Book Review: A Lesson In Violence by Jordan Harper

A LESSON IN VIOLENCE (A.K.A. SHE RIDES SHOTGUN)

Author: Jordan Harper

Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

Release Date: July 2017

A Lesson In Violence – published as She Rides Shotgun in the US – is the story of Polly, a precocious teenage loner who is unexpectedly picked up from school by her jailbird father, Nate, and whisked away from her life in a hotwired car, before being plunged into a vicious world of guns, drugs and neo-Nazis. A ‘greenlight’ has been issued by the Aryan Steel gang for the murder of parolee Nate – alongside his ex-wife and his daughter – and while the armed robber may not strike anyone as father-of-the-year material, he is all Polly has left…

A Lesson In Violence is a vigorous, intoxicating California crime thriller that cuts like a prison shank. The book ricochets between multiple points-of-views, adding depth to an already engrossing story. While the starkest juxtaposition is between Polly’s (initial) naivety and Nate’s brutal know-how, all of the richly imagined POVs help to flesh out the twist-filled story. Jordan Harper deals in cinematic prose, chopped down into short, punchy chapters. It suits his episodic storytelling approach perfectly, and gives the plot a jumpy, propulsive charge.

As someone who reads and enjoys a lot of crime fiction from independent publishers, A Lesson In Violence feels like a particularly important breakthrough, as it strikes me as one of the best examples of a big publisher embracing the aesthetics, values and energy of the small press scene.

Suffice to say: A Lesson In Violence is one of my favourite novels of the 2017. Believe the hype!

Review by Tom Leins

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Book Review: Dark Chapter by Winnie M. Li

DARK CHAPTER

Author: Winnie M. Li

Publisher: Legend Press

Release Date: June 2017

Inspired by author Winnie M. Li’s own sexual assault in 2008, Dark Chapter recounts the story of Vivian, a cosmopolitan Taiwanese-American tourist with a penchant for travel. On a bright spring afternoon in West Belfast Vivian crosses paths with Johnny, a cocky 15-year-old Irish teenager, who lives with his belligerent father and delinquent older brother on a nearby traveller site. A brutal sexual assault takes place, and the book – which is told in the alternating viewpoints of the two protagonists – examines the chain of events that led to the horrific attack.

The alternative point-of-view – courtesy of traveller Johnny – initially struck me as slightly hollow, but as the book unfolds, this second voice grows more emphatic and more convincing, and Li weaves the two starkly contrasting viewpoints together with real skill – especially during the climactic showdown in court. Li’s decision to fictionalise her own experiences in such a matter-of-fact way is a brave move, but crawling into the mind of her teenage attacker is an even bolder one. While the characterisation of Johnny does little to dispel negative stereotypes associated with traveller families, the supporting characters do offer a welcome degree of light and shade in this regard.

Given the sheer number of high-profile sexual assault allegations that emerged in 2017, Dark Chapter feels like a timely book, and also an important one. An uncomfortable read, but an impressive one nonetheless.

(Note: As regular readers of this blog have probably realised, Dark Chapter represents a change of pace from the hardboiled fiction that I usually write about. Hat-tip: it was David Nemeth’s glowing review of this book over at Unlawful Acts that convinced me to seek out a copy.)

Review by Tom Leins

Under The Influence – David Goodis – by Matt Phillips

It’s fitting that I found David Goodis’s novel, Shoot the Piano Player, in a dusty used bookstore in San Diego, California. The place––on the corner of 35th and Adams––was overrun with angry house cats and smelled like a tomb. For some odd reason, the book itself––originally titled Down There––had flecks of dirt between its pages. Maybe somebody unearthed it from a shallow grave and tried to sell it for gambling money.

A story like that wouldn’t surprise me when it comes to David Goodis.

He kept shit dark; that’s how he liked it.

The opening sentence in Shoot the Piano Player? “There were no street lamps, no lights at all.”

For Goodis to start a story in such darkness makes it necessary to bring his characters to the light. To any light, perhaps. When it comes to the novel’s protagonist, Eddie the piano player, that means coming to terms with who and what he is. Eddie might have been a concert pianist, might have been famous, might have been a goddamn winner in a sea of losers.

