I recently covered the superb anthology, THE NEW BLACK, and its editor, Richard Thomas, has helped me out with some interviews with a few of the authors (I asked the same 5 questions of everyone, to keep things neat), and also a handful of excerpts. I thought it would be fun to put some faces to the stories, and hopefully help you discover some new authors. So, since I’ll be sprinkling them throughout the month, I suppose May will officially be The New Black Month at My Bookish Ways. I interviewed Richard last week, and today I’ve got an interview with Kyle Minor, author of “The Truth In All Its Ugly”. Please welcome him to the blog!
Will you tell us a bit about “The Truth and All Its Ugly,” your story in The New Black, and what inspired you to write it?
Pinckney Benedict asked me to write a robot story for Surreal South, an anthology he was editing. I didn’t have robots on the brain, and I’d never written or thought about writing a robot story, although I did know about one masterpiece of a robot story, by Ryan Harty, titled “Why the Sky Turns Red When the Sun Goes Down.” That story has within it echoes of Pinocchio, and I thought I’d like my story to have within it echoes of Pinocchio. But that’s not what happened. I started writing in an old farmhouse in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest, probably five hundred feet from where my nephew had killed himself with a shotgun, and that’s all that was in my head, and that’s all that came out on the page. This was a macabre lesson: Your preoccupations follow you everywhere, even into robot stories.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I didn’t read any literature until I was about 24. I once avoided dating a girl I liked, in college, because she was going to be a writer, and I thought that wasn’t a life to share with a person like me.
It’s time for your weekly TBR buster! All of these titles are under $5 for Kindle, and all are SFF/Horror (with a few that straddle genre lines). I also threw a few YA titles in there. Do be sure to double check the price before you click BUY since I can only guarantee these prices as of today (5/2/14) Happy Friday!
Love suspense? Courtesy of the lovely folks at Atria, I’ve got an excerpt of the upcoming I AM PILGRIM by Terry Hayes (out May 27th). Enjoy, and of course, preorder, because this one is gonna be big.
There are places I’ll remember all my life – Red Square with a hot wind howling across it, my mother’s bedroom on the wrong side of 8-Mile, the endless gardens of a fancy foster home, a man waiting to kill me in a group of ruins known as the Theatre of Death.
But nothing is burned deeper in my memory than a walk-up in New York – threadbare curtains, cheap furniture, a table loaded with tina and other party drugs. Lying next to the bed are a handbag, black panties the size of dental floss and a pair of six-inch Jimmy Choo’s. Like their owner, they don’t belong here. She is naked in the bathroom – floating face down in a bathtub full of sulfuric acid, the active ingredient in a drain cleaner available at any supermarket.
Dozens of empty bottles of the cleaner – DrainBomb, it’s called – lie scattered on the floor. Unnoticed, I start picking through them. They’ve all got their price tags still attached and I see that, in order to avoid suspicion, whoever killed her bought them at twenty different stores. I’ve always said it’s hard not to admire good planning.
The place is in chaos, the noise deafening – police radios blaring, coroner’s assistants yelling for support, an Hispanic woman sobbing. Even if a victim doesn’t know anyone in the world, it seems like there’s always someone sobbing at a scene like this.
The young woman in the bath is unrecognizable – the three days she has spent face-down in the acid have destroyed all her features. That was the plan I guess – whoever killed her had also weighed down her hands with telephone books. The acid has dissolved not only her fingerprints but almost the entire metacarpal structure underneath. Unless the forensic guys at the NYPD get lucky with a dental match, they’ll have a helluva time putting a name to this one.
Evie Wyld’s new book, ALL THE BIRDS, SINGING, came out in April, and she stopped by to chat about it and much more. Please welcome her to the blog!
Congrats on your new novel, All the Birds, Singing! Will you tell us a little about yourself and your
background? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Thanks! I live in London, where I run a little bookshop called Review. My mother’s Australian so I spent a lot of time out there as a kid, and I still feel homesick for it, even though London is very much my home. I wanted to be a painter up until I went to art school, and saw what people with actual talent could do. So writing fulfilled the desire to make an object – I started with short stories, there’s something very satisfying about those.
