They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and while I agree with that sentiment, I do judge books by their covers. As the primary designer for all of Shotgun Honey’s releases, I’ve developed an admiration for cover design, and the various methods a designer will take to produce a truly inspirational cover. In this pursuit, I follow websites like The Casual Optimist, Spine Magazine and Paste. I’m always on the look out.
MAXINE UNLEASES DOOMSDAY (Down and Out Books)
Design by Zack McCain
One thing you want a book cover to do is pop, stand out, and create an immediate response. The visceral response I got when I saw this cover made me a bit jealous, because I really wish had the artistic chops to pull off a cover like this.
A good graphic can make or break a cover, combine that with a primary color, the cover will jump out to the consumer. It’s simple, but strong. I like also the use of hand-written typography that pairs well with the artwork of the swallow.
Simple is a term that can be taken negatively, but it is also an aesthetic that allows artist to not overburden or overwork the design, and most of all over think. In this re-print of Rilke’s Sonnets to Orpheus, the design is derived from the title, creating interest by breaking up and overlapping text to create texture and interest. I’m a bit envious because with the way our books are published, text can’t be full bleed, but the inclusion of the title and author in smaller block might be the solution to my conundrum.
I’m a digital designer, and so what I work with often requires manipulating stock materials. A cover like this could be replicated digitally, but it’s not. It follows a trend of covers being created from paper art. There’s an intrinsic value to that, because I could see the art being hung and displayed. An ability to view actively how light plays with the physical object. The flowing typography works, but it is the art that makes it shine.
I don’t know if it is the difference in aesthetics between the US and the UK, but I often am drawn to the UK version of covers. David Bowman’s paperback release of Big Bang is a nice paper collage, which could be digitally rendered, but is effectively put together in a deconstructive manner.
There are more I could choose, and in the coming year I may do something better to curate those outstanding covers of 2020.
This week Shotgun Honey editor, contributor and author Nick Kolakowski stops by to talk about his new book release, Maxine Unleashes Doomsday, from Down & Out Books.
Nick, Nick, Nick… I thought I knew you as an author. Your latest release, Maxine Unleashes Doomsday, is out this week and it is fantastic. I’d like to think I’m familiar with your style and stories, we’ve been in a working relationship for… how long? Hint: Jules.
It’s been almost seven years! “How Jules Left Prison,” my first flash-fiction story for Shotgun Honey, came out in ye olden days of 2013, followed by “Special Delivery” and some other ones over the years. There’s a very special place in my heart for flash fiction; it’s a bite-sized bit of nastiness, a little snack of noir. But with Maxine, I wanted to try for something that covered a big chunk of time (the book takes place over decades) and geography (it also takes place in a ruined New York state).
It is more sprawling, obviously, a lot more words allowed than our little flash fiction venue here at Shotgun Honey Can you imagine trying to encapsulate Maxine in a 700 word short? Hey, let’s go shorter. You step into an elevator and a known movie director/producer is standing there alone. Give us the pitch.
Maxine Unleashes Doomsday is about a car-stealing teenager who eventually becomes the outlaw queen of post-apocalyptic America, but in the process of saving her own life she accidentally unleashes a massive evil that could doom what’s left of the human race.
Your books and stories make easy comparisons to movies, Maxine Unleashes Doomsday is no exception. I like Rob Hart’s mashup association of Mad Max and The Warriors. I see that almost right way. So, back in that elevator, who was the known movie director/producer?
Two directors pop to mind. First is Neill Blomkamp, because his vision of the future aligns with Maxine: the extremes of poverty despite futuristic technology, the angry protagonists trying to push back against some kind of massive societal bullshit, and so on. I dug Elysium in a serious way; I thought it deserved way more credit for the ideas it was pushing.
The second would be Lexi Alexander. She’s the best at combining messy, gritty action with this sort of screw-you humor. Punisher: War Zone is another underrated flick (and filled with visual jokes that folks just didn’t seem to get; for example, the ‘SAVES’ sign flickering behind Frank at the very end). What she could do with a character like Maxine would be incredible.
I wouldn’t have thought about Bomkamp because there is a somberness, slow deliberation about his movies. Between the Love & Bullets trilogy and Maxine Unleashes Doomsday, your storytelling always feels on the edge, frenetic and unexpected. Lexi Alexander would be perfect, and it would be nice to see her work in movies again. One thing I’ve always liked about your work is the dark humor. Where does that come from? Who are your influences?
When it comes to that madcap momentum, my biggest influences don’t actually come from noir. When I was really young (maybe too young, but hey), I got my hands on 60s writers such as Ken Kesey and Hunter S. Thompson; they had a lunatic energy that bled down into my own writing. That’s the literary/pretentious answer, at least. The truth might be that I’m just hyperactive and depressive; mush those two things together, and you tend to find everything bleakly hilarious. I need to weave lots of plot twists and weird deaths into my own work in order to stay interested throughout the months-long process it takes to write (and re-write) a book.
