Want to Live! (1958) and West Side Story (1961). The screenplay was written by Nelson Giddens, blacklisted writer Abraham Polonsky (who wasn't allowed to accept an onscreen credit until 1968), and black novelist John O. Killens, who later penned the revisionist antebellum drama Slaves (1969). The latter film also provided work for former blacklist victims, director Herbert J. Biberman and his wife, actress Gale Sondergaard. The moody, evocative jazz score is by John Lewis, the pianist for the Modern Jazz Quartet.

Director: Robert Wise
Producer: Robert Wise, Phil Stein (associate)
Screenplay: Abraham Polonsky, Nelson Gidding, John O. Killens, William McGivern (novel)
Cinematography: Joseph C. Brun
Music: John Lewis
Art Direction: Leo Kertz
Principle Cast: Harry Belafonte (Johnny Ingram), Robert Ryan (Earl Slater), Shelley Winters (Lorry), Ed Begley (Dave Burke), Gloria Grahame (Helen), Will Kuluva (Bacco), Kim Hamilton (Ruth Ingram)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Jim Crace; Henry Gregor Felsen; Suicidal animals?

From Dave Zeltersman:

Ed, I never heard of Jim Crace, but I found his outlook on writing and publishing honest and refreshing. I think there's a good amount of wisdom here.

He is, he says, already at work on his next novel. Will it follow the direction of All That Follows, or return to more familiar territory? The latter, he confirms, and then adds – very casually – that it will be his last book. "Writing careers are short," he expands. "For every 100 writers, 99 never get published. Of those who do, only one in every hundred gets a career out of it, so I count myself as immensely privileged. I will have written 12 novels when I finish this next book and it's enough. I'm going to stop. Too often bitterness is the end product of a writing career. I keep seeing writers who have grown bitter. And I know that I am just as likely to turn bitter as anyone else. So it's self-preservation."

Most writers would say that they are driven to write and know no other way to fill their time or make sense of the world. Crace is amused by their presumption. "My belief is that I will be quite happy not writing," JD Salinger once said, 'You've got no idea the peace of writing and not publishing,' but I am going to go one better and find the peace of not writing and not publishing. I'm looking forward to it."

for the complete article go here:

----------------Henry Gregor Felsen fans

Dear Ed,
I am Henry's daughter, and today I spent the afternoon googling him. I was
excited to find the comments on your blog about how he influenced you. I am
getting ready to republish Hot Rod for the 60th anniversary. I am still
contacted by his fans, and they have encouraged me to do this. Would you mind if
I quoted you on my web page? I'm just getting it started, and would like to put
some comments from other people. I haven't set up much on it yet, but I've told
the story of Hot Rod from my point of view. I was born two weeks after he
finished it!

I'm glad I found your blog, and enjoyed reading many of your posts, as well as
my dad's!

Thank you,
Holly Felsen Welch

-----------------------Do animals commit suicide?
(from Mind Hacks)

Do animals commit suicide?:

Time magazine has a short article on the history of ideas about whether animals can commit suicide. It starts somewhat awkwardly by discussing the recent Oscar winning documentary on dolphins but is in fact based on an academic paper on 'animal suicide'.

Changes in how humans have interpreted animal suicide reflect shifting values about animals and our own self-destruction, the paper argues. The Romans saw animal suicide as both natural and noble; an animal they commonly reported as suicidal was one they respected, the horse. Then for centuries, discussion of animal suicide seems to have stopped. Christian thinkers like St. Thomas Aquinas deemed suicide sinful for humans and impossible for animals. "Everything naturally loves itself," wrote Aquinas in the 13th century. "The result being that everything naturally keeps itself in being."

In 19th century Britain, however, after Darwin demonstrated how humans evolved from animals, humane societies formed, vegetarianism and pets became popular, and reports of animal suicide resurfaced. The usual suspect this time was the dog. In 1845 the Illustrated London News reported on a Newfoundland who had repeatedly tried to drown himself: "The animal appeared to get exhausted, and by dint of keeping his head determinedly under water for a few minutes, succeeded at last in obtaining his object, for when taken out this time he was indeed dead."
Of course, the article doesn't answer the question of whether animals can end it all, but is a fascinating look at how the idea that they can has gone in and out of fashion.

UPDATE: Thanks to Mind Hacks reader Avicenna for pointing out that the full text of the academic article 'The nature of suicide: science and the self-destructive animal' is available online.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pro-File: Stephen D. Rogers

Pro-File: Stephen D. Rogers

1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).

SHOT TO DEATH, a collection of mystery short stories, was just released
by Mainly Murder Press.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

I'm working on a contempory PI novel. And in the background I'm trying to
sell a World War II PI novel. I wasn't sure whether I should start writing
the sequel to that or something different, and eventually I went with
something different. On other fronts, I just wrapped a gritted-teeth
non-fiction project, and I'm putting together the lectures for a course
on dialogue that starts all too soon.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The greatest pleasure for me is the writing. It's all about the writing.
I wrote long before I was published, and I imagine I'll be writing long
after anyone is interested in publishing what I write.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

All the time I kill, going through the motions, waiting to get back to
the writing.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Rather than advice (for I don't know the answers), I'll share a story.
I was selling books at a fair in the town where I'd grown up, and a lot
of people spent a lot of time talking with me about the book and my writing
and our shared past. Very few people plunked down the $9.95 for the book,
instead spending probably five times that on food, pony rides, games, and
assorted crafts. There seems to be a disconnect when it comes to books.
People don't mind them, just not in their neighborhood.

6. What is the best piece of writing advice you ever got?

I wandered into a lecture at the Bread Loaf writer's Conference and watched
the presenter describe how her entire story was contained within the first
sentence. That was life-altering. I spent much of the rest of the
dwelling on that idea (and hunting through the used bookstore in town).

7. What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever got?

"Write what you love, and success will follow." While I'm familiar with the
the drudgery of writing something only for the pay, I've also written things
that I've loved, that I knew I was the only person who could have produced
those manuscripts, that drew editoral praise for the writing and the
execution, and yet sit on the hard drive unsold.

8. What is the best piece of writing business advice you ever got?

Submit early and submit often. I've worked in a lot of different industries
and companies, and that helped me see product as product. (A rejection means
the editor is declining to publish a particular manuscript for reasons that
may have very little to do with the merit of the work and virtually nothing
to do with me). A manuscript is product, and sales is a numbers game.

9. What is the worst piece of writing business advice you ever got?

I'm beginning to wonder if the answer to that is "network." Listen: if I
had to name my favorite writer, I'd probably pick Richard S. Prather, and
while I wish I could have met him, why? I'd shake his hand, thank him for
his words, and then quote passages from his books that he may or may not
remember. But it's what he wrote that's important. Let's say we went to
dinner, or traveled together for a week, or became lifelong friends. All
that time we spent together would be time he wasn't writing, and time I
wasn't reading what he'd written, and time I wasn't writing my own stuff
in the hope that I could return the favor.

10. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?

I'd like to see Richard s. Prather and Donald Hamilton on the shelves
again. That said, I'm beginning to wonder if anybody is in print. I go
into the stores with a notebook filled with titles and I come out with a

11. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget
that moment.

I'll have to get back to you on that. ;) I can, however, talk about my
first short story sale. Or my first sale to an anthology. Or my first
sale to an online market. Or my first sale to a foreign market. Or my
sale that earned four figures. Or my first sale that became an award
nomination. But then again, I can't. What I do remember is the creation
of the stories. I remember where I was, the circumstances, the various
thrills and moments of amazement.

Mystery author Dorothy Francis

Mystery author Dorothy Francis drops a few clues about why she writes…
(Reprinted here from Dames in Dialogue)

March 23, 2010 in Author & Celebrity Interviews | Tags: author, Dorothy Francis, Eden Palms Murder, interview, Key West Mystery series, mystery, mystery series, Writing | by Caitlyn Hunter | 12 comments

1. Tell us about your latest book, Eden Palms Murder,

Here’s the 25-word pitch I give to agents, editors, or readers who ask this question.


People frequently ask me which one of my books is my favorite. That’s an easy question. Eden Palms Murder (A Key West Mystery) is my favorite because my latest book is always my favorite! It was published by Five Star and imprint of Gale, a part of Cengage Learning. The purpose of fiction is not to teach or preach, but to entertain. Writing Eden Palms Murder entertained me for several months and I hope it will entertain the reader for several hours. It’s a fast-paced thriller that will keep you turning the pages. So take the phone off the hook and keep the lights on.

