We love things a little dark over here, so K.A.Laity has edited a short series of Noir anthologies.
The Noir series cover art is by the amazing S.L.Johnson
These are fantastic and unusual stories by a variety of incredible authors exploring the noir style and tropes in a variety of less usual settings. Collected on specific themes of ‘Weird’, ‘Carnival’ and ‘Drag’ this series of books is noir as you’ve never seen it.
‘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.’
Introduction by K.A.Laity, A Kick in the Head by Chloë Yates, Violets and Furs by Richard Godwin, Sins of the Brother by Karina Fabian, Across the Border by Hector Acosta, Corkscrewed by Jan Kozlowski, East of Écarté by Andrez Bergen, 3 Kings and The Mark by Carol Borden, Black Moon Rising by Paul D. Brazill, The Darkness Cult by Jennifer Martin, Identity Crisis by Katherine Tomlinson, A Diabolical Liberty by Jason Michel, Evil and Life by Asher Wismer, Gus Weatherbourne by Michael S. Chong, Wonder Woman Walks into a Bar by Leeyanne Moore, Charred Kraken with Plum Butter by Christopher L. Irvin, Yao Jin by Joyce Chng, Train Tracks by W. P. Johnson
Dark’s Carnival has already left town, but it’s left a fetid seed behind. There’s a transgressive magic that spooks the carnies and unsettles the freaks. Beyond the barkers and the punters, behind the lights and tents where the macabre and the lost find refuge, there’s a deformity that has nothing to do with skin and bones. Where tragic players strut on a creaking stage, everybody’s going through changes. Jongleurs and musicians huddle in the back. It seems as if every one’s running, but is it toward something—or away?
The carnies bring you stories, a heady mix of shadows and candy floss, dreams gone sour and nights that go on too long. Let them lure you into the tent.
Carnival: whether you picture it as a traveling fair in the back roads of America or the hedonistic nights of the pre-Lenten festival where masks hide faces while the skin glories in its revelation, it’s about spectacle, artificiality and the things we hide behind the greasepaint or the tent flap. Let these writers lead you on a journey into that heart of blackened darkness and show you what’s behind the glitz.
Underneath, we’re all freaks after all…
Introduction: Caravan ~ K. A. Laity, Family Blessings ~ Jan Kozlowski, In the Mouth of the Beast ~ Li Huijia, Idle Hands ~ Hannah Kate, The Things We Leave Behind ~ Christopher L. Irvin, She’s My Witch ~ Paul D. Brazill, The Mermaid Illusion ~ Carol Borden, Natural Flavouring ~ Rebecca Snow, Madam Mafoutee’s Bad Glass Eye ~ Chloë Yates, Buffalo Brendan and the Big Top Ballot ~ Allan Watson, Carne Levare ~ Emma Teichmann, Leave No Trace ~ A. J. Sikes, Fair ~ Robin Wyatt Dunn, Things Happen Here After Dark ~ Sheri White, Mister Know-It-All ~ Richard Godwin, Trapped ~ Joan De La Haye, The Price of Admission ~ Neal Litherland, Take Your Chances ~ Michael S. Chong, Young Mooncalf ~ Katie Young, The Teeth Behind the Beard ~ James Bennett
DRAG NOIR: this is where glamour meets grit, where everyone’s wearing a disguise (whether they know it or not) and knowing the players takes a lot more than simply reading the score cards. Maybe everyone’s got something to hide, but they’ve got something to reveal, too. Scratch the surface and explore what secrets lie beneath — it’s bound to cost someone…a lot.
Introduction by Dana Gravesen and Bryan Asbury , The Meaning of Skin – Richard Godwin , Wheel Man – Tess Makovesky , No. 21: Gabriella Merlo – Ben Solomon , Geezer Dyke – Becky Thacker , Lucky in Cards – Jack Bates , Trespassing – Michael S. Chong , Chianti – Selene MacLeod , The Changeling – Tracy Fahey , Straight Baby – Redfern Jon Barrett , Kiki Le Shade – Chloe Yates , Protect Her – Walter Conley , King Bitch – James Bennett , A Bit of a Pickle – Paul D. Brazill , Stainless Steel – Amelia Mangan , The Itch of the Iron, The Pull of the Moon – Carol Borden
Weird Noir Taster Paragraphs
A Kick in the Head by Chloe Yates
The knife was hot and sticky in her palm but no matter how much it made her want to heave, Maxxie Vickers wouldn’t drop it. Thinking about what was dripping from it wasn’t going to help her. Even as the car screeched to a stop in front of her and she could have sworn her heart stopped with it, she held on. The once vital organ became a static lump in her chest and it felt as though it wanted to choke her, but she held her ground. If she was fucked, these shitkickers were going down with her. All she’d wanted to do was earn a little extra money to pay for new veneers and now here she was, dead body at her feet, blood splattered all over her favourite dress and a carful of cropped haired trouble heading in her direction. Life was a fucking bitch.
Mr Mo had offered her the job that morning. He always asked and she always turned him down, but since Lover Boy had fucked her over with the rent last month and spent the lot on junk, she figured she might as well do it. Mr Mo ran his operation from the back of the club she danced in. She’d been taking extra shifts cleaning in the mornings to help pay for her new teeth but she knew she was never going to make enough to cover the rent too. It wasn’t vanity that was driving her; it was the hole where several of her bottom teeth should have been. Lanky Lottie Stilts, the circus act freak show that went on after her every night, who somehow made enough in tips to rent a penthouse overlooking the river and a boob job every other year, had whacked her in the face with one of her extra legs two weeks ago and Maxxie had been spitting blood for days. They might have been limp and useless, but swung the right way those legs were a lethal fucking weapon. She’d tried to get her to cough up for the dental treatment she needed, but Lottie was blowing Big Curly three times a week and, as it was his club, what he said went. So Maxxie had been reduced to cleaning up puke and mopping out the toilets in a dive that was barely palatable front of house. The departure lounge, as Big Curly called it (and didn’t he laugh like an A-class ass every time he said it), was a lower circle of hell. So when Mr Mo had made her an offer yet again that morning, she’d accepted.
Tony Lane on
Drag Noir : The introduction section of this book is not just funny and insightful but it genuinely made me think about things and in ways I’d never done before. That is just about the highest praise I can heap on any piece of writing. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in sexual politics but for me this book is all about one word, sexuality.
Noir Carnival : Carnivals are always a great inspiration for things that are a little odd. In this book that oddness has been twisted and darkened and yet somehow manages to inject some humour (albeit gallows humour).
Weird Noir : Be it Kraken or brain worm poo this book has plenty of stories that will surprise as well and entertain.
Starburst Magazine Drag Noir by Various, edited by K.A. Laity One of the nice things about the small press is that you tend to find more original and clever ideas amongst them, especially when it comes to anthologies. Fox Spirit Books tend to specialise in seeking out new talent and coming up with bright new themes. Drag Noir blends two things that work so well together it now seems obvious. The grim, gritty and hyper-sexualised noir genre and the glorious world of drag. Both share similar histories, and it’s easy to imagine a top hat and tails wearing Gladys Bentley rubbing shoulders with the characters from The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Raven Crime Reads on Weird Noir : What strikes me most about this collection is the sheer quality of writing on display, and the imaginative mix of ideas on show, to fulfil the remit of crossing genres in such a condensed writing form. I have a personal mission this year to read more ‘crossover’ crime so found this collection a perfect start to my year of discovery, and the neat con-struction of these strange and satisfying tales will certainly encourage me to read more short fiction. A tales of the unexpected for a new generation…
Weird Noir on Amazon & Goodreads