Friday, June 23, 2017

Interview with Tom Pitts, Author of American Static

Tom Pitts received his education firsthand on the streets of San Francisco. He remains there, writing, working, and trying to survive. He is the author of two novellas, Piggyback and Knuckleball. His shorts have been published in the usual spots by the usual suspects. Tom is also an acquisitions editor at Gutter Books and Out of the Gutter Online.

Find Tom Pitts online …

Amazon Author Page:
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Did you like mysteries and thrillers growing up?

I suppose I did. It took me a while to come around though. I tried to read a lot of the typical teen reads: Kerouac, Burroughs, Rimbaud, etc … It wasn’t till I realized reading should be entertaining that I broadened my horizons. But what really made mysteries stick was an obsession with non-fiction Mafia books. That’s where I learned an appreciation for crime. Real crime, real criminals. It may have even prepped me a little for my own criminal mischief in my twenties.

What is the first story in that genre you wrote, whether it is published or unpublished?

I don’t know if it can be classified in a certain genre. It’s called Turk and Taylor and, yes, it was also my first story published. It was a true story about trying to shoot up in a porn booth while a tiny homeless man banged on the door. It still slays when I read it live. It may be my favorite short I’ve written.

What is your favorite part of writing in this genre?

Crime Thrillers? I like going against the grain of the genre, breaking expectations by keeping a foot planted in reality. Punches don’t always land, bullets don’t always find their mark, heroes are never really heroes and villains sometimes are.

Is there an author in this genre you most admire?

My go-to answer is guys like Elmore Leonard. Real workhorses who had a discipline and ethic to what they wrote. But, for my money, these days, Benjamin Whitmer is an absolute favorite. I’m reading Jordan Harper’s new one now, that’s kicking my ass too.

What is up next for you?

I have more two novels finished, 101 and Coldwater. They complete my Northern California Quartet. I’ve been busy adapting a screenplay from my last novel Hustle, and that’s getting some traction, and—of course—writing the next book. Always moving forward. At least that’s the direction I hope I’m going.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

First Chapter Review: Pennies for Charon by Benedict J. Jones

BLURB:  Welcome to London - where the ferryman always has to be paid and the price is two shiny pennies over your cold dead eyes.

When the son of the city’s leading barrister asks ex-con turned private eye Charlie “Bars” Constantinou to look for a missing call-girl, Charlie thinks he might finally have found a way to do some good. But Charlie soon finds himself embroiled with a serial killer who believes that the soul of the city demands human sacrifices if it is to reward its inhabitants with spoils and riches. There’s not been a murderer so calculating, bizarre and elusive on the loose in the British capital since Jack the Ripper.

Three time loser Charlie Bars, unlikely hero of Skewered and other London Cruelties, Ben Jones’s first Crime Wave Press release, is the only man to put the city right and make sure the ferryman gets his due.

COVER: Nice. Love the font and the image. Perfect for the genre.

FIRST CHAPTER: After a tense meeting with Mazza and Cordwain, Charlie heads to the bar for a smoke and drink or two.

KEEP READING:  My interest is definitely piqued. Since I am a character-driven reader, it's challenging when I don't immediately connect with the main character. While I don't dislike Charlie, I can't say I really like him either. I'll need a couple more chapters to decide if this is for me. The information the reader learns in this opening chapter certainly makes me want to figure out the larger story.

I received the first chapter of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Interview with Tom Vater, Author of The Man with the Golden Mind

Tom Vater has written non-fiction and fiction books, travel guides, documentary screenplays, and countless feature articles investigating cultural and political trends and oddities in Asia.

His stories have appeared in publications such as The Asia Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, The Times, Marie Claire, Penthouse and The Daily Telegraph.

He co-wrote The Most Secret Place on Earth, a feature documentary on the CIA’s secret war in Laos which has been broadcast in 25 countries. His bestselling book Sacred Skin (, the first English language title on Thailand’s sacred tattoos, has received more than 30 reviews.

Tom’s work has led him across the Himalayas, given him the opportunity to dive with hundreds of sharks in the Philippines, and to witness the Maha Kumbh Mela, the largest gathering of people in the world. On assignments, he has joined sea gypsies and nomads, pilgrims, sex workers, serial killers, rebels and soldiers, politicians and secret agents, artists, pirates, hippies, gangsters, police men and prophets. Some of them have become close friends.

Did you like detective fiction when you were growing up?

I loved Sherlock Holmes from an early age. Growing up in Germany, I was exposed to Karl May’s novels and the 1960s movies based on his work from an early age. May wrote westerns featuring German and Native American heroes. A little later, in my teens, I read cheap pulp magazines like Jerry Cotton.

What was the first story in that genre that you wrote?

Probably my first novel, The Devil’s Road to Kathmandu.

What is your favorite part of writing in this genre?

Crime fiction gives me a frame work within which I feel comfortable to spin tales that have little to do with the crime and everything to do with its background and backdrop.

What do you find most difficult about writing in this genre?

Finding a decent publisher.

Is there an author in this genre that you admire most?

Philip Kerr.

What is up next for you?

The Monsoon Ghost Image, the third Detective Maier Mystery. The first two titles were published worldwide by Exhibit A Books and then republished by Crime Wave Press.

Do you have anything to add?

The world is sleazy and mediocre. Crime fiction, like no other genre, has the power to remind us of this.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Interview with J. L. Abramo, Author of Coney Island Avenue

J. L. Abramo was born in the seaside paradise of Brooklyn, New York on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo earned a BA in Sociology at the City College of New York and a Masters Degree in Social Psychology at the University of Cincinnati.