So you’re saying that you ascribe to a copious diet of alcohol and drugs? Kesey and Thompson do make great primers to the kind of kinetic storytelling you produce, so as an influence I can see how gonzo beats can manifest in the story. Are these the writers that made you want to become a writer? Professionally, you’ve been working as a freelance journalist, right?
Hahaha, I think all those writers succeeded despite the drugs; Thompson was a wreck at the end. Most of those live-hard, write-hard types managed to burn themselves to crispy cinders, which isn’t anything to lionize. But their writing was exquisite. Thompson certainly made me want to be a writer; so did Raymond Chandler, and so did Chuck Palahniuk. Fight Club was a huge influence on my writing, although as a teenager I tried way too hard to emulate its poetic repetition (which Palahniuk freely admits he took from Joan Didion).
I’m a tech journalist by day, which came in really handy for Maxine because I read lots of analyst reports and talk to people whose job is to predict what might happen 10, 20, 30 years out. We’re building some really powerful stuff with regard to A.I. and machine learning, for example, but as the novel delves into, there’s a very high risk that these systems are going to turn against us at some point. We’re in for a wild ride.
Do you think there was any A.I. that could have predicted you would write a book like Maxine Unleashed Doomsday, say almost 7 years ago when we first crossed the proverbial path? Where did Maxine come from?
Actually, Maxine began right around the time we crossed paths! She started out as a short story (which later became a chapter in the middle of the book) about convoy-runners in a ruined America circa 2030… an idea I’d been playing with for years. I’ve always had a deep love of dystopian fiction, and spent years trying out different plots and characters in that genre, but everything came off as a pastiche of The Road. Finally I focused on trying to portray a more realistic societal collapse, and having a character who lived through it. The key thing, of course, is that Maxine gets weirder and more damaged as the book goes on, reflecting the state of the world around her.
I can understand not wanting to tread into Cormac McCarthy land, that is no country for young writers. I like that what I identify as a Nick Kolakowski story is very much at the heart of Maxine. But there is much more than violence, humor, and complicated relationships (as if that weren’t enough.) This isn’t linear crime/noir storytelling, it’s generational, an evolution of a character from beginning to end. Was this exploring your own style or was it necessitated by the scope of the story?
The scope of the story demanded it. I also wanted to take a character and change them radically in all ways over the course of the narrative: physically, mentally, emotionally. How far could I break Maxine down? How would she build herself back up? What would she look like after the fact? She ends up taking literally decades’ worth of damage, but it leaves her with a mentality that’ll overcome almost anything. My characters in my other books never underwent that kind of arc (usually because my other books take place over a few days at most; Main Bad Guy, the third book in the “Love & Bullets” trilogy, is something like 48 hours in real time), so it was a good stretch for me to explore.
You give readers a glimpse of Maxine’s damage early on, which only pulls the reader into your dystopian world. The scope of the story requires quite a bit of world building. What have you learned as a writer building Maxine’s world?
I’ve learned that you need to establish your world’s internal logic early on, and make sure you never stray from the “rules” you’ve established. This is especially true with speculative and future-focused fiction like Maxine, where you take jaunts into the fantastical. If the world makes sense, you can do anything within that framework, and the audience will stick with you. If you start to break the rules you’ve created because you need to slip through a plot hole or whatever, you’re going to shatter the illusion.
You’re not the first Shotgun Honey alum to release release a dystopian novel this year. Rob Hart who praised Maxine Unleashed Doomsday as mentioned earlier, released The Warehouse. Totally different beasts, but worth noting because dystopian fiction is a genre that cycles in popularity. What’s the appeal of reading and writing dystopian fiction?
The future is scary. We don’t have any control over it. I think the appeal of dystopian fiction is that it gives the writer and the readers the illusion of command — we can see a version of what might happen and, in many dystopian novels, the characters have some say over how that future comes about. I loved The Warehouse and I think Rob did a great job of making his future a believable one; it explores the consequences of capitalism (and e-commerce) in a way that’s frightening and believable.
Plus, going back to the ancient Romans, every generation likes to think that it’s the climactic one, that we’re trembling on the very edge of the End Times. I feel like dystopian fiction helps scratch that weird, narcissistic itch.
I feel we’re coming full circle, so, let’s give a little more love to dystopian futures. This last weekend Terminator: Dark Fate (which is what the 100th movie of the franchise?) was released. Not doing well from what I read, but I loved the original. What are some of your favorite dystopian movies (or novels)?
I think the Aussies do it best, probably because they have a long history of living on civilization’s dry, rugged edge. The Road Warrior and Fury Road are at the top of my list, with The Rover, which is a really rough movie starring Guy Pierce, in close third. The Rover is a little bit like Maxine without any semblance of humor or hope whatsoever; for better or worse, I really think that’s what the world might end up looking like — plus it has one of the best cinematic “punch lines” I’ve ever witnessed. Totally nihilistic.
