Exiles Guest Blog: Gardening and committing a crime – How I came to write ‘Taking out the Trash’ by Aidan Thorn

Exiles cover preview (1)When I saw the suggestion that contributors to Exiles do a piece talking about what inspired them to write the story that we’ve contributed to the anthology I have to say I wasn’t keen. I can rarely recall what it is that inspires me to write. I always think I just write stuff that comes into my head down, sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn’t. Sometimes I’ll hear a sentence and think, that’d be a great title for a story. Sometimes I’ll wake up with an idea in my head that I just have to get on the page – those of you that have read my work (thank you, both) probably won’t envy my dreams!

So, having enough to say about what inspired me to write ‘Taking out the Trash’ to create an article was going to be no easy task. I figured I’d give the request a swerve, keep my head down and hope none of my fellow contributors noticed I wasn’t pulling my weight.

So what changed my mind? Well to some extent I’m being selfish. You see, I’m going through an extreme dry spell. I finished my last, no let’s be optimistic and say latest, short story in February and have barely written a word since. I have two novellas in progress that I can’t bring myself to do more than re-read the parts that are already written and tinker around the edges with minor edits. I’m lacking inspiration!

And so that got me thinking about what inspires me to write, in the vain hope that it might flick the light on again. Turns out it’s more than just a thought that unconsciously arrives in my head and just has to land on the page.  I went all the way back to my first published short story, Fingered. That one was easy, when I was at college a few of us formed a band, and when I say formed a band we did what I think most people that form a band do, we came up with a name for the band and spent our rehearsal time jamming Hendrix’s ‘All Along the Watchtower.’ The name that band was given, 3 Fingered Louie. If I’d have spent as much time focusing on the band as I did coming up with a backstory for this Louie character I’d have been a pretty solid musician… So, when I came to write ‘Fingered’ I wrote what I knew – a character I’d created 10 years before.

I’ve been through all of my short stories trying to work out where they came from, I’ll tell you about a couple. I have a little horror story over at Thrills, Kills and Chaos called, The Guest, that’s inspired by a photo from my parents wedding. As my parents make their way from the church there’s an old women stood beside a grave stone. You shouldn’t notice her past my mother’s beautiful white dress and the beaming smiles on the newlyweds faces, but the eye is strangely drawn to her, something isn’t right. The thing is, she isn’t standing at all, she’s floating next to the gravestone, she doesn’t even have legs on which to stand – neither of my parents can tell me who she is.

Another of my tales, Last Orders, (another TKnC tale) was inspired by sitting in doors on a rainy Sunday and seeing a re-run of the turgid Britain’s Got Talent from the previous evening – I knew that programme had to be good for something! I won’t go through the rest of my stories, one, because I don’t want to put too many spoilers out there for those of you that want to rush off and buy my short story collection, Criminal Thoughts (hint!) and two, because this is supposed to be about, Taking out the Trash.

So paragraph five and finally I get to the point of the article, bloody hell I can ramble on for a short story writer! I’d love to tell you that the story behind Taking out the Trash was profound and interesting, but it’s really not (that’s probably why I chucked that story about The Guest in there, it’s a pretty cool one, right?).  It all started in the garden and ended with a crime of my own – one so pitiful I’ll lose any credibility I might have built up as a gritty crime write. I’d been cutting back a lot of bushes and removing even more weeds. There was so much waste I filled the car with it. It was a Sunday, late afternoon and I was heading for the local dump. When I arrived at the dump I found it to be closed. There was no way I was unloading all of that shit at my house again so a criminal thought (product placement alert!) entered my mind. My previous house had been near the woods and people were always dumping crap up there, much to my disgust, but now I had a car full of garden waste and my morals were far less important to me than my immediate problem. I drove up to those woods and I emptied all five sacks of waste right below the sign that told me fly-tipping was prohibited and could result in a hefty fine and perhaps even imprisonment. In my defence everything I dumped that day was entirely natural, but I still wasn’t impressed with myself. It played on my mind that I’d done something I really wasn’t happy with. ‘I’m not a crook’, well unless you count nicking a ‘shoplifters will be prosecuted’ sign for a laugh when I was 16, I just write about them. I decided to make something good from my misdemeanour and write a story about a proper fly-tipping crime, I guess I wanted to make myself feel better… What I did was nothing compared to the mess that Eddie from Taking out the Trash finds himself in.

