Sunday, August 21, 2011

Keith Rawson Tells It Like It Is

Hilary here, with a special guest: my friend Keith Rawson. Even if you haven't discovered Keith's fiction, you already know his work as an editor. Keith, along with Cameron Ashley and Liam José, revived Crime Factory ezine in January 2010, filling the publication with original fiction by authors such as Dennis Tafoya, Sophie Littlefield, and Dave White, as well as articles and excerpts from the likes of Ken Bruen, Dave Zeltserman, and Reed Farrel Coleman. Keith also co-edited Crime Factory: The First Shift, a collection of new short stories by Crime Factory; it will be released in September by New Pulp Press.

I'm thrilled to say Keith has just released his own collection of short stories, The Chaos We Know. Here's what Roger Smith, author of the acclaimed Wake Up Dead, had to say about it: "Keith Rawson wields his spare prose like a wrecking ball, laying bare a world of whores, petty criminals, crooked cops and meth heads. These short, sharp portraits of users and losers are deranged snapshots from deep in the underbelly of contemporary America. No tired noir tropes here, this is tough, unsentimental and savagely funny dark fiction that charts its own course.” The collection has also been praised by Benjamin Whitmer, Frank Bill, Anthony Neil Smith, and me ("Reading Keith Rawson’s short stories is like strolling through a minefield: you know you’re in for trouble, and there’s no going back. Powerful, twisted, fierce and profane, this is take-no-prisoners fiction").

Keith is a terrific guy with a beautiful family, but you'd never guess that from his dark, depraved fiction. Since he's also a good sport, he agreed to take on this week's panel question at Criminal Minds. I'll let him take it from here...


What, are you kidding me? The first time I guest blog for Criminal Minds and this is the subject I have to write about? I mean, come on, folks, you, me and everybody already knows why fools fall in love.


And I’m not talking passionate, head over heels sex here, either. I’m talking plain old run of the mill Wednesday night married couple date night sex. You know, the type of boot knocking that lasts five minutes because both participants are so warn out from the week they can barely keep their eyes open but feel obligated to perform because Wednesday night has always been date night.

I know what you’re thinking: How could that kind of dispassionate, boring sex make someone fall in love? Hell, if that was me, I’d run for the hills after such a somber coupling—I wouldn’t even leave a fake number, I would just grab my clothes and hit the bricks.

But let me explain, if you’ve ever read my stories (and chances are you haven’t, thus why I always use ‘little known pulp writer’ in my author bio) you know that most of my characters are basically animals: They’re creeps, lowlifes, junkies, thieves, whores—guys and gals who are looking for a quick buck or they’re only out to hurt someone.

But most of them are also incredibly lonely.

They’re people who will do anything to make some kind of connection, even if that connection is 2 or 3 minutes of awkward letdown, because chances are these schleps have never had mind blowing, around the world sex. They’ve had nothing but chance encounters or alcohol fueled quickies in a gas station bathrooms or they’ve had to pay for it. So when someone comes along and exhibits any type of tenderness or caring (even if it’s manufactured and meant to manipulate the person into committing some inhuman act.) the character jumps headlong because they want the connection, they want something to make them feel human, feel normal.

And it’s this way in most hardboiled fiction (and what attracts me most to it.) From Woolrich-to-Guthrie, the stories are filled to brimming with the disenfranchised and desperate longing for brief moments in which to feel anything beyond their flat, oftentimes harsh lives and make them great targets for the shysters and psychopaths who dominate these stark realities where even bad sex can be turned into an opportunity.

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Thanks so much for visiting Criminal Minds, Keith! You can find out more about his work at his blog, at Day Labor (the Crime Factory blog), or you can watch him curse people out on Twitter (kidding! well, mostly). His official bio:

Keith Rawson is a little known pulp writer whose stories, poems, essays, reviews and interviews have been published widely both online and in print. He is the author of the short story collection, The Chaos We Know (out now from Snubnose Press), and Co-Editor of Crime Factory: The First Shift. (Available from New Pulp Press September 20th) He’s also a staff writer for Spinetingler Magazine and the forthcoming LitReactor. Rawson lives in Southern Arizona with his wife and daughter.


Paul D Brazill said...

You hit the nail on the head, you old romantic, you.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Welcome, Keith. Loved your gritty, true life spin on the weekly question. Nothing like a dose of reality to diffuse the smell of roses and fine chocolate in the air. Please come back and visit again.

Michael Wiley said...

Great to have you with us today, Keith!

Chris Rhatigan said...

That's mighty grim. Accurate, but mighty grim.

Hilary Davidson said...

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to check out Keith's post! I'm so happy to have Keith visiting Criminal Minds. I hope, as Sue Ann suggested, that he'll come back to see us sometime!