Cell at Eastern State

Cell at Eastern State

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Noircon 2010 Starts Today

Scott Phillips, Megan Abbott, Duane Swierczynski, Reed Farrell Coleman, Christa Faust, George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, Vicki Hendricks, Robert Polito, Sarah Weinman, Thomas Kaufman, SJ Rozan, Anthony Neil Smith....

I missed the last one and had to endlessly hear about what a great time it was. Noircon 2010 begins today in Philadelphia, and will host some of the best crime writers around. Starting officially tonight with a showing of "David Goodis...To a Pulp," from local filmmaker Larry Withers, the conference will be held at the DoubleTree in Philly with many of the events at the Society Hill Playhouse on 8th Street. Here's a schedule, though a lot of the fun will be hanging out with everyone after the events.

The conference is run by Philly's own Lou Boxer, a lover of great writing and tireless supporter of the local Philly writing scene, and was originally called GoodisCon, for Lou's favorite pulp writer, the homegrown genius David Goodis. NoirCon 2010 runs through Sunday and ends with an event at the Moonstone Arts Center, the official launch of Philadelphia Noir from Akashic Books, a collection of hardboiled stories edited by Carlin Romano that includes work from Duane Swierczynski, Solomon Jones, Jim Zervanos and a bunch of other great local writers.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Brute Force Film Project


This is the site for the Brute Force Film project. The purpose of the project is the production of innovative, affecting and well-crafted crime movies. The project is the creation of Paul von Stoetzel of Killing Joke Films and crime writer Dennis Tafoya. We’re looking for collaborators, partners and investors. We want to make small films on reasonable budgets and help other filmmakers and writers do the same.


Our first project is a short film, “How to Jail,” based on my short story of the same name, which appeared in CrimeFactory, the online crime magazine published by Keith Rawson, Cam Ashley and Liam Jose.

The film is being shot in Minnesota by Paul and his producer Chris Bueckers. We’re trying to raise about six thousand bucks to shoot the film. We hope you’ll use the paypal link to give us a couple of bucks, and encourage your friends to do the same. We’re not going to make any money on a short film, but we are creating what we hope will be a real community of filmmakers, writers and artists that will go on to keep creating interesting, exciting content.

Watch this space for news, links and pics from the short film, and let us know about projects you're working on or trying to get off the ground.

Join us, subscribe to our feed, spread the word

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Going West

Bindle-stiffs and Hop-heads,

This is a cool time for a lot of my friends, who have books either just released or just about to be released.

Rot and Ruin, a YA zombie novel by powerhouse bestseller Jonathan Maberry, hit the stands last week and it's already getting a lot of well-earned praise.

The Damage Done, a powerful debut by ferocious writer and secret Canadian Hilary Davidson is out now - so cool to see Hilary on her way.

Solomon Jones, who writes searing crime novels as well as an award-winning column for the Philadelphia Daily News will see his latest, The Last Confession, out in bookstores in November.

My buddy Scott Phillips, one of America's best writers and a hysterically funny storyteller, has a new book, Rut, which sounds like a Panic-in-the-Year-Zero-style blast in the same vein as a standout favorite of mine, Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse, by Victor Gischler.


This week I'll be out to Roswell, New Mexico for Roswell Reads on October 7th and 8th. I'll be hosting some workshops and joining some discussions of writing and the Dashiell Hammett classic, The Maltese Falcon. I'll be staying at the New Mexico Military Institute. I'm hoping they'll let me write some new cadences.

On Sunday, October 10th, I'll be putting on my world-famous Crime Fiction Workshop at the Poisoned Pen bookshop in Scottsdale, AZ at 2:00pm.

And don't forget, Level 26 Dark Prophecy is out now from CSI creator Anthony Zuiker and my friend Duane Swierczynski, author of this year's standout thriller Expiration Date.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Interview with Anthony E. Zuiker, Creator of CSI

Anthony E. Zuiker is known to millions of fans as the creator of the CSI franchise. His show and its wildly successful spin-offs, CSI Miami and CSI New York, have won six Emmys and a host of other national and international awards and have a worldwide audience estimated at more than 75 million viewers. The show has spawned a generation of imitators, revived and recast the police procedural and become a brand recognized around the world.


Anthony Zuiker recently took time to tell me about his latest endeavor, a series of thrillers he’s developed with the help of veteran crime writer Duane Swierczynski, author of the hit novels The Blonde, Severance Package, and this year’s standout, Expiration Date.

The books are a new form Anthony calls digi-novels, which read like traditional novels but offer readers enhanced content such as online communities, IPhone apps and codes that can be entered online to reveal harrowing filmed episodes. The first, Level 26: Dark Origins, was an international bestseller, and in two weeks, the follow up, Level 26: Dark Prophecy is out October 14th from Dutton.

With the success of CSI you can work in any media you choose. Why did you decide to create a new media form?

I've always been drawn to novels, starting with children's books when I was young, as well as fascinated by new technologies. The Level 26 novels allow readers to experience the books in a completely traditional way, but if they want to have a fuller experience, they can go online, be part of the community and use codes provided at the end of each chapter to reveal a cyber-bridge episode with filmed content. It lets the reader engage in different ways, use the power of their own imaginations and get the experience of the book, films and a social community at one price point. I decided to work with Duane Swierczynski because I wanted a writer who understood both the power of the technologies we were using as well as the demands of the thriller, and he does both brilliantly.

Tell us about the Level 26 series.

The books are about the most dangerous killers at large, and the term refers to the fact that law enforcement ascribes twenty-five classifications of murderer, each increasing in aggression and sophistication. Level 26 Dark Origin centered on the arch-villain Sqweegel, an elusive killer who evaded detection with a full latex body suit and who took as his mission the idea that if you have sinned, he would execute justice upon you. He was pursued in the first novel by a single-minded CSI expert named Steve Dark, who had personal reasons for his quest to find the killer.

It was the first digi-novel, but we wanted to make sure that reader understood that reading the novel was a complete, satisfying experience and that using the digital content just made the experience richer and more fun and offered them the option to join an online community around the book.

What’s the premise of the latest Level 26 entry, Dark Prophecy?

In our follow up it's five years later and Steve Dark is on the trail of another level 26 murderer, the Tarot Card Killer. This time he's not working with law enforcement, but instead is financed by a mysterious benefactor with her own agenda. We also enhanced the online segments, which actually tell a complete hour-long story instead of functioning only as bridges in the story line. It's fascinating to see the changes that just a year have brought to the technologies. Iphone and Itouch were new tools when we began the process, but the IPad really allows for the reader to move seamlessly back and forth between reading and experiencing the online content or running apps. It's hard to believe that just a year ago there was no way to make that transition without using different platforms.

The book is out October 14th, and I understand you’ve got a special event to mark the debut.

I always do things a little differently, and this is the first literary/broadcast crossover in history. We're using the 'Black Sqweegel' mythology and history from Dark Origins, on a new episode of CSI guest-starring Ann-Margret. I'm really excited about it. It’ll be a really fun way to mark the release of the novel and will also feature Daniel Browning Smith, the actor who played Sqweegel in the original Dark Origins online feature.

How are the Level 26 books different from your work with CSI?

