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Friday, March 24, 2017

ALLIGATOR MAN—BILL CRIDER

 
ALLIGATOR MAN—BILL CRIDER

This is another interview where full disclosure is required. Bill Crider and I have been friends since our early days of mystery fandom and fanzines. We both broke into professional fiction writing in the mid-eighties, both in (different) men’s adventure series paperbacks published under pseudonyms. Since those days, we’ve continued our friendship through years of publishing successes under our own names, mystery conventions, tales of recreational running, and shared collecting obsessions...
********
If Bill Crider was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, what biographical details would accompany the fuzzy photo of you?
 
That fuzzy photo would probably have been taken in April 1970 when the student body at The University of Texas at Austin learned about the invasion of Cambodia. There was a huge rally on campus, and I was caught up in the middle of it because the English building was right next to the mall where a giant demonstration was held. I was outside the English building and headed for the mall to see what was going on, when every cop in Austin marched up in full riot gear. I heard later that snipers were stationed on state buildings on the street to the capitol in case students started marching in that direction with intent to riot. Helicopters chattered overhead. Good times, good times. As for the biographical details, “Born: Mexia (that’s Muh-HAY-uh), Texas, long ago. Nearsighted. Can read and write a little. Scrawny, but game.”
 
We’ve been friends for a long time, but I’ve never know the origin of the connection between Bill Crider and alligators, so now is the time to spill. How did it all start?
 
It all began with an article about books about alligators in the sewers I wrote for a fanzine—Andy Jaysnovitch’s, The Not-So Private-Eye. People liked the article, I guess, so they started sending me alligators and giving them to me at conventions. I have dozens of them now, the latest having just arrived from Cap’n Bob Napier only last week. It never ends.
 
Before we dig into your writing career, let’s talk about book collecting. What makes books important to you?
 
I first loved books because I loved reading, which somehow led me to loving books as physical objects. I didn’t want to let go of the ones I loved, so I didn’t. What I have is more of an accumulation, and it’s a lot of books. A lot.
 
How long have you been collecting?
 
Things started getting bad around 1966, when I decided I wanted all the first printings of John D. MacDonald’s paperback originals. They were easy enough to find in those days, and they led me to decide maybe I needed to collect crime and mystery paperback originals. Which led to, well...you know. 
 
How many genres do you collect? 
 
Mystery and crime, and SF to a lesser extent. And some sleaze. And some books just because of the covers. It’s a sickness, or as Nicholas Basbanes put it, a gentle madness.
 
What is the heart of your collection? 
 
I’d have to say my Harry Whittington set. I have just about every paperback he ever wrote, and I’m looking for the other two or three. They absolutely never turn up. I got many of the ones I own because Harry himself sent them to me many a year ago. He was a great guy.
 
How do you store and preserve the books?
 
They’re on my shelves, with no special care except a few are in bags. There’s not really much you can do to save paperbacks, which are slowly oxidizing themselves into oblivion. I’m just going to enjoy them now and let others worry about what happens to them after I’m gone.
 
What do you look for in a current book before adding it to your collection?
 
I do have a few current books, but mostly I buy them, read them, and send them on their way. Except for books by people I know, and that’s a lot of people. I even have hardbacks by people I know. Did I mention it’s a sickness?
 
Are there books you pass on to Friends of the Library or other sources, or all the books in your collection permanent additions?
 
I do pass on books to the local Friends for their ongoing book sale. I get a lot of review copies, and many of these go to the Friends after I’ve read them or at least looked them over. I occasionally pass on a book to someone I think I will enjoy it. That’s about it.
 
Your history with the men’s adventure genre began with one of the most iconic characters in the genre. How did the situation come about? 
 
The husband of a wife in a little writing group I was in said he thought we could write a Nick Carter book. He managed the local Allied Van Lines, and he said all the truck drivers were reading Nick Carter, which he described as James Bond for truck drivers. To make a very long story short, we did write one of the books and somehow managed to sell it. The editor loved it and wanted more, but by the time we’d done a couple of outlines, that editor was gone. The new editor wasn’t impressed and hired a several people (Bob Randisi was one of them, I think, and probably Bob Vardeman) to do a good many of the books around that time.
 
