Guest speaker for our July 2015 event!
Hi, Alex! We are so happy to have you this summer! We know you have some new projects forthcoming, can you tell us a little about your noir/crime fiction?
Hi! I do seem to have been somewhat obsessed with noir and crime this past year or so. I’d had a couple pieces out already in Ellery Queen’s and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazines, so my mind was already bending that direction. Those two stories had still been weird fiction, by my definition: gunslinger ghosts and the wild west; bloodthirsty Norse gods and psychic channeling of Scandinavian priestesses a thousand years dead. But like much of my fiction it straddled boundaries of what might or might not be, depending on how you squint at it.
Then I spent a summer in Montreal — a beautiful, glorious summer! with the Grande Bibliothèque right down the street! — and got sucked into a serious Patricia Highsmith binge. Several short stories in The Animal-Lover’s Book of Beastly Murder just about broke my heart, they were so good. After Highsmith I migrated to the library’s Akashic Noir collections, these curated multi-author anthologies based on different cities (Long Island Noir, Brooklyn Noir, etc.). With all my travelling that year, the idea of challenging myself to write short noir pieces set in every place I intended to visit was very appealing. I planned one each for Montreal, Vancouver, Grenada, Miami Beach, Austin. . .
I managed to complete only the first two before my hummingbird brain got distracted. Two really fun stories to write, though! And both sold right away, which is always gratifying.
When are they scheduled for release?
The Vancouver story, “Lovely Young Losers,” came out already in Alfred Hitchcock’s. My Montreal piece, “Three Times,” comes out this week in the New Canadian Noir anthology, and was selected to be printed concurrently in The Exile Literary Quarterly. Really dark, that one, along with a couple other more overtly weird or surreal recent stories with time-travel serial murders and drowned bride ghosts. . . maybe, or maybe not. Again, it depends how you squint at things.
How did writing these differ from your other genres?
For one, I find writing dark stuff very intense. Short fiction is already way more intense, to my mind, than novels; you have to pack so much emotion and weight into so few words, comparatively. And reading too much Joyce Carol Oates and Shirley Jackson short fiction will make you cry and laugh and cause your heart to bleed a little, every time. And like the obsessive creature you are, you then have to go out and recreate all that crazy powerful feeling you’ve built up like static electricity on a winter day — or perhaps that’s just me.
We also know you are coming out with a new pro-rate audiozine soon. Can you share more about this?
So exciting!! I badly want to dish the whole scoop, but can’t quite yet. It’s been several years since I served as Flash Fiction Editor for Abyss & Apex — a task I loved, by the way. Also adored every moment curating a recent guest-edited issue of the crime magazine The Big Click, in which I got to honor Highsmith with a beastly theme, calling it the Bête NOIR issue. I have very little patience for short-fic editors who publicly complain about reading submissions or working with authors to take a story to the height of awesome. I love it.
I also love reading aloud — who knew?!? Last year I approached a very good friend about launching a new audiozine, but we’re still hammering out details. The plan is to seek short works or viable standalone excerpts of longer pieces, any and every genre encouraged, with decent pay for original material. Watch this space! (In the meantime, check out one of the several guest readings I’ve done for Toasted Cake podcast.)
Are there any other projects you’d like to share with us?
I’ve been promised a gig as an artist, possibly collaborating with one of my favorite authors on a series he’s doing. He’s been writing these incredible pulpy adventure pieces, each one like a stand-alone issue of an old-school serial comic, and illustrated by a different artist. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done, so I’m looking forward to seeing where that takes me.
I do have a couple short story collaborations coming out this year, two stories I was working on with the amazing Steven Utley when he died. “All the Layers of the World” is slated to appear soon in Postscripts, and the other, which ballooned in my writing-frenzy sadness over Steve’s passing from a relatively short piece to a fullblown novelette, is coming out in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. It’s called simply, “GIRLIE.”
Thank you, Alex! We look forward to seeing you this July!
Thank you! I’m superexcited to join you again this year and can’t wait to see new faces alongside the familiar ones.
Alex C. Renwick has written dozens of short stories as Camille Alexa, including her award-nominated collection, Push of the Sky. She has edited fiction and poetry for anthologies and magazines, and is a senior reviewer for The Green Man Review. Her noir, weird lit, and cross-genre stories have appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines, Fantasy Magazine, and in Imaginarium: The Best Canadian Speculative Writing. Alex on Twitter: @AlexCRenwick