I was very conscious that I wanted a different kind of experience for fans of the show, and the first book was villain-centric, focusing on Sqweegel and his crimes rather than the law enforcement angle of the show. Dark Prophecy continues in that character-driven vein, with a brooding protagonist, not somebody who was an Inspector Gadget-type, but more of a damaged anti-hero taking on the most evil criminals.

Will there be another Level 26 novel?

Yes, absolutely. Duane and I are putting together the third book now, which we’re calling Dark Enigma. The first book was an international bestseller, we've pulled in an online community a hundred thousand strong, and Dutton seems very pleased with the book's performance. I've learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t with the first book. Online communities can be very volatile and passionate, and working with them has been a real education. I'm also working on other ideas for digi-novels, one centered around miracles. The technologies from Apple just get more interesting, and I'm still fascinated by merging old and new ways of storytelling.

Where do you think committed serial killers like Sqweegel come from?

I'm not an expert, and there so many factors that might weigh in. Are people born bad? Are there wires crossed at birth? Do factors like being socially inept or having a failed upbringing play a part? But it's clear there are people who will bring conviction and determination to serial killing, and who calibrate their signatures. It's very complex and interesting.


Do you still get time to read for fun?

It's tough, but yes. I'm reading Free, by Chris Anderson, about using free products as a strategy to win business, and I have The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo waiting on my nightstand at home. A lot of my time is spent working and being a father, but my wife says I’m hardwired for business.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

David Thompson

David Thompson died this week at 38. There are too many reasons why that's terrible news. He was a good and generous man who read and recommended and published a lot of writers who aren't household names but should be, who was loved by everybody who knew him, and who was newly married and finding success at a business he loved. My visit to Murder by the Book was a highlight of the year for me, and the few times I got to shake his hand will stand out in my mind always.

Read Duane Swierczynski's remembrance of David at his blog. When his family lets us know what we can do in his memory, I'll post information here.

David.jpg

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Upcoming

Atlantis Interceptors,

Lots of stuff on the calendar in the coming month:

Friday, August 27th, I'll be with Jonathan Maberry at the Grey Lodge Pub on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philly. The Grey Lodge is a great place to hang out, and it should be a lot of fun.

Saturday, the 28th, I'll be at Moonstone Mystery Bookstore in Flemington with fellow Minotaur author Wallace Stroby. Wallace is the author of the acclaimed crime novels, The Barbed Wire Kiss, The Heartbreak Lounge, and the new Gone 'Til November, which Publishers Weekly called "A powerful thriller ... with devastatingly real characters" in a starred review. The event starts at 2:00pm.

September 15th, Duane Swierczynski and I will be presenting a conversation at Robin's Bookstore/Moonstone Arts Center about crime, writing, and if I had to guess, the relative merits of German beer and Irish Whiskey. We'll be kicking it off at 7:00pm.

The next night, Thursday, September 16th, I'll be with Jonathan Maberry again at Chester County Books in West Chester, PA. We'll be joined by local author Chandra Hoffman for a panel discussion of our work and the craft of mystery writing.

On Tuesday evening, September 21st, I'll be at the Noir Bar event at the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA)Fall Conference. There'll be a great lineup of authors, including William Peter Blatty, author of the horror classic, The Exorcist, talking about his new book, Crazy. The Noir Bar runs from 9:00 to 10:30pm.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Writing, writing, writing

Denizens,
I've been mostly off the interweb recently, busy with life, the day job, events to promote Wolves and trying to write, write, write. I'm currently trying to get the third novel off the ground, and I've also been working on short stories for various anthology projects as well as refining the script for a really cool project: a short film based on my short story, "How To Jail" which appeared in CrimeFactory and which will be shot by director Paul Von Stoetzel of Killing Joke Films. Paul's already cast most of the leads and lined up a talented bunch of production people.

This Wednesday, the 11th, I'll be presenting my Crime Fiction Workshop at Clinton Bookshop in Clinton NJ. I hope everybody who enjoys writing as well as crime and mystery fans will stop by to a great bookstore and join us at 7:00pm. I've run the workshop a dozen times now, and it's always a lot of fun to see what writers produce. I've seen really interesting and provocative work in every workshop I've conducted, which makes me really optimistic about the next generation of writers, not to mention way more nice to people I don't know, because it turns out a fair number of them spend their time plotting murder.

Thursday, the 12th, I'll be downtown in Philly for my first Barnes and Noble event, at the Rittenhouse Square store at 6:00pm. For those who don't know the layout at the store, the readings/signings are usually up on the third floor, so climb on up and join us. I really want to get the troops out for this one, so I'll be providing a little bonus material for those who make the trek: I'll read a new (very) short story, and I'll give away a signed copy of my first novel, Dope Thief or to one lucky attendee.

Also got more good news this week: A great review by Justin Bauer at Philadelphia CityPaper, and I found out that Wolves is now available at Barnes and Noble stores across the country.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Upcoming events

July 21st I'll be putting on my Crime Fiction Workshop at a new venue for me, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on East 3rd in Manhattan. This time I'll be joined by writer, teacher and multiple fiction prize-winner August Tarrier. August and I have been developing a curriculum for fiction workshops and we thought this would be a great way to begin, hosting a workshop in New York at the NPC.

The Nuyorican Poets Cafe has been one of the most interesting and innovative arts forums in the country since its founding in the early seventies by poet Miguel Algarin as a get-together in his living room. The forum has grown into a vibrant and dynamic arts organization, hosting a full calendar of poetry, theater, music and literary events. And what better place to put on a crime fiction workshop than the regular haunt of poet, author and judge Edwin Torres, author of the crime classic Carlito's Way?

Please note that I've also rescheduled my sidewalk signing at Farley's Bookshop in New Hope, and will now be there signing on the afternoon of Saturday July 24th. Farley's is one of my favorite bookstores in the world, and I've been hanging out and buying books there since I was about 13. Please come on by!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"Wolves" Goes National

Some great stuff has happened this week, thanks to some really kind and generous reviews and the hard work of Hector Dejean, my publicist at Minotaur.

This morning brought a really nice review of Wolves of Fairmount Park by Tom Nolan in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal.

Last week, David Hiltbrand reviewed Wolves for the Philadelphia Inquirer, a review which has been picked up by a number of local papers, and on July 2nd, Oline Cogdill wrote a beautiful review for the Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale that was picked up by the AP and ran in dozens of papers around the country and websites worldwide.

Thanks to Hector and everybody at Minotaur! Now I'm off to the Chestnut Hill Book Festival for my sessions at four and seven with the Liars Club.

Tuesday night I'll be in New York, at the amazing Mysterious Bookshop in New York for an event with my pal, international bestselling author Jonathan Maberry. Jonathan will probably be talking about his latest excellent Joe Ledger offering, the tech-noir thriller Dragon Factory and the upcoming cool new Zombie YA, Rot and Ruin.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back From The Territories.


