Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"American Bad Ass", Matthew McBride

Noir@Bar 4 is now history, but what a night it was! Noir@Bar is always special but this one was extra special, and an unpublished author (not for long I'm sure) really stole the show. Matthew McBride, performed his first public reading at the Delmar Lounge and had the audience in the palm of his hand from the first sentence. Oh, and what a sentence it was! McBride read from a new short story, "GUNPOWDER AND ALUMINUM FOIL", that he only decided hours before the event to read from, and may well have been the funniest crime noir story I've ever heard at a reading. This guys gonna be a star and I'll keep all my "Signs & Wonders" readers updated as Matt progresses, so you'll know where to find his material. There were two things about Matt that really stood out, the first was something Scott Phillips said, "there are alot of hard core crime writers who really have never lived it except in their heads, but this guy is the real deal, a real badass!". The other thing was something that I think is very hard to find, a guy who can write crime with humor. That is a real gift that I don't see many writers doing today. McBride is frickin funny. I mean laugh out loud funny and I for one, cannot wait to read this guys first book. Someone's gonna snatch McBride up very soon and you're not going to want to miss it. If you've read the terrific writer Craig McDonald, whose fictional character Hector Lassiter, "lives what he writes, writes what he lives", well then you you'll understand when I say that Matthew McBride is a living & breathing Hector. And...before you get the idea that maybe Matt stood out because of a weak field, hold up, it's just the opposite, McBride was up against several established hitters like Jed Ayres, Derek Nikitas, and Dennis Tafoya who all hit it out of the park as well. It was just that McBride did it with the bases loaded. Congrats Matt, I'll always be greatful for being there that first time & I'll be looking forward to following your future. A full story on Noir@Bar 4 & photos from the event will be up by the weekend.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

NOIR@BAR 4 at Delmar Lounge in St. Louis 6/28/10

Any mystery lovers in the St. Louis area tommorow night, should not miss this wonderful event, hosted by Jed Ayres and Scott Phillips. Noir at the Bar has already played host to Theresa Schwegel, Anthony Neil Smith, Sean Doolittle, and Laura & Pinckney Benedict. Tommorow night(June 28th), Noir@Bar will play host to two wonderful writers, Dennis Tafoya and Derek Nikitas. The evening kicks off at 8 pm. As always the event will be held at the Delmar Lounge. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Tom Russell and Gretchen Peters " rock the house"

After a recent disaster where our basement got flooded with a foot of water and raw sewage, it was wonderful to get out of town and head down to Nashville to see two of my favorite musicians at 3rd & Lindsley. Gretchen Peters opened the show with Barry Walsh playing 8 of her own songs, including "If Heaven", which was recorded by Andy Griggs and 2 songs recorded by Martina McBride "The Secret of Life" and "Independence Day". Tom Russell followed with Thad Beckman and played 7 songs from his newest album "Blood and Candle Smoke. Tom also played fan favorites "Stealing Electricity" and "Whose Gonna Build the Walls" to a very receptive audience. The highlight of the night though was when Gretchen & Barry joined Tom & Thad for renditions of "Ash Wednesday" & "Guadalupe" and then legendary singer song-writer Nanci Griffith jumped on stage as well. I couldn't help but think of my friend Ken Bruen as he's described both "Ash Wednesday" & "Guadalupe" as his lifes story. It was a truly special evening and all the artist hung around after the show to visit with those in attendance. I got a chance to talk with Tom after the show and was pleased to hear that he's still writing and working on his first mystery novel, slowly but surely. Nashville was the last stop on a 14 city tour and Tom was soon to be headed back to Switzerland for a little down time, where he would have some time to write. That's always good to hear as Tom's one of the best song writers alive today & I know his mystery novel won't be anything less. I'm still holding out hope that some day we'll see a Tom Russell tune honoring JPS Brown, a friend to us both. Be on the lookout for Monte Hellman's new film with a soundtrack by Tom Russell. That's 2 giants in their respective fields collaborating there. Can't wait till 2011 and Tom's next tour. However, for now I'm simply thrilled that my Mother got to meet Gretchen & Tom on a night she'll long remember.

Winters Bone, A Don't Miss !!