2. Share a little bit about how you came up with the idea for Eden Palms Murder.

Most of the year I live in a small city in the Midwest, but in the winter my writing studio is in my home office in the Florida Keys where I live for months when Iowa turns to ice and snow.

I loved Key West the first moment I saw it. I felt as if I had lived there before in some long-ago past life. I could find my way around without a map whereas in Iowa, I still get lost and sometimes have to go back home and start out again with a map and better directions. So with this new/old background, story ideas concerning boats, midnight drug runners, moonlight swimming, and fascinating people came unbidden. Descriptions came as easy as looking out my window and jotting notes.

Ideas for a book don’t come in one neatly wrapped package. I’ve drawn on many things in creating Eden Palms Murder.

Sunsets, shrimp boats, homeless beach sleepers, homeless shelters, music, dancing, black-market thieves, mansions, tents, and talkative Key West cabbies at the International airport.

3. Can you tell us what you’re working on now or what’s coming up next?

My next mystery also will be set in Key West, but I won’t tell details. Telling before writing makes the writing seem less essential. The tentative title of my next mystery is Killer in Control. I can give you the 25-word pitch.


It’s almost as hard to write those 25 (okay, so 26) words as it is to write the book! It’s a drill I learned from Lori Wilde’s book Got High Concept? I recommend using it to every novelist.

4. Where do you find your inspiration for writing?

I sit down at my computer every morning because I find that morning is the best time for me to write. I plan to stay there for at least three hours. I have a choice. Inspiration or boredom. I never choose boredom. I put something on that blank page. One line. And then another. And another.

5. What is a typical writing day like? Do you have any habits or established routines that work best for you?

First I sit down at the computer with a loose plan for what I hope to accomplish that day. I don’t read my e-mail yet. That’s a real no-no—totally distracting. Reading e-mail is delayed until I finish the day’s writing goal. If possible, I reread a few pages that I completed the day before, and then I go on from there. If I remember to do so, I stop every 30 minutes or so and rest my eyes and think. Thinking. That’s the hard part. I always try to stop writing when I know what’s coming next. That makes it easier to start the next morning.

6. So far the fat lady hasn’t begun to sing. How do you stay motivated?

I have a strong preference for writing as opposed to not writing. And I always have a few ideas churning in my head or on a back burner in my mind. I get those ideas from newspapers, TV, overheard conversations (that one’s really fun). Writing is a strange occupation. You can quit and nobody notices. Or you can start again and nobody notices that either. BUT if you quit and nobody cares and start again and nobody cares, you’re in big trouble. Having a backlog of ideas keeps me motivated.

7. Is there a genre you haven’t tried yet, but would like to?

Not really. I’ve written children’s books, adult romances, nonfiction on social concerns, poetry, short story. Mysteries are my favorite. They are what I like to read—and write. Mysteries are what I liked to read as a child.

8. Can you tell us a bit about how you promote your work? Any tips other writers might try?

For me, promotion is the hardest thing about writing. It’s awfully close to bragging. My parents instilled in me that bragging wasn’t necessary, that if you’d done something wonderful, people would notice. Ha! I differ with that thought.

Five Star has been great about sending out review copies of Eden Palms Murder. And they allow me extra copies to send to reviewers of my choosing. I subscribe to several on-line digests for readers and writers and I always announce any new book I have coming out, when, where, how to get it, etc.

When invited, I speak at schools, colleges, libraries, writer’s conferences, club meetings. So far I haven’t twittered, face booked, or U-tubed. Also, I’ve done little bogging. I sign every e-mail and letter with my name, title of most recent book, and url for my website.

When possible I attend writer’s conferences and conventions. Once when I was at the spring MWA convention, I was surprised to see a line of people waiting to talk to me. Whee! That was my first thought. Then I learned that those people thought I might be Dick Francis’s wife and they wanted to know where Dick was. Letdown!

9. What is your most cherished reader reaction to your work?

I like to hear that the reader enjoyed the read and that they couldn’t guess the end until they reached the last page.

10. Who has been the biggest influence in your writing career and why?

My parents have been the biggest influence in my writing career. They both were college graduates and I heard correct English spoken at home every day. My elementary school teachers influenced me to learn to spell. A college English teacher also was a great influence. After frustrating me with a semester of Cs, she gave me an A on a final paper and wrote: you have just a spark of talent. At that time my goal as a music major was to play trumpet in a girl’s band. I did that. But when I grew tired of the traveling musician life, I remembered that teacher who said I had a spark of talent and I began using it. Slowly. Very slowly at first. And as I began reading analytically, Phyllis Whitney’s books showed me the way.

11. What part of the craft of writing has improved since you wrote your first book?

Mercy goodness—all of them have improved. Maybe the most important thing I learned to do was to put the creation of character before the creation of plot.

They go hand in hand, of course, but at first, I thought plot was what held a story together.


12. Do you have a favorite saying or expression from your neck of the woods?

I won’t trade an ounce of morning for a pound of afternoon.

Dorothy Francis
Eden Palms Murder

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I spent two hours in the cancer clinic getting set up for my fourteen radiation sessions that start Monday morning. This is the quietest public building I've ever been in. Made me feel downright contemplative; I'm half-serious. When I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in the spring of 2002 one of the nurses I spent a lot of time with was named Caroline. I was happily surprised to see her again after all these years. She's head nurse of the radiation section. She's a lot of fun and loves books. Turns out she's a big fan of the tv show "Castle" so we talked about most of the crime shows have been played out for a long time. Then we got to work. I've been measured and positioned for where I'm to be zapped. So I'm ready to go. This is my third go round so I know the drill and don't expect any serious downsides.


Ed here: I've been a fan of Michael Moorcock's Elric (and various other of his books in that universe) since they first appeared. This week he wrote a piece for about how they came to be written. Man this would make even Max Brand shudder.

"I’m not even sure what the year was. I’d had the outline for the series for a year or two, together with a couple of chapters, I think, when Larry Shaw of Lancer asked me for a new fantasy series to follow the first two Elric books and the Blades of Mars series. This would have been in 1965 or 6, I think. I had not actually planned to write any more, but I can rarely resist a request!

"My old method of writing fantasy novels was to go to bed for a few days, getting up only to take the kids to school and pick them up, while the book germinated, making a few notes, then I’d jump out of bed and start, writing around 15-20,000 words a day (I was a superfast typist) for three days, rarely for more than normal working hours—say 9 to 6—get my friend Jim Cawthorn to read the manuscript for any errors of typing or spelling etc. then send it straight to the editor unread by me. I have still to read more than a few pages of the Hawkmoon books. The odd thing is that I’ve actually read almost none of my own books but I seem to remember the events as if I’d lived them. Some scenes are better remembered than others, of course. Similarly, I’ve reread almost nothing of the Elric, Corum or Eternal Champion novels."

for the rest go here:

-----------------------------THE POPULAR CROWD

I picked this up from the most excellent Cinema Retro website. I went to two or three movies a week back then so I'm familiar with everybody on these lists. But there are some surprises--that Marilyn Monroe didn't rank higher and that Ingrid Bergman ranked at all..

In 1961, Boxoffice magazine listed the All-American Film Favorites of 1960. The selections were based on a poll of theater owners in the USA.





Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pro-File: Christopher Golden

CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN is the award-winning, bestselling author of such novels as The Myth Hunters, Wildwood Road, The Boys Are Back in Town, The Ferryman, Strangewood, Of Saints and Shadows, and (with Tim Lebbon) The Map of Moments. He has also written books for teens and young adults, including Poison Ink, Soulless, and the thriller series Body of Evidence, honored by the New York Public Library and chosen as one of YALSA's Best Books for Young Readers. Upcoming teen novels include a new series of hardcover YA fantasy novels co-authored with Tim Lebbon and entitled The Secret Journeys of Jack London.

A lifelong fan of the "team-up," Golden frequently collaborates with other writers on books, comics, and scripts. In addition to his recent work with Tim Lebbon, he co-wrote the lavishly illustrated novel Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire with Mike Mignola. With Thomas E. Sniegoski, he is the co-author of multiple novels, as well as comic book miniseries such as Talent and The Sisterhood, both currently in development as feature films. With Amber Benson, Golden co-created the online animated series Ghosts of Albion and co-wrote the book series of the same name.

