William E. Wallace and the completion of the OEP Re-Issues

It’s been a while, and kind of a crazy year. How have you been?

Last year, almost a year ago, I announced our new partnership with Down & Out Books. I can’t say enough great things about Eric and Lance, who have done a stand up job with their own line of books, and have become home to so many talented writers with the inclusion of new imprints like ABC Group Documentation, All Due Respect Books, and of course Shotgun Honey. Also, respect to those imprint publishers Jeremy Stabile and Chris Rhatigan.

Overall, the change has been positive, and I have some really exciting books coming out in 2018 and 2019 which I might not have had a chance to work with if not for Eric and Lance. However, change has its obstacles, and of course I’ve thrown a few wrenches, maybe some lawn furniture, in the mix. The end result were some really tight deadlines for scheduled books and delayed releases of the One Eye Press re-issues. I know Lance says a a prayer and a curse for me every night.

What? Get to the point? Okay, okay.

Shotgun Honey is pleased to announce the re-issue of Face Value by William E. Wallace. Originally released in the summer of 2016, Face Value, would end up being William’s last book before losing his battle to cancer on February 25th of this year. It would be the only Eddie Pax novella, though we had talked about future books. I loved the work William put forward not only for himself, but for others, and the moments of compassion. In 2016, I discovered I had a brain tumor, and when you hear that kind of news your thoughts go towards the worst end of the spectrum. I was scared, but William without pause was there to lift me up and say positive things. This was when he knew that he had an expiration date that was already past.

Face Value is the final One Eye Press re-issue, which means that if you missed them prior you can pick them up again.

Next year brings a new batch of books, but one returns Shotgun Honey back to it’s anthology days with a collection that I’m proud to issue in late February titled Deadline: A Tribute to William E. Wallace. A collection of short stories written in tribute to William by authors who worked or have been supported William’s reviews and promotional efforts on his blogs. It will be edited by Chris Rhatigan, who also published works by William, and artist/writer James R. Tuck Jr., who will provide the cover work for the anthology. The line up is still evolving, but will include the works of:
  • Patricia Abbott
  • Scott Adlerberg
  • Elaine Ash
  • Greg Barth
  • Eric Beetner
  • Paul Brazill
  • Sarah M. Chen
  • Alec Cizak
  • Joe Clifford
  • Jen Conley
  • Sean Craven
  • Nick Kolakowski
  • Preston Lang
  • S. W. Lauden
  • Sean Lynch
  • Cathleen McCarthy
  • Todd Morr
  • Brian Panowich
  • Gary Phillips
  • Renee Pickup
  • Rob Pierce
  • Tom Pitts
  • Eryk Pruitt
  • Travis Richardson
  • Ryan Sayles
  • Will Viharo

So pick up a book (or two) today. And I hope you’ll come back as we announce more about 2018 and the Deadlines anthology.

Bad Citizen Corporation: An Interview with S.W. Lauden

Today we pull veteran Shotgun Honey editor Christopher Irvin back into the trenches to talk one on one with musician turned writer, avid indie book promoter, and dead eye interviewer himself, S.W. Lauden about his book BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION and his entrance into publishing. This makes a nice bookend to an interview that Lauden published over on his review and promotion site BadCitizenCorporation.com with Chris yesterday in promotion of Chris’s new collection SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE (11/10/15 280 Steps).


Let’s get right into this. You’ve had short stories published at some stellar venues over the recent year. Who is this S.W. Lauden guy hiding behind the drum?

Thanks for having me! I actually did this backwards, from what I can tell. I sat down to write the novel that became BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION about five years ago. I just sketched out the story idea, made a feeble attempt at an outline that I never stuck to, and started tapping away late at night and early in the morning. It wasn’t until I finished the first draft and started trying to connect with other writers that I became aware of the mystery/crime short story universe and the talented writers who populate it. That’s mostly thanks to Travis Richardson, who I got to know through the Mystery Writers of America in Los Angeles. He’s a great writer and I’m lucky to call him a friend these days.

