Online Issue 14

TSP OI14 coverAuthor Lee Murray talks about her novelInto the Sounds, and how traveling has shaped her life and writing, the actor she’d pick to play her protagonist for the series and her faithful author assistant, Bella.

Stuart R. West drops by to talk about his faithful companion, Zak, and his novels Secret Society (which may be one of the most original takes on a serial killer story) and how a real-life ghost town inspired Ghosts of Gannaway.

Jon O’Bergh is back to share the music his characters in The Shatter Point would listen to.

S.D. Hintz is also giving us the goods on the nosey neighbors who inspired The Witching Well and the reason he may just live in the creepiest house, ever.

ICYMI, Brian talked to Steph Post and Nik Norpon about their tattoos. And there’s a new story up at Zombie Cat: Waiting on the Stress Boxes by David Hagerty.

Goldilocks and the Dark Barometer

Every now and again, someone writes about the darkness that permeates Young Adult fiction. This leads to speculation about whether it is too dark, and summaries on the topic. I could do likewise, but I felt  already did that so well, I don’t need to.

What I did decide was that I would focus on reading some popular YA authors and titles and see what I thought. So, reads over the past few months classified as YA have included Nightwolf, Salt, The Fragile Ordinary, The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Out of all of these offerings, Nightwolf is probably the darkest. Salt has monsters and The Forest of Hands and Teeth has zombies, but Nightwolf focuses on real horrors some kids today live with, and although it isn’t pure noir, there is a sense of hopelessness and futility that permeate the story. It isn’t what I’d call cheery. The other titles have varying degrees of hope – for resolution of problems, for overcoming difficult situations, for the future. I didn’t find any of this unrelentingly dark.

Now, your mileage may vary. But here’s the thing. Young people are dealing with a lot of crap. We did, too, in our day. They’re trying to figure out who they are, what they want out of life and what others expect of them. They have to make decisions that will shape their entire future. And they’re looking at a war of words between politicians that might lead to war with North Korea and all kinds of other crap going on that could change their future. They want to assume control of their lives but they aren’t adults, so they’re caught between taking responsibility for their actions and having limited authority for their choices.

And everything they do is presented on social media for all the world to see.

Frankly, the stuff I’ve heard about via the kids over recent years has been numbing. They are far more aware of a lot of crap than I ever was. And I specifically started watching The Walking Dead because their biomom was watching it with them when they were eleven. Brian and I always felt we should have some sense of what they were watching and being exposed to so that we could have informed conversations about it, so a show I’d resisted watching became part of our regular viewing. (And they had some good seasons, so for a while it wasn’t a chore at all.) Frankly, if they can watch that when they aren’t even teens, it’s got to be pretty damn hard to top that level of darkness in fiction.

People read for all kinds of reasons, and one of those reasons is to escape. Another is to learn about things they otherwise wouldn’t get answers about. And another is to help them process things they’re dealing with.

Hells bells, I’m just glad to see young people reading. You want to read dark? Read on, I say.

Reviews:

Review: Salt by Hannah Moskowitz

 

Review: The Fragile Ordinary by Samantha Young

 

Review: Creatures of Want and Ruin by Molly Tanzer

 

Review: The Middleman by Olen Steinhauer

 

Review: Walking Shadows by Faye Kellerman

 

Review: Robert B. Parker’s Colorblind by Reed Farrel Coleman

 

Bye Bye Kindle Boards

From their new terms of service:

“You agree to grant to KBOARDS.COM a non exclusive, royalty free, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce, distribute, transmit, sublicense, create derivative works of, publicly display, publish and perform any materials and other information you submit to any public areas, chat rooms, bulletin boards, newsgroups or forums of KBOARDS.COM or which you provide by email or any other means to KBOARDS.COM and in any media now known or hereafter developed. Further, you grant to KBOARDS.COM the right to use your name and or user name in connection with the submitted materials and other information as well as in connection with all advertising, marketing and promotional material related thereto, together with use on any other VerticalScope Inc. web sites. You agree that you shall have no recourse against VerticalScope Inc. for any alleged or actual infringement or misappropriation of any proprietary right in your communications to KBOARDS.COM.”

You have to email and ask for all your information to be removed. Always nice for some assholes to come along and change the terms of service after the fact so that people’s information is already being sold. Jerks. Time to sign off.

Hulu Programming Campaign for Letterkenny

Now, Brian’s new favorite show is a Canadian show called Letterkenny. The first two seasons are on Hulu, and he wants them to get all the seasons added. So here’s hoping some of you will have a full appreciation for the quirky humor and jump on the bandwagon. Season 1 has a running joke starting episode 2 that has payoff in the final episode of the season…. just brilliant. These clips have nothing to do with the ostrich fucker, or my favorite joke about a certain book, or even the super-soft birthday party, but they do help set the tone of the show.

