Q & A

Late last month, gentleman scholar, and all-around good guy Colman Keane was kind enough to shoot a few questions my way for his site Col’s Criminal Library. I’ve taken the liberty of copy/pasting  said interview onto this site because, sometimes, I’m lazy like that. If you’d rather read the original, just click HERE.

A hearty thank you to Mr. Colman Keane for the lovely Q & A. Enjoy!

I’ll assume the writing isn’t full time, so what’s the day job?

You assume correctly. I moonlight as a condom tester. Kidding, I work for a company that does horseracing data. Not as exciting as a rubber tester, but it pays the bills.

Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the uber-cool Verge Le Noir moniker isn’t something your parents came up with – is your real identity a well-guarded secret? Why not publish your books under your real name?

No my parents are not that cool—at all. I’m just a cat who’s scared of his own writing so he hides under a too-cool-for-school nom de guerre in order to appease the God’s of writerly things. My name is not a well-guarded secret, I’m not in the witness protection program or anything as exciting as that, matter of fact, my writer bio has just been updated on Amazon where I use my real name, (and new mug shot) I will however, still use my pen name because is way cooler than my real name which is Virgilio Feldman. Try fitting that on a small book cover.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Honest to the Gods of Beer? Doing this Q & A. And having people read the stuff I write.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I don’t have one; I slip the writing whenever I can. I’m lucky I get to write at all. I typically try to cram as much writing as possible on my days off. Sorry ladies…

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

I’ve only done it in my short novel Desperados sparingly—and it’s mostly overly exaggerated anecdotes from an acquaintance here and there, or family members, but for the most part I don’t do it.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I like to let the characters take me wherever they want to go, so I make it up as I go along. Most smart writers swear by plotting, I see it as painting yourself into a corner and that doesn’t jive with moi. Maybe I will try it someday.

Are there any subjects off limits?

Nothing’s off limits I hate censorship.

Desperados features the journey of a young immigrant coming to America from the south, any parallels with your own life or are you a home-grown American citizen?

Good question. I was lucky enough to migrate legally to the U. S. from Honduras about thirty years ago. I did mined a few things about my life for Desperados, lets’ see: I’m from the same Islands that the character Lester talks about, I was once duped by a cousin into becoming a bracero in the State of Georgia for about two months in hell, we lived in trailers in the middle of nowhere making shit money, on the weekends we would shop at a Piggy Wiggly. A manager of a restaurant I used to work at did the orange juice bit to a waitress once. The character of Leonide or Leo is based on a good friend of mine who hails from the Ivory Coast by way of France but that’s where the similarities end. These are the few things I can think of from the top of my head; the rest is pure imagination and research.

I believe you’ve self-published all your work to date, is that a conscious move? Have you tried the “traditional” route via an existing publisher?

A conscious move indeed, I don’t know anyone in the publishing business, and I won’t know how to approach anyone on that side of things, besides they only seem to be interested in bestselling authors and celebrities. They want an established brand. So yeah I’m self- published all the way. For every one of my books though, I hire a professional editor, a book formatter and make my own book covers. I just don’t see what a traditional publisher can do for a guy like me. I honestly don’t see it. For prestige? Piss-off. The world doesn’t need another ‘tastemaker’ or ‘bouncer’ at the exclusive writers club. My humble opinion and it can change, but for now I’m happy as a clam in salt water doing things this way.

How difficult is it to attract a readership?

In a scale of one to ten, I would have to say One Hundred. A Hunter Thompson quote comes to mind, he said: “It’s like trying to wrestle a T-bone steak from a hammerhead shark.” Similar to that or thereabout.  Although a lot of it is my fault, I’m a lousy salesman, I don’t know much about promotion, pushing product etcetera, etcetera. I’m still learning, for the most part I just concentrate on writing an entertaining story.

Your works so far are Desperados – a novel, Killing Crows – a long short story, Shell Casings and Black Pills and Red Bullets – two short story collections. Is there one of your books you’re more proud of than any of the others? Which and why?

