Thursday, October 28, 2010

Download the radio adaptation of Gary A. Braunbeck's "Return to Mariabronn" (from Haunted Legends edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas)

Gary A. Braunbeck is the author of the short ghost story "Return to Mariabronn," available in the new anthology Haunted Legends, edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas. Braunbeck has spearheaded a audio adaptation of his story, and it is available for download just in time for Halloween.

"Return to Mariabronn" was broadcast on Ohio radio stations and features the voices of the author, Braunbeck himself; his wife, author Lucy A. Snyder; and some students from Ohio State University. To download the mp3, simply visit the Ohio State University Media Manager.

Great Halloween listening!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Danger in Paradise by A.S. Fleischman (Stark House Press)

Growing up, I was a fan of author A.S. Fleischman's work, only I didn't know it. At that time, Fleischman was going by his middle name of Sid and mostly made his living writing works for children, including the "Bloodhound Gang" mysteries on the PBS TV show 3-2-1 Contact ("Whenever there's trouble, we're there on the double"). My friend Bryan McCarter and I loved these so much that we formed the "Bloodhound Gang II" and solved mysteries around the neighborhood of our own devising.

As Sid, Fleischman won the Newbery Award for his novel The Whipping Boy. As Albert Sidney Fleischman, he wrote the screenplays for both Blood Alley (from his novel) and Sam Peckinpah's debut feature The Deadly Companions (from his novel Yellowleg). But before he was either of those, Fleischman began his writing career as A.S. Fleischman, author of a couple of thrillers for Gold Medal Books set in the Malay Peninsula and published in the early 1950s.

Danger in Paradise and Malay Woman have not been in print since then. And now they're paired in a new trade-paper edition from Stark House Press.

In Danger in Paradise, oil geologist Jefferson Cape is ready to leave Indonesia after having made some good money and then spent it. But when he stops for a final bottle of arrack, a White Russian girl stops him at the bar. Nicole Balashova wants him to carry something on board for her, and like a sucker, Jeff agrees.

Jeff is chased and misses his boat, and that's only the beginning of this tropical thriller from 1953. Before his life is normal again, he will learn of Nicole's death, get (almost) caught up with maneater Regina Williams, be pursued by a Pith-helmet-wearing, Malacca-cane-carrying skinny threat, and get knocked out a few times.

Danger in Paradise is a blazing read, with Fleischman throwing one thing after another at his hero. The exotic setting (and women) only make the reading that much richer. I'm already looking forward to diving into Malay Woman, based on reviews of that book from James Reasoner and Bill Crider. It sounds even better.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hard Case Crime signs with Titan Publishing -- also, Gabriel Hunt's future and other news from founder Charles Ardai

We've got some big news to announce today: After a year's hiatus, Hard Case Crime will be returning to bookstores with new titles in 2011.

As you know, our relationship with Dorchester Publishing (Hard Case Crime's publisher since the line's launch in 2004) came to an end a few months ago when Dorchester announced it was getting out of the business of publishing mass-market paperback books. This left Hard Case Crime without a home. I've spent the past six weeks in meetings with other publishers interested in giving us a new home, and I was gratified to receive offers from five of the firms we met with. They were all firms I respect greatly and would have enjoyed working with, but in the end, one stood out as clearly the best match, and that was UK-based Titan Publishing.

Based in London, Titan is a publisher both of fiction and of gorgeous art books focusing on pop culture such as movie poster art, pin-ups, newspaper comic strips, and Golden Age comic books. They have worked with filmmakers such as J.J. Abrams, Joss Whedon, and George Lucas. Titan has been around for 30 years, has more than 200 employees, and in addition to publishing books also has a magazine division, a retail division (Titan owns the famous Forbidden Planet bookstore in London, and until recently co-owned the Murder One mystery bookstore with Maxim Jakubowski), and a merchandise division that produces items such as T-shirts, sculptures, and accessories. It's fun to imagine what sorts of cool Hard Case Crime products we might create with them!

But first things first: books.

Titan plans to acquire all existing stock of Hard Case Crime's backlist from Dorchester Publishing and to resume shipping these titles to booksellers immediately. Hard Case Crime will relaunch in September/October 2011 with four new books, including two you've heard about before — Choke Hold by Christa Faust (sequel to her Edgar Award-nominated Money Shot) and Quarry's Ex by Max Allan Collins (the latest in the popular series of hit man novels by the author of Road to Perdition), both of which were in the works at Dorchester but never got published — and two you haven't heard about, never-before-published novels by major writers in the field (MWA Grand Masters, names to be announced shortly).

You'll be hearing more about all four books over the coming months, I promise. In the meantime, if you'd like a little taste of Quarry's Ex and Choke Hold, you can see their cover art and read a sample chapter from each at our Web site.

(Why so long a wait? It has to do with the sales cycle in the book publishing business. Titan's sales force is already selling July/August 2011 titles to stores now; September/October 2011 is the soonest we can get new books out if we want to have enough time for booksellers to consider and order them, and then for Titan to print and ship them, etc.)

