Friday, 29 April 2011

Dancing With Myself

I'm thrilled to have been included in Nigel Bird's excellent Dancing With Myself interview series over at Sea Minor. Great fun - thank you, Nigel!

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

this letter to Norman Court

this letter to Norman Court is a novella consisting of 22 sections (each between 1000 and 1250 words) I am releasing by way of the following experiment: I am trying to serialize the piece across blogs, by reader request.  If you read and enjoy the section below and have a blog the readers of which you think would enjoy a selection, as well, please get in touch with me to be an upcoming host.  A little hub site is set up at that has a listing of the blogs that have featured or will feature sections—please give it a look, get yourself all caught up if the below piques your interest.

It is my simple hope to use this as a casual, unobtrusive way to release this material to parties interested.  There is some suspense, in that if a new host does not appear after each posting, the train comes to a halt (back tracking to previous hosts is not an option in this game).  So, if you enjoy what you read and would like to host an upcoming selection, please get in touch with me via  I welcome not only invitations, but any and all comments on the piece (positive, negative, or ambivalent) or general correspondence about matters literary.


Pablo D’Stair

this letter to Norman Court
Pablo D’Stair


Down to my last three cigarettes, enough to get me through the walk to the coffee shop I’d agreed to meet the man at, pick up the money, the letter.  I more than halfway expected he wouldn’t be there, still had some dull little anxieties he might be setting me up to do something, except all I’d done was agree to deliver a letter. 
Two thousand dollars wasn’t enough I could live carefree, but I couldn’t think of the last time I’d had that much money on me at once, didn’t know had it ever happened even back when I was working legitimate, checks every other week.  Money goes someplace, always does, the same place, away. 
As it was, what did I think was better: deliver a letter, get the two grand all in one handful or just stay the grind nabbing briefcases, wallets, whatever to make it enough to kick this friend or that enough to stay on in their apartment? 
Not a question, really.
I was coming up on the coffee shop, the guy at a table outside reading some newspaper.  Both the letter and the money, all neat in its own thick envelope, were inside of a Happy Birthday gift bag he set on the table, mentioning casually I would take it when we left, but I could go to the toilet, give the money a count if I felt like it. 
-I don’t need to count some money, there’s not two thousand when I look later it’d be kind of a waste on your part, right? 
This’d obviously occurred to him, but maybe he wanted some antics, something to texture this all out a bit more for him. 
-My brother lives in Mill Creek, he said and when I stared he smiled, added That’s in Maryland. 
-It didn’t matter to me a bit, sort of made it nicer, a trip into the deal, but just to put it out there I said How do I get to Maryland? 
-I think you might have two thousand dollars, right? 
-I didn’t know some of that was cab fare. 
-Then pretend it’s yesterday and I’d said I’ll pay you fifteen hundred dollars to deliver a letter to my brother, he lives in Maryland, though, so I’ll kick five hundred on top for travel. 
It wasn’t sharp, nothing belittling or glib in his tone, but it still put me off his saying it like that, he didn’t seem the type should be smug, but he was smug—though really there’s no reason he shouldn’t be except it put me off, I guessed. 
I puffed air out my nose, affirmative, giving my head a tick, peeked into the bag, the tissue paper open with scissored second third finger—the letter, the money pack.  I asked was his brother’s name, address in there and he told me Yes.
We settled this would be it, we’d be seeing no more of each other, he stood up to go.  I kind of wanted to ask him how was he to know I’d delivered the letter, seeing as how the idea played out it was this guy’s brother was supposed to have no idea this guy was the actual sender, therefore not something this guy could bring up in conversation, but thinking it over instead I didn’t care.
Down the block with the bag, I ducked into a bookstore toilet.  It was two thousand dollars—fifty-dollar bills, not exactly new feeling, not exactly old.  From all I could tell, it was real money.  In with the bills was a folded sheet of paper—the name Herman Flake, an address, another address for the office Flake worked at. 
I left everything except for two bills in the bag, not wearing anything with suitable pockets, went out of my way eight blocks to a tobacco shop I knew the foreign guy working there always put a special pen to bills twenty and larger—not in a suspicious way, just something he always did and I’d remarked it. I asked for a pack of Daphne Durant’s, watched him slip the pen across the bill I paid him, the ink acting right, not showing up. 
Not that I’d thought it’d be phony, I couldn’t think of anything more ridiculous than that, giving someone two thousand phony dollars to skip a few states over hand little brother a letter—I assumed it was little brother, anyway.
I smiled as I took in my first long breath of the first decent smoke I’d had in what seemed it was coming up on two years. I suddenly wanted to buy a new coat, something—some gesture to make the money a bit more real, something it’d got me a bit more substantive than a stump of filterless.  So, I window shopped my way back to my friend Murray’s apartment, where I’d been up the last month, sort of grumbling to myself that I’d had two grand for something fifteen minutes and already it was dribbling down—train ticket, theoretical coat, cigarettes—but did my best to reassure myself at the end of the line I’d come out twelve, thirteen hundred up, easy, even with some frivolous distraction. Anyway, even were it a clean thousand that was something. 
No one home, so I did my light packing, the money a bit bulky as a lump so I kept seven hundred on me, the rest wrapped up in a shirt in the middle of my duffle, I’d not let it out of my hand.  I took the letter itself out for the first time, rolling my neck around, shushing coffee cheek to cheek, sitting on the arm of the sofa. 
It was a fully addressed, stamped envelope, but obviously it’d not be sent, not been sent a good while back, just the wear to the creased up corners anyone could see that.  It was addressed to Norman Court, written from a woman called Klia Flake. 
I downed the last of my coffee, held the envelope up to the light, inspected it, completely layman, to see had someone got it opened before, didn’t seem they had. 
-You naughty girl, Klia I said, gave the thing a flick, then added Poor poor Herman Flake. 
Though, thinking about it, that didn’t seem to be his brother’s attitude regarding the matter.  Something like this, the caring thing’d be to get Herman aside, give him the hard news through a few shots down the bar, sadly show the letter off as the unfortunate proof. 
I picked it up, again.  Had it been opened?  How would my guy know the contents? 
But just as quick I tossed it back in my duffle—not only was it irrelevant, but it could easily be my guy’d found it out about whatever Klia’d been pulling behind Herman’s back, there was this letter going to the fellow he knew she was off cuddling with, gave it the swipe, because what else could it be? 
I grabbed some junk mail flyer, scribbled a note on the back for Murray—cryptic, just Goin’ to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come—then took two fifties out of my pocket, set them on the note, added Don’t go letting the room out, the meantime.  I re-read it, took one of the fifties back, gave my duffle a final pat, inside and out—the money, the letter, etc.—went back to the note, took back the fifty and left down the change from my cigarettes earlier, instead.  Just out the door, I turned back around, grabbed up one of the twenties, left just the rest—shouldn’t be getting loose with the money, last thing I needed was the appearance I could be counted on for more than my usual next-to-nothing.