My original aim for Taking out the Trash was to have it run at 700 words about submit it to Shotgun Honey, I love that site and could never make anything work at their tight word limit. I couldn’t make Taking out the Trash work at that limit either, but there is another story up there now, Waste Disposal, a complete reworking of the original idea that does work. Taking out the Trash was my first go at the story for Shotgun Honey, but when I saw that it wasn’t going to fit within their limits I just ploughed on and figured I’d find a home for it somewhere. Thankfully that home is Paul D Brazill’s Exiles Anthology, a great honour. So, that little trip to the woods to get rid of the garden waste resulted in not one but two stories… Who knew pruning a few bushes would end that way… Perhaps I should head out to the garden again today and see if more inspiration strikes.

Bio:  Aidan Thorn is from Southampton, England, home of the Spitfire and Matthew Le Tissier but sadly more famous for Craig David and being the place the Titanic left from before sinking. Aidan would like to put Southampton on the map for something more than bad R ‘n’ B and sinking ships. His short fiction has appeared in the Byker Books’ Radgepacket series and the Near to the Knuckle Anthology: Gloves off, as well as online at Thrillers, Killers ‘n’ Chillers, Thrills, Kills and Chaos, Shotgun Honey and Near to the Knuckle. He released his first short story collection, Criminal Thoughts in December 2013.

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW from Blackwitch Press.

Exiles Guest Blog: Wetwork by Walter Conley

Exiles cover preview (1)I tend to begin short stories the way Harold Pinter said he began plays: Throw a couple guys in a room (in my case, a seedy bar or U-haul truck) and eavesdrop on them. My story for Exiles, “Wetwork,” is a departure for me, as it was inspired by a location.

 

I’ve been driving and operating heavy equipment half my life. Still do. It’s how I provide for my family while hawking daydreams.

 

In my twenties, I drove for a ready-mix concrete outfit based in southern California. Our biggest project—aside from the neverending pours we did at the Scientology compound, as creepy as it sounds—was erecting walls for a man-made lake/reservoir in San Jacinto. The valley to be flooded had mountains that formed natural walls, joined by those we constructed.

 

Interesting things happened there.

 

One night, I did a very risky and unauthorized job for a subcontractor. He thanked me, gave me a company T-shirt, then asked if I’d like to ride into the heart of a mountain. I jumped at the chance. I wouldn’t have been allowed to do so otherwise. The foreman picked me up in a golf cart. He told me he was afraid of the dark. At the mouth of the tunnel, he threatened to kill his employees if they turned the lights off once we were inside. We followed a concrete path, barely wide enough to accomodate us, all the way to the end. It was breathtaking. Water dripped from stalactites. I could feel the pressure of the mountain overhead. He began to speak about the tunnel and the lights went off. As dark as pitch can be. The poor guy leapt out of the cart and freaked—I mean, he fucking freaked, running into the walls and shouting—until they turned the lights back on. He didn’t kill his employess, but he did leave bruises.

 

Another time, I was sitting on a hill overlooking the valley floor. It was raining. The storm had come over the mountaintops and seemed to be trapped in there with us. As I watched, a man in a backhoe, who was scraping the ground level, unearthed the best-preserved Wooly Mammoth skeleton every found in the continental US. Work stopped as everyone raced down to look. It was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve ever had and that’s saying something.

 

The detail of the job that gave rise to my short story, “Wetwork,” didn’t involve either of these events. I won’t divulge it, since it’s pivotal to the outcome, but will say that it’s haunted me for twenty years, moreso than the tunnel or the skeleton. I get shivers now thinking of it.

 

Somewhere deep in my unconscious, this fact combined with an unproven suspicion about the Zodiac Killer*.

 

I had the setting and the twist, but who would be the star? Henry Sloan, that’s who. I’ve written more unpublished fiction about Henry Sloan than I have about any other character. I love the guy and I love his car, a 1965 Ford Galaxie 500, two-door hardtop, white with whitewall tires and a red vinyl interior. As it happens, this is a car I used to see in the desert; the owner lived next to a different concrete plant I worked out of in Thousand Palms. Until now, though, Henry had only appeared publicly in cameos (“Chicken” in All Due Respect #1 being the most recent), was referred to by other characters, or had his apartment provide a locale, while he didn’t even get a walk-on (“Protect Her” in the forthcoming Fox Spirit anthology, Drag Noir).  So it’s Henry’s big break. He flees the east coast to avoid prosecution and winds up at my reservoir.