Pro-File: Christopher Golden

1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).

CG: Hmm. Things coming up. At the end of July, Ace will reissue my first novel, OF SAINTS AND SHADOWS, and follow it every two months with the rest of the Peter Octavian series. I'm really pleased to be getting those books back in print. The same day, Bantam will release THE CHAMBER OF TEN, a new supernatural thriller I've written with Tim Lebbon. Then, in September, Pocket/MTV will publish my YA urban fantasy novel WHEN ROSE WAKES, which is about a teenage girl who wakes from a coma in New York City with no memory of her earlier life. She lives with her aunts, who are wonderful to her, but there are sinister things about, and slowly she begins to wonder if she might actually BE the actual Sleeping Beauty.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

CG: I recently completed a truly weird new book for Disney Press that is a unique prequel to an upcoming film called DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. Guillermo del Toro co-wrote and produced the film, and worked with me on sorting out exactly what form the bizarre prequel book would take. Since I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to say about it, I can't divulge any more details right now. Mike Mignola and I are writing the fourth issue of BALTIMORE: THE PLAGUE SHIPS, the first miniseries that Dark Horse will be publishing as part of a series of miniseries spinning out of BALTIMORE, OR, THE STEADFAST TIN SOLDIER AND THE VAMPIRE, a novel I wrote with Mike. And I'm in the thick of things on WAKING NIGHTMARES, the brand new Peter Octavian novel that will be out in 2011. After that, a new novel with Mignola, more books with Tim Lebbon, and other things I can't talk about right now.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

CG: There are so many, but in my career, there's no contest. Having written for teens, I have received e-mails from both teens and parents thanking me for writing something that the kids wanted to read. I've been told that my books were responsible for getting some kids to like to read for the first time, and for influencing some of their choices for their future careers. In one case, a teenager wrote to tell me that her mother wanted me to know that she attributed the rise in the girl's English grade from a C to an A to my books. Nothing beats that.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

CG: I'm going to get in trouble here, but I know a lot of writers would agree with me. It's the people who are enchanted by their own intellect and who are mystified by the fact that I've managed to have a writing career when they don't. Invariably, these are the people who raise their hand to ask a question at a panel or signing and instead make long-winded statements in an attempt to make themselves look smarter than everyone else in the audience. They're the people who've maybe dabbled in writing, but never seriously attempted to do the work, because they think someone should just recognize their brilliance--like the myths about Golden Age Hollywood actresses being discovered in soda shops--and give them book contracts. I *love* seeing the enthusiasm in people who truly want to write, and I try my best to give them time and feedback whenever I can. But there's always one, y'know? One person for whom it is not about writing at all. I love readers and writers, but I wish those others would just stay away.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is

CG: For dealing with the publishing world? Remember that it's a business, first, last, and always. Even if you have a personal relationship with someone, you've always got to let them know that you understand it's a business. Remember that there are a thousand writers out there who are more talented than you are, but talent alone is not enough. It's about skill, persistence, reliability, professionalism, flexibility, and passion. A lot of people can sell a book. A small fraction of those can have a career. I've been incredibly fortunate to be one of them, and I remind myself of that every day.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?

CG: George C. Chesbro!! The Mongo series is one of my favorite series of all time. I adore those books, and the Archangel books that tie in to them. Also, I'd have to go with Don Winslow's series about Neal Carey. Winslow is well-published now, but those books are kind of forgotten, and deserve a wider audience.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

CG: I started it as a senior in college. I'd written 125 pages when I met Lori Perkins, who was my first agent. Lori read it and said that she thought she could sell it, but that she wanted me to start over. Seriously. She said I'd been in school too long, that the writing felt manipulative and it needed a more natural flow. She recommended that I set the manuscript beside the computer as a guideline, and just rewrite the whole thing. I rewrote that first 125 or so pages, wrote a synopsis, and not longer after, I received an offer for my first two novels from Ginjer Buchanan at Ace. I had a great job at the time, working for Billboard magazine in New York, but as soon as the contracts were signed, I put in my two week notice and never looked back. I quit in October, 1992, at the age of 25, and I've been a full time writer ever since. It's never easy. Almost always month-to-month, trying to make ends meet, taking care of my family. But I've never once thought it wasn't worth it.

8. Best advice about writing you ever received?

CG: From multiple sources, as I was building my career, I was told to ignore reviews. Perhaps "ignore" is the wrong word, because from a business perspective they can be useful, and certainly the good ones make you feel pretty damn good. But you've got to take it all with a grain of salt. I read a review of something of mine last year that referred to me as one of the finest fantasy writers of my generation, or something equally superlative. Actually, I think it was even more complimentary than that. It made me happy, but when I mentioned it to my friend Tom Sniegoski, with whom I speak nearly every day, I laughed about it. You can't really take something like that to heart, because if you do, then you've also got to take to heart the people who say you're dog-shit, that you're the biggest hack in the universe. As long as it seems to me that more people are enjoying what I'm doing than not, then I'll be content with that, as long as, first and foremost, *I* am enjoying it.

9. Worst advice about writing you've ever received?

CG: Many years ago, I was very close friends with an older writer who perceived himself as a mentor of sorts, though I didn't look at the relationship that way. I'd published a few adult novels, a few YA novels, and I'd started to do work for hire--X-Men, Hellboy, and Buffy. We were at a group signing and he went on at great length about how I was going to destroy my career, that editors and publishers would never take me seriously if I did work-for-hire. I disagreed, citing a generational gap in his understanding of the situation. Already, I had editors giving me MORE work, buying original YA series and other things from me, based on the media tie-in stuff I'd written. I don't write a lot of media tie-in projects now, but in those days, as a full time writer, I had to feed my family. I was very fortunate to be able to write tie-ins that were based on properties that I loved and enjoyed working with. In any case, I obviously ignored his advice, and I'm very glad that I did. He, on the other hand, was not so pleased, and slagged me off in a major genre publication, really getting nasty. Our relationship now is amiable enough, but the friendship we'd built up was destroyed.

10. Best advice about the business you've ever received?

CG: I've known comics and horror legend Steve Bissette for more than twenty years. He's a good friend, and someone I trust without reservation. Back in late 1992 or very early 1993, I interviewed Steve for a comics industry magazine...a very, very long interview that was eventually printed at about 20% of its length. Someday I hope to have someone print the full length version. I learned a lot of lessons about the industry and how to conductive yourself as a creative person from Steve, both during that interview and during conversations we'd had before and afterward. But the best piece of advice Steve gave me, learned through his own experiences, was that every single time you sign a contract, you've got both know what you're signing, and be at peace with it. If others benefit from your hard work later and you feel slighted...well, you signed that contract. You've got to let it go. But the only way to prepare yourself to do that is to know and understand and make peace with what you're signing from the outset.

11. Worst advice about the business you've ever received?

CG: Easy. "Don't rock the boat." That's bullshit. You can be polite and friendly and professional and still stand up for yourself, still push forward your own agenda, get answers you want. Especially if someone who is supposed to be speaking on your behalf is doing so in a way you don't approve of, be it deceptive or hostile or too timid, you've got to rock the boat sometimes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Michael Connelly Sues Paramount Over Stalled 'Bosch'

From The Wrap

Michael Connelly Sues Paramount Over Stalled 'Bosch'

by Josh Dickey

Mystery writer Michael Connelly wants the first two books featuring Det. Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch back from Paramount, and he's willing to go to court to get them.

Movie rights to the books featuring the fictional LAPD detective-turned-PI -- Connelly's first and best-known serial character -- were sold to the studio back in 1992. But neither "The Black Ice" nor "Black Echo" was ever made, triggering a clause in the contract that allowed Connelly to buy those rights back after a 15-year period with no principal photography.

As part of any buyback deal, Connelly was to reimburse Paramount for any "out-of-pocket development costs" incurred on the project.

But in a lawsuit filed Monday in Los AngelesSuperior Court, Connelly accuses Paramount of dragging its feet on gathering accurate information about what it spent on those projects, then presenting him with an inflated figure that contained costs not covered by the agreements.