I do think I saw that you were George Miller’s love child or something. While I enthusiastically encourage everyone to go out read Maxine Unleashes Doomsday right now, I do have to ask what’s next? What can I, your number one fan look forward to in our hopefully not so dystopian future?
If you’re my number-one fan, does that make you my Annie Wilkes? Will you lock me in a room and force me to write? Actually, that would help my writing process, which has been slow as proverbial molasses lately. Right now, I’m working on the sequel to Boise Longpig Hunting Club, which is slated to come out in September 2020; it folds in Bill & Fiona from the Love & Bullets trilogy, because Fiona is actually related to Frankie and Jake, the main characters of Longpig. I just have to finish the bugger… usually I’m a fast drafter but this one has been grinding along. Maybe I’m just getting old.
If Eric gets worried on the deadline, I might just have to come up and hobble you. If not me, I know people. Hopefully, it won’t come to that because I love you like a brother who I really really envy. Despite your current slog, you write enjoyable fiction, you edit like demon, you run marathons and you have better hair. Right? But, the cover for Maxine Unleashes Doomsday is a tipping point. I love that cover. Before I let you go, tell folks about the cover, the process and give some love the genius behind it.
Hahaha, hopefully nobody has to break my legs, but if someone had to, I wouldn’t mind if it was you? Is that weird? That’s pretty weird. Anyway, I love that cover: it’s stark. It was done by Zach McCain, who does a lot of horror covers. He’s big on skulls! But I’m big on skulls, too, so that works out. I was hoping for something post-apocalyptic that was distinctive, that stood out amidst other covers out there, and he outdid himself; when I first saw it I was a bit stunned.
I’m happy to report no harm was done to the author during this interview. I do recommend you go out and buy a copy of Maxine Unleashes Doomsday.
“Some of us, by simple grace, sit on the merry-go-round enjoying the ride while others struggle just to stay on. The damned thing’s going too fast, their legs keep getting away from them, everything they have slides over the edge and is gone. These are the folks Nick Heeb writes about. Don’t try to make writing like this safe by saying it’s gritty or transgressive or classic noir. Those are words, and this is real.”
—James Sallis, author of Drive and the Lew Griffin cycle
This week Shotgun Honey is pleased to release the debut novel The Lucky Clover by Nick Heeb. The story is about a man who is drawn to misfortune, poor choices, and the remote roadside biker bar The Lucky Clover. As James Sallis suggests, Heeb has produced a book that doesn’t easily fit into one bucket, though elements may want you to quickly do so. Regardless of what you clasp onto, The Lucky Clover will drag you and its protagonist willingly or not to the end.
Only a few days left of 2018, and I imagine many of you are ready to be done with it. I know there are a lot of aspects I’d like to leave behind. But in the publishing world, there’s always something to look forward to, and that’s more books.
01-18 | The Lucky Clover by Nick Heeb
02-08 | Main Bad Guyby Nick Kolakowski
03-08 | It’s Not My Cult! by A.X. Kalinchuk
04-12 | Load by Preston Lang
05-10 | The Furious Way by Aaron Philip Clark
06-07 | How Kirsty Gets Her Kicks by Jennifer Lee Thomson
07-12 | Honorary Jersey Girl by Albert Tucher
08-09 | 40 Nickels by R. Daniel Lester
09-06 | Chasing China White by Allan Leverone
10-25 | Shotgun Honey Presents: Call Me Danger
12-13 | Coal Black: Stories by Chris McGinley
2019 will be full of comedy and tragedy with many returning characters and authors. Enough variety that you’ll want to add at least one to your nightstand reading.
Many titles have been mentioned previously, and in the coming weeks and months we’ll be delving into each one individually. Two noteworthy additions come in the final quarter of 2019.
In 2018, unless you’ve been in hiding, you’ve probably run into Chris McGinley’s stories on various websites, including ours with “The Haint”. So we’re very happy to publish his first collection Coal Black: Stories in just under twelve months. As the title suggest, it’ll be packed with stories about rural Kentucky and Appalachia. I’m a fan and I hope you’ll be too.
In October is one of two special projects we’re working on for release in 2019. Shotgun Honey Presents: Call Me Danger is the return of our anthology series which kicked off our publishing endeavors with Both Barrels (2012), Reloaded (2013), andLocked and Loaded (2015). Keep your eyes out for information on submitting in next couple weeks.
If you’re a reviewer and you see a cover, title or author that piques your interest, feel free to reach out by emailing [email protected] We’ll be sure get you an eARC when it’s available.
Thank you for your support and have a prosperous new year.
This week Shotgun Honey is pleased to announce the release of our final book of 2018, Rival Sons by Aidan Thorn. It is always a pleasure to publish longer works from our flash fiction contributors. Aidan’s first story was “Waste Disposal ” back in 2014.
