Apr 23, 2009

Haircut 100 - Fantastic Day

I love this band, and it is a fantastic day.

Apr 15, 2009

The Magical Mystery Tour

So I’m sure you’re all fascinated with the birthday and will not turn away from the blog until well after last call. The truth is we do feel very lucky but we have changed in the last five years. The hope is that we’re more proactive rather than being reactive to everything mystery.

Today’s essay was brought about by a couple of recent conversations and a wonderful editorial coming your way via the print edition of the magazine. For Jon and myself mystery is much more than a book. It is a lifestyle. But what exactly is the mystery community? How do we grow it? Who’s a member?
How do you join?

Five years has defined and honed my own opinion. And so next weekend we’re heading to New York City for Edgar Week, the most respected celebration of mystery annually in the U.S. This is a great jumping off point because last year Harlan Coben gave an inspired speech, Crime Doesn’t Pay … Enough… My favorite line from that speech is “we as members of Mystery Writers of America rise and fall together. We benefit not by grabbing as big a slice of the pie as we can for ourselves and our niche — but by increasing the size of that mystery-lovin’ pie. That’s what we at MWA should aim to do.” An idea, a sentiment Harlan held true to his entire term as President and I know Lee Child will run with.

Five years after the original Crimespree concept was first discussed the original idea feels rather rakish. We’ll talk about mystery, and anything a mystery reader or writer cares to write about counts because it is the people who make up the community who define the Jordan term, “Mystery”. It’s about that Aretha Franklin song baby!! RESPECT.

If I told you I haven’t used the term “transcends the genre” in four years except with disdain would you be surprised? I was when I looked back. It was a “go to” phrase when I first started beating the internet pavement with reviews and “articles”. Somewhere along the line I realized there simply is no need to elevate the crime novel. In 2009 it’s here, it’s nicely holding its own in sales, it folds in more writing styles than any other fiction genre and no matter what you like as a reader you will find the best of the best available in the Crimespree genre of choice.

Comparing Crime Fiction to Literature or Romance or Sci Fi or Horror is redundant. We have it all within our books and teleplays and yes, comics. People call today the second Golden Age of Mystery. I will stand toe to toe with anyone who says mysteries are just mysteries. Because the best will make you laugh or cry. Crime fiction raises awareness, celebrates every life style, explores prejudices. A Crime Fiction Novel can span decades or hours, have just one character or 1,000. Hell, in crime fiction you can learn how to play the lotto with better odds or how to knit. And the recipes? We have Bobby Flay beat by miles. There are sociopaths to love and little old ladies to declare our nemesis. In Crime fiction we have “Cats and Dogs, Living together ….”.

Are you feeling the breeze from my pom poms ?

And yet…..

We all guffaw. All the time. Because if you love mystery you love the history of mystery. The canons of individual writers, the perfectly structured PI novel, the serial killer book with a twist. Does anything beat not knowing who the killer was? And yet is it important to every story labeled Suspense? So why doesn’t George Pelecanos get the same respect as Philip Roth? Why do I worry about Jan Burke’s fan base being happy when she writes something as wonderful and outside of the box as THE MESSENGER? Why do I feel as though I owe Ace Atkins a beer for pulling off a book as outrageously audacious as DEVIL’S GARDEN? And why have I heard myself say at least three times in the past two months, “No, it’s a really great Cozy.”

Like everyone, I have preconceptions and an underlying desire to demystify my own biases. And if you’ve gotten this far in my ramblings you, my friend are a member of the mystery community. Whether you enjoy the community through “just the books” or meander through the internet, looking for more info on a favorite author or sub genre…. If you belong to one or more than one of the many mystery organizations, if you’ve had the chance to shake a hero’s hand at a signing or encourage a new writer with a note, have you been to a convention, are you worried about the movie State of Play holding up to the British mini-series, Do you know a real life Bernard Black? Do you subscribe to Crimespree (okay, I had to sneak that in)?

You are a member of our community. It’s easy to grow Mystery. Pass along a book, buy a book, find someone to talk to about a book. Disseminate the works of Nero Wolfe or Sara Paretsky with someone you’ve just met. Mourn Rankin’s Rebus and embrace Meredith Cole’s debut. Gather together, sing kum bay yah…. Or grab a beer with Michael Koryta…. I think that’s what I’ll do tonight…. Because life is an endless mystery and we wouldn’t have it any other way….