Winters Bone finally made it's way to St. Louis over the weekend and played to sold out shows at the Plaza Fronteac. I got a chance to catch up with it on Sunday evening and I wasn't disappointed in the least bit. The movie was true to the book as far as staying with the story but was obviously missing Woodrell's haunting prose. The location shoot was fantastic and gave the movie a gritty feel that it needed. The actors turned in strong performances, especially John Hawkes and 19 yr. old Jennifer Lawrence, (who I told you would soon be a star back in March) who plays Ree Dolly and is the film's main character. Also giving strong showings were Dale Dickey & Garret Dillahunt in limited screen time. Debra Granik did a tremendous job as the films director, and you also might want to seek out her earlier film "Down to the Bone" from 2004 staring Vera Farmiga. Down to the Bone garnered Granik several film festival awards. My hope here, is that the film will draw the praise it deserves, and in the process bring Daniel Woodrell (the author) an even wider audience. Daniel Woodrell, along with William Gay, may be the two most deserving overlooked authors alive today...I would be willing to make that argument. If you haven't read Winters Bone, read it. If you haven't seen it, seek it. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Killer Inside Me trailers and video clips on Yahoo! Movies

The Killer Inside Me trailers and video clips on Yahoo! Movies

I'm getting very excited about seeing this film which should hit St. Louis next week. I've been a fan of Jim Thompson for years but I'm an even bigger fan of this book in particular. I will warn you this is not a date film or a movie you might want to take the wife to. It's violent, hard hitting & demented. Ken Bruen told me he's seen it and that it does not capture the feel of the book at all. That intrigues me even more. It cannot be any worse than the first film version that starred Stacey Keach and was set in the Northwest, as opposed to Texas in the book.
I'll keep you posted after I give it a look see.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Charlaine Harris Interview: 6/13/10

Just in time for tonight's debut of Season 3 of "True Blood", comes this hot new interview with the wonderful author of those Sookie Stackhouse novels, Charlaine Harris. Charlaine is one of the sweetest writers you could ever hope to meet and is the author of numerous series, including the Sookie Stackhouse, Harper Connelly, Aurora Teagarden,and Lily Bard novels. I hope you enjoy this interview half as much as I did in doing it. I also want to thank Dannielle Harden, my step daughter for her assistance in preparing for this interview. Enjoy!! Interviewer: Rod Norman

1) Have you been pleased with the TV series, and does it bother you when "True Blood" strays from the books. Also, what kind of an impact has it had on your book sales overall?

CH) I am delighted with “True Blood.” The third season is going to be amazing! I went to the premiere this week and saw the first two episodes. I knew that the TV show would have to be different from the books, since the books are all told from the first person point of view, and a TV show can’t be filmed that way. Though the books were already on the bestseller list, the show has had a huge impact on my sales, which is also delightful.

2) You recently made a cameo in the finale of Season 2, what was that like for you & is it something you would like to do again?

CH) I wouldn’t mind, but I’m not driven to repeat the experience. It was a fascinating day on the set, because I observed how much work goes into a very few seconds of film. It’s always fun to see the actors and have a conversation with them; they’re all so talented.

3) Who does the art work for your dust jackets on the Sookie books & do they do your other books as well?

CH) Lisa Desimini does the artwork for the US covers, and I think the very difference of them got the books noticed initially. She also does the reissue covers for the Aurora Teagarden books, and I think the Lily Bard books also.

4)It seems to me you must have had some interest in Greek mythology at one time in your life. Would that be true and if so how has it impacted your writing?

CH) Yes, I was very interested in Greek and Roman mythology when I was in my early teens. I think you can see how that’s impacted my writing. There are some useful archetypes there.

5)Your leading characters are all strong women, have you considered writing something with a man as the lead?

CH) Not seriously. Sooner or later I’ll do that, but I really like writing strong women. Though they’re not always strong in the same way.

6) Did you always want to be a writer from an early age or was it something that just evolved over time?

CH) No, I always wanted to be a writer. I’m so fortunate that I was able to live my dream.

7) What are some of your favorite southern cities?

CH) New Orleans , of course. I’m also fond of Memphis , since I grew up near to it; Atlanta , where I have a lot of relatives; Houston, home of my favorite bookstore; and Dallas , where one of our sons lives.

8) I know author's love all their characters, even the ones they hate, its like their children. But, do you have a favorite or couple that you just love to write about?

CH) I love writing Dahlia Lynley-Chivers, who’s featured in several of my short stories. She also makes a guest appearance in one of the Sookie books. Pam is also one of my favorites. You can tell I like ruthless and sarcastic.

9) One of the best things about your characters is the way you make them relate able & real. Do you base some of them off of people you know or have met, or are they just composites melted together in your imagination?