How did it influence your career?
 
Probably not much, other than letting me know I could write fiction an editor would buy. That’s important.
 
What were the lessons learned from your debut novel?
 
From the Nick Carter novel, not much. It was a thrill to see it in print, and I learned I loved the feeling of holding a book I’d written. I also learned editors don’t always stick around for long and a new editor might not like what a previous one liked. It’s as true now as it was then.
 
You also wrote three novels in the men’s adventure style series, The M.I.A. Hunter. What was the experience like and have you contributed to other ‘house name’ series to which you can contractually admit?
 
That was a great experience. Steve Mertz sent me an outline for each one, and I wrote the book based on it. Aside from that, I had all the freedom I could’ve wanted. I always tried to write the best book I could, no matter what genre, and I’m proud of the work I did on those. Steve may well have reworked the books, but I didn’t read them after publication, so I don’t know. My other house name work is all under the rose, although some of it’s no big secret, as anyone with access to Wikipedia can discover. 
 
You’re known as mystery writer, but you’ve also written a number of westerns and horror novels. How did you come to jump genres, and do you have a favorite?
 
When I started writing, I told my agent I’d always wanted to write a western. She said, “What are you waiting for?” So, I wrote several for M. Evans. Dell picked up two others (Outrage at Blanco and Texas Vigilante), and those have done very well in reprint from Brash Books. The horror novels came about the same way. I told my agent I had an idea for a horror novel, and she said, “What are you waiting for?” She sold four or five of them to Zebra, as by my Evil Twin pseudonym, Jack MacLane. My heart’s always been with the mystery field, though, and that’s where I’ve had the most success.
 
You’ve written a number of different mystery series. How did you come to diversify?
 
I discovered I had too many ideas for just one series, and I’d always wanted to write about the small-time academic world I inhabited. “What are you waiting for?” I really had fun writing those books. And I’d always loved private-eye novels. “What are you waiting for?” The Truman Smith series is dear to my heart, but readers didn’t agree, I guess. Thanks to my agent, who got me the job, I also got the chance to write a private-eye novel with Humphrey Bogart as a featured character. It’s one of my better books, though nobody has heard of it—We’ll Always Have Murder is the title.
 
What is your process when beginning a new book? Is it different for different books?
 
I just sit down and start writing. That’s the way it’s been for just about every book. So far it’s worked out for me.
 
When asked, what advice do you share about writing and what do you think has the most impact?
 
I don’t know what has any impact, but my advice is the same all the time, a variation on the advice of the great Robert A. Heinlein: You have to write, you have to write every day, and you have to submit what you write. I don’t know if anybody ever listens to me.
 
What was a book you loved as a child?
 
There are many. Mother Goose and Dr. Seuss were big favorites because I love rhyme and rhythm. And then there were the Bobbsey Twins, Bomba the Jungle Boy, John Carter of Mars, the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew...There seems to be a theme here—mystery and adventure. I haven’t changed a bit.
 
What were the books you read to your children? 
 
That was mostly Judy’s job. I was the one who’d lie in the floor in their bedrooms after they were put to bed and make up stories to tell them. Cubby the Bear was a big favorite.
 
What book made you want to be a writer?
 
Just about everything I ever read. I really wanted to be Raymond Chandler and Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner, but that didn’t work out.
 
What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?
 
Tie between The Maltese Falcon and The Big Sleep.
 
What book would you like to see as a movie?
 
Anything I’ve written would suit me just fine.
 
What imaginary place from a book would you want to live?
 
Barsoom.
 
*If you don't know where Barsoom is look it up immediately. You've got some great reading ahead...
 
What genre would you read if you were limited to one?
 
Probably mysteries. Those are what I read most of, anyway.
 
Is there a book you’ve returned to again and again?
 
Anything by Ross Thomas and Alistair MacLean. I’ve read Catch-22 probably more times than any other. Catcher in the Rye is right up there, along with a few others.
 
What fictional character(s) would you like to have a beer with?
 