Tomorrow: Our beginnings and some thank-yous….

Crimespree Editors Interview Each Other

So, it's true. Crimespree really is five years young. As promised, this celebration is moving to the blog and we'll begin now with Ruth & Jon's interview of each other.

Tomorrow: The Wonderful World of Mystery


Ruth: A five year run, it feels like a run doesn't it?
Jon: at times, and yet it's hard to believe it's been five years.

Ruth: That's because we're sprinting all the time. congrats, Jon Jordan. The dream is real. It has substance. I feel very lucky, you?

Jon: I do feel lucky. We came up with a crazy idea with no real experience and managed to make it work. Some parts feel much easier and others are just as taxing. What's gotten easier for you?

Ruth: It's easier for me to put off writing reviews... but that's a bad habit. I think just about everything is a little easier but really, until Crimespree I'd never interviewed anyone. I'd led author chats on line and asked many writers to describe their series for the quickly defunct Prime Crime E-Zine but an interview? No way. And then there I was trying to entertain people who were used to and entertained by Jon Jordan's wonderful, respectful and yet irreverent style. You were an Anthony nominee for goodness sakes. It was a blessing and a curse that the first interview was a true hero. Only one thing has been more nerve racking over the last five years.

What's easier for you these days?

Jon: Doing reviews and getting to the layout is still kind of like homework for me, put it off till the last minute. I always have the best intentions, but the books pile up faster than I do the reviews. Reading is still the easiest part. One of the difficult things is trying to make the reviews witty and not sound the same. You saw me go into mental block last night trying to blurb that book.

Layout is much easier than it was and goes much faster. Part of it's the faster internet, but I think a lot of it is all the trial and error with the program we use for layout.

And after five years it is easier to get the attention of most publishers. Though some people still think we are just a website and some don't understand the lead time we need.

So, any favorite things about doing this you didn't expect when we started? Aside from reading books so early?

Ruth: You were so cute last night. Agonizing is the only word for it. It's great that you're at a place where you know when something isn't quite right or has a mailed in feel to it.

I love that we do seem to make a difference. I love the friendships we've started through simple introductions. I didn't expect any of that. I just really wanted to try and make mystery a living breathing thing for people who enjoyed the occasional work of fiction if that makes any sense.

the best thing has to be the helping hands. People coming to us with genuine excitement about a book, writer, their own experiences and then saying, "do you want me to write/interview/review... I just wish we had room for every idea.

What about you?

Jon: I love that our initial plan is actually working. Helping get people we love to read to find new readers. Helping readers find new authors. And I really love when new authors are surprised how open we are. I love new authors. I actually feel great when I see that we are reaching people. It makes the late nights at the computer with Josh Rouse playing or Pink Floyd in the background all worthwhile.

I really love how your skills have gone way up. You've become a great interviewer and reviewer and your footprint article rock, they don't feel academic or dry.

So, did you ever think you'd be getting comics mailed to you asking for your opinion? Or manuscripts?

Ruth: Certainly not comics. Your enthusiasm even works at home Jon Jordan. I love the folks who've sent me manuscripts. I've had a lot of fun whether being the "reader' in the inner circle or just being sent a treat. Sometimes it's hard to know when someone wants an honest critique or if they basically want a cheerleader. I hope I'm both. What do you do when you read something early and it doesn't do anything for you?

Jon: So far I've been lucky, everything I read early on in manuscript has been really good. The hard part is waiting till everyone else reads it so there are people to talk to about it.

So what are some of your favorite articles from our first five years?

Ruth: Too many to even start, but the Lippman/Crumley interview has a lot of history to it. Everything from knowing how far the magazine had come to maybe the biggest fan moment of my life. We knew we were putting Crumley on the cover. Had to. No one else was doing it and he will remain one of the
most relevant mystery writers for all time. But being able to get someone to step in last moment to do the interview and the someone is Laura Lippman?
Wow, our little magazine rocks. I felt Crimespree's viability. The fan moment? When I passed Jim Crumley's phone call screening even before the answering machine beeped, I literally pinched myself. And then talked to a hero. And then told everyone I talked to for the next week I passed his
screening routine and got to talk to him. I shed tears when I saw that cover.