All the Birds, Singing, is about a girl with a very shadowy past. Will you tell us a little more about the
book, about Jake Whyte, and what inspired you to write it?
The book is about a woman who both does not forgive herself for something she did when she was very young and also who tries hard to forget that she has a past. She is mightily untrusting of people – especially men, and prefers the company of her dog who is called Dog, and is, in my editor’s words, a bit of a toe-rag. She’s living on a little farm along with her small flock of sheep, when something starts killing them in the night.
Jake is a muscular woman. I wanted to write about a character who was female but not there to either fall in love or be fallen in love with. I wanted to write about someone who had the experience that my generation of young women had, of feeling like you were expected to give out a feeling of wild sexuality, of wanting to sleep with men, but then when it came down to it, that you were somehow prohibited from enjoying the sex. This odd confusion that a lot of us experienced, that made us behave in strange ways.
The Edgar Awards were announced just a little while ago at the Edgars Banquet hosted by the Mystery Writers of America. I’ve only listed the book winners here, but you can see the full list (soon) at the MWA site. Huge congrats to the winners!
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (Simon & Schuster – Atria Books)
BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Simon & Schuster – Scribner)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood (Penguin Group USA – Penguin Books)
BEST FACT CRIME
The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)
America is Elsewhere: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture by Erik Dussere (Oxford University Press)
BEST SHORT STORY
“The Caxton Private Lending Library & Book Depository” – Bibliomysteries by John Connolly (Mysterious Bookshop)
One Came Home by Amy Timberlake (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf BFYR)
BEST YOUNG ADULT
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown Books for Young
THE SIMON & SCHUSTER – MARY HIGGINS CLARK AWARD
(Presented at MWA’s Agents & Editors Party on Wednesday, April 30, 2014)
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman (Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Books)
I adored Seanan McGuire’s upcoming SPARROW HILL ROAD, and courtesy of the nice folks at DAW, you can win a copy! Check out the book and the details, and good luck!
About SPARROW HILL ROAD:
Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.
It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.
They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose”, a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.
You can’t kill what’s already dead.
I covered the phenomenal anthology THE NEW BLACK, a few days ago, and its editor, Richard Thomas, was kind enough to stop by and
submit to an interrogation answer a few of my questions (and share some pretty awesome news of things to come)! Please give him a warm welcome!
Congratulations on your new project, THE NEW BLACK! You’re an author as well as an editor, but have you always wanted to write? Will you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
Thanks, it’s been very exciting putting this anthology together and launching Dark House Press.
I’ve loved to read and write for as long as I can remember. Dr. Seuss was one of those childhood wonders that just opened up your mind and imagination. I won a spelling bee in fifth grade, and a contest for most books read in sixth grade.
I read everything from the Hardy Boys to Judy Blume to Watership Down. I loved reading and writing in high school, as well as college. I read popular fiction like Stephen King and Dean Koontz, Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein, John Grisham and many others. In college I discovered the Beats. And it was after college that I got into more experimental authors such as Chuck Palahniuk, and other transgressives like Brett Easton Ellis, Craig Clevenger, Will Christopher Baer, and Stephen Graham Jones. But it wasn’t until I got my MFA, a few years ago, that I started to enjoy the literary voices, too, everyone from Denis Johnson and Mary Gaitskill to Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy to George Saunders and Haruki Murakami.
I’ve only been writing seriously for about six years now. I started taking classes when Craig Clevenger came to The Cult (the official Chuck Palahniuk website), which I discovered after the movie, Fight Club. I then took classes with Monica Drake, Max Barry, Jack Ketchum, and Stephen Graham Jones. Adding in my MFA lessons, and my background is pretty varied. But I’ve always been drawn to dark fiction.
Here are the new releases in SF, Fantasy, and Horror for May 2014.I’ve also included audiobook links where they apply. Enjoy!
