Sunday, 29 January 2012

Hard Rain by Katherine Tomlinson

Illustration by Mark Satchwill
There was a knot of people gathered on the street running parallel to the freeway, just north of Moorpark. Everyone was looking at a blanketed lump at the foot of a chain-link fence, avidly staring over the flimsy barrier of yellow crime-scene tape with curiosity but little concern.
A few of the onlookers were taking pictures with their phones.
Lot of men around for this time of day, Esme noted as she pulled up next to a black and white and flashed her credentials at the young cop directing traffic.
Lot of men who are out of work in the neighborhood.
“Isn’t this where they found that guy barbecued in the trunk of his car last year?” Edgar asked, interrupting her train of thought.
“Yeah,” Esme said distractedly as she parked behind a beat-to-shit Mazda. She’d noticed a tall black man standing apart from the lookie-loos.
“Isn’t that Gene Burkhart?” Edgar asked.
 “Yeah, it is,” she said, not at all pleased to see him. Ever since the first North Hollywood victim had been found in the fall, he’d been dogging their steps and making noise about their lack of interest in catching a killer who was only preying on the homeless.
“Well now it’s a party,” Edgar said, ducking under the crime scene tape.
Ignoring Gene, Esme followed her partner over to the fence where an earnest young uniform was talking to a little old lady in a flowered cardigan. A sweet-faced long-haired dachshund sat quietly at her feet.
“Serafina and I were on our morning walk,” the old lady said.
“Serafina’s the dog,” the uni said, interrupting the old lady, who glared at him.
God bless dog walkers, Esme thought.
“And then Serafina told me she saw something by the fence.”
She pointed.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Fan of Ray Harryhausen? Check this out...

FXRH Banner

FXRH -- The Original Ray Harryhausen Magazine!
All Four Issues Compiled into One Big Volume

An Exciting Opportunity via Kickstarter

The FXRH Collection - All 4 issues of the now-classic Ray Harryhausen fanzine FXRH from the 1970s are going to be compiled into one complete book, supplemented by "making of" material, layout sketches, and correspondence detailing the evolution and creation of the magazine. All the trials and tribulations of small-press publishing will be combined with a detailed account of the thrill of meeting Ray Harryhausen for the first time in his London home in 1971 (long before his retirement, and before he started appearing at sci-fi conventions and other events), issue #4 being used by Columbia Pictures as a promotional tie-in to The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and many more sidebars and visual enhancements.

We're seeking financing through the Kickstarter program, an affiliate site of Kickstarter is all or nothing: You can pledge any amount of $25.00 and up, but if we cannot secure at least $20,000 by February 14th to cover production costs, the project will not go ahead and you will not be charged. (Participation not limited to the U.S.-- friends from other countries are welcome to get involved.)

Read on for a bit more info, and then check it out on the Kickstarter page!


Ernest Farino

FXRH (Special Visual Effects by Ray Harryhausen) was a fanzine I created with Sam Calvin in 1971. Animator Ray Harryhausen created such popular and enduring fantasy films as 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and Clash of the Titans (1980). FXRH was the first to chronicle Ray's work, with support by Ray himself. Initially a "fanzine" of 26 pages, it grew to a professionally-typeset and printed magazine of 4 issues, with full color and contributions by celebrities like Mark Hamill. Growing from 300 to 6,000 copies, originals of issue #1 now go for hundreds of dollars on eBay.

In addition to compiling all 4 issues into a perfect-bound book, extensive new material will detail the creation and history of the magazine. (Cover mockup at right may change for the final book.)

I recently designed and published the acclaimed Ray Harryhausen - Master of the Majicks Vol. 2 and Vol. 3, which can be seen at:  Archive Editions  While there, you can also find out more about FXRH and this compilation edition.

The money raised from these pledges will fund the extended, full-color perfect-bound edition. By pledging via Kickstarter you will be giving invaluable support to our ability to push forward on this project.

