The path to publication of my story, "Crazy for You," included in Orange County Noir began almost two years ago at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Susan Straight, T. Jefferson Parker and I were standing by the buffet table (I was ogling the berries), when Susan mentioned this anthology that crime writer Gary Phillips was editing. She suggested I get in touch with Gary.
I had no idea what sort of anthology it was. I was in essay mode at the time, and so imagined the book was focused on essays.
I emailed Gary and he told me it was an Akashic Books anthology and would be called Orange County Noir. I loved the Akashic series of Noir books focused on cities. (Los Angeles Noir is one of my favorites, with an Edgar awarding winning short story by Susan Straight.)
Though I love film noir, I never attempted to write in the genre. But there was no time like the present, and I took it as a challenge. I get bored easily, and this was exactly what I needed. The anthology is broken up into cities of Orange County; my assigned city was Costa Mesa. After much dwelling, brainstorming, and beginning this and that, the plot of "Crazy for You" came to me. (Hint: The movie, Days of Heaven, one of my favorites, helped with plot.)
Now, almost two years later, the anthology is out. Here's how my story begins:
When I moved into Levi's apartment in the converted motel on Placentia Avenue, the blue neon "i" of the Placent_a Arms was burned out. I worried it was an omen, a feng shui gaffe. It made me think too damn much of placenta, birthing, that whole entire mess--not a good thing when the sign of blood makes you faint. I've grown used to most things, and I figured I'd grow used to the sign, if I didn't leave Levi or go crazy first. But I hadn't grown used to it, and I was still here. It was going on three months and my feeling of foreboding had only increased.
There are many book events coming up in the next couple of months. Hopefully you can make it to one.
Saturday, April 10: Gary Phillips will moderate a panel at the Literary Orange festival that includes Martin J. Smith, Susan Straight and me at the University of California, Irvine Student Center, corner of W. Peltason and Pereira drives, Irvine. 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. More info: click here.
Sunday, April 18: Patricia McFall and I, from OC Noir, as well as Denise Hamilton, who edited the new “Los Angeles Noir 2,” and Naomi Hirahara, who contributed to the L.A. book, will be at the Sisters In Crime monthly meeting at the Irvine Ranch Water District, 15600 Sand Canyon Road, Irvine. 3 p.m. More info: click here.
Saturday, May 15: Martin J. Smith, Mary Castillo, Gary Phillips, and I will talk about the book and writing dark fiction at my Pen on Fire Speakers Series at the Scape Gallery, 2859 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar. CJ Bahnsen will moderate. If you'd like to be on the mailing list for this event, email firstname.lastname@example.org and in the subject line say "put me on the mailing list for OC Noir at Scape."
Monday, May 17: Nathan Walpow, Gary McAlpine, Rob Roberge, Dan Duling, Mary Castillo, Patricia McFall and I will be at the Laguna Playhouse Moulton Theatre, 606 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. A $25 fee covers admission, dessert and coffee, tea or champagne. 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.