But the final truth is that Eddie is down and out.

David Goodis somehow knew in his soul what it was to be down and out; more than anything else, that’s what you get from his novels, a surging and ceaseless sense of dread. You see it in Night Squad, in Cassidys Girl, in Nightfall.

Noir tells us that, for most people, things do not turn out as we hope.

In other words: Do not believe the advertising agencies.

Goodis knew this truth better than anyone, and he lived it out when he died a mysterious death in Philadelphia, the city of his birth. Two decades earlier, he had it made as a scriptwriter in Hollywood, but Goodis gave all that up––no story book ending here. Noir, people.

I do not know if Goodis had love or money when he died, but I doubt he had much of either.

And he was not aware that, after his death, his novels would be re-examined by a cadre of critics, readers, and burgeoning crime writers. And those very same novels would be seen not as run-of-the-mill pulp fiction, but rather as high drama done in the most accessible of forms. When you read Goodis, you find elements of tragedy and humor common across all the great art forms. You see the fall from grace in Night Squad when ex-policeman Corey Bradford argues with his own badge: “Without sound he’d say to the badge, what the hell, jim—we ain’t tryin’ to kid nobody; we sure ain’t out to cause grief or suck blood. It’s just that we wanna live and have fun and be happy; and we wish all others the same.” And you see the depths of addiction mined to the core in Cassidys Girl when Cassidy laments, “…in the deep ridges of his mind he saw the bottle as a loathsome, grotesque creature that had lured Doris and captured her and pleasured itself with her, draining the sweet life from her body as it poured its rottenness into her. He saw the bottle as something poisonous and altogether hateful, and Doris completely helpless in its grasp.”

If Goodis didn’t have love when he died, he sure as shit has it now.

As a writer of noir myself, Goodis taught me that it isn’t a choice to write about flawed people––it’s a calling and, for some damn reason, there are a few chosen ones who know how to do it…Who must do it. That’s why my own work deals with the bitter fact that, for lots of us, we are what we are, and there’s no escaping our faults and the faults of our world. Like my characters in Accidental Outlaws—to a man (and woman) they’re all warped by the desert region where they live. Their bones are seasoned with dirt. In my book Three Kinds of Fool, Jess Forsyth is a rehabilitated convict. But when he runs into an old friend, Jess’s previous life begins to cast a long shadow on him. In Bad Luck City, my novella set in the Vegas underbelly, a washed-up reporter named Sim Palmer encounters the sins of his father. Palmer’s dark journey illuminates the paradox of loving one’s family, no matter the bad deeds they’ve done. These characters—and their desperate lives—are the notes I must play.

And, like Eddie in Shoot the Piano Player, if you know how to play, you better damn well play. Doesn’t matter if it’s in a neighborhood bar or a fancy concert hall.

You can play, you better damn well play.

David Goodis may not be studied in the guarded halls of the ivory tower, but the man knew how to play. And when he sat down at his desk, rested his fingers on the typewriter, and punched those keys…

Jeez, a sound came out––and it was music.

Bio: Matt Phillips lives in San Diego. His books include Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. He has published short fiction in Shotgun Honey, Tough Crime, Near to the Knuckle, Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Manslaughter Review, Powder Burn Flash, and Fried Chicken and Coffee.

Website: www.mattphillipswriter.com

Are you a crime writer? Would you like to write a short piece about one of your formative influences? If so, drop me a line via the contact form on the About page!

The Interrogation Room – An Interview With Matt Phillips

Next up in The Interrogation Room… Tom Leins catches up with California crime writer Matt Phillips to discuss his new book, Accidental Outlaws (All Due Respect).

Firstly, congratulations on the publication of your new book, Accidental Outlaws. This one comprises three novellas – what appeals to you most about the novella format? 

