From Idea to Page: Weird Noir

Out soon from Fox Spirit Books!

How do you get from the idea to the story? Here’s a few more of the Weird Noir crew to tell you how they made their uncanny dreams come true:

Creating “Sins of the Brother” by Karina Fabian
 
“It’s been done, Kitten.”
 
I sighed. Talking to my well-read husband could be like sleeping on a bed of tacks—everywhere you turn, there’s a sharp point. For half an hour, I’d brought up story ideas only to have them shot down.
 
“Fine, but I need a unique angle for a dragon story. I want to be in this anthology.”
 
He shrugged, his deep brown eyes echoing my frustration. That’s when the kids called us down to watch Whose Line Is It, Anyway. It’s a comedy improve show, where the actors perform sketches. Much of the humor flew over the kids’ heads like a Concord, but we loved it anyway, especially when they did the noir skits.
 
That’s when it hit me: I could do noir…with a dragon.
 
Meet Vern: an undersized dragon working off a geas from St. George to regain his dragon greatness. Vern lives on the wrong side of the Interdimensional Gap and works as a professional problem solver for people on the right side of Good but the shady side of Law. Vern first appeared in “DragonEye, PI” in Firestorm of Dragons, and has been in two published novels and numerous stories since. He’s uptight, cynical, and sometimes, very funny.
 
But not in the case of “Sins of the Brother.” Patterned after the 1954 movie, World For Ransom, Vern has to solve a kidnapping while protecting the kidnapper. Rather than a femme fatal, Vern’s doing it for a friend who sacrificed his life to protect Vern in the past. The romantic tension is replaced by the tension between Corsican twins, and the political backdrop of two worlds—one of magic, one of technology–forced to get along.

I hope you enjoy the story, and if you like it, you’ll check out Vern’s website at http://dragoneyepi.net. There, you’ll find a list of his books and stories, plus his newsletter and blog.
 

Andrez Bergen

I started writing ‘East of Écarté’ as a background piece for Floyd Maquina, my narrator from Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat, intended to address a comment he made in the pages of TSMG: “Turns out they were Seeker Branch reps and were recruiting me because of my experience as a private investigator (I don’t know why — I was a hack — but that’s a long story for another day and another book).”

But when I decided to steer the unfinished yarn into ‘weird noir’ territory to suit K.A. Laity’s upcoming anthology, it stood to reason I needed to ditch Floyd — who’s rooted in a real if surreal, dystopic/dystrophic world — and induct my other detective character Roy Scherer, of Scherer and Miller, Investigators of the Paranormal and Supermundane.

Aside from the fact he dabbles with the supernatural, Roy is most things Floyd is not. Floyd is more I: self-doubting, addicted to movies, a lush. Roy is the rumble-and-tumble type, cocky and cynical.

Here Roy is younger and fresher than in the other stories I’ve written about him and his partner Suzie. He hasn’t reached the pinnacle of sarcasm and cynicism but he’s started the trek.

Mocha Stockholm is a wink at my daughter Cocoa, six years old when I put together this story (she just turned seven). While I write, she’s often entertaining herself dancing ballet beside me in our tiny Tokyo apartment that’s 33 square metres. She accompanies DVDs of performances by Aurélie Dupont, Gillian Murphy and Dorothée Gilbert. Like Mocha, Cocoa adores ballet and creates her own choreography on the fly, with touches of comedy, so of course I glance her way and it’s had its influence.

The character of the male dancer here, Bruno Lermentov, is heavily based on Bruno the “Slobokian Acrobatic Bear” from Robert McKimson’s Bugs Bunny cartoon Big Top Bunny (1951) — a favourite for me and Cocoa — while the artistic director of the ballet company, Murray Helpman, is a loose nod to the great Sir Robert Helpmann, the Australian ballet dancer who choreographed The Red Shoes (1948) and played the evil Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).

Finally, there are some subverted quotes and character names buried in here from a wealth of ballet-oriented movies, everything from Dario Argento’s Suspiria to Center Stage. Why not?

 

How I Wrote Gus Weatherbourne

By Michael S. Chong

After I saw the submission request for Weird Noir, I was hanging out with my friend Mike the Bike, who owns a bicycle shop, and he mentioned a friend named “Gus Weatherbourne” but I probably didn’t hear him correctly.  Right away that name struck me as a great one and I started to think of the person with that moniker.

Next time, I had some free time at my old job, I started writing about the man with this name.  I wrote a short draft of a few paragraphs and liked the character.  About a week or so later, I lost that job and spent a subsequent stormy day finishing the story.  While the thunder crashed outside, Gus with his left clawed hand and his right hand of lightning helped me let the small stuff just roll off…

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Weird Noir: Up a Dark Alley

Out soon from Fox Spirit Books!

