Saturday, March 27, 2010


Can a magazine change your life?
Arguably, one changed mine.
Few years back, I was losing the faith on fiction writing and kind of drifted away from it for a time.
On a whim, I decided to try and score an interview with James Ellroy who was then touring for THE COLD SIX THOUSAND.
It was spring of 2001...a different world in some ways.
I heard about this new magazine called Crime Factory...made pitch to the man behind it, David Honeybone, to give him a version of the Ellroy article. He accepted and shot back a wish list of other writers he'd love to have interviewed.
It went like that. The Factory led me back to crime fiction...kind of kick-started me writing my own stuff again.
I wrote a review or two, gave Crime Factory — an Australian-based, slick crime magazine — a slew of author interviews.
And I had this running correspondence with David. One day, I got a note: "Find everything you can by Ken Bruen, now. He's the real thing."
It was the first time I'd heard that name.
Couple of months later, another note: "Bruen's coming to New York. Try and get to him."
That took some effort. Some folks in his own publishing house were too new to Bruen to know what they had on their hands. But I got the interview and put the first article out there in the American press about the Pope of Galway Bay.
At some point, as too often happens with labors of love that become real work, David made the decision to close down the Factory. It was an understandable, if bittersweet, choice.
I went on my way...eventually sold a novel.
The Factory remained a great memory.
Then, this guy in Arizona named Rawson, and some intrepid associates, got this hankering to reopen the Factory...grease the cogs, clear out the debris and sweep off the cobwebs.
Crimefactory, v.2, is now up and running, and issue 2 is freshly available in a variety of media.
Somewhere in there, among the short fiction pieces and appreciations of carnival noir kingpin Bill Gresham (a personal favorite I wrote about late last year for Crimespree), is an interview Charlie Stella and me conducted with one another. I'm talking about PRINT THE LEGEND. Charlie's talking about his new one — his first historical crime novel and a 2010 must-read.
You can check out the new issue of Crime Factory here.

There's still a couple of days to win a signed copy of the first edition of PRINT THE LEGEND over at Lesa's Book critiques. Details here.
I'll be announcing another contest later this evening that will give you chance to win a signed copy of the hardcover edition of ROGUE MALES. To my memory, I've never signed a hardcover of that particular book, so this will be rarity in the extreme.

The Nerd of Noir gives a decidedly blue thumbs-up to PRINT THE LEGEND over at Spinetingler Magazine. Definitely not a workplace friendly take on the novel. He ends his review hoping for a Hemingway-free next book. Well...
As noted earlier this week, what I've been talking up as the next novel, a World War II Lassiter told in HEAD GAMES-like first-person POV, has been pushed back.

It's a decision I initiated and supported.
The next novel will cast back to February 1924 and Left Bank Paris. Unlike the decades jumping that occurs in the first three novels, this one unfolds in seven consecutive days in a Paris winter. It's the book I wrote immediately after TOROS & TORSOS and I view those two as companion novels.
So, sorry, Nerd, but Hemingway is in that book as Lassiter's sidekick (the last book in which Hemingway appears). But this next one is very Hector-centric. It's the novel in which we see Hector become Hector and the writer we've come to know. Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Ford Maddox Ford, Syliva Beach, Crowley. Blood cults and and treacherously triangular affairs.
And a certain British mystery writer named Quartermain first introduced in a short story called "The Last Interview."
That novel's coming winter 2011.
And, because I'm seemingly feeling in a contest-y mood, a copy of the TOROS & TORSOS limited hardcover edition to the first person who correctly guesses the title of Lassiter #4. Hint: It's a turn of phrase that's become strongly associated with Hector.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Doug Moe has penned a great column on TOUCH OF EVIL: the film directed by Orson Welles (based on "Whit Masteron's" novel BADGE OF EVIL) and the great song of the same name written by singer/songwriter Tom Russell (appearing on his sublime album, BORDERLAND.)

It's not much secret I'm a Tom Russell fan. I've written a lot of prose while listening to his music. A rare print interview with Russell — who actually penned a crime novel a few years ago — is featured in my collection of author interviews, ROGUE MALES.

I also dedicated HEAD GAMES to Russell, as Moe notes in his piece on the comparative beauties of the Welles film — generally regarded as the last great piece of American film noir — and Russell's ballad that uses the film as a metaphor for male/female love/friction.

Check out Moe's piece here, and, if you're in the vicinity, plan on taking in Orson's film.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Been making these regular runs to Ann Arbor going on sixteen years. The past two years, however, it's been much harder to squeeze in a run up north.

This past Saturday, I visited Aunt Agatha's in that city up there — a bookstore I've visited countless times as a patron — but this time as a signing author.

More than a bit surreal, that experience. Had similar feelings at Westerville's Foul Play a few weeks back: another bookstore I've visited for, well, decades, but as a reader/collector.

Very pleased to say that Aunt Agatha's is in fine shape and I'm very grateful to Robin and Jamie for hosting a great event. Also heartfelt thanks to those who came, and to co-signer Mark Terry whose new novel is THE FALLEN. Do check it out.

Apart from below's HEAD GAMES-style display at Aunt Agatha's, behold this shot of Robin with the store's vintage Pocket Books display...the stuff collectors' dreams are made of.

I've always enjoyed my sorties to Ann Arbor: a good walking town...a great bookstore town.

Apart from the wonderful Aunt Agatha's, Dawn Treader and the West Side Book Shop were right were I left them. Books from their shelves line my shelves. A couple of other frequent bookstore haunts are still there, but have moved to new environs.

On the other hand, Shaman Drum's passing has left a big empty downtown there in the smile of State Street.

I knew before I headed up, of course, that bookstore had closed, but it was still depressing to see that Big Empty across from The Red Hawk — a favorite dining destination on each run to the Kindom of the Wolverines.

It was Shaman Drum that hosted James Ellroy on the two occasions I drove north to see/interview him — the last time for THE COLD SIX THOUSAND interview that appears in my book, ART IN THE BLOOD. It was at Shaman, in an upstairs office space, I also interviewed the great Alistair MacLeod.

Now the store is gone, gone, gone....

I've pretty much reconciled myself to the closings of a lot of favorite dining and entertainment venues in the throes of this so-called "Great Recession," but bookstore closings still go down hard and thick.

This weekend was, also, the theoretical wind-down of the road-heavy PRINT THE LEGEND tour, although I am in talks to add one or two more weekend events before the end of April. Stay tuned: having worked the west, it seems time to head at least a bit easterly....

In the meantime, if you're looking for signed copies of PRINT THE LEGEND, you might still find a few in Houston at Murder by the Book, in Austin at BookPeople, in Arizona at Poisoned Pen, and in Michigan at Aunt Agatha's. (The latter also has signed copies of HEAD GAMES, TOROS & TORSOS and ROGUE MALES).

They may even have a few copies left of the now nearly depleted limited edition chapbook containing the short story "COLT" in which Hector Lassiter crosses paths with a famous, Ohio-born writer whose larger-than-life legend ended in mystery somewhere in the Borderlands early last century.

Next Saturday I'll be stopping back by Foul Play in Westerville, Ohio to sign more editions of PRINT THE LEGEND for those who didn't get copies when supplies ran out.

Signing off with an image of a Terry/McDonald cake. More on this craaazzzy confection here.