Recommended Read: The Bastard Hand by Heath Lowrance

the bastard handI first read Heath Lowrance’s The Bastard Hand in 2011, when it was first published by New Pulp Press. Here’s what I said then:

The Bastard Hand by Heath Lowrance grabs you by the lapels and drags you on a wild, wild bar crawl that leaves you battered and bruised at the gates of hell. Like Jim Thomspon jamming with Robert Johnson and Nick Cave on the eve of the apocalypse.”

Re-reading it last month, I would say I liked it even more than the first time. Highly recommended.


Short, Sharp Interview: Rowdy Yates

bringmethehead_200PDB: What’s going on now?

A lot, actually. I just finished my first literary thriller, a novel about a rogue NSA agent who finds himself in the middle of a giant conspiracy and am about to start work on my first horror novel. I’m not the greatest person at resting, or rather I get most of my rest by working, which is, you know, kind of a blessing and a curse. Outside of that, I’m covering the 2016 Presidential Election for Atticus Books and putting together a collection of essays about it.

PDB: How did you research Bring Me the Head of Yorkie Goodman?

The setting for the majority of Yorkie Goodman is in Southern Indiana, which is where I’m originally from. There are a lot of sketchy things down in the hills, a lot of sketchy people. I’ve been doing that research most of my life, but some of the more medical/biological components of the book were actually figured out via these conversations with a buddy of mine who’s starting out as a brain surgeon. I gave him a lot of calls – re: what kind of tool would best help saw off a head, how long a head could stay in a cooler, etc. etc. – and asked a ton of questions. In his favor, he was pretty patient, but near the end he kind of got weirded out and asked just what we were talking about.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

It probably boils down to the first ones. My first story was this quick little piece called “Old” that was printed in the Emerson Review, which was huge because at the time I was convinced I’d never get anything published before I died. The first book was An End To All Things from Atticus Books, and that was a hell of a day for me. This book, Yorkie Goodman, is my first published novel, so I’m proud as can be.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

You know, I like a lot of different movies, so the list is a little varied. My favorite “modern” movie is There Will Be Blood, but I’m also really fond of Apocalypse Now, Taxi Driver, and Network. Book is probably the collected works of Raymond Carver. As far as song, man alive, we could be here all day. For a show, that’s probably Mad Men. That thing hit the spot.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

For sure. I am who I am because I grew up in a small town in Indiana in a terrible neighborhood. And I’m the writer I am today because I moved down to Georgia and absorbed chunks of that culture.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Jared Yates Sexton-2Not that much, but you know what I do? I go on there and see if anybody’s reviewed the stuff because every time that number changes my breath hitches in my lungs.

PDB: What’s next?

Those projects I was talking about earlier, but there are probably seven or eight other novels that’s kind of bouncing around my head. It’s finding the time, I think, that’s the hardest part of this whole writing business.

Bio: Rowdy Yates (Jared Yates Sexton) is a born-and-bred Hoosier living and working in The South as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University. He serves as Editor-In-Chief of the literary magazine BULL and his work has appeared in publications around the world. He’s the author of three collections and the crime-novel Bring Me The Head of Yorkie Goodman.

Recommended Read: Bring Me the Head of Yorkie Goodman by Rowdy Yates

bringmethehead_200With their latest offering, NEW PULP PRESS once again prove themselves to be one of the best crime fiction publishers around .

Bring Me the Head of Yorkie Goodman, Rowdy Yates’s brilliant, whip-crack debut novel, is an unmitigated pleasure from the first to the last page.

A mobster by the name of Boss sends Wallace, an ageing enforcer, back to their home town to take out the seemingly unremarkable Yorkie Goodman. Wallace’s partner in crime, the sinister Carp, has his own agenda, however,and, of course, things most certainly do not go to plan.

Bring Me The Head Of Yorkie Goodman echoes, Jim Thompson, Elmore Leonard and the film Blood Simple but it packs a punch all of its own.

Violent, visceral, poignant, touching, funny and gripping, Bring Me The Head Of Yorkie Goodman is highly recommended.

Guest Blog: OVER THE SHOULDER by Lynn Kostoff

Words to Die For FINAL 101-a copyMost of the time when someone’s looking over your shoulder, you feel uncomfortable, then insulted, and eventually angry.

Most but not necessarily all of the time.

There are exceptions.

In the early stages of a novel, I spend a lot of time (probably too much) taking notes, sketching, outlining, and dwelling on what ifs and if thens.

But at some point, usually the first line and opening paragraph of the first draft, I start thinking about who’s looking over my shoulder.

It changes from novel to novel.

For A Choice of Nightmares, my first, it was Fitzgerald and Conrad.