The lawsuit alleges breach of contract; breach of good faith dealing; and seeks an accurate accounting of Paramount's repurchase price. It also seeks a declaratory judgment that the repurchase cost not include certain types of expenses, as well as "other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper."

Bosch was featured in 15 Connelly novels, including "The Concrete Blonde" and most recently "9 Dragons." None has ever been made into a feature film.

Paramount said Monday night that it had no comment on the lawsuit.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Nathanael West; Phil Spector; Disney-boobs

Ed here: Over on Salon Laura Miller reviews Marion's Meade's "Lonelyhearts: The Screwball World of Nathanael West and Eileen McKinney" which documents the lives of two extremely different people who got together for a year, exchanged vows and then got killed in a car crash. Miller's review told me a lot about West I didn't know. My favorite bit here is the picture of James Joyce reading Anita Loos'. Here are some excerpts:

"Born Nathan Weinstein, the only son of a prosperous Manhattan real estate developer, West was an outrageously spoiled child who spent much of his youth getting over the idea that he shouldn't be expected to work or show up on time or in any other way trouble himself to get by in the world. (The Depression did a lot to revise this attitude.) His domineering philistine of a mother instilled in him a streak of bumptious misogyny and a contempt for his parents' generation of Russian-Jewish strivers, abundantly evident in his fiction. Meade sees a lot of homoeroticism in West's work and some signs of same-sex activity in his medical history, but most of his carnal encounters seem to have been with female prostitutes -- and he had multiple cases of the clap to prove it. He was dreamy, physically clumsy, a natty dresser and (fatally, alas) a lousy driver.

"Infatuated with Russian novels as a boy, West started out as the sort of an aspiring author who thought he had to relocate to Europe to produce anything great. (One of Meade's more inspired uses of biographical research explains that the week West spent hanging out in Parisian cafes hoping to rub shoulders with serious writers like James Joyce was the same week Joyce spent sprawled on his sofa, reading Anita Loos' proto-chicklit classic, "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.") I

When West finally befriended some literary luminaries (Dorothy Parker, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edmund Wilson), it seldom did him any good. As a hotel manager in New York, he'd let Dashiell Hammett stay in one of the rooms free of charge, but once Hammett had made it in the film industry, he not only reneged on a promise to help West get screenwriting work but publicly humiliated him as well.

-------------------Phil Spector update

Though he officially denies it, apparently Phil Spector was hurt in a prison altercation. Here's from the New York Daily News:

"Phil has quite a mouth on him," says longtime pal and defender Steven Escobar. "Not everyone understands his humor. He said the wrong thing to the wrong inmate in the yard."

Lacking any of his trusty firearms, Spector wound up with a bruised nose, black eye and the loss of a couple of caps, according to Escobar.

"He mouthed off to a big guy, who punched him," concurs another source close to Spector, who's serving 19-to-life for fatally shooting actress Lana Clarkson in the mouth in 2003.


But Spector himself complained about his fellow prisoners in a letter to Escobar last August: "These lowlife scumbag gangsters kill you here for a 39-cent bag of soup!"


Spector also said he was alarmed when a guard delivered a note from fellow Corcoran convict Charles Manson, proposing that he and Spector collaborate on some music. (A prison spokesman said the letter was a fake.)

Read more:

-------------------------No Store-Boughts For Disney

From Gawker:

Disney Bans Fake Boobs From Pirates

If this catches on, half of Hollywood's females will fall into poverty. Casting for their fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, Disney specifies that fake breasts are not permitted, and actresses will be subjected to pre-shoot jiggle tests to check.

This, from the New York Post, sounds like the beginning of a porno:

The filmmakers sent out a casting call last week seeking "beautiful female fit models. Must be 5ft7in-5ft8in, size 4 or 6, no bigger or smaller. Age 18-25. Must have a lean dancer body. Must have real breasts. Do not submit if you have implants."

With Friends Like These

Everybody from politicians to hookers (two callings easily confused) write books about their lives in order to dump on friends and enemies alike. Some times it's hard to tell which is which. I've read a number of political bios when "damning with faint praise" seems to be the subtext.

In the New York Times this morning Janet Maslin reviews a book by a woman named Pasternak who was ostensibly one of martha Stewart's best friends for a long time. As Maslin interprets the book, the Pasternak woman is a snotty, vengeful, megalomaniacal woman you should run away from. Fast.

Janet Maslin on The Best of Friends by Mariana Pasternak

"Ms. Pasternak, who stopped hearing from her beloved Martha around the time she gave courtroom testimony that would help send Ms. Stewart to prison, would have had to shed fewer crocodile tears over the loss of this treasured friendship if she had simply called her book “Martha, Watch Your Back.” Speaking of crocodile, Ms. Pasternak winds up expressing even more affection for a special red Hermès handbag (“How I loved that bag!”) than she does for the woman whose coattails she rode for more than 20 years.

"Ms. Pasternak’s readers are likely to have no interest whatsoever in the story of her Romanian girlhood, which was plagued by Communist persecution but rooted in snobbish distinctions between peasantry and intelligentsia. She immigrated to the United States in 1979 with one mere Hermès scarf of her grandmother’s but a very large sense of her own entitlement. By 1981 she had become engaged to a doctor and moved with him to Westport, where a predatory blond neighbor — Ms. Stewart — dropped in unexpectedly one day. The visit, Ms. Pasternak writes, was prompted by Ms. Stewart’s desire to check out the new unmarried man in town.


"This catty book is payback for the not-quite-free rides Ms. Pasternak took with her Westport pal. They traveled together frequently after both their marriages fell apart. Ms. Stewart seems to have summoned Ms. Pasternak when she could not find male company; Ms. Pasternak appears to have been a once-willing companion who in retrospect views these adventures resentfully. Making the ghastly writerly mistake of trying to speak Stewartese, she describes one New Year’s Eve on which the two dateless women found themselves reluctantly stuck in one of the numerous Stewart houses.


"Ms. Pasternak saves her nastiest swipes for sexual situations. And some of those swipes are vicious indeed. “I stood back and watched Martha stumble into sex as one might watch one’s child learn to walk, covering one’s eyes as the stairs loom into view,” she says. And Ms. Pasternak suggests that those stairs loomed into view as often as Ms. Stewart could find them. Ms. Pasternak is an eager tattletale and actually tells a story in which Ms. Stewart disparages her friend’s attempt at baking by saying, “You make cakes like I make love.”

"The mean-spiritedness of these jabs is heightened by Ms. Pasternak’s insistent claims of her own allure. “Next time,” she says she told poor, bedazzled Jeremy Irons. Ms. Pasternak explains how she wowed him at a party until the jealous Ms. Stewart yanked him away."

For the rest go here:

Ed here: This almost--almost--makes me feel sorry for Martha Stewart

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Martin Scorcese talks homage

Ed here' Martin Scorcese talks about preparing himself and his actors for Shutter Island in a long and excellent interview in the UK's Telegraph. I should note here that he cites Val Lewton's The Seventh Victim. It is one of the few films I've ever seen (and I've seen it probably ten times over the years) that is propelled almost exclusively by dread. I remember seeing it in a second-run house when I was probably twelve or so and thinking that this was basically my take on the world. The anticipation of terrible things happening and no way to stop them. Lovecraft's darkest gods I suppose, playing with you and whispering that it's going to be even worse than you can imagine.


"The key film I showed Leo and Mark,’ Scorsese says, 'was Laura – Dana Andrews, the way he wears his tie, and the way he walks through a room, and he doesn’t even look at anybody; he’s always playing that little game. He’s just trying to get the facts.’

"But the films, he adds, that he had 'really tied up tight’ in mood and tone were the lower-than-low-budget schlockers made in the 1940s by Val Lewton when he was the head of the 'horror department’ at RKO Pictures – Cat People, Isle of the Dead, The Seventh Victim and I Walked with a Zombie.

'I discovered them in the 1950s. There was a small theatre on Second Avenue that would show third, fourth or fifth-run movies. Isle of the Dead was the one. I was 10 or 11 when I saw it – the scene towards the end where the woman who’s been buried alive comes out, and she’s appearing in the forest at night, she’s wearing a shroud and you never know where she’s going to appear and who she’s going to kill. I remember getting up and walking out of the theatre because it was so terrifying – and you didn’t see anything!’

