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Mulholland Books and Rockstar Games

We’re thrilled to announce that we will be publishing, in conjunction with Rockstar Games, a series of short stories some of which are based on characters and cases from the world of L.A. Noire, Rockstar’s forthcoming new video game. “L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories” will be available for digital download on June 6, 2011 through all major eBook retailers.

Authors with stories in the anthology include such renowned writers as Megan Abbott, Lawrence Block, Joe Lansdale, Joyce Carol Oates, Francine Prose, Jonathan Santlofer, Duane Swierczynski and Andrew Vachss. 1940s Hollywood, murder, deception and mystery take center stage as readers reintroduce themselves to characters seen in L.A. Noire. Explore the lives of actresses desperate for the Hollywood spotlight; heroes turned defeated men; and classic Noir villains. Readers will come across not only familiar faces, but familiar cases from the game that take on a new spin to tell the tales of emotionally torn protagonists, depraved schemers and their ill-fated victims.

Read Megan Abbot’s story “The Girl” on Rockstargames.com.

Read the full press release here.

Preorder from BN.com | iTunes | Amazon

Casting Light On Shade: A Conversation with Daniel Woodrell, Part II

This week, we celebrate the release of The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell. Here, we have the continuation of the conversation with award-winning journalist, editor and fiction writer Craig McDonald. Start with Part I if you missed yesterday’s post. Note: this interview was conducted in 2006.

I’ve never seen much put out there regarding your work habits, and perhaps that is purposeful on your part. I’m wondering if you’re a morning or an evening writer?

It’s evolved over the years. When we lived in California I didn’t start writing until two or three in the morning. Here, it’s the opposite. I get up and go early. At one time, it had to always be the afternoon. So it’s kind of flickered all over.

Do you write longhand or…?

I always have, but I have become comfortable now with the keyboard on the computer. I find I’m doing over half of it directly there, then more or less sketching things longhand. I still like being able to go off and sit somewhere with a note pad. But I’m no longer seeing the drawback to the keyboard.

Is there a typical proportion of the written to the kept?

Now, Winter’s Bone, there’s not much that got wasted there. When it’s happening right and feels right, I’m usually pretty close on the first draft, actually. And then I read everything from the beginning again, which is an old Hemingway trick that I learned early. I prune it as I read from the beginning. And, even when I get to a couple of hundred pages or something, I still will read almost every day from the beginning. So I’m really rewriting a little bit.

Kind of a constant state of revision that keeps everything of a piece?

Yes.

Sell Alderman Some DrugsDo you have a sense any if your neighbors read your work?

Not most of them. I think a lot of people have learned what I do, for a living, but I don’t run into a lot of people who have read them, nor do I want them to feel required to give me their capsule reviews if they have read them.

It would be difficult if Katie wasn’t a writer, too. We can really have intense literary conversations and open that part of ourselves up and deal with it. If it wasn’t for that, it would probably be too difficult here.

Speaking of Hemingway, I always wondered if that was something that kind of messed him up, because the great work came in Paris and when he was moving among all those writers, and then he went to Cuba, and became his own island, so to speak…

Yeah, he may be someone who profited from that. I’ve lived at different times in situations where there were lots of writers around and I’m never sure which is more beneficial. Utter isolation, eventually, will get you. But other writers will get you, too. You feel like you have to be up on the new thing of the minute instead of hearing your own thing. It depends on who you are. I know plenty of writers who couldn’t stand the idea of isolation.

Continue reading “Casting Light On Shade: A Conversation with Daniel Woodrell, Part II”

Casting Light On Shade: A Conversation with Daniel Woodrell

This week, we celebrate the release of The Bayou Trilogy by Daniel Woodrell.

Daniel Woodrell grew up in the Ozarks, far from any literary scene. The high school dropout lived a kind of gypsy existence for many years, drifting around the country and settling here and there for a year or two before moving on again.

At age 17, Woodrell (pronounced Wood-RELL) enlisted in the Marine Corps during the height of the Vietnam War. The Marines helped Daniel further his educational studies and put him on a path to an eventual college degree.

Fortunately, Woodrell was bounced out of the service before having to serve “in country,” and eventually found his way, like James Crumley before him, to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

He made the literary scene in 1986 with the publication of Under the Bright Lights, the first novel that he, to use his word, “completed.”