The Great Gatsby and Heart of Darkness have always been important—and intimidating—books for me, and when I started drafting A Choice of Nightmares, I used them as benchmarks for what a work of fiction could be. The novels embodied everything at that time I admired and aspired to.

But aspired is the operative term here.

I never once believed I was or would ever be in the same room with Fitzgerald and Conrad, but having them looking over my shoulder kept me pushing against the limits of whatever skills I had or hoped to have as a writer.

They kept me honest. They made me work.

When I started doing final editing on the fourth draft of the novel, I saw what I’d been trying to do without ever realizing it. Both Great Gatsby and Heart of Darkness are structured as frame narratives, and in Choice of Nightmares, I collapsed those frames. There is no Nick Carraway to explain and justify Gatsby’s actions and character. There is no unnamed narrator to filter Marlow’s version of events on his trip upriver to meet Kurtz. My protagonist, Robert Staples, was a Gatsby-like character who did not end up dead in a swimming pool but instead got the girl of his dreams, a Daisy who in turn promptly took him to the Heart of American Darkness in the late 1980’s where cocaine rather than ivory ruled.

The writers looking over my shoulder change from novel to novel. Their positions can change too. Some help get things started and then disappear. Others pop up in the middle or step in at the end.

The new novel, Words To Die For, takes place in 1986. My goal was to write a crime novel that captured some truths about the American character at a particular tipping point in the culture: the Reagan Years. In many respects, we’re still living in the long shadow of those years.

Nathanael West was looking over my shoulder throughout each draft. I had always admired the scope and focus he brought to bear on America in Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust.

Lynn KostoffMy protagonist, Raymond Locke, in Words To Die For is a Miss Lonelyhearts of sorts. He’s a public relations executive who skips doling out advice and instead fixes and erases the problems his clients bring to him, but by the novel’s close, he, like West’s Tod Hackett in Locust, is a witness to the costs of those fixes for himself and the culture.

Along the way to the final draft and capturing the character of Raymond Locke’s nemesis, Ken Brackett, Flannery O’Connor and Sherwood Anderson stopped by to remind me of the truths that nest in the Grotesque.

I’m grateful for a lifetime of reading and to the writers who end up looking over my shoulder while I work.

In the face of all their talent, I know they definitely keep me humbled and determined to push myself harder with each new project.

Short, Sharp interview: Lynn Kostoff

Words to Die For FINAL 101-a copyPDB: What’s going on?

My novel, Words to Die For, will be released April 15, 2015 from New Pulp Press. It felt like Nathanael West was looking over my shoulder while I wrote this one.

I’m also working on a draft of a new novel entitled The Head Start. Its protagonist is a female probation officer whose professional and personal life become dangerously tangled.

PDB: How did you research Words to Die For?

I did quite a bit of research for Words to Die For because of the intersection of the subjects in the plot line: autism, public relation agencies, food poisoning outbreaks, the self-help movement, poultry processing, and the Iran Contra scandal. Research was a mix of online sources, print, and interviews.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

That’s kind of like asking which of your children you love the best. I like each novel for a different reason: A Choice of Nightmares for its protagonist; The Long Fall for style; Late Rain for the intersection of setting and character; Words to Die For for its cultural scope and range.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Music: Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, The Cramps, Replacements, REM, Johnny Cash, Mazzy Star, Van Morrison, Patsy Cline, Patti Smith, Warren Zevon, Billie Holiday, and early Stones and Beatles.

Films: Chinatown; Cutter’s Way; True Confessions; Night Moves; Killing of a Chinese Bookie; Fargo; Repo Man; Mean Streets, Wild Bunch, Hud, Bad Lieutenant; Out of the Past; Ace in the Hole; Get Carter (the original with Michael Caine).

Books: Heart of Darkness; The Great Gatsby; Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust; Oedipus; Death of a Salesman; The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins; Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

I see setting as important as and often functioning as a character in itself. I’ve set novels in Miami, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, a fictional coastal boom town in South Carolina, and a fictional Midwestern rust belt city.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Once a year on my birthday.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m researching, outlining, and sketching characters and scenes for a novel entitled The Length of Days. I see it using multiple points of view and ensemble protagonists. If I can make it work, I’d like to take Arnold’s “Dover Beach” and the Book of Ecclesiastes and use them as a basis for a crime novel.

