Posts Tagged ro cuzon

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, Reviews & Press

Ex-junkie Fiction

June 13, 2013 by

Over at Eric Beetner’s excellent blog, Joe Clifford and Tom Pitts sit down to chat about books, crime, writing, and a whole lot else. Beetner asks some great questions, and gets some great answers. 3/4 of the way through, Joe and Tom give a nice shout-out to Ro Cuzon. We pull that quote below, but the whole conversation with these three excellent writers is worth the time. You can find it here.

What do you think about some of the ex-junkie fiction out there like William Burroughs or Donald Goines? Does it capture the truth of it? 

J: We all love William Burroughs, the man. But did anybody really enjoy Naked Lunch? Cool guy. I’ve just never been sold on Burroughs the writer. Jerry Stahl’s Permanent Midnight was pretty spot-on, although the writing didn’t hold up for me in subsequent readings. Which isn’t much of a knock. Like I said, my favorite writer is still Kerouac, and I can’t read him anymore either. There’s Ro Cuzon, another ex-junkie noir guy. I recently read hisUnder the Dixie Moon, which uses dope in the peripheral, and I think he nails it. But, again, it’s fiction, so you have some leeway. I suppose Jesus’ Son is fiction too, but it doesn’t read that way.
T: No shit. Good call on Burroughs. Junkie is his most readable book. He’s one of many who I realize I like the idea of better than the work of. Denis Johnson? I can appreciate Jesus’ Son, but it doesn’t compare to a master work like Tree of Smoke. But, really, the book I like best by Johnson is Nobody Move. It’s his take on noir and it’s great. His fans hated it, but it’s a clean, tight crime tale that’s worth picking up. I concur with Joe on Ro Cuzon’s book too. When I read Dixie I was amazed at how it kept getting better and better and better. The plot thickened to the point where I thought I was on the brink of its climax for three-quarters of the book.

Other People's Books

Angel Baby by Richard Lange

June 5, 2013 by

Today Ro Cuzon reviews Richard Lange’s latest suspense novel Angel Baby, just out from Mulholland. Spoiler: he loved it. 


There may be more talented crime fiction authors working today than at any time in history, and I enjoy reading the great varieties of books they produce. Much too rarely, though, do I stumble upon that novel which seems to have been written especially for me. Stories where Voice, Character, Plot, and Setting, all combine to create a perfect, elating cocktail that instantly catapults me to the white-hot center of the narrative, messing with my mind and body as if I was personally involved in the events on the page, triggering heart palpitations, dry mouth, clammy hands, etc.

These novels all tend to be about criminals or people who have committed a crime (there’s a difference, I think), and the intensity of my reactions to their protagonists’ predicaments is always directly related to one thing: the degree of realism that the authors bring to their stories.

Enter Angel Baby by Richard Lange.

Read the entire review at

Blog, Other People's Books

JUNKIE LOVE by Joe Clifford

May 1, 2013 by


In a spoon, mix some On the Road with a drop of vinegar and a squirt of water. Bring to a boil and let it cool, then add just the right amount of Catcher in the Rye. Suction through the balled up cotton of a cigarette Pulp/Noir filter. Find a vein. Inject and wait for the rush.

Junkie Love, Joe Clifford’s second novel (his third book if you include his great short-story collection Choice Cuts) is as raw and candid a story as you’ll ever experience. It’s a gritty literary memoir that reads like the fiction of a James M. Cain or Jim Thompson and will take you on a visceral trip down the darkest alleys of drug addiction.

Early in the novel, Joe wonders “how a good-looking, lapsed Catholic from Connecticut turned into a no-good, thieving junkie, homeless on the streets of San Francisco.” Junkie Love is, at least in part, the author’s attempt to answer that question. At this stage in the story, however, one of the explanations Joe offers us is that he may have read too many books. 

There aren’t many possibilities left for true adventure in our world today for a rebellious young man stuck in a small town, his mind ablaze with the stories of Conrad, Melville, and the spirit of the Beats, his dreams pulsing to a rock & roll soundtrack. There are no more riverboats languidly wheel-paddling up and down the Mississippi River, and hopping freight trains across America just doesn’t have the same romantic appeal it once had before the Interstate Highway System. In theory, one can still embark on a ship across the oceans, though it is hard to imagine anything more boring that being stuck on one of these storm-proof, container-laden supertankers for weeks on end with a foreign crew.

This, I believe, is one of the numerous reasons why the world of drugs can appear so seductive to many young people. Dark and dangerous, but still romantic—at least in an 18th Century Romanticism sense—drugs represent one of the last, readily accessible roads away from conformity and a square, boring life. For kids who may not fit in with the mainstream and polite society, kids who feel they are different, special even, drugs are the ultimate fuck you.

And they make you high.

They are of course also a trap.

