Sunday, April 20, 2008
Gerald So: So I just read Neil Smith's "Find Me" today.
Jen Jordan: What did you think?
Gerald So: I liked it. I have to admit the only story I didn't quite get was Rickards'.
Gerald So: Probably more my fault than his.
Jen Jordan: He wrote about something "fucked" up and he wrote it poignantly. It was very different for him stylistically and subect-wise.
Gerald So: I thought so. I got the overall message, but I'm not sure I followed the story all the way through.
Jen Jordan: I thought I'd get the odd dandy narrative or something more ethereal and darkly funny.
Jen Jordan: He really surprised me.
Gerald So: Un huh.
Jen Jordan: I had a whole movie in my head when I read it.
Gerald So: Do you have any anthos upcoming?
Jen Jordan: SLOPPY SECONDS, the sequel to EXPLETIVE DELETED, is coming out in November.
Gerald So: Neat. :)
Jen Jordan: I am very jazzed to be able to gather more of these stories together. And, again, people are surprising me.
Gerald So: Neil's and Otis's were particularly f___ed up.
Jen Jordan: Neil's was exactly what I was hoping for and Otis - well, there is no one like Otis.
Gerald So: I thought his was very real. It was disturbing, but I had to read it. Very well done.
Jen Jordan: Fluff, from the first line, pushed the envelope. You know that Otis is the one that wrote and sang, "Dead Puppies" on the Doctor Demento show? An old favorite....
Gerald So: Interesting.
Gerald So: Shred of Evidence published one of my stories about a character with a fetish for the handicapped.
Jen Jordan: Along the line of those who have a prediliction for amputees?
Gerald So: yes.
Jen Jordan: Wonderful!
Gerald So: it was exactly 100 words, too.
Jen Jordan: I could see that subject doing all it needs to do in a flash format. Powerful and you don't want to play it out too long.
Gerald So: right.
Gerald So: How are the fiction submissions at Crimespree right now?
Jen Jordan: I was just going through the stash on Friday. There are a lot and quite a few of them are gems. I'm trying to keep it fresh and different. I don't want to dip too much into one sub-genre or style.
Gerald So: right.
Jen Jordan: And there are submissions from all over the world. No shortage of women, which I had at the beginning.
Gerald So: that's neat. you don't get that kind of range with a lot of zines.
Jen Jordan: Because Crimespree is so across the board in sub-genres, as short fiction editor, I feel I can accept anything as long as it is a great story. The only drawback can be if something runs too long.
Gerald So: Right.
Jen Jordan: We've even printed horror, with Sandra Ruttan's "The Butcher."
Gerald So: I see.
Gerald So: I'm multitasking, watching the Pope's Mass at Yankee Stadium.
Jen Jordan: I would love to see something historical come in. That would be difficult to translate into a short.
Jen Jordan: Oh! Isn't this his first time here?
Gerald So: As pope, yes.
Gerald So: I hear he had visited often as Cardinal Ratzinger.
Jen Jordan: I imagine Cardinals travel quite a lot as representives of the Church.
Gerald So: He apparently likes America, which I saw when he met Bush.
Jen Jordan: So we're not just a bunch of hedonists?
Gerald So: Apparently not. :)
Jen Jordan: Hope he does't read TMZ.
Gerald So: :)
Gerald So: I like that he's a scholar and effective writer. If only more world leaders were.
Jen Jordan: It should take more than charisma and money. I could get very bitter and wound up. But I shall refrain.
Gerald So: Do you have any likes/dislikes that came through as themes in Expletive Deleted? Besides the obvious theme.
Jen Jordan: Social and politcal issues were address from the perspective of the people experiencing them. There was very dark humor, which always makes me happy. The writers involved all pushed the envelope which is exactly what I had hoped for.
Gerald So: Good point about stories from the people experiencing them.
Jen Jordan: I think that can, ultimately, have greater impact.
Gerald So: Yes, it's difficult to really go to extremes and yet keep the form of the story.
Jen Jordan: Very much so.
Jen Jordan: I've loved Mark Billingham's work because of how he uses the voice of the victim.
Gerald So: Yes. I've seen a lot from the POV of the hero coming in to fix everything. You can become desensitized to the reality of crime/violence.
Jen Jordan: And a protagonist that has the superhero qualities can get stagnant.
Jen Jordan: And I had hoped to mix known writers with unknown. Traditional with total speculative fiction. To keep the reader wondering what they would read next.
Gerald So: I think you did that well. On the list, I wondered exactly what I'd be getting when I picked up the antho. Sexy noir or profanity-laced stories? :)
Jen Jordan: It's an odd line-up. It was not erotica, that's for sure.
Gerald So: No, and yet a lot of the stories had undertones of sex.
Jen Jordan: Odd, dark sex and hopeless sex.
Jen Jordan: There can be so much fear of publishing something that someone will find offensive.
Gerald So: Yes, I'm glad you found a publisher in Bleak House.
Jen Jordan: They are the perfect house. I talked with Richard Nash at Soft Skull and I could see them doing something like that. They are also quite fearless. They did African Psycho last year.
Jen Jordan: Charlie Huston certainly had a different perspective.
