From my decidedly faulty memory, I’ve picked 5 crime fiction books, films and TV shows that I enjoyed in 2017. There were others, of course, and plenty of pleasures outside the genre too – The Love Witch, Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, and Damnation, for example.
Anyway, here you go:
PDB: What’s going on? Hi, Paul, I’ve written Back To Brooklyn, the literary sequel to My Cousin Vinny, one of the most beloved film comedies of all time. Bringing Vincent LaGuardia Gambini and Mona Lisa Vito back to life was the most fun I’ve ever had sitting in front of a keyboard. I have high hopes for this book. After all, I love the characters and the backstory—not to mention the two years have invested in the project. But where it goes from here…
PDB: Do you listen to music when you work? I need to be alone in my head while I write. I rarely listen to music while in the creative phase. It is music, however, that keeps me going through the drudgery of editing. Without it… I’ve got a NAD power amp connected to a pair of Dahlquist speakers in my office. I’m a diehard rock fan. Clapton, Mick, John, Paul, and George have prevented me from taking my life many times (while editing that is—a suicide watch is not needed).
PDB: What makes you laugh? People make me laugh—not at them but with them. There’s nothing better than getting together with friends (mates for you Brits) and hoisting a few (or many). If you’ve read any of my stuff you’ve probably suspected that I’m a frustrated comic. My work is full of comedy—can’t seem to pass up a chance to level a gnarly antagonist with good helping of sarcasm whenever the occasion arises.
PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover? Don’t be jealous but I rarely get hung-over. I seem to be blessed in that regard. Not that I drink until shitfaced, but I somehow manage to cut myself off before I pass the point of no return.
PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? No doubt there are fabulous locales in the world I’m selling short, but for my money there are few places in the world as perfect as Tuscany. I was only there once but my days there just seemed to float along in such relaxing manner that it’s forever etched upon my mind. Sitting around, drinking local wine and marveling at the beauty of the countryside … I’m under Tuscany’s spell just thinking about it.
PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it? Yes and no. There are so many things I want to do, but I don’t have a formal (or even semiformal) list: places to visit, people to meet. Some are practical and others pie in the sky. I’d like to meet Eric Clapton because I’ve been listening to him since I was thirteen and still have my original vinyl copies of Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire. I’d like to chat with some of the great thinkers and visionaries of our time, and see parts of the world I’ve not yet visited. Mostly, I’d like to live long enough to watch my grandchildren grow up and prosper.
PDB: What’s on the cards? If you’re asking me to look into a crystal ball, I’d rather not. I like each day to be a surprise. Book wise there are many projects in the hopper. I just released a gritty police procedural, which I penned in tandem with Frank Zafiro. It’s called Fallen City, and visits NYC in the eighties when ruthless Dominican drug gangs were on a rampage. There’s more Vinny and Lisa in work as well, a novelization of the film coming this spring with new scenes, more laughs, and insights into the characters backgrounds. Later on in the year Gambini and Vito will return in an all-original new story. Stephanie Chalice is coming back as is Chloe Mather. Several new one-offs are in various states of completion, each vying for my attention.
PDB: Anything else? The publishing business is changing at breakneck speed and what my place in it will be is the $64,000 question. I love writing and hope to always feel that way. There’s a list of story ideas on my desk that grows longer and longer everyday. I’ll keep writing as long as the ideas keep coming.
Bio: I never expected to be a writer. In fact, I was voted the student least likely to visit a library. (Don’t believe it? Feel free to check my high school yearbook.) Well, times change I suppose, and I have now authored several novels including the internationally best-selling Stephanie Chalice Thriller Series.
Early in my writing career, I received support from literary icon, Nelson DeMille, who reviewed my work and actually put pencil to paper to assist in the editing of the first book. DeMille has been a true inspiration to me and has also given me some tough love. Way before he ever said, “Lawrence Kelter is an exciting new novelist, who reminds me of an early Robert Ludlum,” he told me, “Kid, your work needs editing, but that’s a hell of a lot better than not having talent. Keep it up!”
I’ve lived in the Metro New York area most of my life and rely primarily on locales in Manhattan and Long Island for my stories’ settings. I try very hard to make each novel quickly paced and crammed full of twists, turns, and laughs.
PDB: What’s going on?
