Friday, October 30, 2015

Sharks Are Jerks

Today I’m happy to have my friend S.W. Lauden fill in for me. Steve is a rising star in the noir fiction world. As he likes to say he’s a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dark Corners, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, WeirdBook, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine.

In his debut novel, Bad Citizen Corporation, Salem, an East Los Angeles police officer by day and a beach cities punk rock legend by night, is forced into action when his two worlds violently collide. Bad Citizen Corporation is available now from Rare Bird Books. Check out the cool trailer here And his novella, Crosswise, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.

"What motivates you most strongly to maintain your writing life, even -- or especially -- when the going gets tough?"

by S.W. Lauden

Writing my first novel was like doing surgery on myself while fighting off shark attacks. Lucky for you, the wounds are still fresh. So let’s do a little poking and prodding!

Why surgery? Because, as far as I know, nobody has ever written anything worth reading without digging deep inside of themselves with both hands. Doesn’t matter what genre. The best writing I’ve read seems to demand it.

Why a shark? Because they’re totally unpredictable killing machines and nature’s best stand in for self-doubt, self-criticism and self-sabotage. Sharks, at least for the purposes of this extended metaphor, are jerks.

Also, my new mystery, Bad Citizen Corporation, is about a punk rock cop who spends a lot of time surfing. So strap on your life vests, kids, the waters ahead are teeming with beach puns.

BCC may be the first novel I published, but it isn’t the first one I wrote. That honor goes to a sprawling, multi-decade tome about a time-travelling circus clown that accidentally invents rock and roll. I wrote it in 2001, had a few friends read it, and then promptly abandoned that project and fiction writing all together.

The surgery was a failure. The patient flat-lined. Sharks feasted on that bloated corpse for more than a decade.

Fast forward to 2011. I was swept up in the wave (!) of Nordic crime fiction that made Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo and Arnaldur Indridason household names—at least they were in my house. That’s when I saw it on the horizon, a sliver of an idea for a mystery novel of my own.

The concept for BCC started with the main character, Greg Salem, a punk rock cop who was caught between two worlds and trying to find his best friend’s killer. It was enough to get my wheels spinning.

I wanted to jump over the rail and immediately start swimming, but I couldn’t help scanning the water for fins. Sure enough, there they were, circling to remind me that I’d never be talented, dedicated or lucky enough to publish a novel.

You already know that I took the plunge anyway. I haven’t stopped writing since.

Not when the day job is kicking my ass, the kids are bouncing off the walls, inspiration eludes me or I get another rejection letter. Not even when I’ve convinced myself that everything I write is garbage. Again.

It can be hard work, but it isn’t anything I have to do. It’s something I want to do. Something I get to do. And I try really hard not to take that for granted. Some days are better than others.

So any time I feel like I’m going to end up swimming with the fishes, I remind myself that it could be a lot worse. I could give up on one of the things in my life that makes me the happiest.

That’s usually enough to clam me up. But when it isn’t, I pick up my scalpel and get ready for the sharks. They always arrive when the first drop of blood hits the water.

S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, Bad Citizen Corporation, is available now from Rare Bird Books. His novella, Crosswise, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.


Thanks for stopping by, Steve. Good luck with the book!


And, local SoCal people please check out the following MWA event at Barnes & Noble, Valencia, Saturday, November 7th at 2pm (click on picture to view a larger and more readable version):


Meredith Cole said...

Welcome to Criminal Minds, Steve! Congrats on your debut novel. Must say that it sounds a bit fishy...

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

Hahahahaha! Thank you. I'm just glad Paul got me to come out of my shell.

Lisa Ciarfella said...

Thanks for this Mr. Lauden!
Words of wisdom here!

Lisa Ciarfella said...

Thanks for this Mr. Lauden!
Words of wisdom here!

Janet Reid said...

*weeps silently while polishing fangs*

Travis Richardson said...

Fun analogy Steve, but I don't want to go swimming in the ocean with you. You've pissed off an entire species.