Gerald So: I liked his story a lot, too.
Gerald So: I didn't find any of the stories any more offensive than other crime fiction.
Jen Jordan: Huh. I find some things in crime fiction offensive that many wouldn't.
Gerald So: I would say they're more extreme, not overly offensive where someone would go, "Oh, my god, I can't read any more."
Jen Jordan: It can be good to be pushed to that level. But a skilled author can pull you back in. A very fine line.
Gerald So: Indeed.
Jen Jordan: You've read Yellow Medicine?
Gerald So: Not yet.
Jen Jordan: Neil is the King of Misanthopic leads that, as a reader, you fall in love with.
Gerald So: I'm realizing that.
Jen Jordan: I think Ray Banks does that well, too.
Jen Jordan: If you go just that touch too far, you alientate the reader. But if you get them wincing, thinking and turning pages, you done something amazing.
Gerald So: I think when you know you're reading crime fiction, you brace yourself for violence, sex, etc. but you're right it's a fine line. I certainly wouldn't make a career of pushing the envelope like Banks and Neil have.
Jen Jordan: It suits them as people to push the envelope. And when you read their stories/novels, they are about the everyday man pushed to his limit.
Jen Jordan: And Neil writes with a knowledge of traditional and just takes it all over the place.
Gerald So: Very necessary writers, especially with the tendency I mentioned to become desensitized to the gravity of what goes on in crime fiction.
Jen Jordan: In Mark's intro, when he talks about the people who write to complain about swearing and drinking and sex but have no problem with murder and maiming, I think we see what people are immune to, emotionally.
Gerald So: Would you care to talk about some of what offends you in crime fiction?
Jen Jordan: When people are outraged when something happens to a dog in a book, a piece of fiction, but accept the murder of people as a matter of course, that offends me.
Gerald So: I agree. The pet peeve police.
Jen Jordan: When violence is used as a writing device or plot tool, that offends me.
Jen Jordan: Somehow, I don't think cops or criminals have ettiquette lessons. How could you when you are steeped in the worst the people do to each other?
Gerald So: Right.
Jen Jordan: The news offends me more than fiction ever could. Look at what happens in a book that someone might write to dear Mark about and then see them turn a blind eye to what goes on in the world.
Gerald So: yes, the way events are covered.
Jen Jordan: It makes no sense to me.
Jen Jordan: Not to get on a soap box, by any means.
Gerald So: The floor is yours. I'm cheering a lot of your points.
Jen Jordan: Shouldn't fiction, and all forms of art, reflect what is going on? If so, maybe books aren't dark enough.
Jen Jordan: I'm all for reading as entertainment. But I do like to be moved and made to think.
Gerald So: That's the main reason I like crime fiction, it has an element of reality to it that other genres ignore.
Jen Jordan: Exactly! And it explores both the best and worst of people at the same time.
Gerald So: Sean Chercover wants to join in, but he doesn't have Yahoo! Messenger. He's asking you why technology is conspiring against us.
Jen Jordan: Because like humans, technologies just don't always get along.
Jen Jordan: The poor man. Silenced by the lack of a download.
Gerald So: Sean also wants you to define "noir" because he knows how you love to do that.
Jen Jordan: Noir is the French word for black. Done.
Jen Jordan: Film noir and modern noir fiction are two different creatures, as far as I'm concerned. And definitions can only box in a writer and a reader.
Gerald So: I agree. Definitions don't help once you've spent some time creating any kind of art.
Jen Jordan: I've been trying to figure out what a "thriller" is now that is applied to so many books that never had that monoker before.
Gerald So: it helps to know what the form basically is, but beyond that, you have to be flexible or you're just mimicking.
Sean Chercover: Please tell Jen that I absolutely loved Expletive Deleted, and ask what was her biggest surprise during the making of the book.
Jen Jordan: There shouldn't be a checklist a writer uses when he/she writes. "Oh, looks like I've got a traditional hard-boiled mystery on my hands! My agent will be pissed!"
Jen Jordan: The biggest surprise besides it being published? How many people wanted to be in it.
Jen Jordan: How diverse the submissions were (and are for the second as well).
Gerald So: How many people was that?
Jen Jordan: Oy, I don't even know now.
Jen Jordan: I got emails and messages from the time I put info about the book out there to this day.
Jen Jordan: Having many who contributed write so differently in tone and content.
Sean Chercover: Jen, what is the most annoying sound in the world, and how do you transcribe it into text for a chat session?
Jen Jordan: Easy. A child screaming in the seat behind you on a long international flight.
Jen Jordan: I could have gotten all philosophical.
Jen Jordan: The best sound me be children laughing, conversely.
Jen Jordan: I hate the sound of the alarm clock, too.
Jen Jordan: Oh, let's change the subject!
Jen Jordan: How about them Yankees?
Gerald So: They are doing ok this year. Just ok.
Sean Chercover: I know that sound. I'm hearing it from the other room as I type this... and I wish you would get all philosophical...
Sean Chercover: You need a kinder alarm clock...
Jen Jordan: The evil one gets my ass out of bed.
Jen Jordan: And it is ancient.
