Bloody Knuckles Newsletter

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Micro Interview: Seana Graham

This week we spend some time with fellow anthologist Seana Graham who contributed the short ‘Gato’ to Grimm Tales.

HARD NOSED SLEUTH: You and I both enjoy books, yet we're writing in an electronic arena.
Let's talk a bit about the epublishing world and the pitfalls and highs we've experienced within it. For me, blatant self promotion wears me out but I find it necessary. Am I wrong to think I'm being narcissistic? Do you feel that way about BSP?

SEANA GRAHAM: I am in what I think is a fairly rare position when it comes to all things
publishing. I work in an independent bookstore and have for many years,
so have witnessed firsthand the way the chains, Amazon, and the whole
ebook revolution have chipped away at the profitability of what was never
exactly a get rich quick scheme to begin with.

On the other hand, I also write fiction and so have a fairly large amount
of interest and sympathy with the whole writerly philosophy of "by any
means necessary" when it comes to publishing. I also have a rather
jaundiced view of the risk-taking capacities of major publishers, and I
find in the ebook world that there is a great vitality. Sure, a lot of it
is crap, but that's true in the traditional publishing world as well, and
I am loving a lot of the stuff I see in the ebook format.

Even bookstores sell ebooks now, thanks to the advent of Google ebooks, so
I don't mind saying that I have a device to read such things on. I'm of
the generation that came of age before computers took over the world, so a
book is always going to seem a better format than an ebook, but I don't
know why that should necessarily be so for people that follow me. There
are features that appeal even to me in the device format, but I would
still always buy a physical book over a virtual one, given the choice. But
there may be a slow slide. Convenience is a pernicious thing.

As for self-promotion, I think it's hard for most writers. I am not
really interested in building a platform, as all the writing sites advise
you to do. I'm not on Facebook or Twitter, which is mainly because I'm
already on the computer way too much and figure it is not all that hard to
find me if people want to. On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem
promoting Grimm Tales, because I'm a fan of the writing of the others in
the anthology. One of the things about the blogosphere that I've really
appreciated is that self-promotion can blend quite honestly with support
and promotion of others. The community aspect of all this is fascinating
to me.

HNS: For those who haven't heard the podcast featuring you and another noted writer, tell us a little about your story in Grimm Tales: inspiration, your twist of the story, what made you choose Puss in Boots.

SG: You know it's funny, I don't really know why I chose Puss 'n Boots. At the
time, I think I consciously thought that I wouldn't do something like
Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, mainly because I thought I'd like to use a
story that I didn't think that many people would use. As it turned out,
that didn't matter--at least four people used Hansel and Gretel as an idea
and the stories are all quite different.

What does fascinate me a year out is the unconscious choice. My mother had
died just a couple of months earlier, and my sisters and I had had our own
hospital scene with her. I'm sure I reflected on this a bit as I wrote,
but why I chose to flip all the genders, the birth order and actually the
character of the people in the story is very strange to me. I have no
explanation for it but am fairly sure it wasn't just a random coincidence.

HNS: I ask this of all first time interviewees: When did you know you were a writer?

SG: I was one of those who identified as a writer from an early age. Maybe six
or so. I don't think there was a big conflict about it until high school
or college, actually. I think I just became self-conscious about it. I
was very resistant to getting into the creative writing program or the
whole "I wanna be a writer" declaration. I think we're touching on the
reluctance to appear narcissistic that you mentioned earlier. It is so
hard to know what anything you do means, and I was hanging out with a
bunch of people who were very idealistic and thought maybe we should go
work with Mother Teresa or something. I'm not Catholic, but it was hard to
see where writing fiction fit into all that.

I'm still not sure, by the way, but I have since discovered that I am not
really the Mother Teresa type...

Thanks for the opportunity, Jack!

BK: Anytime, Seana!

Seana Graham works at an independent bookstore in Santa Cruz, California. She has published stories in a variety of literary magazines, including Salamander, Eclipse and Eleven Eleven. Her short story “The Pirate’s True Love” was collected in the anthology The Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and her work is included in The Carpathian Shadows series, edited by Lia Schizas. She has also co-authored a book of trivia about Southern California, where she spent her early, formative years.