Under the Bright Lights introduced detective Rene Shade, an ex-boxer-turned-cop…a man “about sixty stitches past good-looking.” He polices in a town where “girls acquired insurmountable local reputations” and where mistake prone, working-class criminals fret, “I hope to god the FBI ain’t buggin’ this house, Emil. They’ll ridicule us in court.”

Muscle for the Wing (1988) followed loosely in its predecessor’s path — just enough there to assuage publishers pushing for a mystery series, but already showing the traits of Woodrell’s late-1990s-vintage standalones.

And in Wing, Woodrell’s inimitable narrative voice was already firming:

“Beaurain measured five foot seven standing on your neck.”

Or, as an elderly matriarch with ankle-length hair observes, “He’s been mean ever since pantyhose ruined finger fuckin’.”

The novel opens with a bang: “Wishing to avoid any hint of a snub at the Hushed Hill Country Club, the first thing Emil Jadick shoved through the door was double-barreled and loaded.”

In 1992, Woodrell rounded off the Shade cycle with The Ones You Do, a book focused on Rene’s pool-hustling old man, John X. Shade. The trilogy is now being published in one volume by Mulholland Books with the title The Bayou Trilogy.

Daniel Woodrell granted the following interview in mid-June 2006. It appears online here for the first time. In 2006, Woodrell was anticipating the arrival of a Sundance-awarded director who had optioned his latest novel, Winter’s Bone, and was coming to town to get a feel for the region that provides the novel’s setting. The subsequent, critically acclaimed film became a multiple Oscar contender.

Interviewer Craig McDonald, author of the internationally acclaimed Hector Lassiter series, is an award-winning journalist, editor and fiction writer. His writing has earned him nominations for the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Gumshoe awards. His current novel is the literary thriller One True Sentence.

***

Your first three books came bang-bang-bang in ’86, ’87 and ’88. Was your output that fast at the time, or more an effect of stockpiling, so to speak?

The first one had been done for a couple of years before it sold. And I had assumed it wouldn’t sell, and I had assumed I wouldn’t be doing anymore of those, so I started writing Woe to Live On. I was about in the middle of that when I found out the first one had sold. But it was a two-book deal and so forth.

Under the Bright Lights was your first published novel. Was it also the first you wrote?

No — no completed ones before that. That was one of the reasons I was so glad to have tried that book. I did complete it and I thought it was good enough at the time and that was an important psychological thing.

Thirty-three is an evocative age at which to publish your first novel. Can you remember your reaction at the time?

Oh yeah: I was thrilled. I didn’t know writers or anything growing up. I’m not from a writerly milieu. So the idea that somebody from New York’s gonna pay you money and print it, hey, I had no second questions about that. At the time, I was just jumpin’.

Not to say you might be jaded, but is there a vast difference between your anticipation of a book’s release then and now?

There are certain experiences you’ve already had now. I remember once, a long time ago, Elmore Leonard saying he didn’t want just another book, he wanted a book that did what he wanted it to do, or something to that effect. That’s more of what I’m feeling now. I’m excited about publishing books that I think are going to give me the opportunity to publish more…more that maybe range more widely afield than this one. I’ll never be very far from dramatic criminal things, probably. But there are so many ways of getting at it, that’s what’s exciting about this world — call it crime writing or whatever you want to call it. I just call it dramatic writing now, because, who knows? I don’t ever seem to come up with an idea that doesn’t at some point have a crime in it.

Continue reading “Casting Light On Shade: A Conversation with Daniel Woodrell”

Putting the Thrill Back in the Legal Thriller: A Review of Guilt by Association

family attorneys Los AngelesNot too many years ago, an influential friend in the literary world told me, “Legal thrillers are out.”  Having just published my first two novels, both featuring Portland Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid, I desperately needed this death announcement to be premature.  The problem, I argued, was an overabundance of bad legal thrillers that had scarred the subgenre’s once-good name.  Perhaps trying to replicate the success of groundbreaking novels like Scott Turow’s PRESUMED INNOCENT and John Grisham’s A TIME TO KILL, publishers had overpurchased and overpromoted courtroom-centric novels by lawyers who managed to turn the term “legal thriller” into an oxymoron.  Evidentiary objections, jury selection, and cross-examinations might be real goose bump inducers compared to the average lawyer’s workday, but as ingredients for a page-turner?  No, thank you.