He laughs. 'There’s no way you could aspire to come close to what those films did. They came out of a certain time and place. There’s no way we can recapture that. But we can make references. We shouldn’t be afraid to make a homage; but it had to be serious, not ironic.’

for the rest go here

Friday, March 19, 2010


It's easy to understand the urge to stray. As Jimmy Carter said we all have lust in our hearts. But especially of late the more notable strayers have found themselves in the arms of some dubious choices. Jesse James apparently wanted to stray and this is what he came up with.



Health update: My own oncologist returned from a trip home to see her dying father. When I told her about the pain in my shoulder she immediately had me X-rayed. Turns out the radiologist was right after all. There is cancer in my shoulder area and what happened is that I fractured my Scapula. I start radiation next week. This is my fourth round of radiation. If it goes as well as it has in the past everything should be hunky dunky.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Black Dog Books

Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books


I began publishing in 1997. The first forty books were in the chapbook format, with a couple giveaway titles and memorial books added to that figure. In 2006, I launched the trade paperback line. I have 25 titles in print, plus 2 non-fiction titles, and have just sent 5 more titles to the printer. I expect to be releasing 8 to 10 new titles a year.
To date BDB has one hardcover available, Cornell Woolrich’s The Good Die Young, which collects his early romance works, very rare and hard to come by material, and have several other hardcover collections in production.
I began Black Dog Books (BDB) as an outlet to keep the classic adventure genre alive by reprinting works of his type from the early pulp magazines. It is quite amazing the influence on popular culture that the pulp magazine field has had.
Current authors such as Clive Cussler, whose work I enjoy, are really pulp authors in new clothing in my opinion. Many of the series characters like The Executioner and The Destroyer, and westerns series such as Longarm or The Trailsman are modern incarnations of the adventure story. They are no longer called this, now having sub-genre classifications (everything has to be labeled for buyers). But the classic adventure stories, the lost city in the jungle, or desert, the hidden treasure, or shipwreck, or nautical adventures by rough and tumble, two-fisted captains in the Malaysian Archipelago still have appeal and have an audience.
And it is to this audience, where my own primal reading tastes lie, that I have attempted to cater some of my titles.
The BDB backlist does have 5 mystery titles and 5 science fiction titles, and a couple non-fiction books as well. Genres often cross over anyway. A derelict ship at sea is discovered. What happened? The first mate sets off to solve the mystery. It is set against an adventure background, but is a whodunit too. A cowboy rides into town and discovers that the prospectors are being ran off their claims. Who is behind it? Same thing in different set dressing.


I suppose that label would have to be attached to me. As the Grand Poobah, I make all the final decisions. But I have a couple associates, Gene Christie and Doug Ellis, which are extremely knowledgeable, even more so than myself in regards to particular authors or pulp publishing houses, and both have extensive collections of pulp magazines. They have recently contributed some collections, and suggested others, in addition to occasionally helping me acquire the story material needed for projects that I am the Acquisitions Editor on.
As well, I have many acquaintances such as authors Robert Weinberg, or Will Murray, who are also pulp collectors, that are always helpful when presented with questions or when asked for opinions.


Well, this can be a tricky question because all of it is based upon my opinion.
Some titles are selected upon my own reading tastes, or what I determine is a niche to be filled for a particular author’s work. Bodyguard by Roger Torrey fits into that category. Long known in hard boiled circles for his work in Black Mask and Dime Detective, Torrey died young, prior to the paperback boom of the 1950s. He had only one book printed during his lifetime, and has become an overlooked figure. But Torrey was quite prolific and deserves to be remembered.
Some are based upon other happenings in the field. BDB’s soon-to-be released title, Twice Murdered, a collection of mystery stories by Laurence Donovan, (who ghostwrote some Doc Svage and other herp pulp adventures) is a direct offshoot of Donovan’s stories of The Whisperer, currently being reprinted by Sanctum Books. If readers enjoy Donovan’s stories of The Whisperer or Doc Savage and want to read more of his work, of which there is virtually nothing available, then this title offers that option.
Some titles are just a gut feeling, and others happen when material finally becomes available to complete a single-character collection.
Or if mystery titles sell well in the third quarter, perhaps I’ll release other mysteries to follow up.
There are naturally those BDB titles that do not sell as well as other BDB titles, but for the most part my “gut reactions” have panned out, and I’ve been spared any real duds.
I won’t say I have any better feel than someone else, or do extensive market research. I just keep doing what I do, and customers keep coming. So I don’t want to tinker with it too much.

In recent years, a plethora of pulp reprint houses have sprung up. Some of these are publishing pastiches, often thinly-disguised off-takes of famous characters such as Doc Savage or the Shadow, while others put out collections of what I’ll call “common” material; material that is easy enough to obtain in the original magazines if you choose to pursue them. And still some release what appears to me to be hastily produced books brought into print to make a quick buck, compiled from e-texts available for free online.
Since my first BDB title, I have went out of my way to produce collections of material that is difficult to come by from rare magazines, and overlooked character collections. My recent title, The Golden Goshawk, by H. Bedford-Jones is a good example; a short collection of a character nearly forgotten, produced by one of the most famous writers during the pulp era. These stories originally appeared in magazines nearly impossible to come by today due to their rarity. It took me several years to acquire photocopies of the stories for this collection.
This book was enthusiastically reviewed by James Reasoner on this blog, “Rough Edges,” and has met with steady sales. Proving, I believe, that the adventure genre, and good storytelling still has an audience.
But back to your question. In addition to the obscure material, with all of my titles I try to have something unique added with the stories. Sometimes it is a bibliography of the author’s work, or a vintage autobiographical column by the author, or an informative introduction, a photo of the author and so on. Give the consumer a reason to want the book.
Some collections have been years in the planning and legwork. It is this extra effort I hope that sets me apart from similar publishing enterprises. I care about what I do, take pride in what I produce, and I hope it shows.


I get praising comments from appreciative customers about how they always wanted to read this story or that author, and now they can, thanking me for making the book(s) available, or their opinion of a particular collection. But my titles are not mass market distributed. They have limited exposure.
It is often difficult for an independent press to get much notice, overshadowed by the major publishers, and I, as basically a one-man operation, can only get so much accomplished. I’m trying to breech the library sales market at the moment.
My sales are achieved through my website,, Amazon, and appearances at conventions and shows. The rest is word of mouth. I have a growing number of stores that carry my titles. Online reviews are helping spread the word too, but it is an uphill battle. I know that the audience is expanding as myself and other publishers make more of this type material available, and people become aware, but it is still a small audience at this stage.
One stigmatism is unfortunately the word “pulp” or “pulp fiction.” People seem to shy away from material carrying this label with a pre-determined opinion that it is schlock, or because of what the Quentin Tarantino film presented.
A huge amount of well-written and very entertaining fiction appeared in the bound pages of those newsstand magazines, which significantly influenced the entertainment media of our culture. Some of the best examples are Tarzan, Zorro, The Shadow, the Lone Ranger and Hopalong Cassidy. The creators are not household names, but their characters were.
The films based upon material originating from the pulps number in the hundreds.
It’s no secret that writers such as Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Erle Stanley Gardner, Frederic Brown, Agatha Christie and Sax Rohmer sold to the pulp magazines, as did Damon Runyon, Rafael Sabatini, MacKinlay Kantor and Tennessee Williams. Each very successful and recognizable in their day.
Nearly every word Max Brand wrote was sold to the pups. And how many Louie L’Amour books in print carry works he sold to these magazines?
This list does not even touch those authors that wrote science fiction.
Alone, the magazine Adventure, under the editorship of Arthur Sullivan Hoffman, had contributions from Sinclair Lewis, who would win the Nobel Prize for Literature; T.S. Stribling, later to win the Pulitzer Prize; Harold Lamb, Guggenheim Fellowship winner and recipient of an award from the Persian Government for his historical fiction; George E. Holt, Consul-General of the United States to Morocco; John Buchan, later elected Governor General of Canada; and art by Rockwell Kent among many other contributors. Needless to say, these accomplished individuals did not produce schlock.
There were certainly things written for the pulp magazines that were simply page-fillers and potboilers, but to categorically show distain for the whole field is narrow-minded and does great injustice.
The education of this to consumers remains an ongoing process.