Some, the lucky ones, will realize this and pull back in time. For others, it will be too late.

Joe Clifford belongs to the latter group, a young man who went to San Francisco with rock & roll dreams of making it as a musician, only to end up living on the streets, swallowed whole by a spiraling addiction to methamphetamines then heroin. Committing crimes to feed his habit, he ends up betraying and breaking the heart of everyone who ever loved him, as junkies are wont to do.

Very few people make it out of that world; fewer still end up creating art out of their experiences. Poignant, horrific, and at times uproariously funny, Junkie Love is not only a journey through hell and back but also a story of redemption and hope.

One must be careful not to glorify an addict’s ‘war stories’, Joe points out somewhere in the book. This is very true, for any junkie’s suffering is, at least originally, self-inflicted.

The fact remains that, in a roundabout, twisted, painful way ten years in the making, Joe Clifford may have achieved what he set out to do when he first hit the highway in search of adventure. “The best teacher is experience,” writes Jack Kerouac in On the Road. Joe Clifford embarked on a wild perilous trip, pushed his luck as far as it would go and almost didn’t make it back. But he did, and in the process found his identity and his own unique voice, creating music not out of notes but out of words.

Go west, young man, go west. It amazes me that Joe and I both headed that call the same year, in 1991. He was twenty-one at the time, I was twenty-two. He came from Connecticut and I from France, but we both ended up in the same place, physically and metaphorically. Although we never met back then, we lived in the same San Francisco neighborhood, and, to be sure, frequented some of the same places and characters.

Two decades later, we are both published writers. We both have families of our own.

Sometimes, real-life Noir stories have happy endings.

Ro Cuzon is the author of the Adel Destin crime series, including the critically acclaimed Under the Dixie Moon and Under the Carib Sun. Hailed by George Pelecanos, Sean Chercover, Laura Lippman, and James Sallis as a writer to watch, Ro’s novels are all available here at the Rogue Reader and at ebook retailers everywhere. 





Rogue Conversations: Ro Cuzon Interviews Mark T. Conard

March 24, 2013 by

This week Barnes & Noble is spotlighting Mark T. Conard‘s crime novel Dark as Night, the first in his Philly Payback Series, and to give you a glimpse of the man behind the moment, The Rogue Reader‘s Ro Cuzon interviews Mark in our continuing Rogue Conversations Series.  Read an extended excerpt of Dark as Night - and download the book for any ereader you like. (And if you’ve not yet discovered Ro Cuzon, do the same with his acclaimed crime novels too.)

RO CUZON: You are the Chair of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department at Marymount Manhattan College in NYC. What drew you to Crime Fiction?


MARK T CONARD: I started writing crime/suspense by accident. I started working on a screenplay in grad school with a friend of mine. When we began, we didn’t have any particular genre in mind. We just wanted to come up with a story, and it turned out to be a suspense/mystery. We came up with a crude outline of the plot and some character sketches, and he left it to me to put it into screenplay format, which I didn’t know how to do. I let it sit in my desk drawer for a couple of years, then decided one summer to turn it into a novel. I wrote, rewrote, edited, read in the genre (I’d never read any suspense or crime literature until I started writing it), and finally came up with a complete draft. I enjoyed the process so much, that I started right away on a second one. Dark as Night was the fourth manuscript I completed, and the first one published, originally by Uglytown.

That’s kind of how I ended up in the genre, too. It was actually Adam who suggested I went the Crime Fiction route. Since my stories always included drugs and shady characters, I guess it wasn’t that big of a leap.

That’s cool. So how long have you been signed with Adam Chromy (@theadamchromy)? Sounds like he gave you some solid advice.

Quite a while now. He signed me up after the first novel I wrote in English and really taught me a lot—back then I don’t think I even knew what ‘plot’ was. So which are the genre’s authors you think had the biggest influence on your writing/style? 

My biggest influences have been Elmore Leonard, Jim Thompson, James Ellroy, Raymond Chandler, and David Goodis. When I started writing, I was consciously imitating the style of one of these guys. I wrote an Elmore Leonard novel, and then a Jim Thompson novel, and then a James Ellroy novel. It was in the middle of my sixth novel that I found my voice. I was reading some pages and I realized, “this sounds like me!”

These are a few of my favorite authors as well.  Now, you’re the editor of several non-fiction books about the relationship between philosophy & cinema (Woody Allen; Scorcese; Spike Lee; The Coen brothers; Noir; Neo-Noir; even one on the Simpsons). How did that series come about. Was it your idea?