As mentioned above, this is all or nothing. If we don't receive the minimum $20,000 in pledges by February 14th, the project doesn't happen and your pledge will not be charged.

Pledge your support via Kickstarter and reserve your copy of The FXRH Collection here: 
The Kickstarter listing has more details about the project and the Rewards, and a video further describing the project.
Ray Signs FXRH
Above: Ray Harryhausen signs copies of FXRH  #4 in 1974 as part of a promotion by
Columbia Pictures to promote the release of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

FXRH Cover Comp
By contributing, you take an active part in the publishing process and help define the trajectory of niche cultural projects such as ours.
  • Your name in the book and on our website
  • Free copies of the finished book, signed and numbered by the publisher
  • 8x10 custom prints of Ray Harryhausen scenes
... are among the Rewards offered for your pledge, and these are described in detail in the Kickstarter listing.

You can also help by spreading the word to your friends via e-mail, message boards, and on Twitter and Facebook using this URL:

You can pass along this e-mail by using the Forward link below (don't just hit Forward on your e-mail program, as all the images and formatting will be lost.)

Thank you in advance for your support!

All best wishes,

Ernest Farino
Editor and Publisher

Sunday, 22 January 2012

New NoHo story delayed

Resident NoHo mascot cat Sweetpea is dying.

Always a low-energy cat, in recent years she's mostly slept the days and nights away, getting up to eat and use the litter box and spending the rest of her time dreaming little cat dreams. It was kind of like having an animated pillow.

She normally snuggles up to the nearest warm body at night but now she wants to be by herself at the foot of the bed, flattening herself out like a small tiger-skin rug. (Although she's one of those black and white "moo cats" so she looks more like a cow hide with a cat head.)

She is 18 and has been with me since she was a runty little feral cat missing the tip of her tail and the fur on her ears who had to be bottle fed. Once she learned about tuna, she made up for lost time and at one point, topped the scales at a whopping 22 pounds. (She wasn't fat, she was just "big boned.") She is very sweet but not the smartest cat I've ever known.

She's been losing weight in the last few months and in the last few weeks has weakened alarmingly. She's now reached that stage, familiar to all cat owners, of deflated paws and general weakness. Her kidneys are failing her and there's nothing the vet or I can do except make sure she's comfortable and hoping for a gentle leave-taking.

I wish I could be tough about this but I can't. And I do not feel like writing...

The next NoHo story, "Hard Rain" will be up soon.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Brief Encounter

Illustration by Mark Satchwill

By Katherine Tomlinson

The man who used to be a rock star smiled when he saw the girl in the laundromat.
Gary was a social guy and the last few weeks had been a lonely time for him.
The holidays always sucked and since Christmas he’d been nursing a low-grade depression like a persistent flu.
He’d dropped close to a thousand dollars on gifts for his kids and neither one of them had bothered to thank him.
He knew they’d gotten the presents because their mother had tweeted pictures of their Christmas tree and he’d seen the wrapped boxes in amongst the clutter of loot beneath it.
He wasn’t allowed to call their cell phones and every time he’d dialed the family’s land line he’d gotten voice mail. He didn’t want to leave a message; didn’t want to sound desperate and sad.
He’d thought about asking his ex if he could have the kids one Christmas so she and the asshole she was now married to could have the holiday all to themselves. Andi’s response had been snotty.
“Why would I want to send my children away at Christmas?” she had asked him. “And anyway, you don’t have the room.” That had been true enough, but his ex just couldn’t leave it there.
“What were you thinking, the kids could sleep in the bed with you and Lisa?”
Lisa was a sore spot with his ex-wife. More than one of his friends had pointed out that she looked a lot like Andi, only younger and hotter.
The ex didn’t like hearing that.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Knocking on Heaven's Door--for Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge

Speaking of Chuck Wendig, as we were yesterday, this week's fiction challenge was for a 500-word story inspired by a song. Here's the original challenge along with links to the other stories submitted.