Hap and Leonard.
 
*Two outrageous characters created by Joe R. Lansdale...
 
What was the last novel to make you laugh?
 
Joe R. Lansdale’s Rusty Puppy, just a week or so ago.
 
What was the last novel to make you cry? 
 
It’s been a while. Probably The Fault in our Stars. I’m a big John Green fan.
 
What are you reading now?
 
The Soak by Patrick McLean.
 
What is currently keeping you working at the keyboard?
 
I’m working on what may well be the final Sheriff Dan Rhodes novel, working title That Old Scoundrel Death.
********
Thx, Bill for taking a turn in the interrogation room. I appreciate your friendship and humor...Be sure to take care of those VBKs (Very Bad Kittens), or are they taking care of you?
 
FOR MORE ON BILL CRIDER AND THE VBKs CLICK HERE

 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WRITERS AND FIGHTERS

WRITERS AND FIGHTERS
 
In a straightforward world, boxing is boxing. From the view of a romantic, however, it’s the sweet science. And for those with a more hardboiled twist, it’s the fight racket, prizefighting, or the train to Palookaville...For writers, it’s the Golden Fleece.
 
There is a cinematic lyricism inherent in boxing, which has spoken to the souls of uncountable scribes since the early Greeks first began throwing fists at one another. Writers who have never thrown a punch, and those who have both given and taken their share of fists to the face, have found their true muse in boxing’s gladiatorial clashes.
 
But there is something more tying writers to fighters—fighting is writing and writing is fighting...A writer’s blank page is his ring, words are his punches, tone and intonation are his footwork, re-writing and re-writing are the miles and miles of roadwork and sit-ups, the bell is the deadline, the blood on the page is the blood on the canvas...and the sweat is the sweat in both professions.
 
Fighters are taught to punch through their opponents to knock them out, while writers strive to break through a reader’s cynicism and turn his world upside down. And while untold symphonies of words have been used to capture the drama of real world bouts, it is in the world of fiction where writers have taken the metaphoric spirit of boxing and delivered the knockout punch.
 
The fight fiction genre has become an integral part of our cultural history—especially when economic times have been as tough as the characters in a fight fiction tale. I have long been fascinated by the history of fight fiction and those writers who have used it to create stories going far beyond the big fight finish of most boxing tales.
 
Even before the explosion of fight fiction in the pulps of the ‘30s and ‘40s, Jack London was penning fight stories for the masses, such as his classics A Piece of Steak and The Abysmal Brute. Feeding the need of the everyman to rise above his daily struggle for survival through vicarious fight entertainment, London’s fight tales were devoured.
 
London learned to box by sparring with his friend Jim Whitaker, and his love of the sport never waned. Wherever his wanderings took him, London always had a pair of boxing gloves, always ready to mix it up with any challenger. Most often, however, London’s regular sparring partner was his wife, Charmian Kittredge, with whom he routinely boxed at home. 
 
Even on his sloop Snark, travelling to the Solomon Islands, or on the Tymeric from Sydney, Australia, to Ecuador, or the Dirgo from Baltimore to Seattle in 1912, Jack and Charmain would put on their bathing suits and square off for an hour of sparring before throwing buckets of salt water on one another. Because he couldn’t strike back against Charmain as he would against another man, London developed an almost impenetrable defense, making him more than a challenge for any man he toed the line against. London hated bullfighting and hunting, considering them without any sporting interest. However, the specific mano-a-mano science of boxing fascinated him. He always tried to attend professional fights as a reporter in order to secure a ringside seat. 
 
In 1905, he wrote one of his most highly regarded fight stories, The Game, which was serialized in Metropolitan Magazine. The story caused a clamor when critics claimed the story’s conclusion was over-the-top as a fighter could not be killed by hitting his head on the canvas. London’s reply was a claim to have seen it happen in the West Oakland Athletic Club. Eventually, lightweight champion of the world, Jimmy Britt, settled things in the San Francisco Examiner when he was quoted as saying, “With...nothing more to guarantee me he knows The Game than his description of his fictional prize-fight, I would, if he were part of our world, propose or accept him as referee of my impending battle with Nelson."
 