Thanks, Tom! Yep, this book is a series of three loosely-linked rural noir tales. I have to give lots of credit to Mike Monson and Chris Rhatigan at All Due Respect. Originally, I had a larger collection with many short stories, but they helped me see the sense in putting these three narratives together. After edits from Rhatigan and Chris Black, the stories work so much better as a book… The thing about the novella format is that it’s a hybrid between a novel and a short story. You need character development and a significant plot, but you can forget about all the flowery crap in a three-hundred page novel (or at least most of the flowery crap). It’s about getting to the story and convincing the reader to read one story in one sitting (or maybe two). That’s my goal—make them hunger for the story and finish it fast. In short, writing a novella means I can forget about being a ‘novelist’, and I can just tell a story in the way (and with the speed) that I want. That’s what I like about the novella as a format.

As in the classic noir tradition, your protagonists are probably best characterised as good men who are guilty of making poor decisions. From your experience, are flawed characters more enjoyable to write than typical good guys and bad guys?

Yeah – I’ve got a thing inside me that, for some damn reason, makes me write about flawed people. And, sometimes, they aren’t the most logical of people. Most of the ‘good guys’ I know are pretty damn boring. Good thing I don’t know very many… the truth is that all humans are flawed. And all humans make costly and tragic mistakes. Nobody wants to read about somebody who does everything right. That’s because nobody identifies with that—I sure as hell don’t. I write about stuff I’ve experienced. That means I write a lot about screwing up and making shit worse. Are flawed characters more enjoyable to write about? Wouldn’t want to write about perfect people so…I’ll never know if I’m missing something. If I did write about a perfect person, I’d make sure he or she met a brutal end.

Impressively, Accidental Outlaws is your fourth published book in less than three years – can you tell us a little bit about your writing routine?

I’ve been so lucky to find great publishers in the indie crime and noir genres. Part of the reason I’ve had multiple publications is because the editors and publishers at Number Thirteen Press, All Due Respect, Near to the Knuckle, and Down & Out Books know what the hell they’re doing. They know what’s good, they get it under contract, they edit and design like madmen, and they put the freaking books out. As a writer, here’s what I try to do: I write at least 1,000 words a day. No excuses. No bitching about the day job or other commitments. No sad tales of woe or chagrin. No bullshit. Write at least 1,000 words. Don’t talk about doing it…Do it. And if I don’t do it—it’s my fault. I wrote the first two novellas in Accidental Outlaws at a desk I found in an alley and carried to my apartment. I wrote the last novella at a desk I built from an old pallet. I finished line edits on the book while my baby son took his two naps over two days. If you want to write, you have to do it…That’s not a secret—it’s just the truth. My process is to work. That’s all. Read. Write. Repeat.

You have worked with All Due Respect, Near To The Knuckle and Number Thirteen Press, are your own tastes firmly rooted in the independent scene, or do you enjoy mainstream crime fiction?

My tastes are pretty firm in the indie scene, but can vary a bit. Anthony Neil Smith, Paul Heatley, Jake Hinkson… Love the stuff coming out from Shotgun Honey and ADR. I also pick up the Hard Case Crime books though. And I’m forever reading Lansdale and Highsmith and Mosley. Not to mention Goodis, Jim Thompson, Elmore Leonard. I like to read a couple books at a time. Right now I’m reading Jordan Harper’s She Rides Shotgun and Anthony Neil Smith’s Worm. Just read Eryk Pruitt’s What We Reckon. By the time people read this, I’ll have finished these books…

After Three Kinds of Fool, this is your second book with the excellent All Due Respect – do you have any favourite ADR authors or titles?

Favorites? Shit… You’re going to get me in trouble. And crime writers know how to use guns. And knives. Okay, I’ll say this:

Both of CS Dewildt’s books…Love You to a Pulp and Kill’em with Kindness.

The Deepening Shade by Jake Hinkson. I like Daniel Vlasaty’s books, too. Read Only Bones. Do it.

Which writers do you consider to be your peers?

All the indie writers I’ve mentioned above along with people like Eric Beetner, S.W. Lauden, Rusty Barnes, Grant Nicol, Greg Barth… I’d say people like Rob Hart and Megan Abbott too. Yeah, why not? Jordan Harper. Richard Lange. You too, Tom. I mean, we’re all doing this shit together – am I right?

If you could recommend one crime novel that people are unlikely to have heard of, what would it be?