The first in the Philly Payback Series: Dark as Night

I first got into film and philosophy (or more broadly, popular culture and philosophy) when I wrote an essay on symbolism and meaning in Pulp Fiction. After that, a friend and colleague, Bill Irwin, had the brilliant idea of doing a volume on Seinfeld and philosophy. That was right around the time the show was going off the air. Subsequently, Bill and I, along with another friend, Aeon Skoble, edited a volume on the Simpsons, and that’s what really started the whole thing. It really launched a new sub-category of contemporary philosophical analysis. The publisher of that book decided to do a series and made Bill the general editor. Aeon and I then did a book on Woody Allen for Bill’s series, and then I decided to start my own series at a different press. So my film noir, neo-noir, Scorsese, Coen brothers, and Spike Lee books are all published in my own series. This is my main area of scholarly work.

Very cool. And is that non-fiction series of yours available in eBook format as well or just print?

The philosophy books are available in e-format as well.

Speaking of Neo-Noir, I just read and thoroughly enjoyed Dark As Night, the first novel of your Philly Payback series now out from The Rogue Reader. I especially dug how you incorporated food and the restaurant business. I love to cook and worked in the service industry for close to twenty years, which is to say I’m very familiar with it, and those restaurant or cooking scenes in your book were dead on. Did you work in restaurants or hang out with chefs?


Killer’s Coda by Mark T Conard

You know, I never really worked in a restaurant or hung out with chefs (save for a brief stint as a dishwasher at a country club when I was in college). It’s just that I adore good food and eating well, and I love going to good restaurants and trying new places, etc. As I noted on the Bublish excerpt, I didn’t have access to really great food when I was growing up in the Midwest. We ate well, in the sense of having food on the table and being nourished, but I never really experienced cooking and food as artistry until I moved to Philly, which was and is a great restaurant city. So that side of my aesthetic sensibility was awakened, and great food, eating well, became a terrific passion of mine. So it was natural for me to make the main character a chef and to set many of the scenes in restaurants. I also had a lot of fun with food and digestion as a metaphor in that book—the cop who has no appetite, the bloated gangster who’s dyspeptic, and so forth. That’s also why I thought that Nietzsche quote worked so well as an epigraph. As I side note, I only recently have started to figure out how to cook well. I tried it a number of times over the years, but I was always a disaster at it. Something just didn’t click. But now I’m doing better.

Yeah. Food and writing, man. They saved my life. Literally. Well, and wine, too.

Cool. Too bad you don’t live closer. Seems like we’d have a lot of fun hanging out.

Indeed. Let’s try to make it happen next time I’m in New York. OK. One final question for you: how did you get involved with The Rogue Reader?

I met Adam years ago, around the time that Dark as Night first came out. We kept in touch over the years. I’d send him some work periodically, but for whatever reason things didn’t happen. So a few months ago a filmmaker in LA got in touch with me about optioning the movie rights to Dark. He’d seen a terrific online review of the book that Eric Beetner had written not long ago; he found the book, loved it, and thought it would make a great movie. I had been working with another agent for a while, but he hadn’t been able to place my work. He was an older man and died after a short illness earlier last year. So, needing representation, I reached out to Adam to help me negotiate any movie deal that might happen. He agreed to help, and we got on the phone one afternoon, and he started telling me about The Rogue Reader. I told him I’d been continually writing, so I had a backlog of good manuscripts. In addition, since the original publisher of Dark had gone out of business, those rights had reverted to me. So we realized that the time was right, and everything came together very fortuitously. I’m very pleased and excited to have joined you and the other Rogue authors.

Yeah, welcome to the team, man. Good to have you. I enjoyed chatting with you and I’m looking forward to reading your other books. And I’ll definitely give you a shout next time I’m up in NYC.

Great. Thanks for taking the time to do this. I really appreciate it.




Ro Cuzon, Storified

March 5, 2013 by

The book discovery startup Bublish hosted a chat with Rogue author Ro Cuzon last week, and the conversation is up on Storify. Here’s the full conversation.

Screen Shot 2013-03-05 at 11.06.46 AM


Bryon Quertermous Interviews Ro Cuzon

February 22, 2013 by


Besides having a surname that’s the envy of us all, Bryon Quertermous runs a kick-ass blog over at Coping With Sanity, and today he talks with Ro Cuzon about all sorts of things–sleazy New Orleans, writing and marriage, and social media. Bryon’s an acquisitions and developmental editor for Carina Press, the digital first single title arm of Harlequin publishing. His short stories have appeared in PlotsWith Guns, Thuglit, and Crime Factory, among others, and in the anthologies HARDCORE HARDBOILED (Kensington Books), THE YEARS FINEST CRIME AND MYSTERY STORIES (Pegasus Books), and UNCAGE ME (Bleak House Books).

Bryon: I first met Ro Cuzon in the roundabout way we meet people in this day and age. I heard about his books first at Bouchercon this past year in Cleveland when his publisher sponsored a pretty smooth dive bar launch party. We then connected here and there online and I was able to chat with him again at the annual Milwaukee area crimefest Murder and Mayhem in Muskego. So trust me when I say this cat is cool and worth a read and a follow on Twitter.