During the height of the pulp era on the ‘30s and ‘40s, Robert E. Howard was another writer who banged out fight stories while also engaging in the pugilistic arts. Even though as a child he was bookish and intellectual, in his teen years he took up bodybuilding before eventually entering the ring as an amateur boxer. 
 
The first heyday of fight fiction , however, came in the American pulps from the turn of the 20th century through their final issues in the 1950’s. While the sports pulps have not become as collectable as the hero pulps or the detective pulps, there were at least fifty sport pulp titles available monthly during their zenith—and their pages were filled with fistic action. 
 
Two pulp magazines in particular, Fight Stories and Knockout published nothing but fight fiction during their run on the newsstands. Jack Dempsey’s Fight Magazine was another, but it only had a short run. Fight Stories often featured tales staring Sailor Steve Costigan, the lovable, hard-fisted, and innocent semi-pro pugilist who regularly squared-off against dastardly villains in exotic ports of call.  Created by Robert E. Howard, the Sailor Steve Costigan stories have endured to become the standard of the genre and are still readily available. 
 
Best known as the creator of Conan The Barbarian, Solomon Kane, and other sword and sorcery characters, Howard had a lifelong interest in boxing, attending fights and avidly following the careers of his favorite fighters. During the height of the pulp era, he banged out numerous fight stories claiming to considered his fictional fight tales—especially The Iron Man, and the adventures of Sailor Steve Costigan—as among the best of his works. Howard wrote more stories about Costigan and his pugilistic ilk than any of his more famous fantasy series characters. His boxing tales and the hundreds of other two-fisted pulp yarns helped a generation of readers to fight through the Great Depression and the tough years to follow.
 
 
 
 
During the ‘50s, the printed tales of fight fiction gave way to a wider appreciation of live bouts. Television brought those fights into American living rooms for all to see. However, as the public became jaded by the scandal of fight fixing and the real life encroachment of organized crime into the fight game, a new realism in fight fiction wrapped its hands with tape and pulled on battered leather gloves illegally loaded with lead.
 
Published in 1958, The Professional written by W. C. Heinz cast a harsh reflection of the seedy circus-like atmosphere of boxing with its assorted hangers-on, crooked promoters, and jaded journalists. With his lean sentences, rough-and-ready dialogue, dry wit, and you-are-there style, Heinz brilliantly used the cynical eyes of fictional sports writer Frank Hughes to recount the trials of middleweight Eddie Brown and his crusty trainer, Doc Carroll, as Brown prepares for a championship fight. Heinz’ novel is still as revered today as it was when Hemingway—himself an amateur pugilist and teller of fight stories such as Fifty Grand and A Matter of Colour—declared it the only good novel about a fighter I've read and an excellent novel in its own right
 
Movies also reflected the public’s growing disenchantment with boxing in the ‘50s. Humphrey Bogart’s final screen appearance in 1956’s The Harder They Fall—based on Budd Schulberg’s 1947 novel—dramatizes a thinly disguised account of the real life boxing scandal involving champion Primo Carnera. Bogart's character, Eddie Willis, was based on the career of boxing writer and event promoter Harold Conrad. The book and film pulled no punches, showing brutal and brutish fight scenes coupled with the cynical and humiliating treatment of fighters by those surrounding them—which further reflected the middle class workers’ own feelings of punitive treatment by upper management.
 
Finally, in 1969, the noir edge of fight stories was capped with the publication of Fat City. Written by Leonard Gardner, Fat City, set in the small-time boxing circuit of Stockton, California in the late ‘50s, became an acclaimed film from director John Houston in 1972. As in The Professional and The Harder They Fall, the message of Fat City was a harsh metaphor for the impossibility of a public striving to get ahead while surrounded by forces determined to derail them at every turn.
 
As the ‘70s progressed, however, the public became primed for a change. Unlike prior generations, this change in popular entertainment would not be tied to the socio-economic factors of the day. Instead, a blurring of the lines of fact and fiction—especially in the world of boxing—was occurring as the hyper embellishments of celebrity were inflicted upon larger popular culture as a whole.
 