More volumes in the Talbot Mundy Library, 2 collections of early short works by Sax Rohmer, including stories never before available in the U.S, a “Best of Adventure” collection, plus an anthology of early horror stories.
Our first book of new fiction is Mindship, by Gerry Conway (producer of Law and Order), will soon be available. This is a science fiction novel.
Oh, and I’ll be putting out two Western collections over the next year as well, plus whatever else my “gut reaction” marketing approach offers.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Forgotten Books: The Birthday Murder by Lange Lewis

Forgotten Books: The Birthday Murder by Lange Lewis

Jane Lewis Brandt (Lange Lewis) was a Los Angeles writer who wrote
mysteries set in that most envied and reviled of cities. Which is to
say that she came by her take on the city first-hand and you can feel
this familiarity in the people she gathers as suspects in her

Barzun and Taylor include Birthday in their famous list of mystery
musts and with good reason. The style, so crisp and literate, is as
good in its way as anything by that other Los Angeles writer Raymond
Style. Though, unlike Chandler, she eschews the flashy. There are
literally hundreds of gem-like sentences in this novel. Man could she

Just as gem-like are the characters we meet as the mystery is
unraveled. Victoria Jason is in practice if not in declaration a true
feminist in the mid-1940s. She supports herself by writing novels which
her husband Albert, a producer of Grade B movies, admires. In fact as
the book opens we see that Victoria and Albert are planning on bringing
her recent novel to the screen. It will be Albert's first A picture.

Or would have been if somebody hadn't killed him with ant poison..
There is an unfortunate connection between his murder and the novel he
was about to film. The novel dealt with a man murdered by his wife with
ant poison.

The suspects include Victoria's rather ruthless best friend, her (for
me) too swaggering ex-husband, the longtime maid she realizes suddenly
she knows very little about and a former friend of Albert's who became
his enemy.

Lewis gives each of them a fascinating backstory. For instance the
ex-husband was born rich but because it was the Thirties and so many
people were starving he betrayed his own class by going out on his own,
penniless, to make his way in the world. Honorable to a point but
Lewis slyly undermines his good intentions by showing how silly he
becomes sometimes in trying to deny the way he was taught to look at
the world. She is not a forgiving writer, Lewis. She even shows us
Victoria in a few unflattering moments. Victoria is not a heroine.

The detective here is Richard Tuck. He appears in Lewis' other novels.
She makes him too big for my taste and not only in his size--which is
six five--but in his oddness. Where the rest of the novel is ostensibly
realistic Tuck belongs in the kind of mystery wherein The Great Oddball
is at the center of things. Sherlock Holmes, say, or Nero Wolfe. I'm
big fans of both but I don't think the trope works here. It's
impossible, for instance, to imagine him getting along with the other
detectives in his homicide squad.

This is a classic whodunit but better written than 95% of whodunits
I've read in fifty years or so. I've rarely seen our language used so
nimbly. The plot is perfect but what really kept me reading at night
were those sentences. Do yourself a favor and find this book somewhere.

Monday, March 15, 2010

New Books: Antiques Bizarre by Barbara Allan

In the just released Antiques Bizarre – the fifth in our Trash ‘n’ Treasures series written as Barbara Allan – Al (he’s not “Max” to me) and I tried to make the book heavier on the mystery (it is one after all!) without skimping on the characters or humor. In the past – for me at least – the mystery was almost an afterthought, driven solely by its pre-selected title. Talk about the tail wagging the dog....

While I think the plot of Antiques Bizarre turned out all right, the writing of it was the most difficult to date – an experience I never want to go through again.

I, as the first-draft writer (Al batting clean-up; and boy did he have to break out the industrial strength cleanser) should have realized that it is not good enough to know “who done it” and why, but to also have a detailed schematic, especially when dealing with a lot of suspects. It’s no wonder that Agatha Christie’s plots are referred to as puzzles. After I handed Al my draft, he had to go looking for a lot of lost pieces.

Something else I learned from this experience (besides taking notes on our story discussion – and not losing them) was that it is bad to sit over coffee and discuss a hundred different ways the plot could go. My brain got very, very confused. There’s a tendency to use a snippet of this version and a snippet of that, which don’t necessarily mesh. (NOTE FROM HUSBAND M.A.C.: This is my fault – I can remember several meetings where I jumped around from idea to idea much too quickly. Shouldn’t have ordered that third refill of caffeinated Diet Coke.)

Our final meeting over lunch included a detailed schematic – including a sketch of the layout of the church that was the crime scene – of who was where and when, and what their motives were. This took a lot of discussion, head-scratching, self-recrimination...but not criticism of the other collaborator. We were both at fault here.

The happy ending was that the final two chapters – after a rejected first pass – came out “very satisfactory,” as Nero Wolfe would say.

It’s gratifying that so many people seem to like the new book, and many say it’s the best yet. But it was also the hardest. I hope, in the future, we can work from the outset to strike an equal balance between the characters, humor, and mystery.

Barbara Collins

Be sure and check out our recent interviews with David Jack Bell, Elmore Leonard (, John Farris, Harry Shannon, Ray Garton, Christopher Fowler, Duane Swierczynski, Kevin O'Brien, Toni L.P. Kelner and Matthew Clemens.---------------
Be sure and check out our recent interviews with David Jack Bell, Elmore Leonard (, John Farris, Harry Shannon, Ray Garton, Christopher Fowler, Duane Swierczynski, Kevin O'Brien, Toni L.P. Kelner and Matthew Clemens.---------------

Martin Edwards talks about his new novel The Serpent Pool

Books burn in the opening scene of my fourth and latest Lake District Mystery, The Serpent Pool. And the man who owns the books, an avid collector called George Saffell, watches bound and helpless as the flames race towards him.

It is a dark opening to a novel set in a beautiful part of the world. The Lake District’s landscape is fascinating at any time, and the main action of The Serpent Pool takes place at the start of a new year, in the cold days of early January, when fog descends from the fell slopes, and the forecasters warn of avalanches. Researching the real-life scenes of the fictional events of my book was enthralling (at least for me - my teenage children would prefer me to research a series set on the world’s sunniest beaches…)

Few areas anywhere that are as small as England’s Lake District (it is roughly thirty miles across) can boast such a rich literary tradition. William Wordsworth was the most famous of the Lake Poets, but Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey still have admirers. Among novelists, Hugh Walpole (whose few crime novels are well worth a look, incidentally), Melvyn Bragg and nowadays Sarah Hall, have all used the landscape of the Lakes to great effect. As an essayist, Thomas De Quincey (who lived in the lovely Dove Cottage, former home of the Wordswoths) is beyond compare.

De Quincey’s dark shadow falls over The Serpent Pool. Apart from ‘Confessions of an English Opium-Eater’, a masterpiece of hallucinatory writing, he was most famous for ‘On Murder, Considered as one of the Fine Arts’, and this inspires Daniel Kind, to study his work while writing a book about the history of murder. In so doing, Daniel encounters a range of characters with something to hide, including the secret behind the violent death of George Saffell. I hadn’t read De Quincey before working on this novel, and I came to admire his writing, even if I remain deeply unconvinced about the benefits of opium to the creative process.

While Daniel focuses on De Quincey, Detective Chief Inspector Hannah Scarlett, who heads the Cold Case Review Team, investigates the unexplained death, six years ago, of a woman called Bethany Friend, who was drowned in an isolated patch of water known as the Serpent Pool. Hannah’s relationship with rare book dealer Marc Amos is on the skids, and as the winter weather worsens, the tension builds to a climax at the Serpent Pool. There Hannah comes to learn the truth. And when I wrote the final scene, I couldn’t help remembering that famous remark of Sherlock Holmes in ‘The Copper Beeches’:

‘It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.’

I can only hope the Lake District tourist authorities forgive me for introducing murder and mayhem into this most gorgeous of locations!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Pro-File: David Jack Bell

David Jack Bell is the author of THE CONDEMNED and THE GIRL
IN THE WOODS. His short fiction has appeared in or is
forthcoming from Cemetery Dance, Western Humanities Review,
Shock Totem, and Backwards City Review. He is an Assistant
Professor of English at Western Kentucky University in
Bowling Green, Kentucky and can be reached through his
website at

Pro-File: David Jack Bell

1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).

