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Ray Banks, Megan Powell, Gerald So, Sarah Weinman

Sunday, January 9, 2005


Ray Banks
Aldo Calcagno
Al Guthrie
Harry Hunsicker
Graham Powell
Megan Powell
Bryon Quertermous
Gerald So
Duane Swierczynski
Bob Tinsley
Sarah Weinman
Dave White
Jim Winter

Dave White: This is a question for both Banks and Gerald. How do you guys go about writing a story? What is your process for short fiction?

Ray Banks: Fuckin' hell, you couldn't have started with something a little easier? Ummm. Normally, it's a short story if I can't turn it into a book. And if I don't think it's strong enough.

Megan Powell: So in other words, Ray's shorts are all crap. :)

Dave White: Like do you start with a line... a scene, a character? Stuff like that... do you plan the whole thing out or just write. That's what I mean.

Gerald So: I read a lot to decide what type of story I want to do. Then I do a freewrite longhand, which leads to a more disciplined draft at the computer. I start usually with a line.

Ray Banks: "Barry" was originally written because I was sick of writing whiny Innes, and I wanted this new guy to be the anti-Innes. Plus, I hadn't really written anything about Newcastle. The original draft didn't have Barry in it at all. It was all narrated by the rent boy, who was dying of syphillis.

Megan Powell: Not necessarily the best way to get away from whiny, I guess.

Dave White: hmm. cool.

Ray Banks: And yeah, a line can sometimes do it. "He's got more varieties of nob-rot than they have names for..."

Gerald So: My line was, "Tom Gregory stood outside his sister's door, index finger frozen half an inch from the bell."

Graham Powell: "knob rot", ha.

Aldo Calcagno: Ray, I was reading Bob's review of Barry. Was he right? Was the ending different than it seemed?

Ray Banks: I don't know. I can't remember what he said. I thought it was reasonably clear, though - crazy one-legged lady kills her ex-fiance.

Dave White:

Gerald So: Thanks, Dave.

Sarah Weinman: But it's amazing what spin can be put on things by others--just goes to show the writer doesn't always realize what's going on.

Dave White: Yeah that is cool.

Ray Banks: I very rarely know what's going on. Generally.

Sarah Weinman: same here

Gerald So: Right. I try to go for multiple interpretations without being too cloudy.

Sarah Weinman: Just had another "duh!" moment with the mss yesterday.

Megan Powell: One you're writing or reading?

Sarah Weinman: This is for Gerald and Megan, as editors, since I've been thinking about this generally--at what point in a submission do you know you're going to accept or reject? Is it instinctive, say first sentence or paragraph, or does it take longer?

Dave White: ooh, good question.

Ray Banks: She's thought about this, you can tell.

Gerald So: Usually takes longer. I may even read it twice before I decide. But yes, if the writing is polished, that's a plus.

Megan Powell: For the majority of stories it's a pretty quick decision. Either it's just not clicking for me, or it's utter crap.

Dave White: And those are the ones they accept. Hai yooo.

Megan Powell: For the rest, it's tougher. Sometimes I have to set a story aside, step back from what I think I would've done as a writer, or what I expected as a reader, and see if what's actually in the story works. And then sometimes there's just the space issue. I've had to cultivate a "Look for reasons to reject" attitude since I only have 24 slots a year.

Gerald So: Right.

Sarah Weinman: same here, Megan--it sounds terrible to say, but usually I know within the first line or two.

Sarah Weinman: And sometimes a story really just doesn't feel right, even if on the surface everything works. I've had a number of those, they just didn't grab me for whatever reason.

Gerald So: Hmm, maybe I should be pickier.

Megan Powell: Yeah, Gerald, because TD publishes such crap.

Gerald So: Ow.

Ray Banks: HEY!

Sarah Weinman: haha

Graham Powell: snark attack.

Gerald So: Go ahead, Graham. Please...

Megan Powell: I mean, really, all these years and only one abortive Edgar nod? What sort of place are you guys running?

Dave White: Okay, now it's uncomfy.... :-)

Gerald So: I'm workin' on it. I'm workin on it...

Graham Powell: Well, Ray answered my original question, so I'll ask Gerald one.

Ray Banks: It's because the Edgars are anti-British, that's why. Ahem.

Harry Hunsicker: Speaking of Edgars . . .does anybody know when the nominations will be announced?

Sarah Weinman: First week in Feb, as usual, Harry.

Harry Hunsicker: Thanks.

Graham Powell: Did the brother *want* to kill the boyfriend at the end of "Home"?

Gerald So: Hmm...good question...

Graham Powell: Maybe subconsciously?

Gerald So: I would say no, but he knew he would have to.

Sarah Weinman: I just sort of saw it as an inevitable action, too.

Gerald So: Tom is a guy trying not to be angry or violent.

Graham Powell: Yeah, but if he didn't want to, he could have gotten the tapes some other way.

Dave White: Tom Gregory reminded me of a more reclusive Jack Reacher.

Megan Powell: I wondered what would've happened if the boyfriend had just been an okay guy.

Graham Powell: Then there's no story!

Sarah Weinman: No, then there's a different story.

Gerald So: Yes, I liked the way the story turned out. Any other possibilities, and I might have been stumped. Kidding of course.

Gerald So: Go ahead, Dave.

Dave White: Just a question about editing, for the three of them. It sort of ties in with the other editing question. When do you decide to really make story suggestions rather than just flat out reject?

Megan Powell: I'm generally reluctant to do RFRs, for a couple reasons.

Bryon Quertermous: RFR?

Megan Powell: Request for rewrite.

Megan Powell: First, if it's that close, chances are it's strictly a taste issue and another editor would like it just as it is.

Sarah Weinman: I'll give an example: one of the first stories I took for SHOTS needed a lot of work. I mean *a lot*, and like Megan normally I am reluctant to do that sort of thing as well. But there was something about the writer's voice and the premise that I thought, with pruning and shaping, would really shine. The writer and I went back and forth a lot but finally it all came together and even though it's been almost a year and a half since I accepted, I still have that story burned into my brain.

