Jun 17 2010

The Thugs Come Out at Night

Last Wednesday night was the launch party for the new Thuglit anthology, BLOOD, GUTS, & WHISKEY. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Thuglit crowd gathered at the Village Lantern. Brass knuckles and shivs? Vodka shots and moonshine? Hair-trigger tempers and fights in the alley? Nope. Instead, I got to meet Todd and Allison Robinson, Thuglit’s creators, and their son (who goes by his street handle Baby Thug; he may already have a tattoo) and a bunch of writers who are just as excited to be in the anthology as I am.

Todd kicked the evening off by reading from “A Message From Big Daddy Thug,” his introduction to the collection:

“To those of you wondering what the hell a ‘Thuglit’ is, we’re all about rainbows, puppy dogs, and whatever Celine Dion is up to. Would I lie? ‘Blood, Guts, and Whiskey’ is the title of a Celine Dion song. Look it up.”

I was the first author to read. I didn’t realize it until Craig McDonald pointed it out on his blog, but I’m the only female writer in the collection (Craig also called me a “noir rose in a thicket of thorns,” which is a title I’m going to be using for the foreseeable future). My contribution to BLOOD, GUTS, & WHISKEY, “Son of So Many Tears,” was the second short story I published, and — just like my first — only the Thugs deemed it worthy to be seen by the reading public. (Thanks again, Big Daddy Thug and Lady Detroit.)

Also reading at the launch: Justin Porter (“Black Hair and Red Leather”), Kieran Shea (“Faith-Based Initiative”) and Glenn Gray (“Mr. Universe”). Todd read from “Death of a Rat” by the late Edward Bunker (also known as Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs).

Then, Todd sang.

Yes, you read that right. A musician had been playing guitar and harmonica and singing between authors’ sets all night, and he and Todd rocked the house with “Tupelo Honey.” The sweetest moment of the night for me was when I noticed that Baby Thug was completely riveted by his dad’s performance.

Jun 7 2010

Blood, Guts, & Whiskey

What are you doing on Wednesday, June 9th? If you’re in New York City, I hope you’re planning to come to the launch party for the new Thuglit anthology, BLOOD, GUTS, & WHISKEY. It’s set for the Village Lantern — 167 Bleecker Street near Sullivan — starting at 6pm and running until the bar kicks us out or the police show up, whichever comes first.

“Launch party” might be too tame a term to describe the festivities. More apt: “Booze-Up Bonanza,” as Todd Robinson, AKA Big Daddy Thug, put it in the e-mail invitation. I’ll be reading from my short story “Son of So Many Tears,” which is in the anthology, and several other shady characters — I mean, writers — have been corralled into taking part. Bring brass knuckles and prepare for a great night.

Apr 23 2010

My Debt to the Thugs

“Anyone who ever gave you confidence, you owe them a lot.”

There are lines from certain books tattooed on my brain. The quote above is from BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S — not the frothy Audrey Hepburn film, but the book by Truman Capote, a beautiful novella with a dark heart. It’s what comes to mind when I think of Todd Robinson and Allison Glasgow Robinson of Thuglit.

If you’re reading this site, Thuglit has likely already sucker-punched you with its addictive reading. (But if Google pointed you my way by accident, Thuglit is an online journal filled with phenomenal crime fiction; “Writing About Wrongs,” as they put it). It was the first place to say yes to my fiction. Before that, I’d been racking up the rejections. Some of them were form rejections, easy to shrug off. Others were tough, like the close-but-no-cigar e-mail that came from an editorial assistant at a journal that had held onto a story of mine for six months: “Everyone loves your story, but no one knows who you are.”

The thing about Todd and Allison (AKA Big Daddy Thug and Lady Detroit) is that they couldn’t care less about who you are. They love pulpy noir fiction, and if they take a shine to your story, they’ll publish it. They don’t ask about your qualifications or pedigree. Hell, next week they might stomp on you in a dark alley with hobnailed boots. Doesn’t matter. They gave me confidence about writing fiction, and for that I will forever be in their debt. They keep it simple: You write what they like, you will end up in Thuglit.

You may, in fact, end up in one of their print anthologies, too. BLOOD, GUTS, & WHISKEY, the third Thuglit collection, just showed up on my doorstep. Filled with fiction by Tom Piccirilli, Dave Zeltserman, Stuart Neville, Scott Wolven, Jordan Harper, Jedidiah Ayres, Kieran Shea… well, you get the idea. I have a story, “Son of So Many Tears,” in there, too. Here’s how it starts:

“Go in the peace of Christ,” intoned the elderly priest as Maire Kennelly made her escape. Her heels clattered on the stone steps as she distanced herself from the few penitents whose addiction to early morning mass was as keen as her own. She was glad to be out of the church, a fact that surely meant another dark mark on her soul. It had been seven years since Maire’s last confession, and when she thought of her soul now she pictured a Victorian silhouette with edges sharp and refined but coal-black to the core. As she turned onto the sidewalk, she wondered what effect words of absolution could have on it now. Saint Rita, hear my prayer, she began to recite silently, when a flame-haired woman in a black trenchcoat stepped in front of her.

BLOOD, GUTS, & WHISKEY will be released on May 25th; you can pre-order a copy from Amazon or Barnes & Noble in the U.S., or from Indigo in Canada.

Apr 11 2010

Welcome to the Dark Side

I’ve been threatening to start a blog for a while now. A second blog, I should say; I already have one called the Gluten-Free Guidebook. If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance or a wheat allergy — or if you just like to travel — please stop by. It’s been up and running for just over two years and covers a subject that’s close to my heart (and stomach).

But if you want to read more about my dark side, stick around here. I write crime fiction, and my first novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, will be released this October by Forge. You can find my short stories all over the Internet, on sites such as Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp, A Twist of Noir, and Crimefactory. For years I’ve been writing travel guidebooks for Frommer’s and sneaking the things that really interest me — Gothic architecture, cemeteries, and film noir settings — into them. Now I’m using my travels to places like Prague, Paris, and Peru as backdrops for my fiction. It’s much more fun this way.