Well, there’s one that people might’ve heard of, but maybe haven’t read. It’s a favorite of mine: Elmore Leonard’s Unknown Man #89.

If your career trajectory could follow that of any well-known writer, who would you choose, and why?

Tough question. I’d say someone like David Goodis really impresses me. Even when things weren’t going great, he did his work. And, after all the years, he created a phenomenal body of work. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to make a little money and drink some decent whiskey, but I’m just happy if people like the books. As long as I can keep my family life fruitful and positive while doing my work – I’m happy as hell with that.

Finally, what are your future publishing plans?

Got a book coming out next year from Shotgun Honey. It’s a comedic noir novella called The Bad Kind of Lucky. I’ve got another couple of noir novels waiting to land with the right publisher, and I’m at work on a super-dark three-book hardboiled saga. Some detective shit.

Bio: Matt Phillips lives in San Diego. His books include Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. He has published short fiction in Shotgun Honey, Tough Crime, Near to the Knuckle, Out of the Gutter’s Flash Fiction Offensive, Manslaughter Review, Powder Burn Flash, and Fried Chicken and Coffee.

Website: www.mattphillipswriter.com

The Interrogation Room – Wrestle Maniacs Special – Jason Parent

Next up in my series of interviews to celebrate the launch of the new anthology WRESTLE MANIACS is… Jason Parent!

Name: Jason Parent
Story Title: Canadian Donkey Punch

Firstly, how would you pitch your story to potential readers?

Umm…  that’s a tough one. Well, you see, it’s called Canadian Donkey Punch, and… uhhh… there’s this guy. He’s a ref. And, ah fuck it! I learned it from watching you, Howe. I learned it from watching you!

Did it turn out how you expected?

That’s an easy one. No. Except for the poutine, that was always intended.

What is the first wrestling match that you can recall watching?

The first? Probably something with George ‘The Animal’ Steele eating a turnbuckle!

Do you have any favourite eras, or matches?

My favorite wrestler of all time is easily Mick Foley in all his incarnations (including Dude Love), so the best match for me was when Undertaker threw him off the steel cage. He wasn’t the prettiest or the most athletic, but no one took a beating like Foley.

If you had to compare your fiction to any wrestler, who would it be and why?

Curt Hennig because it’s perfect. Seriously, though, Val Venus, because you’ll feel dirty for liking it.

Which of your fellow contributors would be most likely to win a Battle Royale?

That’s assuming I’ve been disqualified, of course… So out of the pathetic, scrawny rabble that remains, I’m going with Duncan Bradshaw, since he at least shares a name with a wrestler who could kick some ass.

Finally, do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017/18 and beyond?

I have two novels that will be released within the next couple of months: the first a reprint of What Hides Within, a horror/mystery/comedy from Bloodshot Books, and the second, They Feed, a fast-paced creature feature from Sinister Grin.

Amazon US

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The Interrogation Room – Wrestle Maniacs Special – Patrick Lacey

Next up in my series of interviews to celebrate the launch of the new anthology WRESTLE MANIACS is… Patrick Lacey!

Name: Patrick Lacey

Story Title: Kill To Be You

Firstly, how would you pitch your story to potential readers?

I’d first ask them if they like meta-wrestling fiction involving parallel dimensions and cybernetic spider monsters. If they say yes, then we’re in business.

Did it turn out how you expected?

Not even a little bit. I went into writing this story with something more straight forward in mind, a Twilight Zone-esque horror story, but wound up with one of the strangest things I’ve ever written.

What is the first wrestling match that you can recall watching?

It’s hazy because, as a kid, my attention span wasn’t the best when it came to wrestling but if I had to guess, it probably involved Undertaker because: Undertaker.

Do you have any favourite eras, or matches?

Definitely the early to mid-nineties for pure nostalgic reasons. That’s when I was in my prime wrestling age.

If you had to compare your fiction to any wrestler, who would it be and why?

I want to say Papa Shango, even though he was maligned as being too gimmicky, but in my mind he was just misunderstood.

Which of your fellow contributors would be most likely to win a Battle Royale?

