I spend a lot of time talking here about Holland Bay, the novel forthcoming from Down & Out Books in November. But what else have I written.
I’ve written a lot of short stories, some after I “quit” writing and “quit crime fiction,” both momentary lapses of reason. There’s a list of available short stories here. Most are currently not available at the moment, though I’ve linked to the live ones. I had planned to rerelease the Nick Kepler collection The Compleat Kepler, but I accepted an invite to reprint my first published short story, “A Walk in the Rain” in Graham Powell’s new zine Modern Mayhem Online. Part of that means giving Graham an exclusive, so we’ll revisit after Holland Bay debuts in November.
Most of my early work revolved around a Cleveland PI and insurance investigator Nick Kepler. The first dozen or so short stories were backstory for Nick with one story, “Lady Luck,” taking place after the first novel, Northcoast Shakedown. In it, Nick’s arrangement with his former employer is fleshed out as he runs afoul of sex, lies, and insurance fraud. Had I waited two weeks, I’d have handed it to an agent, and it likely would have landed at St. Martin’s or HarperCollins based on their clientele. But a guy working out of his garage in Baltimore got to me first. Naive as I was, I had a contract. Northcoast was one of the press’s bestsellers. And then it went under.
By that point, he had edited Second Hand Goods, where Nick is seduced by a Ukrainian beauty playing both him and two factions of Russian mob. It also sparks his rather awkward affair with his married secretary. I had put Bad Religion in the can, Bad Religion involving a televangelist vs. a charismatic young preacher whose pagan ex-girlfriend intervenes.
Those sat in the drawer while I had an agent pitch the only novel I’d written on a dare. Road Rules is a Elmore Leonardesque romp from Cleveland to Savannah concerning a stolen holy relic, a fake truck stop hooker, and a horny, coke-sniffing Cuban gangster who nonetheless is a devout Catholic. I call the climax “a showdown in the Garden of Good and Evil.”
I eventually returned to Nick with a novella, currently unavailable, called Gypsy’s Kiss, in which Nick defends Gypsy, the former call girl who once saved his life as she tries to leave the sex trade behind. It ended with Nick and Gypsy leaving Cleveland for New Orleans.
More recently, I got invited to submit for a pair of Steely Dan-inspired antholigies, the first Die Behind the Wheel. Edited by Brian Thornton, I was brought in when this project. My story, “No Static at All,” inspired by a line from “FM,” appears in the follow up, A Beast without a Name.
The remaining shorts were either collected in a volume I dubbed The Compleat Winter or wrote for a short-lived zine I created called Winter’s Quarterly. Both are extinct now. I plan to release all the non-Kepler shorts after Holland Bay debuts, along with Gypsy’s Kiss and The Compleat Kepler.