Tricky question, like: who is your favorite child? The red-headed bastard is my favorite! In this case they’re all my favorite red-headed bastards. In all honesty; the last one I wrote—Desperados—is my favorite because is the closest I’ve come to cannibalizing parts of my life in order to write a good story. It’s a bit personal I suppose. I must say though; Shell Casings seems to be people’s favorite, even my editor liked it a lot.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

I’m juggling a couple of projects, but the one that seems to be ahead its call Two Iguanas Lounge and it features a couple of the characters from the short story: Lizards Lounge (a short story you can find in the book: Black Pills & Red Bullets) In Two Iguanas Lounge, I’ll introduce a private detective by the name of Troy Declan Molloy and a Lieutenant by the name of Samira Andrade, these two team up in order to take down a serial killer who’s terrorizing a small Arizona town. It’s going a bit slow. We’ll see how it turns up, in the meantime; I’ll be uploading to my website, some short- stories, and my ramblings as usual.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Bedding all the women who find the broke-ass writer irresistible. Kidding, the best thing about writing is coming up with bat-shit crazy scenarios in which your characters can play and then having people read it. It’s magical. Writing is a lot of fun, you can’t beat that.

The worst?

Meeting women who don’t fall for the broke-ass writer. Kidding, (somewhat). The worse is trying to get the story to the right audience. That’s brutal.

What are the last five books you have read?

  1. Lee Child’s Night School
  2. Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
  3. Re-read Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch—brilliant book.
  4. You by Caroline Kepnes—well plotted, well written.
  5. The Sellout by Paul Beatty—quite possibly one of my favorite books from 2016

Who do you read and enjoy?

Love Elmore Leonard, Christa Faust is phenomenal, Charles Bukowski always kills it, Junot Diaz inspires, Stephen Hunter knows his shit, Dennis Lehane thrills and so does Michael Connelly. I really wish Diablo Cody would write another book, because whenever I need a chuckle I grab my copy of her book Candy Girl, and I swear; whatever pages you land on in that book, you’ll sure to find a giggle or two.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias— mind-blowingly good.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Falling in love from a plane without a parachute. A. k. a.  Reading, hanging out in dive bars or watching Netflix.

In a couple of years’ time…

Hopefully I’ll have a few more books; therefore I’ll—hopefully—have a few more readers.

 

Monthly Bullet Points

It’s been a long-ass time since I’ve posted one of these. Not much to be cheery about these days, it looks like the whole worlds gone loco; things seem to be upside down instead of right side up. Here’s a minuscule attempt at getting back to the groove of things with a few short and interesting points I’ve come across this month. Read On.

  • You may not have heard about one of the world’s most prolific scribes, but if you live in the United States, and you’ve had Chinese food and got a cookie from The Wonton Foods Company, then you have read the work of Mr. Donald Lau whom for 30 years has served as the “Chief Fortune Writer” for the Wonton company and who, sadly has been force to resign due to an undetermined affliction. Mr. Donald Lau claims to have writers block “I used to write 100 a year,” said Mr. Lau, “but I’ve only been able to write two to three a month” Fear not dear reader because Mr. Lau has been training a new writer, his name is James Wong and he is the nephew of  Wonton’s founder. Dear Mr. Lau, may your new journey be a fruitful and happy one. Thank you for the hope, the giggles and the smiles.

 

  • As of this posting 65 writers and artist have sign an open letter to the president asking him to rescind his much hated and criticized executive order  which restricts immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries. The letter, much like a lot of the protesting going on in the country, may not have much effect on things, but these acts show solidarity, unity, and resistance which is indispensable at a time when we need it most. Read the letter HERE  

 

  • Do you believe in UFO’s? If so, then you’re not alone because none other than Winston Churchill was preoccupied about green men and wrote about it in a lost 1939 essay discovered recently in some museum’s archive. Apparently he wrote the essay before the war and titled it “Are We Alone in Space?” Once the war was over though, he returned to it and changed the title to reflect current scientific concerns and changed it to “Are We Alone in the Universe?” This essay sounds interesting but due to copyright issues, the essay cannot be published however, the Churchill Museum is hoping to iron-out this little wrinkle in order for us—mere mortals can feast our eyes on the thoughts about E. T. from one of the greatest men that ever lived.

Thanks you for reading. Smell Ya Later!

Note to Self

Advise for writerly types.