Jim Winter: Gee, I generally assume an editor's going to want a rewrite. Occupational hazard.

Megan Powell: Second, I pay $10. There's a limit to the number of hoops I expect an author to jump through, especially in light of #1.

Gerald So: I usually reject (no rewrite) but give comments.

Jim Winter: But then I also refuse to work on deadlines. (Although I did accept an assigment due in May. I have time.)

Dave White: I ask because I find it interesting. Usually Gerald and I and then Kevin and I go back and forth for a few weeks. But Megan and Sarah and I haven't had to do that. And I was wondering if it was because of the stories or whether or not they do re-writes.

Sarah Weinman: Mostly it's story. As I recall, "Down to the River" was really clean, needed maybe minimal suggestions, if that.

Graham Powell: On one of my stories Gerald and Kevin wanted a few changes.

Dave White: Yeah. Some small suggestions, I think Sarah.

Megan Powell: Third, RFRs require critiquing muscles. I often have a very difficult time coming up with precise and useful input beyond "it really just didn't work for me."

Bryon Quertermous: Gerald's just too nice to tell you your story's crap right away, Sarah and Megan prefer to let the readers figure it out on their own.

Sarah Weinman: But one story that's slated for an upcoming issue I adored, just blew me away--but I didn't like the ending so I asked the writer to change it, and he did

Dave White: Cool.

Sarah Weinman: I wanted it much nastier...

Megan Powell: No sunshine and puppy dogs for Shots.

Gerald So: I tend to be not too specific with rejection comments, so the writer doesn't argue too long with me.

Dave White: gotcha.

Bryon Quertermous: Sarah, one of the first places I submitted a story of mine was SHOTS and the editor had some very nice things to say about my writing but thought the story had some flaws she said shed like to read whatever I wrote next...well obviously she's not you, would you still read something in that instance?

Sarah Weinman: That would have been Fiona Shoop, I guess. And my standard rejection tag is to wish the author the best of luck and that they can submit in the future. Several times I've had first submissions that weren't right and I took the second.

Graham Powell: Fiona Shoop?

Gerald So: It's in His Kiss.

Sarah Weinman: Fiona was the fiction editor before me. I *will* say, though, that I'm not a big fan of submitting a bunch of times to the same place, though I freely admit it's a personal quirk.

Bryon Quertermous: She said I wrote the best cover letter she ever saw, I have the email on my wall :)

Dave White: To Ray and Gerald: What are you favorite scenes in each respective story? (Bryon, I'd like a copy of that cover letter so I can copy)

Gerald So: In Ray's story I like when Miss Parrish reveals her wooden leg. That really added the depth.

Dave White: whoops, I meant in your own stories...

Ray Banks: Ah, um - in Seductive Barry, the tiny scene at the garage where he's trying to get some food.

Dave White: ok

Gerald So: good scene as well, Ray.

Ray Banks: I suppose I just like being overtly British at times.

Gerald So: In my story, I like the opening, and the ending scenes.

Dave White: I really liked the opening, G.

Ray Banks: I really like the opening of "Home". Very studied, very terse.

Sarah Weinman: The opening was why I accepted so quickly.

Graham Powell: I like when Tom bribes his old teacher. So much for sentimentality.

Gerald So: The opening was a breakthrough to write.

Megan Powell: How so?

Gerald So: It just made the whole story come together. Before I had the opening, it was very much a bunch of scenes with no glue.

Sarah Weinman: This is for everyone: novels, short stories: which is easier, and why, or how do you approach them, similarly or differently.

Bob Tinsley: Never having written a novel, I'd have to say short stories are easier.

Harry Hunsicker: Stories and characters approach me, not the other away around.

Ray Banks: Novels are hard. Too hard.

Jim Winter: For me? Novels. More room to manuever. Tangents aren't fatal in them. (If anything, there a Godsend.) Shorts require focus. Anymore, I end up sending them across the keyboard fresh two or three times.

Ray Banks: Shorts are easier.

Bryon Quertermous: A good novel is easier to write than a good short story. Bad short stories are easy, they're short.

Megan Powell: Whatever I'm not blocked on is easier to write.

Short stories are easier to finish. Except when I run out of steam and leave them languishing on the hard drive.

Ray Banks: I can normally do a short in a couple of days, novels take for fuckin' EVER.

Gerald So: I've only done stories so far. They seem to fit my ideas.

Dave White: I find short stories can be done in one fell swoop, and that's easier for me now. The novel right now is a struggle. But apparently that means I only write bad shorts stories. Haha!

Sarah Weinman: I'm impatient so short stories are probably easier, I love doing them. I wish though that I could evolve a better method than writing the entire first draft in the space of one evening.

Jim Winter: If I'm in a white heat, shorts are easier. I can't stop typing.

Bryon Quertermous: I have a problem with endings and novels depend much less on the ending than stories do

Bob Tinsley: I can't seem to find a subject I'd want to live with long enough to write a novel.

Gerald So: When I have an idea big enough for a novel, I'll try it.

Bryon Quertermous: Bob--that's why so many first novels are autobiographical, who better to spend that much time with then yourself

Bob Tinsley: Good God, Bryon. What a thought!

Dave White: Although I do like the aspect of working my way through a novel and finding out where it goes... it's still hard when you only know what's gonna happen 2 or 3 sentences ahead.

Megan Powell: I have the opposite problem sometimes: if I have a novel-sized idea, it tends to come with lots of character history. Finding the starting and end points of a novel, within somebody's life, can be a challenge.

Gerald So: I agree, Megan.

Al Guthrie: Jane Austen didn't hang around for big ideas, Gerald.

Gerald So: Good point, Al.

Harry Hunsicker: Don't worry about the idea for a novel. Get an interesting character.

