Next up in the Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with Morgan Boyd to discuss his new short story collection, More Devils Than Hell Can Hold.
Firstly, congratulations on the publication of More Devils Than Hell Can Hold! How would you pitch the collection to potential readers?
A junkie punk rocker’s revenge unfolds during a pot dispensary robbery. A surf rivalry in Santa Cruz escalates to arson and murder. An escaped convict hides out on a rural farm that turns out to be worse than prison. An incarcerated mixed martial artist enters a ‘fight to the death’ tournament for a chance at freedom. A hitman on the run finds love in a small New England town, just as his past catches up with him. A rockabilly couple hides from the mob in the wrong town. These dark and humorous stories, brimming with moral turpitude, and many more of the same ilk lie in wait within the pages of More Devils Than Hell Can Hold.
How hard was it to select the stories – and indeed the running order?
I chose these tales because they were accepted by various crime fiction websites in the past. I figured if they could pass muster with those outlets, they could hold their own in this collection. When it came to selecting the running order, I fumbled about in the dark, praying for a sign that never came.
What is the oldest story in the book? How do you think your style has evolved since then?
‘A Hell of a Hideout’ is the oldest story in the collection. It was inspired by an event that occurred near me during my childhood. In 1988, in downtown Sacramento, the police caught a serial killer. Her name was Dorothy Puente. She murdered her boarders to cash their social security checks, and buried their bodies in her backyard. When I wrote ‘A Hell of a Hideout’ I was trying to imitate Jim Thompson. These days, I don’t try to imitate other writers. Through lots of practice and life experience, I’ve been working on developing my own writing voice.
Do you have a favourite story in the collection? If so, why is it your favourite?
I don’t have a favorite, but there is a line I really like. In the story ‘Charlie Knuckles’ the protagonist says, “He’s just a scared little cow, and I’m the big bad hamburger factory.” I don’t tend to laugh at my own writing, but this line made me chuckle.
What do you hope that readers take away from the book?
I hope that readers take away a bit of entertainment from these stories, and that it makes readers want to further explore the genre, and discover some of the amazing contemporary crime fiction out there in the scene.
Do you read mainstream crime fiction, or are your tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene? Which authors are on your must-read list?
I mostly just read indie when it comes to crime. I definitely consider Tom Leins a must read! Your writing is very descriptive, action driven, and laconic. How do you fit these big stories into such brief tales? There are many must-read independent authors out there. Presently, the I’m about to delve into books by Chris McGinley, Tom Pitts, Rob Pierce, Alec Cizak, Patrick Whitehurst, and Preston Lang.
Which contemporary writers do you consider to be your peers?
I still feel very nascent in the independent crime scene, so it is hard to think of others as my peers. I’m amazed at how many writers that I look up to have taken the time to talk to me, to give me encouragement, to point out my mistakes, and to read my work. I consider most of these writers more as mentors than peers. Guys and gals like Tom Pitts, Patrick Whitehurst, Paul D. Brazill, Travis Richardson, Bill Baber, Rob Pierce, Jesse “Heels” Rawlins, Jim Shaffer, Kimmy Dee, Robert Ragan, Mick Rose, Jason Beech, and Beau Johnson are just a few.
If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?
Fuck, that’s tough. If I had a say in the matter, I’d reach for the stars, and go with William Shakespeare. His writing is miles ahead of anything else I have ever read. Not only does every educational institution around the world worship Shakes, but you can buy his image on socks four hundred years after his death. You know you’ve made it when they steal your skull from your grave.
Finally, what are your future publishing plans?
I’m excited to have a short story coming out soon in the Octopi From The Sky anthology from Dumpster Fire Press. Beyond that, I’m hoping to pull off a comedic crime fiction novella, but, well, it’s a fine line between funny and shitty.
Bio: Morgan Boyd is an educator, living on the Monterey Peninsula with his wife and daughter. He has an MA in Television, Film, Radio, and Theatre from San Jose State University. Morgan has had his stories published in Out of the Gutter, Switchblade Magazine, Near to the Knuckle, Yellow Mama, Tough, Punk Noir Magazine, Shotgun Honey, and various other crime fiction websites.