 
In boxing, the anger, power, and sheer showmanship of Muhammad Ali—the man who would become boxing’s greatest ambassador—had revitalized the public’s fervor for ring action. Ali’s larger than life, love-me-or-hate-me-I’m-still-the-greatest personality overshadowed the ever darkening machinations of the trademark spiky-haired head and grasping fingers of promoter Don King.
 
In 1971, Joe Frazier fought Ali in a bout hyped as The Fight of the Century. Frazier prevailed over Ali, who was returning to boxing after being suspended for three years for his refusal to obey the draft. The defeat sent Ali on a quest, fighting contender after pretender to the heavyweight throne in an attempt to obtain another title shot.
 
The Rumble in the Jungle in 1974, pitted then world Heavyweight champion George Foreman against former world champion and challenger Muhammad Ali. This fight, coupled a year later with The Thrilla in Manila (the climax of the bitter rivalry between Ali and Frazier) returned boxing to the world stage like nothing before. Norman Mailer's bestselling non-fiction work, The Fight, documented The Greatest Fight of the Greatest Life with all the power of a great fictional narrative. This revered work ushered in an era of self-involved journalism, which laid the ground work preparing the public for a little film that could go the distance...Rocky
 
Rocky detailed the winning underdog story of a fighter who only wanted to go the distance—an achievable, if difficult, goal believed in and desired by the everyman of the day in his everyday mundane life, However, the film’s real world inception and creation was an underdog story to rival its fight fiction, pulp-style, plot. Sylvester Stallone was inseparable from his onscreen persona as he fought for his screenplay and starring role against all studio odds—and then went the distance as Rocky would go on to win three Oscars, including Best Picture. Rocky and its (eventually) five sequels were hits and misses with the critics, but not with the public. The average Joe began to see the hype of the real world fights and fictional movie fireworks as almost one and the same. Fight stories were back in the public eye in a big way.
 
In 2000, fight fiction morphed again with the publication of the pseudonymous F. X. Toole’s, Rope Burns: Stories From The Corner. Each story in the collection was a gem. But unlike the tales populating the fight pulps of old, the stories in Rope Burns gave a whole new human face to the world of boxing, a deeper meaning—all leading to the brilliant Best Picture Oscar winning film Million Dollar Baby, based on several stories from the collection. Rope Burns proved to the wider public, yet again, what fans of fight fiction have always known—the world of the sweet science, at its best, has always been a reflection of what it means to be human, what it means to struggle, what it means to be hit in the face with the daily and millennial challenge of survival as individuals, as families, and finally as a race.
 
In the new millennium, the economy has struggled again. Today, the ever exploding popularity of mixed martial arts tournaments (MMA) has brought the fighting arts back to the forefront of the public consciousness. In MMA, the everyman sees in the caged octagon his own incarceration, its brutality a blow against the state of the world—the stark struggle to survive in a time and place where the rules have change, where the action is faster, more violent, and yet possessed of a choreographed beauty.
 
Simultaneously, the thirst for fight stories has increased, as shown by the popularity and critical acclaim for such MMA-themed novels as Suckerpunch by Jeremy Brown, The Longshot by Katie Kitamura, Choke Hold by Christa Faust, and many more. Traditional boxing novels are flourishing. Every Time I Talk To Liston and Las Vegas Soul by Brian DeVido; Pound For Pound, F. X. Toole’s posthumously finished novel; Waiting for Carver Boyd by Thomas Hauser; and many, many, more continue to tell the tale of the tape and the story of the squared circle.
 
 
My love of fight fiction and my own writing career eventually squared off in 2012. Together with fellow scribe Mel Odom, we created the Fight Card series of 25,000 word novelettes designed to capture the feel of the fight fiction tales of the pulp era for a new generation. By the end of 2016, the Fight Card series had published fifty tightly plotted tales of fistic mayhem from 45 of the most promising writers working today. Set in the gangster era of the 1920s through the noir-filled streets of the ‘50s and on to the gaged violence of MMA, Fight Card has provided inspiring, entertaining, stories of tough guys caught in tough spots with nothing but their fists, wits, and fighting nature to battle against the odds.
 