Bryon Quertermous: Gerald--Lawrence Block has a great quote he says if you have a weak idea it's better suited to a novel than a short story.

Gerald So: That's right, Bryon. Good call.

Jim Winter: Wait a minute! My first one was not autobiographical.

Harry Hunsicker: Neither was mine. I hope.

Ray Banks: Mine was. Completely.

Dave White: I figured, Banks.

Bryon Quertermous: That's really scary, Ray.

Jim Winter: My second one is. Go on. Guess who the bad guitar player in book 2 is based on. :-)

Aldo Calcagno: For Al, but you all chime in. Al, what is the major difference in selection of material for a novel vs a short story? I mean , you have been involved in selecting both, what do you look for?

Al Guthrie: Same thing, Aldo. Well written sick-mindedness.

Ray Banks: Mooohahahahahahahahahahaha

Sarah Weinman: That does explain a hell of a lot

Megan Powell: When I write spec fic, it's less likely for people to bring up the "Is it autobiographical?" thing.

Graham Powell: Than when you write about murder?

Megan Powell: Yeah, Graham. Disturbing, is it not?

Jim Winter: I started writing spec fic, and everyone told me, "The protag's you, isn't it?"

Jim Winter: "Um... Sort of. Why?"

Jim Winter: "Mary Sue."

Sarah Weinman: I figure most of my stories have bits of autobiography, or someone else's biography, but my imagination just ends up distorting and twisting everything Ouch, Jim.

Dave White: Ha! After God Bless the Child someone asked me that and I answered the same way Jim. She then said "Man, I didn't know you were so depressed."

Bryon Quertermous: my short stories are never autobiographical, I love to hardboiled violent stories but I cant sustain the voice longer than 10-15 pages without it sounding like a bad episode of Police Files.

Harry Hunsicker: You can't help but put some of yourself into a work of fiction.

Gerald So: I agree. It's just choosing what to emphasize.

Graham Powell: The victim is usually my wife, go figure.

Aldo Calcagno: In my reality, the stuff I've seen is stranger than the fiction I could think up

Megan Powell: All the characters are me...which is why I don't understand the Mary Sue thing. Seems to boring to restrict yourself to the one ridiculously perfect avatar.

Graham Powell: You've got to use that "stranger than fiction" stuff when you see it.

Jim Winter: I like what Laura Lippman said last summer. All the characters work best when you put yourself into all of them, even the villains. Because then you know what motivates them all, and so does the reader.

Bryon Quertermous: yeah but porn and beer can only go so far as motivators, that's my problem.

Jim Winter: Well, I had a fully realized, well-rounded Mary Sue, but the self-projection came through anyway. I broke the character of that. Mwahahahaha!

Ray Banks: Try whisky, Bryon.

Sarah Weinman: and drugs

Graham Powell: Hell, Bryon, you just described "The Last Good Kiss".

Bryon Quertermous: I have a question for Al and maybe other people (Jim Maybe)

Sarah Weinman: Excluding your own if you had one published, favorite short story of 2004?

Dave White: ha! And Bryon gets skipped again! Bryon, write it down this time.

Bryon Quertermous: I'll write it in Spaghetti O's, thats what Im eating

Gerald So: Bryon was after Sarah, I thought.

Dave White: I had two favorites "Take Down the Union Jack" and "Hilly Palmer's Last Case."

Megan Powell: Mmm...Spaghetti-Os....

Bryon Quertermous: I'm always after Sarah but I'll never catch her

Ray Banks: "God's Dice". Oh, and I know Craig MacDonald's on in Missippi Review will probably be my favourite next year.

Dave White: Oh, hey thanks Ray.

Jim Winter: To Sarah, "Port of Missing Men." That one just really grabbed me. To Byron, no, never have. And that was just a rumor anyway.

Ray Banks: I forgot Leblanc's. Yeah, that was pretty good. He's not here, is he?

Dave White: nah.

Ray Banks: Good. I hate him really.

Gerald So: I'll go with "God's Dice."

Megan Powell: I had a bunch of favorites. Wishy-washy cop out, I know, but I'll probably slap up links in the blog at some point.

Bryon Quertermous: I really liked Hilly Palmer, he just fucking gets it at the end

Dave White: Oh, hey Thanks G.

Sarah Weinman: It's not politic to pick something you edited but Martyn Waites' "Just Pretend." I was so amazed to get it that I didn't care it was twice as long as the other stories

Megan Powell: You asked the question, you make the rules. :)

Gerald So: oh, something I didn't edit...

Aldo Calcagno: Speaking of Palmer, where is Duane?

Sarah Weinman: All right, sub-question then: something you didn't write *or edit*, which means I can make another selection. Cool.

Bryon Quertermous: Also Loren Estleman did a short novella in the Ann Arbor news here that kicked ass

Ray Banks: Probably writing another kick-arse book that makes me horribly jealous.

Jim Winter: Actually, I liked the whole issue of Thrilling where I showed up. Seriously. Take out "Roofies," and the issue still shines. (OK, Ray, Dave, I take checks, US and Canadian dollars, fivers and Euros. Pay up.)

Sarah Weinman: oh, I have another one: Peter Moore Smith's story in "Like a Charm." Creepy as all hell and really well-written

Dave White: Check's in the mail.

Aldo Calcagno: Sarah, YES.

Harry Hunsicker: Lehane's story in ATLANTIC MONTHLY was pretty good too.

Dave White: Oh, I forgot the Lehane one. Yeah, I thought it would read like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" but it realy didn't.

Al Guthrie: Ken Bruen's "Losing My Religion" (EQMM) was pretty damn brilliant.

Sarah Weinman: oh yeah...

Ray Banks: Euros? Where d'you think I live, Winter?

Gerald So: I'll go with "The Pig Man" but that wasn't written in 2004, I only read it this year, by Les Roberts.

Ray Banks: Oh, and "Fade to Brooklyn"...

