Bloody Knuckles Newsletter

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Micro Interview: BLU GILLIAND

Continuing with the promotion of the recently released anthology, GRIMM TALES, I spend some time with contributor Blu Gilliand.

BLOODY KNUCKLES: One thing I've been wondering about is why there's been a sudden abundance of twists and slants on the Grimms. ABC has Once Upon A Time, NBC has Grimm, Julia Roberts and Charlize Theron have upcoming turns at playing the evil queen, Amanda Seyfried starred as Red Riding Hood in a full length movie adaptation (an idea I once pitched at a film fest...hmm...)and we've all contributed to this anthology. Want to share any insight you might have on this?

BLU GILLIAND: One thing is that the movie and television industry seems to have a pack mentality: when something succeeds, everybody tries to get on that particular bandwagon. When The Blair Witch Project blew up, a whole new genre - the "found footage" genre - was born, and still hasn't gone away. Halloween became a huge hit, and all of a sudden there was a glut of slasher films, all of them tied to some holiday or another. And now it's like the studios and networks are trying to anticipate what's going to be a hit so they can be in on it from the start, so when one hears about something that could potentially be a big hit, they all rush their own variations into production. Now, keep in mind, these are the opinions of a man from Alabama who's never been to Hollywood and never dealt with studios or networks, but if you look closely you can take a good guess as to how it works.

Another thing is that the Grimm tales are so timeless and so versatile. People have been playing with the ideas in those stories for years. Bill Willingham, for example, has been writing a comic series for DC called Fables that takes all these characters and sets them in the modern world, although they are hidden from the eyes of the mundane, normal people. (I often wonder what HE thinks of the sudden rush of fairy tale-based properties, considering some of them seem to skate pretty close to what he's been doing for a while now...) The point is, these are characters that most of us are familiar with, and we like to see familiar things used in new and interesting ways.

BK: Your story quickly goes really dark; the scene with the kids in the cage, for one instance, the conversation between the evil stepmom and the crone, for another. What led you there?

BG: I'm a horror guy. I love the stuff, and everything I write seems to filter through that sensability sooner or later. The reason I chose to riff on "Hansel and Gretel" in the first place is because it's practically a horror story in its original form. I thought the elements of the children getting lost, and the idea that the mom was deliberately trying to get rid of them, made the perfect crossover between crime and horror. Throw in a creepy old woman living deep in the forest, an old lady with some unsavory ideas of how to dispose of these two children, and well...I couldn't help myself.

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

BG: I think I've always known - maybe I didn't always admit it to myself, but I've always known. Some of my earliest school memories involve teachers telling me or my parents that I had a talent for writing. I would sit down with big hardcover books and just copy what I read in there - it was like the urge to write existed, I just didn't know how to go about it. All I knew was that I had to get words on paper.

Later on, in junior high school, I wrote a story for an english class. Unbeknownst to me, the teacher read it to ALL of his classes. The next day, it was like I went from this meek kid wandering the halls with my small group of friends to some kind of rock star. I was in seventh grade, and I had ninth graders - NINTH GRADERS, man! - coming up to me saying they liked my story. So I thought "Maybe I have something here."

Of course, as happens with so many of us, life and career and other pursuits got in the way. Actually, I let them get in the way. I realized a few years ago that writing was a dream I'd always had, but in order for it to come true I had to make time to work at it. So I have. I've published eleven stories now, and have written untold amounts of stories that have been rejected or will never see the light of day, but I recognize now that it's a process. I've always been a writer; it's just that now I know that being a writer is just the start - to be a GOOD writer, you have to put the time in. That's what I'm doing now, and hopefully it will pay off.


Blu Gilliand has published fiction and nonfiction in a variety of print and Internet publications including Dark Scribe Magazine, Dark Discoveries, Shroud Magazine, White Cat Publications and Currently he conducts monthly author interviews for Horror World and writes a weekly column for He also covers horror and crime fiction on his own blog, October Country ( He invites you to visit his blog or stalk him on Twitter, where he posts under the imaginative name of @BluGilliand.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Westlake Day!

Special thanks to Patti Abbott for including me in this!