When Kyle Gordon hears that his mother is terminally ill he makes the journey back to his hometown for the first time in nearly two decades, only – home isn’t what it used to be. Kyle is shocked by the dilapidation that has befallen his town.
For nineteen years Kyle vowed to protect the people of his country, serving in the armed forces. On returning home he realises that there were those needing protection right on his own doorstep and it was from no foreign enemy but that of his own flesh and blood. For decades his own father, Frank Gordon, ran the small farming town through fear and crime. Now, the throne has been passed to Kyle’s younger brother, Graham, a man with no moral code.
Kyle had enlisted in the army to distance himself from his father’s chosen profession, and he’d not returned until now to keep his own young family from harms way. Through returning to support his ailing mother Kyle’s fears become reality—the lifelong feud between brothers is reignited and a dangerous bond is formed between his teenage daughter and her grandfather, Frank.
Praise for Rival Sons
Rival Sons is a story about evil overtaking good, how one brother can corrupt the other, and how the lineage passed to us can be more corrupt than any jailhouse snitch. In this blast of a novella, Aidan Thorn delivers—these characters know rivalry and vengeance, guts and glory, failure and worse-than-failure. They also know love and courage (well, some of them do). And like every great noir story, Rival Sons is about a few bad men eating the bullets they so deserve.”
—Matt Phillips, author of Know Me from Smoke, The Bad Kind of Lucky, Accidental Outlaws, and Three Kinds of Fool
“A really strong story with great characters. Brilliant stuff. Aidan Thorn is at the forefront of the new wave of British noir.”
—Chris Black, Senior Editor at Fahrenheit 13
“This nuanced, multi-layered homecoming tale packs a real kick-in-the-teeth. Powerful stuff.”
—Tess Makovesky, author of Gravy Train and Raise the Blade.
About Aidan Thorn
Aidan Thorn is from Southampton, England. His short fiction has appeared in Byker Books Radgepacket series, the Near to the Knuckle Anthologies: Gloves Off and Rogue, Exiles: An Outsider Anthology,The Big Adios Western Digest, Shadows & Light, Hardboiled Dames and Sin as well as online in numerous places.
His first short story collection, Criminal Thoughts was released in 2013 and his second, Tales from the Underbelly in 2017. In September 2015 Number 13 Press published Aidan’s first novella, When the Music’s Over In 2016 Aidan collated and edited the charity anthology, Paladins, for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, working with 16 authors from the UK and USA to deliver this project.
2019 is only a month away—boy did this year blow by—and for 2018 there is only one more book on the books, Rival Sons by Aidan Thorn releasing December 14 (I mention this as it was to release on the 7th). It’s been a rewarding year as far as working with talented folks, though it has been at times it’s been a juggling act. Part of that is working with all these talented folks, and being allowed to put their stories out there for the public. It’s also because I work full-time elsewhere and I am a full-time student (at 50 next January), and then there’s just having shitty health.
My favorite part of the publishing is the creativity I can give to the covers. If you look in the front of 99% of the books I produce the credit belongs to Bad Fido—it is me and I am it. I created Bad Fido with the hopes of doing covers (and related publishing necessities like websites) for people outside of Shotgun Honey. But, time hasn’t really be on my side. My style is so varied it would be fair I don’t have a style, but the designs I do come from the stories and not some house style I perceive I should have. I think flexibility is good. So if you have a book coming out in 2019 that doesn’t have a cover yet … I’m just saying.
This week Bad Fido, um me, is please to share covers for January and February releases by Nick Heeb and Nick Kolakowski (respectively).
InThe Lucky Clover by Nick Heeb, we follow the Narrator who returns to his old haunt, The Lucky Clover, looking to forget and recover from his past life’s miseries and humiliations by drinking with good friends. He soon discovers the people closest to him had no interest in his honest intentions, and that violence is the only language spoken in this sparse and hard country he calls home.
The Narrator is a man of vice and his actions are fueled by drink and drug and too much time spent in The Lucky Clover. While the story is stark, much of the environment is left to our own encounters with the seedier side of life. Instead of focusing on the atmosphere of the roadside bar, I felt vice was the way to go with this cover. What do you think?
In 2017 the second Shotgun Honey/Down and Out release was A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps which introduced us to Bill and Fiona, whose true romance takes them to near death. This was followed up a year later with Slaughterhouse Blues. Those crazy lovebirds Nick Kolakowski is a true provocateur of gonzo violence and mayhem. And this February (2019) Bill and Fiona return in their last book in the Love & Bullets trilogy titled Main Bad Guy.
For this book, I took lead from the author and used a central image that is key to the plot and tone of the book. I won’t reveal it’s intent, but it’s going to be quite the ride to this unique courtship.
And of course, I took this opportunity to revisit the first to books of the series and provide some unison. What do you think? Better than the originals?