Well, I’m delighted to report that, despite my friend’s death knell, law-based crime fiction is alive and well thanks to authors who focus not on blue-in-the-face litigators hollering “Objection!” at one another, but on good old fashioned storytelling about characters who just happen to be lawyers.  When the industry had all but written off the so-called “legal thriller” in favor of high concept novels in the spirit of THE DA VINCI CODE, Linda Fairstein and Lisa Scottoline continued to dominate bestsellers’ lists because they wrote damn good books.   Today, Michael Connelly has put to rest any lingering questions about the viability of the subgenre by bringing Mickey Haller to every medium — #1 in hardback and digital, and $46 million and counting at the box office.  What makes these books irresistible aren’t the bells and whistles of the technical ins and outs of the legal system, but memorable characters and solid plotting in the hands of masterful storytellers.

With GUILT BY ASSOCIATION, Marcia Clark joins the ranks of Scottoline, Fairstein, and Connelly.  Her debut novel introduces us to Los Angeles prosecutor Rachel Knight, a member of the office’s elite Special Trials Unit.  In the opening pages, Knight’s friend and colleague Jake Pahlmeyer is found dead at a seedy motel under even seedier circumstances.  She inherits a high-profile rape case from his desk.  While the victim’s father exerts political pressure for an arrest, the investigation takes Rachel into LA’s gang world and makes her a target.  As if that weren’t enough to keep a gal busy, she can’t help poking around into Jake’s death, despite strict orders to mind her own bees’ wax.

Like the finest books in the legal thriller subgenre, very few pages of GUILT BY ASSOCIATION take place in the courtroom.  Instead, we see Rachel’s interactions with cops, contacts, and witnesses.  We see the action as it unfolds, not as it is summarized later in the artificially sterile courtroom setting.  We see Rachel at home with her friends.  We get to know – and like – her.

Much attention will certainly be paid to Clark’s former career as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, most notably as the head prosecutor in OJ Simpson’s criminal trial.  That platform will also undoubtedly bring extraordinary attention to a debut novel.  But an unfortunate consequence of any emphasis upon her significant legal career might be an inaccurate perception of the book itself.  Clark’s expertise about the criminal justice system leaps from the pages of GUILT BY ASSOCIATION, but not because she shows off her knowledge of the law, rules of evidence, or courtroom procedure.  Rather, her experience allows her to write with confidence rarely seen in a first novel – about Los Angeles, about Rachel Knight, about the secondary characters who occupy Knight’s world and become a part of ours.  GUILT BY ASSOCIATION succeeds because of Clark’s gifts as a writer, not as a lawyer.  With those gifts, she has created a true legal thriller – emphasis on the thrill.

ALAFAIR BURKE is the bestselling author of six novels, including 212, Angel’s Tip, and Dead Connection in the Ellie Hatcher series. A former prosecutor, she now teaches criminal Law and lives in Manhattan. Long Gone, her first stand-alone thriller, will be published by Harper in June 2011. [Read more about Long Gone in her Conversation with Jen Forbus.]

Five Favorite Female Crime Fighters

This week, the world will meet Rachel Knight, the heroine of Marcia Clark’s new novel GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. Marcia has provided us with 5 of her favorite female crime fighters.Tell us your favorites in the comments. We’ll choose 3 to receive signed first editions of GUILT BY ASSOCIATION. Don’t miss Marcia on Good Morning America this morning.

Emma Peel (aka Diana Rigg) of “The Avengers”: Before it was cool to let women fight and carry guns, this woman did it all, and in a black cat suit no less.

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison in “Prime Supect”: Jane is brilliant, tough, straight-talking; a woman who walked the walk without ever resorting to the cartoonish extremes of either trying to be a man or the outrageous coquette. And Helen Mirren is literally the only person who could play her.

Rita Fiore: The hottest female lawyer on two spectacular legs (thanks, Robert B. Parker!). She was Spencer’s “go-to” gal for all kinds of help and information. Every bit as predatory, tough and smart as any man, she and Spencer shared a perpetual, yet unrequited lust.

Scully of the “X Files”: Cool as a cucumber, the rational, scientifically-minded counter-part to Mulder. Scully was a woman who could run without pin wheeling arms and wield a gun with believable authority. And, for a change, a woman was the logical, more emotionally balanced end of the team.

Nancy Drew: one of the earliest intrepid females and the heroine of my early childhood. In fact, she’s one of the reasons I wanted to be a thriller writer. At eighty years old (yep, eighty) she’s still out there crushing crime.