Jen Jordan: Not my ass, but the clock.
Sean Chercover: http://www.now-zen.com/ Check it out...
Jen Jordan: I saw that!
Jen Jordan: So very gentle.....
Sean Chercover: Yes, it is. Just like you.
Jen Jordan: And expensive...
Sean Chercover: Yes, it is. Just like you...
Jen Jordan: I am gentle and expensive?
Gerald So: Here's a question: If you could write or edit a book on any subject matter next, what would it be?
Jen Jordan: I am looking to edit an anthology in which crime writers re-write fairy tales.
Jen Jordan: I am writing a book in which the criminal is the good guy.
Gerald So: The fairy tale book sounds great.
Sean Chercover: Gotta go tend to screaming baby...Congrats on the great anthology, and I hope it sells huge! You deserve it.
Jen Jordan: That from the man that has a book taking over the whole world.
Gerald So: Can't beat Sean for authenticity.
Jen Jordan: He should really write faster. As should Sean Doolittle.
Jen Jordan: Grimm Tales. When you think how very dark the first actual fairy tales were, I think bringing the two together would be fantastic.
Gerald So: I agree. You could also have writers do their own fairy tales.
Jen Jordan: Write their own, re-write older ones and from modern of historical perspective. Let their imaginations be their guides.
Gerald So: I'm a fan of Doolittle's books, too.
Jen Jordan: DIRT is one of my all time favorites.
Jen Jordan: And Manuel Ramos MOONEY'S ROAD TO HELL.
Jen Jordan: Well, this could gt me going on a tangent.
Gerald So: That's okay, it's a chat after all.
Jen Jordan: One in which my spelling will quickly disipate.
Gerald So: :)
Jen Jordan: When you read and review so many books, you want the ones you love to be in EVERYONE'S hands.
Gerald So: Yup.
Jen Jordan: I adore Martin Limon and, if given my druthers, would just walk around at conventions but copies of his books in peoples hands.
Jen Jordan: I did that with Sean's.
Gerald So: and then I feel let down when others don't like the book as much as I do.
Jen Jordan: It can be awful! But a few converts make it worth the trouble.
Gerald So: I always feel I should read more.
Jen Jordan: You'll never read enough.
Gerald So: I guess I'll feel that way the rest of my life. Darn my career path.
Jen Jordan: Think of how much we miss by sleeping and working and eating and driving....
Gerald So: Excellent point.
Jen Jordan: That might be why badly written books make me so very cranky and why I adore the great ones.
Gerald So: on the same token, I'm amazed by everything I write. I forget where it comes from after a while, and go "How did I do this?"
Jen Jordan: It's like channeling a spirit! Sometimes you can't type fast enough.
Jen Jordan: You did the story with the nasty massuesse, did you not?
Gerald So: I'm curious what patterns and themes people will find in my work when I'm gone.
Gerald So: Yes, I did.
Jen Jordan: You seem, to me, to show that anything can happen at any time to anyone.
Gerald So: Hmm. I don't want to think about my themes too much while I'm still writing.
Jen Jordan: Then let's pretend that didn't happen.
Gerald So: well, also, your description of my work was pretty broad. :)
Jen Jordan: The BQ blog project was the first time I read quite a few peoples work.
Gerald So: Yes, they are great. I do one whenever I have the chance.
Gerald So: I'd like to think I can do any number of things. That's why I write poetry, too.
Jen Jordan: It keeps you fresh.
Jen Jordan: And can make you aware of pacing.
Gerald So: Plus, I never write what I aim to write exactly.
Jen Jordan: It morphs as you go?
Gerald So: It's frustrating and yet I wouldn't want to trash anything already written. :)
Gerald So: "Well, look, as long as I have it..."
Jen Jordan: No. But all writers have that huge file of things they don't use but don't get rid of.
Gerald So: That's me. Except I use everything, all over the place.
Gerald So: "Look, I can sell it as a romance."
Jen Jordan: Is this Joe Konrath?
Jen Jordan: It's hard to fall in in love with a phrase or section and have to edit it when you re-write.
Gerald So: I know what you mean. I don't think I overuse phrases, but I probably do.
Gerald So: I'll leave that to scholars of my work when I'm long gone.
Jen Jordan: I assume mine will be in a bonfire. That I start myself.
Gerald So: That's the thing about a lot of writing. Gratification is so delayed.
Gerald So: you have to really like the solitary process.
Jen Jordan: By the time you're out there selling the work, your brain is full of totally different material.
Gerald So: yes, which is why author interviews tend to become generic.
Jen Jordan: Those that tour a book that they handed in the year before or more?
Jen Jordan: Oy!
Gerald So: "Uh, how did I write that part? I don't remember."
Jen Jordan: "The muse was fierce that day!"
Gerald So: Any questions you wish I had asked? :)
Jen Jordan: Nope! That was a lot of fun!
Gerald So: For me, too. I'm glad.
Gerald So: Good luck with everything, Jen, and keep posting those mullets.
Jen Jordan: There are so many!
Jen Jordan: Thanks so much, Gerald!
Gerald So: Very welcome. Have a good day.
Jen Jordan: You, too.