 

I named Henry for a legendary Delta Blues player, the man who taught Charley Patton, who, in turn, taught Son House, who taught Robert Johnson….Patton often sang about floods. Unfortunately, the real Henry Sloan was never recorded and all we have are anecdotes.

 

*Back to the Zodiac. I lived in Riverside County, CA at one time, near the college where the Zodiac Killer is believed to have murdered his first victim. It was my home when I was pouring at the aforementioned job. He scratched something into a desk and the handwriting matches letters and greeting cards sent to reporters.

 

Forty-eight years after he allegedly did that, I scratched a narrative onto paper—inspired by him in a roundabout way—and you can read it EXILES.

Bio: Walter Conley‘s poetry and fiction appear in the small press, anthologies and sites like Mad Swirl and Danse Macabre. His latest publication, the short story “Chicken,” can be found in All Due Respect Magazine #1 and is currently being developed as a novel. Forthcoming are stories in the books Drag Noir and Lost in the Witching Hour. Walter blogs at http://katharinehepcat.com, is online at  http://facebook.com/wconley2 and can be reached at pitchbrite@gmail.com.

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW from Blackwitch Press.

Exiles Guest Blog: Dullcreek by Carrie Clevenger

Exiles cover preview (1)Homosexuality was a non-topic when I was growing up in the eighties. The ultimate ‘weird,’ and though I was never gay, I knew people who were. People I loved who suffered privately while playing a charade of heterosexuality. Boys chased after girls, who in turn were meant to be pretty for them. A prize worth claiming. Future mate and companion.

When Paul approached me to write for Exiles, I had little hesitation in turning over a work I’d had in the back of my hard drive for a good amount of time. Originally a flash-fiction piece, “Dullcreek,” to me at least, addresses the alienation associated with social exile, or dissemination from the general public. Lesley, my character narrator in the story, relates a background that includes a lost love, shame and finally, avenged anger—all wrapped up in being who she is. Her sexual identity automatically excludes her from ever being a true presence in the world. To just be herself.

It is my hope that with time and education, that acceptance of the gay and lesbian community becomes universal, and that each individual can be free to chase the subject of their heart’s desire. That marriage be recognized as a pact between two people that love one another and wish to make a lifetime commitment, and that this ridicule and persecution of their chosen lifestyles cease. Only then, can love truly reign.

Bio: Carrie Clevenger enjoys documentaries, non-fiction, Blue Moon beer, music and coffee. Sometimes she writes poetry and short stories that have bad endings. She’s the elusive sort and has a horrid fear of meeting people. Carrie is the author of the Crooked Fang series, writes erotic tidbits under the pseudonym  Annice Sands, and has many more awful things planned.

http://www.carrieclevengerstories.com/

Buy her books at http://www.crookedfang.com/

On Twitter as @carrieclevenger

Facebook Pages:

Crooked Fang – https://www.facebook.com/CrookedFang

Annice Sands – https://www.facebook.com/annicesandserotics

EXILES: AN OUTSIDER ANTHOLOGY is OUT NOW from BLACKWITCH PRESS.

Exiles Guest Blog: THE RAIN KING BY JASON MICHEL

Exiles cover preview (1)The inspiration for my story, The Rain King, is on one level, a very simple one. It was the song Kingdom Of Rain (LINK http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEcXz7b2Bk0) by Mark Lanegan and redone by Lanegan and Soulsavers.

Listening to the song can speak to you more than any explanation that I could give. The story is just my meagre interpretation.

On another level, the idea of the exile, the misfitting into a society is one that has perfumed my life since I can remember. While at school in Wales I was surrounded by a mixture of uncouth but honest country kids, a smattering of the children of sixties hippies, their parents escaping to the countryside as their idealism was as blasted by their failed conscious revolution as their brains, and the offspring of factory workers from the Black Country across the border. I was an imported kid with an Evangelical Christian ex-postman father who let me, no, encouraged me to read his small library of books on religion and mythology, including his collection of the classic occult “Man, Myth And Magic” sixties series, and to watch Boris Karloff and sixties Sci-Fi movies.

