Where the heck Wednesday: Graham Wynd

I’m delighted to announce the start of a brand new feature of guest posts on my blog, featuring authors talking about the locations of their books.  Called ‘Where the heck Wednesday’, it will run semi-regularly on Wednesdays (now there’s a surprise) and I’m hoping to include as many locations, near at hand and far flung, as possible.

I was going to start the ball rolling in mid-November, but I’ve had such a good response to the idea from fellow authors that I’m kicking it off early, and my first victim, er, guest, is noir writer Graham Wynd who writes dark, even bleak stories and novels with an added blend of humour and erotica.  Over to you, Graham, and thanks for taking part!

Book Title: Satan’s Sorority

Setting: Connecticut, USA

Author: Graham Wynd

http://grahamwynd.com | Facebook | Twitter

satans-sorority

“I set my novella about the devilish girls of Sigma Tau Nu at a mythical Connecticut college because I thought it fit the story well: Sandra Delites comes from New York City, but she’s clearly been exiled to the wilds of Connecticut as a punishment. I know the place well because I went to grad school at the University of Connecticut. After living in Cambridge I found it a bit…rustic.

There are a lot of cows. I mean a lot.

When people think of Connecticut it’s mostly the ‘gold coast’—the rich suburbs just a train ride away from Manhattan. The north east’s ‘Quiet Corner’ is worlds away from that rich life even in such a small state. It’s mostly farms and former mill towns, both struggling to stay afloat these days. For a city girl, it’s the middle of nowhere, so Sandra feels quite marooned.

The undergraduates I taught were oddly complacent. The chief advantage as far as I could tell about the location was that it was easy to get to Boston or NYC. I was amazed to find that most of my students had never been to either place. They really lived sheltered lives. They felt a bit like the kids from Village of the Damned grown up a bit.

But in the spring, these quiet kids tended to turn a little wild. There was a patch of time that riots broke out on the normally tranquil green fields of the campus, and a few times even cars were set on fire. The fraternities and sororities seemed to provide a good training ground for that on many weekends. I was glad to be living off campus most of the time. I didn’t actually hear of any of the greeks turning satanic, but I wouldn’t have been much surprised (joke). I grew up watching a lot of 60s and 70s movies that were all afraid of Satanists, so it was a fun bit of nostalgia for me.

I did cheat on one thing: Satan’s Sorority is set in 1959. I have Sandra and her sorority sister Trixie steal a book from the library, The Munich Handbook, which has a ritual to summon Lilith. It’s true the Yale Library has the Paul Mellon collection of alchemical books and manuscripts, but they didn’t receive that gift until 1967, and the Beinecke Rare Book Collection didn’t exist until 1963. I have the library doing a little conservation work on the book they’ll eventually have, which seems fair enough.

Admittedly I was probably far more interested in keeping the occult bits reasonably accurate than readers will be. You don’t have to believe that anything the least bit supernatural happens in the story—of course the sisters of Sigma Tau Nu think the devil made them do it, but it could all be in their heads. I guess when you’re spilling a lot of blood, you always have a reason—right?”

***

A writer of bleakly noirish tales with a bit of grim humour, Graham Wynd can be found in Dundee but would prefer you didn’t come looking. An English professor by day, Wynd grinds out darkly noir prose between trips to the local pub, including SATAN’S SORORITY from Number Thirteen Press and EXTRICATE from Fox Spirit Books, as well as tales in the Anthony Award-winning anthology Murder Under the Oaks and the Anthony Award-nominated Protectors 2: Heroes. See a full list of stories (including free reads) here.

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The Last Laugh

lastlaughI’ve just finished this super collection of noir short stories from the master of Brit-Grit Paul D Brazill, and thoroughly enjoyed the lot.  You can read my full review over at Goodreads – and check the book out if you want a good, gallows-humour giggle.  The collection really lives up to its own title!

Hmm.  WordPress isn’t letting me use ‘hidden links’ at the moment, so here’s the url for the review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1635156425?book_show_action=false

Noircon 2014

It’s a shame this event (running from 29 October to 2 November) is all the way across the Atlantic in Philadelphia, because it looks amazing.