Lynn KostoffBio: Lynn Kostoff is a Professor of English and the Nellie Cooke Sparrow Writer-in-Residence at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. His other highly praised crime novels include A Choice of Nightmares (available from New Pulp Press), The Long Fall, and Late Rain. He has also taught at the University of Alabama, Indiana State University, and Bowling Green State University in Ohio where he received his MFA in fiction. His website is at

Words to Die For by Lynn Kostoff

The Story: The year is 1986 and fall is declining into winter in a small Midwest city where ten-year-old Tina Brackett languishes in a coma caused by tainted fast food chicken produced by the Happy Farms Co.  Raymond Locke, operative for the high-flying public relations firm that represents Happy Farms, is damage control central.  But tragedy begets opportunity, and everyone is angling for a game-changing piece of the action surrounding Tina’s impending death.  Among the players in this Darwinian battle for survival are the District Attorney looking at a possible murder charge, a reporter working on the story of his career, a high-minded crusader against corporate greed and malfeasance, and Tina’s enigmatic single parent, Ken Brackett.  Pitted against these sordid foes, Raymond Locke is trying to save his job and his marriage, crumbling beneath the weight of caring for an autistic son.  A noir journey into the heartland of America and the American psyche, Words to Die For evokes a shadowy, Mad Men-like world were the truth is less important than the spin.

Guest Blog: Choosing The Nightmare by Tim L. Williams

skull fragmentsThey are proud of me at first. I live in the small Kentucky county where I grew up, a place people either leave or settle into hard lives. A writer is a curiosity. Old friends, high school classmates and recent acquaintances are proud or at least politely interested when they discover I write fiction. Until they learn the type of stories I write. Then they either avoid mentioning my work or ask with a perplexed concern why I spend so much of my life occupying the minds of the criminal, the psychopathic and the depraved. It usually annoys me.  No one wants to be required to justify an obsession. But annoyance aside, it is a valid question. If reading and writing fiction are similar to dreaming, why would anyone consciously choose to have nightmares?

My passion for dark fiction began on a Friday afternoon when I was a boy. This was mid-August, smothering and bright outside, cool and dark in the funeral chapel. I tugged at my collar, fiddled with my clip-on tie, stared at the casket. The photograph on top was of a second cousin, a man in his thirties, blonde, raw-boned, handsome.  Closed caskets are rare in Kentucky. We like to see our dead.  But my cousin Jackie had been shot three times at close range. Open was not an option.

The consensus was that he’d had it coming. Jackie was a criminal. He had stolen cars, broken into houses, pulled armed robberies, staged home invasions and committed a murder.  When he was killed, he was on parole after serving time on a manslaughter charge. There was no doubt about it. He was a bad guy.

But my family loved him. They knew the things he’d done, even saw his death as a form of justice, but they loved him anyway. They spoke of the time he’d driven my grandmother to the hospital in a blinding snowstorm, of the long night he’d spent tramping through the woods in search of my dad’s lost birddog, of his sharing his school lunch with my Uncle Jimmy when the coalmines were on strike and a kid’s lunch was more than my grandparents could afford, of the time he’d given away his coat because he felt bad for a drunk who slept rough beneath the L&M tracks.

I was raised on cartoons, comics and television movies. The world was easy to understand. There was Jesus, America, and Spiderman on one side, the Devil, Russia, and the Green Goblin on the other. Good and bad. Light and dark. That’s the way it was supposed to be. But it wasn’t. That day in the funeral home, I struggled to understand how the man in the picture could be the bullet-ridden corpse beneath the coffin lid, how my family could acknowledge his crimes and yet grieve for him, most of all how the “good” guy who gave away his coat, shared his lunch, and found lost dogs could be the same person who kicked in the doors of frightened families, pistol whipped a slow-moving store manager, and leveled his gun at a man and squeezed the trigger.

I won’t claim that noir answers those questions, but at least it poses them. In fiction that forces us to share the mind and motivations of a thief, a robber or a murderer, the world isn’t easily and falsely divided into good and evil, light and dark. Noir makes clear that people are far more complex than most of us want to admit.

When my old friends, certain that I’m an unsavory character who gets thrills from acts of murder and mayhem, study the books on my shelf and then glance around as if they expect to find Norman Bates’ mother lurking in the shadows, I don’t bother to tell them that I don’t love noir just because of its heart-racing suspense, its gritty atmosphere, its often starkly beautiful language. I don’t point out that while it’s true that light illuminates darkness, it’s also true that the dark can clarify light in a way most people never allow themselves to imagine. All I say is, “Read James Cain and Cornell Woolrich, David Goodis and Jim Thompson, Vicky Hendricks and Daniel Woodrell, Stephen Graham Jones and Donald Ray Pollock or any of the dozens of other amazing writers working in the genre. And when your dreams turn into nightmares, don’t be surprised by how happy you’ll be about that.”