The best fight fiction has boxing (or other fighting styles) at the beating heart of each narrative and provides the resolution through which each conclusion is reached. Great fight fiction is about character—the individual’s journey into darkness and back to the light. It inspires our character and our journeys. It makes us believe we can endure our own darkness until the light breaks through again.
 
I savor fight fiction because, as a reader and a writer, it brings my imagination alive. It makes me want to stand up and cheer. It elevates me beyond the ordinary and takes me into a world of one man's determination and skill pitted against another in the brutal ballet danced in ring or cage. No matter the time period or the style of fighting involved, it gives me the vicarious experience of being in the ring against an overwhelming opponent, yet with the resolve to never, never, go down for the count—something I never get tired of feeling.

THE CZAR OF ACTION NOIR ~ ERIC BEETNER


THE CZAR OF ACTION NOIR ~ ERIC BEETNER
 
If you want pistol-whipping, boot-stomping, nasty noir, then Eric Beetner is the guy for you—or his books anyway...Eric himself is wonderful blend of kind and cool...He’s the quick-fisted presence behind two of the best Fight Card novels—Split Decision and A Mouthful Of Blood—with his work since exploding across the hardboiled mystery scene. Rumrunners, Leadfoot, The Devil Doesn’t Want Me, When The Devil Comes To Call, and his upcoming The Devil At Your Door are just a few of the tough, noir influenced works Eric has published to critical acclaim...As part of an ongoing series of blog posts, I’ve asked the Eric to give us a personal look into the reading habits of writers...
 
Do you mark or write in your books as you read, or does the idea horrify you?
 
In novels, yes the idea horrifies me. What monster would do that? Now, in reference books it’s another story. Specifically I have several film books where I check off films I’ve seen in genres like Film Noir and Our Gang shorts. I’m sure if you ever investigated my office those books would seem like the obsessive ticks of a madman.
 
How do you keep your place in a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
 
I’m a bookmark guy and the great thing about them is that you can make anything into a bookmark. An old receipt. A scrap of paper. A dollar bill. A gum wrapper. A losing lottery ticket. An old photo. Seriously, I’m an artist at repurposing things into bookmarks.
 
Do you have a favorite snack to eat while you read? 
 
I do 90% of my reading while at my lunch break at work so I’m usually covered for eating and reading. The two really do go hand in hand for me. The mark of a good book is if it has multiple stains in it from curry or ketchup or soup.
 
What book did you love as a child?
 
One I really remember is called The Great Cheese Conspiracy. It’s about a gang of mice who live in an old movie house watching old gangster films and get inspired to rob the cheese shop next door. I think it inspired my love of crime fiction at a young age.
 
What book you would read to your kids?
 
Another favorite from childhood I had the pleasure to read to my girls is The Phantom Tollbooth. My girls are reading on their own now so this is close to the last book they let me read to them, but it is such an important book to me. I had to share it with them. 
 
What book made you want to be a writer?
 
I think the one that turned the tide and made me want to commit to crime fiction was A Simple Plan by Scott Smith. Before that I was more omnivorous as a reader, but that solidified the types of stories I like best.
 
Do you read mostly fiction or nonfiction or an even mix?
 
Mostly fiction, but I listen to audiobooks during my commute and I like a good nonfiction listen. Entertainment biographies or histories like Lost In Shangri-La or Frozen In Time, two I can highly recommend.
 
Do you always read to the end of a chapter or can you stop anywhere?
 
Always to the end. I write like that too. I need to finish a thought before I leave off from the night. Not sure what that says about me.
 
Do you stop reading to look up unfamiliar words?
 
I will, but luckily I don’t encounter that too often. I guess I need to read more challenging books.
 
How do you organize your books—by genre, title, author’s last name, random stacks?
 
By author for the new stuff. I have a huge rack of vintage paperbacks arranged by title since so many are by a single author and I usually know them by the cover and title so if I go searching for something I’m more likely to find it by title.
 
