Dark and, at times, amusing fiction from award-winning author Dave Zeltserman

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bad Thoughts in the Blogosphere

It was a nice surprise finding this on the Dover Public Library blog (Dover, NH):

If you like mysteries told from a killer's perspective and don't mind a lot of blood and murder you may want to look into a little known subgenre called "noir fiction". These crime novels often combine obsessive passion with murder and always involve evil, weaving together just enough of the dark side to make one wonder. Most recently I came across an entertaining mystery that included all the noir characteristics, "Bad Thoughts" by Dave Zeltserman. I was so enticed by the tense, fast pace I immediately wanted another like it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nothing But Jerks over at Pulp Pusher

The story, that is.

Tony, who runs the show over at Pulp Pusher and almost overnight has turned his site into one of the premiere crime fiction publications either on the web or in print, is a very cool guy, and decided he wanted to publish my pulp story, Nothing But Jerks. This is one of my really early stories--I wrote this one when I first started writing, and a couple of years ago Jean-Pierre Jacquet and I adapted it to a comic book for Hardluck Stories Bank Job issue. It also features Manny Vassey who also appears in Triple Cross and Next Time (Hardboiled #22). In these early stories, Manny Vassey was mostly a two-dimensional caricature of a malevolent thug who was always eager to put his butcher's table to use, but I always had a soft spot for the guy and brought him back for Small Crimes, except fleshing him out into someone very real. Actually, I brought back two of him, both Manny Sr. and Manny Jr., but you'll see when Small Crimes is out next March. In the meantime there's a small dose of him in Jerks, a story about the problems that can happen when you have a bank robber with hurt feelings. And, yeah, there are plenty of jerks in this story...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Poisoned Pen Bookstore on Bad Thoughts

From Poisoned Pen's Booknews:

"The hardboiled savant's second novel (after HB club pick FAST LANE) is an ambitious genre-bender combining the paranoia and existential dread of the best noir with a liberal dash of The Twilight Zone. Bill Shannon, a cop in the Boston area, is still plagued by nightmares years after coming home from school as a boy to witness his mother's brutal murder. Every year, as the anniversary of her death approaches, Shannon's nightmares get progressively more severe until he ultimately blacks out and disappears from sight for a few days. Funny thing is, women have recently ended up dying in the same manner as his mother during these little spells. Could her killer be back...? It seems unlikely, since Shannon put him in the grave two decades back. Not to be missed. Zeltserman runs a fine online hardboiled zine called "Hardluck Stories" and is himself an up-and-coming star in the noir firmament." --Patrick Milliken

Monday, August 6, 2007

Defining Psycho Noir

Since I've been using the term psycho noir a lot lately in interviews I think I should offer a definition for it, especially since psycho noir is a relatively new term that's been popping up mostly to describe movies like Blue Velvet, Fight Club and Memento where the protagonist is somewhat out of touch with reality.

As far as how it pertains to literature, especially for Jim Thompson's great noir books (Hell of a Woman, Savage Night, Killer Inside Me, Pop. 1280, etc.) I posted the following definition on my Hardluck Stories web-site when I was requesting submissions for my psycho noir issue:

"...where the protagonists perceptions and rationalizations are just off center enough to send them to hell."

The esteemable James Winter posted the following definition on his Northcoast Exhile blog, which I think spells it out pretty well:

"In psycho noir, the protagonist is, quite frankly, a scumbag, knows he's a scumbag, yet deludes himself that he is not."

My own first novel, Fast Lane, fits both of these definitions, and I think sits squarely in the psycho noir category.

As far as standard noir goes, I look at books like James M. Cain's "Double Indemnity" and "Postman Always Rings Twice" where the protagonist crosses a line and there's no turning--basically the equally esteemable Jack Bludis's definition of noir==screwed.

Anyone who has a different definition for psycho noir, I'd like to hear it. Also, let me know your favorite examples of it.