The other love that my father passed on to me was the passion for music. Bible thumper, he may be, but my old man used to be the drummer in an R& B band in sixties London named The Vampires who had coffin-shaped amps. While the other children at my primary school would be singing along to the soundtrack of Grease, I would have Hey Joe whistling around my furtive imagination. Every Sunday my father would watch Songs Of Praise, switch the TV off and then, we would immerse ourselves in minor-keyed Blues, the desperate existential crisis of Pink Floyd, the manic wide-eyed howl of Little Richard and the funky soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar.

Songs of rebellion, suffering and redemption.

Yet while my father saw the light in it all, I saw the darkness. His Christ was a fluffy feel-good saviour, the speaker of divine self-help strategies; whereas mine was a tortured man-god nailed to the cross of existence with the rest of us, forsaken by his jealous and despotic Father.

Exiled from the light above in a fallen and essentially Noir world.

As I am writing this I am listening to the Black Soul Choir by 16 Horsepower where David Eugene Edwards sings “Every man is evil, yes. Every man’s a liar. Unashamed with wicked tongues sing in the Black Soul Choir“.

‘Nuff said.

Bio: Jason Michel is the Dictator at PULP METAL MAGAZINE.

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology is OUT NOW from Blackwitch Press.

Exiles Guest Blog: Boxing Day in Muros by Steven Porter

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I was delighted to be asked to appear in Exiles: An Outsider Anthology. I guess a lot of my writing is about outsiders, but Boxing Day in Muros seems to fit the bill perfectly. The story first appeared on the Dogmatika website, then in my own collection Blurred Girl and Other Suggestive Stories. So, like its main character Rab, it has been around a bit.

In fact, Boxing Day in Muros was initially the title of a chapter in my book, The Iberian Horseshoe – A Journey. Muros is a real town in Galicia, North West Spain, near Finisterre, which means ‘Land’s End’. Galicia claims a Celtic heritage and its rugged coastline is often said to resemble Ireland. Muros is about as far removed from a typical Spanish holiday resort as you can get.

I was attracted to the place when I first visited in the late 90’s, little knowing I would later spend a number of summer holidays around there. Initially, it reminded me of some small towns in the Western Highlands of Scotland. I became interested in the idea of a character with a desire to escape so far from home that he finishes up running out of land, staring out at the Atlantic vastness.

Rab has had a stroke of luck in winning five numbers on the national lottery. He goes to London and, and with enough money still in his pocket, he presses on to the exotic sounding Santiago de Compostela, which he has seen as a destination on the front of a bus at Victoria Station.

Rab ends up in Muros where he has time and space to reflect on recent events in his life. Although people speak a different language, the landscape is strangely familiar and the world globalised enough for him to pick up some of his favourite food and drink in a supermarket. But his journey isn’t yet done …

Bio:  Steven Porter was born in Inverness, Scotland, in 1969. He is temporarily ‘exiled’ in Italy. “Boxing Day in Muros” was previously published online by Dogmatika and appeared in Steve’s collection Blurred Girl and Other Suggestive Stories. His short fiction has appeared in other anthologies such as Byker Books Radgepacket series, True Brit Grit and Off The Record 2 – At The Movies. He also wrote the script for Beyond The Haar, a Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2013 Amsterdam Film Festival. In addition, he has published two collections of poetry: Shellfish & Umbrellas and 16 Poem(a)s, as well as the travelogue The Iberian Horseshoe – A Journey and the novel Countries of the World. Details of how to get hold of these can be found at Steve Porter’s World of Books blog at http://stevenjporter.wordpress.com/.

Exiles Guest Blog: Agent Ramiel Gets The Call by Pamila Payne

exiles artizanWhen I was asked to contribute a piece to Paul Brazill’s Exiles: An Outsider’s Anthology, I was flattered, but it also elicited a wry laugh. I’ve been a long time lurker on the fringes of this rather fluid writing community made up of outsider crime and horror authors. But I’m also appropriate to the theme for another reason.

 

A year ago I quit my job in Los Angeles, gave away most of my possessions, and moved to the Yucatán in Mexico. I came here not on some wild whim to find myself, but with a sensible plan to start a business with beloved friends.