A couple of her conversations with Rick Kleffel, radio interviewer of the Agony column can be found here:

Seana also writes a handful of blogs including Confessions of Ignorance and Not New for Long. She is still not entirely sure why she does this.

Nigel Byrd is running a short ‘Dancing with Myself’ interview featuring me interviewing me over at his blog Sea Minor. Here’s the link:

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION IN THE OTHER CORNER: Grimm Tales, Monkey See- Monkey Murder, and Discount Noir are all available at

COMING UP NEXT: Just about time for a Flash Jab Challenge, isn’t it?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Micro Interview: Absolute*Kate

You know, there’s just no way to describe Absolute*Kate except to say you can feel the energy flowing off of her words. She runs the AT THE BIJOU blog spot and draws in some of the masters of crime fiction and thrillers to provide the entertainment. Here’s her take on being a part of GRIMM TALES.

HARD NOSED SLEUTH: Whew! Your tale is a wild ride. I couldn't help but see it in black and white images with the golden age tough guys and b-girls. Talk about your noir slant.

Absolutely*Kate: Well thanks a heap Jack. A dame likes to feel the cool, free wind in her hair, life without care and the capacity to play her Rat Pack tunes good and loud, while taking tough lug fellers like you on wild rides. What's the adventure to Life without wild rides? That'd be like askin' for a damn good cup o'joe and gettin' served up decaf. Y'know?
OH ~ You mean my tale in our illustrious Grimm Tales ~ "YOU DIRTY RATS"? Yeah, yeah, sure, sure -- Scribin' that one out was a wild ride in itself. Mostly 'cause once my character took off his fedora and scratched the ponder of his noggin, he knew more was off . . . than just his good lookin' hat on that godforsaken bar. He's a cool cat, Jack Piper is. He's a fixer. And to write that piece, I had to listen tight to that Jack rattle around both thoughts and wisecracks all at the same time. Most of the times, trying to hold my laughter in so's I could keep up with his rat-a-tat-take-no-jive pace at the keyboard, I marveled at just how smooth and dapper he tried to appear in every scene. Perhaps a little jaggedy around the Bogart edges, Piper could still case a joint and size up the action AND the possibilities coming at him in no seconds flat. Good thing he was packin' a magic harmonica to keep things attuned when the bimbettes and bouncers and bad guys got too big with their game though. Double-dealing, double-crossin', double-timing floozies and a run-away riverboat? Ooooh baby, Jack Piper had his hands filled more than his hootch tumbler . . . and the music just kept playin, huh?
Yeah Bub, You ain't blowin' smoke outta dat Lucky Strike that we, all my cool crazy characters and me, didn't see Noir swirlin' up 'round da docks. We had all the makins of seedy underworld, corrupt ambiguities, femme fatales, high-rollers and down-on-their- luckers with perhaps someone to root for all along. I just watched 'em close, listened tight and tip, tap, typed all through several nights. They took me for the ride.

HNS: How did you get involved in the project?

Absolutely*Kate: How's any cat slink into a good hidey hole? Our chief there, John Kenyon, left the door open at THINGS I'D RATHER BE DOING and I followed my new crime-buddy Sean Patrick Reardon, right on in. Saw Beetner in the corner oiling up his ammo and a new hero Patti Abbot I'd recognized from thrill of Brazill days, being tough as classy does. I knew with those aces in the pack the ante was up. I'd met a slew of youse guys when DO SOME DAMAGE asked Santa for Christmas crime-tales last year. My Detective Nelle Callahan held her gal gumshoe gumption in the midst of tough varmints like you and that swaggering AJ Hayes and Julie Morrigan and Seana Graham in "JiNGLE NELLE, JiNGLE NELLE". Since I really liked youse guys - how you all raise the bar on each other, and I wanted to gun higher in that smoky B&W genre, I gulped my bravado and sashayed right in. Kenyon wasn't lookin' and I've come to discover that good ol' Nigel Bird was actually pretty kind inside (Shhhh), and would right you if you wobbled. I didn't wobble, but it sure got cool knowin' each of you authors through your words. Many times I was blown away - I think lurid Loren did that, as I know our gripping readers of Grimm Tales shall be, page after good and gruesome page.

