Author Archive Adam Chromy

Blog, Fan's Note, Other People's Books

A Fan’s Note: Owen Laukkanen on Gangster Rap and Crime Fiction

April 7, 2014 by

Today, we welcome author Owen Laukkanen to reveal how the hip hop beat of gangster rap drives his high intensity thrillers…

I grew up on rap music. I was your typical middle-class kid, playing hockey and going to piano recitals and turning the radio dial to WJLB Detroit (“Where hip-hop lives”) whenever my parents were out of earshot. Strange as it sounds, rap music is as responsible as books and violent movies for pushing me into writing crime fiction.

The gangster rap I discovered as a rebellious teen was just as violent and cinematic as the mob movies I was watching—hell, some of them were influenced explicitly by the same. The songs that resulted were gritty, three-minute noir sagas, populated by desperate, small-time crooks straight out of your favorite pulp magazine. Their creators were dark, funny, and inventive with language—just the kind of role models an aspiring crime writer needed. These days, when I need a hit of quick and bloody inspiration, these are the songs I put on:

Note #1: It probably goes without saying, but these songs are loaded with explicit content and adult situations. Be warned.
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Note #2: I’m leaving out a lot of classics here, I know, especially from the West Coast. I grew up to East Coast rap, though, and this is what I vibed to when I was just finding my way.

notorious b.i.g. somebody gotta die

1. The Notorious B.I.G. – N***as Bleed
Your classic double-cross story. In the first verse, Biggie’s alter ego, Frank White (a shout-out to Christopher Walken’s New York crime kingpin in King of New York) preps for a seven-figure drug deal at a local motel. By all accounts, Frank’s dealing with some shady cats, both on his side and the other, but that doesn’t stop the wheels from turning:

Think about it now, that’s damn near one point five [million]. I kill ‘em all, I’ll be set for life.
(Frank, pay attention…promise you won’t rob them.)
I promised, but of course you know I had my fingers crossed.

From there, the heist is on, and it plays out like a scene from a Brian De Palma movie, complete with bloody, climactic shootout and a funny and unexpected finale.

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2. Ghostface Killah – Shakey Dog
Another heist story, another double cross, albeit with lower stakes and an insane, frenetic energy. Ghost enlists some dude named Frank to help him rob his cocaine connection in some shady tenement in uptown Manhattan. This thing is a song in the loosest sense of the word – there’s no chorus here, just Ghost describing the preparation, the characters in play and the stickup itself with a crime-writer’s eye for detail and dialogue. The writing itself is laugh out loud funny, and Ghost’s breathless storytelling propels the listener full ahead to the last line of the song, when he pulls the rug out from under us and stops the action dead on some Sopranos finale tip. There’s a sequel, featuring Raekwon, but like all sequels, it pales in comparison to the original.

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Blog, Craft

Rogue Craft: The Uncanny “GIRLS” Lena Dunham’s Horror Masterpiece

February 17, 2014 by

Many fans of The Rogue Reader were undoubtedly tuned in last night to the riveting spectacle of HBO’s True Detectives brilliantly scripted by Nic Pizzolatto and hypnotically directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga.  But those who stuck around (perhaps at their significant other’s insistence or just to unwind from TD) for the following episode of Girls received an unexpected Master’s class in storytelling in the horror tradition.

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While some skeptics complain about the triviality of the characters or the lack of laughs in Girls, I’m a fan of the show even more for its craft than for its content.  Clearly, Zosia is not the only Mamet with an effect on the show: Lena Dunham and her creative team have studied David Mamet’s On Directing and execute his idea of “cutting” as well as anyone else in television.  And I am willing to bet that Lena, and Jenni Konner and Judd Apatow, her co-writers of last night’s nearly stand-alone dream-like episode “Beach Girls,” leaned on Freud and his The Uncanny to deliver a nightmarish homage to the horror master Stanley Kubrick.

 kubrick horror

Horror is definitely a hot genre, not only in the movies where low budget horror films like The Ring and Paranormal Activity out earn huge-budgeted star-driven tent poles, but also in commercial fiction as Gillian Flynn’s horror novel GONE GIRL topped the best-seller lists for over a year.  (Gillian Flynn on her horror influences.)  But the DNA of horror can also be found in lighter storytelling if we know where to look.