 

Staring down my first midcentury birthday, I feared the time had come to get serious about the future. I had been trying to write my novels and make a career narrating audiobooks while holding down a demanding full-time job for a decade. It wasn’t working, and that saying about doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result seemed to apply specifically to me.

 

Our business idea was solid, our combined skill sets mighty, the market may well have welcomed our product had our business come to be. But Mexico had other plans for us. Just like ex-pats everywhere, we found that wherever you go, there you are. Unresolved issues reared. Circumstances conspired. Plans crumbled.

 

I was in a place where I didn’t speak or understand the language. There were hostile elements. I had very little money and no plan B. I didn’t feel I could go back, but the way forward was a complete unknown.

 

Still, my beloved friend was here. There were kind, patient people who spoke Spanish slowly and puzzled out my attempts to communicate with a smile. There were Mayan ruins to explore, and huge blue skies filled with glorious clouds to watch. There was time to sit completely still and listen to my characters, to hear my voice in their words.

 

While I waited to see how things would shake out, I started writing again.

 

I have always been an incongruous combination of blunt pragmatist and spiritual seeker. I am Mulder and Skully rolled into one. I try to walk the straight and narrow, but again and again I find myself off the beaten path. And that’s where I always find my truth, out there.

 

What looked like utter failure at first, has morphed into an opportunity to focus on the things I couldn’t manage on my own back home. I’ve started narrating again and have found my voice. I ended up in the right place to be myself. I am fortunate and grateful that at this point, my exile has turned out for the best.

 

My character, Agent Ramiel is not so lucky. He is an outsider by kind as well as by circumstance. He is a man who follows that straight and narrow path all the way to hell. He walks with his head up, but is unable to see the cliff’s edge ahead of him. He dutifully gathers clues and evidence, but fails to solve his own mystery. He gets the call, but the message is beyond him.

 

Exile is at the heart of most of my Bella Vista Motel stories, and even the characters who start out as insiders lose that status once they take a room there. Agent Ramiel is special, though, because he becomes an exile among exiles. So this story ended up being kind of meta. That amuses me.

 

I hope you enjoy my story, Agent Ramiel Gets The Call. I’m very pleased to have been included with such a talented group of writers. Thanks, Paul.

Bio: For the last fifteen or so years Pamila Payne has been living with a bunch of dead guys at a motel in West Texas. Like the characters in her stories, she’d really like to move on, see the world, go places. But she’s just like them. Anchored by love, worn down by circumstances and fascinated by how much there really is underneath it all.

So she keeps writing their stories and tells herself that someday, when she’s got this all out of her system, she’ll write deep, meaningful literature about… something else. In the meantime, you can find her at The Bella Vista Motel.

Exiles Guest Blog: Never A Vessel Large Enough by Ryan Sayles

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I was honored that Paul invited me into this. That is, until I had written my first draft. After perusing it a time or two I wasn’t too enthralled with my product at all. In fact, I was so worried I wrote a turd that I actually had fleeting thoughts of bowing out of the collection. Like I do with almost all my short work, I sent it to my English brother-from-another-mother Chris Leek and asked his opinion. He sent back some darn good notes, and I went to work.

What I wound up with was a story I was uniquely proud of. Most times I try to write an entire scene for the effect of the scene; for something that will carry into the next scene. But what I had here for Paul’s Exiles anthology was a story whose every element threaded outward and tied back into a single word. Alone.

The story itself began when Paul said the loose theme was “outsiders.” I opened the thesaurus and started finding all the closely related words, then I did something I don’t normally do and just plugged those words into Google Images. The associated pictures were varied but hugely inspiring. The word “alone” gave me the most.

I saw a sharp black and white photo of a single stone outcropping like the stump of a felled tree sticking out of a calm body of water. It was like somebody cut down an ancient oak and then flooded the lawn in which the stump it was situated. I used to be a sailor in the military, and the serene, vast calm of being out on the water came back to me with that photo. How you could be out there in the ocean and no matter how many other people you had with you, you were a million miles from anyone.

It sounded good to start writing about sitting on that rock.

A story has to do something, of course, and since I only had the lone man sitting on that rock, I figured he’d have to be the one doing it. I began to wonder about why and how he’d become an outsider. An exile. It all came back to the word alone. Being stranded on a rock in the middle of nowhere is pretty alone if you ask me. So the story was there. The story revolved on the why and how his butt got to its new stone seat.