Sarah Weinman: espec the 2nd person thing, he pulled it off brilliantly

Harry Hunsicker: Yes, he did.

Bryon Quertermous: Ahhhhhhhhhhh, too many choices...brain, shutting down...

Sarah Weinman: and most of the BROOKLYN NOIR anthology rocked

Megan Powell: Wish Atlantic kept the archives public. Geeks unite!

Gerald So: I'm not too current, I'm afraid.

Bryon Quertermous: I also liked John's Holiday story on his blog...cant write a decent novel to save his life but give him imaginary farytale characters and he shines.

Ray Banks: Absolutely nothing wrong with them. Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone were GODS, I tell you!

Aldo Calcagno: I hear that Ken has a new short that is going to be published by ASAP in March

Megan Powell: Were?

Ray Banks: They still going?

Harry Hunsicker: Isn't Bruen doing one for the Gary Philips anthology?

Sarah Weinman: Yes, he is, Harry--that's another antho I'm really looking forward to (THE COCAINE CHRONICLES)

Jim Winter: It's incestuous. Everyone is doing everyone else's anthology.

Bryon Quertermous: so is it my turn yet? the O's are congealing.

Dave White: ewwwww

Gerald So: Go ahead, Bryon.

Bryon Quertermous: Is it really career death to start a series with a small press? Can you get a deal with a bigger house down the line or do you have to switch characters ala Jim W?

Ray Banks: As long as they're being published, I see no problem.

Sarah Weinman: Offhand, I think it depends. Reed Coleman's WALKING THE PERFECT SQUARE was orig. published by Permanent Press and now he's with Viking (though hopefully he'll stay there as the new book's the last on the contract and they "downgraded him" to trade PBO) Justin, Charles & Co., one of their authors (Marcos Villatoro) has his paperback rights with Bantam Dell

Aldo Calcagno: And it's his best work, idiots

Jim Winter: To Bryon. I did not know this when I started, but it's exceedingly difficult to sell an existing series to a new publisher unless you're well-known. Basically, if you have a series character, they want the whole backlist for him/her. Hence, the "Save Moe" campaign with Reed Coleman. If Penguin doesn't renew, Reed's gotta start anew.

Graham Powell: That really sucks.

Jim Winter: Yes and no. Having to invent a new character has gotten me out of a creative corner I've written myself into with Kepler #3. If I go several years without doing one, I can sort of gloss over the consequences of BAD RELIGION should I write another one in that series.

Megan Powell: Freaky genre conventions.

Harry Hunsicker: Or do like Elmore Leonard and use the same character with a different name in each book.

Sarah Weinman: Never mind that you can start a series, get a 2 book deal, but if the first doesn't sell, the contract's cancelled and you're screwed and have to start over Sarah Weinman: Just read about an author in the sf/f world that happened to.

Graham Powell: That bugs me. A contract has 2 parties. If they can cancel, you should be able to as well.

Harry Hunsicker: It's the golden rule. He who has the gold . . . .

Ray Banks: ...wears better socks.

Bryon Quertermous: I can't see myself sticking with my current MC longer than a few books so maybe I do a limited series with a small press and would that make me a better candidate to bigger houses or a liability?

Sarah Weinman: and it depends what the contract was for--let's say you give them world rights for the first in a series, it doesn't sell but maybe someday they get foreign rights later on...can be a big mess Jim Winter: Unfortunately, until your sales look like Connelly's or Lehane's, the publishers hold all the cards. Once you're big, you can tell them what to do and they have to like it.

Bryon Quertermous: well Crais had some fantastic sales and they still managed to fuck him over.

Sarah Weinman: with whom? Bantam or Hyperion?

Bryon Quertermous: Doubleday.

Megan Powell: Or you keep the day job so you can tell them to fuck off. Because that's just as satisfying as a great contract, distribution, etc.

Dave White: speaking of which, when does FORGOTTEN MAN come out?

Sarah Weinman: 2/15. Galleys are circulating

Harry Hunsicker: February? What was the Crais deal about? I forgot the details.

Jim Winter: I really hope I never have to work with the editor for THE LAST DETECTIVE. Or the guy who loved Lee Goldberg's sex scenes that were supposed to be contract ending.

Aldo Calcagno: Look at a guy like Kent Harrington, why can't this guy get a deal with a major pub?

Jim Winter: Too dark.

Dave White: any word on it yet, Sarah?

Sarah Weinman: Kirkus gave it a starred review, actually

Dave White: cool.

Sarah Weinman: but one of the DP folks called it "too formulaic"

Jim Winter: Dave Zeltserman has the same problem. Read his second novel. Great stuff, but it scares the hell out of editors.

Sarah Weinman: I'm still waiting for mine, but I wouldn't review it for the Sun anyway

Graham Powell: Why, are you in it?

Gerald So: :)

Sarah Weinman: nah, that was HOSTAGE (btw, I still have no clue why he put me in the book.)

Aldo Calcagno: which book are we talking about?

Gerald So: THE FORGOTTEN MAN by Crais, Aldo.

Bryon Quertermous: She and Pike have an affair with Hawk

Duane Swierczynski: Hah!

Gerald So: gee.

Sarah Weinman: yeah, he's so manly

Ray Banks: I thought it was just Pike and Hawk, and Weinman taped it.

Harry Hunsicker: Wish he'd take off the sunglasses sometime.

Jim Winter: That's nothing compared to what I did with Sarah. And Kepler. In the morgue. (Just kidding, Sarah.)

Bryon Quertermous: With the candlestick, Jim?

Megan Powell: Is that rigor mortis, or are you just happy to see me?

Jim Winter: I don't use candlesticks in my work. Too cozy.

Bryon Quertermous: depends on where you stick it

Dave White: This is for everyone: What do you look for in the stuff you write and read and edit in crime fiction? Beyond the idea of a "good story?" If you had to break it down, could you?