In The Uncanny, Freud explains that true horror begins with an idyll or in German heimlich (roughly translated to “home love” or “home sweet home”) then, like in a nightmare, the idyll becomes undermined and heimlich becomes un-heimlich (un-“home sweet home”).  We are faced with the darkness behind the idyll or under the surface – think about Jaws starting with the idyll of the innocence of summer and the beach undermined by the beast below the surface.  Then the deeper the story/nightmare goes the more unheimlich it gets until the final crisis and catharsis when beast/shark is killed and the heimlich is restored the audience’s great relief (and enjoyment).

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In this Girls episode, Marnie is attempting to put together the perfect weekend idyll (heimlich) for her circle of friends with flower arrangements and a perfectly arranged dinner party at a beautiful shore house.  But the idyll is soon subtly undermined by her philistine friends/guests, the revelation that the house is not in the Hamptons, and is in fact borrowed.  It only goes downhill from there as Marnie’s plans really go off the rails and Hannah invites additional unwanted guests.  Ultimately, the final crisis involves the revelation of dark truths that lie beneath the friendships until their relationships are ripped asunder.  That is until the morning brings a new day and the restoration of the idyll of friendship in a coda that says, “They might be fucked up people, but they will always be friends.”

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Blog, Fan's Note

A Fan’s Notes: Eric C. Leuthardt on Sci-fi Noir

February 15, 2014 by

This week, we invite our friend and mad scientist (literally, he is a mad genius neurosurgeon and novelist inventing the future) Eric C. Leuthardt to share his thoughts on the intersection of science fiction and noir as his own debut novel RedDevil4 has just been published by Tor to amazing reviews.

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One of the things that I love about science fiction is that it imagines the world as it could be.  Distinct from other fantasy genre, these are worlds that are built on real possibilities.  So in a sense, they crystallize the future endeavors of scientists and engineers of the future.  Clearly, Star Trek influenced the design of some of the early cell phones and Isaac Asimov bred a whole generation of computer scientists who have worked to create artificial intelligence and robots. Science fiction in essence speaks to our optimism about the future that humans can create.

1966-1969-captain-kirks-gold-cell-phone-in-star-trek

Noir fiction/film is a different beast. Things aren’t so great.  They are often dark and flawed and ambiguous.  There are numerous crime novels where it is sometimes hard to tell the difference between the criminals and the crime-fighters.  Distinct from Sci-fi, the reason we love it is because it explores our imperfections.  The hard, jagged edges of our darker side that gives us a sensual uniqueness.  Ultimately,  we can relate.  As the characters grapple with their own obsessions and insecurities, we can see in an amplified version the struggle that we all experience in the story of our own lives.

When you combine the two genres, I think you get a speculative fiction that becomes relevant far beyond the time that it was created.  The characters live in a world more advanced then are our own, but that world, like their inner psyche,  is filled with uncertainties, conflicts, and unexpected events.   Some of my favorite examples in movies and books include:

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1.  Alien.  A film that shows us the great promise of inter-stellar space travel, but reveals that the real danger in this new frontier is not a gnashing acid dripping monster, it is human greed.

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Blog

Happy Birthday to The Rogue Reader!

November 8, 2013 by

I’m happy and proud to announce that The Rogue Reader has made it to its first birthday.  We’ve published some great books, introduced some of our favorite authors, and met countless wonderful fans and readers along way.  We are also excited to announce that The Rogue Reader looks forward to an even bigger and better second year.

To celebrate this auspicious milestone we will make the entire Rogue backlist of novels from Mark T. Conard and Ro Cuzon available for the 99 cents during the month of November.  Be sure to take advantage of this fan appreciation pricing to complete your Rogue library.

And looking to the future, we introduce Court Haslett as the next Rogue author.  Stay tuned for news about Court’s terrific debut novel Tenderloin (A Sleeper Hayes Mystery) and his upcoming tenure as editor of The Rogue Reader with an eclectic mix of content including interviews with writers like Brian Koppelman, Urban Waite, and Chuck Greaves, as well as interesting supplemental material about the TL, San Francisco, and Jim Jones.

Thanks for being here and join us for another year!


Blog

Call him Dr. Noir

October 3, 2013 by

Mark T. Conard has been busy of late doing great interviews with Loren Kleinman at and Meg Collett, not to mention a kick ass short on ShotGunHoney.net

I hope he still has time to finish the forthcoming Breaking Character…stay tuned.