Gabino [Iglesias] within, like, 30 seconds.

Finally, do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017/18 and beyond?

Yes. I have two novels coming out in 2018. The first, BONE SAW, is the weirdest full length piece I’ve ever written. It’s got movie monsters come to life, seedy directors, a conniving she-demon, and a private detective who’s addicted to cough medicine. The second, PRACTICIONERS, was co-written with Matt Hayward, and is being pitched as True Detective meets A Nightmare on Elm Street. Much more in the realm of crime than my usual stuff.

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The Interrogation Room – Wrestle Maniacs Special – David James Keaton

Next up in my series of interviews to celebrate the launch of the new anthology WRESTLE MANIACS is… David James Keaton!

Name: David James Keaton

Story Title: El Kabong

Firstly, how would you pitch your story to potential readers?

It’s sort of in that limbo between a wrestling story and a masked vigilante story? The masked man wears one of those Kentucky Derby rubber horse head deals, and he runs around with brass knuckles beating the shit out of street musicians. Somewhere in there is motivation and character development, but there’s a certain sort of reader out there who might have been sold as soon as I mentioned the street-musician thing. Not that I have anything against buskers! But it’s their turn.

Did it turn out how you expected?

Not at all. Originally I was calling it “The Lucha Horse,” and having no rhyme or reason to the brass-knuckles rampage, but then when I started looking at possible inspirations for this idiot, I came across the old Quick Draw McGraw cartoon where he put on a mask, called himself “El Kabong,” and bashed the deserving over the head with his guitar. That’s when it hit me… where is he getting all those guitars?? In real life, that shit would get expensive. So maybe the person he’s bashing would provide the guitar? And that’s when I had the other side of the coin. It made sense at the time anyway.

What is the first wrestling match that you can recall watching?

Years ago in Pittsburgh, I went to a Keystone State Wrestling Alliance wrestling match, which was a lot like the low-rent “pro wrestlers” Mickey Rourke was hanging with in The Wrestler, or maybe more like that amazing “Birds of War” episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  There wasn’t a guy stapling his face or eating light bulbs or anything, but there was a live snake in a bag and wrestlers’ boots coming dangerously close to smashing through the gymnasium ceiling on every toss.

Do you have any favourite eras, or matches?

Of Always Sunny? Definitely! I like the Charlie Era, and my favorite match is anytime the gang works together for a common goal or low-level scam. Wrestling I never watched a lot of outside of movies. I do remember one time this girl I worked with in a cafeteria was telling me about her favorite moment from pro wrestling, and she said they brought in a guy on a cross and piped in some sad music and fireworks were throwing sparks, and she said the moment when they stood that cross up in the ring was so intense and the most moving thing she’d ever seen and she started crying. I mean she started crying right there while we were chopping potatoes telling me about it, so she must have cried twice, depending on how many people she told that story to. I knew I could never top that level of devotion to the sport so I never tried.

If you had to compare your fiction to any wrestler, who would it be and why?

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper. Not just because he was on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I swear. (But shouldn’t it be Roddy “Rowdy” Piper?) And maybe a touch of Andy Kaufman.

Which of your fellow contributors would be most likely to win a Battle Royale?

Adam Howe easily. He’d call in a nasty swarm of critters with his perverse Dr. Dolittle sorcery.

Finally, do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017/18 and beyond?

I’m co-editing an anthology of pizza-themed horror stories with Max Booth at Perpetual Motion Machine. It’ll be called Tales From the Crust, and we’re taking our pizza very, very seriously. Like everyone should.

Amazon US

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The Interrogation Room – Wrestle Maniacs Special – Duncan P. Bradshaw

Next up in my series of interviews to celebrate the launch of the new anthology WRESTLE MANIACS is… Duncan P. Bradshaw.

Name: Duncan P. Bradshaw

Story Title: Glassjaw

Firstly, how would you pitch your story to potential readers?

It’s your first hardcore wrestling match, who better to help show you the ropes, than old-hand Mickey ‘Ball-Breaker’ Donaldson? Pay attention now, else you might miss the important stuff, like who is gonna pay ya, what not to do with people’s shit, and some of the other wrestlers y’all might wanna keep an eye out for.