Ray Banks: Yup. Truth of voice and a dead dog.

Dave White: okay my eyes are now bleeding.

Aldo Calcagno: I'm going to see Crais next Sunday night at Spoken Interludes

Harry Hunsicker: Voice. Character.

Gerald So: I look for polished writing and strong voice.

Sarah Weinman: Voice, voice, voice.

Bob Tinsley: Emotion

Ray Banks: The dead dog is absolutely essential.

Sarah Weinman: characters are good too.

Bryon Quertermous: I'm with Sarah, voice. And possibly sexual perversion

Jim Winter: Gratuitous sex and violence. Not always in the morgue, either.

Harry Hunsicker: Could care less about plots twists, etc.

Aldo Calcagno: the Ah ha! Love something different. Secret Dead Men....

Ray Banks: ...which is available to buy right now.

Duane Swierczynski: Thanks, Aldo. And Ray. My pimps.

Graham Powell: I avoid boring books. I'm reading Pronzini's latest and I'm trying to like it, but it's dull.

Jim Winter: Characters are the plot. When they aren't, the story dies.

Harry Hunsicker: Agreed.

Megan Powell: Generally I don't break it down. The stars come into alignment, the plot/characters/voice click, R'yleh rises....

Sarah Weinman: there's a lot to be said for instinctive judgment.

Dave White: I'm a voice and character guy.

Gerald So: I like emotion, too. But that takes time to build. I usually notice voice first.

Aldo Calcagno: and sometimes, a lesson or moral is taught.

Dave White: I also look for lots of explosions.

Graham Powell: car chases...

Gerald So: And maybe it's the editor in me, but sloppy spelling and punctuation bug me.

Megan Powell: Yeah, good mechanics are transparent, but screw it up and it's painfully obvious.

Bryon Quertermous: I was in the store browsing the other day and came across Offer of Proof by Robert Heilbrun...didn't know anything about the story or the characters, but the voice grabbed me right away...thats why I like first person so much

Sarah Weinman: I just finished the Heilbrun book

Megan Powell: I'm a fan of transparency.

Gerald So: Me, too, Megan.

Ray Banks: To all the editors in the room, I'll nick Bryon's question: what's your opinion on toddler death or paedophilia? Are there any subjects you'd shy away from in shorts or novels?

Megan Powell: Nothing leaps to mind.

Gerald So: BTW, Seductive Barry also reminded me of "Little Holes" by Mike MacLean.

Megan Powell: There are things that make me go "ew," but going "ew" is often a good thing.

Aldo Calcagno: Where is Mike, probably teaching...

Dave White: Little Holes is one of my all time favs.

Sarah Weinman: Charlie Stella's new story at Mississippi Review...pushed some lines, shall we say, but it was totally riveting

Graham Powell: There are some scenes I could never write.

Aldo Calcagno: I don't like those topics..!) I'm a parent, 2) Educator, 3) read the newpaper for that shit

Dave White: ah, so he said. I have to read the whole thing later...

Al Guthrie: Does the toddler death precede the paedophilia, Ray?

Ray Banks: It can do.

Gerald So: I think the story is a process of getting to the heart of things, and sometimes vices are at the heart, and you have to go all the way.

Ray Banks: I'm just toying with that sympathetic paedo story.

Duane Swierczynski: The kid was just asking for it, eh?

Dave White: sym-pa-the-tic? wow, you are taking the balls.

Gerald So: Ray does Lolita?

Ray Banks: More like Peeping Tom.

Dave White: I don't know what that means.

Bryon Quertermous: I don't want to hear about Ray taking the balls with pedophillia

Al Guthrie: Banks has balls like you've never seen. I can hear them clanking from here.

Ray Banks: I have to carry them around in a wheelbarrow.

Jim Winter: I don't think I could ever write that. I could probably get into the pedo's head, but I could never write one sympathetic.

Duane Swierczynski: Jim--I hear you.

Jim Winter: No wonder Ana's so happy.

Dave White: all right folks, I'll be back, but I have to pick up pizza... so I'm going to stay in the room and you can talk about me all you want, but I WILL see it.

Sarah Weinman: ha, will do.

Gerald So: later, Dave.

Jim Winter: So anyway, Dave's really hung like a raisin. Wait. Did he say he'll see this?

Bryon Quertermous: he won't see it if he's hung like a raisin

Dave White: a really big raisin... okay now I'm out.

Sarah Weinman: A long time ago I tried writing a first person story about a pedophile stalking his next victim, but it didn't really go anywhere

Bryon Quertermous: I want Pizza.

Megan Powell: I don't have a problem (writing, reading, editing, whatever) with the idea of a sympathetic pedophile, in the same way I don't have a problem with a sympathetic murderer. It's fiction, not life.

Megan Powell: Yeah, pizza sounds good.

Duane Swierczynski: Pizza with raisins.

Gerald So: I'm moving away from first-person, which I used to write exclusively.

Graham Powell: Any reason?

Harry Hunsicker: Me too, Gerald. It's different, that's for sure.

Gerald So: to try new things, Graham, exercise.

Bob Tinsley: So far, I'm stuck with first person. Tried third in a couple of stories, but it just didn't feel right.

Gerald So: It took me a long while, Bob.

Jim Winter: I started out third multiple POV, switched the first when I started doing this "for real." Now I'm playing with third again.

Duane Swierczynski: My editor at St. Martin's actively encourages me to *avoid* first person.

Jim Winter: Why?

Harry Hunsicker: Yeah, why?

Bob Tinsley: That autobiographical thing, right?

Duane Swierczynski: He seems to think readers prefer third person.

Graham Powell: I write a little of both. Of course, I have never written a novel, so if I decide to change I don't have to rewrite 300 pages.

Gerald So: I find lit mags prefer third.

Harry Hunsicker: Or second.

Megan Powell: My early stories were mainly first, now I've got a lot more third. Have to keep it close, though. I _can't_ head hop, which I can't see as a bad thing.