It’s sad to see the series end, but it’s not the end of Nick. He and I, and a talented bunch of other writers, have something really excited for the second half of 2019. More on that later…
This week I also caught up with posts that didn’t get posted. A couple weeks ago I went to the hospital to get an MRI and came out with Bronchitis. And having sworn I had pre-published all the stories for November, I didn’t check to see if the stories had published, preferring the comfort of bed. So big apologies to R.D. Sullivan and Joshua Wade Freeman. So their stories published late. So be sure to read “So Easy” by R.D. Sullivan and “Gas” by Joshua Wade Freeman.
When I first got a chance to read Face Value by William E. Wallace, I immediately connected with Eddie Pax, a man that works within the gray areas of society tracking down properties owned by bad men. Eddie was a classic pulp protagonist, and in a different generation William would have been a classic pulp writer comparable to Donald Westlake’s alter ego, Richard Stark. When I accepted Face Value I asked if there were more. Eddie had appeared in a few short stories, but in William’s mind the stories and the novels were endless. Potential always there. He was constantly writing, and I believe it was in the words that William found the strength to fight cancer. Even a few weeks prior to his death he talked about that next Eddie Pax novel. It’s a shame that novel never found completion, Eddie Pax was my kind of character. I’d rather have William here, instead.
I only knew William through his writing, though I feel I should call him Bill. That’s what his friends called him, and at least to me he made it really easy see him as a friend. Bill had many friends from his journo days, and he collected many as a crime writer and a champion of small press publishing. Bill published a few collections on his own, such is the marvel of publishing today, and then a couple books with All Due Respects, then rival and now sister publishing company, and his final book Face Value with us, Shotgun Honey. When he wasn’t writing, he was reading and he was supporting writers who are not often heard, marginalized by the marketing of the New York publishing houses. He wrote about books and authors he liked on his blog, Pulp Hack Confessions.
Today, I am honored, with the editorial guidance of Chris Rhatigan of All Due Respect, along with the support of Eric Campbell and Lance Wright of Down and Out Books, and the blessing of Margot Wallace, Bill’s wife, and Garth Wallace, Bill’s son, to release DEADLINES: A Tribute to William E. Wallace. This is a collection of stories — inspired by the career and stories of William E. Wallace — culled from writers and colleagues that Bill took time to champion. I thank these writers for their time, their stories, and their patience.
Paul D. Brazill
Sarah M. Chen
Renee Asher Pickup
C. Mack Lewis.
Sarah M. Chen
I knew Bill more from his online presence than in person. He was such a generous and ardent supporter of the crime fiction community and his humorous posts were something I always enjoyed reading. Before knowing him online, however, I did get the chance to briefly meet him at LCC Portland. I immediately liked him. He was intelligent, kind, and witty.
When pitching my first novel DIRTBAGS to agents, I forever felt the sting from one particular rejection that said only, “I thought you said this was supposed to be funny.” That one hurt. All my lonely thoughts crashed and crumbled at the shores when I read my first-ever Pulphack Confessions review which Bill titled: “A Laugh-A-Minute With The Funniest Serial Killer Novel I’ve Ever Read.” For the first time since I’d started writing, I felt like I’d connected with a reader. It’s still my favorite review ever.
William Wallace was a fantastic champion of my work. He was one of the first to review my story collection and I will always be grateful. I never got to meet him in person, but I wish I could’ve have. Rest in peace, William.
I “met” Bill virtually on July 3, 2014, after reading his story “Working Stiff” in Flash Fiction Offensive. I friended him on Facebook and we wrote each other about the noir/crime fiction community and how supportive the writers are unlike other competitive areas. We emailed a few times and talked through Facebook. He promoted fellow authors’ works and I always looked forward to reading his stories. I got to meet him in person at Renee Asher Pickup’s Book and Booze podcast reading in San Francisco. And later at Left Coast Crime in Portland. We both sat at Holly West and Josh Stallings’ table at the banquet dinner in 2015.
Our final meeting was for breakfast in Berkeley on June 2016. I was in the Bay Area to watch an Oakland A’s game for Father’s Day. Bill’s diagnosis was grim and I wanted to see him again if he was up for it. We arranged to meet that Saturday for brunch. After being surprised to see him at a Joe Clifford book launch at Pegasus Books the night before, we met Saturday morning. We had brunch the following morning. Bill talked about some characters he met while reporting, authors he loved, concerns about the state of the publishing industry and the diminishing short story market and his health. He didn’t eat much as he had no appetite. While he had grown thin and looked tired, his eyes were alive. After our meal, we sat outside and talked a little longer before he needed to head home. He signed my copy of “Hangman’s Dozen” and I gave him a hug. A few days later he sent me the following message that broke my heart…
“You’ll be interested to know that you are the last person other than my docs and family I have seen since we had lunch. My son had tix for us to go to the MST3K reunion at a theater in Emeryville last night, but I couldn’t manage it. Looks like I am going to be spending most of the rest of my life shuffling around home and writing or down at Kaiser for treatment or labs. Of practically all the people I know who are writers, I am happiest you were one of the last I got to see in person. . .”