We will also still be going ahead with our special hardcover "double" volume with Subterranean Press, featuring two long-lost Lawrence Block novels [69 Barrow Street and Strange Embrace — Ed.] bound back-to-back. More info on that one as soon as we have a firm publication date and cover art to to show you!

In other news, Haven, the SyFy television series inspired by one of our books (The Colorado Kid by Stephen King), just completed its first season and has been renewed for a second. If you haven't seen the show or only caught the first few episodes, I'd encourage you to give it a(nother) try — it got really good by the end of the season (and no, I'm not just saying that because I wrote the penultimate episode and came up with the story for one before that...). It's a little different from what you see in our books, since every story contains elements of the supernatural — but it's still a show about a FBI agent, a cop, and a criminal, and features some awfully hard cases....

Also: Universal Pictures acquired the rights to two other Hard Case Crime books — Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence by my close personal friend Richard Aleas — and has attached a director (Jonathan Levine, The Wackness) and screenwriter (Michael Bacall, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) to the project. No guarantee that a movie will actually get made, of course, but it's a very exciting first step.

What else is new? Well, Hard Case Crime's sister line, The Adventures of Gabriel Hunt, is staying with Dorchester for the time being, and they have plans to reissue all of those books — including the sixth, which never came out in mass-market paperback — in the larger "trade paperback" format (as well as e-book format). If everything goes as planned, those should start coming next year. If you poke around online, you can also find an audiobook edition of one book in the series, Hunt Through the Cradle of Fear, produced by AudioRealms. If there's ever been a genre suited to audiobook adaptation, it's tales of adventure! (If you don't feel like hunting for it — pun intended — here's a link.)

That's all the news this time around. There will be more, probably fairly soon -- you'll certainly be hearing from me well before this time next year, when the new books come out. But in the meantime, I want to thank you for all your patience and your support. It's great to know you're out there, as passionate about our books as ever. I promise: We'll give you some good scratching for your itch just as soon as we can.

New books will be published in paperback (possibly some in hardcover as well!); ebook editions will also be released across multiple platforms. Titan is distributed in the U.S. and Canada by Random House.

We're very excited about working with Titan (indeed, we had offers from five publishers and chose Titan over several that were much larger and better-known) -- they love pulp fiction as much as we do and appreciate that in books like ours the visual dimension is just as important as the storytelling. It's hard to imagine a better home for Hard Case Crime.


Official press release:

Hard Case Crime Returns!

Titan Books to Relaunch Acclaimed Pulp Paperback Series

New York, NY; London, UK (October 19, 2010) — Titan Books and series creator Charles Ardai announced today that they are teaming up to relaunch the popular Hard Case Crime series of paperback crime novels. Nominated five times in five years for the Edgar Allan Poe award, the mystery genre’s highest honor, Hard Case Crime has published such luminaries as Stephen King (the book that was the basis for the new TV series Haven), Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Donald E. Westlake, Lawrence Block, Pete Hamill, Max Allan Collins, Madison Smartt Bell and Roger Zelazny, to name just a few. Each book features new cover art in the classic pulp style, including covers painted by Robert McGinnis, the legendary illustrator who painted the original James Bond movie posters.

Hard Case Crime has won praise from dozens of major publications ranging from Time, Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly to Entertainment Weekly, Playboy, and Reader’s Digest, and has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, NPR’s Fresh Air, and in every major newspaper in America (including repeated coverage in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and USA Today).

First launched in 2004, Hard Case Crime published 66 titles through August 2010, at which time its long-time publisher, Dorchester Publishing, announced it was exiting the mass market paperback publishing business after nearly 40 years. After receiving offers from five other publishers (including two of the largest in the world) to continue the line, Charles Ardai selected UK-based Titan Publishing as Hard Case Crime’s new home.

“Titan has an extraordinary record of creating beautiful, exciting books with exactly the pop culture sensibility that Hard Case Crime exists to celebrate,” said Charles Ardai, founder and editor of Hard Case Crime and an Edgar Award-winning mystery writer himself. “Titan is one of the few publishers that loves pulp fiction as much as we do.”

Titan’s first new Hard Case Crime titles, scheduled to come out in September and October 2011, include Quarry's Ex, a new installment in the popular series of hit man novels by Road to Perdition creator Max Allan Collins; Choke Hold, Christa Faust’s sequel to her Edgar Award-nominated Hard Case Crime novel Money Shot; and two never-before-published novels by major authors in the crime genre (both recipients of the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America).

Additionally, Titan plans to acquire all existing stock of Hard Case Crime’s backlist titles from Dorchester Publishing and resume shipping those titles to stores immediately.

“Hard Case Crime has done a remarkable job in a very short time of building a brand known for outstanding crime fiction and stunning artwork,” said Nick Landau, Publisher of Titan Books and CEO of the Titan Publishing Group. “We are thrilled to partner with Charles and look forward to bringing Hard Case Crime to a wider audience around the world, not only through the novels themselves but also through an innovative merchandise program.”