Got back from my homemade book tour on Wednesday, after hitting North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississipi, Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The total was 3914 miles. Missed my kids, but I met a lot of great people along the way and enjoyed the hell out of New Orleans, Austin, Houston and St. Louis, where I met up with these degenerates:


That's me, badass Matt McBride, Scott Phillips, Jed Ayres, Derek Nikitas and a nice young lady who was the object of a fundraising auction at the bar and who I believe was named Heidi. The auction was emceed by silver-tongued Scott Phillips, and the money raised was either intended to send the nice young lady back to the convent she had wandered away from, or to defend her against charges of stealing a police car and burning down an orphanage.

I had a great time, but will have to insist for future events of this kind that the bill only include writers who aren't way better than me. Phillips took the hint and just ran the auction, but McBride, Ayres and Nikitas all insisted on wowing the audience with woozily funny and harrowing stories of mayhem. After the event, their tires may or may not have been slashed for what one crazed author present charged was 'obvious showboating.'

Got one ticket (thanks, Missouri!) but other than that the trip went off smoothly, and I even scored tons of great books, some given to me by the awesome Scott Montgomery of BookPeople, who is himself a walking encyclopedia of excellent genre fiction. One surprising note: the economy of America west of the Ohio is apparently dominated by fireworks and porn, as every highway exit west of Mobile and north of Houston features a fireworks outlet and an adult superstore, most with interestingly biblical names. Who says Americans can't handle ambiguity?


Back at home, I was joined by dozens of friends at the official launch of Wolves of Fairmount Park, at the Doylestown Bookshop. It was an excellent time and I saw a bunch of old friends. The great cake drew in scores of innocent children, who, no doubt corrupted and despoiled by proximity to crime fiction, may go the wrong road in future and end up penning pot-boilers and penny-dreadfuls of their own.

At right, a traveling huckster cons an unsuspecting farmer out of his wages with what seems to be a book about local fauna. When the poor local man realizes his error, the grifter will have made his way to the next town, leaving the unlucky sharecropper to grapple with the after-effects of exposure to unwholesome reading material.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day Seven, 2000 Miles

Got to Austin, Texas yesterday and put on my Crime Fiction Workshop at BookPeople with Scott Montgomery today. Scott's been a great friend to me and my books and is an experienced writer himself. Last night he bought me a drink at the beautiful Driskill Hotel bar and told me stories of the screenwriting trade in Hollywood, which always sounds like a heartbreaking way to try to make a living. The workshop was great, with a nice turnout of aspiring writers who (as usual) produced some really interesting fiction.


I spent about 36 hours in New Orleans, a town I'd love to visit again. The Garden District was beautiful, and I stopped in to visit the folks at Garden District Books before walking through the Lafayette Cemetery #1. I think what I loved most was that unlike the frequently anonymous cities of the northeast and midwest, every inch of the town seems particularly and specifically New Orleans.

The French Quarter was full of cool little surprises. I took the obligatory walk down Bourbon Street, past the packed clubs and assaultive music, picked my way through the staggering drunks and overdressed college girls, and crossed Esplanade to find some really great little places on Frenchman, including DBA, a modest little place with twelve Irish Whiskeys on the menu and a mostly local crowd.

I even enjoyed the long drive from Mobile west on 10 to Texas. Yeah, there are cops every five miles, but there are also rice paddies, swamps and bayous, threadbare casino/truck stops and adult superstores with biblical names.

Tomorrow it's on to Joplin, Missouri, a stop to break up the trip to the last event, a Noir at the Bar with Scott Phillips, Jed Ayres, Derek Nikitas and Matthew McBride at the Delmar Lounge in St. Louis on Monday night, the 28th.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wolves of Fairmount Park is Out Today

Today is June 22, and Wolves of Fairmount Park is finally out. So far, it seems to be for sale in independent bookstores, all those great crime bookstores that gave Dope Thief it's start last year, and Barnes and Noble stores in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

There are also more interviews out. One that I had done with Jed Ayres for his blog, Ransom Notes, at Barnes and Noble's site, with the balance of the interview here, at Jed's site, Hardboiled Wonderland. (Jed's site always has some excellent art on the home page - see if you crime movie buffs can figure out the source of the one displayed there now).

The other was done by Kieran Shea for Spinetingler Magazine. Both of these interviews were done the old fashioned way, with the interviewers feeding me one question at a time and then following up. I think it makes for much livelier, more interesting Q&A.

Spinetingler also gave the book a really nice review, too, as did Tim Davis at Mystery Scene Magazine.

It's day two (well, technically day three, now) of the tour, and I'm down in New Orleans. I walked around a little downtown, but I have to admit I was pretty wiped out when I got here earlier, so I'll put a lot more into tomorrow. Today's drive was an easy one, down from Atlanta to the Gulf coast, and the day flew by talking to friends about the release of the book and trying to figure out where it was actually for sale.

Today was also the day that Rebecca Cantrell's new thriller, A Night of Long Knives, is being released by Minotaur, which is excellent news. It's a follow up to her acclaimed Trace of Smoke, and I'm sure it's just as fascinating and gripping as the first one.

Thanks to all my friends for getting the word out! It's been an amazing day.

Day Three, The Thousand Mile Mark


It's going by faster than I thought it would, but then what doesn't these days? I'm in Atlanta, a thousand miles south, and about 37 chapters into Moby Dick. The money's holding out okay, Ahab just nailed a Spanish gold piece to the mast, and I'm having an amazing time. The theme of the first three days was dogs. Crossing the road, in doorways and cars and in pickup trucks, where I saw three enormous animals with short gray hair that were some kind of hound and were as big as elk. They were having a fine time jostling each other while crammed into the bed of a tiny pickup truck, but I dropped way back, worried that one of them would go over the side.

Spent two great days hanging out with my pal and editor Laurie Webb. I first talked to her a few days after I finished Dope Thief when we were introduced by a mutual friend, and we've been having one long conversation ever since. We talk about how to assemble good stories, which is all Laurie's done professionally since she went to Hollywood in her teens, where she ended up working for Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella for more than ten years, and in her business now as a consulting editor. We talk about the movies and books and people we love in one endless, drifting conversation from the second we meet until I have to leave.

Laurie and my friend August Tarrier (who sometimes share clients) are two of the very few people I've met who can consult brilliantly on story, with just the right mix of good advice and sharp analysis and with such enthusiasm and positive energy their clients (like me) go back to them over and over. I've been in dozens of workshops and talked to even very gifted writers who turn out to be the last people you would want to go to with a story in progress. Not because you'd get bad advice in the particular, but because most people have no idea how to help writers move forward without losing confidence because they've made mistakes or gotten bogged down. Think about it: How many people do you know who can address the flaws and missteps in your work in such a way that all you want to do is keep working with them?

I think the secret has to do with focusing on what needs to get done, not where it's gone wrong, and in accepting the premise of the work being written. I'm trying to learn from them, but they seem to do very naturally what is a pretty complex mix of tasks, and underlying it is of course a talent that might not be transferrable and has to do with a kind of 'story sense.'

Okay, so not too much here about the drive, I'll admit, but this is the stuff I think about when I'm driving. I'm also working on a short story for a Crimefactory print anthology for my pal Keith Rawson, so even while I was standing under a giant Mexican sombrero at South of the Border I was wondering about how Philadelphia courtrooms are laid out and how a parole violation hearing works. I know, I know, but this is what fun looks like for me.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The White Whale Tour

"Call me Ishmael. . .