I am so glad he was wrong and had another seven more months to live. In those months he put his life out on Facebook for his friends to see. Writing, playing his guitar, reading stories and giving reviews, and still sending out words of encouragement to the crime writing community. Brave and generous to the end. When Bill passed, it still came as a shock. I miss Bill. A fantastic writer, advocate, and friend.
Will contributed most of the photos, and those moments are captured memories that we are thankful for.
Thank You, Bill
William E. Wallace was an exceptional talent and a passionate man. This wonderful collection cannot begin to express his contribution to our community or the void left behind in his passing. Bill called himself a hack, but his talents extended beyond his own writings, elevating those around him.
Thank you for contributing to Shotgun Honey with your short stories and allowing me to give Eddie Pax one good story of his own.
Thank you to all the authors who contributors, to co-editor Chris Rhatigan, and our publisher Down & Out Books. And to Margot and Garth Wallace our condolences and gratitude for allowing us to celebrate Bill the only way we know how.
This week Shotgun Honey is proud to release The Hollow Vessel by Albert Tucher. It is part of the Errol Coutinho/Big Island of Hawaii series which includes last years The Place of Refuge.
The Hawaii County Police are used to Rotten Roger sleeping rough, but now the veteran tramp has a new tent. The bloodstains in it don’t bother Roger, but they are the last thing Detective Errol Coutinho needs to see.
Coutinho is already looking for Rhonda Cunningham, a young woman from New Jersey who was last seen in Hilo buying a high tech tent like Roger’s. Rhonda planned to live off the grid in the rainforest of the Big Island, but her wealth stands in the way. Too many people want a piece of her to let her disappear. Some wish her well, some want her dead, most want her money, and one wants the thing she will never give.
So whose blood is it in the tent? Coutinho’s investigation will send him up against a hit man from New Jersey, a bunch of wannabe local gangsters, and his own nephew. An old girlfriend wants the best for her son, but she complicates the case even more, and a legendary marijuana trafficker proves both real and deadly. It’s getting crowded in the rainforest, and the shakeout will be murder.
“Full of twists and turns, The Hollow Vessel is an entertaining ride into the underbelly of the Hawaii’s Big Island. Detective Coutinho and his sidekick Kim find themselves pulled deep into the jungle of drugs, family skeletons, and a little bit of old school New Jersey. With Tucher’s sharp prose, The Hollow Vesselis a fast moving story with a great set of characters.”
—Jen Conley, author of Cannibals
“In his second outing with Detective Errol Coutinho of the Hawaii County Police, Al Tucher, ups his game. His eye for detail, sense of pacing, and gift for characterization and setting makes spending time in the rain forest of Hawaii a delight.”
—Patricia Abbott, Edgar, Macavity, and Anthony-nominated author of Shot in Detroit, Concrete Angel, and I Bring Sorrow
About Albert Tucher
Albert Tucher is the creator of prostitute Diana Andrews, who has appeared in more than eighty hardboiled short stories in venues including The Best American Mystery Stories 2010. Her first longer case, the novella, The Same Mistake Twice, was published in 2013. Her world includes the characters in The Hollow Vessel and The Place of Refuge. Albert Tucher is a librarian in his day job, but retirement beckons.
When Shotgun Honey first started in 2011 it was done so to capture something of the past, of zines that had come and gone. Some that flickered brightly and then vanished. I didn’t have any concept of how long the site would last or if it would exist past a few months. It wasn’t entirely my show, and I was just happy to be part of Kent Gowran’s reminiscence. Kent and Sabrina, who founded with me what I like to call The Gauntlet, that tribunal system of story selection, both decided to move on after our first anthology collection. Even I moved on to an extent, only managing site and relying on a very capable group of editors. Many have come and gone: Chad, Joe, Erik, Chris, and most recently Angel. Their tenures varying.
Jen Conley accepted the invitation to join the gauntlet in the fall of 2012, essentially filling the position left by Sabrina Ogden. Without hesitation, I can say that Shotgun Honey would not still be publishing anything had it not been for the dedication and selflessness of Jen. There had been times, more than once, where my health and personal life put the site in jeopardy. Because of the trust I had in Jen, I knew that I could take the breaks needed and get myself right. She would guide the ship, and for six years she had been a true Shotgun Honey. This was her last week carrying my weight. I am and will always be grateful to her tenure and her heart, wishing her and her family the best. Though this is a loss in our family, we take a bit of solace in the fact she can now again contribute as the wonderful storyteller she is.
Every editor of Shotgun Honey has one thing in common, they have all been contributors first. I see no reason to change that tradition. I would like to welcome Hector Acosta to The Gauntlet.
