Monday, September 30, 2013

Rob Brunet ‘spills the beans’ to Jamie Tremain.

These monthly interviews have a mixture of authors with very different styles of writing and genres from cosy mysteries to police procedural, crime farce and suspense. Today’s victim at Jamie Tremain is Rob Brunet, a NOIR writer of published short stories. Check his blog or find him on Twitter @RRBrunet  

Thanks Rob for agreeing to answer some questions about your writing life and giving us a perspective of your recent trip to Bouchercon, in Albany NY. This is the premiere world conference for all readers and writers of crime fiction. It’s taking place in Long Beach CA in 2014. I’d better start saving now.

What attracts you to the Noir style of writing? You seem like a kind, mild mannered family man to me. Where do all those dark thoughts come from?

I’ve always had a pretty dark sense of humour, and it spills over into my writing, even when the subject is “serious”. Compared to a lot of noir authors, my work is pretty tame, though. Especially my longer work.
I’m a pretty big believer in Yin and Yang. If there’s a dark side to something, there pretty much has to be a light side, too.
A habit I developed as a kid was to imagine the worst possible outcome in a given situation. I’d inhabit it and convince myself that was what was going to happen. I figured if I thought it through and worked out all the impossibly bad details, whatever actually happened wouldn’t be as harsh as whatever I’d dreamt up. It usually worked. (Still does, sometimes.)

Do we all have a dark side?

Ha! You tell me, Pam.
Seriously, though, I imagine most people have surprised themselves at one time or another by things they have done that are “bad”, whatever that means. And if you pull back from that to just the things we’ve all dreamt of doing... well, there’s all kinds of lines that people will cross in their mind, I think.

Has noir film influenced your work and do you have a favourite?

Whenever I’m asked for a favourite, I’m always afraid I’ll remember a more favourite one immediately after. But there are a few movies that really evoke the feeling I am going for in my writing. Fargo is probably foremost among them. The Coen brothers turned the genre on its head, following Jerry Lundegaard’s desperate descent into a personal hell pretty much of his own making.
Guy Ritchie’s films are also regular fare for me. I watch Snatch a few times a year.
Sexy Beast is another favorite, but then I could watch Ben Kingsley smoke cigarettes all night.
(Complete aside: Kingsley just finished filming a Sarah Kernochan movie opposite Patricia Clarkson, called Learning to Drive. It won’t come out until October 2014, but I’m sure it’ll be a gem. Kernochan wrote the screenplay for 9 ½ Weeks. Somehow I think Learning to Drive will be a little tamer, and maybe even have a bit more dialogue.)

How long have you been writing and do you have a favourite author?

It’s been said before, but I’ve been writing pretty much my whole life. I’ve got poems from Grade 2 with the teacher’s red ink asking whether we had a future Dr. Seuss in the class. (I must’ve taken her one helluva red apple.) That carried on right through school and I always expected to write, but I got distracted by digital media for a couple decades. I just couldn’t shake it. Finally, I gave in to the muse, and I’ve never been happier with how I spend my time.

I have lots of favourite authors, and they’re quite different one from the other. Carl Hiaasen, John Irving, Margaret Atwood (especially her early books), and Thomas Hardy are all front row. David Adams Richards stuns me with his depiction of living rough in the Miramichi in New Brunswick. When I first read him I couldn’t believe he was describing life in the seventies in the same country I’d grown up in. It sounded more like JUDE THE OBSCURE, his characters take such a beating.

Do you have a work in progress? Another short story or have you started a novel?

My first novel STINKING RICH is out on submission. It’s rural noir based in the Kawarthas. I’m working on another to follow it, as well as a novella in an urban setting.
The next short story I have coming out will be up on Shotgun Honey later this month. Earlier this year, they published “Rickie’s Pig”. I love the fact they limit you to 700 words. You’ve got to get character, setting, and story so sharp it hurts. A lot of their writers go real dark real quick.

With a background in I.T. what is your favourite communication device?

Smartphones. I’ve become a huge Android fan. I can do pretty much everything anywhere anytime.

Blogging, FB, twitter. Is it important to be on all platforms in this day of instant communication?

I probably spend way too much time on line. The reality is doing one or two platforms well is probably all you need. That said, I have made some very good (and ultimately close) friends on Twitter. So it’s definitely not all work.

Pam: Was this your first time attending Bouchercon? Can you give us peek at the crème de la crème of conferences? We want all the gossip, who you met, who gave you inspiration and is this a convention you would recommend to unpublished writers like Jamie Tremain?

I’m just gonna gush if I start talking Bouchercon here, Pam. Isn’t there a word limit for guest posts? I did blog about it: Bouchercon Blast if your readers are curious.
I will say this, though. Everyone I met there (and I met a lot of people) absolutely raved about the convention, talked about how often they go, and committed to be there next year. I know I will be.

I have one last question Rob. Something I ask all who sit on the ‘hot seat’ here.
Have you ever collaborated with another writer or would you consider doing so?

I tried it a couple of times with two different friends years ago. Both were strong story ideas, and I think our writing styles meshed well enough. The problem was discipline. The two right people can motivate each other and keep the creative juices going. (It sure sounds like you and Liz do that!) The two wrong people just get together, talk about the story, and enjoy good food and drink. I fell into the latter camp.

Thanks Rob for spending the time on Jamie Tremain's blog today. Long Beach , California, here we come!

