Sunday, May 1, 2011

Anthony Neil Smith interviewed here and now!

Author Anthony Neil Smith is reissuing his fantastic Yellow Medicine on Kindle and Nook. Let's talk to him about it. And about other stuff too!

1. Crime Dog Books. Huh? What? Explain yourself.

I miss the idea of the "brand" on self-pubbed e-books, like to old Gold Medal, but I'm not ready to start a real publisher. So I decided to make a Crimedog Books badge (Erik Lundy designed it) for Yellow Medicine and beyond. But then I thought, well, why not just give the brand to any of our PWG alums with an e-book to create that feeling of a brand again. I don't know about you, but when I see a Gold Medal or a Penguin or a Vintage/Black Lizard, or even a Vertigo, I know I'm getting quality. Same with Crimedog Books. And we get none of the profits. Just a community. Once we get a handful of CDBs, we're going to list them at a page on PWG. Yellow Medicine and Hogdoggin' will be #1 and #2.

2. You gave yourself a promotion at PLOTS WITH GUNS. What's going on with the journal? Can we expect to ever see a collection of the Best of PWG on Crime Dog Books?

I had run myself ragged with being the one-man band behind PLOTS WITH GUNS, so I "hired" (ha. no money in it) some new assistant editors to help out. But I was still way behind in reading, still having trouble getting new art, tried of delaying issue after issue. I couldn't do that plus the day job plus my own writing. But I didn't want to see it die. So the idea was to make myself "Publisher" (kind of like Stan Lee), pay for the site and drive the "big picture" idea of it, while finding a great new editor and art director to handle the actual production of the thing. And I also wanted them to take it places I had never thought of. So now we've got former MURDALAND assistant ed Sean O'Kane, who is a monster editor with great ideas for the future. Erik Lundy should be getting a fat salary for the amazing art he does (the new cover of Yellow Medicine is Lundy's, too), but he works for PWG so he gets jackshit. And our other two Assistants, Gonzalo Baeza and Marty McCabe, are sharp and can help choose the work that keeps us on top.

3. Your novel YELLOW MEDICINE was originally published by the now seemingly in limbo / possibly defunct Bleak House Books. Talk about what it means to give the novel a new life on the Kindle and Nook.

It means the world. I get to push this thing to an entirely new audience, and I get a bitchin' new retro cover. I just want people to read it and enjoy it. I've got a box of Yellow Medicine's sitting in my closet, and I give them away to people every now and then, but for the most part they're not doing anyone any good sitting there not getting read. Having the e-version out means a lot more people can get it for a decent price. I love promoting it, too. A lot of fun, even if I make an ass of myself on purpose while trying.

Also, before the implosion of Bleak House, I had thought about a third Lafitte novel to round out the story, and maybe some short stories from before he moved to Minnesota. If the e-versions of YM and the sequel, HOGDOGGIN', do well, I can go ahead and write the new Lafitte stuff.

4. Give new readers a little hint of what they can expect from Billy Lafite.

This is the guy in the bar you're glad to buy drinks for while he's telling his wild-assed stories, but who chills your blood when he asks for a lift home. Dangerous, but you're captivated by him. A bad egg, but you root for him. I was interested in that line between sympathetic and unsympathetic, how far he could go before the reader decided he wasn't worth cheering on.

He's pretty confident that his power as a cop can allow him to get away with anything. Worse, he uses that power to force loyalty from people, and he confuses that with earned loyalty, I think. But he likes being feared more than respected. God knows why.

5. Let's move some product. Give readers a run-down on CHOKE ON YOUR LIES and THE DRUMMER and your other e-books.

CHOKE ON YOUR LIES is a bit of a left turn for me. Not really a noir. It's my tribute to the Nero Wolfe detective series and features a very large woman who is rich, powerful, and very mean. Her "Archie" is Mick, a poetry professor who is about to lose his wife, his house, and his job. He's a weak-willed sort, and he needs Octavia's help, which is pretty much like selling his soul. Plus, it's got a lot of sex in it.

THE DRUMMER is my love song to New Orleans, written before Katrina and sold the same month Katrina hit. It's my take on the "man on the run" thriller, with an 80s metal drummer faking his death to avoid personal problems and the tax man. The singer tracks him down 15 years later and wants a reunion. So now he's got to find a way to keep the life he's built for himself, and he'll do *anything* it takes to do so. Heartbreaking stuff, full of rock and roll, sex, and tequila.

Oh, and my first novel, PSYCHOSOMATIC, which is batshit crazy and features a woman with no arms or legs...and she's in charge!