Hector has been contributing since 2011 with his first story “Big C”, and has contributed to the Shotgun Honey Presents: Both Barrels anthology series. His novella Hard Way was the first book to be published under the Shotgun Honey/Down & Out Books imprint. Hector is a big wrestling fan, so if there are any Kayfabe crime writers this might be your in. He shares my love of Deadpool and always likes my tweets.
Hector rounds out The Gauntlet with fellow editors Nick Kolakowski and Renee Pickup.
We’re going to miss you Jen!
This last week we released covers for the upcoming books:
The delayed Deadlines: A Tribute to William E. Wallace will be release on August 24, 2018. Proceeds will go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in his honor. So please cut back on your favorite Starbuck’s coffees and save enough to properly remember Bill.
Chris Pennington woke up in his recliner at 3:07 AM. The Phillies game from last night was being replayed and was in its third inning. Chris thought he made it to the seventh or eighth inning earlier. He felt good, felt better than he had in months, maybe years.
It’s been a while, and kind of a crazy year. How have you been?
Last year, almost a year ago, I announced our new partnership with Down & Out Books. I can’t say enough great things about Eric and Lance, who have done a stand up job with their own line of books, and have become home to so many talented writers with the inclusion of new imprints like ABC Group Documentation, All Due Respect Books, and of course Shotgun Honey. Also, respect to those imprint publishers Jeremy Stabile and Chris Rhatigan.
Overall, the change has been positive, and I have some really exciting books coming out in 2018 and 2019 which I might not have had a chance to work with if not for Eric and Lance. However, change has its obstacles, and of course I’ve thrown a few wrenches, maybe some lawn furniture, in the mix. The end result were some really tight deadlines for scheduled books and delayed releases of the One Eye Press re-issues. I know Lance says a a prayer and a curse for me every night.
What? Get to the point? Okay, okay.
Shotgun Honey is pleased to announce the re-issue of Face Value by William E. Wallace. Originally released in the summer of 2016, Face Value, would end up being William’s last book before losing his battle to cancer on February 25th of this year. It would be the only Eddie Pax novella, though we had talked about future books. I loved the work William put forward not only for himself, but for others, and the moments of compassion. In 2016, I discovered I had a brain tumor, and when you hear that kind of news your thoughts go towards the worst end of the spectrum. I was scared, but William without pause was there to lift me up and say positive things. This was when he knew that he had an expiration date that was already past.
Face Value is the final One Eye Press re-issue, which means that if you missed them prior you can pick them up again.
Next year brings a new batch of books, but one returns Shotgun Honey back to it’s anthology days with a collection that I’m proud to issue in late February titled Deadline: A Tribute to William E. Wallace. A collection of short stories written in tribute to William by authors who worked or have been supported William’s reviews and promotional efforts on his blogs. It will be edited by Chris Rhatigan, who also published works by William, and artist/writer James R. Tuck Jr., who will provide the cover work for the anthology. The line up is still evolving, but will include the works of:
Sarah M. Chen
S. W. Lauden
So pick up a book (or two) today. And I hope you’ll come back as we announce more about 2018 and the Deadlines anthology.
It’s hard to believe that it’s May already, and that in a week’s time Shotgun Honey will have release six titles under it’s new imprint with Down & Out Books. Three of these are reissues from the previous One Eye Press releases, and if you hadn’t had a chance to pick them up before, well what are you waiting for? In case you missed our current offering, here you go.
The big goal for Shotgun Honey is to get unique stories from talented writers in your hands. Each books is one I’d personally read and buy, but I’m of course these writer’s #1 fan. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t publish it. So do you trust ol’ Ron Earl? I hope so, because here is the remainder of the years release schedule:
A Brutal Bunch of Heartbroken Saps by Nick Kolakowski
Hurt Hawks by Mike Miner
Goldfinches by Ryan Sayles
Texas, Hold Your Queens by Marie S. Crosswell
Face Value by William E. Wallace
Blacky Jaguar Against the Cool Clux Cult by Angel Luis Colón
Les Cannibales by DeLeon DeMicoli
Dead Clown Blues by R. Daniel Lester
Ridgerunner by Rusty Barnes
Knuckledragger by Rusty Barnes
Dillo by Max Sheridan
While I think all these books are notable, there are a couple notable additions in the last quarter this year. October 6th, brings the reissue of Ridgerunner by Rusty Barnes, previously published by 280 Steps. This comes to us as the first part of a trilogy, the second book titled The Last Danger will come in October 2018, with the third early 2019. The other book added to this year will be our first short novel, Dillo by Max Sheridan. Dillo was previously contracted but unfortunately orphaned because the press closed its doors.
That’s 16 new and old titles for 2017. That’s pretty exciting stuff for a small press guy like me. I do hope you take a chance on our books, not just keep Shotgun Honey going but to let these talented writers have a chance to be read. And there’s more exciting things in 2018. I’d tell you, but one of the newly signed authors really wants the world to know, and I think I should let him simmer on that another week or two. What do you think?