Some years ago — never mind how long precisely — having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off—then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can."

So I'm heading out. I'll be leaving on Saturday, June 19th and coming back around the 30th, heading down through Virginia and the Carolinas, Atlanta, spending a couple of days in New Orleans, then to Houston, Austin and up to St. Louis. I'll have my laptop, my Ipod and Moby Dick on 19 CDs.

I'll be seeing my editor and friend Laurie Webb in Wilmington, North Carolina, then south through Atlanta and New Orleans to visit that city for the first time. Then it's west to Houston, where I'll be doing a signing at Murder By The Book on the 24th with novelist Gary Phillips, who'll be signing copies of the crime collection Orange County Noir, which he edited for Akashic Books; Sarah Cortez, editor of Indian Country Noir; Vicky Hendricks, Florida Gothic Stories, and Jonathan Woods, author of Bad Juju and Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem. The event is at 6:30pm.

On the 26th, I'll be putting on my Crime Fiction Workshop at Book People in Austin, Texas at 3:00pm. The workshop is always a lot of fun - I read from classic crime stories, discuss the elements of crime fiction, and lead attendees in an exercise designed to show the twisted, unhealthy impulses harbored by readers and writers of crime fiction.

I think the highlight might be the Noir at the Bar on June 28th at the Delmar Lounge in St. Louis. By that time I should be a stuttering mess from ten days on the road, but luckily I'll be helped out by some excellent company: Derek Nikitas, author of Pyres and The Long Division, both of which were wrenching, affecting and excellent novels; my friend and hero Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest, The Walkaway, Cottonwood and the forthcoming Supply Sarge; and Jed Ayres, writer, blogger, reviewer and great friend to crime writers everywhere.

It's cool that both Derek and Scott should be there, because though both of them are identified as crime writers, they easily outdistance the constraints of that category to produce deft, fearless, highly original work about people at their most desperate, unhinged moments.

Then I'll be meandering home for the official launch of Wolves of Fairmount Park on Friday evening, July 2nd at the Doylestown Bookshop, my hometown bookstore, where I hope everyone in the Philly area can join me for what I'm sure will be a great time. I'll be wearing the bleary look, the new tattoo, and the T-shirt that reads, "And I only am escaped alone to tell thee..."

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Fiction, A New Issue of Crime Factory, and Cool News

Lords of Flatbush,

You can read a new short fiction piece of mine called "How to Jail," out this week in Crimefactory, the excellent new journal of short fiction, reviews and interviews put out by Keith Rawson, Cam Ashley and Liam Jose.You can read it for free as a PDF, or you can also download it to Kindle or Nook.

This month's issue features some excellent crime fiction by Jed Ayres, Greg Bardsley, Kieran Shea, Sandra Seamans and Daniel B. O'Shea, as well as Liam's excellent interview with Nash Edgerton, who directed The Square, which is one of the best crime films of recent years. The film has been in limited release, but if you love great independent film you MUST find it immediately. There are also reviews by the always-excellent Peter Dragovich (the Nerd of Noir) and Jed Ayres, as well as nonfiction from South African crime writer Roger Smith and Australian Leigh Redhead that will be of particular interest to writers and aspiring writers.

Another cool piece of news is that "How to Jail" might become a short film. The excellent Paul Von Stoetzel, who made the absolutely compelling documentary "SNUFF" is looking at trying to turn my short story into a short movie, which would be awesome. Paul and his company, Killing Joke Films, have produced a bunch of prize-winning films ranging from documentary to Lovecraftian horror.

If you haven't seen it, SNUFF is an examination of the urban legend of snuff films, movies that depict actual murder on-screen. Of course it's disturbing, but it's also fascinating, chasing the increasingly elusive truth of whether such films may have been produced. (Though, for the record, the eponymous movie called "Snuff" from the seventies is a ridiculously unconvincing, if awful and unsettling, attempt to sell a poorly-shot porn film by dressing it up as real-life horror. As my filmmaker son, Dave, pointed out: "They changed camera angles in the middle of the 'murder.')

My new novel, "Wolves of Fairmount Park," is out on June 22nd! My next post will be details on the tour...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Interviews and Reviews

Guys and Dolls,

I have some new interviews and blog entries posted that you can check out if you get a minute:

Lenny Picker interviewed me for Publishers Weekly in a piece called City of Unbrotherly Love: PW Talks With Dennis Tafoya. It was a lot of fun talking to Lenny, and the interview was picked up by a bunch of newspapers and blogs. Thanks to my publicist at St. Martin's, Hector Dejean, for setting that up!

Aaron Brown interviewed me for the June edition of International Thriller Writers newsletter, The Big Thrill. You can read it here. You can see more about Aaron and his work at his website, AaronLBrown.com.

The excellent Marshal Zeringue, who maintains a bunch of really cool websites about books and authors, asked me to talk about what I was reading, at two of his blogs, Campaign for the American Reader and Writers Read. Marshal also runs The Page 69 Test, a really fun site on which authors talk about whatever appears on page 69 of their latest books.

Wolves of Fairmount Park received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which was really nice news, and a solid recommendation from Booklist.

"Starred Review: Dennis Lehane fans will welcome Tafoya's second crime novel, which delivers on the promise of his debut, Dope Thief. A drive-by shooting in front of a Philadelphia dope house claims two victims, Michael Donovan and George Parkman Jr., and leads to an intense search for the gunman. Both fathers--Brendan Donovan, a cop whose son was wounded, and George Parkman Sr., whose son died--can't help wondering if the incident was somehow connected with Brendan's younger half-brother, Orlando, a ne'er-do-well drug addict. Tafoya skillfully shifts among the perspectives of the two grieving fathers, Orlando, and Danny Martinez, the primary investigator on the case. The bleak worldview Brendan articulates ("Nobody knew anybody. Nobody knew the first goddamn thing about their wives or their husbands or their kids or their friends") will resonate with classic noir readers, who will hope Tafoya is their guide through the mean streets for years to come." Publishers Weekly

"Two middle-class teenagers are victims of a drive-by shooting as they stand in front of a Philadelphia house where drugs are sold. One dies, the other is left in a coma. That straightforward premise compels this gritty, insightful crime novel. What were the teens doing there? Buying drugs? Who ordered the shooting? Why? What does it mean for the endlessly roiling competition among the city’s drug dealers? An unlikely handful of people want answers to those questions: a rising young detective with contacts in the drug world; the boys’ fathers, one a Philly beat cop, the other a well-to-do businessman; and one boy’s uncle, a junkie. The path to the truth is circuitous and bloody and leads all over the city. Tafoya’s characters, whether cops, killers, or victims, are multidimensional, and his portrait of the city’s drug trade is bleakly realistic. Tafoya’s Dope Thief (2009) was a fine debut. This much more ambitious follow-up cements his position as an up-and-coming hard-boiled writer." - Booklist

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Liars Club Blog

Over at the Liars Club blog, we're running a series of blogs with advice for new and aspiring writers. The first series, "What You Wish You Knew Before Publishing Your First Book" is underway now, and so far, Marie Lamba, Kelly Simmons, Sara Shepard, Greg Frost, Merry Jones, Leslie Banks, Keith Strunk, Jon McGoran, Solomon Jones and Jonathan Maberry have all weighed in with some interesting and perceptive advice and counsel.