BK: I ask this of all my first time interviewees: When did you know you were a writer?

Absolutely*Kate: Gulp. A virgin interviewee in the lair of Bloody Knuckles. Yikes!
When did I know though? At the time of the 64 Crayolas. Grew up in small town Ohio before comin' to the confluence of two rivers in Connecticut where the writing and the ideas and the cross-promotion of authors on the rise keeps flowin' and flowin. Early life was the kind of love and laughter that never knows a challenge to be anything but a strive to head smack into. I did. Often and creatively. Mom was a part-time news reporter and artist. Both grandfathers were expressive rebels and good storytellers. My Dad, my hero, rallied good people as the true enrichments we'll always know in this here world. He took me to a restaurant on my 16th birthday called Moxie's. I ate that up and always keep some moxie kickin' around.
I've worked magazines, started newspapers, been on every arts, culture and tourism board in the city that hosts ESPN and worked behind the scenes in political log rolling fervently, while seeing my great kiddos soar into their own lives. Had my own advertising agency and PR firm and for the past pack of years it's been my time to roll all that into something that turns pages or scrolls ebooks and ultimately gives back -- a thought, a grinn, a wondering, hell - a guffaw is superb.
I run a virtual theatre for the mind joint, AT THE BIJOU, while I play with my other best pals -- words. We've done a Rat Pack Revue there when Robert J Randisi agreed to let me put a star up on his door. Now we're doing what's amounting to a NOIRathon -- three months straight and talented authors still lined up on streets. I wanta give back, Jack. Use all the guts and gumption I've been given to help authors take authors the higher. That's what we're doin' now, what John Kenyon threw out in a pitch and Jay Hartman batted around the outfield.
Let's grandslam our great Grimm Tales book Jack, shall we?

That Jack Guy: Thanks, doll!

Absolutely*Kate: (on tip toes ... plantin' a smooch to the side o'your face) Thank you kindly sir. You're tough as bullets, but you're damn cool too. And that's a fact, Jack.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: I joined another networking site! There’s just not enough networking to do! Check out my spot at the Independent Author Network:


FLASH JAB FICTION: Graham Smith has turned in a stunner over at Flash Jab. Give him a read!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interview with Nigel Bird

This week’s guest is the incomparable Nigel Bird whose story Sing a Song of Sixpence appears in the newly released anthology, Grimm Tales.

THE HARD-NOSED SLEUTH: What attracted you to the challenge?

NIGEL BIRD: I’ve always been a firm believer in the fairytale as a way for children to engage with stories and with nascent fears. The older stories are an amazing mix of excitement and darkness, drawing in the listener like the characters are drawn in to their own personal journey through dreams and nightmares.

There’s also such a lot of moral ambiguity to work with. Rumplestiltskin does everything he should to get the baby to the point of saving a life, yet he’s denied by a mother who’s married the man who imprisoned her and threatened her with death, a greedy despot with few redeeming features. How the hell does that make any sense?

I also love the random acts which take place. Take the soldier in the Tinder Box. He retrieves the box, comes out from beneath the tree and slices off the old woman’s head.

It’s perfect for the re-enactment by crime-writers.

HNS: We've all taken dark and twisted turns on these already dark and twisted tales. You, however, worked human trafficking into ‘Sing a Song of Sixpence’. What triggered that???

NB: Maybe it’s because I find fairytales almost perfect already that I decided to go for a nursery rhyme instead. This was the one that popped into my head first.

The structure was easy once I decided that I’d need to quote the rhyme for those who didn’t know it – without it, I wasn’t sure it made sense.