My latest release is THE GIRL IN THE WOODS from Delirium
Books. It's a thriller about the disappearances of two young
women twenty-five years apart. As my protagonist--a former
police officer named Diana Greene--investigates and unravels
the details of the disappearances, she finds that there is
much more to the story of what happened to these women than
meets the eye.

2. Can you give asense of what you're working on now?

Two novels are coming--one is called TOWN WATCH, the sequel
to my first novel, THE CONDEMNED. The other is a thriller
with the tentative title CEMETERY GIRL. It deals with a
father whose daughter disappears at the age of twelve and
suddenly shows up again at the age of sixteen but is
unwilling to tell anyone where she has been or what she was
doing. I'm also co-editing an anthology with my wife--the
writer Molly McCaffrey--called COMMUTABILTY for Main Street
Rag Press. It features stories from Ed Gorman, Tom
Monteleone, Scott Nicholson, and many others. I'll also have
short fiction of my own in future issues of CEMETERY DANCE

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Creating people and worlds out of my imagination. The
neverending quest to get better. The satisfaction of seeing
my work in print--or having someone tell me how much they
enjoyed something I've written.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
The uncertainty. It's a time consuming job, and few of us
ever know if what we work on will see the light of day. I
think most writers live with the fear that the last thing
they've published will be the last thing they ever publish
due to shifting tastes and the challenges of the
marketplace. Then again, the uncertainty can be exciting in
its own way. And it beats a real job.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what
is it?

Take more chances on new writers and help them build
careers. Be patient and let writers--and books--find
audiences. It doesn't always happen overnight. Spend less
money on the latest celebrity or political memoir and spend
more money on good fiction of all kinds and genres.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to
see in print again?

Anything by Karl Edward Wagner or Michael McDowell who are
criminally out of print. The non-McGee novels of John D. MacDonald.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never
forget that moment.

THE CONDEMNED is an expansion of a long short story I
published in the late, great journal THE EDGE, TALES OF
SUSPENSE. Greg Gifune was the editor there, and then he went
to work for Delirium Books and asked me if I had ever
thought of turning the story into a novel. Of course I had!
We went through several rounds of revisions, and one day
Greg left a message on my voicemail at work saying he wanted
to "talk about the manuscript some more." I thought he
either wanted more revisions, or he was going to tell me it
just wasn't going to happen right now. Instead, he told me
they were taking the book. I nearly fell out of my chair.

New Elmore Leonard interview

The Hollywood newspaper The Wrap runs an interview with Elmore Leonard in its column The Grill today:

Since he published his first novel, “The Bounty Hunters,” back in 1953, novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard has established himself as a crime writer par excellence – and the go-to guy when Hollywood needs gritty realism and, well, Leonardesque dialogue. To paraphrase his own “Ten Rules of Writing” essay, “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

The result? A long list of films with memorable characters and snappy dialogue, ranging from 1967’s “Hombre,” starring Paul Newman, to “Out of Sight,” “Get Shorty,” “Jackie Brown,” “52 Pick-Up,” “Glitz” and the upcoming “Freaky Deaky”-- all based on his work. His latest was for the small screen, “Justified,” which premieres on FX Tuesday.

You’ve had a long history with Hollywood.
(Laughs) Since the ‘50s, but the last screenplay that actually got made was “Mr. Majestyk” with Charles Bronson, back in ’74.

I had nothing to do with all the others, like “Get Shorty” and “Out of Sight.” I just sold the rights. But I knew the screenwriter for those, Scott Frank, and we’d discuss the scripts – not so much for “Get Shorty,” but for “Out of Sight,” and he’d have a lot of questions about the characters.

Why did you stop?
You have to work with too many people, and there are so many opinions, so it’s just a big waste of time for me. If you get with the right people, the right director, then that’s fine. But usually at first you’re just working with someone on the producer’s staff.

Of all the Hollywood adaptations of your books, which ones got it right?
I think “Get Shorty,” “Out of Sight” and “Jackie Brown” were the closest in spirit to the books. Quentin Tarantino stayed very close to my story with “Jackie Brown.” The others added little things here and there -- but you have to for a movie.

For the rest go here:

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Marriage Ref

Ed here: The Seinfeld show is the only TV series I've watched obsessively. There are episodes I imagine I've seen twenty times. Many scenes I can recite verbatim and break them down for camera. I've been known to ruin perfectly good meals by quoting Seinfeldian wisdom to the point that people flee the table. I was one of those who didn't like the finale episode because everything was out of character. There was no way the guilt-ridden George and Elaine would've made fun of a morbidly obese man. The trial was done much better in the parody of the OJ trial when the beautiful woman couldn't fit her breasts into the bra the way Oj couldn't fit his hand into the glove. There was a lot of pressure on Larry David to come up with a great finale. It didn't work.

I've seen Jerry a number of times since the series ended. He's always been smooth and more often than not funny. He's had a hit movie, he's raising a family and presumably he could sell just about anything he wanted to to any network or cable channel he chose.

Later on in Lee's piece below he reminds us that back in the sixties Jackie Gleason hosted a game show so lame he walked out on stage at the top of episode two, sat down in a chair and talked about what terrible show this was. He apologized to his audience for inflicting it on them. Then he quit then and there. This was live television.

We watched the first episode of The Marriage Ref. From the truly annoying host to the dumb-ass set-ups to the inane celebrity chatter (really Kelly Rippa? If you think Sarah Palin is stupid listen to Kelly Rippa for a few minutes sometime).

Lee Pfeiffer is one of the founders (and writers for) the terrific film magazine Cinema Retro. Here's Lee's take on the subject:

I rarely watch episodic TV simply because I'm generally working on a project and don't have the time to actually sit in front of the boob tube. Besides, there hasn't been anything worth watching since the Clinton administration - and even when there is an exception, the mind-numbing amount of commercials make me feel like I've just undergone a lobotomy. Thus, I've grown addicted to political debate shows because I can pump up the volume and not have to actually watch the TV. However, tonight I made an exception and periodically got up to see a show that came on NBC called The Marriage Ref. The only reason I had any interest at all is because it was produced by the great Jerry Seinfeld and the opening episode featured that show's co-creator Larry David along with Ricky Gervais and Madonna. As I watched slack-jawed, Larry David said "This has to be the most uncomfortable hour I've ever spent." This was at the half hour mark, but he could be forgiven for thinking it seemed like an hour. It must rank as some kind of grand achievement to take three ultra talented people and put them into a situation that was less amusing than those old high school health films about preventing venereal disease.

for the rest go here:

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pro-File: Harry Shannon

Harry Shannon has been an actor, an Emmy-nominated songwriter, a singer, a recording artist in Europe, a music publisher, a film studio executive and worked as a freelance Music Supervisor on films such as Basic Instinct and Universal Soldier. He is author of Night of the Beast and Night of the Werewolf in addition to Daemon (formerly Night of the Daemon). Harry also wrote the Mick Callahan suspense novels Memorial Day, (2005) Eye of the Burning Man, (2006) and One of the Wicked (2008), as well as the acclaimed thriller The Pressure of Darkness (2006). Harry’s horror script Dead and Gone was recently filmed by director Yossi Sasson.

Pro-File: Harry Shannon

1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).
I've just turned in my first collection of short fiction in nearly ten years. "A Host of Shadows" will be released by Dark Regions Press, initially in a limited edition hardcover, then eventually as a trade paperback and ebook. It contains 25 crime and horror stories, four of them new, and the Stoker nominated story "The Night Nurse." Based that one on a nasty experience in the hospital last year. Checked out missing a gall bladder.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
I have a couple of screenplays in the works, hope to pitch them to Paramount shortly. Partnering up with another fellow on a possible-remake of an 80's camp horror classic. More importantly, there's a novel ticking like an IED in the back of my brain, really wants to be born but taking it's own sweet time. Oh, and I sent part of a thriller to a well-known noir author, we may collaborate if he bites. Great guy. I could use some of that kind of fun.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Just the process itself. Getting lost in a novel for months is a great joy and a true escape from the mundane. I find screenplays a bit less rewarding, although the collaborative process of making a movie (assuming you like your team) is a whole other kind of crowd pleaser. And opening a box of your own books, smelling and handling them, that's something special. Can't possibly be the same with ebooks. Hell, how do you fondle and sniff pixels?