Marcia Clark is a former LA, California deputy district attorney, who was the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case. She wrote a bestselling nonfiction book about the trial, Without a Doubt, and is a frequent media commentator and columnist on legal issues. She lives in Los Angeles.

The Game’s Afoot

We are proud to announce that Mulholland Books will be the North American publishers of THE HOUSE OF SILK: A SHERLOCK HOLMES NOVEL to be written by Anthony Horowitz, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Alex Rider series. This new story is being written with the full endorsement of the Conan Doyle Estate, the first such time that they have given their seal of approval for a new Sherlock Holmes novel.  The novel will be published on November 1, 2011. For a taste of the book, watch this video. Anthony Horowitz will read to you from the super top-secret pages.

What’s your favorite Sherlock Holmes story or novel?

The Spaces Between Stars

Cité interditeMy name’s Warren Ellis.  I’m mostly a science fiction writer.  I’m sometimes also a crime writer.  These are essentially the same thing.

Let me try and explain that.

I don’t think HG Wells and Raymond Chandler ever met.  I don’t know that they would have had a lot to say to each other if they did.  Perhaps Wells might have gloweringly reprimanded Chandler for being mean about his friend AA Milne’s detective novel.  Or perhaps he might have asked for a go on Chandler’s wife, I don’t know.  But I like to imagine that an interlocuter bringing them together – perhaps in 1940, Wells’ twilight and Chandler’s emergence – would have explained why they should talk.

It was HG Wells, in large part, who made science fiction into social fiction.  You can trace back the roots of that movement to Mary Shelley and beyond, but it was Wells who both concretised it and gave it common currency.  Science fiction is nominally about the novum, the new thing that disrupts the world of the story.  But THE INVISIBLE MAN is not about an invisibility process, just as THE TIME MACHINE is not really about a time machine.  The great Wells fireworks were novels about the human condition, the sociopolitical space and the way Wells saw life being lived.

In crime fiction, of course, the story is nominally about the crime: the disruptive event introduced into the world of the story.  But THE BIG SLEEP isn’t about a murder, and FAREWELL MY LOVELY isn’t about a missing person.  Chandler’s great leap – and of course there were antecedents and even peers, but it’s Chandler who is indelible – was to make crime fiction fully an expression of social fiction.

These became the dual tracks upon which our mediation of the 20th Century ran.  Science fiction and crime fiction contextualised, explored and reported on rapidly changing and expanding modern conditions.  And they did it in ways that spoke to the felt experiences of our lives, to our hopes and our fears, in ways that other fictions, or even other reportage, couldn’t approach.  Science fiction and crime fiction explained to us where we really are, and where we might be going.

So when I write science fiction I’m a crime writer, and when I write crime fiction I’m an sf writer.  I’m talking about our lives, and the way I see the world.  I’m writing about the new thing, the disruptive event that enters that world, its repercussions and the attempts to deal with it.  But I’m talking about where I think I am today, and what I think it looks like.

In GUN MACHINE, I’m writing about a disruptive event: a small sealed Manhattan apartment filled with hundreds of guns, each one used in a single unsolved homicide.  But what I’m talking about is money, the acquisition of power, the deals we make in the name of security, the unique soul-killing exhaustion that comes of caring too much for too long, and the faces madness take in our lives.

Also quite a lot of people get shot.

I just have to trust that the good people at Mulholland Books will catch me when I get confused and give my New York City police detective rocket pants and a ray gun.

[Editor’s Note: We are proud to announce today that Warren Ellis is joining Mulholland Books for two books, the first of which will be GUN MACHINE and will be published in Fall 2012. Warren Ellis is more than just a writer. He is a movement. We are thrilled to be the publishers of GUN MACHINE.]

Warren Ellis is the award-winning creator of graphic novels such as TransmetropolitanFellMinistry of Space and Planetary, and the author of Crooked Little Vein. The film Red, based on his graphic novel, was released in October 2010. He has written a number of graphic novels under option for film and TV. He is personally adapting his series of Gravel graphic novels into a screenplay for Legendary Pictures. He lives in south-east England.

Mulholland Books will publish GUN MACHINE in Fall 2012.