Pablo D’Stair is a writer of novels, shorts stories, and essays.  Founder of Brown Paper Publishing (which is closing its doors in 2012) and co-founder of KUBOA (an independent press launching July 2011) he also conducts the book-length dialogue series Predicate.  His four existential noir novellas (Kaspar Traulhaine, approximate; i poisoned you; twelve ELEVEN thirteen; man standing behind) will be re-issued through KUBOA as individual novella and in the collection they say the owl was a baker’s daughter: four existential noirs.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Gone Bad at Criminal-E

I'm absolutely delighted to have been interviewed by Al Guthrie  for Criminal-E. Read it here if you are so inclined. Thanks Al!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Calorie-free e-Easter treats

It's that time of year again when we celebrate some old murder with chocolate and barbecues (weather permitting - and the forecast looks promising in the UK this Easter). But what if you're looking for a treat that doesn't involve chocolate? Perhaps because you already have your own chocolate factory or are mentally ill or ... (I can't think of any other reasons - sorry!)

Well, look no further. Calorie free Easter treats exist, and they're criminally good.*

Big eggs:
Or full length novels, as I believe the adults call them.

Mindjacker - Sean Patrick Reardon
When wealthy Russian mobsters contract L.A psychologist Joel Fischer to develop a device to manipulate minds, the DreemWeever exceeds all expectations. Everything is on track for delivery and a big payday, until two adventurous stoners steal his Dodge Challenger. Unknown to them, the DreemWeever is in the trunk. Fischer and his crew have two days to get it back or he dies.