When you get a minute, drop over the Liars Club and check out the blog. In addition to regular postings from the crew about what we're up to (Jonathan just scored another three-book deal with St. Martin's, Sara, Jonathan and Solomon all have TV shows in development, and the rest of the us are working away on new projects), you can also find a schedule of our events and links to our individual sites.

We'll be continuing and expanding our posts with advice for writers, so keep dropping by.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Books That Teach - Save Me, Joe Louis

I thought it would be fun to put up short entries about the books that I loved and that taught me something about writing. Let me know what you think, and tell me about the books that were important to your development as a writer.

I thought I'd start with Madison Smartt Bell's quiet gem, Save Me Joe Louis. The book came out in 1994, and follows main characters Macrae and Charlie as they meet in Manhattan (cementing their new friendship within moments by combining for a strongarm robbery) and drift around New York City and then down toward Macrae's southern home, committing a string of increasingly desperate and violent robberies.

"Macrae watched the girl. Gradually her arm settled to her side from the position in the air where it had been left. Her mouth was very small and cherry red and the lips were slightly parted. She was tipped forward onto the balls of her feet, quick frozen there. You look like I feel, Macrae said to himself. Charlie was thumbing the boy's wallet open.
     "Twenty bucks?" he said. He held the wallet up by one corner, like a rotten dead thing, and a plastic cardcarrier unfolded from it and hung.
     "Keep those legs apart," Charlie said. "Put your weight on that rail, son." He twisted to turn the dangle of cards under the streetlight. "New Jersey license," he said. "Don't you bring more money when you come to Manhattan?"
     The boy didn't answer. He kept his face turned away from the light."

This sequence, from the first pages of the book and reflecting Macrae's point of view of events, tells you a lot about the novel, its characters and Bell's power as a writer. With just a few lines, he's telling who Macrae is, who Charlie is, and about the humiliation and terror of the experience both of being robbed by strangers in a Manhattan park and of becoming someone who would be caught up in perpetrating that robbery. Much of what follows in the novel is about Macrae's experience and from his point of view, as he allows himself to go along with violent, restless Charlie as the crimes escalate, until he comes to a final decision point about his fate and essential character.

In the small scene above, Bell shows Macrae's hold on his own humanity even as he participates in the humiliating ritual of stealing from the young couple. He notices the small details of their body language and empathizes with their discomfort. "You look like I feel."

The wallet becomes a "rotten dead thing" in Charlie's hands. He's enjoying the temporary control and power he holds, in mastering the situation and overpowering the couple so that the boy, emasculated, can only look away. Macrae's ambivalence and Charlie's need for control and power in this scene tell you a lot about how the rest of the novel is going to play out.

This was powerful, important stuff to me as a writer. Bell showed me a new kind of writing, in which desperate, violent but fully-realized and fully-human characters interacted in authentic ways and with the kind of stakes at risk that really matter. Not the money they would seem to be fighting over, but the subtle expressions of power, connection, love and regret that are the actual stuff of living. And all of it excecuted with such subtlety that its themes inform and deepen the action rather than distract from its power.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

From the Blog, 'Prison Photography'

The Man Who Founded the Mugshot: Happy 157th Birthday Alphonse Bertillon

Alphonse Berillon was the French criminologist who gave us the mug shot. His work in the late 19th century, documenting and cataloging the physical appearance, distinguishing marks and tattoos of criminal suspects changed police work.

The blog is Prison Photography, run by Pete Brook, an English amateur photographer living in Seattle. Pete says this about his site:

"The analysis of photography in sites of incarceration is my nerdcore niche. How the camera and its operator perform in interpreting the stories and systems seem like a good points of departure for discussion.
If a camera is within prison walls we should always be asking; How did it get there? What are/were the motives? What are the responses? I consider the photograph as social document, therefore, what social and political powers are at play in a photograph’s manufacture? And, how is knowledge, related to those powers, constructed?
Prison Photography also concerns itself with civil liberties, ethics and social justice as they relate to photography and photojournalism."

I just spent an hour checking out the site. Its images are by turns beautiful, hopeful, arresting and very disturbing. Pete does an amazing job of asking hard questions, not just about prison images but about how news photographs of crime and violence are obtained and how the circumstances under which the photos were made affect the reality they portray.

His sequence about the killing of a fifteen-year-old Haitian, Fabienne Cherisma is an exhaustive exploration of the process of capturing her image, the actions of the photographers and the police on the scene and the transformation of the image into icon. Pete seems like a very smart and empathetic man doing important and frequently overlooked work: creating context for the news images we see every day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Philadelphia Free Library Festival

Sunday, April 18th I'll be with writers Leslie Banks, Ed Pettit and Jonathan Maberry at the Philadelphia Free Library Festival, at 5:00pm, for a panel on the Liars Club. The Festival is always entertaining and informative, and Sunday features Roy Blount Jr, Sapphire (author of Push) and many other authors, musicians and artists. All events are free and open to the whole family.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Cool events coming next week

Cholos y cholas,

There are some great events coming in the next week:

Sunday, April 11th, Duane Swierczynski is signing copies of his latest thriller, Expiration Date, at Port Richmond Books. The event is at 2pm, and Port Richmond is one of my favorite bookstores in the world (It even makes an appearance in Wolves of Fairmount Park). Port Richmond is run by the excellent Greg Gillespie (in the pic at right), and if we're lucky Roger Pertersen will be working that day. Roger's a graphic artist who works part time for Greg, and you can see some of his stuff at his site, Dime Store Novels, as well as on the walls and signs of restaurants and clubs in Port Richmond and Fishtown.

On Monday, the 12th, I'll be at Bucks County Community Colllege for two seminars as part of their week-long event, "Writing For Our Lives."  I'm doing a panel at 11am with fiction writers Alan Hoey and Jim Freeman to talk about the writing process, and then at 1pm I'll be opposite Debra Niehoff, author of The Biology of Violence, to talk about fictional vs. actual violence, which should be really interesting.  Throughout the four days of the event people will be reading from the poetry of former Bucks instructor and Poet Laureate, the late Bev Stoughton, who was an amazing writer and my creative writing teacher at Bucks.

On Tuesday, April 13th at 6:30, I'll be at the Midtown Branch of the New York Public Library for an event called Crime Scenes—From Cities to the Back of Beyond: Why & How Mystery Writers Choose Their Settings. It'll be moderated by Peggy Ehrhart and include panelists Lorenzo Carcaterra, Henry Chang, Julia Pomeroy, Laura Joh Rowland and me. I'm standing in for Wallace Stroby, author of Gone Til November, Heartbreak Lounge and other fierce, affecting mysteries from Minotaur.

Wednesday, April 14th, Duane Swiercynzki and Ed Pettit will be at the Hiway Theater in Jenkintown, showing a great blast from the criminal past, "Hickey and Boggs," a film starring Bill Cosby and the late Robert Culp in a gritty urban action film they did together a few years after their 'I Spy" franchise ended. Ed is known as the Philly Poe Guy, having appeared in local and national press many times defending Philadelphia as the city with the most compelling claim on Poe's literary legacy, but Ed is also a teacher and literary and cultural critic whose work has appeared in newspapers all over the country. This should be a great time, and knowing Ed and Duane, moviegoers will walk away with a ton of cool info about the movie, its stars and place in the cultural firmament of crime films.