On the eve of the Hull launch of GETTING CARTER: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir, my book about the life and work of the author best known for his novel Jack’s Return Home, adapted as Get Carter in 1971.
About to kick off the main weekend of Hull Noir Crime Fiction Festival. Along with Nick Quantrill and Nikki East, it’s been a long time coming, a lot of hard work, and an ambition realised to bring some of the most important writers of crime fiction currently working to the UK City of Culture 2017.
PDB: Do you listen to music when you work?
I go through stages. For a long time, it was nearly all old soul music, then cheesy 70s pop, and at the moment I seem to be listening to nothing at all. Or film soundtracks. Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’s music for The Assassination of Jesse James has a broad, sweeping hypnotic quality and plenty of space. Which probably says more about where my head is at than the writing I’m doing.
PDB: What makes you laugh?
Alfie Solomons, fucking Biblical mate.
PDB: What’s the best cure for a hangover?
Currently trialing two methods: 1) a pint of water before bed with a healthy splash of good apple cider vinegar; and 2) not going to bed.
PDB: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Crantock, North Cornwall.
PDB: Do you have a bucket list? If so, what’s on it?
I refer the honourable gentleman to my previous answer. Oh, and a Martin 000 acoustic (left-handed) if anyone’s offering.
PDB: What’s on the cards?
Post Hull Noir – a darkened room, a bottle of something decent and a bunch of books, music and DVDs. And then making space to reinstate a writing regime and bring together ideas for a new novel and some stories I’ve had on the to-do list for too long.
PDB: Anything else?
I’ll still be promoting GETTING CARTER. And as this seems to be ongoing research, picking up leads around Ted Lewis that have emerged since the book came out. Perhaps taking time to pursue offshoots – there was much about the development of British Noir in fiction and film that I’d like to have explored further. And seeing where my writing can take me in 2018 …
Bio: Nick Triplow is the author of the crime noir novel Frank’s Wild Years and the social history books The Women They Left Behind, Distant Water and Pattie Slappers.
2017 sees the publication of GETTING CARTER: TED LEWIS AND THE BIRTH OF BRIT NOIR, his long awaited biography of British noir pioneer, Ted Lewis.
Nick’s acclaimed short story, Face Value, was a winner in the 2015 Northern Crime competition. His stories have also appeared in the Off the Record and True Brit Grit crime anthologies and on numerous websites. Originally from South London, Nick now lives in Barton upon Humber.
Getting Carter: Ted Lewis and the Birth of Brit Noir is published by No Exit Press. Available in bookshops or online: http://www.noexit.co.uk/index1.php?imprint=1&isbn=9781843448822
(Image via IndieWire)
Examining the Hellboy Graphic Novel ‘Into the Silent Sea’ Ahead of the Upcoming Movie Release in 2018
Hellboy is returning to the silver screen next year with Stranger Things actor David Harbour replacing Ron Perlman as the titular character. The film is looking to strike a new tone with the film’s screenwriter Andrew Cosby stating that the reboot will be a “darker, more gruesome” version than the previous releases.
The new film, titled: Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, will lean much closer to the tone of the Hellboy comics. Cosby confirmed that the film’s director Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) wants the movie to “walk a razor’s edge between horror and comic book movie.” As the upcoming film will be closer to the comic book version of the character, we look at the Hellboy graphic novel Into the Silent Sea released earlier this year.
Into the Silent Sea is a Hellboy original comic co-written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignolia, co-written and illustrated by Gary Gianni, and coloured by Dave Steward. The graphic novel is a direct sequel to Mike Mignolia’s 2005 two issue mini series Hellboy: The Island. Into the Silent Sea follows Hellboy after he has set sail from the deserted island. After escaping the island Hellboy runs into a ghost ship, and is taken prisoner by a mysterious phantom crew.
Speaking to Dark Horse before the graphic novel’s release, Gary Gianni described Into the Silent Sea as “Hellboy’s greatest adventure”. Gianni has illustrated work for George R. R. Martin, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, and Michael Chabon. He also created the Monstermen series, which was a back-up feature in Hellboy. He calls Into the Silent Sea “the biggest comic event of the year”.
Mike Mignolia debuted Hellboy in 1993 and the character has become a cult favourite due to its Lovecraftian horror and ironic humour. In an interview with Nerdist this year, Mignolia explained that part of Hellboy’s success was due to releasing the stories as a mini-series or graphic novel, rather than the tradition monthly comic book model. “One of the things I really think I did differently to other things out there was to tell short stories. Almost half of the Hellboy stuff – some of the better Hellboy stuff – are these eight or 12 page stories.”