What makes a body turn to crime? Or a writer turn to the darkside? To filch a little Shakespeare, some are born weird, some become weird and others have it thrust up on them. Here’s a few more of the Weird Noir folks telling us how they came to write the twisted little tales they wrote. Would-be writers take note, but you may discover that the peril of your soul is too much to risk for mere publication.

Or not —

Writers are a strange bunch anyway.

 

JOYCE CHNG

Why did I write Yao Jin?

(Or “A dakini dame walked into my office…”)

A dakini dame did walk into my office, metaphorically. She sat down, blue fur rippling like some midnight blanket, and glared at me with her three amber eyes. Write this, she commanded me, write about my truth. So, I chewed on my cigar and asked about the fees. A decent detective still needed to eat and pay the bills, right?

She only smiled, showing her sharp teeth. You will have peace for the next few weeks, she promised. And that promise was my payment.

~*~

Ninety-percent of the above is true. A dakini dame did walk into my mind and refused to go away. What is a dakini you might ask? A sky dancer, if you want to be poetic. A wrathful protector, if you want to talk about Tibetan Buddhism or – more in depth, the Bardo (or the Tibetan Book of the Dead).

The dakini came in and made herself comfortable in the office. That happened after I checked what weird noir is and got a better idea (or picture). Then the images started arriving like sleep-drunken passengers on a transit flight… and refused to budge.

No, I didn’t set fire to the rain. I sat down and wrote the hell out of it. It was fun. It was weird. It was weird fun. I really enjoyed writing the dark world of the dakini and her friend. I planned for noir and it went south to the land of the weird. Toss in the fact that I like reading about dark worlds (Warhammer 40k, anyone?)… and the story became … well, you need to read it to find out, yes?

 

CHRISTOPHER L. IRVIN

PIs are overrated, or How I wrote “Charred Kraken with Plum Butter”

Private Investigators are overrated.

Well…not really. The trope populates much of classic and contemporary noir and the image of one is what drew me into Noir in the first place. So, in truth, the salty PI/Detective is one of my favorite characters.

Before happily stumbling into a call for Weird Noir via twitter (THANK YOU to whoever retweeted that link!), I had just finished reading What it Was by George Pelecanos (protagonist Derek Strange is a PI) and was in the midst of a paranormal noir anthology, Damnation and Dames (in which several stories begin with a blonde/red bombshell sashaying into a PI’s office.)

I instantly fell in love with the fantastic cover of Weird Noir by SL Johnson and editor K.A. Laity’s passion for the project. I had to submit. With the deadline looming, the only problem was I didn’t have a story that fit…oh, and my wife was due with our first child in just over a week!

The first draft of my submission for Weird Noir started just like the stories I’d been reading. A dark and shady character walks into Private Investigator Miles McGuthrie’s office and sits down. Miles drinks his scotch like water and takes it all in. Cue drama and weird mission! Ugh. It was nothing new. I don’t remember exactly where it was going, but it would not have been a fun tale to tell (or weird or different enough to set myself apart.) Thankfully my brain switched on and brought the axe down fast.

I challenged myself to let everything dump out on the page. I kept my protagonist, Miles McGuthrie, but everything else changed. Miles became the owner of McGuthrie’s Emporium and the setting moved from a real city to a much more weird and fantastical place. Thus, The Underbelly was born with sparkle fish, cricket jelly, moonslugs and of course, kraken.

The story was a blast to write and I see myself returning to explore more of The Underbelly…maybe more Miles and Frank!

What’s in the name you ask? Well, how would you like your kraken?

I’d prefer mine charred with plum butter.

Weird Noir: Tentacles Ho!

Out soon from Fox Spirit Books!

The days get colder, the nights get longer, and things seem to move in the shadows — which means it’s almost time for Weird Noir to be born! What sort of twisted individuals come up with tales to fit this mash-up of genres? I asked my writers to tell me a bit about the process of getting all weird about noir:

Chloë Yates

I knew I had to get it written, time was running out and the Prof waits for no man. Naturally slothful, I’d been putting it off, waiting for inspiration to strike. Inspiration is an unfeeling bitch alas and so I began hammering at the keys with nothing but the production of words, any words, as my goal. Midway through the first paragraph, Maxxie Vickers came along and kicked me in the nuts. She had a story to tell and she’d chosen me to tell it. Who was I to turn a good looking, if dentally challenged, dame down?