SW LaudenWhile the novel was being revised, I set my sights on getting some short stories published. Again, backwards. The first thing I submitted got accepted by Akashic Books as part of the “Mondays Are Murder” series online. It’s actually a back story piece to BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION called “Swinging Party”. That put some wind in my sails, so I sent off a few more short stories. Then the rejections started coming, fast and furious. But each scrap of feedback I got helped me understand how to make my stories better. I’d re-work them, re-write them and submit elsewhere. Eventually I few pieces got accepted by publications like Crimespree Magazine, Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners and Shotgun Honey.

I also applied my experience with the short story submission-rejection-feedback loop to my novel. The story has morphed quite a lot over the last five years as I’ve grown, and thanks to some thoughtful critique and criticism. What’s stayed the same is the core concept of a punk rock cop who trolls the beaches of Southern California. I’ve been a musician myself for many years, and I grew up near the beach, so I had a lot of experiences and observations to draw on. It’s a fictional universe, but one that was pretty easy for me to construct.

Congrats on all the success! That’s great to see you were able to incorporate the success (and rejection) of your short fiction into the novel. You mentioned Travis Richardson – there’s been a wave of impressive crime fiction coming out of California in the last couple of years – yourself, Travis, Eric Beetner, Joe Clifford, Steph Cha, Tom Pitts, Craig Faustus Buck, Jordan Harper (I could go on…) – do you do anything consciously to separate your voice/work from the pack? Any west coast writers influence and/or inspire your fiction?

Kind of mind-blowing to be mentioned alongside all those talented writers. There’s definitely lots of publishing action out here these days. I could easily add Josh Stallings, Matt Coyle, Sarah M. Chen, Mike Monson, Anonymous-9, Rob Pierce, Paul D. Marks and Danny Gardner to the list and we still wouldn’t be scratching the surface.

I think any influence the west coast writers had would be more noticeable in the the many revisions of BCC, simply because I hadn’t read many of them when I started it five years ago. What really inspired me to sit down and write the novel were a couple of European authors, Jo Nesbo and Arnaldur Indridason. I devoured their catalogues over the course of a year and really fell in love with their take on mystery and crime fiction. The subject matter and tone of their novels is somber and dark, as is often the case with the settings, but there’s tons of action and the characters are front and center. That’s something that I appreciate as a reader and aspire to as a writer. So I guess it’s a combination of all those influences, in addition to the literary fiction and YA I’ve been known to read.

I don’t think I have to do anything to set myself apart from other writers—west coast, European or otherwise—because I couldn’t possibly write like any of them even if I tried.

Was there an “aha!” moment during your writing where you found your voice?

There wasn’t really a specific moment when the lights went on, but I do remember BCC getting easier around half way through the first draft. I’d finally gotten comfortable with the characters and it seemed less like I was inventing them and more like I was reporting on them. After that I was able to loosen up a little and have more fun with it. I totally rewrote the Marco character at that point and he became the sort of comic relief that (I hope) he is in the final manuscript. Shit was getting too serious. I needed a junkie to swoop in and make with the funny.

Thinking back on the book, the influence of the European authors you mention is really interesting. While there is quite a bit of realistic action in the book, the central mysteries play a larger role, to a point where I think one could argue the novel is a mystery or detective novel with elements of crime. I mean that in the best way as I think it attracts a large audience. In your mind, who are your readers? Who do you want to be your readers?

I have been doing weekly author Q&As on my blog for the last year. One question I’ll often ask is about genre and how important it is. The tone of the responses varies (some writers really hate genre discussions), but the general consensus is that genre doesn’t matter much to authors—at least the ones I’ve interviewed. And I think that’s true for me too. When it comes to BCC, I’ve somehow managed to stay blissfully ignorant about whether it’s mystery or crime or some hybrid of the two. I think that as a reader I view mystery and crime as fraternal twins, anyway. And, like I said above, I regularly read stuff outside of those genres.