I have no idea where my character’s name came from. I typed Plimpton—probably as a place holder until I came up with something cool like Jagger or Snake Eyes—and just never revisited it. And even as I went along, typing more of his world, the name just fit. Whatever that means, it just fit.

I avoided my character having an imaginary friend named Wilson. I gave him real company in the form of bloated bodies bobbing along in the water near enough to his dangling feet that they might brush his toes. I made him unlikable enough to where even the sun was leaving him because it didn’t like his company. A hateful man ruminating on how his life was ebbing away one second at a time, surrounded by endless waters and dead bodies leads to some noir-inspired naval gazing. And what if he wanted it? Even better, what if he thought he wanted it until he got it?

The title came dead last. Never A Vessel Large Enough was something I plucked from the text. I’m horrible at titles. Something cool and unique either just falls in my lap or I wind up with a single word-type thing, like Collection, Best and Cheated. And that one statement fit the whole mood of the story. It also had a mysterious feel to it, and who doesn’t enjoy that?

Paul, thank you for the opportunity to be in this and I hope the anthology touches the stars with its success.

Bio: Ryan Sayles is the author of Subtle Art of Brutality and That Escalated Quickly! He won Dead End Follies‘ 2013 award for best newly discovered talent. Subtle Art of Brutality was nominated for best crime novel at Dead End Follies and top Indie novel at The House of Crime & Mystery’s 2013 Readers’ Choice Awards. Ryan is a founding member of Zelmer Pulp and on the masthead at The Big Adios. He may be contacted at Vitriol And Barbies.wordpress.com.

 

Exiles Guest Blog: We Are All Special Cases by Patti Abbott

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In the spring of 2011, we let an apartment in Paris for two weeks. It was in the Marais district and delightful in every way except it was four flights of very uneven stairs to get to it. After a long day of seeing the sights, we would often arrive home, dead on our feet, around dusk. Each night, in the flat across the very narrow street, we would spot what looked like giant wings at the window.

 

And every night my husband would find a benign and ordinary explanation for the wings and I would seize on something more dramatic. Since I suffer from insomnia, my late night excursions into the front room allowed my mind to roan further still.

 

This story began as a flash fiction challenge on my own blog and developed into a longer piece from that.

 

Bio: More than 100 stories by Patti Abbott have appeared in print and online. Her two ebooks, MONKEY JUSTICE and HOME INVASION) were published through Snubnose Press. She is the co-editor of DISCOUNT NOIR. Her first novel, CONCRETE ANGEL, will debut in early 2015 through Exhibit A Books. You can find her blogging at pattinase.blogspot.com

 

 

Exiles Guest Blog: What Friends Are For by Rob Brunet

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Like a lot of my stories, “What Friends Are For” is set in the country. Dirt roads and the life along them have always been a fascination of mine. One I owe to my father who grew up in rural Ontario and whose childhood home stands—to this day, I believe—on a dirt road.

The story’s about a guy who tried to leave a reckless rural life behind without moving away. He’s moved up in the world and wound up an exile-in-situ if that’s possible. Now he’s about to learn how much he values his new life and whether the friendships he once enjoyed still matter at all.

I experience relationships as permanent things. We move in and out of people’s lives and forget many of those we meet. But we leave traces. And bigger relationships—especially formative ones—leave grooves. Sometimes ruts.

I started to write a story about something odd that happened one day in the bush. And I wound up exploring a man’s desire and ability to chart a new path.

If I’m making this sound like a schmaltzy bro tale about the ties that bind, keep in mind it’s for a noir anthology curated by Paul D. Brazill . There’s grit in the air and it’s not all road dust from a pickup passing by on a dry summer day.

It’s a taste of country in an international collection I’m damn proud to be part of.

Bio: Rob Brunet’s debut novel is STINKING RICH, from Down & Out Books. His crime fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter, and Noir Nation among others. Before writing noir, Brunet ran a digital media boutique producing award-winning Web presence for film and tv, including LOST, Frank Miller’s Sin City, and the cult series Alias. He tweets @RRBrunet and rants at http://www.robbrunet.com.

 Exiles: An Outsider Anthology  is OUT NOW.