  1. Don’t be a Jerk
  2. Do be Grateful
  3. Get Some Sun
  4. Cool it with the Booze. Drink Water
  5. Don’t be a Flake
  6. Take a Bath
  7. If you Can. Travel Often
  8. Get Laid as Much as You Can
  9. Don’t be a Self-absorbed Asshole
  10. Observe and Report
  11. Call your Mom
  12. Don’t be a Cunt
  13. Talk to Strangers
  14. Follow Through
  15. Leave Reviews for Fellow Writers, see #1#9 and #12

Le Guin’s Speech at National Book Awards

In 2016 The New York Times declared Ursula K Le Guin as “America’s Greatest Living Science Fiction Writer” I wholeheartedly agree. HERE’S her Wikipedia page. The following speech was cut and pasted on this site from an article that first appeared in The Guardian (U.S. Edition) on the 20th of November 2014 which you can find HERE .This passionate acceptance speech is one of the best ever given by an author. So timely. So true. Read on…

To the givers of this beautiful reward, my thanks, from the heart. My family, my agents, my editors, know that my being here is their doing as well as my own, and that the beautiful reward is theirs as much as mine. And I rejoice in accepting it for, and sharing it with, all the writers who’ve been excluded from literature for so long – my fellow authors of fantasy and science fiction, writers of the imagination, who for 50 years have watched the beautiful rewards go to the so-called realists.

 Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.

 Right now, we need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and the practice of an art. Developing written material to suit sales strategies in order to maximize corporate profit and advertising revenue is not the same thing as responsible book publishing or authorship.

 Yet I see sales departments given control over editorial. I see my own publishers, in a silly panic of ignorance and greed, charging public libraries for an e-book six or seven times more than they charge customers. We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa. And I see a lot of us, the producers, who write the books and make the books, accepting this – letting commodity profiteers sell us like deodorant, and tell us what to publish, what to write.

 Books aren’t just commodities; the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art. We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable – but then, so did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art. Very often in our art, the art of words.

 I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.”

Ursula K Le Guin

Just One More Thing

Photo Credit: Quora.com

Columbo popularize the inverted detective story format which begins by showing the audience the commission of the crime and the perpetrator, the audience then gets to see how the detective goes about solving the case and securing all evidence needed for a conviction. There’s a not-so subtle class warfare in every episode of Columbo. You never see him trying to solve a double homicide committed by a bunch of gangbangers, or drug dealers killing each other in a turf war. The perpetrator is always rich, suave, good looking and did I say rich? Inevitably these One Percenters are always looking down at this working class bumbler type detective, who refuses to go away. Watching these rich fools come to the realization that this ‘inconsequential’ and ‘scruffy little man’ has them by the balls by simply being smarter than they thought he was is pure delight.

Episode Structure:

*The famous guest star kills someone (Jack Cassidy played a murderer in three Columbo episodes, brilliantly)

*Columbo arrives in his dirty car

*The killer thinks they can get away with it because Columbo is clearly a fucking moron

*Columbo just won’t leave the killer alone and you start to feel sorry for them

*Columbo gets his man and takes him/ her down without much fanfare.

Columbo (Peter Falk) says things like:

“I worry. I mean, little things bother me. I’m a worrier. I mean, little insignificant details — I lose my appetite. I can’t eat. My wife, she says to me, “You know, you can really be a pain.”

“Watch my hand, it’s full of grease. This is my dinner. Would you like a piece of chicken?”

Columbo asks one villain “How much does a home like this cost?” and when he finds out, he says “Oh, sir, I could never afford that on a policeman’s salary.”

Don’t you love this guy already? With his disheveled trench coat, his beat-up1959 Peugeot convertible, and his cigar chomping ways this sleuth is the antithesis of what anyone would expect from a Los Angeles Homicide Detective, yet in the end, this ‘uncouth’ man outfoxes the smug monied gentry and takes them down much to the delight of the cheering audience.  He loves animals, the wife—we never get to see, and cigars.

Oh uh, just one more thing… I sincerely hope that Hollywood doesn’t do a re-boot of this classic TV show.

READ 16 FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT PETER FALK AND ‘COLUMBO’

The Lazarus Project.

Image: Canonical Ltd.