Tim L. Williams image-2About Tim L. Williams

Tim’s stories have appeared in a variety of literary quarterlies as well as “genre” magazines such as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Plots with Guns, Not One of Us and the now sadly defunct Murdaland. Two of his stories have been included in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Mystery Stories series, for 2004 and 2012. He won a 2012 Thriller Award from the International Thriller Writers in the short story category, received a 2014 Edgar Award nomination for “Where the Morning Sun Goes Down,” and has twice been nominated for a Shamus Award for best short story. Tim is a native of Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, an area known for its coal mines, its production of meth and its yearly Everly Brothers Festival. After years of drifting around the middle of the country, working jobs that ranged from assistant produce manager to college professor, Tim returned to his hometown in Kentucky, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Guest Blog: Some Thoughts on Blue Collar Noir by Vicki Hendricks

Vicki Hendricks head shot-cropped (2)When my first noir novel Miami Purity came out in ‘95, with its graphic and multitudinous sex scenes, it was described as lurid in such a way, especially in the UK, that you could almost visualize reviewers licking their lips. The world was ready for the explicit sex James M. Cain couldn’t write in his day—not that his novels suffered any for lack of it. The heavy dose of sex in Miami Purity put a new spin on the noir genre, finding a new audience. Noir fiction continues to evolve and remake itself while the underlying themes remain similar to naturalist literature of the late 19th Century. Crime-noir protagonists are still basically like characters in the works of writers like Dreiser and Crane, formed through inescapable forces of heredity and environment, confined by class and lack of opportunity, but with the traditional noir enhancement of committing murder as a way of breaking out of their predicament. Of course, it never works!

The latest evolution of noir, sometimes called blue-collar noir, fits the classic noir/naturalist definition without the necessity of murder. Manslaughter and misdemeanor thrive, as survival tactics, rather than the fantasized ticket to wealth most often associated with murder. Coal miners, sanitation workers, and other outliers of the American Dream, neglected by the literary mainstream (except in the South) have come into the limelight as protagonists in the current blue-collar inspired remaking of noir. Noir characters can never climb out of the pit, by definition, but current noir writers don’t necessarily believe that people are stuck at a low station in life, as the naturalist novelists did, though rising in status ain’t never easy. We read to see these bold, raw humans reach resignation, minor epiphanies, or an elevation of spirit.

Voluntary Madness final cover 55-a (1)Years ago, the poet Charles Bukowski defined the “blue-collar noir” category infamously, without giving it a genre name.  At Noircon 2014 (held every other year in Philadelphia), the debut of the anthology Stray Dogs: Writing from the Other America highlighted contemporary writers of blue-collar noir: Willy Vlautin, Daniel Woodrell, Sherman Alexie, Eric Miles Williamson, Ron Cooper, Joseph D. Haske, Michael Gillis, and me, among others. Paul Allen, Mark Safranko, Dan Fante, and Matthew McBride are also recent, noteworthy writers whose work arguably falls into this blue-collar evolution of the noir sensibility. Evie Wyld does great blue-collar, murderless noir in Australia. Wherever you’ve got a working man or a man out of work (or woman), you’ve got the makings of the newest noir: hard-nosed, hard-hitting, and relevant to our society because of its realism.

My novel Voluntary Madness, which just came out in a reissue from New Pulp Press, features manslaughter in the Hemingway House. And Fur People, my newest novel, is filled with misdemeanors—crimes due to poverty and animal hoarding. These novels take place in Florida, the un-southernmost southernmost state. They take their inspiration from traditional noir but seek to extend the range of this ever-changing and vital genre.

Recommended Read: SKULL FRAGMENTS: Noir Stories by Tim L. Williams

skull fragments‘My mother had a lot of “boyfriends”, but only two of them tried to killer her.’

New Pulp Press is one of the best publishers of transgressive fiction around and they really have excelled themselves with , SKULL FRAGMENTS: Noir Stories by Tim L. Williams.

At times reminiscent of Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff or  Richard Ford’s Rock Springs, the 14 stories in SKULL FRAGMENTS have an extra noir edge to them, a way of digging into the hearts and minds of their lost and lonely characters..

Every story in SKULL FRAGMENTS is a sharp gem but personal favourites include the opening WHERE THE SUN GOES DOWN, WHERE WILL YOU BE WHEN THE WATERS RISE?, THE LAST WRESTLING BEAR IN KENTUCKY, WHERE YOU FIND YOURSELF  and the neo-Gothic closer, TICK.

Chilling, touching, sad, brutal,brilliant and beautifully written. Highly recommended.

Short, Sharp Interview: Vicki Hendricks

Voluntary Madness final cover 55-aPDB: What’s going on now?