Exiles Guest Blog: Exiles – The short story behind the short story by Sonia Kilvington

Exiles cover preview (1)Being a very willing exile living in Cyprus, I was delighted to be asked by Paul D. Brazill to join the ‘Exiles’ gang with a short story for the exciting, new noir crime collection. In time, I have encountered many different types of exile, some who have chosen to escape from unworkable or painful situations, others who feel they have been subjected to a type of banishment, both geographical and social, which has been unwillingly thrust upon them.  I have also discovered that state of self-imposed exile quite often occurs as a reaction against a dysfunctional family situation, as it does in my story, ‘Disappearing Act.’

Generally there are parallels between my characters and myself, although at first glance they are not always obvious, even to me! My character in the story ‘Disappearing Act’ is a woman who has spent her life struggling to be appreciated and accepted by her family at the cost of her own identity.  She has in effect,  ’disappeared’  from her own life, and her only, temporary reprieve from the frustrations of a  bad marriage and bullying family is her  growing obsession with  a TV crime drama, called ‘Missing.’

The idea of someone going missing without warning has always resonated with me. That a person can go out for a bottle of milk and never come back raises many interesting questions. In this story I wanted to explore how it felt to be the person who was left behind, and all of the emotional baggage that comes with that, but as you will see, not everything is quite as it seems…

Bio:  Sonia Kilvington is a journalist based in the beautiful Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Sheis a published short story writer, poet and novelist. She has a B.A. Hons Humanities as well as many qualifications in creative writing from Leeds and Teesside universities. She lives in the beautiful Cypriot village of Oroklini with her husband and daughter, and has recently published her secon d novel in the DI Flynn series, Buried in the Hills; an exciting murder mystery set in Cyprus. Sonia is currently writing the final part of the DI Flynn trilogy; The Island of Lost Content.

EXILES: AN OUTSIDER ANTHOLOGY is OUT NOW from  BLACKWITCH PRESS.

Exiles Guest Blog: A simpler Evil: how I came to write ‘The Solomon Sea’ by Gareth Spark

Exiles cover preview (1)The initial inspiration for ‘The Solomon Sea’ came after reading an article on the Bre-X mining fraud of the late 90’s, one of the greatest mining scandals of all time. Bre-X, a Canadian company, bought a site in Indonesia, in 1993 and in October 1995 announced significant amounts of gold had been discovered, sending its stock price soaring. Originally, a penny stock, its stock price reached a peak of $200+ on the Exchange with a total capitalization of over $6 billion. The company collapsed and its shares became worthless after the discovery that most of the gold samples were fraudulent; indeed, it was further discovered that some of the gold samples, in fact, derived from shaved pieces of old jewellery.

The fraud began to unravel rapidly when Bre-X geologist Michael de Guzman died by falling from a helicopter in Indonesia. Police discovered his corpse days later in the jungle, mostly eaten by animals, and ascertained his identity via dental records, though there has been some speculation as to whether he faked his own death or no. It was a terrible scandal, the fallout from which reverberated for decades. The details are still somewhat shadowy, but it struck me as a great background to a tale of corruption and greed played out against ruined environments and sour lagoons; the kind of places where Conrad brought his characters to their doom. I am interested, as a writer, in what I call the final lapse; that vertiginous point of spiralling responsibility and destruction after which nothing can ever survive the same. In my stories I always, (and sometimes, I hope, successfully) attempt to describe that dagger point moment; Othello with his hands around Desdemona’s throat, Lord Jim before he leaps from the sinking Patna, Dr. Jekyll, the test tube bubbling before him just before he drinks.

Which brings me to my own fictional island of Matong, and the characters Dr. Ross and Edward Teach, an Englishman with a murky past (named for the pirate, naturally). Inspired by revenge perhaps, but certainly by greed, they perpetrate a similar vast fraud and conspire to disappear after faking their own deaths. Ross, an essentially good man, conscience heavy with the memory of communities he has helped destroy, alienated from his family by the nature of the work, finds Teach’s all-devouring Will seductive. It allows him to orchestrate a kind of revenge at a remove, shoving the responsibility onto Teach and his simpler breed of evil. He follows into an exile from his world, from his goodness. Indeed, one could say, from his own soul.

The theme is an old one, perhaps the oldest; how easily a man can lose himself.

 Bio: Gareth Spark is a writer from the Northeast of England. He is author of Rain in a dry land (Mudfog Press) and you can read his work online at Shotgun Honey, The Big Adios, Near to the Knuckle and Out of the Gutter, among others.