Plus: TO THE DEVIL, MY REGARDS, co-written with this Gischler hack, about a P.I. who makes all the wrong choices along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

6. What's next?

The sequel to YELLOW MEDICINE, called HOGDOGGIN', gets its e-debut in June. It was published in 2009, right before Bleak House went bye-bye. And then maybe some of my early short stories bundled together. We're trying to sell a thriller to the big NYC guns right now, but in the meantime I'm working on new novellas for Kindle, and on a sequel to that thriller I mentioned.

7. We've known each other a long time, since grad school at the hot and humid University of Southern Mississippi. But you've been in Minnesota a while now. How's life? Adjusted?

My first semester in Minnesota was hell. I thought I it was a mistake. That's because I was in the southwest corner, where it's pretty much cornfields and the smell of beets being turned into sugar (which is not pleasant). The anger was what got me going on YELLOW MEDICINE. But then I met the love of my life, and she turned me on to the great stuff about Minnesota I hadn't seen yet--Minneapolis, the northern woods, Duluth--and the more I fell for her, the more I fell for Minnesota. So I love my job (Director of Creative Writing at Southwest Minnesota State University), love the beauty of the state, and have come to appreciate the stark, frozen, wind-whipped prairies down here. Especially as a setting.

8. What are you reading?

Currently working on Jo Nesbo's THE DEVIL'S STAR. I like his stuff, even though it's more quiet than the noir I usually gravitate towards. Also just finished some Danny Hogan pulp on Kindle. Crazy stuff. And I'm getting ready to launch into the sneak peek copy of DUST DEVILS that Roger Smith sent me. If you haven't read Roger Smith yet, I'm telling you this is THE SHIT right here. His two novels were both in my faves last year. Stunningly violent and full of unsympathetic characters. Love it.

9. It's your soap box. Anything you want to say about the "state of the genre" or the "definition of noir"?

I'm done with definitions. I just want to read stuff that gets to me. Plenty of stuff could follow the "classic" definition of noir and it would bore me silly. I don't care about rules. I care about what works. You ever seen the X-Games moto-cross guys? They have to redefine the sport all the time because of the tricks these guys think up. The riders are ahead of the game. So do something amazing on the page and I'll love it. Bore me and you're done.

The state of the genre is blooming because people are churning out pulp on the Kindle. Fuck the naysayers. I'm telling you, the same way they were churning out pulp in the early part of the 20th century, that's what we're seeing now in e-books. And yeah, there's a lot of sheer bullshit out there, same as way back when, but the good stuff will swim to the top of the muck and shine through.

10. Okay, back to the reason we're here. We're making a big push to sell copies of YELLOW MEDICINE today. Tell readers how they can join in.

So today's Sunday, May 1st, right? What I want you to do is head over to at 2PM (EDT) -- I got Standard and Daylight confused in earlier posts. Sorry--and BUY THE DAMN BOOK. If enough people do it all at the same time, we can run it high up the bestseller list so people can see it, and hopefully it'll snowball down the hill from there. Only 99 cents for a full fucking novel. Why not?

You heard the man, everyone! Bring money! 99 cents is cheap!

If you've read Neil's work and have encouraging words for those considering a purchase, chime in with your comments.


Scott Harbison said...

Enjoyed the interview Victor! I have had a blast the last year and a half reading all of your novels as well as Mr. Smith's "Choke on Your Lies", "Psychosomatic" and "The Drummer"! I prefer the actual books myself, but have adjusted to the e-books since I can do both Kindle and Nook on my I-pad. I can't wait to read "Yellow Medicine" and "Hogdoggin". I bought a copy of both of those and they are sitting on my desk waiting to be devoured! But I will continue to buy the e-books to support you guys in your efforts to keep the "noir" and "pulp" world alive! Keep up the amazing writing and I'll keep pimping your work to my friends and any strangers I can accost on the street!

Sabrina E. Ogden said...

Yellow Medicine is the third book I've read by Anthony Neil Smith and it is just as amazing as I expected it to be. I love Deputy Lafitte despite the fact that he's a disgustingly sick bastard. But, hey. We can't all be perfect and it seems to work well for him. Great little interview, Mr. Smith. Happy May Day =)

Neal Kristopher said...


I just picked up the new one, Anthony - can't wait to read it. and I for one, fucking LOVE the corner branding. That was one of the first things I demanded when I had my buddy design my book cover. Represent old school pulp!

Long live the ePulp!

John D said...

YELLOW MEDICINE is a great read. And at 99 cents, you can't beat it. I paid a dozen times that for it and it was worth every penny. I'm stoked to hear that HOGDOGGIN' will soon be available as an ebook.

Dead Account said...

Thanks for the interview! I just bought all of his books that were available on the Kindle store. Off to go read them! :)