May 6th, 2014:
Please give a warm welcome to Becky Masterman, whose novel, Rage Against the Dying, has been nominated for a 2014 Edgar Award! She was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the book, and keep an eye on this space, because they’ll be announcing the 2014 winners tomorrow night!
Congrats on the Edgar nomination for Best First Novel! Will you tell us a bit about RAGE AGAINST THE DYING?
The story is about an FBI agent named Brigid Quinn who retires to Tucson where she’s trying to fit into the civilian world while keeping her past a secret. As Brigid would put it, “No one likes a woman who knows how to kill with her bare hands.” But her effort to remain ‘undercover’ fails when a serial killer, who murdered the woman she was training, comes back to haunt her.
You have a background in theater, but have you always wanted to be a writer? What’s one of the first things you remember writing?
The thing I always wanted to be is a reader, but they frown on that if you do it all the time. So I played games of let’s pretend, like, “I have a container of magic sand and when I sprinkle it on the ground we’ll be transported back to the time of the dinosaurs.” The first thing I remember writing is a poem for my mother. She read it and burst into tears. I thought it was a wonderful thing, to move someone to tears.
I love that your protagonist is a 59 year old ex FBI Agent that kicks quite a bit of butt! It’s funny that you mention Helen Mirren in your bio, because I immediately thought of her character in Red. Will you tell us more about the wonderful Brigid Quinn?
I get a kick out of describing Brigid Quinn as a combination character: “Bruce Willis meets Dorothy Parker,” or “Jason Statham meets Sarah Jessica Parker.” She’s tough and vulnerable, a liar when convenient and brutally honest with herself, wise to the ways of evil-doers yet stymied when it comes to cooking a meal. She’s terribly clever and makes some impulsively knuckle-headed decisions. My greatest yearning is for her to make you laugh while she’s breaking your heart, and to help you understand you’re not alone.
Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire (DAW, May 6th,2014)-Rose Marshall died in 1952 at the tender age of 16, and she’s been haunting the highways and byways of America ever since, helping the new dead get where they need to go. It’s not a terrible afterlife…after all, when someone gives her a warm coat and a cup of coffee, she becomes flesh and blood, at least for a short time, and she can enjoy being among the living again. It may not be much, but she definitely doesn’t take a hot cheeseburger and crispy French fries for granted. Her hub is the Last Dance Diner, full of chrome, round edges, and shining upholstery; a throwback to the year she died, and a poignant reminder of when she was alive. The Last Dance is manned by Emma, a bean sidhe without a family to protect, and is a safe haven for Rose, and other hitchers like her. Unfortunately, Rose’s death wasn’t an accident, not exactly, and the man at the root of it, Bobby Cross, is still out there, preying on innocents. Rose has always wanted to stop Bobby, and she may soon get her chance, but at what cost?
I loved this book. I guess I could stop there, but… Sparrow Hill Road is told in first person by Rose and is alternately presented in present day and flashbacks, skipping through time as deftly as Rose falls through the layers of twilight on the ghostroads. Sparrow Hill Road isn’t one of those books that takes its protagonist, gives her/him a big problem to solve, and points them in the right direction, eyes on the prize and nothing else matters. Rather, Rose’s story is a somewhat meandering one, but that’s not a bad thing, because the stories she shares about her time, and her duty, on the ghostroads, are all necessary to who Rose has become by the end of the book. She’s definitely not that 16 year old girl anymore, and there’s a road weariness to her (rather appropriately) that only serves to highlight her aura of melancholy. That doesn’t mean Rose is unhappy. She’s not, and in fact, she takes a certain pleasure in her “job” and is rather frank about the things she can experience now that she, erm, never got to experience before her death. However, her memory of Gary, the boy she loved and planned to marry, is always with her, and carries a sadness all its own. For some context, Sparrow Hill Road takes place in the same “world” as Seanan McGuire’s Incryptid series and she’s created this wonderful ghost world where each spirit has its place, and some are better left alone, and a world where cars can become imbued with spirits, taking on a life of their own, which she uses to fantastic effect at the book’s conclusion.