Al Guthrie: Funny thing. I know quite a few readers who won't read first person.

Sarah Weinman: it's too easy in first to run on and say whatever you (or the protag) feels like...3rd limited, more distance

Duane Swierczynski: More suspense, too. You don't know if the protag will live or die.

Sarah Weinman: I alternate, depending on the character, although the last 2 stories I wrote were in first person

Gerald So: I try to avoid head-hopping, too.

Megan Powell: Herbert could do it, but that's about it.

Harry Hunsicker: I have a problem with 1st person, present tense.

Gerald So: I think some people can make it work.

Bryon Quertermous: I like first person PI novels but I desperatly want to write a heist or caper novel and I'd do that in third person

Al Guthrie: I've recently been exposed to multiple first, present and past tense. It was breathtaking.

Sarah Weinman: who did that, Al?

Al Guthrie: Mr Ray Banks.

Ray Banks: Heh heh heh

Gerald So: It bothered me the first time I read Innes, but he's grown on me.

Graham Powell: I never really noticed.

Megan Powell: Wonder of Nature breathtaking, or baseball bat to the gut breathtaking?

Ray Banks: A bad smell can be breathtaking.

Duane Swierczynski: So can piano wire around your throat.

Megan Powell: I actually didn't notice for the first couple Innes stories.

Sarah Weinman: I don't even notice with Innes. But multiple first like Al speaks of, John Burdett did it in BANGKOK 8 and it drove me insane

Gerald So: YES, Sarah. Could not finish Bangkok 8.

Bryon Quertermous: I would still like to try and pull off the mixed 3rd and 1st person ala Harlan Coben NOT James Patterson

Jim Winter: That's a forbidden topic as far as I'm concerned. If an editor asks me to change the POV, s/he's overstepped his/her bounds.

Graham Powell: Mixed 1st and 3rd has become a cliche. Although Stephen King did it, so what do I know.

Duane Swierczynski: Jim, I agree. In this case, he was talking about future books. More of a gentle recommendation than an order. Just started reading DERAILED, which mixes third and first.

Graham Powell: By whom?

Al Guthrie: Mixed 1st and 3rd: Bill Ballinger, quite some time ago.

Duane Swierczynski: James Siegel, author of EPITAPH.

Sarah Weinman: Cliche? Ah crap. Seeing as I'm working on something that has...hmm....1 POV first, 2 in 3rd but different protags

Megan Powell: But what isn't a cliche? If it works, it works.

Gerald So: if it works, it's not cliche.

Graham Powell: I suppose, but it seems as though lots of 1st person series writers are cramming in 3rd person segments (Crais, Block). Although it worked in LA REQUIEM.

Gerald So: Yes, Graham. Hasn't worked for me since Requiem.

Jim Winter: As long as we don't see a trend toward future tense stories. That'd give me a headache.

Ray Banks: I smell a challenge.

Gerald So: "In two seconds, I will have killed him."

Megan Powell: I hate prologues. Generally speaking.

Graham Powell: Lehane is generally the only writer whose prologues I like.

Bryon Quertermous: I think Coben does best pulling it off because its almost equal first and third person and so was LAR, the others seem too heavily tilted one way or the other.

Al Guthrie: Guys and gals, have to leave. Been good talking to you all.

Megan Powell: See you.

Harry Hunsicker: Bye.

Graham Powell: Usually it seems to be an "unknown killer" story.

Aldo Calcagno: Al, all the best

Gerald So: Thanks, Al.

Sarah Weinman: take care Al

Harry Hunsicker: Anybody going to Left Coast Crime?

Aldo Calcagno: I'm planning to for the weekend

Bob Tinsley: I'm going to try to make it. Depends on the day job.

Sarah Weinman: in 2006, Harry

Megan Powell: Lazy. Poor.

Ray Banks: 2006 - is that the one in Bristol?

Graham Powell: Was planning to, but instead I'm going to try for B'Con. Harry Hunsicker: In Bristol in 2006, right?

Sarah Weinman: yup

Harry Hunsicker: It IS on the left coast.

Aldo Calcagno: I'll go to Bristol, if somebody puts me up or puts up with me...

Duane Swierczynski: By that definition, so is Camden, New Jersey.

Harry Hunsicker: A left coast. Somewhere.

Sarah Weinman: which lead to Rickards and me joking about all the other Left Coasts of the world

Megan Powell: I'm sure as hell not going to Camden.

Jim Winter: Chicago, then.

Aldo Calcagno: Been there, done that

Jim Winter: Left Coast of Lake Michigan (which is really an inland sea.)

Bob Tinsley: So what is El Paso on the left coast of?

Bryon Quertermous: Hell yeah, Jim, we can get Detroit and do a Left Coast B'Con

Aldo Calcagno: What is everyone currently reading? Anything outside of the mystery scene?

Megan Powell: Finally starting Perdido Street Station.

Jim Winter: Just finished AMERICA: THE BOOK.

Harry Hunsicker: I am finishing GRIFT SENSE.

Jim Winter: Reading Pronzini's UNDERCURRENT.

Ray Banks: I just finished "Factotum" and "Cypress Grove" again, currently reading "Freezer Burn".

Graham Powell: GRANT by Jean Edward Smith.

Gerald So: I just started STONE QUARRY by Rozan.

Bob Tinsley: I'm reading Swimming with the Dead by Kathy Brandt. Local author.

Harry Hunsicker: FREEZER BURN is one of my favorite books.

Ray Banks: I've read two chapters and decided to savour it, it's that bloody funny.

Harry Hunsicker: It gets better.

Duane Swierczynski: Just finished THE BLACK ANGEL, by Cornell Woolrich. Now on DERAILED.

Sarah Weinman: The book I'm reading now is for review (it's literary fic) so I won't say anything yet but before then I finished a kickass little noir novel that's due out next month. DIE A LITTLE by Meg Abbott

Duane Swierczynski: That sounds great, Sarah.