As for who my readers are, I’m still at the “I hope to hell somebody reads it” phase. It would be great if fans of Kem Nunn and Don Winslow find BCC because I think it fits in with their Surf Noir books (genre alert!). TAPPING THE SOURCE, THE DAWN PATROL and THE DOGS OF WINTER are among my favorites. Definitely not a comparison—those guys are true masters—but there are some obvious thematic and geographical similarities. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe I just want Kem Nunn and Don Winslow to read BCC. Can you make that happen? Thanks, bro.

Have you taken a look back at your short work as a whole? Seen any themes develop that you were unaware of (while writing) across them? If so, did they make it into the novel as well?

Funny you should mention that because I’m reading this really great short story collection right now. It’s called SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE. Ever heard of it?! I recommend it highly.

But enough about you…

This might not sound terribly original, but a lot of my short stories contain some kind of moral struggle. As a reader I am really interested in what motivates characters, and that seems to find its way into my writing as well. I think there’s a lot of that in Greg Salem. He’s a total bro, but not necessarily the beer-swilling meathead variety. For guys like Greg, “bro” is shorthand for a specific kind of blue collar social contract that puts blind allegiance to friends above almost anything else. Sort of like a gang, only without all the structure. It really defines his personality and leads him to make decisions that aren’t necessarily in his own best interest. It’s an ingrained sense of duty, coupled with a mistrust for the local police, that ultimately compels him to find his friend’s killer.

Ha, thank you. And I see what you mean with Greg. One of my favorite aspects of Greg Salem is the very different (and separate) worlds he straddles – punk rock and law enforcement. You can immediately see parallels to many creatives who must work a full-time day job in addition to writing/drawing/etc. Did you draw inspiration from your own life?

Definitely. I had a lot of different jobs when I was pursuing a career in music, everything from bartending and waiting tables to journalism and temp work. You know, cleaning off the nail polish and washing last night’s glitter out of your hair so you could go bus tables at a wedding reception the next day. And now I’m a writer with a desk job.

With Greg Salem, I wanted to explore what that struggle looks like as he got older—the sacrifices and compromises that artists have to make in the face of the constant temptation to hang it all up in favor of stability (whatever that is these days). Making him a cop seemed like an extreme juxtaposition to the angry, idealistic punk he was as a teenager and I hoped it would give him an interesting internal struggle to deal with. Also, it’s fun to say you wrote a novel about a punk rock cop.

True! That’s a great tag line. What’s next for Greg? From an unexplored past (i.e. his brother) to an uncertain future, you’ve certainly left a lot on his plate.

I’m about half way done with the second Greg Salem book. Writing about Southern California is tricky because so many stories have been set here, but I think Greg and his crew are leading me in an interesting direction for now. He’s definitely bringing along some people, and baggage, from his past.

The cover of BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION is fantastic. How did it come together? Did you have any input during the process?

BCC Cover FinalWhen I told people that Rare Bird Books was going to be publishing BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, the first response was usually “They make great looking books!” I’m happy to report that they lived up to that reputation in my case. Tyson Cornell, who started Rare Bird, found the painting by English artist Graham Dean and licensed it for the cover. I have to say that I was really blown away when I first saw it, especially since I was picturing something more along the lines of surfers and sharks. Maybe even a surfer holding a shark. And the shark has a gun in its mouth. A bloody gun. You know, something subtle

I hear you have a novella coming out in 2016. What’s the story?

Right before I finalized the BCC deal with Rare Bird, my amazing editor Elaine Ash put me in touch Eric Campbell at Down & Out Books. I had written a short story called CROSSWISE while on a family vacation, but it quickly evolved into a novella. I thought D&OB would be a good home for it and, lucky for me, Elaine and Eric agreed.

CROSSWISE is also set along the beach, but takes place on the panhandle of Florida. The main character is an ex-NYPD cop who follows his coke-addict girlfriend to her hometown. He’s working as a security guard at a retirement community full of colorful characters when she leaves him for her ex-husband. That’s when the murders start happening.

It comes out in March. I just saw the cover art for the first time and it looks amazing. Different vibe than BCC, but still no sharks. Hope to be able to share that really soon.