Did it turn out how you expected?

Pretty much, wanted it told from the first person, with Ball-Breaker imparting his advice. Love the style of storytelling, where the narrator is involving the reader by speaking to them directly. Even the questions are one-sided, with the answers being the reader’s own. Just wanted to put them front and centre as the main character in the story, smelling the blood and sweat as you’re guided around the venue.

What is the first wrestling match that you can recall watching?

Wrestling for me was watching ITV, one of three TV channels available in the UK at the time, on a Saturday afternoon, on our black and white telly. It was, and always seemed to be, Big Daddy fighting Giant Haystacks. Big Daddy was this big huge bowling ball of a man, who looked like a shaved Father Christmas, whilst Giant Haystacks, this wild tall dude, with a mad beard. It was the first real clash of good versus evil that I can remember, and has been branded onto my brain.

Do you have any favourite eras, or matches?

The only time I really got into watching wrestling, was round my mate’s house when I was in my early teens. He had Sky, and it was the only place you could catch it on. Hulk Hogan was larger than life, and having seen him in Rocky was the most easily identifiable. I always wanted to get behind The Undertaker, as he had a kickass name, but the only time he was on the billing, me and my mate opted to watch some very peculiar German porn. We were teenagers after all.

If you had to compare your fiction to any wrestler, who would it be and why?

I would say the closest thing to me would be Gobbledy Gooker. I sit there, hidden in a giant egg for weeks on end, everyone speculating what kind of cool shit is gonna happen when it opens up. When I finally hatch, a man-chicken emerges and people wonder whether the government have started putting LSD into the water. I’m silly, I’m a bit odd, I’m a freakin’ winged bird running around the ring, trying to bring the pain! I write purely to entertain people, and what better possible way could that be achieved?

Which of your fellow contributors would be most likely to win a Battle Royale?

If it was a fair fight, my money would be firmly on Gabino. The guy looks like he wrestles bears in his free time. However, I’d wager that Adam would fight dirty, he’s the kinda guy that would bring a knife to a chair fight, you know?

Finally, do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017/18 and beyond?

I’m working on bringing my highbrow, literary novel, CANNIBAL NUNS FROM OUTER SPACE! to the masses. In the (hopefully) final edit pass now before it gets made all shiny and chrome. Then, as the editing gods are apparently displeased with me, I have just received mark ups for another book (bizarro choose-your-own-adventure-lite book, SUMMONED), and broken the impasse on another. Not enough hours in the day.

Amazon US

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The Interrogation Room – Wrestle Maniacs Special – Joseph Hirsch

Next up in my series of interviews to celebrate the launch of the new anthology WRESTLE MANIACS is… Joseph Hirsch!

Name: Joseph Hirsch

Story Title: Three-Finger Bolo

Firstly, how would you pitch your story to potential readers?

It is about an ex-boxer who ruined his career due to his principles, and is now going to lose a couple fingers for those same principles.

Did it turn out how you expected?

It was a bit longer, and the action was more entertaining and gruesome than I initially anticipated.

What is the first wrestling match that you can recall watching?

I was an 80s baby, which, if you were a wrestling fan, is sort of like being a boxing fan in the 70s. I remember playing all the video-games with Andre the Giant and Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, and I had all the toys, but I can’t remember a single, specific match.

Do you have any favourite eras, or matches?

The 80s was obviously my favourite era, back before Andre the Giant was some sort of Shephard Fairley meta-meme or whatever, and he was in The Princess Bride. I’ve been doing some research on the history, especially Gorgeous George, but that has more to do with my fascination with Muhammad Ali than George himself. Ali learned a lot about how to work a crowd from wrestlers, how to antagonize them with feigned narcissism (as opposed to the real, toxic kind most athletes seem to marinate in these days).

If you had to compare your fiction to any wrestler, who would it be and why?

Maybe Barry Horowitz, since he laboured in the trenches and kind of had a thankless job.

Which of your fellow contributors would be most likely to win a Battle Royale?