Blog

Catch Rogue Author Mark T. Conard reading At the Inkwell

September 6, 2013 by

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Mark T. Conard, author of the Philly Payback Series novels among other books, will be reading at NYC’s KGB Bar at 7pm Saturday in The Fall Reading Series of At The Inkwell.

 


Blog, Other People's Books, Reviews & Press

Don Rearden and The Raven’s Gift

August 15, 2013 by

I have been working with Don Rearden since he queried me for a novella entitled Permafrost Heart on March 23 of 2006.  I loved the story that blended unique glimpses of the “bush” country and the people of Alaska that Don so clearly loves told in cuts and flashes reminiscent of the film “Momento.”

Alas, the novella did not sell.  (how many do?)  But over the years Don kept writing, working, and disappearing into the bush only to return each time an even better writer.  His next book, a novel entitled The Raven’s Gift, eventually followed and is a true revelation of the beauty and horror of his world.

For several years Don’s fiction, like private dispatches from the edge of the world, have always thrilled and shocked me and often made me cry.  But now, finally after so much of Don’s hard work and so many revisions, I get to share his amazing work with others…

The Raven’s Gift was published by Pintail, Penguin Group this summer.  And judging from this amazing review by Michael Dirda in The Washington Post Don is finally getting the accolades and growing readership he deserves.

 

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Any number of writers could have produced a fine literary novel about a young couple discovering Yup’ik culture. But only an exceptional writer could write that fine literary novel and then relegate it to backstory, using its fragments to heighten the eeriness and drama of what is an intense thriller. And yet “The Raven’s Gift” also remains a love story — in fact, two love stories. What more could you ask? — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post.

http://www.donrearden.com/

 

 

 


Blog

Rogue Giveaway!

July 18, 2013 by

As the dog days of summer persist, here’s a giveaway to get your mind off the heat. This month, buy any Rogue ebook Bundle and you’ll be entered to win a 2×3 foot poster of our one-of-a-kind graphic below. Featuring original design and quotes from crime and mystery legends, it’s a collector’s item for any rogue reader.

Lovers of crime and mystery fiction, simply buy a Rogue collection directly from our site and send a screenshot of your order confirmation page, or a copy of your PayPal receipt to info@theroguereader.com and you’re officially in the running.

Choose a couple of Scando-crime thrillers from Weinman and Jungstedt in this bundle. Or load your reader with Hogan’s Rust Belt trilogy. Pick up both of Ro Cuzon’s Adel Destin novels. Conard’s Philly Payback series awaits you in this bundle.

We’ll choose winners in a week or so and send a finely printed poster to five lucky winners for display wherever you like. You can’t get this poster anywhere else, and you can’t find bundles like these anywhere else either. So grab a couple of books, turn on the AC, and find a blank spot on your wall for some Rogue Art.

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Reviews & Press

Ro Cuzon in Publishing Perspectives

July 17, 2013 by

logo_publishingperspectives_originalPublishing Perspectives invited Ro Cuzon to open up about his writing and publishing journey, including his success as part of The Rogue Reader.

I’m a high school dropout. I never studied writing. And when I first signed with an agent I don’t think I even knew what “plot” was. But over the past decade, I’ve learned how to write, learned how to revise, learned how to promote — essentially, I’ve learned how to be a professional author. My only instructor through it all: my agent. Every writer has his own story. Here’s mine.

Read the full story here.


Blog, Other People's Books

Rowling’s Surprise Crime Debut

July 15, 2013 by

No doubt this weekend’s biggest book story wasn’t about a New York Times bestseller. It was about a solid crime debut that landed quietly in the U.S. in April, despite its fabulous blurbs by Val McDermid and Mark Billingham and general appreciation by PW and Library Journal. In the course of 48 hours, its leapt from an Amazon ranking of over 40,000 to the second best-selling book in the land. How?

jk-rowling-the-cuckoos-calling

It was written by J.K. Rowling.

Less that a year after publishing her first novel for adults,The Casual Vacancy, Rowling published a private eye novel. The Cuckoo’s Calling, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The secret  has only come to light this weekend in a statement to The Sunday Times of London, in which Rowling admitted Galbraith is she:

“I had hoped to keep this secret a little longer, because being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience. It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”

Massive congratulations to our friends at Mulholland Books, who will now count Rowling among their star ranks–and who no doubt worked all weekend (somebody’s got to push that reprint through in record time!). Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 7.38.18 AM