By Katherine Tomlinson

“She ain’t here,” the boy with the lazy eye said as I knocked on the door of the rusty trailer squatting in my mother’s blighted back yard.
“What?” I asked.
“You looking for Heaven, she ain’t here.”
“Who are you?” I asked.
He gave me what he probably thought was a sly look.
“Who are you?” he rejoined with a grin that exposed rotten gums and broken teeth.
Meth mouth. Lovely.
I’m getting too old for this shit, I thought, but I’d promised my mother I’d evict her tenant’s sorry ass so she could find someone who might actually pay the rent.
“Do you know where she might be?” I asked him.
He considered the question for a long time.
What do you do when one-syllable words aren’t simple enough? I wondered. Maybe I should have used sign language.
“I know where she might be,” he finally said, but offered no further information.
“Well, she might be at the White House but she’s kinda racist so it’s not likely,” he said and looked at me to see how I’d take that information.
My mother, who’s really my stepmother, is black, so that explains a few things about the whole dysfunctional landlady/tenant thing going on.
“Might be she’s at the library,” the tweaker added, vastly amused by his own wit. “Might be she’s in Nashville, writing a song for Carrie Underwood.”
I wished I hadn’t come straight from work. I really didn’t want to blood on my best gray suit.
“You’re a regular Ron White,” I said, pondering my next move.
He looked confused.
“Do what now?”
“Comedian,” I said. “Google ‘You Can’t Fix Stupid’ and he’ll come up.”
“Huh,” he said.
I reached for the trailer door.
“Hey, that’s private property,” he protested.
“You live here?”
“Sometimes,” he admitted.
“Great,” I said. “You owe my mother five months back rent.” I made a show of counting on my hands as if I needed the help to do the calculation. “That’s one thousand, seven hundred and fifty.”  He looked blank. “Dollars,” I added helpfully.
“Shee-it,” he said. “I ain’t got that kind of money.”
No, really?
“Then get out of my way or you and me are gonna have a problem.”
It’s scary how quickly I can revert to the bubba I was in high school. I used to eat little pussies like him for breakfast and shit them out before lunch.
The kid was fucked up on something, his eyes so pinned he looked like a zombie, but he wasn’t fucked up enough to take me on. He stepped back with a weird smirk.
“Be my guest.”
I wrenched the trailer door open and immediately wished I hadn’t.
Heaven was inside, or most of her was.
“I think she might be in hell,” the tweaker observed with a phlegmy laugh.
“Heaven’s in hell,” he giggled. “Get it?”
I broke the little fucker’s nose, then pulled out my phone to dial 911.

How Will You Die?

Art by Joey Hi-Fi (Angry Robot Books)

There is a lot of death around NoHo Noir but have you considered the circumstances of your own demise? Writer Chuck Wendig has started a Tumblr blog called This Is How You Die, a community storytelling/art project and he's asking for contributions. You can read the original post where he outlines what it's all about here. Have fun!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Hilda's Big Day Out by Allan Guthrie

You know what's better than reading a story by Allan Guthrie?  Reading a story by Allan Guthrie that is FREE and comes with bonus stories.  For a limited time (until Tuesday), you can get a free Kindle copy of Guthrie's short story "Hilda's Big Day Out" here. In addition to the title story, the ebook contains three bonus stories--"Your Mother Should Know," "Bye-Bye Baby" and "Call Me, I'm Dying." Four free stories and not a bunch of trunk stories either.