Bryon Quertermous: Im reading Sherman Alexie for Native American Lit Bryon Quertermous: he's awesome

Aldo Calcagno: reading BLOOD FATHER by Peter Craig

Gerald So: I should read Alexie. I'm trying to sell poems.

Harry Hunsicker: There once was a man from Nantucket.

Jim Winter: John Scalzi's OLD MAN'S WAR is on Mt. TBR.

Sarah Weinman: Alexie is *brilliant*

Sarah Weinman: Although I haven't read his novels yet, only the short stories

Bryon Quertermous: Id love to see Alexie write a mystery novel, there are some noir tones on Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fist Fight in Heaven

Sarah Weinman: I thought INDIAN KILLER kinda was...(Partners & Crime stocked it)

Gerald So: I'm waiting for Northcoast Shakedown to come out before I make my next book order.

Harry Hunsicker: Me too, Gerald.

Bryon Quertermous: also reading a book on Intelligent Design :)

Sarah Weinman: hahaha

Jim Winter: Don't get it, Gerald. I read the final proof and it sucked. :-)

Graham Powell: Writer's remorse.

Gerald So: oh, gee.

Sarah Weinman: Keeping the same theme from one of my earlier questions, kinda--pick one book due out this year you are really looking forward to. Yes, just one.

Gerald So: Hmm... I'll say...Hmm...the curse of not being current.

Graham Powell: Pelecanos.

Megan Powell: I'll suck up and say Jim's.

Jim Winter: Thanks, Megan. Check's in the mail.

Harry Hunsicker: The next Bruen novel.

Ray Banks: WHEELMAN, if he ends up calling it that.

Jim Winter: Lippman

Duane Swierczynski: Great Q. Thanks, Ray!

Ray Banks: Nae bother, son.

Duane Swierczynski: Dying to read SUICIDE SQUEEZE, by Gischler.

Harry Hunsicker: Oh hell . . . of course the next Gischler. how could I forget. Lemurs and all.

Bryon Quertermous: The Closers, I love cold cases and I love Harry Bosch and I love him as a cop

Megan Powell: Still haven't gotten around to Pistol Poets. So many books, so little time...

Bob Tinsley: Closers Duane Swierczynski: Closers is right up there for me, too.

Bryon Quertermous: oh yeah, NOW everybody chooses Closers

Aldo Calcagno: PWG Anthology from Dennis McMillan

Graham Powell: The Point Blank Press Reader.

Ray Banks: Oh yeah, is that ever coming out? That and DUBLIN NOIR.

Jim Winter: And why is that, Ray?

Duane Swierczynski: I've been wondering the same thing, K-Buster.

Jim Winter: SEX, LIES, AND PRIVATE EYS by Bracken. (Gee, wonder why I said that one?)

Aldo Calcagno: but I'm really looking forward to the new Jim Crumley

Ray Banks: Because it'll be good. Ahem.

Harry Hunsicker: Jim, are you in the next Bracken Antho?

Jim Winter: Yep

.Harry Hunsicker: Me too.

Graham Powell: Crumley? Can I change my answer?

Bryon Quertermous: I should have probably asked this while Al was here, but does anyone know when the Rob Kantner collection is coming out from Point Blank

Jim Winter: Spring, afaik, but I'll ask Rob if he has a date yet.

Bob Tinsley: I haven't seen it mentioned on his website lately.

Gerald So: Next q?

Sarah Weinman: I'll also put a vote for Sean Doolittle's RAIN DOGS

Gerald So: 23 mins of chat remaining.

Bryon Quertermous: Hey, the bars stay open til should this chat room. You know, Rob, Jim?

Jim Winter: I interviewed him for Noir Originals, but we are acquainted.

Bryon Quertermous: I go to his alma matter and live about 20 minutes from him and never met him, I'm hoping he gets out a bit for the book

Gerald So: We'll stay open if people want to hang out, but officially we end at 7pm ET.

Ray Banks: Well, I'm calling it for myself. Sick as a dog and I have to make people feel guilty at work tomorrow.

Megan Powell: Night.

Harry Hunsicker: Bye.

Ray Banks: See youse, peeps. Been another good 'un.

Jim Winter: Later.

Gerald So: Okay, thanks, Ray.

Harry Hunsicker: Any word yet on THE WIRE?

Sarah Weinman: fingers crossed, but I thought the word wouldn't come through till mid-Jan

Gerald So: that's what I recall, too.

Bryon Quertermous: until then the first season is on DVD with lots of extras

Harry Hunsicker: That's right. I remember now. Stupid HBO, even considering cancelling that show.

Jim Winter: Thank God for DVD. Which reminds me, I have to re up with Netflix.

Gerald So: I'm looking forward to Tilt and Jonny Zero.

Megan Powell: I should probably go back and give the first season another try, since I really enjoyed the past season and a half.

Aldo Calcagno: Try BlockBuster...same deal, $4 less a month

Jim Winter: But they don't have a very good selection.

Harry Hunsicker: The second season was hard to follow with the docks and all.

Bryon Quertermous: and I recommend everyone go out and read Homicide: A Year on the Killing Street, his book he spent a year with the Baltimore Homicide squad. Of course it was made into Homicide on TV but there a lot of elements of The Wire in it too

Megan Powell: It took me forever to figure out everybody's names, but the relationships came through pretty clearly.

Harry Hunsicker: It took me FOREVER to figure out what a burner was. I'm slow. What can I say.

Aldo Calcagno: I haven't seen a single episode.....

Jim Winter: I go to Baltimore in a couple of weeks. If Laura Lippman looks depressed, you'll know it's bad news.

Bryon Quertermous: maybe she'll be depressed cause she's with you? or in Ohio

Sarah Weinman: LOL

Jim Winter: If she's with me, she's probably buying drinks, though I plan to stick that tab to Jack Bludis. :-)

Bryon Quertermous: lol, nice

Graham Powell: I don't get HBO. No WIRE, no SOPRANOS.