According to the schedule there’ll be interviews, talks with intriguing titles like “Three Minutes of Terror”, and readings.

For anyone who’s a little nearer the venue and would like to go along, registration is open right now – just follow the link on the main webpage.

Roman Dalton – Werewolf PI

I’m ashamed to admit how long it’s taken me to read this book.  So long, in fact, that Kindle had an upgrade while I was at it, and I had to download a whole new version of their e-reader.  And it’s only a handful of short stories.  Imagine what I’d be like with a novel!

Seriously, I do tend to read digital books slowly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy them.  In this case, I had a blast.  Paul D Brazill’s collection of stories, centred around a private investigator who’s a werewolf in his spare time (or should that be the other way round?) are tremendous fun.  That might sound like a strange description for such obviously noir writing, but it’s true.  The stories are a rip-roaring roller-coaster of monsters and mobsters, booze and guts, and (of course) the obligatory femmes fatales.

The setting intrigued me.  Described only as The City throughout, it had elements of 1940s America overlain with something distinctly post-modernist and European.  Smoke, mist and grungy bars vied with fine buildings and squares.  Mostly, the grunge won.

My own favourite story was probably the last one in the collection, the prequel ‘Before the Moon Falls’, if only because it was good to go back and see where the story started.  But if you’re looking for a good dose of traditional ‘private investigator’ paired with an unhealthy seasoning of werewolves, zombies and clones, then the rest of the collection ain’t bad either.

Story for Saturday

Okay, I know it’s not Saturday but if you like dark fiction and want something bleak for first thing on a Monday morning then look no further than Paul D Brazill’s latest short story, Life on Mars.

You’ll need something of a strong stomach, but the story packs a powerful punch in good, time-honoured noir tradition, with a great, ‘saw it coming but it’s still a knife in the guts’ ending.

Happy reading!

So that’s what I write

The other day I was leafing through a recent copy of Radio Times magazine, and in particular their film reviews. The classic (and quite brilliant) Ealing comedy ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’, which was showing again on one of the cable channels, was featured, and the reviewer described it as ‘comédie noir’.

This immediately rang bells for me, because it’s a perfect description for what I write. I’ve never quite known how to classify my stories before: ‘noir’ is a little too dark; ‘humour’ too, well, funny. But that wonderful French phrase sums it up to a ‘t’, and it’s something I’ll be using to tag my work with future potential publishers. So thank you, Radio Times.

On a side note, I really must catch ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets’ again. It’s years since I last watched it and I was too young to really appreciate the blackest of black humour it contains. I can still remember with glee the wonderful (and increasingly eccentric) performances by Alec Guinness as all the members of the aristocratic family. And as for that last line, “My memoirs!”, it has to be one of the best last lines of any noir film.

Drag noir

Fellow author Kate Laity has just posted this call for submissions on the theme of drag noir. It’s such an original combination that I’m tempted to have a go, particularly after watching an episode of QI, the quiz show hosted by Stephen Fry, the other night. One of the snippets he let slip about stealing cars, of all things, would be the perfect subject-matter for a black-as-night story.

Of course, first I have to write the thing, and that ain’t easy at this time of year, what with Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, Christmas gift wrapping, Christmas trees to put up and decorate, and Christmas just about everything else. Maybe in the new year, when the glitter dust and pine needles have settled, I can give it a go. Hope so. I’d love to support the cause.

All Due Respect

All Due Respect issue #1The first issue of this brand new crime magazine has just hit the streets, and very good it looks too. Nice ‘pulp’ style cover, a mix of fiction and articles, and stories by some of the big names in the genre: Thuglit editor Todd Robinson, king of Brit-grit Paul D Brazill to name just two. As the editors themselves say, “All Due Respect and your eyes: a combination even better than doughnuts and coffee.” Although I might pass on the doughnuts, thanks. Bit too stodgy for my liking.

Sticky buns aside, if you want to get your mitts on a copy of the magazine the digital version is already available on Amazon. Print version to follow soon. More details (of the zine, if not the doughnuts) at the All Due Respect website.