Return to Sender

Nicole was day-dreaming.
Well, not day-dreaming exactly, more like letting her mind skitter along on a stream of consciousness.
It’s how she spent most of her days.
Nicole had not grown up wanting to work for the post office, but after she got out of college, there weren’t a lot of prospects for a history major without a teaching certificate.
“What were you thinking?” her father had grumbled, as if he’d had no idea what she’d been doing for the last four years.
It wasn’t like she’d kept it a secret. She’d lived at home all through college, helping take care of her mother, writing her papers and doing her reading in the wee hours when her mother finally fell into an exhausted sleep.
Her mother had been very proud of her and one of her last outings had been attending Nicole’s graduation. They’d gone out for Cuban food after and her mother had managed a couple of bites of fried plantains.
One of the last conversations her mother had had been an argument with Nicole’s father over their daughter’s future. Nicole had been sad about that. She hadn’t wanted her mother to waste even a second of her precious life worrying about her.
“Once a mother, always a mother,” her mother had said to her when Nicole had protested that she could argue on her own behalf.
“A mother till the day I die,” she’d added, and then she’d laughed.
Nicole had laughed too because that was her mother, refusing to succumb to self-pity, taking refuge in black humor and a rock-ribbed faith that had never failed her, though the chemotherapy had.
To get her father off her back, Nicole had taken the Civil Service exam, breezing through it, and then taken a job with the post office. Her father hadn’t been pleased by the choice.
He persisted in referring to her as a “mail man,” which was just hateful, pointing out there were lots of other Civil Service jobs she could have taken.
`He did have a point, Nicole had agreed, and that mollified him some. She didn’t feel like telling him the real reason she’d taken the blue—that some of the other jobs had sounded interesting enough that she might have been tempted to sink into them like a hot bath, only to emerge 30 years later with a gold watch and a sense that life had passed her by.
She was pretty sure that she wasn’t going to be a letter carrier for life.
Mainly because the post office was coming apart at the seams; it wouldn’t last another 30 months, much less 30 years.
In the meantime, she had a route she liked—not too many apartment buildings—and a salary that covered her bills, and she had time to plan her next move.
She liked that it was easy to leave the job when she took off her uniform. She had friends who were killing themselves to climb up the corporate ladder and were still living on credit cards because they owed so much money in student loans.
There hadn’t been a lot of money left over after her mother’s bills were paid, but what there was went to Nicole. She’d resisted the urge to throw it away on a vacation or on new stuff and had paid off every single debt she had.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Excerpt from Mickey Hoffman's "Deadly Traffic"

Thanks to the excerpt exchange going on over at Facebook's "Suspense/Thriller Writer Group,", NoHo Noir has snagged an excerpt from Mickey Hoffman's new novel, Deadly Traffic. Here's the setup from Hoffman's publisher, Second Wind:

Girls are disappearing from Standard High while the local sex trade flourishes. Their absences are barely noticed in the worst school in Arbor City, CA, where turnover and truancy are facts of life. Kendra Desola, the only faculty member likely to care, is on a leave of absence.
After a student’s lifeless body turns up in a seedy part of town, an immigrant community leader contacts Kendra. What does she know about her missing students’ activities, their families’ illegal status?
Searching for the missing girls, Kendra enters a dark world where passports and flesh are currency. When a second murder puts her in the police spotlight, she is unaware a trap is about to close around her. 

Sounds great, doesn't it?
Here's Mickey's excerpt:

Sandi found Win leaning on the bar counter, waiting for her when she came out of the Ladies’ room. A greenish glow from the wine bottles above the bar accented the planes of his handsome face. The young bartender smiled as she returned his change. A hostess led a party of three toward a table along the wall. He frowned at the receipt in his hand and stored it in his wallet. She couldn’t see him turning it in to his boss; since when did petty criminals ask for meal allowances? More likely, it would be kept to demonstrate how well he treated her, right after he told her she didn’t deserve dinner at such an expensive restaurant.
He plucked a toothpick from a shot glass near the cash register and used it like a wand to direct her toward the door. Sandi winced as a punishing blast of hot air struck her face, giving a longing look back at the cool interior of the restaurant. Win slid a stiffened palm to the small of her back to make sure they stayed hip to hip as he chose a pace that suited his long legs.
As they walked, Sandi kept her eyes fixed straight ahead, on a distant point that existed only in her mind, so she could pretend not to see the shock on people’s faces when their eyes landed on her, the ungainly girl at his side. He, as usual, basked in the attention he drew from passersby. Impervious to the heat, he wore all black, chosen, she knew, to complement his hair and highlight the three diamond studs that sparkled in his left ear. A manicurist, outside for a smoke, paused mid-puff and stared in admiration, as if Sandi’s companion had stepped straight off the glossy cover of one of the People magazines in her salon. Sandi wished she could hold that fantasy cover in her hands and shred him to bits, starting with his complacent smile. Why didn’t anyone ever see him for what he really was?
Of course, Win got a kick out of seeing her humiliation. The way he played up his resemblance to Bruce Lee only served to accentuate her inadequacies—skinny legs with thick ankles, a sway back, and pudgy cheeks that refused to go away no matter how much weight she lost. The only thing that marred his perfection was a gold tooth that showed when he smiled. But women didn’t consider it a flaw, they liked it, said it gave him character.
Sandi tracked away, pretending she wanted to avoid a bike rack, but he steered her back to his side as they joined a group waiting for a traffic light at a busy intersection. On the far corner, a steady stream of customers went in and out of the Arbor City Gourmet Deli. A wiry blond man stepped toward the curb, sipping at a large coffee. He barely caught her attention until she saw him retrieve a dog from where he’d tied it to a street sign. In a flash of recognition, she quickly sidestepped into the recessed doorway of a clothes boutique.

Kendra Desola was first featured in Hoffman's School of Lies, also from Second Wind. If this excerpt whetted your appetite, you can read the first part of the first chapter of Deadly Trade on the Second Wind site here. Learn more about Mickey on her website. Buy her book here.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Charles Addams Google Doodle

We love Google Doodles. We especially love Google Doodles that celebrate peoples' lives and work. Today would have been Charles Addams' 100th birthday. This lovely tribute celebrates that anniversary. Read more about it here.

NoHo has Nightmares!!!

Scientists have been at it again.
It wasn't bad enough they announced this week they'd created a monkey chimera out of five different kinds of DNA; now they're fiddling about with insects.
NoHo Noir has no problem with ants--as far as we're concerned, picnic crumbs are fair game. But we do not want to see ant super soldiers. We really don't. Here's the whole story, if you care to know it. All we know is that we're going to start sleeping with a big can of RAID under the bed.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Fiction to Watch Out For

The Big Click
Bi-monthly noir--by invitation only through 2012.
Free on the web, bundled as cheap ebooks.
Beginning in March...
For more, check out Sandra Seamans' blog today.

NoHo Noir Reading List

Mark and I are both avid readers and we know you are too. Here's what's new on my reading list. Author Stuart MacBride writes "tartan noir," crime fic set in the Scottish town of Aberdeen. This book is a standalone, one of several he has planned. Here's a little more information about it.Check out his debut novel Cold Granite. (Aberdeen is known as "the Granite City.")
There's also a new book in Carol O'Connell's Kathleen Mallory series, Chalk Girl. If you like dark characters and have been missing Lisbeth Salander, you should get to know Mallory.  Here's some more information about the series.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

NoHo Noir Picks of 2011 (Mark - Books)