Talk soon,

Rob Brunet writes crime fiction. His short stories have been published in Thuglit, Voices, and Shotgun Honey. "Roadkill" placed second in the 2012 Bloody Words Bony Pete contest. / Twitter @RRBrunet

Monday, September 16, 2013

And How was YOUR Monday?

Mine started out normally – that is, I really didn't want to get up.  Stayed up a little later than usual Sunday evening in order to watch the première of Louise Penny’s “Still Life”.  Quite enjoyed it, although it’s always a challenge to condense a book with multi-faceted characters into a set time limit.  And I think the Quebec atmosphere was downplayed somewhat, perhaps for future consideration to the American market.  The setting could pass for New England, but was filmed in Quebec, which is where the story plays out.   Loved Inspector Gamache, played by Nathaniel Parker and hope that there will be subsequent episodes based on the rest of the Gamache/Three Pines series.

Back to Monday morning.  Left at the usual time, and began my 40 minute or so trip to work.  Hadn’t gone but five minutes when my car started chugging and no amount of pressure on the accelerator would get it going beyond a crawl.   This as I’m entering a fast paced express-way!  With hazards flashing I managed to creep to the next exit and limp my baby back home.  Nerve wracking with other commuters buzzing past and I’m sure muttering a few comments at my turtle pace.

She’s now been towed to my local garage, where I received the verdict about an hour ago.  Because I’d googled  for the meaning of the dashboard warning light I wasn’t surprised to learn I need a new throttle assembly, along with a fistful of dollars!  Make that a trunkload of dollars.   Now I wait to see if a) the part is available today, and b) if it can be repaired today.   Yes, a day off is nice, but this is not the way I would have chosen it.   I’ll be making up lost hours for the time over the next week or so as well.  

However I’m very grateful this didn’t happen right on the 401 Highway, or at the end of the day coming home. So there’s always a somewhat of a bright side I suppose.   And while I’m waiting for an update on my car I can spend some time reading.  Right now, I’m enjoying Barbara Fradkin’s  “The Whisper of Legends”.

Last Monday’s work day ended with a gas leak in my neighbourhood, here’s hoping by the end of today, THIS Monday will have settled into something resembling normal!



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lists and Links

September is a new beginning. Kids are back in school, summer clothes hit the pile for the basement, and the garden is fading fast. So why is the temp at 34 degrees? I am wilting with the humidity.
 But this is exceptional. Just like my exceptional husband (not sure that’s the word for him) who has decided at the end of the summer to pitch in and do some gardening. But why now when I want to cut back the bushes and empty the pots that held my tomatoes and begonias. One of the hottest days of the year and the man is red in the face with exertion. I’ve been waiting on the patio weeds to be pulled for three months, and NOW he does it.

Did I tell you we are not really gardeners? We admire others who have the fortitude to water and weed and deadhead when needed, but we’ve never had much success.  I wonder if anyone would notice if I stuck silk flowers in the ground. Sacrilege you say. I’ll stick with my orchids indoors. Does anyone know if they have a flowering season?

The writing  is going well on our new book. Liz and I have found a better rhythm  and have a better way of communicating our writing process. We'll let you in on the premise soon.

When not writing I'm reading. These are a few I read this summer.
The Book of Stolen Tales”                                  D. J. McIntosh       
“A Small Hill to Die On “                                    Elizabeth Duncan

“Victim”                                                                  Catherine Astolfo  

“The Christie Curse”                                           Victoria Abbott      
“Threaded for Trouble”                                        Janet Bolin    
“Evil behind that Door”                                          Barbara Fradkin   
“The Whisper of Legends                                   Barbara Fradkin
“A Tap at the Window”                                       Linwood Barclay   
“When the Saints go marching in”                  Anthony Bidulka
Canadian Authors rock. Each of these authors had something different to offer, and I enjoyed them all. Cozies, thrillers, suspense, police procedural, but all with the under belly of crime .

Since the New Year I’ve been interviewing Canadian Crime Writers and had a great time doing so. If you missed any of these interviews you can search the archives for your favourites. I noticed things were slanted towards the female persuasion so I am about to rectify that.  The following authors have agreed   to an interview with Jamie Tremain.

October 7th- Rob Brunet
Rob is a writer friend who is a member of my writers group. Next week he’s attending Bouchercon 2013
 ‘A New York State of Crime’ the world’s leading convention for crime fiction readers, writers and others.  We’re looking forward to hearing Rob’s perspective on this event.

October 28th- Anthony  Bidulka
I first met Tony at ‘Bloody Words” in Ottawa in 2009, and I’ve been a fan ever since. This Saskatchewan author writes the Russell Quant, mystery series. You’ll have to check in on the 28th to hear about a new series. The first is “The Saints go Marching In” featuring Adam Saint, a Disaster Recovery Agent. You won’t be disappointed.
TBD-November 18th- C B Forrest   
I first met Chris at the launch of “The Devils Dust” the third in his Charlie McKelviey trilogy. His background in journalism shows in the amount of research he does. Check back to find out what Chris is working on now.

TBD-December 9th - Andrew Pyper     A lunch at ‘Scene of the Crime” sealed the fate of my next victim.This very talented writer will have you scared to put the light out at night.when you read his latest. ‘The Demonologist’.

Loads of new books out this fall. Vicki Delaney, Louise Penny, Erika Chase  and  Ian Hamilton are just a few of the authors awaiting my attention. I'll also mention  a collaboration by Kat Flannery and Alison Bruce. Their book "Hazardous Unions" was launched this week. Out on Amazon and hardcover in October.

Have a good week everyone,

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