CH) They’re most composites, created to be the characters I need to move the story along. Sometimes I’ll use a physical appearance and create the character, sometimes I’ll imagine the body and the character both.

10) One of the biggest discussions among Sookie fans is, who will she be with in the end...Eric or Bill? Do you yourself even know at this point how it will end or is that something that you'll just know when you get there or is it constantly changing directions?

CH) I do know.

11) Harper Connelly is a terrific series, have you been approached to do a TV series or movies about her?

CH) Yes, I have. We’ll see what happens.

12)So, how was the True Blood premiere in L.A. , can you ever tire of walking on the red carpet?

CH) Yes, you can. But it’s always nice to see the crew and cast involved in the show, and it’s been lovely to treat my family to an experience so out of the ordinary. However, answering the same questions over and over on the red carpet can be stressful and tedious.

13) When can we expect to see the "Dahlia" game hitting the market? Your thoughts on it as well.

CH) Oberon has sent me a timetable, but in case something slips, I think you’d better ask them questions. I’ve seen some of the artwork, and I’m delighted with it. The scenarios sound like fun to me; I plan on playing it myself.

14) You have a new T-shirt coming out w/ Harper Connelly and I believe the profits go to PROTECT, a children's protection service. How did you become involved with this cause and where can people buy this T-shirt and help kids at the same time?

CH) I am honored to be associated with PROTECT, a cause sponsored by Andrew Vachss, whose writing I really admire. I was approached by his people when they found I was a fan of his, and I gladly agreed to add Harper T-shirts to the fundraising effort. Go to my website and click on the link, and you can purchase one of the shirts.

15)Do you still get a kick out of attending events such as Bouchercon, Comic Con & other author events or are getting to the point where it's just nice to be home?

CH) I love to see other writers at mystery and science fiction based conventions. Comic Con is whole different kettle of fish; it’s very crowded, very stressful. I’m really enjoying staying home more and more.

16) Some of your fans may not not know that you sing some mean back up vocals. As was witnessed at the Delta Blues book launch where you helped back up Nathan Singer. ( I have pictures to prove it) ha.. Was that a one time thing or would you enjoy doing something like that again..any formal training in your musical background?

CH) Thanks, that’s an unexpected compliment! I had an excellent time in Clarksdale , and it was fun doing something so different and seeing the talents other writers have besides their writing. I’m pretty sure that was a one-time thing, but it was an amazingly freeing event.

17) Why did you feel comfortable selecting Alan Ball to adapt your books to TV?

CH) I think Alan is a genius. And I knew he got the combination of humor, horror, and violence contained in the books.

18) Where did the idea of combining a telepath and a
vampire come from?

CH) I figured a sane woman would have to have a disability to be interested in dating a vampire. That was my core idea.

19) It must have been extremely difficult keeping several series going simultaneously, trying to keep everything straight. I believe you once compared yourself to a Chinese acrobat juggling plates. Did you ever consider having them cross paths at some point? Such as Roe & Harper?

CH) Lily appears briefly in the Sookie books. But Roe’s world is too different to cross over with the others, and the reason Lily’s appearance was brief was that her world and Sookie’s just don’t mesh.

20) Any chance we will see Amelia again in future Sookie books?

CH) Yes.

21) How much longer is Harper going to refer to Tolliver as her "brother" ?

CH) She’s pretty much stopped doing that now.

22) Vampire politics can be confusing, have you ever thought of creating a family tree like system to explain all the different branches of their government?

CH) I haven’t, but other people have. Maybe one such chart will be in the SOOKIE COMPANION.

Final Question: In "True Blood", Jason says to Andy "This town might be full of dumb asses and rednecks, but their still Americans"... does that sum up our country?

CH) I don’t think so. I think it’s funny, but a vast over-simplification.

Friday, June 11, 2010

We're not talking an oil spill here, this problem should be fixed.

REED FARREL COLEMAN at Suspense Night 2010 in St. Louis,Mo. Thats a terrific T-Shirt you're wearing by the way. An Effingham Mustangs T-shirt..yes that's my team !

