Drag Noir #FreeRead: Smallbany by Graham Wynd

Cover by S. L. Johnson
Cover by S. L. Johnson

In the run up to the release of Drag Noir, we’re featuring a few spots to drum up the excitement because, well — we’re so excited! Here’s a story from skulk member Graham Wynd to give you a sense of the flavour of the collection. Consider it a “bonus track” for the anthology.

SMALLBANY
by Graham Wynd
Content alerts: salty language, guns, drugs, sexual shenanigans

I desperately turned every door handle along the corridor while swearing a blue streak, trying to figure out where it had all gone wrong. The image of Bomber’s face covered with blood still haunted my vision though I tried to push it aside long enough to think straight.

“We have to seize the means of production,” Bomber had said. I laughed at the memory of his words and gripped the handle of the French horn case even tighter. There had to be a way out of here.

At last a handle moved under my sweaty grip. I pushed through the door. A supply closet: stacks of cocktail napkins, swizzle sticks and whatnot filled the shelves. Dead end, I knew. But maybe I could hide out here while things calmed down.

I threw the case in the corner and shoved a few bigger boxes together to make a leaning tower of booze boxes, then ducked down behind it. I willed my breath to slow down, but the ragged rasp of it continued. The bellows of my lung threatened to give me away if anybody tried the door behind me.

Maybe no one had followed me down the corridor.

Bomber’s gory face swam into view again and I cursed his name. ‘Means of production,’ my aunt Fanny.

Both of them.

“What do you mean, ‘means of production’?” Moaning Murdoch had asked him. He’d had that unfortunate moniker since back in the kiddie days when we were wet enough to let girls drag us to Harry Potter films. No matter that he outgrew the round face, that the big specs were replaced by contacts and Murdoch himself landed a scholarship playing for the Danes as a fullback. He was still Moaning Murdoch.

Bomber smiled in that way he had that suggested he knew the inside track. His smugness had only grown since he switched his major to business. The original plan to be a rapper had been scuppered due to his inherent lack of talent (which we all could have told him before but never mind that, he wasn’t listening).

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Drag Noir: Creamy Contents, No Filling!

Photo via Dangerous Minds (click to see original article)
Photo via Dangerous Minds (click to see original article)

While the order of stories may be subject to change, here’s the stories you’ll be reading when Drag Noir pops out in a couple months from now with a faboo cover from S. L. Johnson:

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

 

We’ve got a whole lot of interesting takes on the theme from folks around the world. I hope you will enjoy — I know I did as I sweated the choices. I was afraid I might not have enough submissions; instead, I had to make tough choices among some fine stories but the ones that made the final selection brought surprises and delights as well as that elusive noir spirit.

Doll yourself up and get ready for this one.

Live Rabbits!

White Rabbit will be hopping onto Amazon as a paperback any hour now so get your copy and burrow in with this noir tale of murder and the supernatural.

WHITE RABBIT PRINT BookCover

Things We Learned from Cult TV: A Call for Submissions

oncemore
Fox Spirit Books secret origin story begins with music…

“Fortune favours the bold.”

It’s typical that what I learned from cult TV is a little wrong. I never get quotes right. I gave that quality to the main character in one of my novels (Owl Stretching) because it amused me. Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may recognise this mangling of the line from the chilling episode Hush, “Fortune favours the brave.” I like the Latin version which has been attributed to Virgil, Audaces fortuna iuvat. I say it to my students all the time.

They think it’s one of my ‘very intellectual things’ I try to cram into their heads.

The smarter ones soon realise that I am as likely to quote from Buffy as I am from Beowulf. In the end they’re similar narratives (hmmm, new course idea…): Heroes coping with monsters, calling on friends, fighting evil to make a better world. While the Anglo-Saxon poem may have more gravitas in our shared culture, more people are likely to have been inspired by the television series — partly because Beowulf is often so badly taught, but hey, tv+DVDs+streaming=a whole lot of fans.

Even in academia, the study of popular culture has a long history. It used to be primarily a way of feeling the pulse of the populace, but now as scholars embrace their own geekiness, they delve into the depths and breadth of popular culture across the world. But it’s the personal effect that matters most to me: all the times I have muttered to myself, “Fortune favours the bold,” when I hesitated from taking a step or putting myself out there. I wasn’t thinking of Virgil, I was thinking of Buffy. And I did it — I was bold. I dared. Thank you, Buffy (and Joss and Sarah Michelle and everyone).

Fox Spirit Books was founded on the power of cult TV: we suspect you know its power, too. So we had this idea to crowdsource a little guide from the skulk, THINGS WE LEARNED FROM CULT TV.

Have you got a little story or anecdote for us? Have you felt the power of cult tv? Share it here. Don’t be shy. After all, fortune favours the brave. Just add something short in the comments below (be sure we have a way to contact you) and we will be in touch.

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Note from Aunty Fox.. We will be running blogs under the ‘Things we learned from Cult TV throughout 2014 with a view to collecting them in an ebook in 2015.

