Q: What do Neil Anthony Smith, Scott Phillips, Sean Doolittle, Victor Gishler, Brian Azzarello and Christa Faust have in common?
A: They were all in the line-up at Murder & Mayhem in Muskego’s panel on noir crime fiction.
Fiction with a dark edge, where characters you like are in real danger, sex and violence often go together and a happy ending is the opposite of guaranteed. The guys on the panel are all white. All in that broad range of years in the middle of life. And all very interesting. Gishler wrote Go Go Girls of the Apocalypse. Azzarello writes graphic novels. Phillips’ first novel was made into a big-name movie with John Cusack (The Ice Harvest).
But still, the stand-out on the panel was Christa Faust. The first woman published by Hard Case Crime, Christa’s memorable. She’s attractive. Tattooed. Her style is a bit on the biker chick side. And she’s generally accompanied by her Boston terrier, Butch.
More importantly, she’s knowledgeable, assertive, well-spoken, and entertaining. I loved watching the gray-haired ladies at Murder & Mayhem (which I can totally say because I have gray hair and have passed that 55-year-old birthday myself!) visibly restrain themselves from clucking when Christa dropped the F-bomb. One lady near me, when the Q&A started, asked the panelist to define “noir.” And not in a “what’s your perspective on noir?” but the “what are you guys all talking about?” kind of way.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the pulp fiction kind of noir, the classic 50s noir with detectives, damsels in distress, and whiskey in the bottom drawer, but I like a good, dark story where somebody’s heart gets broken and somebody gets killed. Christa and the guys have convinced me to take a look at their work. And I guess that’s why they hit the road!
Good for Christa. Having more female authors writing hard case crime surely must help overall book sales?
Unlike you, my preference is for the ‘pulpish’ fiction kind of noire, (damsels in distress and whisky in the bottom drawer). That’s what I read as a kid and it’s what I write now. I am hoping that the emergence of cheap e-books will lead us to a revival of the ‘Pulp’ genre as e-books become what the cheap pulp paper backs were. My latest book is called “Come Here and I’ll Show You” and is definitely pulpish; the similes and metaphors are outrageous; the language is clipped and colloquial. The men are men and the women are damn glad of it.
Needless to say, the women are fast and dangerous, and the hero is a two-fisted man of action.
The book is available as an e-book on Amazon and sales are going well. So far, so good!
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