Lucky for me, my novel Voluntary Madness is being reprinted this month, or I would have to say not much. I’m taking a break from writing to finish my 35th year of teaching with less stress. But I’m particularly excited because New Pulp Press is in Key West where the story takes place, one of my favorite cities. I plan to make a visit.

PDB: How did you research this book?

I lived in Key West for one sweaty fall in the mid-nineties, when I was finishing Iguana Love, doing what I’d always dreamed of doing as a writer, hanging out and getting drunk. I was ripe for a new idea, and the atmosphere and infamous characters from Old Town inspired my best effort. Many a night I biked home, inebriated, from Viva Zapata, (alas, long gone) down the crumbling, tree-lined alley, Catherine Street. It was easy to imagine my character Juliet, naked and feeling invulnerable, leaping from the shadows to surprise lone men and create a scene.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

Right now, I would have to say Fur People because it’s my newest, so that’s natural. But overall, my favorite has always been Voluntary Madness. It’s my most original plot, with the quirkiest characters and place. I’ve feathered in memories among the fiction. The ending might be my best too.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

I can never decide, but for today, let’s go with the film: Fargo; then my truly favorite noir novel: The Postman Always Rings Twice; the old song “Those Were the Days”; and for TV, a current selection: Breaking Bad.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Definitely. It helps drive the plot. I’ve always set my novels in various parts of Florida, having spent my adult life here. Its people, often seekers of paradise, invite drama, and the landscape is vibrant year-round, available for boating, scuba, sailing, skydiving, running around naked–sports that I’ve incorporated into my novels.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Rarely. Only if I happen to be looking at that page for some other reason. Since I haven’t made my living on writing for years, selling is mostly a game, and I don’t have much time to play. But I’ve gotten my rights back for everything and put all my books up on Amazon, so now and then I check my sales dashboard and think, Hmm. Guess I need to make a Facebook post. Or, Oh, good month. Time to celebrate with a beer milkshake! When sales make a leap, it generally means somebody’s mentioned me in Salon.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m relaxed about the future.  Possibly, I’ll finish my memoir, a biography about my deceased cat Snickers, my companion of twenty years, who counseled me during the rigors of publication and concurrent adventurous lifestyle.  Snickers knew all. Then I have a screenplay, Chez Usher, that I might turn into a novel, then a secret idea for another novel that I’m certain no publisher will touch. It doesn’t matter. I’ll probably write it anyway because I’m interested to find out what happens.

Vicki Hendricks head shotBio:Vicki Hendricks is the author of the novels Miami Purity, Iguana Love, Voluntary Madness, Sky Blues, Cruel Poetry, an Edgar Award Finalist, and Fur People. Her short stories are collected in Florida Gothic Stories. She lives in Hollywood, Florida, and teaches writing at Broward College. Participation in adventure sports and knowledge of the Florida environment is reflected in her plots and settings. Her website is at

Short, Sharp Interview: Tim L. Williams

skull fragmentsPDB: What’s going on now?

Surviving, trying to avoid the kind of characters who inhabit my fiction and writing more stories. Always more stories.

PDB: How did you research SKULL FRAGMENTS?

Research was fairly easy on this one since the stories are set in a fictionalized version of my hometown. And somehow I’ve known my fair share of criminals and unsavoury characters.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

Breaking into Ellery Queen was a huge moment for me because I’ve been reading the magazine since I was a kid. Plots with Guns became a home, and I was knocked out to be chosen for Best American Mystery Stories. One of the strangest was definitely Esquire Ukraine. They picked up a reprint. I never saw that one coming.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Film: Blood Simple or The Big Lebowski.  Song: “Frank’s Wild Years” Tom Waits. It never fails to make me smile. Television Show: Recently, True Detective Season 1. Book: There are just too many to name although the Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor and Jim Thompson’s Savage Night jump to mind.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Location is extremely important to me.  Environment plays a huge role in shaping characters, and I’m most at home when I’m writing about home.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

I try not to. I don’t always succeed in resisting the temptation, but I put up a good fight.

PDB: What’s next?

More short stories. I love the form.

Bio: I’m a native of Muhlenberg County in the south-central section of Kentucky’s western coalfields. After a few years of knocking around, I completed my degrees at Murray State University and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. My fiction has appeared in numerous literary quarterlies , Ellery Queen and Plots With Guns,  and a number of other places. Two stories have been included in Otto Penzler’s Best American Mystery series. I’ve won the ITW”S Thriller Award in the short story category and received an Edgar nomination and two Shamus nominations in the same category. I currently reside in my hometown with my wife, my kids and my seriously neurotic dogs. Skull Fragments is my first collection.