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
Freezing up before the start of something. Blank page. Happens to me every year or so. Not writer's block exactly, just growing anxiety and a lack of focus. I hate the feeling. Eventually something gets me going, though. A close second is having to sell and promote stuff. I'd rather email things and see them finished and put them on the shelf for my daughter to read someday. At least the internet lets me pimp at a distance, bless it.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is
Adjust quickly. Find the new business model and get moving. Don't go down in flames like music and indie film due to a lack of imagination and inflexibility. We all need to get into focus together, figure out this ebook thing, and help one another, or any chance of decent compensation and participation for mid-listers may be gone forever. A couple of large firms will soon choke off the distribution points, and we'll be left selling a few hundred copies ourselves via Amazon, marginalized indefinitely.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?
Hardcase Crime is doing a great job bringing those back. Most of my favorites, like John D. MacDonald, are still in print. Haven't seen a Richard S. Prather in a long time, and a Shell Scott would sure brighten my weekend. Used to love those old Donald Hamilton Matt Helm books, not sure if they're still in print, but bet they'd be fun.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget
that moment.

A really nice guy named Ed Gorman sent me an email saying "You sure can write." I'll never forget that. And he asked what it was I really wanted to do. I said crime fiction, so he asked me to send him something to forward to Marty Greenberg and Five Star. They bought the book. I'd written a couple of fun small press horror things, but I do consider that work, "Memorial Day," my first real novel. And I'll always be grateful to Ed for reaching out. He's inspired me to help newer authors whenever I can.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Forgotten Books: Trauma by Graham Masterton

Forgotten Books: Trauma by Graham Masterton

Graham Masterton has had one of those long, prolific careers that fall to writers of the first rank who have never had the break they deserve. He's certainly a finer writer and better storyteller than many of the people on the bestseller lists. He's always been more popular in Europe than the U.S. despite boxcar loads of great reviews he gets here.

If you doubt my words I suggest you pick up a paperback called TRAUMA, which was nominated for a Best PB Edgar several years ago. The storyline follows one Bonnie Winter, middle-aged working class woman who sells cosmetics for a company called Glamorex and runs a business that cleans up crime scenes after the police are done with them.

But that's not all. In the course of this novel we see that Bonnie has one other task, that of trying to hold a family together that has drifted apart to a painful degree. I can't recall any suspense novel of recent vintage that so powerfully depicts a woman coming to realize that her life is loveless and wasted. I'll pay Masterton the highest compliment I know--I think Margaret Millar would have loved this novel.

This being a Masterton novel there is an ominous and disturbing undertow of supernatural dread as well. Bonnie begins to find
strange black caterpillars at the crime scenes she cleans up. She will eventually learn of their significance through a series of violent scenes that are breathtaking in their savagery.

Masterton concludes by tying Bonnie's affection for her Glamorex boss, a decent and attentive guy, into both the familial and supernatural subplots. The climax is shocking and unforgettable.

I reviewed this novel when it first appeared. At the time I said that for all that so many current literary writers try to capture the essence of our time, their work looks shallow compares to what this brief sad volatile novel accomplishes. I still say that.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Pro-File: Ray Garton; Noir Short

Pro-File: Ray Garton

1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).

My novel Scissors was just released in paperback. It's about a man named Stuart Mullond who, as an adult, is still trying to recover from an abusive, repressive childhood. As a boy, he endured a very unpleasant medical procedure that was supposed to be done during surgery under anesthesia when he had a hernia repaired. But the doctor, a urologist named Dr. Ferguson, forgot to do it and the procedure was performed in the doctor's office. It's extremely painful and humiliating, and Stuart remembers his mother holding him down while it was done. Now, as he goes through a tough time in his life, Dr. Ferguson begins showing up unexpectedly. The doctor says he wants to perform that same procedure on Stuart's son, and he always has his scissors.

Of my horror novels, Scissors is my personal favorite. Most of my horror fiction deals with traditional genre icons like vampires and werewolves and ghosts, that sort of thing. In Scissors, the monsters are more psychological and emotional. They're the scars left by Stuart's upbringing and the pressure he feels as a parent who's only experience with parenting -- his own -- has been abusive. The book looks at how our memories effect our emotions, and vice versa. And I'm very fond of Dr. Ferguson, a villain who gave me goosebumps more than once as I was writing the book.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

I'm working on a few things now, which is never a good idea because I'm lousy at multitasking. I'm finishing up a novella -- or maybe it's just a long short story, I'm never sure -- called Threesome that will be published later this year by Sideshow Press. I've gone back to work on Dismissed From the Front and Center, a humorous and quirky coming-of-age novel based on my two years at a Seventh-day Adventist boarding academy. And I'm preparing to start writing the follow-up to last year's Bestial.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

It's hard work at times, but it really doesn't feel like hard work because I love writing so much. When I hear others complain about their jobs, I feel incredibly fortunate to be doing something that gives me so much pleasure.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

Probably distractions. These days, anyway. I was pretty young when I started writing full time, and I wrote constantly. That was mostly because I was so miserable. Writing was a great escape, a hole to dive into and hide. When I look back on those years, I'm pretty astonished by how prolific I was. I'm pickier these days and I write slower, but more importantly, I'm not miserable anymore. I'm very happy for the first time in my life and I haven't quite adjusted to the change yet. I neither need nor want to escape anymore, so work is more difficult. As much as I love writing, most days I'd rather be out of the house enjoying myself with other people. The solitude and isolation of writing never bothered me before, but I'm much less comfortable with it now. These days, I have to force myself to sit down and immerse myself in whatever I'm writing, and I'm easily distracted. Which reminds me of something my friend, the late writer Francis Feighan, once told me: "The biggest dilemma a writer faces every day is whether to write or masturbate."

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

I would remind them that there was once a time -- not so long ago -- when a writer would write something, show it to publishers, and the publishers would decide whether or not they were interested in buying it. Now it seems much more common for publishers to tell a writer what they want to see and how it should be written. There seems to be a "let's build a blockbuster together" mindset out there. It's a different business than the one in which I started.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

I'm not sure if he's in print these days, but I've always enjoyed the novels of British writer Stephen D. Francis, who wrote under the pseudonym Hank Janson. In fact, just thinking about those books now reminds me how long it's been since I've read any -- I need to take a few off the shelf.

Again, I don't know if there's much of his work in print anymore, but I also love the work of David Goodis. I think if you look up "bleak" in the dictionary, you'll find his bibliography.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

Selling my first novel was one of the most exciting -- maybe the most exciting -- experience of my life. But at the same time it was kind of lonely and sad because, at the time, there was no one else in my life who was too excited about it and some even treated it as something I shouldn't discuss in polite company, like hemorrhoids or autoerotic asphyxiation. I was raised a Seventh-day Adventist, which is not only a religious denomination -- a cult, actually -- but also a subculture, a very enclosed, cloistered community. They keep to themselves, patronize businesses run by other Adventists, and usually send their children to Adventist schools. When you're an Adventist -- or, as I like to call them, Sadventist -- it is your world and you know nothing else. You're surrounded by Sadventists at home, at shcool, at church -- you can't swing a dead Catholic without hitting a few Sadventists because your life is filled with them. Sadventists believe that fiction (among many, many other things) is bad, that it's damaging to one's emotional, psychological and even physical health. So writing novels -- and horror novels, no less -- is not something that's likely to get much support or encouragement in that environment. In fact, I was punished for it. But even so, it was an indescribable thrill. I was twenty at the time and was shocked when Seductions sold. I honestly didn't think it would happen that early in my life.

-------------------The Mystery Scene Website

As you probably know Mystery Scene is not only a peerless mystery news magazine, it is also a peerless website packed with just about everything except Glenn Beck's latest fantasies. There's something very special posted on it now. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Here's editor Kate Stine to tell you about it:

The Endless Night: A Valentine to Film Noir is an absolutely brilliant fan video using a dizzying array of clips from classic film noir all set to Massive Attack’s “Angel.”

According to her bio on YouTube, “RubyTuesday717″ is 20 years old (!) and her dream job is to be photographer or film critic. We think she has a bright future.

Maybe DVD companies should hire her—this makes us want to buy every single movie featured. There’s a list of the films at the YouTube site in case you have the same urge.

(And Brian and I already own “Angel” by Massive Attack but I bet this sells some songs for them, too.)