Start Reading Guilt By Association by Marcia Clark

April is the month we’ve been waiting for here at Mulholland Books. We finally get to bring our books into the world. Since this is the first day of our launch month, we thought we’d bring you a prologue from our debut novel GUILT BY ASSOCIATION by Marcia Clark. The book that James Ellroy called “a damn, damn, good thriller” and David Baldacci said was “as sharp as they come in the genre.”

PROLOGUE

He snapped his cell phone shut and slid it into the pocket of his skintight jeans. The last piece was in place; it wouldn’t be long now. But the waiting was agonizing. Unbidden, the memory of his only ride on a roller coaster flooded over him, like a thousand tiny needles piercing his face and body: eight years old, trapped in that rickety little car with no escape, the feeling of breathtaking terror that mounted as it click-click-clicked its slow, inexorable climb to the top of the sky.

He shook his head to cleanse his mind of the memory, then abruptly grabbed his long brown hair and pulled it tightly into a ponytail behind his head. He held it there and exhaled again more slowly, trying to quiet his pulse. He couldn’t afford to lose it now. With the lift of his arms, his worn T-shirt rode up, and he absently admired in the little mirror above the dresser the reflection of the coiled snake tattooed on his slim, muscled belly.

He started pacing, the motel carpet crunching under his feet, and found that the action helped. Despite his anxiety, he moved with a loose-hipped grace. Back and forth he walked, considering his plan yet again, looking for flaws. No, he’d set it up just right. It would work. It had to work. He stopped to look around at the dimly lit motel room. “Room” was using the term loosely—it was little more than a box with a bed. His eyes fell on a switch on the wall. Just to have something to do,he went over and flipped it on. Nothing happened. He looked up and saw only a filthy ceiling fan. The sour smell of old cigarettes told him that it hadn’t worked in years. There were stains of undetermined origin on the walls that he thought were probably older than he was. The observation amused him. Neither the stains, nor the foul smell of decay, nor the hopeless dead-end feeling of the place fazed him at all. It wasn’t that much worse than a lot of the places he’d lived during his seventeen years on the planet.

In fact, far from depressing him, the ugly room made him feel triumphant. It represented the world he’d been born into, and the one he was finally leaving behind… forever. For the first time in a life that had nearly ended at the hands of a high-wired crackhead while his so-called mother was crashing in the next room, he was going to be in control. He paused to consider the memory of his early near demise—not a firsthand memory since he’d been only two months old when it happened, but rather a paragraph in the social worker’s report he’d managed to read upside down during a follow-up visit at one of the many foster homes where he’d been “raised” for the past sixteen or so years. As it always did, the memory of that report made him wonder whether his mother was still alive. The thought felt different this time, though. Instead of the usual helpless, distant ache—and rage—he felt power, the power to choose. Now he could find her… if he wanted to. Find her and show her that the baby she’d been too stoned to give a shit about had made it. Had scored the big score.


In just a few more minutes, he’d say good-bye to that loser kid who lived on the fringes. He stopped, dropped his hands to his hips, and stared out the grimy window as he savored the thought of having “fuck you” money. He planned to extend a vigorous middle finger to the many foster parents for whom he was just a dollar sign, to all the assholes he’d had to put up with for a meal and a bed. And if he did decide to find his mother, he’d show up with something awesome for her, a present, like a dress or jewelry. Something to make her sorry for all the years she’d let him be lost to her. He pictured himself giving her whatever it was in a fancy, store-wrapped box. He tried to picture the expression on her face, but the image wouldn’t resolve. The only photo he had of her—taken when he was less than a year old—was so faded, only the outline of her long brown hair was still visible. Still, the thought of being able to play the Mac Daddy puffed him up, and for a moment he let himself go there, enjoying the fantasy of his mother really loving him.

The knock on the door jolted him back to reality. He swallowed and struggled for a deep breath, then walked toward the door. He noticed his hands were shaking, and he quickly rubbed them on his thighs to make them stop. He slowly released his breath and willed his face to relax as he opened the door.

“Hey,” he said, then held the door open and moved aside to let in his visitor. “What took you so long?”

“Lost track of the time, sorry.” The visitor stepped inside quickly.

“You have it all?” the boy asked, wary.

The visitor nodded. The boy smiled and let the door close behind him.

Keep reading.

Marcia Clark is a former LA, California deputy district attorney, who was the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder case. She wrote a bestselling nonfiction book about the trial, Without a Doubt, and is a frequent media commentator and columnist on legal issues. She lives in Los Angeles.