I don’t know the physical specs on most of these writers. Adam Howe is English and they have a long martial history, with fencing and pugilism, etc. I’ve seen photos of Gabino Iglesias, and he seems formidable but not everyone knows how to use their size and it can be a liability against a small opponent who knows how to use gravity to his or her advantage. David James Keaton has a manly mien, probably due to the beard. He could use it to cut someone. I’ve had two surgeries, due to injuries I picked up in the war, so “Not me” would be the short answer.

Finally, do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017/18 and beyond?

My novel, My Tired Shadow, is slated for publication and should hopefully be in print by the time you’re reading this. It follows the boxing career of the son of the protagonist of my story appearing in this anthology. It’s non-canonical, though, so whatever kind of damage my characters incur in this short story doesn’t carry over into the novel. Thankfully.

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The Interrogation Room – Wrestle Maniacs Special – Hector Acosta

Next up in my series of interviews to celebrate the launch of the new anthology WRESTLE MANIACS is… Hector Acosta!

Name: Hector Acosta   

Story Title: From Parts Unknown

 Firstly, how would you pitch your story to potential readers?

Luchadores vs Cosmic Horror!

Did it turn out how you expected?

It didn’t actually. Like a good wrestling swerve, the path the story took surprised the hell out of me. My original inspiration was the old Luchador films – those 60’s-70’s Mexican movies featuring masked wrestlers going against vampires, occult creatures, and biker gangs.

But as the story took shape, it became darker and more of a true horror story, in which a down on his luck luchador returns home and has to face a twin brother he hasn’t talked to in years and a being sinking his city.

What is the first wrestling match that you can recall watching?

It’s hard to remember the first match I ever saw. What I do remember though, is wrestling being part of my life from early on. I have fond memories of sitting cross legged on Saturday night in my parent’s room, the whole family watching the weekly lucha show.

I can however, remember the match that got me back into wrestling. Jeff Hardy vs Al Snow in a cage match on a random RAW show. I was in middle school, and hadn’t really watched wrestling in years. I remember clicking through the channel and stumbling across that match, and with nothing better on, watching it. And then watching the next match. And the next.

Do you have any favourite eras, or matches?

I’m a fan of the late WWE (or as it was known back then, WWF) Attitude Era. Specifically, right around 2000, culminating with possibly the greatest PPV of all time- Wrestlemania X7. That’s the time when you had The Rock, Triple H, Steve Austin, and Undertaker on the main event, with guys like Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle going up the ranks.

Favorite match constantly changes. I recently watched Velveteen Dream vs Aleister Black from the latest WWE NXT Takeover and thought it was fantastic, telling a complete story in the ring with a satisfying ending, which you don’t really get a lot.

Also, pretty much anything happening in New Japan Pro Wrestling nowadays is something that should be watched. They keep raising the bar.

If you had to compare your fiction to any wrestler, who would it be and why?

Mick Foley. Sometimes known as Mankind. Or Dude Love. Or Cactus Jack. Mick had this great ability to change gimmicks and make you believe he was a changed man, even if all he really changed was his shirt. He could go from hardcore matches which left him bleeding and missing an ear, to playing the lovable nerd the fans absolutely adored.

I like to think my writing is similar in that way. Yeah, I can sometimes go dark and bloody, but I also can’t go too long without trying to crack a joke or make something laugh through my writing.

And just like Mick, I’m not afraid to go for a cheap pop…RIGHT HERE, IN TOM LEINS’ BLOG.

Which of your fellow contributors would be most likely to win a Battle Royale?

Well, first of all, we’re going to assume I’m not participating, cause otherwise I’d win it. Hmm, we got some really good competitors in this book, but at the end I’m going have to give it to Gabino Iglesias. I feel like that dude could eat enough burritos right before the math that folks would be purposefully throwing themselves out of the ring to escape his field of gas.

Finally, do you have any additional publishing plans for 2017/18 and beyond?

No concrete plans for the rest of 2017, but I’m hoping to have a couple of short stories and finish my novel in early 2018. In the meantime, I have HARDWAY, a wrestling inspired novella out from Shotgun Honey Press that I’ve described as Stand By Me via ECW.

Amazon US

Amazon UK