The very first Hard Case Crime novel I read was The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. He had explained in the Afterword I was either going to love it or hate it. He was right. Not to be discouraged by this initial reading, I liked what Hard Case was attempting to do. The second one I read was 361 by Donald E. Westlake and this was much better. Not great; I found it somewhat formulaic, but I guess I expected that. It was a while before I picked up another Westlake. When I did, it came on the recommendation of Lawrence Block in his Mystery Scene Magazine column. The book was Memory and it blew me away.
In between projects and looking for a diversion from my day job, I paid a visit to a local box-chain bookstore. I had trained my eye to look for the yellow flag with the Beretta on it. I noticed one that seemed super-sized, figured it must be a large print edition. It was called Somebody Owes Me Money. The blonde in the mini skirt straddling a speeding taxicab caught my eye. I’m a sucker for Hard Case covers, especially the ones with women on them. This particular cutie looked a lot like Gail O’Grady who played the receptionist on NYPD Blue. The image carried through into the book. Abbie wasn’t just a pretty blonde with a gun, she was Mike Hammer, ready to beat a guy down who didn’t play nice with her.
The story breaks down like this: Chet is a cabbie who takes a tip from a fare on a horse. Chet makes a call to his bookie buddy Tommy and places the bet. The horse wins. Chet stops by Tommy’s after his shift ends to collect his winnings- a staggering $950.
Only problem? Tommy’s dead and there ain’t no moola.
Enter Abbie, who claims she’s Tommy’s sister and she wants to know who killed her brother and why. From the back seat of Chet’s cab, she draws on the hapless driver and threatens to spill his blood unless he spills what he knows. Abbie thinks it was Tommy’s wife who killed him, someone Abbie suspects is also sleeping with a local hood. Chet has his own ideas. In the middle of a conversation that is so rich you think you’re a passenger in the same cab, Chet gets shot and after that- hilarity ensues.
No, really. It gets funny after that. I mean laugh out loud funny.
Rival gangs want to know what Chet knows about the whole affair. While he’s laid up in Tommy’s apartment as a guest of Abbie, each of the gangs sends muscle to lean on Chet to crack him. Only problem? Chet doesn’t know squat. He’s as in the dark as to who killed Tommy as they are. Enter a suspicious detective who thinks Chet is the killer and you begin to feel the frustration Chet feels trapped in the apartment, having to explain his story each time a rival gang member shows up for more information.
Westlake’s banter is golden. The mobsters and their henchmen might be archetypes, but there is a sincerity about them; after a while I kept thinking how some of these guys were just working stiffs and had lives they went home to when they weren’t swinging guns around Chet and Abbie. He actually produces empathy for the people in this world.
If someone had handed me these three Westlake books before I read them and had removed his name, I might not have know he wrote all three; his voice as that different in each. 361 was all hard knuckles and flying bullets; Memory was some of the most tender prose I’ve ever read, and Somebody Owes Me Money moves like a seventies rom/com/caper film similar to What’s Up, Doc? or Silver Streak. The read is an enjoyable ride.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Micro Interview: LOREN EATON

Loren Eaton joins us this week to share his wisdom on the well received and hot selling Grimm Tales. He’s a pretty prolific writer with stories scattered and planted around the web. Google him- you’ll see what I mean.

HARD-NOSED SLEUTH: I would say you're one of the established writers of this new era of Internet pulp zines. What drew you to John Kenyon's challenge for GRIMM TALES? What separated it from other opportunities? (Or are you like me and what sparks the idea gets fanned until it ignites into a full fledged story?)

LOREN EATON: You're very kind, but truth be told I'm rather new to the crime fiction world. Although I grew up reading thrillers, I fell away from the field for about a decade and only came back after discovering Peter Rozovsky's Detectives Beyond Borders blog. As for writing the stuff, I didn't begin doing that until I found Patti Abbott's stories and the various online contests she'd helmed. Once such contest was "I Love You, Megamart," which eventually became the Untreed Reads' anthology Discount Noir. When heard of her involvement with John Kenyon's fairy-tale-as-crime-fiction challenge, well, I wanted onboard!

HNS: This is one hard boiled tale. You've used an interesting style to tell it. Talk about how it developed. (Your narrator does a heck of a job bringing it to life.)

LE: For some reason, the harshness of hardboiled and noir resonates with me. I consider both Richard Stark's black-as-night The Hunter or Adrian McKinty's poetically violent Fifty Grand favorites, and I hoped to imbue my story, "King Flounder," with some of their edginess. I knew I wanted to use the Grimm fable "The Fisherman and His Wife," wherein the cupidity of a greedy angler's spouse causes a magical fish to visit them with woe. I knew that I also wanted incorporate an old, related proverb: "When you sit down to eat with a ruler / Observe carefully what is before you, / And put a knife to your throat / If you are given to appetite." Eventually, a framing device came to me, the idea of this poor guy who'd unwittingly helped the Mafia once and who ends up summoned to the kingpin's estate to receive his recompense. During the meeting, the narrating Mafioso "happens" -- note the quotation marks -- to recount a tale about someone who once asked too much of him. A most uncomfortable situation, to be sure.

HNS: Seeing as how you haven't been a guest here, I'd like to ask you what I ask all first timers and that is when did you know you were a writer?

LE: Writing found me in the ninth grade, during which I discovered it was far more fun to scratch out fan fiction based on video game franchises than to listen to my teachers.

HNS: Many thank, Loren!