Paul Brazill is the irrepressible force of online Noir that is kicking its way into traditional publishing by dint of its sheer resilience and readability. He writes crackling good Noir stories, always observant of the traditions of Noir, and always pushing them to stretch the envelope. His support for online writers is well known, as is his humour. He is currently releasing his brilliant Drunk On the Moon Series as E Books, based on his werewolf detective Roman Dalton. So far contributors are Julia Madeleine, Allan Leverone and BR Statetham. My story Getting High On Daisy is the next one up.
Paul met me at The Slaughterhouse with some hooch that we cracked open as wolves gathered by the windows. And as we talked about Britain today and E Books a surprise visitor turned up.
Do you think Noir without sex is lacking something?
Well, noir is about making a bollocks of things, and most people make a bollocks of sex and/or relationships at one time or another but I don’t think you need to have sex in a story for it to be noir, no.
Tell us about your present writing projects.
Okay, hey ho, let’s go:
The Drunk On The Moon horror, noir series continues. I wrote the first story -about werewolf/PI Roman Dalton – and a host of other writers are continuing the series. Book Two -by Julia Madeleine- is out now and future stories will come from Allan Leverone, Br Stateham and Richard Godwin, amongst others.
This weekend will see the launch of Brit Grit Book One, a little collection of my short stories. The second Brit Grit book will be an anthology of short stories from some of Britain’s best new crimewriters- including Ian Ayris, Nigel Bird, Richard Godwin and Nick Quantrill.
I have another short story collection-13 Shots Of Noir coming out soon, though no date yet.
I have a story in Nigel Bird and Chris Rhatigan’s Pulp Ink anthology and in the debut issue of Noir Nation- An International Journal Of Noir.
Anne Frasier’s Deadly Treats Halloween antholgy will be out soon, with one of my stories in it and I’ve a story due up at The Flash Fiction Offensive.
After that: well, I will have a book coming out from Pulp Press, but I can’t say much more about that at the moment, and a story in the December issue of CrimeFactory.
To what extent do you think male criminal sexual pathology differs from female and what do the differences show about gender?
I don’t think it does too much.I assume the general view is that male crime is more violent and power based, but I’m sure there are millions of examples that don’t fit that view! generalisation is always dodgy, I think.
What makes you passionate?
Oh, I don’t think I’m very passionate person. I try not to anyway. Indifference is the secret of happiness, eh?
Do you think Bob Holness could save Britain?
Well, since he was the first James Bond, it is quite likely.
How do you feel about Britain today?
Well, I only visit once a year but it mostly seems the same as it ever was. The rich are rich and the middle classes are as dull as a Coldplay B-side – and just as whiney. The only difference is that the working class seem to be melting away and the underclass- with their gleeful nihilism seem to have a much more amplified voice than before. This seems to frighten or worry some people, it seems, but it doesn’t bother me. It still seems a varied and vital country.
I’ve heard the phrase dumbing down bleated loads, apparently because they don’t show Becket & Pinter on TV anymore or something. But no one ever watched that stuff anyway and Match Of The Day and The Black and White Minstrels always were more popular. And is there anything more dumb than sport?
The Rolling Stones, classic band or a bunch of wankers?
Both, of course. It’s impossible for me to feel exactly how significant they were at their peak but they did create some amazing music. It took me until Martin Scoerse’s Shine A Light documentary to appreciate them as a live band and funny people. Wyman’s a kiddy fiddler, though.
If you redirected Scum today what changes would you make?
I’d make it in the style of the Step-Up films… No, I wouldn’t touch it. It made a great impact on me when I saw it as a young person and every time I’ve seen it since then it hasn’t disapointed me.
Alan Clarke knocked out some cracking stuff. I was thinking of him when I saw Fish Tank recently. Cracking film. Shows you, like Clarke did, that the style of social realism doesn’t have to be a heavy handed one.
Who is the most famous drunk you’ve seen in real life?
The Pink Panther’s Bert Kwouk in Gerry’s bar in Soho, before I was kicked out by someone who may or not have been Cathi Unsworth.
At this point Paul gets up to pour some more hooch from the fridge and Darren Sant, covered in icicles, jumps out clutching a bloody Mary.
‘What am I meant to say, not now Cato?’, Paul says.
We sit Darren down by the fire and I ask them both about the digital publishing revolution.
How effective a marketing tool do you think it is to use the E Book for the serialisation of short stories?
Paul: There are two groups that, I think, will embrace the ebook series/serial:
Young people who are into technology but would be put off by reading a massive whopping book.
And older folk who are not really into reading longer pieces on a screen.
Darren: The good thing about digitally downloading literature is the immediacy of it. You don’t have wait months for new releases, things move quicker than that. There is no waiting for the book shop to open either. You don’t have to spend a fortune. People are going to take a chance on a new series when all they have to shell out is 86p or 99p. Everyone loves a good series too. There is a degree of emotional investment in the characters and setting. Reading from the same setting feels satisfying if you have enjoyed the previous volumes. You don’t have to “start” all over again, everything feels familiar. From a personal point of view I know I sometimes put off reading a stand alone novel because I don’t always have the time to get too involved. Whereas with Paul’s Drunk on the Moon series with the third story due for imminent release I can immediately dive into that as I know the main character and the world it is set in. TV producers have always known this and that is why programmes like 24 and the Sopranos do so well.
Pricing is important. You want people to buy that initial story and there are so many low priced e-books out there that you risk selling a lot fewer if it is overpriced. With a series you are not putting all of your eggs in one basket. If people like the first volume they will most likely buy the second.
To what extent do you think that historically the publishing world has invited its own disaster if that means we no longer need distributors or the conventional publishing route?
Paul: It depends on how quickly publishers get on board the ebook train.
If they ignore it, they do so at their own risk.
I think the comparisons that have been made between the new ebooks and the golden days of the pulps seems about right.
Darren: I think there will always be a demand for print books but the traditional publishers will have to seriously consider pricing more competitively if it wants to stand a chance against the digital market. They need to diversify and speed things up too.
It’s a fast world out there and everybody wants their goods immediately. The traditional publishers are victims of their own greed. They want to move large volumes of books fast and don’t want to take a chance on unknown authors. They’ve always turned their noses up at speculative fiction or books that don’t fit neatly into a genre. This snobbish attitude and frankly avaricious mentality has been their undoing. New writers now have somewhere else to go and they are going there in droves.
To conclude I’d answer that to a very large extent their inability to move with the times has been their undoing.
Thank you for an entertaining and thought-provoking interview Paul. Darren good to see you here, thanks for your insights and perceptions.
Darren Sant is a 41 year old writer from Stoke-on-Trent who has lived in Hull with his wife Julie for over a decade. He writes short fiction that could be called urban and gritty. He has been published in Byker Books excellent Radgepacket series of anthologies twice.
He has a collaborative short story in ePocalypse: emails at the end by Pill Hill Press with his friend Nick Boldock.
He has been published online by The Flash Fiction Offensive, Shotgun Honey, Pulp Metal and Thrillers Killers ‘N’ Chillers.
He writes for the following blogs:
‘Near to the Knuckle’ (as Old Seth)