My problem is somewhat like the chicken & the egg dilema. Which comes first. Ok,so here goes..I have all these wonderful authors that I love to read and want to share with others. Simple enough, I talk about them on here at "Signs & Wonders" and I verbally tell anyone who is willing to listen to go buy their books. The problem lies within. They can never find their books in book stores to buy. So..how can you read someone you can't find? Oh, you can find John Grisham, Stephen King, Stuart Woods, Mary Higgins Clark,Dan Brown, etc... on the shelves and at every used book store & booksale. You can find lots & lots of their books. But, lets be crazy and say we want to read any of the following authors.... ( Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Craig McDonald, Daniel Woodrell, Duane Swierczynski, Ace Atkins, William Gay, Megan Abbott, Tom Schreck, Victor Gischler, Anthony Neil Smith, Sean Chercover, Katie Estill, Sean Doolittle, Derek Nikitas, Michael Lister, Ray Banks, Scott Phillips, Robert Randisi, Gabriel Cohen, Jack Kerley, Sara Gran, James Sallis, James Crumley, John Shannon, Tom Piccirilli, Bob Truluck...) Just try and find their books. I could go on & on but just take the above list and head out to your local midwestern mega-bookstore ( Borders, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million ) and see how many of these authors you find on the shelves. I attend some of the biggest used booksales in the St. Louis area & will be lucky if I find 4 or 5 books from this list of authors. I understand how it works, if they dont move quickly, then they don't stock them. On the other hand, how can you develop a following when they aren't available to the average book buyer. I pick up just about every copy I run across at book sales to share with others who can't find them. Some might guess that the above authors must be not well known or critically acclaimed or they would be readily available. You would guess wrong! Daniel Woodrell & William Gay for example are considered two of the finest living writers today, among their peers. Bruen, Coleman, Abbott, McDonald, are all up for either Macavity or Anthony Awards as we speak. Yes, you can find their work if you know where to look. If you have a computer you can go to websites for wonderful bookstores such as "Murder by the Book", "Big Sleep Books", "Square Books" or "Poisoned Pen" to find most of the above mentioned authors. However, that doesn't solve my problem of not being able to actually send a friend to a local bookstore to find great writers that aren't mainstream cookie cutter bestsellers. I mean no offense to those who are, it's just that the others deserve to have a chance to be read as well. We need a bookstore in the St. Louis area that caters to the overlooked & unknown wonders that are just waiting to be discovered and become your next favorite author you can't imagine living without. Allright I admit it, that's my dream, to someday open a bookstore that caters to wonderful writers you might never have heard of. I truly believe if I can get you to buy that 1st book, you'll back again & again. A guys gotta have dreams right.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

NOIR @ BAR 3 at The Delmat Lounge in St. Louis

Rod Norman, Jed Ayres, Sean Doolittle

Sean Doolittle, Malachai Stone, Jed Ayres, Laura Benedict, Pinckney Benedict

Well, I can't say the 3rd Noir at the Bar went off without a hitch but I can say it was a great time as always. On June 3rd they kicked off the night with Jed Ayres reading a short from the anthology "Surreal South 09" and was followed by Laura Benedict who read her short from the same anthology. It was about this time that the evening got really interesting. Sean Doolittle followed Laura & began by reading a short story from "Bloood, Guts & Whiskey". Sean was about half way through his reading when Steve Ewing, (formerly of "The Urge" began belting out a Sly Stone tune in the other end of the bar. I had nevewr heard an author read with musical accompniament before. It made this evening one to remember for the ages. Sean...soldiered on to the end, while Jed sweet talked Steve into turning down the volume until we were through. Pinckney Benedict followed Sean and read from his new book "Miracle Boy and other stories". This wrapped up a memorable evening...I only wish Scott Phillips could have been there, he was away on family business and could have been counted on for some additional theatrics I'm sure.Like they say life is often stranger than fiction ! The next Noir@ Bar4 is set for June 28th, at the Delmar Lounge, at 8pm. It will kick off with readings from two wonderful authors, Dennis Tafoya, whose hot off the release of his new novel "The Wolves of Fairmont Park", and Derek Nikitas author of Edgar nominee "Pyres" and "The Long Division". This is an evening you won't want to miss. Of course we will also get readings from Jed Ayres and Scott Phillips which never disapoint. So, lets spread the word and get your butts out there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

2009 Oxford Film Festival - Five Easy Pieces Diner Scene Recreation

Allright... I'll admit it, I'm sucking up here, but I'm a big fan of Oxford's Jack Pendarvis, who happens to be one of the funniest writers & witty people I've come across. Here's a short video of a recreation of his take on Nicholson's "Five Easy Pieces" at the Oxford Film Festival. If your looking for some humor in your summer reading, you can't go wrong with Jack's novels: "Awesome", "Your Body is Changing", and "The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure".

The DM Online: Square Books

Marilyn Monroe - Unpublished photos from the "Seven Year Itch"

Marilyn Monroe sings Happy Birthday to JFK