The format has clearly worked, as Hellboy is one of the most successful comic book characters outside DC and Marvel. In preparation for the movie remake, Dark Horse formed a partnership with DC Comics in order for Hellboy to be included in the highly-acclaimed video game, Injustice 2, which includes some of the most popular superheroes of the DC Universe. Hellboy’s parent company also signed a deal with online entertainment firm Slingo to release the Hellboy slot game on its platform that uses the Hellboy from the comics rather than the screen. Hellboy is a casual game that uses themes and characters based on the iconic Dark Horse character. The two partnerships with entertainment companies is a clear sign of how popular both the comic book and screen version of the character is with audiences.
The Hellboy remake will star David Harbour as Hellboy, and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil) as the film’s antagonist, The Blood Queen. The film is expected to be released at the end of 2018. Fans who are waiting for the film should make sure they keep up with the latest adventure of the character in Into the Silent Sea.
“Life is a tragedy when seen in close-up, but a comedy in long-shot. To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!” – Charlie Chaplin
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’” – Samuel Becket.
As Chaplin showed, there has always been a dark aspect to British comedy and, indeed, there is also usally a sharp, shot of humour in British dark fiction. Tragicomedy that errs on the side of the tragic, perhaps.
A perfect home for life’s perpetual failures, then.
Think of Alexander Mackendrick’s classic 1955 film The Ladykillers where a group of gangsters hole-up in a cute little old ladies house and take turns trying to kill her. They fail, of course.
Or try the eponymous character created by comedian Tony Hancock in the 1950s who, on radio, on television and in film, tried his hand at so many different activities and failed. One episode –The Bedsitter – teeters dangerously on the precipice of bleak existentialism. The Bedsitter is a one-room set, one-man-show, where Hancock endlessly flips through a Bertrand Russell tome trying to find meaning in life, but fails, of course. As Hancock said: ‘Stone me, what a life!’
And more: Sixties sit-com The Worker had the perpetually unemployed Charlie Drake regularly annoying Mr Pugh at the employment centre, trying lots of jobs and failing at all of them. One of the United Kingdom’s longest running television series, Only Fools and Horses, featured wheeling and dealing market stall traders whose scams always failed but who genuinely believed that ‘This time next year, we’ll be millionaires.’
Indeed, if the shiny happy American comedy series Friends had been made in the UK it would probably have ended up more like Sartre’s No Exit since hell truly is THOSE people.
So, if crime fiction is about bringing order to chaos and noir is about bringing chaos to order, then perhaps British comedy is pure noir.
Or maybe, it’s just the weather.
Help restore the damaged archival print of Alex Rockwell’s 1992 indie Sundance winner IN THE SOUP before it’s lost forever.
1992 Sundance winner and cult classic In the Soup is in danger of disappearing forever.
In The Soup is an acclaimed independent feature comedy by director Alexandre Rockwell. In rich black and white, it’s the story of an aspiring young New York filmmaker (Steve Buscemi) in the throes of his creative struggle, his beautiful neighbor and muse (Jennifer Beals), and a lovable con man (Seymour Cassel), chasing their dreams in quintessential 1990s NYC amidst a cast of oddball characters played by Stanley Tucci, Sam Rockwell, Will Patton, Jim Jarmusch, Debi Mazar, Carol Kane, and others.
Upon its release in 1992, it won the grand jury prize at Sundance competing against films like Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino) and Gas, Food, Lodging (Alison Anders), and proceded to play some of the most prestigious festivals worldwide throughout that year, including Venice, Toronto, and the New York Film Festival.
It came out to critical acclaim: In the words of reviewers from the New York Times, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Time and more, it is “hilarious,” “irresistible,” “furiously clever,” “a magical and touching comic romance about movies and crime,” “a dryly funny film of exceptional visual beauty” and “a droll, self-conscious fable with an unexpected heart of gold.” Basically, people loved it.
As of last year, there was only one fine-grain, black-and-white master archival print left, and unfortunately, while being screened at a cinema in Los Angeles, this precious but aging, fragile print was accidentally damaged during projection to the extent that moments of the first and fifth reel were virtually shredded.