For more information, call Hard Case Crime on 646-205-2181 or e-mail; call Titan (US media) on 914-788-1005 or email; or call Titan (UK media) on +44 (0)20 7803 1906 or email

About Hard Case Crime

Charles Ardai founded Hard Case Crime in 2004 through Winterfall LLC, a privately owned media company responsible for a variety of print, film, and television projects. The series has been nominated for and/or won numerous awards since its inception including the Edgar, the Shamus, the Anthony, the Barry, and the Spinetingler Award. The series’ bestselling title of all time, The Colorado Kid by Stephen King, was the basis for the current SyFy television series Haven, on which Charles Ardai works as a writer and producer. There have also been a number of feature film deals involving Hard Case Crime books, including The Last Lullaby, based on The Last Quarry by Max Allan Collins and starring Tom Sizemore as the titular hit man, and more recently Universal Pictures’ purchase of the film rights to Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas.

About Titan Publishing Group

Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981. The company is based at offices in London, but operates worldwide, with sales and distribution in the US & Canada being handled by Random House. Titan Publishing Group has three divisions: Titan Books, Titan Magazines/Comics and Titan Merchandise. In addition to fiction, including novelizations of films such as Terminator Salvation, original novels based on TV shows such as Primeval and Supernatural and the popular computer game Runescape, and the celebrated Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series of novels launched in 2009, Titan Books also publishes an extensive line of media- and pop culture-related non-fiction, graphic novels, art and music books.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne

Author S.C. Gwynne takes a most interesting approach in his history of the Comanche Indians. He does it by focusing on the events before, during, and after the life of the Comanches' last chief, Quanah Parker, the half-breed son of a white female captive, Cynthia Ann Parker, and another Comanche chief, Peta Nocona.

Empire of the Summer Moon begins with the murder and capture of most of the James W. Parker family, including the taking of 9-year-old Cynthia Ann. (The seemingly endless search of Parker for his family inspired Alan Le May's novel The Searchers and the subsequent film.)

Gwynne uses the book written by Cynthia Ann's sister Rachel (also abducted) as his main source for this material, as very little is known of Cynthia Ann's own time with the tribe until much later, when it was revealed that she had had multiple opportunities to escape and had refused to leave her husband and children.

One portion I found especially engrossing was the chronicle of the Texas Rangers, essentially a group of organized vigilantes. In order to be on equal ground and successfully fend off attacks upon the reluctant "nation" of Texas, the Rangers learned to fight like the Comanches — including their impressive skill at shooting with accuracy from a galloping horse. Gwynne also offers insight into the Comancheros, the half-breed traders who were the only non-Indians the tribe would deal with directly.

Under the guise of telling Quanah Parker's story, Gwynne produces a fairly comprehensive tribal history. Empire of the Summer Moon is one that anyone should read who only thinks of Comanches as the bloodthirsty savages of traditional Western fiction. Gwynne's prose is smooth and unadorned, resulting in a history without pretensions. He lets the story take the spotlight; his tenure with Time Magazine was apparently excellent training for this career move.

I have only reached the halfway point — Gwynne has barely touched upon Quanah himself — yet I feel confident in recommending Empire of the Summer Moon to both those with prior interest in its subject who wish to expand their knowledge, and those wanting an introduction to the topic. Both, I wager, with be well satisfied.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Michael Frayn on Writing Success

"I don’t think it is a very good idea to write different sorts of things. If I were to give serious practical advice to a young writer about how to succeed I would say, Write the same book, or the same play, over and over again, just very slightly different, so that people get used to it.

"It takes some time, but if you do it often enough, finally people will get the hang of it, and get familiar with it, and they’ll like it. Then you go on producing a consistent product and you’ll have a market for it. Because the consumer of books or plays, including myself, very reasonably wants to know or have some idea in advance what the book or the play is going to be like.

"It is the same as buying breakfast cereal: if you buy a packet of cornflakes, you want to be sure it will contain cornflakes and not muesli. It is very irritating if the packet doesn’t contain what you expected it to contain. Similarly it is a reasonable demand from the theatergoer or novel reader that he should get a constant product, which is identified by the author’s brand name.

"If I could have done this, I would have. But I don’t have much control over what I produce. All I can do is to write the stories that come to me.... If I had been better organized as a writer, I would have gone beyond the stories’ dictates and imposed my own central imprint on everything."

—from a 2003 interview in The Paris Review

Friday, October 1, 2010

Horror scholarship makes paying for school less frightening!

In honor of the beginning of October, the scariest month of the year, I thought I'd mention an interesting piece of news that was shared with me. Star Costumes has developed and is now offering a $1,000 scholarship to eligible students who are "studying in a field designed to prepare them for work in the horror industry."

This could include anyone from aspiring directors and screenwriters to those looking to work in make-up or set design — even a film critic (criticism being, of course, near and dear to my own heart). All that's required is to fill out the application form and write a 300- to 400-word essay about your inspirations, goals, and accomplishments.

There is no application fee. But the deadline is October 31st, which will be here before you know it. If horror is your field of study, you may be especially busy this month, so for more information (or to get started right away!), just click on the logo to be taken to the appropriate page.

In spite of my cheesy subject line, I think this is a great opportunity Star Costumes is offering. So be sure to let us here at Somebody Dies know if this announcement led to your receiving the scholarship. We'll be cheering you on!
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