Tuesday, November 29, 2011


On a favorite internet radio show of mine, the host often asks the guest about their definition of noir. He gets a range of answers. Well here is mine.

Noir means no innocent victims. A good example this would be a scene in the movie City Of Industry where there is a shoot out in a trailer park between two groups of heavies. During this gun battle the residents of the trailer park come out of their homes with shotguns and join the bullet fest; again, no innocent victims.

 In a lot of movies directors like to imply that a character has a dark side with their use of lighting and shadows. I particularly like shots where one side of the character's face is in the dark and the other is in the light. Very symbolic of one's complex nature which incorporates elements of good and evil. I also like scenes that depict violence taking place in dark alleys where punches an kicks come from all directions and it is unclear who is doing the beating.

If you want an example of noir depicted in the art world check out the work of Edward Hopper. His most noirish painting is Night Hawks which depicts a late night scene at a diner. In this picture we are not sure who these people are, whether they know each other, or if they are connected at all. Through the window outside, we see a menacing city smudged by an inky black night. One that will gobble up the characters the minute they walk out the door.

The work of Mickey Spillane is commonly characterized as noir. I think that is stretching it a little in that Mike Hammer is truly a good guy, even though he is very brutal. He always has a clear sense of what is right and wrong. Also, even though the police in Hammer stories may not be the most sympathetic people,  they are always sincerly trying to solve whatever crime comes across their desk.

My beloved clown PI Huey Dusk started out somewhat noirish. Originally, I wasn't sure whether or not he was going to be a killer clown. But, as time has gone on, I have put him in the camp of the good guys, even though he has a somewhat tarnished heart of gold.

I love noir stories and could talk about them all day. However, what I don't do is apply it as a formula to everyday life. I am a firm believer in the goodness of people and do my best to see the light in every situation. If you don't do that you miss out on the happiness in life.

Hopefully I have illustrated this in my latest Huey Dusk story, Bullets For Coffins in which I have added a lot more clowns and gooofiness.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


These days to hold my interest, a writer must be cinematic and very descriptive. I like stories with lots of action and atmosphere.

I like authors that set a mood by making use of the environment around them. I like descriptions of buildings and locales. I like use of simile and metaphor.

What I don't like, is writing that is too chatty and tries to be too clever. For, example, before the latest vampire craze, people at my writing group were writing fantasy stories and so help me, if every one of them didn't have witty repartee between two talking unicorns. *snoring*

Maybe it is because I am not great with dialog in my own stories that I didn't find two wise cracking mythical creatures funny. With the exception of the Huey Dusk tales, my pieces are very light on conversation. My characters are essentially defined by their actions. This is probably because I started out writing screenplays which are basically a cake recipe for the director. So, I have had to will myself to include interior dialogue-- but, I don't like it.

I like my characters to be forces of nature. Hemingway men and women of action. They don't need to reflect on what they have done or what they are going to do, they just do it. Mike Hammer is that way.

And that is why I have sponged up every story Mickey Spillane has written-- that goes for Richard Stark as well. Heck if those two wrote something on a cocktail napkin, I would buy it on E Bay and read it, studying every letter down to every comma.

Well, I am out of steam for right now, so I will stop rambling. To all, have a great Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ballistic by Trey Dowell

Ballistic, by Trey Dowell. I had heard and read great things about this story for the longest time. It was number five on the Untreed Reads best seller list and I understand why.

It tops out at ten pages and is an interesting little piece of fiction. In this story, Dowell mixes action and noir. This is something I can't remember being done before; if it has, it's been awhile.

The story centers on a hitman named Danny who is sent with a couple of other thugs on a job. To make a long story short, things go wrong for Danny and he ends up fighting for his life.

Danny is clearly a bad guy. However, Trey leaves you no choice but to root for him. He does this by employing a cinematic prose style and he chose a common setting that we are all familiar with: an office building. What this does is help us put ourselves in Danny shoes and we essentially become him. As a result, the reader feels that they are fighting for their life as well, and we want very much for Danny to succeed.

Dowell also did something else that was very clever and very simple. He gave Danny a backstory and a sexual past with the crime boss's mistress. You would think that this would make the reader like him even less, but it does the opposite. It gives him a rogue like quality and a seed of redemption. You figure that if somebody is willing to give themself or their love to Danny, we may as well give him a chance too.

Trey pulled out all the stops with this one and gives us a thrill ride all the way to the end and then smacks us in the face with a suprise ending.

I would like to see another longer piece from him like this nasty little one.  Ballistic can be purchased at . Buy it now!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

That Damned Coyote Hill by Heath Lowrance

Western and Horror are two genres that blend nicely. Heath Lowrance proves this in his Western short story That Damned Coyote Hill, another offering by Trestle Press

If I am correct, it is the first installment in a short story series about a mysterious gunfighter named Hawthorne.

The atmospherics  are wonderful. Lowrance chooses rain and mud as his back drop. This gives the piece a sepia-toned feel and reminds me of a faded photograph.

Instead of a man in black, Heath made his character a man in gray with some very striking facial features. This served as a nice metaphor and was in line with the spirit of noir.

Very good description of all the people and critters that  lurk in this universe.

That Damned Coyotee Hill  is a page turner with some great action sequences. I think even people who don't normally enjoy westerns will like this one as well. It can be purchased for 99 cents on Amazon Kindle