Looking forward to it (and the sharks, when you can get them). Now take us out! Any signings/readings/etc planned for BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION?

I was planning a traditional book launch party on Nov. 7 in Los Angeles, but it quickly spun out of control. You can take the drummer out of the band…

At this point there are 10 authors reading—both fiction and non-fiction—and four bands playing. It got so big that it completely stopped being about me or my book and became its own stand alone event, which I am calling “Read Out Loud”. It’s happening at a cool outdoor venue along the L.A. River and it’s free and open to the public. Proceeds from beer, wine and snack sales benefit Friends of the LA River. You can check out the Facebook event right here.

I’ll also be doing a reading at Book Show in Highland Park (L.A.) on Nov. 22 for the launch of the new Josh Stallings novel, YOUNG AMERICANS. And I’ll be at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego on Dec. 5. More propaganda about all of that can be found on my blog.

S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available now from Rare Bird Books. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

Chistopher Irvin is the author of FEDERALES and BURN CARDS. His short stories have been featured in several publications, including ThuglitBeat to a Pulp, and Shotgun Honey. His short story collection, SAFE INSIDE THE VIOLENCE, is out this November from 280 Steps.

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This Ain’t Halloween by Christopher L Irvin

“This ain’t Halloween,” Chaz said, revolver cocked and pressed into the intruder’s neck. Chaz had been nursing a warm beer in the dark trailer, watching the lanky man trudge through the howling nor’easter with alarming ease, robbing the double-wides across the unplowed lot, the contents of the burlap sack slung over his shoulder growing with each visit. Chaz’s phone lay silent in his pocket. The uncut drugs on his coffee table nixed any idea of calling the cops. Besides, the neighbors had been a nagging pain in his ass ever since he moved from prison to the park last year. They were always watching, mouthing off about this or that before Chaz could set one foot outside. It had felt good to be the voyeur for a change.

He cursed his curiosity, because the figure clad head to toe in burgundy sweats now stood dripping in the open doorway, letting the storm suck the life out of his home. Chaz had the drop on him but the thrill was gone.

He told the stranger to close the damn door, kicked a few empty cans out of the way and stood to get a better view. His legs wobbled as he leaned against the wall for support, but he kept a firm grip on the gun. The snow had ruined his tradition of spending Christmas Eve drunk in a bar, so he’d wasted the better part of the day making up for it.

The man sucked deep ragged breaths behind a plastic Santa mask that appeared old and beaten in the dim light. The left cheek and nose had been scraped, rosy red to yellow bruise and a splash of red around the corner of the mouth looked like Santa had found a raw holiday roast. His pants were tucked into puffy black boots and on his hands he wore thin white gloves stained black with soot or oil. Chaz ordered Santa to drop the sack and he did, spilling bottles of prescription drugs and bundles of cash on the floor.

Merry fuckin’ Christmas, he thought. His jaw dropped at the sight of the loot. The old timers across the street must be downing palm-fulls of pills a day. Serves ’em right. He could split the meds up, repackage the stuff. Between the scrips and his current stash, he could make enough to leave the terrible New England weather behind for good. Chaz looked back to Santa with a grin that mirrored the plastic toothy smile. But his excitement quickly faded. A tuft of curly gray hair poked out between the mask and hood. Worry lines in Santa’s forehead and grooves in his teeth made the mask appear life-like. Behind the tiny black pupil holes, something in his eyes whispered predator.

“Take off the mask.” Santa stood still, hands limp at his sides. Chaz repeated the command, screaming, his revolver shaking uncontrollably in his hand.

Chaz heard a loud pop and a crash as a bullet shattered the window, ricocheting into his knee. He collapsed in a heap, sending two stray rounds of his own into his favorite sofa chair before losing hold of the gun. Santa looked out the window, then crouched to sweep the presents back into his sack. Chaz cried out in agony, fingers clenched around his thigh but unable to touch the wound. Once the sack was full again, Santa paused and rummaged back through its contents. When he found what he was looking for, he held it up to his ear, shook it twice and, satisfied, set the bottle of percs at Chaz’s feet with a nod. Grunting, Santa stood to leave. He spun on his heel and opened the door to the storm. His eyes crinkled at the sight of the drifting snow. He pulled a striped candy cane from his pocket, gently hung it on the knob, then turned, put a finger beside his nose and winked before slipping out the door.