Next Saturday, the 17th, the Liars Club will be appearing again at the Trappe Book Center, at 130 W. Main Street in Collegeville, PA from 1-3 p.m. This event, which is free and open to the public, features free goodies, eight authors, and chances to win prizes that include book bags and signed books. There will even be a story time for kids, featuring an original picture book manuscript read by author Keith Strunk.


Visitors to the April 17th celebration will get to play Truth or Lie games for prizes, and will enjoy hanging out with the following Liars: Stoker and Nebula nominated fantasy author Gregory Frost (titles include Shadowbridge, and Lord Tophet, Del Rey/Random House); author of dynamic forensics thrillers Jon McGoran, who writes as D.H. Dublin (titles include Freezer Burn, Berkley); women’s contemporary fiction author Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Washington Square Press/Simon and Schuster); celebrated crime writer Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief, St. Martin’s); social media guru and magazine feature writer Don Lafferty; popular author of young adult novels Marie Lamba (What I Meant…, Random House); best selling mystery novelist Merry Jones (titles include The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books); and actor, playwright and historian Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series).

Locally owned and operated, Trappe Book Center serves as a hub of cultural activity for the area. They offer book clubs for adults and kids, free literary events, and they often work with organizations to help them fundraise for important local causes. The store has conducted a Battle of the Books to celebrate literacy, and has run an Angel Tree over the holidays to provide books for local children in need. “We are always seeking new ways to be involved in our community,” says manager Kit Little, who points out that the store also works with over 200 local schools to help with events, fundraising and special programs. For more information, or to reserve a copy of an author’s book before the event, call the Trappe Book Center at 610-454-0640.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

At the Santore Branch of the Philadelphia Library tonight

The Liars Club kicks off our inaugural Spring Library Tour Wednesday April 7 with an event at the Santore Library in the South Philly. From 6 – 7:30 p.m., join authors L. A. Banks, Solomon Jones, Jonathan McGoran (a.k.a. D. H. Dublin), Kelly Simmons, Dennis Tafoya, and Merry Jones for brief readings from their recent works followed by a free wheeling discussion about writing, publishing, and the important contribution made by public libraries.


Books will be available for purchase and the authors will be available to sign. Library copies will also be on hand to be checked out. The Liars Club will donate a selection of titles to the Charles Santore library collection.

“As writers, we not only rely on libraries for our reading and entertainment needs, but for research and inspiration. We applaud the work being done by the Philadelphia city libraries, and are happy to support them with our donations,” said New York Times bestselling author L.A. Banks.

The Liars Club includes such published authors as: New York Times bestseller and Bram Stoker-winner Jonathan Maberry, (Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, St. Martin’s; The Wolfman, Tor); New York Times bestselling author Sara Shepard (The Pretty Little Liars young adult series, Harper Teen, and The Visibles, Free Press); New York Times bestselling paranormal thriller and romance author L.A. Banks (Cursed to Death, St. Martins) fantasy author Gregory Frost (Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet duology, Del Rey/Random House); literary novelist Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Simon & Schuster); mystery author Merry Jones (The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books), forensic crime novelist Jon McGoran, a.k.a. D. H. Dublin (Freezer Burn, Blood Poison, and Body Trace, Penguin), Essence best-selling author Solomon Jones (CREAM, St. Martin’s ) popular young adult author Marie Lamba (What I Meant…, Random House), acclaimed crime novelist Dennis Tafoya (Dope Thief and The Wolves of Fairmount Park, St. Martin’s); and historical author Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing Images of America Series).

The Liars Club provides talks, workshops, readings, and other events to support libraries, bookstores, and other creative venues, and work to promote literacy and reading, and the craft of writing and story-telling. “Basically, we believe in the great indoors,” quips author Dennis Tafoya.

Look for upcoming Liars Club events at libraries across the area. For more information about the Charles Santore library, visit www.freelibrary.org, and click on “Find a Location.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Alex Trejo Photographs

I was killing time in Northern Liberties and stumbled into Alex Trejo's photography gallery on Liberties Walk, just across 2nd Street from the Piazza at Schmidts. I bought one photograph, and I'll definitely be back.

This one is a view of the Smith Memorial in West Fairmount Park, the same stone arches St. Martin's used on the cover of "Wolves."

According to the web, Alex used to work for an architecture firm, which isn't surprising given his interest not just in photographing some of Philly's most interesting landmarks, but the way he plays with creating different moods with lighting, color and perspective.

The result is work that can suggest the heroic or mythic, or sort of ghostly or menacing. On his website, Alex says he's interested in story, and it's easy to see these photographs as suggesting a narrative.



Hope you'll stop by and check out Alex's gallery,
R. Alexander Trejo, Fine Art Photography,
down on Liberties Walk of Second. Visit his website here, and keep an eye out for one of his exhibitions around town.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Noir Town: A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski in Philadelphia's City Paper

City Paper asked their former editor and kick-ass thriller writer Duane Swierczynski for a co-interview with another Philadelphia crime writer, and Duane (a great writer and genuinely nice guy) asked me to participate. The result, in which we ask each other about the city, our chosen genres and our books, can be seen here, a cover story that came out yesterday. It was a lot of fun, and really nice to be able to ask questions as well as answer them.

My only regret is that we couldn't develop a longer conversation, mostly because Duane and I share some obsessions, (like armed robbery) that he's written extensively about, and because Duane has collected a ton of fascinating arcana about Philly. His Secret Dead blog has tons of cool vintage photos and historical sketches of the city and its criminal, literary and cultural history.

Thanks to Duane and the Arts and Entertainment Editors at City Paper, Carolyn and Pat. And get out there and buy Duane's latest, Expiration Date, which hits stores today!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Your Chance to Vote for Dope Thief for a Spinetingler Award


If you're a fan of Dope Thief, please stop by Spinetingler and vote for the book in the New Voices category. And check out the rest of the magazine, Spinetingler has great fiction, reviews and interviews. I especially love their Conversations with the Bookless series.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

CrimeFactory Back WIth a New Issue

Sheiks and Shebas,

CrimeFactory #2 is up and running! With fiction from Ray Banks, Dave Zeltserman, Kieran Shea, Patti Abbott, Josh Converse. Stephen D. Rogers and Gerard Brennan. Features by Jimmy Callaway, Reed Farrel Coleman, Craig McDonald, Charlie Stella, Chad Eagleton, The Nerd of Noir and including a review of Dope Thief by Joyce Juzwik.

Thanks to Keith Rawson, Cam Ashley and Liam Jose for another excellent job.

Read it online as a pdf, or download it for Kindle, Nook or Sony Reader

Friday, March 26, 2010

Harlan Coben Interview

My son Dave "Scout" Tafoya, a student at Emerson College, got the chance to interview bestselling thriller writer Harlan Coben as part of his "Poorly Shot Interviews Over Coffee" series, while Harlan was in Boston promoting the release of his latest thriller.

