Friday, December 21, 2007


The pleasure's all mine.

Been blogging with my compatriots down at Killer Year near about a year now. The lot of us are scribes of noir, thriller, crime. A ragged bunch. But the Killer Year is winding down. Sure, we've got an ass-kicker of an antho dropping first thing 2008: Killer Year: Stories to Die For. It'll be our collective legacy. We've got our solo careers to sow. We've got to make it on our own.

So here's this blog, all me. Don't ask why because I don't know. Things to say from time to time and nobody to say them to. I contented myself at Killer Year with once-a-month essays of sorts. It's the academic in me. But round here I won't burn myself out on long-winded musings. Quick jabs, maybe. The occasional autopsy.

So who the hell am I? My book Pyres came out this year from St. Martin's Minotaur. Blurbs from Joyce Carol Oates, Marcus Sakey, Ken Bruen, Wendy Brenner, Duane Swierczynski.
Great reviews from Kirkus, Pub Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist. Not to mention sweet reviews from such luminary rags as the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Omaha World Herald, and the Wilmington Star-News. Book's about a punky teenage girl Luc who's life gets upended when she witnesses her dad's murder. The crime gets the poor kid all mixed up with some dangerous folks who maybe want to see more of her family go down. Up to Luc and police detective Greta Hurd to keep things from going up in flames. Or not. It's got bits of police procdural, noir, and even some fabulist turns for the literary types. Takes place in Rochester, NY and surrounding environs, my own wintery teenage haunts.

Grew up outside Rochester, went to school at a SUNY, then down to Wilmington, NC for my MFA in creative writing. Wilmington's on the beach, beaut weather, but my mind drifted back to the cold and dark and I invented a place called Hammersport. Western, New York. Amalgam of Brockport and some other Erie Canal towns. Hammersport's been home base for all my published short stories and for the debut novel, too. Said stories have popped up in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, The Ontario Review, Chelsea and The Pedestal Magazine.

Down in Atlanta now, chipping away at a PhD because I can't seem to get my fill of the hallowed halls of academe. Writing novel two on the sly, crawling inside a woman's head yet again. Some say write what you know, but fuck it: write what you're desparate to undestand (somebody else said that first, can't remember who). Fall on your ass maybe, but you've got the "transport of the aim," as Dickinson said. Emily's a woman to strive to understand. She'll slice your soul up. Try this Dickinson quip:

"I shall know why--when Time is over--
and I have ceased to wonder why--
Christ will explain each separate anguish
In the fair schoolroom of the sky."

I'm a sucker for great poets: Ms. Dickinson, Thomas Hardy, G.M. Hopkins, Philip Larkin, and my man John Berryman who supplies the quotation affixed to the front of this blog in "A Sympathy, A Welcome." Poem writ in 1958 on the occasion of the birth ("fall") of Berryman's son Paul:

"Feel for your bad fall how could I fail,
poor Paul, who had it so good.
I can offer you only: this world like a knife.
You'll get to know your mother
and humourless as you do look you will laugh
and all the others
will NOT be fierce to you, and loverhood
will swing your soul like a broken bell
deep in the forsaken woods, poor Paul,
while wild bad father loves you well."

It's that splice of noir and heart that slays me, every time. Berryman, you know, threw himself off a bridge when the knife-world stabbed too hard at him. Not a tale for the festive season, but few true stories fit the bill. If you're looking for answers, I got only questions here, dear.

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