Human trafficking? Liverpool has strong associations with the shameful slave-trade. It’s one of those things that stuck with me since I first heard about it, the injustice and the economic driving force behind it all. It’s something that was around in the North West of England where I grew up, the centre of the industrial revolution, a success story built on the backs of slaves from Africa and from rural Britain.

Black birds became African women (is bird also an unpleasant slang term for a woman in the US?), hence the easy switch to human-trafficking.

And as with many of my pieces, once it took off it found its own direction.

I read the other entries at the time and was bowled over by the standard. Putting out an anthology was a great idea and it will entertain anyone who dares to take the plunge. Just follow this trail of breadcrumbs. . . . . . . . . . ....

HNS: I think you had a pretty good 2011. What's next?

NB: 2011 was a great year. I think it had to be to top 2010.
The truth is that most of what happened in 2011 was unplanned. The only thing I intended to do was to put out ‘Dirty Old Town’ and to complete a novel. Everything else came about through some combination of happy accident and obsessive impulses. ‘Pulp Ink’ was great fun and a lot of hard work and ‘Smoke’ was sent to Trestle when they asked if I had anything ready (it had been on my computer for a year as I wasn’t sure people would like it, then it had five top-five read picks of the year. Imagine that).
This year I have less planned and will wait and see how things to.
The novel I finished last year is out for consideration. I’m pretty sure that it will come out this year in some form.
I intend to write another novel based on a number of thoughts I’d like to mix into a cocktail. That won’t begin until February.
Recently I wrote a short story along with Chris Rhatigan and I’m in the middle of another which I hope will polish up well enough to get into the Lost Children anthology in the summer.
If these things come off, I’ll be delighted. I’m also hoping for a few short stories to pop into my head, so keep the competitions and projects coming folks.

HNS: Thank you, Mr. Bird!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Author B. Nagel

This week’s special guest is the author B. Nagel. He lives in Mississippi with his wife and daughter. He works in a library, loves cheese toast and writes magical realism, but also surrealism and sometimes simply Southern, which, in all honesty, can be a bit of both. His story, Interview with a Pram Driver, appears in the just released crime anthology, GRIMM TALES. These are stories based on nursery rhymes and bedtime stories.

HARD NOSED SLEUTH : I love interrogation scenes and cross examining moments in courtroom dramas. What drove you to take this slant with your adaptation?

BNAGEL: A lot of fairy tale stories already exist as crime fiction (Aladdin, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Tinderbox). And I saw a lot of opportunity for working inside these and others. But what really caught my attention was the opportunity to work outside of the narrative-proper, to look into the ramifications of Fey colliding with the mundane, to watch how the people left behind cope, or don't.

And what becomes of the nursemaid when a child is snatched by the elves, or the mother who wakes to find a stone-cold changeling in her bassinet? Naturally, the police are called in and they have questions which must be answered.

HNS: You mention you stepped away from the Brothers Grimm to find your story. Where did you get it?

BN: Before John put out the call for these criminal adaptations, I was already poring over the Grimm stories , trying to get under the skin of Rumpelstiltskin for a separate project. I wanted to step away from the marchen while staying within the realms of what we consider fairy tale.

Where I wound up was Peter Pan with some influence from the movie ‘Hook’ and a bit of ‘Law & Order: UK’ albeit with a late Victorian flair.

HNS: I ask this of all first time interviewees: When did you know you had to write?

BN: In middle school, one of my sister's friends asked me to write a story about whatever I wanted, anything at all. I didn't get down a single word. In college, I struggled to write five-page papers on topics I adored. But I've always written poetry, always loved the way a single word -that right word- can zap you out of your chair.

When did I know that I had to write? When I decided to get better at storytelling, because the only way to improve is to try.

HNS: Thanks, Mr. Nagel!

Grimm Tales can be found at Untreed Reads.

REMINDER: Flash Jab Fiction Challenge #9: Blood on the Door is open for stories.

BLATANT SELF PROMOTION CORNER: Monkey See, Monkey Murder is now on the cyber shelves! Would really dig it if you read it and gave it a thumbs up review!