Abramo is a long-time educator, arts journalist, film and stage actor and theatre director.  Abramo is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and the Screen Actors Guild.

Abramo is the author of Catching Water in a Net, winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Award for Best First Private Eye Novel; and the subsequent Jake Diamond private eye mysteries Clutching at Straws, Counting to Infinity and Circling the Runway, winner of the Shamus Award.

Gravesend, the acclaimed stand-alone crime thriller from Down&Out Books, was released in September 2012.  Chasing Charlie Chan, a prequel to the Jake Diamond private eye series, was released in 2013.

Brooklyn Justice, a novel in stories was released in 2016.  Coney Island Avenue, the follow-up to Gravesend was released in 2017.

Visit J. L. Abramo at

Did you like mysteries and thrillers growing up?

I recall always being partial to the Classics—and many of the great works of literature contained elements of mystery, crime, and thrills which stimulated my imagination—from Hugo to Dumas to Dickens to Dostoyevsky. It was the films of the forties and fifties that led me to reading Conan Doyle, Chandler, Cain and Hammett—more specifically crime and detective fiction writers.

What is the first story in that genre you wrote, whether it is published or unpublished?

I co-wrote a small book for the Denver Art Museum called Jack Masters and the Masterpiece Mystery in the late-eighties. The book was given to school children visiting the museum and they would be instructed to find clues in a number of exhibited paintings to solve the mystery.

What is your favorite part of writing in this genre?

There is a great deal of range that can be used in developing characters—both the good guys and the bad guys—in crime and mystery fiction. The lone wolf, like Nick Ventura in Brooklyn Justice; the private eye who needs a lot of help from his friends, like Jake Diamond in Catching Water in a Net, Clutching at Straws, Counting to Infinity and Circling the Runway; and those who work as a team, like Samson, Murphy and the other 61st Precinct detectives in Gravesend and the latest novel, Coney Island Avenue. And the villains can range anywhere between the truly evil to the sadly misguided. It is also exciting to be surprised by your characters and the events which unfold—and cling to the assumption that if you surprise yourself in the writing, you will surprise the reader as well.

Is there an author in this genre you most admire?

There are many, for different reasons. I enjoy Dennis Lehane for his strong sense of place, Boston, something I try to embrace in my novels set in Brooklyn. I have always appreciated the smart and often humorous analogies in Raymond Chandler’s narratives and—particularly in the Jake Diamond books—it is evident in my style. Although not specifically a crime writer, the films of David Mamet, including House of Games, Homicide and Heist, are exceptional for their dialogue—and similarly my writing is very dialogue driven.

What is up next for you?

I am working on putting together a collection of short fiction—some previously published and some new, unpublished short stories. I am also working on an epic novel about two families—resembling an Italian-American Hatfields and McCoys—a century long blood feud that begins in Sicily in the late 1800s, moves to America around the time of the First World War, and climaxes in the early years of this century.

Do you have anything to add?

That is a dangerous question since I could go on for quite some time on a wide number of subjects. I will let my fiction do that talking and instead take this opportunity to thank Down & Out Books for their faith in and support of my work.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Interview with Chris Roy, Author of Shocking Circumstances

Chris Roy was raised in South Mississippi, in the midst of ugly Gulf Coast beaches and spectacular muddy bayous.

Chris lived comfortably with the criminal ventures of his youth until a fistfight in 1999 ended tragically. Since January, 2000, he's been serving a life sentence in the Mississippi Department of Corrections.  

Nowadays he lives his life  crime vicariously, through the edgy, fast-paced stories he pens, hoping to entertain readers. When he isn't writing, he's reading, drawing or looking for prospects to train in boxing.

Shocking Circumstances
Book I: Last Shine
Sharp as a Razor
Book I: A Dying Wish

Available at:
For more info on the author, visit:

Did you like thrillers when you were growing up?

Absolutely. I wasn't a reader until I read The Ninja by Eric Van Lustbader. I was 18. Suddenly my world had something better than TV night in bed. T. Jefferson Parker’s LA Outlaws made me want to be a writer of crime fiction thrillers.

What was the first story in that genre that you wrote?

Shocking Circumstances was my first thriller. Took over a year to complete. Publishers rejected my submissions because of the length. After an internship at Crime Wave Press, I knew enough to repackage my work and myself as an author. Shocking Circumstances became a trilogy, and I found the perfect home for it at New Pulp Press. They accepted my submission and signed me for two crime thriller trilogies.

What is your favorite part of writing in this genre?

Creating antiheroes. “Bad guys” that commit criminal acts to accomplish meaningful things.

What do you find most difficult about writing in this genre?

Sometimes I design crimes that are tempting to actually go and do.

Is there an author in this genre that you admire most?

Greg Barth, Roy Harper, Tom Vater, Greg Iles. T. Jefferson Parker.

What is up next for you?

Near to the Knuckle published my first dark fiction work, a short story titled "Marsh Madness." They will publish another dark one titled "re-Pete" soon. I have a completed crime thriller novella that only needs polishing, but I have been hooked on short dark works.

Do you have anything to add?

When I decided to write a novel, I had no thought of a fantasy series (which I love to read), or romance or children’s books. I wanted to twist people into criminals, vicariously, with characters they may hate at first but would soon cheer for.

I'm a criminal. Serving a life sentence since I was 18. Half my life ago. I know criminal minds and behaviors. It's a cruel, nasty world with a short life expectancy. I share the best and the worst in my stories, with the intention of infecting your view of life.