Harlan Coben, winner of the Edgar, Shamus and Anthony Awards, talks about his latest book, Caught, how he approaches putting together a novel, and working on the movie adaptation of the award-winning Tell No One, directed in France by Guillaume Canet.

Born in Newark, Harlan's sold millions of books worldwide. His last two thrillers, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT both debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His books are published in 40 languages and have been number one bestsellers in over a dozen countries. His books are lessons in economy, with tight, fast-moving plots and memorable, very human characters whose fates drive the action and draw in readers.

Dave blogs on music, film and pop culture for several cool sites, including Between Love and Like, Film Punk and Honors Zombie.

He's interviewed BAFTA/Oscar/DGA Nominated Director Lee Daniels, Director of Push and Monster's Ball; and the bands Cymbals Eat Guitars and Screaming Females.

Dave's not kidding about the "poorly shot" part, but part of the fun is that he critiques his own work as part of the interviews. I think he does a pretty good job for a kid with no crew and a digital camera who gets a couple of minutes to hang out and ask questions.

Thanks to Harlan for hanging out with Dave!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Breaking Bad

I went up to Apple's Soho store last Friday to catch Vince Gilligan, the creator of the AMC hit Breaking Bad. It was well worth the trip. The show's two stars, Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, also showed up, as did AMC president Charlie Collier (in the audience). There was a great turnout and the audience asked the questions I would have asked if I wasn't too shy in those situations.

Apple showed a great promo reel for the upcoming Season Three, and Gilligan, Cranston and Paul were fascinating. Probably the most interesting moment was when Bryan Cranston talked about the usually-tedious process of reading new scripts, and how blown away he was by Gilligan's pilot. He recited most of the first page from memory, which is a lesson in how to create something with impact that will grab your audience from the opening line. Breaking Bad tells the story of Walt White (Cranston), a high-school chemistry professor who learns that he's dying of lung cancer. With nothing to leave his family and unable even to afford treatment for his aggressive cancer, Walt turns to a former student, meth-dealing Jesse Pinkman (Paul) and convinces Jesse to let him cook a much purer meth than he can make himself.

The show grabbed me from the pilot and I haven't missed an episode. It's funny, violent, surprising and clever as hell (my favorite moment, when Walt is immortalized in a narcocorrido performed by Los Cuates de Sinaloa). It's also a fascinating meditation on loyalty, obligation and familial love.

And it's entirely character-driven, with a complexity and reality that I've never seen in a TV show. It's not just that the subject matter is disturbing and the tone gritty and real, it's that the characters actually change over time, and not just in good or predictable ways. As Walt grows in power and energy during the show, he also makes accomodations, both personal and moral, to his new status.

If you haven't seen it, rent it, watch it, and set your DVR to record it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

New Release from Duane Swierczynski

Great news!

Duane Swierczynski, author of kick-ass crime novels, The Wheelman, The Blonde, Severance Package, and other great books, as well as the writer of Marvel Comics' wildly popular Cable series, has a cool-looking new release coming St. Martin's Griffin. It's called Expiration Date, and it's official release is March 30th.


Here's the setup:
Mickey Wade is a recently-unemployed journalist who lucked into a rent-free apartment—his sick grandfather’s place. The only problem: it’s in a lousy neighborhood—the one where Mickey grew up, in fact. The one he was so desperate to escape.

But now he’s back. Dead broke. And just when he thinks he’s reached rock bottom, Mickey wakes up in the past. Literally.

At first he thinks it’s a dream. All of the stores he remembered from his childhood, the cars, the rumble of the elevated train. But as he digs deeper into the past, searching for answers about the grandfather he hardly knows, Mickey meets the twelve-year-old kid who lives in the apartment below.

The kid who will grow up to someday murder Mickey’s father.

Sounds like a blast! It should be out any day everywhere, but get it at your local independent bookstore. You'll feel better about yourself.

Monday, March 15, 2010

And the winner is...

Daryl Pauley of Springfield Missouri!

A signed copy of the ARC is on its way now. Thanks to the dozens of people who sent in entries for the contest, and keep looking in this space for more giveaways, contests and free fiction!

Dennis

Sunday, March 14, 2010

We have a winner...

...in our giveaway. I'll announce it here as soon as I hear back from the lucky reader who snagged a signed copy of the ARC for Wolves of Fairmount Park!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A Book Giveaway Contest...



I just got the Advance Reader Copies for my second novel, The Wolves of Fairmount Park, and I've giving away a copy to one lucky reader.

I know, you're mystified by this show of generosity, especially since you know me to be parsimonious in the extreme. In fact, you're thinking, doesn't he still owe me ten bucks from that time he 'forgot' his wallet at Bouchercon? And aren't you pretty sure you saw me swipe the change off the bar when Phillips was buying a round? Yeah, well, no one likes a snitch. So why don't we just stop living in the past and concentrate on winning free books?

To get your own copy, send me an email by clicking on the 'EMAIL DENNIS' link (the nifty flaming heart logo) on the right and send me an email. That's it - you're in!

Of course, extra entry points will be awarded for fawning compliments and debt forgiveness. The contest will close on March 13th at Midnight, EST. Act now while supplies last!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Author Appearances in March and April 2010

Kings of Infinite Space,

I'll be appearing at a bunch of local events in the next couple of months and hope you can get out to say hello.

I'll be at the Independent Author Afternoon at Princeton Free Library, Saturday, March 6th, from 12 to 4pm. There'll be readings all afternoon, and you can meet Liars Club writers Kelly Simmons and Greg Frost, as well as two dozen other great local writers.

Thursday, March 11th I'll be at the annual Author Reception at Harleysville Books in Harleysville, PA from 6 - 8pm. The event includes two dozen local writers, including Liars Club authors like New York Times bestseller Sara Shepard (The Pretty Little Liars series, HarperTeen, and The Visibles, Free Press), young adult author Marie Lamba(What I Meant…, Random House), New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry (Patient Zero, The Dragon Factory, St. Martin’s Griffin, and The Wolfman, Tor), best selling mystery author Merry Jones (The Borrowed and Blue Murders, Minotaur Books), lauded contemporary novelist Kelly Simmons (Standing Still, Washington Square Press), and historian, actor and storyteller Keith Strunk (Prallsville Mills and Stockton, Arcadia Publishing).

The Liars club will be kicking off its Library Tour at the Charles Santore Branch of the Philadelphia Free Library on Wednesday, April 7th at 6:00pm. Details are still being finalized, but it should be a great chance to meet a bunch of great writers and discuss the writing process.

On Monday, April 12, I'll be participating in two panel discussions at Bucks County Community College as part of the Wordsmiths series. The panels, one dealing with the craft of writing and one dealing with real vs. fictional violence, will be at 11am and 1pm, and should be a pretty interesting time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Interview at BSC

Keith Rawson, one of the twisted minds responsible for the rebirth of CrimeFactory, interviewed me for BSC when I was out in Phoenix last month.