I have an old Acer laptop which I use exclusively as an entertainment center, I don’t use it for anything else because its old and I’m afraid that if I do ‘serious work’ on it; it might crap out on me. It was a windows 7 machine, but since Microsoft was giving away free installs of Windows 10 I took a chance and installed it. Fast-forward to four weeks ago; Windows 10 pushed a new update, which I took, but then when I tried to turn the machine back on it died on me.

About ten or so years ago, I bought my first Windows 7 laptop, it was great, but being the curious cat that I am, I became intrigued by an Open Source System call Ubuntu ( African word meaning ‘humanity to others’. It also means ‘I am what I am because of who we all are’), I like a challenge, so I installed Ubuntu into my Windows 7 machine, an action known as a ‘dual boot’ meaning: you can boot up the machine on either Windows 7 or Ubuntu. I was hooked.

As much as liked Ubuntu though, it soon became clear that I wasn’t ready for it, see back then you couldn’t play Netflix using Ubuntu, I mean you could, but you’d have to install a program call Wine and then find a ‘substitute’ for Silverlight which, I believe, is a Microsoft program that enables you to play Netflix, needless to say it was a major pain in the spine. The biggest problem of all? No Microsoft Word.

Ubuntu and the Open Source Community have a couple of writing programs that can give Microsoft Word, a run for its money. One is call Open Office and the other is call Libre Office this second one comes pre-installed in Ubuntu, wonderful programs, thing is though; most writers work on Microsoft Word. My book formatters only work with Microsoft Word. And don’t even think about sending an editor any document other than a Microsoft Word document.

So I had to say goodbye to Ubuntu. That is, until my old Acer laptop got fried by that Microsoft Windows 10 update, but now that I’ve installed Ubuntu 16.4. 1 LTS; its ALIVE! My old Acer works like its brand spanking new. (Now, if we could find a way to make the formatters and editors of the world change their tune and be more flexible, then I think peace would surely come to the Middle East—yeah right). By no means am I a pro at all things Ubuntu, I’m still learning, so if you have an old computer collecting dust and you like a challenge; go try Ubuntu, plus you don’t need anti-virus for it. (Most viruses are made for the popular guys like Microsoft and Apple).

Try: Ubuntu 16.4. 1 LTS  You can find different Ubuntu flavors HERE.

Plus, it has some popular nifty cousins, known as Distributions or Distros, such as:

Zorin OS 12  

Linux Mint 18 Sarah 

Elementary OS  

The Italian Dox Job.

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Image Credit: skeeze/ pixabay

There’s an enormous amount of pressure from publishing houses to avoid authors with pseudonyms, because they need their author’s to get out there and do the publicity rounds, magazine and TV interviews, give readings at bookstores. Drum-up sales is the name of the game, etc. So, when I learned that there was a wildly successful Italian author who embraced her anonymity wholeheartedly, for two decades; it was a breath of fresh air. Because at the end of the day it should be about the book or story the author wishes to tell. Not about; selfies, tweets, likes, or whom he, or she fucks.

The so-call unmasking of author Elena Ferrante, which is bordering on doxing if you ask me, should be condemned by any self -respecting book lover simply because it was her wish to remain anonymous. For two decades she been writing this way, and has stated that she’d rather let her books do the talking, she has said that that privacy allows her creative space, and that if she can’t have that she won’t publish anymore. Well guess what? According to the Walls Street Journal, because of what happened to that privacy, she is off the grid completely and indefinitely. Grazie giornalismo giallo

An author is not the Kardashians, I repeat; an author is NOT a member of the Kardashian family, unless said author wants to be a Kardashian (meaning: a fame whore) then, and only then, should they be treated as the fame whore they wish to be. If on the other hand, the author wants to toil away on his or her books, and wishes to remain anonymous then its their right to do so; you and I have no right to deny them that, because, guess what? They DON’T owe us anything, other than a good book or  good story. If that at all.

That being said, and me, being the professional cynic that I am (but my heart’s not in it *wink, wink*) I just hope this is not a publicity stunt on the part of the author’s publishing house, PR personnel or (God forbid) the author herself—that would suck moose.

Much respect, hats off and all the best to you Elena Ferrante.

My 2 Cents.