Exiles: An Outsider Anthology  is OUT NOW from Blackwitch Press.

Exiles Guest Blog: Missing An Ear by Ben Sobieck

Exiles cover preview (1)I don’t think there’s such a thing as an “outsider.” You’re just “inside” somewhere else. It’s a matter of perspective and expectation.
From my window in my office, where I sit typing this, I can see people walking by on the sidewalk. To me, they’re outside. But if I hole up in here to read or write like a mad man, blasting ambient music that sounds like a black hole in a pinball machine to better my focus, surely those same pedestrians must see me as the outsider, not they.
I love probing concepts like this, but droning on about it in essay format is damn near un-readable – even to me. Thank goodness for fiction, a format that allows for exploration of big ideas without the stuffiness. And thank goodness for the Exiles anthology, edited by Paul D. Brazill and sporting a roster of superb writers.
My own contribution, “Missing an Ear,” pokes at those same twists of perception and expectation. In the story, a secret admirer on a public bus attempts to get the attention of her beau-to-be in a violent way.
She’s an outsider to everyone, including herself. Her anxiety keeps her locked inside her head to the point of total isolation. She’s entrenched so deeply that a violent act is the only way to break out and make contact with another human being.
Or so it seems. Since this is a Brazill anthology, you know there’s a twist at the end.
There’s also a practical takeaway. Inspired by something I saw Allan Moore say in a documentary clip, it goes like this:
When the worlds you create in your head manifest themselves as actions or materials in the three-dimensional world, there is no difference between your thoughts and the reality in front of your eyeballs.
Moore would call this “magical thinking” or some such. I call it the theme to my anthology contribution. Even when it seems you’re locked inside your head, insulated from the outer world, you’re not really outside. You haven’t left anything. You’re inside the material and immaterial universe specific to you. You are the god, so to speak, of that unique existence. Your thoughts and your actions combine to mold it.
The character in “Missing an Ear” realizes this just as the brief story climaxes. She changes her perception, her thoughts, and so she changes her reality. That’s what I think Moore was trying to say.
That this is depicted in a piece of fiction reinforces the point. This story started as an idea, then manifested into an entry in Exiles. It went from an unmeasurable nothing into a measurable something. Just like the character, my thoughts tweaked reality for myself and readers every so slightly.
Or so it seems!
Now wake the hell back up. I told you a fiction story would be a better read. Pick up Exiles and check out “Missing an Ear” along with a pile of others.
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Bio: Benjamin Sobieck is the author of The Weapons for Writers: A Practical Reference for Writing Firearms and Knives in Fiction (late 2014, Writer’s Digest), the Maynard Soloman satirical detective series and many short stories sprinkled throughout the land of crime fiction. His website is CrimeFictionBook.com.
EXILES: AN OUTSIDER ANTHOLOGY is OUT NOW from BLACKWITCH PRESS.

Out now! Insatiable: A Roman Dalton Yarn by B R Stateham

insatiable

Insatiable: A Roman Dalton Yarn is a noir/ horror short story based on characters created by Paul D. Brazill. 

In B R Stateham’s Insatiable, PI Roman Dalton gets a request from an old friend to help him solve a murder. A murder so horrible, so brutal, it had to be caused by a werewolf! Dalton is approaching his ‘change’ and at the same time trying to solve a vicious crime. How does he stop himself from leaping onto his friend, when the time comes, and making his old buddy an evening snack? How does he find and remove from the city a werewolf who happens to be much older, and far stronger, than he is–and not create a panic among all the potential meal tickets walking around?

Out now! It’s A Curse: A Roman Dalton Yarn by K A Laity

it's a curse

It’s A Curse: A Roman Dalton Yarn is a noir/ horror short story based an characters created by Paul D. Brazill.

Roman Dalton’s woken up in the wrong place again, but this time he can’t blame it on the moon. Never mind the bikers, gamblers and gangsters, this time he’s got real trouble. Finding himself in a tug-of-war between two lovely women might sound like he’s landed in clover, but one wants to ‘save’ him and the other—well, he’s got a feeling she’s a whole lot of trouble wrapped up in that slinky designer gown. As far as our favourite werewolf PI’s concerned, IT’S A CURSE.