Keith blogs at Bloody Knuckles, Calloused Fingertips and has contributed some kickass noir fiction to Plots with Guns, Pulp Pusher, CrimeWav.com, Powder Burn Flash,Twist of Noir and many other cool crime fiction sites.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Two Great Events on Friday, March 5th



There are two events on the same night that I'd like to get to - I'm going to do my best to hit both:

First, New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry is launching The Dragon Factory, his follow up to the kick-ass thriller, Patient Zero. The Dragon Factory brings back Joe Ledger and the whole Department of Military Sciences team as they take on a pair of evil twins who are unloosing a genetic nightmare of transgenic monsters and genetically-enhanced mercenaries.

It's a three-for-one event, too: Jonathan will also be signing two other brand-new releases, The Wolfman, his novelization of the screenplay of the new film starring Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins, and a cool new anthology, The New Dead, from St. Martin's, a Zombie-themed anthology that has gotten high praise from critics.

The launch is at 7:00pm at Doylestown Bookshop, 16 S Main St. Doylestown, PA (215)230 7610

For those of you who are going to be downtown in Philly this Friday, you can hit the world premiere of Larry Withers' new documentary, David Goodis...To a Pulp, his fascinating and very personal investigation into the life of Philly's most notorious writer of noir fiction. Larry has put together a compelling look at the circumstances that brought an up-and-coming screenwriter back from LA to live out his days writing dark, unforgettable stories, hanging out in dives and blurring the line between his life and his doomed and luckless characters.

David Goodis...To A Pulp, a biography of noir writer David Goodis, has its world premiere, March 5 in Philadelphia at 8:30 p.m. at the Society Hill Playhouse, 507 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107, 215-923-0210. $10 at the door.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Reading in Princeton

I'll be doing a reading Wednesday night, February 17th as part of the Arts Council of Princeton’s Starry Winter Night: A Story Hour for Grownups, featuring Princeton area writers; Solley Theater, Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street in Princeton, NJ.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Presents to Myself

Dear Boss,

I just got a huge care package in the mail to indulge my various obsessions:

Voodoo Histories: The Role of the Conspiracy Theory in Shaping Modern History, by David Aaronovitch, about the persistance of belief in conspiracies. "Aaronovitch argues persuasively that conspiracy theories are often a psychological defence against the indifference of others. This book will not change the theorists' views, of course, but it will be invaluable in our refuting them logically." - Andrew Roberts, in the Literary Review.


The Glister: A Novel by John Burnside, about a series of disappearances in a blighted English town. “John Burnside can make even the most mundane scene feel threatening. Oddly tender, for all the terror it evokes, his prose has a seductive depth and clarity that's impossible to resist. His novel, The Glister, is a delight–a scary, fascinating exploration of innocence and evil, and the thin margin that often separates the two.” —Scott Smith, author of A Simple Plan and The Ruins.

Longford, directed by Tom Hooper. "In the hands of Peter Morgan (writer of The Queen and Frost/Nixon), the intertwined lives of a child murderess and an English lord become what can only be described as a moral thriller--a suspenseful story of evil and forgiveness." - Brad Fetzer.

Five Days, A BBC miniseries written by Gwyneth Hughes, in which a mother and two young children vanish in broad daylight. "Riveting because it weaves the most familiar milestones of a major homicide investigation — the news conferences, police interrogations and family meltdowns — into a less predictable and intricately layered narrative that averts clich├ęs without diluting the suspense..." The New York Times

Also waiting for my copy of The Things That Keep Us Here, by breakout novelist Carla Buckley.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Good news






Ballerinas esotica,

I was interviewed this week by the cool Italian literary site, Liberi di Scrivere, so now I feel like a man of the world.

Also, Scott Montgomery, the crime consultant at BookPeople in Austin, gave me and Dope Thief a really nice boost in in his Top Ten List for 2009.

Scott has been an amazing friend to me and Dope Thief, which is the February selection of his Hard Word Book Club, a noir-centered book group Scott runs out of BookPeople. I'll be talking live to the club on February 24th, which should be an excellent time.

The blog post is by David Thompson over at his blog for Busted Flush Press. David is the owner of Busted Flush, which publishes outstanding crime fiction, as well as the owner of Murder by the Book, one of the country's best mystery book stores. I'll be down in Houston at MBTB for their Noir Night on June 24th.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Scott Phillips Interview at Do Some Damage

Head over to Do Some Damage and check out the great two-part interview with my twisted pal Scott Phillips, author of The Ice Harvest, The Walkaway, and Cottonwood, which I just re-read and enjoyed just as much the second time.

Scott talks about his career and writing process as well as his upcoming novel "Supply Sarge" from Phoenix Books and the comic series he's been working on with the artist Roger Peterson, whose work you can check out at his website, "Dollar Store Novels."

Scott's work always deals with the hidden and strange sides of life that we all pretend we aren't constantly thinking about. He's staked out this dark and compelling territory for himself, documenting in his various books a kind of murderous underground history of a patch of the midwest, from the 1870's to the present day. He's also a ferociously funny storyteller, both in his novels and in person.

There are always pieces of grotesque reality lurking in his novels, like the "Bloody Benders," a real clan of killers who waylaid travelers in 19th century Kansas, or a bizarre sex raffle that operated in a defense plant in Wichita in the 1940s.

Scott also produced as good a piece of short fiction as I've ever read, "The Emerson, 1950" at the short-lived and much-missed "Murdaland." The good news is that you can read it online at the website.

Check him out, and buy his books. Do it now.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Writers Coffeehouse at Barnes and Noble in Willow Grove Today

THE WRITERS COFFEEHOUSE

Come join us for a FREE 3-hour networking and discussion about writing and publishing at the Writers Coffeehouse!

Location: BARNES & NOBLE WILLOW GROVE, 102 Park Avenue, Willow Grove, PA 19090.

Time: Sunday, January 31, noon to 3pm

The Writers Coffeehouse is open to everyone.

It’s a bunch of writers sitting around talking about writing…with coffee. No agenda…just chat about the latest trends in the industry, about markets, about pitching and selling, about frustration, about keeping the inner fires alight, about dealing with our families, about how damn tough it is to make it as a writer at the best of times and what writers can do to stay afloat in these troubled economic waters.

No previous publishing experience necessary…the Writers Coffeehouse attracts everyone from absolute beginner to award-winners and bestsellers. We’re all writers.

So come on out and join us. This is a regular event that meets on the last Sunday of every month. The coffeehouse is usually hosted by international bestselling author Jonathan Maberry, but today I'll be hosting the event, along with writers Jon McGoran, Marie Lamba, Keith Strunk and Janice Gable Bashman.


Grab a cup of coffee and meet us in the conference area at back of the store.

Monday, January 25, 2010

CrimeFactory is up and running!


People of Earth,

CrimeFactory has its first issue up. Keith Rawson and Cameron Ashley did an amazing job, and it looks great.

Issue #1 has new fiction from Ken Bruen, Frank Bill, Hilary Davidson (the Damage Done), Steve Weddle, Dave White (When One Man Dies and The Evil That Men Do) and features by Scott Phillips (the Ice Harvest, the Walkaway, and Cottonwood) Adrian McKinty (Fifty Grand) Gordon Harries and the Nerd of Noir.

Extra points for naming the famous mugs in the mugshots scattered throughout the site.

I'll have fiction in a coming issue, so stay tuned!