Short, Sharp Interview: Lee Matthew Goldberg

Slow Down cover-2PDB: What’s going on now?

My debut novel Slow Down was just published by New Pulp Press. I’m enjoying the response I’m getting and trying to spread the word.

PDB: How did you research this book?

Slow Down takes place in Manhattan. This is my hometown so a lot of the research came from remembering what it’s like to be young and in my 20s here.

 PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

Definitely most proud of Slow Down, but I’ve also written a lot of short stories that were published in The Montreal Review, The Adirondack Review, and Essays & Fictions.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Film: Wall Street, Book: The Great Gatsby or any F. Scott Fitzgerald, Song: Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen, TV: Twin Peaks

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

Very important. When the weather is nice I write in Central Park. I have a particular tree that I like to write under, since it gives me the perfect amount of shade.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

My book just went live so I’ve been checking it a lot, but I imagine I’ll get better at limiting myself to once a day.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m finishing a trilogy about an evil corporation called The Desire Card, which promises: “Any wish fulfilled…for the right price.” I’m also working on a TV pilot that’s a dark drama and a Sci-Fi script with a writing partner. I like to keep busy.

LMG Portrait Urban Doorway B&W copyBio: Lee Matthew Goldberg graduated with an MFA from the New School.  He is a regular contributor to The Montreal Review and The Adirondack Review. His fiction has also appeared in Essays & Fictions, The New Plains Review, Orion headless, Verdad Magazine, BlazeVOX, and on Amazon. He has is the co-curator of The Guerrilla Lit Fiction Series ( His debut novel SLOW DOWN is a neo-noir thriller published by New Pulp Press. Follow him at and @LeeMatthewG

Short, Sharp Interview : Jonathan Woods

Phone Call Final Cover high res (2)PDB: Can you pitch Phone Call from Hell & Other Tales of the Damned in 25 words or less?

Some of the most twisted stuff I’ve ever written.  My stories will take you places you’ve never been before.  Yup: sex, violence and dark humor.


PDB: Which music, books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

Music-wise I’ve been listening to a lot of old stuff: The Smiths, Cream, Neil Young.  Then I got hung up on this Latino band from Miami called Locos Por Juana after I saw them play at the Green Parrot here in Key West.  And I really like a country song from the Derailers called  “Bar Exam” because I used to be a lawyer in a former life.  And because there’s a really sexy woman in the music video on YouTube:


Movies.  I love movies.  And in Key West we have a fabulous four screen art house called The Tropic Cinema.  What I liked recently: The Counselor, directed by Ridley Scott from a screenplay by Cormac McCarthy.  About as dark and sexy as you can get.  Great McCarthy dialogue.  The Italian film A Great Beauty is this trippy tale of wasted lives in Roma.  Fantastic Felliniesque faces.  Beautiful cinematography.  How the past haunts us.  I also loved The Wolf of Wall Street.  A rush of a movie, totally over the top!  Finally, I have to mention the feel wonderful documentary about backup singers called Twenty Feet from Stardom.  After seeing it, you’ll boogie your way across the lobby and right down the street.

I don’t watch much TV.

Books: I’ve been re-reading a lot of old titles.  To Have and Have Not has one of the great opening scenes, a shoot out outside a bodega in 1940s Havana.  The book goes down hill from  there.  The last 100 pages of the novel should never have been written.  But read the first 64.  I really enjoyed Thomas McGuane’s Ninety-Two in the Shade the second time around.  Laugh out loud funny.  He kind of choked on the ending.  And I’ve been slowly re-reading Raymond Chandler.  A fucking genius!!!  Sabbaths Theater by Philip Roth is wild and crazy, with lots of wild and crazy sex.  Couldn’t put it down.  Oh, and the short stories of Thom Jones and Barry Hannah and Brad Watson.  I read these guys over and over.  And Jon Bassoff’s Corrosion.  Haunting.  And I just started re-reading the Duffy novels by Dan Kavanagh.  Very twisted, very funny.


PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

I’m not sure what an objective reader is or why you would want to be one.  Some books grab you by the cojones and you can’t put them down.  Some books poop out somewhere in the middle, like a beer that’s gone flat.  And some you thrown across the room after reading the first page, venting with a primal scream.  Life is too short.  There’s no point in reading books that don’t give you an instant hard-on.


PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

I’m glad you asked that question.  I’ve had the most amazing luck in connecting with a super talented Key West filmmaker named Quincy Perkins.  This Spring we decided to collaborate in bringing to the silver screen a short noir film based on my crime short story “Swingers Anonymous.”  Quincy directed from a script by yours truly.  We raised twelve grand on Kickstarter to cover the initial production and shot all the footage over five days in mid-March.  Now it’s being edited and special effects and the sound track added.  We need to raise another eight grand or so to cover postproduction.  We’ll be sending Swingers Anonymous, the movie, out to the film festivals.  It was an amazing collaborative effort.  We got a super cool writeup in the Miami Herald (front page of the Sunday Tropical Life arts and culture section for April 6) about making the movie.  Here’s the link:

Fyi, the story “Swingers Anonymous” first appeared in the short crime fiction anthology Dallas Noir from Akashic Books.  It is included in my new collection Phone Call from Hell & Other Tales of the Damned


PDB: How much research goes into each book?

A little bit here.  A little bit there.  I do my research as I go along when I come to a point in a story that needs authenticity.  The internet is very helpful.  I write mostly contemporary crime fiction, so it’s mostly in my head, these alternate lives I live vicariously.


PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

I promote my work on Facebook and stay connected with people that way.  And I have a website that collects reviews and shit about my books.  I think it’s pretty important to put yourself out there.  No one else is going to do it.  It’s all one big clusterfuck.  So I try to enjoy it.


PDB: What’s on the cards for 2014?

Well, of course, finishing up the film Swingers Anonymous and submitting it to festivals.  And doing a little touring with the new book, Phone Call from HellI’ve got some launch events here in Key West in April and May.  And I’m working on gigs in NYC and Texas, where I used to live.  And in late October there’s Noircon 2014 up in Philadelphia.  Always a great time!

I recently completed a road trip crime novel called Kiss the Devil Good Night.  I need to get that in the queue for publication, probably by New Pulp Press.  And I’m working on a new story about feral hog hunting down in Texas.

That about sums it up.

Bio: Jonathan Woods holds degrees from McGill University, New England School of Law and New York University School of Law.   For many years he practiced law with a multi-national high-tech company before turning to writing full time.

Jonathan studied writing at Southern Methodist University and at Bread Loaf, Sewanee, Zoetrope: All-Story and Sirenland Writers’Conferences.  His early stories appeared in 3:AM Magazine, Dogmatika, Plots with Guns and other web-based literary magazines.

His first book, Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem, won a 2011 Spinetingler Award for Best Crime Short Story Collection and was featured at the 2010 Texas Book Festival.  His novel A Death in Mexico was named one of the 5 top debut crime novels of 2012 by BookPeople Bookstore in Austin, TX.

In 2012 The Studios of Key West awarded Jonathan an artist’s studio space where many of the stories in Phone Call from Hell & Other Tales of the Damned were written.  A new road trip crime novel, Kiss the Devil Good Night, is forthcoming.

Formerly of Dallas, Texas, Jonathan resides in Key West, Florida with his spouse, the artist Dahlia Woods (, and a shih tzu named Miss Pinky.  When not writing, he hangs out in various nefarious Key West bars or travels the globe, most recently to Portugal, Mexico and Asia.  His website is at:

Short, Sharp Interview: Les Edgerton

PDB: Could you tell us a little about your new book, The Rapist?

Well, I wrote it 26 years ago and only last year decided to try to get it published. I wrote it at the time because I’d just read Charles Bukowski’s short story, “The Fiend” and I thought then (and still do) it was the bravest piece of literature I’d ever experienced. I wanted to see if I could write as courageously as he had. “The Fiend” accomplishes what the best of literature should—it reveals the darkest recesses of the human soul and shows that no matter how evil a person might be—or at least how evil his or her acts might be—inside, there still resides a human being. It takes real guts for a writer to go there and I wanted to do what Bukowski had done. It was also anti-establishment and that alone made it a worthwhile goal in my mind. I didn’t intend it to be like anything else out there and I knew that might hurt its chances, but I wrote it totally for me first and then anyone else who had a curious mind. To be honest, I anticipated a European audience rather than a U.S. one.

PDB: The title alone will put off many readers. Were you tempted to give it a more ‘marketing friendly’ title?

Nope. The reasons are, first, it accurately describes the book, and secondly, I expect the title will be offputting to those among us who subscribe to that idiotic and moronic notion of being “politically correct.” I abhore the entire concept of PCism as it’s the single biggest threat to freedom of speech yet created and I really don’t want the people who believe in PCism to be mucking around in the pages of my work. I felt the people who would be drawn to it would be the kind of people I respect—freethinkers. So far, that’s been the case. I wanted to write a book that would be uncomfortable for the reader—not because of its savagery or some kind of cheap physical shock value—but because of the ideas it expressed and hopefully the way it would force the reader to examine his own ideas and beliefs about crime and God and humanity.

PDB: How difficult was it getting a publisher for such a near to the knuckle book?