Richard Godwin

I set the ingredients in the pan. I raise the flame. You know, the texture of the meat that night was strangely familiar, reminiscent of a taste my memory had buried. But the corner of London I ended up in gave me this story, dark and lyrical, imbued with the Noir thrill of being touched a certain way as the moonlight shines on your skin.

As I hand you the menu I would like to say there are some unusual flavours on offer here, so set your palate to receive.”The notes are plaintive, haunting, as if she is singing of a time before her life was altered in some way.” Barbara Dauphin is a night club singer who plays Joe Billy Holiday at her flat. She wants to find her missing sister. She realises there is something unusual about Joe…

Jennifer Martin

When I heard the call, the call for submission, I jumped at the chance to have another of my stories published in an awesome anthology.

‘The Darkness Cult’ is a strange and twisted tale that first wormed its way into my head several years ago. I had toyed with the idea of making a novel from it, but alas, I hadn’t finished up that project. Although a complete work in and of itself, it could be expanded on at a later date.

I sat down after reading the call and just knew that this seedy underground story was just what Weird Noir was looking for. I had to flesh it out. Make it whole and ready for the world to read. I did just that. Like a madwoman, I sat for days at my computer and worked on the story with coffee flowing through my veins. When I finally turned it over to my editor for a read through, watching his reactions was reward in itself. He has never quite looked at me the same since reading that particular story…

More to come — we’ll understand the madness soon. See the full line up here.

Deadline Approaches: Weird Noir

Just a reminder there’s only a few more days left to submit! To what?

This: I’m editing a collection for Fox Spirit with one swanky cover by SL Johnson.

Weird Noir

On the gritty backstreets of a crumbling city, tough dames and dangerous men trade barbs, witticisms and a few gunshots. But there’s a new twist where urban decay meets the eldritch borders of another world: WEIRD NOIR, featuring thugs who sprout claws and fangs, gangsters with tentacles and the occasional succubus siren. The ambience is pure noir but the characters aren’t just your average molls and mugs — the vamps might just be vamps. It’s Patricia Highsmith meets Shirley Jackson or Dashiell Hammett filtered through H. P. Lovecraft. Mad, bad and truly dangerous to know, but irresistible all the same.

Writer already confirmed for the collection (i.e. I already have their stories or their souls  in my possession) include Richard Godwin, Joyce Chng, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel and Andrez Bergen.

But there’s room for a few more.

Story  length
4-10K (negotiable)

Payment
$10 advance against future royalties, split 70-30 with the publisher.

Format
Word .doc (not docx), Times New Roman 12pt font, 1″ margins, double spaced

If you have a previously unpublished story you’d be interested in contributing, let me know. Stories will be due September 5. I’m particularly interested in characters who show a little more of the diversity evident in the real world. And tentacles — they’re not just for weird porn! If you want some insight into the editor who will be choosing the stories, see my website. I won’t know how much space there is left until all my invitees turn in their stories (or don’t). So I won’t  get back to you before the end of September at the earliest, so don’t bug me (unless you want me to give you your story back so you can send it elsewhere).

Cheers –

Kate

(katelaity at gmail)

Submissions: Weird Noir

Having opened my big mouth, it seems I’m now editing a collection for Fox Spirit:

Weird Noir

On the gritty backstreets of a crumbling city, tough dames and dangerous men trade barbs, witticisms and a few gunshots. But there’s a new twist where urban decay meets the eldritch borders of another world: WEIRD NOIR, featuring thugs who sprout claws and fangs, gangsters with tentacles and the occasional succubus siren. The ambience is pure noir but the characters aren’t just your average molls and mugs — the vamps might just be vamps. It’s Patricia Highsmith meets Shirley Jackson or Dashiell Hammett filtered through H. P. Lovecraft. Mad, bad and truly dangerous to know, but irresistible all the same.

Writer already confirmed for the collection (i.e. I already have their stories or their souls  in my possession) include Richard Godwin, Joyce Chng, Paul D. Brazill, Jason Michel.

But there’s room for a few more.

Story  length
4-10K (negotiable)

Payment
$10 advance against future royalties, split 70-30 with the publisher.

Format
Word .doc (not docx), Times New Roman 12pt font, 1″ margins, double spaced

If you have a previously unpublished story you’d be interested in contributing, let me know. Stories will be due September 5. I’m particularly interested in characters who show a little more of the diversity evident in the real world. And tentacles — they’re not just for weird porn! If you want some insight into the editor who will be choosing the stories, see my website. I won’t know how much space there is left until all my invitees turn in their stories (or don’t). So I won’t  get back to you before the end of September at the earliest, so don’t bug me (unless you want me to give you your story back so you can send it elsewhere).

Cheers —

Kate

(katelaity at gmail)