Shotgun Honey is thrilled to have contracted authors Lawrence Maddox and Chris DeWildt.
Lawrence Maddox brings us Fast Bang Booze, a beat-the- clock thrill-ride that races through 1993 Los Angeles to a rollicking, deadly climax.
And from Chris DeWildt? A student has committed suicide, and another has gone missing, but Gus Harris, a small-town private-eye and all-around asshole, is sure the two are connected. Determined to solve the case, it’s a race to see which unravels first: the case or his relationship with his children. Just another day for a Suburban Dick.
Keep an eye out for more information about these titles and others coming in 2018.
In Case You Missed It
Let’s not forget that Shotgun Honey isn’t all about books. Each week we publish new stories by talented up-and-coming authors who are feed solely on the words you leave them in the comments, and these guys are starving. Read some awesome flash.
“Oh, boy! You’re a real floppy one.” Peyton struggled as he tried to lift the dead boy from his grave. He linked his arms under the boy’s shoulders and pulled back as hard as he could but the boy didn’t budge. Peyton felt his shoes sink deeper into the mud. He’d always thought that dead bodies would be stiff, like he’d seen in movies. But the dead boy just sunk in his arms every time he tried to move him. Peyton was breathing hard now, exhausted from digging and wrestling with the body. His arms burned.
When he stumbled upon them, he thought they were just having sex and that he caught her cheating on him. He went over early because he wanted to apologize in person for calling her sister a bitch. He meant it when he said it, but when she hung up and the conversation floated in the air of his mind, it replayed with more emphasis and malice on the word until he lost sight of the truth.
I getcha. You just wandered into this party like it’s one of the other parties on this block-cauldrons of frat boys in rugbies and girls shaking their asses in high-waisted shorts, the mixed scent of cheap beer and weed. You figured you’d put up that grey hoodie of yours, tuck your head, and tip-toe around the room, eyes peeled for fake tits, ears perked for the smell of perfume that says yes please, there’s a room upstairs and I’m all yours.
I heard Uncle Jasper’s tractor rattle to life behind the house; every shudder was amplified by the tin roofed shed he stored it. It wasn’t a monster like you’d see at large farming operations around the valley and in the flatlands. No, it was just an old John Deere that Paw-Paw used to putter around the field and haul supplies down to the family garden.
This week I promised myself I wasn’t going to spend much time on social media, specifically Facebook, because I have a couple term papers due. I know that’s a strange thing to hear from a college educated gent like myself, but truth is the first time around I did it for the folks and note myself. Otherwise, I’d probably be college professor like so many of the writers I get to publish. There is something pleasing in working with someone and facilitate a story to the published product. So maybe I’ll become a professor yet. I hear they get a lot of coeds.
Though I promised to stay off social media, I’m glad I didn’t. I managed to catch a Q&A with James Lee Burke following a short reading on a Facebook Live. Live is the new instant video post that Facebook allows you to do, that is if you didn’t already know. I first read James Lee Burke by way of my grandfather who was an avid most of his life and moreso in his elder years. Mr. Burke sprung into the world when my grandfather would have been a teen, but the two men had a lot in common. Hard work ethics and big tales. I always thought my grandfather could have made a good writer, but that’s where he and Mr. Burke differ. My grandfather believed in arts as quality leisure, but did not feel it made for a meaningful employment. Partly why I didn’t follow my guts and dedicate myself to writing when I first found I had a knack for it. He warmed up to the idea in the later years and I was a bit shameful that I never finished that first book to show him who and what I really was meant to be.
That aside, James Lee Burke is a national treasure and if you haven’t read his Dave Robicheaux series, then you ought to get on it. The man has a way of making words flow as natural as breath and sharp as steel. And I don’t normally recommend audio books, but they are useful on trips, and to hear the great Will Patton (honestly, I believe he is a fantastic character actor and second man) read the words of James Lee Burke—this man was made to read novels by James Lee Burke for us to enjoy—it is transcendent. A perfect pairing. But as you will hear from the excerpt of White Doves at Morning at the top of the video, Mr. Burke is no slacker. Enjoy.
I was considering announcing a book that I’ll be producing for next year with James Ray Tuck Jr that will be released in conjunction with Down & Out Books, and… Well that’s all I’m going to say at this time because I’m a bastard. It’s important and I hope it turns into something special. Next week will be pedal to the medal for me as I use my staycation to produce some books, and hopefully write some fiction of my own.
The kid was driving. Enrique. He was new but there was no one else I’d want behind the wheel. He did nothing erratic, nothing impulsive. Steady speed — neither too fast or too slow. Just a nondescript truck cutting through the backstreets of Oakland.”
When she heard the job offer on her answering machine, her heart sank. Virgil reminded her – again – how much they needed the money. “But it’s the most depressing thing I can think of,” she said. He just snorted. “Naw. There’s worse.” Easy for you to say, asshole. You don’t have to do it.