Surprisingly (at least to me!), not difficult at all. I had my choice of several publishers I think are putting out some of the best literature in the world. The hard thing was picking the right one. I know I did with Jon Bassoff of New Pulp Press. To my mind, Jon is the new John Martin. New Pulp Press is the new Black Sparrow Books.

PDB. We’re seeing more and more novellas/ short novels being published. Is this a good thing?

That’s a wonderful thing and in my mind, the single biggest positive that the ebook revolution has produced. Novellas had fallen out of favor among print publishers simply because of the prohibitive costs of books that length—nothing else. Some of the best stories ever written were written in the novella form and until ebook publishing became viable, were pretty much restricted to a handful of writers such as Jim Harrison and a few others. With ebooks which don’t have the same cost restraints as print, the dam has burst and once again a brilliant, almost perfect art form is being released into the world. Ebooks have also revitalized the short story market and that’s equally wonderful.

PDB. What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013?

First, to wake up tomorrow morning… After that, it’s all a bonus. I’m doing a bit of a rewrite on my memoir, ADRENALINE JUNKIE and hoping to find a home for it, and the same with a black comedy crime novel which is my own personal favorite, THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING. Much of this novel has already been published as various short stories. I’m writing a new writer’s craft book, titled A FICTION WRITER’S WORKSHOP AT THE BIJOU where I use film to inform fiction writing. I’m also writing a new novel, working title, THE FIXER, which is about a hitman… okay, I heard that groan… another hitman novel?!—but I think this one is a bit different. It’s about a guy who makes his wet work look like accidents when he starts out—for instance, one of the people he takes out, he gives rabies to when the target is sleeping and then just sits back to wait awhile. The thing about rabies is that when you find out you’ve got it… it’s too late. Not much time for anything at that point but write a will and avoid water and try to bite everyone around you… But then, he has an epiphany and changes his entire modus operandi. He keeps seeing these TV programs where the killer gets off or draws a light sentence for some evil deed and he keeps seeing the surviving family members doomed to a lifetime of grief and frustration at the “justice” system. So, he decides to use his talents to help them out, by kidnapping the perpetrator and torturing him in various clever and imaginative ways and videotaping it and sending the tape to those family members for their enjoyment. He’s the best kind of vigilante—the kind who applies justice. And, here’s a reveal—I’m never going to have him get caught. At least permanently.

Les Edgerton’s blog is here.

Short, Sharp Interview: Heath Lowrance

The blurb: Heath Lowrance’s City of Heretics is a crime novel about an aging con named Crowe, just out of prison and back in Memphis, ready for some payback against the criminals who got him sent up.

Before Crowe can enjoy his revenge, he has to track down a brutal murderer cutting a swath through the city — ultimately leading Crowe to confront a bizarre secret society of serial killers masquerading as a Christian splinter-group.

I interviewed Heath Lowrance.

PDB: Can you pitch City Of Heretics in 25 words or less?

Aging con Crowe slams up against a secret society of killers disguised as a Christian splinter-group. Violence and bloodshed follow, as well as uneasy revelations.

PDB: Which books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?

TV is actually better than the movies lately. I love Hell on Wheels, Justified, Boardwalk Empire, and, for a little comedy, Community.

PDB: Is it possible for a writer to be an objective reader?

I can’t speak for everyone, but for me—no, not exactly. But knowing something about writing can often make the reading experience richer.

PDB: Do you have any interest in writing for films, theatre or television?

Yeah, but only for the money. PDB: How much research goes into each book?

Usually it’s just fly-by research into the geography of the location, or the pertinent history. With Westerns, of course, there’s a bit more research, but I like to approach Westerns as mythology more than history.

PDB: How useful or important are social media for you as a writer?

Without Facebook (and yes, even the dreaded Twitter) it would be almost impossible for me to get word out about my work. The folks who re-tweet or re-post or whatever have made all the difference.

PDB: What’s on the cards in 2012?

I have another Gideon Miles novella brewing for David Cranmer’s Beat to a Pulp, and one more Hawthorne story to round out the year, as well as a couple of short stories here and there. Beyond that, into next year, I’ll be focusing on a third full-length novel (or two!) and more Hawthorne.

BIO: Heath Lowrance is the author of the cult novel THE BASTARD HAND, as well as a short story collection called DIG TEN GRAVES. His other stories have appeared at Crime Factory, Shotgun Honey, Chi-Zine, Pulp Metal, The Nautilus Engine, and others. He has been a movie theater manager, a tour guide at Sun Studio, a singer in a punk band, and a regular donor of blood for money. He lives in Lansing, Michigan.

(This interview first appeared at Noir Nation)