What is your favorite classic?
 
Oh, man, making me choose! I do my best to read the classics of crime. I know I have a long way to go, but my favorite for now might be The Hot Spot by Charles Williams. It was originally titled Hell Hath No Fury when it came but the movie title is how it is republished today. But ask me again in 5 minutes and I’ll switch to something else like The Kiss Off or The Big Steal or Rendezvous In Black or Double Indemnity or…or…or…
 
What classic have you never been able to read?
 
Maybe Crime and Punishment? But to be honest I haven’t tried that hard. I know better than to try some classic detective fiction like Agatha Christie because I know it’s just not my thing.
 
What classic have you pretended to read?
 
I never pretend. I’ll cop to not reading something every time. Talented Mr. Ripley is one I’ve never read but probably should. I own it. Just never read it.
 
What is the last book you read?
 
Justice by Larry Watson. It’s a prequel to his novel Montana, 1948 and it was great. Watson is a bit of a departure for me in that they aren’t really crime novels (though some dark things happen in them) but I absolutely love his writing.
 
What is the last book you bought?
 
I bought The House Husband by Duane Swierczynski and some guy named James Patterson. It’s part of the Bookshots novella series and it’s great. Also a novel, The Neon Lights Are Veins by Nolan Knight, a local LA writer who we’ve had read at Noir at the Br. It’s his debut novel and I’m excited to dive in.
 
Do you read one book from start to finish, or do you have several on the go?
 
I usually have an at-work book, an at-home book and an in-the-car audiobook. I’m between audiobooks right now waiting for the next one come free at the library. In that case I listen to podcasts.
 
Do you have a favorite time/place to read?
 
Midday at whatever restaurant I’m in. I’m good to go almost anywhere though, except a moving car. I’ll barf in two minutes flat.
 
Do you prefer series books or standalones?
 
Generally I like standalones, but I’ve come around to more series. Most of my favorite books when I look back at it are standalone, though. 
 
What book to movie adaptation have you loved?
 
Back to A Simple Plan. They really nailed it.
 
What book would you like to see as a movie?
 
Well, any of mine, of course. I’d like to see Gun Monkeys by Victor Gischler. With the right cast, it could be a lot of fun.
 
What imaginary place would you like to live?
 
It’s far away enough to be imaginary and mythical in my mind, but I’d love to have lived and worked in Hollywood in the 1940s. A great time for film.
 
What genre would you read if you were limited to one?
 
Hardboiled crime fiction
 
What book have you returned to again and again?
 
I don’t re-read very much, but when I even think of it I always want to start with Wild At Heart by Barry Gifford.
 
Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
 
I think people must be getting sick of me pushing Jake Hinkson on them. His novels are amazing noir done right. Hell On Church St. and No Tomorrow are modern classics in my eyes. I keep a small stack of novels that are doubles of titles I already own and love. If I see one in a Goodwill or a dollar bookstore I’ll grab it just to have it to give away to someone. In that stack now are Small Crimes by Dave Zeltserman, Twisted City by Jason Starr, A Very Simple Crime by Grant Jerkins, The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain. I just sent a copy of The Terror Of Living by Urban Waite to a friend in Chicago. I love sharing a good book!
 
What was the last novel to make you laugh and the last to make you cry?
 
Martin Short’s autobiography I Must Say was fantastic. Do the audiobook to get the full effect. In a way it had the funniest and some of the saddest parts of a book so you get both in one volume. 
 
What fictional character would you like to have a beer with? 
 
Oh, man, I’ll say the Amlingmeyer brothers from Steve Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range series. Or Hap and Leonard from Joe Lansdale’s series. Both pairs get into a lot of trouble though, so you’d have to watch your back.
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Eric’s latest book, When The Devil Comes To Call, continues the adventures of aging hitman Lars and Shaine, the high spirited daughter of one of Lar’s targets who has more mayhem in one fist than most men in their entire bodies. The final book in the trilogy The Devil At Your Door will be published in April...Also look for Leadfoot the sequel to his great hillbilly noir Rumrunners...
 
For more books by Eric Beetner CLICK HERE