Getting Foxy 2 – K.A. Laity

 

SHOWkate

Kate Laity, The Prof, is not only a multi talented lady (university lecturer, writer, editor and the rest) but a multiple personality. She writes in various genres under various names, so you don’t get a shock expecting shamans vs aliens and discovering the raunchy adventures of Chastity Flame.

WEB Final Noir Carnival

for us here at FS Kate is the editor of the ‘Noir’ Anthology series. Each time she thinks she’s done we pull her back in with another title she can’t resist. Muwahahaha. The Prof has also had some short stories with us and will be publishing a novella ‘Extricate’  as Graham Wynd and a novel’White Rabbit’ under her own name with Fox Spirit in 2014.

extricate ebook 72ppi

In the mean time you can find her fantastic stories under K.A.Laity (fantasy and fairy tales), Kit Marlowe (romance with the importance of pockets) and C.Margery Kempe (erotic with a thrilling spy story line).

Call for Stories: Drag Noir

Photo via Dangerous Minds (click to see original article)
Photo via Dangerous Minds (click to see original article)

“We’re born naked, and the rest is drag.”
RuPaul, Lettin it All Hang Out: An Autobiography

Drag is a broad concept; noir is a fairly narrow one. Drag can be a way of playing with gender or it can be a matter of survival. In the noir world, it can be almost anything: camouflage, deceit, truth — or a skin to be shed at will.

Otto Penzler has always been really strict in his idea of noir:

Look, noir is about losers. The characters in these existential, nihilistic tales are doomed. They may not die, but they probably should, as the life that awaits them is certain to be so ugly, so lost and lonely, that they’d be better off just curling up and getting it over with. And, let’s face it, they deserve it.

Pretty much everyone in a noir story (or film) is driven by greed, lust, jealousy or alienation, a path that inevitably sucks them into a downward spiral from which they cannot escape. They couldn’t find the exit from their personal highway to hell if flashing neon lights pointed to a town named Hope. It is their own lack of morality that blindly drives them to ruin.

I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says, but I think noir ends up being a fairly bleak place — one where any bit of glamour or adopted power can be worth the gamble of discovery. It may even be worth flaunting it.

Can you tell who’s Dressed to Kill?

As RuPaul advises,”When the going gets tough, the tough reinvent.”

That’s what we want for DRAG NOIR: this is a call for stories 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.

Mercedes McCambridge in ‘A Touch of Evil’

 

An anthology is not a democracy; it’s a benevolent dictatorship. All editors have their tastes or quirks: if you want a clue to my sensibilities, check out my extensive bibliography and of course, read Weird Noir and Noir Carnival.

Stories should be:

  • Previously unpublished anywhere
  • Not submitted anywhere else
  • Length 3-8K
  • Formatted: Times New Roman, regular, 12 point; 1″ margins; 1 space after full stop; lines spaced 1.5; use paragraph formatting to indent first line not tabs; no header/footer
  • Identified with a title, your name (and pen name identified as such), working email address on the first page: file name should include your surname & the title
  • Submitted in RTF format via email to katelaity at gmail with your name, the story title and total word count included in the body of the email; make sure the Subject line includes “Submission: Drag Noir” + your name
  • Due by March 20, 2014.

We will ask for world-wide print & ebook rights for a year and pay £10 via Paypal plus a copy of the paperback. The fabulous Stephanie Johnson has been persuaded to create another fabulous cover image! We plan to launch the book in July 2014.

Butler Gender

Weird Noir Carnival at Bouchercon

WEB Final Noir Carnival AMZfinalWeird Noir

Fox Spirit is pleased to announce that we have arranged to hold a celebration WEIRD NOIR CARNIVAL at Bouchercon 2013 in Albany. For those unfamiliar with it, Bouchercon is a moveable feast celebrating the very finest in crime and mystery writing. Consider it the Woodstock for writers in the genre. It runs from the 19th to the 22nd of September in Albany, NY. Guests of honour include Sue Grafton, Anne Perry, Tess Gerritsen and many many more big names (and small!).

Friday afternoon at 1:30 PM we will be holding the “WEIRD NOIR CARNIVAL” with readings, promotional items and some giveaways! Join editor K. A. Laity, and authors Jan Kozlowski and Chris L. Irvin (and maybe some surprise guests!) for the fun and get weird, get noir.

Follow Bouchercon on Facebook — and if you haven’t already done so, drop by our Fox Spirit page and give us a like!

Can’t be there in person? Join our live Google Hangout!

It’s Here!

Noir Carnival launch day is here.

The Carnival is happening at lunch time today at Edge.Lit in the Quad Derby.

WEBNoir Carnival launch poster A3

 

All this week Sun-Fri we are running snippets from Noir Carnival.

Weird Noir

Yesterday Fox Spirit sealed the deal on publishing an anthology of Weird Noir edited by K.A. Laity, to come out later this year.

Here is K.A. Laity on the concept
“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.”

AMZfinalWeird Noir

This will be an exciting addition to the 2012 publishing schedule and a wonderfully entertaing read. More to come on this soon.