This is just discussing books I've read in 2011 - they were not necessarily new in 2011!
My favourite read of the year was Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White. Set in the Victorian age it's essentially a study of the period's attitudes to women, sex and class, told through the story of a prostitute, and her relationship with William Rackham, heir to a perfume business. Beautifully written and utterly fascinating, I adored it.
Another excellent novel was Florence and Giles by John Harding, the story of a young brother and sister living with servants in a big house, whose routine is interrupted by the arrival of a Governess, who, Florence comes to believe, is not what she seems. The story is told to us by Florence in her own unique voice and had echoes of The Turn Of The Screw. Recommended.
Other books I enjoyed this year were The Killing of Emma Gross, the debut novel of Damien Seaman, a dark and gritty crime thriller set in Weimar-era Germany and taking inspiration from the crimes of serial killer Peter Kurten, and The Midwinter of The Spirit by Phil Rickman, the second in his series about Merrily Watkins, a Church of England woman priest controversially given the job of Diocesan Exorcist (or Deliverance Consultant) just as spooky things start happening in the locality. Great characters and a strong atmosphere with some genuinely creepy scenes,  I shall be reading more from him over the coming months.
If you had told me I'd be hooked on a series of novels about a crime-busting Wyoming game warden named Joe Pickett I'd have laughed, but I've so enjoyed C.J Box's novels I read seven last year. I suppose they are essentially an update of the Western (hunters, cattle farmers, corrupt sheriffs)  but with themes like eco-terrorism, cattle and wild animal mutilation, endangered species and  survivalists. The landscape is drawn with as much character as the people. Well worth checking out.
Back on my side of the pond and stepping back to the years directly after the Second World War, Gordon Ferris' crime novels set in London ( Truth, Dare, Kill and The Unquiet Heart)and Glasgow (The Hanging Shed) are very Noir and very enjoyable - private investigators, femme fatales, crime syndicates and corrupt coppers - it's all here.
Finally Alison Weir's The Lady In The Tower - The Fall Of Anne Boleyn is up to her usual high standards (and a welcome return to historical non-fiction after a series of not very good historical novels). Meticulously researched, she presents the evidence and then discusses them, guiding us through the various interpretations to a conclusion. This no romantic view of Anne (nor, thankfully, of Jane Seymour) but it's a fascinating look at how vicious and deadly the Tudor court could be.


Monday, 2 January 2012

NO HO NOIR picks the best of 2011

Katherine's picks for the small screen:
Game of Thrones...Everyone said that you could never film George R. R. Martin's novel and everyone turned out to be wrong. We were hooked from the first teasers with the ravens and the spooky old woman prophesying, "Winter is Coming." Peter Dinklage ruled as Tyrion Lannister but it was Sean Bean who was the heart of the story and (having not read the book), we were NOT READY for his fate.
We cannot wait for the next volume coming in April.
Sherlock Holmes...We will admit--we were skeptical. So few updates seem to work these days. By the third episode, though, we were clamoring for more. Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock was a portrait in narcissistic brilliance and Martin Freeman was a conflicted, somewhat troubled Watson touched by his time serving in Afghanistan. Brilliantly conceived and nimbly acted, the three-part series was way too short.
Downtown sometimes pitched as a variation on Upstairs Downstairs, but it's much more than that. Maggie Smith is just one of the stars, which gives you an idea of the level of acting talent here. (Mark has already seen season two of the series, which won't be available here in the US until later in the year. He says it's terrific.)
Hell on Wheels...rebooted the western genre with a noir feel and a kick-ass cast led by the magnetic Anson Mount. It's gritty without getting over the top the way Deadwood could sometimes get. And one of the most entertaining things about the show is Colm Meany's scenery-chewing performance as a corrupt railroad baron.
Katherine's picks for the big screen:
Fast Five ... Dwayne Johnson. Vin Diesel. Fast cars.  Seriously, what more can you cask for?
Rise of Planet of the Apes...Andy Serkis ruled this reboot/reimagining of the classic story. We liked James Franco too.
Fright Night...another great reimagining of a movie we loved the first time around.
Hugo...a treat for movie-lovers everywhere as well as people who flat out love movies, like the director Martin Scorsese, who filled this tremendously visual movie with love and care.  (The Artist is also supposed to be stunningly good but we haven't seen it yet.)
The Lincoln Lawyer ... based on a great book by crime writer Michael Connelly, this was an underrated film starring the frequently underrated Matthew McConnaughey. Yes, we know that Ryan Philippe is a rotten apple from the moment we meet him but there are some twists and turns we didn't see coming.