 

Now, this one… maybe not young kid friendly. But a great illustration of ‘show not tell’ writing. I know exactly what Wayne and Daryl think about Squirrely Dan’s revelation about his sexual experience without so much as a word from either of them.

 

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Online Issue 12: Zombie Cat

Lots of good stuff in this issue, as well as some news, so let’s get to it.

 

Willie Davis chats about his novel Nightwolf. Davis has some keen insights about the benefits of being an author, a razor sharp wit and some interesting anecdotes to share. Plus, there are links to where you can find him on podcasts. Check it out! And don’t miss my review of Nightwolf by Willie Davis.

Paul D. Brazill is back, sharing all the tunes referenced insharing all the tunes referenced in Small Time Crimes and the link to his playlist. In case you missed it, Paul dropped in a few issues back to talk about Last Year’s Man.
Gray Basnight is here to chat about alternate history thrillers, New York City, hurricanes and more.
Tom Leins is back to talk about Meat Bubbles and Other Stories. In case you missed it, he was here a few months ago, talking about the perfect cast for this collection.

dscf1052-0Who is this man that is not my husband? Who is Allan Guthrie, you say? Brian shares thoughts on the author he now considers to be a cult writer. The tragedy is that there are now a whole crop of hardboiled/noir writers coming up who don’t know who Al is and this needs to be remedied. The next time someone tells me that they are brave or redefining the genre because they killed the dog I have two words for them: Allan Guthrie. Oh, and did you do it to be shocking or did you earn it on the page? Being a shock jock doesn’t take talent. Anybody can say or write something inappropriate that will upset people. Earning every horrific moment of pain and violence you write? Making someone writhe in their chair as they read but having them so deeply hooked they have to keep turning the pages? That’s raising the bar in writing, and few will match Allan Guthrie’s talents at that. I sense a re-read of Savage Night in my near future.

 

zombie cat header wordpress final

Since so many people have forgotten (or don’t know) who Allan Guthrie is, there are also a lot of people in the crime genre circles who may not even know about Thuglit, Demolition, Pulp Pusher, Spinetingler and the far too many other notable ezines that were prevalent a decade ago.

When the owner of Spinetingler shut the site down, I was keenly aware of how much stuff I had out there that was lost. I was also aware of how many short stories no longer had a home. As a writer myself, I’ve had a number of short stories that were published online that have disappeared when other sites shut down.

That’s why I’m announcing today the launch of a sub-site for Toe Six Press: Zombie Cat.

Zombie Cat will publish reprints of short stories… maybe more. For now, we start with short stories that have been previously published. As long as they don’t conflict with rights bought, if the story has previously appeared in print or online it can be considered for republication. However, I don’t want things that are presently posted on an author’s website. The priority is stories that do not currently have a home online.

We kick things off today with “Absolution” by Mindy Tarquini, a story originally published in Spinetingler’s 2006 Spring Issue.

Reviews
Thoughts on Reviewing

Reviewing is one of the toughest things for me to do sometimes. On the one hand, it’s easy to give an overview of a plot-driven story and be enthusiastic about how it got its hooks into you and kept you turning the pages. That’s a certain type of story in its own right.

There are other types of stories. Literature was the perfect marriage of thriller and commentary, for example.

I wouldn’t even hazard a guess about how many books I’ve reviewed in my life. I was taught to review back when I was 20, in college studying journalism. And I had to produce things back then. When I started Spinetingler I wanted to talk about books I liked, so I started reviewing again.

These days, I review for Toe Six and Underground Book Reviews. Reviewing for UBR has changed my reviewing system, because I also judge the Book of the Year award for them, and have for the past two years. I was thrilled to see novels like Brian Cohn’s The Last Detective win BOTY last year and The Last Great American Magic win the year before. Hell, I don’t even know what genre The Last Great American Magic is, but I don’t care. Fantastic read. Enjoyed every page of that.

The great thing is that this means I get to read a variety of works that don’t always fit into neat genre categories.

It’s also meant that over the past few months I’ve had to revise my ranking system. I used to say mentally every book starts out as a 4 out of 5, which is a great read to me. 5 stars was reserved for books that really blew me away or stood out as special for some reason. Books that had major developmental and technical issues would fall down the rankings.

However, since the BOTY system relies on reviewers giving books 5 star reviews, and since that’s subjective, I realized that any book that does it’s job should get top billing, or it won’t be considered for the annual awards.

The simple reality is that I hate ranking systems. They are wildly inconsistent. Ask 20 people how they decide what a 5-star read is and you’ll probably get 23 answers. Art, by its very nature, is subjective. So my objective with written reviews is to give people enough information to decide if the book is right for them.