Broken Dreams - Nick Quantrill
Joe Geraghty, PI, is invited by a local businessman to investigate a member of his staff’s absenteeism. When she is found bleeding to death, Geraghty finds himself trapped in the middle of a police investigation and, as her tangled private life begins to unravel, the trail leads to local gangster-turned-respectable businessman, Frank Salford. Still haunted by the death of his wife in a house fire, it seems the people with the answers Geraghty wants are the police and Salford, both of whom want his co-operation for their own ends. With everything at stake, some would go to any length to get what they want, Geraghty included.

Medium eggs:
Novellas - long short stories or short novels. Either way, they're a satisfying read and you can get through 'em in one sitting. You may have to truss up the spouse and the kids and stuff them in the cupboard under the stairs, but that's a small price (for them) to pay (for you) to have such fun.

Bye Bye Baby - Allan Guthrie
When a seven-year-old boy disappears after school, the case is handed to Detective Frank Collins. He's been looking to lead a high-profile case for a while, and sets out determined to prove his worth. But the missing schoolboy is only a trigger for another crime. Someone is intent on exploiting the boy's grief-stricken mother. And they have plans for Frank Collins too.

Jailbait Justice: The Girl With the Big Iron on her Hip - Danny Hogan
Fifty years in the future, an apocalypse has sent civilization two hundred years into the past. The once proud state of Texas has been returned to its wild west origins. Enter a gunfighter, Jezebel Misery St. Etienne, young and vicious. From her home in Austin she is called upon to escort a girl called Alice across the badlands of East Texas, filled with savage mutants and evil outlaws, to Houston. Little does she know that Alice is seeking vengeance against the posse that decimated her family, and that by the end, it will be Jezebel herself who will be seeking that vengeance. Her and her old .44.

Mini eggs:
You can scoff the whole packet at once if you have time or feel so inclined, or you can nibble your way through them as and when you get the chance. Hell, at those prices, you can have a few packets on the go at once.

Nowhere to go - Iain Rowan
Eleven stories of murder, obsession, fear and - sometimes - redemption. Featuring stories published in Alfred Hitchcock's, Ellery Queen's, and more.

Dirty Old Town - Nigel Bird
Nine stories from prize-winning writer Nigel Bird. His brilliantly observed slices of life allow us to visit places we may not normally choose to enter and to walk a few miles in the shoes of others. Though his tales have darkness at their core, they are also full of a heart and spirit that one rarely finds in the world of noir.

Or there's always this one:

Gone Bad - Julie Morrigan
Gone Bad is this prize-winning UK writer’s first collection of short stories and gathers together 18 titles, mixing ‘flash fiction’ pieces with longer reads. Within the pages you can meet a murderous little boy, a psychotic Scouse backing singer, and a wannabe crime fiction writer with a penchant for hands-on research. This is strong stuff, no holds barred and no punches pulled. You wouldn’t want to be sharing your Easter barbecue with these people!

*I've gone for instant gratification here, so the links are all to e-books on Amazon UK. Most, if not all, of these are also available from, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble and anywhere else you care to buy from. Pop in and have a browse. And if you don't have an e-reader but fancy giving it a go, there's a link in the Amazon Kindle store to free reading devices - or ask Google, because Amazon aren't the only providers of free e-reader software.

If, after all that, you still want a 'proper' book (and there's nowt the matter with that), you won't go far wrong with Richard Godwin's Apostle Rising or  Ray Banks's California.

(Disclaimer: My apologies to all the cracking writers out there who didn't get a mention. Also, if there's nothing here that appeals to you, other books do exist - go find your fave and enjoy!)

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Brazill and Laws - interview-a-go-go

Just today a couple of cracking interviews were posted online.

First up is our old mate Paul Brazill who is interviewed over at Ginger Nuts of Horror. Some good insights into the mind of the man who comes from a long line of monkey-hangers, and some exciting news about a forthcoming short story collection, too. It'll be fab - can't wait!

And telling it like it is over at Al Guthrie's new blog, Criminal-E, is Caffeine Nights Publishing punk Darren Laws. Publishing has changed, irrevocably so, and will continue to evolve over the coming months and years. Caffeine Nights is at the forefront of the revolution and Darren's drive and vision will see that they stay there.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Look who's in the paper!

Absolutely delighted to be in the Newcastle Journal with a few words about Gone Bad. Many thanks to Darren Laws of Caffeine Nights Publishing for sorting me out with a press release and getting it onto the right desks. Very generous and very much appreciated!