Read on ->




February 8, 2013 by

Our friends over at invited Ro Cuzon to serve as their official Mardi Gras expert. As the blizzard slams the coast, start planning your trip to the Big Easy. Ro’s epic party guide is here



The Rogue Reader + Bublish

January 25, 2013 by

Remember what it felt like to browse in bookstores? Shelf after shelf of books, calling to you by their art or author, often surprising you with a new story or writer. The element of serendipity and unintended discovery isn’t as easy to come by in the chaos of social media and the immensity of virtual shopping. That’s why we’ve partnered with new tech start-up Bublish to try to recreate that bookstore experience.

Bublish welcomes authors to build discrete book pages that include an excerpt from one’s book surrounded by author commentary about that excerpt, placing it in its creative context and giving it real-world connection. The results are surprisingly moving. As much as we love Twitter and Facebook, what gets left out too often is context. Bublish builds a place for authors to share the story around the story.

In a few of our Bublish pages: Ro Cuzon talks about his friend’s bar that served as a gathering place after Katrina and inspired the bar in Under the Dixie Moon; Ro relates his memories of the gritty St Bart’s that inspired Under the Carib Sun, a place very different from the common vision of a pristine island for the wealthy; Michael Hogan talks about the legendary art that organizes his literary mystery Sistine, and the gritty rust-belt town that sits at the center of his noir Dog Hills; and Edward Weinman talks about the real Iceland at the heart of his crime novel The Ring Road, a land of isolation that drives people to despair, or, if they’re lucky, hope. You can click on the images below to preview our work with Bublish, or follow the links above to see Bublish in action.

Pop over to Bublish and browse around. If you stumble upon an author or story you like, perhaps it will remind you of the feeling you once had of pulling a random book off a bookstore shelf and, improbably, finding it was the perfect fit.

Other People's Books


January 17, 2013 by



The lost Bolden cylinder is considered by many to be one of the most valuable artifacts in music history; others simply believe it never actually existed.

Charles ‘Buddy’ Bolden was a schizophrenic New Orleans cornetist, who, according to musical lore, first invented the art form called jazz by merging traditional marching band music with church spirituals, blues and ragtime. He famously refused to record his music, except for a single session in the late 1890s or early 1900s, when his band cut one song on an Edison wax cylinder.

Willie Cornish, one of Bolden’s sidemen, revealed this fact in an interview with Jazzmen co-author C.E Smith shortly before his death in 1942, and over the years countless people have searched for this mythical recording—nicknamed the ‘Holy Grail’ or ‘Maltese Falcon’ of Jazz.

The lost Bolden cylinder is a MacGuffin of sorts in my new Adel Destin novel due out next spring from The Rogue Reader. Destin’s New Orleans bar in Under the Dixie Moon and the upcoming Crescent City Stomp is named after the legendary cornetist (more here). The book is the third in the series but actually the first one I wrote, several years ago. So you can imagine my alarm last week when I saw the following headline in a Washington Post book review online:

‘Jazz legend Buddy Bolden and lost recording spin suspense in novel about fractured family.’

Freaked, I read the review for this Tiger Rag by Nicholas Christopher. It was positive, so I read a couple more. All the reviewers liked the book. As for the story, it seemed different enough from mine, but I had to be sure. So I bought the Kindle version and immediately started to read it.

And I loved it.

Tiger Rag opens with Christopher’s vivid reimagining of the Buddy Bolden Band’s only recording session and grabs you with its first paragraph. It then jumps to present-day Florida where Dr. Ruby Cardillo, an anesthesiologist who’s taken to wearing purple and drinking 1988 Latour after her husband dumps her for a 26-year-old, reconnects with her daughter, Devon, a jazz-pianist and recovering addict.

Together, they embark on a road trip up the east coast, in the process uncovering secrets and family connections to the recording, the novel’s narrative moving back and forth in time and place from 1900 New Orleans to Christmas 2010 in Manhattan.

I read the book in a day, in just three sittings. Nicholas’ amazingly detailed descriptions of turn-of-the-20th-century Louisiana in particular blew me away—like stepping inside a time-machine.

So go ahead and buy Tiger Rag. If anything, it’ll enhance your experience when you read Crescent City Stomp!

Thanks, Mr. Christopher. Well worth my $12.99


 Tiger Rag is available now from Random House. Ro Cuzon is the author of Under the Dixie Moon and Under the Carib Sun, the first two novels in the Adel Destin series. The third, Crescent City Stomp, will be published by The Rogue Reader this year.

Join the Rogue Email List. and receive regular updates on the best in suspense fiction.

Connect with The Rogue Reader