Outside, Rudolph sat hunched on the steps, his felt antlers cockeyed, cigarette smoke mingling with steaming heat from the gun in his hands. Santa gave him a pat on the shoulder and marched on. They were behind schedule and there were deliveries to be made.

Bessie by Christopher L. Irvin

The bathroom in Suite 905 at the Drake Hotel was magnificent to behold, though very few had seen it. Every inch of marble and glass was tailored to Max Weiss’s expensive taste. But as he bore down, grunting on his porcelain throne for the umpteenth time, it occurred to Max that none of the opulence helped him in his old age. His bloated belly rested on the seat, stuck out like a misshapen bowling ball on his skeletal frame. The pain in his bowels distracted him from his poor performance in the bedroom. He wasn’t sure which was worse; at eighty, his pride was slipping faster than his eyesight. He’d made the right choice to walk away before he couldn’t hold a glass.

A slender milk-white leg extended into the doorway, foot pointed downward like a dancer, showcasing violet nail polish. Peppermint oils wafted into Max’s nostrils, his mouth heavy with saliva. The girl was good, classy, but grit lurked under the skin. He told himself to request her again—if he could pass last night’s steak and regain the feeling in his legs. She hummed a tune, dancing the leg up and down, in and out. Max couldn’t place it, but he’d heard it before. Then she planted her foot and spun into full view. Dyed-red curls framed her grin. She’d crudely wrapped the cream-colored bed sheet from breast to mid-thigh, pinning it with her arms. But he wasn’t focused on any of that now.

“Bessie.” The word fell out with a sigh, the color draining from his face.

“Name’s Cherry. You forget that already, old man? That’s insulting coming from a guy who can barely keep it up, even with some pills.” She smirked and lowered the double barrel at his stomach, caressing the antique shotgun like she was looking for a slide to rack. He reached out a trembling hand for the weapon, a hand that once held great power in the Windy City, and now couldn’t even peel an orange.

“Whoa, watch yourself, Maxy. You gettin’ fresh now? I should have taken the gun into the bedroom.” She raised it up and ran her tongue along the barrels. “Maybe even gotten a bigger tip.”

Max shuddered, his groin ached. No one had touched Bessie since his father handed it down to him decades ago. He’d never even fired her, instead choosing to mount it in his home, taking care to grease the barrels and replace the shells over the years. His father always had Bessie with him when he left the apartment. He’d kiss Max’s forehead and then drive off into the night on a mission from The Outfit. Bessie was his father’s right hand, keeping him safe while Max fell asleep amongst the yelling and banging in the surrounding apartments.

Cherry pressed the shotgun to his chest. It felt warm but hadn’t been fired.

“Well, what’ll it be? Got any money or jewelry in this place as an incentive for me to make this quick?”

Max kept his focus on the gun, the swirls in the wood grain, the shine from the buffing he did last week. Familiar rage crept into his skull. How dare you challenge me, you—

“Hey!” Cherry said as she slapped him. “I’m talking to you and I’m not gettin’ paid overtime for this.”

“My father gave me that shotgun when I was sixteen. He said-”

“He said, ‘Son, you’re a man now. You’re going to earn a place in The Outfit and do your family proud,'” she said, her impression spot on. “You told me the whole story. Shit, Tony said your memory was toast.” She laughed and raised the gun to Max’s head. “I’ll take my chances with the mattress.”

You would check the mattress, you whore. She wasn’t smart enough to crack a safe, a slight satisfaction that went unnoticed as she gabbed on about Tony Garbanzo and ‘the new mob.’

Then she paused, tongue bobbing in her cheek. “What was that he asked me to tell you?” Her eyes lit up. “Oh yea, Tony sends his regrets.”

Max took both barrels. The sound was as beautiful as he imagined.