We've really expanded the magazine, bringing in DVD reviews, comic coverage. I think we're closer to being what we set out to be "The People Magazine of the Mystery World", what's excited you the most in our evolution ?

Jon: I've always been happy with the content, but I think the look of the magazine gets better and better. It was definitely a learning curve.
I also love that we attract such wonderful people to write articles. And our regulars are terrific, Ayo, Jeremy, Julia, Craig, Declan and Reed (who has never missed a deadline). I also enjoy the guest recipes from authors. The fun part is the access we can get and being able to interview cool people. I don't know that it would have been possible without Crimespree.

Ruth: I know we wouldn't have all the access but I suspect we'd have quite a bit. Folks in this community are so great. But what a cast of supporting players we've had. Clair Lamb meeting John Connolly to snap our cover photo is simply the latest in a long line. And the columnists. Julia is such a
cheerleader for everyone, Reed is just the bomb, speaking from his heart every step of the way. Craig and Declan stepping in has been almost organic and I think of Jim Pascoe, Robert Randisi, Anthony Ranoine.... the list goes on. Let's not forget Mary Regan's pictures. And could we be doing this at
all without Jen or Jeremy. Our reviewers. The short story contributors. Where's Jason Starr been? I miss looking for him in the mag. Sorry , I'm forgetting folks and this is getting long but really it is a family affair and we have a huge family. You know what makes me the happiest? It's when
someone comes up to me and says, "I started reading so-and-so because of Crimespree" That is, more than anything else, off the charts for me.

So where do we go from here Jon? You got another five years in you?

Jon: I have years left in me. I truly enjoy doing the magazine, except maybe tracking down all the book covers! The big question is, who’s next for a cover, who is the next big star and what’s the next big surprise?

Ruth: With you on this Honey. Hey this has been fun. It's reminded me of when we were courting, e-mailing back and forth. To many more years of Crimespree.

Apr 14, 2009

The Dylan Dog Case Files

This is a great collection from Dark Horse comics weighing in at 680 pages of this wonderful horror/PI series from Italy.

Dylan Dog is an ex-Scotland Yard turned Nightmare Investigator, not a wealthy man but good at chasing the undead and other things that go bump in the night. He has a side kick named Felix who thinks he is Groucho Marx. The stories are like the classic horror suspense of the seventies, only a bit edgier.
The artwork reminds me of some of the great DC horror books by Bernie Wrightson and others of that era. It's written by Tiziano Sclavi and the art is done by a number of different folks, all of them with a perfect grasp of the suspense needed.
As a character Dylan is great fun, at times whimsical and funny and yet knowledgable and danerous when he needs to be. This is a wonderful book and definitly worth picking up.

Buy The Dylan Dog Case Files

The series is being made as a film:
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) will play the lead role in Dead of Night, which is based on SAF Comics' best-selling horror comic book series "Dylan Dog," created by Tiziano Sclavi and first published in Italy by Sergio Bonelli Editore.

The movie will be directed by David R. Ellis, who started his career as a stuntman and in recent years has directed such movies as Final Destination 2, Cellular and Snakes on a Plane. The screenplay was written by Joshua Oppenheimer and Thomas Dean Donnelly.

Buy The Dylan Dog Case Files

Apr 7, 2009

Crimespree turns Five

As writers' tour and "Play Ball" gets shouted out across the nation, as writers and fans everywhere fold Mystery into their lives.... Crimespree turns Five

First a thank you to all who joined the event on facebook. Beginning the 15th we're moving the Crimespree Anniversary to the blog. We have several features completed and are working on more. Five years. Really?

Do you have a favorite Crimespree Moment? Share here.

First Up: The Interview

Ruth and Jon interview each other..... Wed, April 15th.
We'll have a complete roster up later this week. The line up is looking good.

Apr 4, 2009

Going Chapter 11

So, in honor of the wonderful world of high finance, what's the first line of Chapter Eleven in the book you're reading?

Small though Flea was, she knew how to use her body.
from SKIN by Mo Hayder (Bantam Press UK)

Apr 1, 2009

Free Crimespree????

Can it be true?
Well yes , yes it is.

Sean Chercover is giving away some subscriptions as prizes in a contest.

Details are on his website.