Megan Powell: Oh you poor thing.

Aldo Calcagno: Asking for DVD for a present. Graham, soul brother

Bob Tinsley: Nor I. No cable.

Aldo Calcagno: Bob, soul brother, too. See, now I don't feel so bad. Graham and Bob, lets chip in a buy the DVD.

Bob Tinsley: I was beginning to think I was the only one in the world without cable.

Graham Powell: A 3-disc DVD. We'll trade.

Aldo Calcagno: yep!

Bob Tinsley: cool

Bryon Quertermous: Ive never had HBO but seen all of The Sopranos and The Wire thanks to DVD and a high speed internet connection

Jim Winter: I have cable. I just don't feel like ponying up the extra $$$'s for premium service.

Graham Powell: Yeah, I get the $15-you-don't-even-get-ESPN cable plan.

Gerald So: I have HBO, but the TV with the box is broken.

Jim Winter: At least I get ESPN. Should do the $40 pirate-cable-and-pay-only-for-broadband deal.

Gerald So: Sarah, I hear SHOTS may start accepting PI stories. Have you accepted any so far?

Bob Tinsley: I just sent Sarah one, so I hope so.

Sarah Weinman: hmmm, the little birdies get around...OK basically, I've had kind of a semi-unofficial policy before that i wouldn't take PI b/c there were other markets. But since PWG went bust, I'm rethinking it

Megan Powell: Speaking of Baltimore, gotta go to BWI.

Graham Powell: BWI?

Megan Powell: Baltimore Washington International.

Jim Winter: When?

Graham Powell: Ah.

Gerald So: Speaking of, I'm having a tough time coming up with another PI story. Writing one, I should say.

Megan Powell: I didn't know what it was either till 20 minutes ago.

Graham Powell: "I was sitting in my office when a man came through the door with a gun in his hand."

Harry Hunsicker: Gerald, start with a dead body. And a hooker.

Jim Winter: How about a girl with legs up to here walks into Harvey's office while he's sucking on the office bottle?

Megan Powell: When is now. Have to pick up a car. Hopefully there won't be any dead Russians in the trunk.

Graham Powell: Or live ones

Jim Winter: I changed that to a Cuban. Worked better. And it's now a Caddie.

Harry Hunsicker: And a bag of $1,000 chips from the Bellagio.

Jim Winter: Or Doritos.

Megan Powell: Good night everybody. It's been fun.

Sarah Weinman: it has! bye Megan

Graham Powell: See ya.

Bob Tinsley: Bye, Megan

Aldo Calcagno: Night, Megan

Gerald So: Bye, Megan. Thanks.

Gerald So: We'll see. I'm being very careful.

Harry Hunsicker: Can't go wrong with hookers.

Bob Tinsley: Softly, softly, catchee monkey.

Harry Hunsicker: And it will help your story too.

Bob Tinsley: Strippers are always good.

Gerald So: Um...

Jim Winter: How about this: A life insurance underwriter asks a PI to dig up dirt on a heart attack victim so he can get out of paying the $2 million that will cost him his job.... Oh, wait. I read that one somewhere else.

Sarah Weinman: Hey, I just wrote a PI story. Kinda. No strippers in sight. And he has a good relationship with his mom

Duane Swierczynski: Guys, I have to split, too. The children beckon... Have a good night!

Jim Winter: 'Night, Duane.

Graham Powell: So long, farewell...

Harry Hunsicker: Bye.

Bob Tinsley: Night.

Gerald So: that sounds good, sarah.

Bob Tinsley: Different, at least. I didn't know PIs had mothers.

Harry Hunsicker: lol

Sarah Weinman: virgin births, the lot of them.

Duane Swierczynski: see ya!

Bryon Quertermous: well PI writers certainly [have mothers]...

Aldo Calcagno: Why is it I can't write stuff like that???

Gerald So: because you haven't tried?

Aldo Calcagno: I'm taking the challenge.

Gerald So: I'm sure you'll do fine, Aldo. Just stop telling yourself you can't.

Bob Tinsley: Absolutely!!!

Jim Winter: PI men and women often look so alike that people assume they just spring up from holes in the ground. (It's the beard.)

Bob Tinsley: Brady has a daughter, but I havent brought her on stage yet.

Jim Winter: OK, blame Mrs. Winter for watching LOTR too much this week.

Graham Powell: Let's hope she resembles her mother. Er, Brady's daughter, not Mrs. Winter.

Bryon Quertermous: my PI has a mom, a dad a sister and a best friend who took his virginity.

Sarah Weinman: and they stayed friends afterwards, Bryon?

Bryon Quertermous: yeah, I've got some off life experience with that one.

Jim Winter: Gee, back to autobiographical.

Bryon Quertermous: but I'm only an 8th into the next book and they're already fighting

Gerald So: conflict is good.

Sarah Weinman: That's why protags usually can't have happy relationships. I am being really mean to one of mine. Busting up his marriage to a manic depressive

Bob Tinsley: Sounds to me like you're doing him a favor.

Bryon Quertermous: a character or a guy whose virginity you took? Cause the husband isn't going to kick the wife's ass if she cheats.

Sarah Weinman: a character. No comment on whether I'm mean to my exes. Nah--one of his exes' current squeezes is overly jealous

Jim Winter: Here's a strange thing that's happened. I've had men object to a male character sleeping with a married woman, but women seem to like the idea.

Graham Powell: Stop ripping off DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.

Jim Winter: I wrote that BEFORE DH ever aired. They ripped ME off.

Dave White: Wow everyone is still here.

Sarah Weinman: we have no lives.

Harry Hunsicker: And now me. Gotta run, Gang. Enjoyed it, as always.

Sarah Weinman: see you later, Gerald. This was a great chat.


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