Tag Archives: noir

My Summer Writing Soundtrack

Walk Hand and Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired By True Detective

My short story Grieving in Reverse is featured in the new book Walk Hand and Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired By True Detective.

This paperback is filled with macabre mysteries inspired by the existential themes of the first season of True Detective and the work of gothic literature that inspired it: Robert W. Chambers The King in Yellow.

My contribution to this collection is a modern noir with a dash of cosmic horror. It’s about a private eye who’s hired to look into the apparent suicide of a script reader. He learns the terrifying truth about a screenplay that drives anyone who reads it to madness. I dare you to read it. Continue reading Walk Hand and Hand Into Extinction: Stories Inspired By True Detective

Grieving in Reverse:  A Horror Noir

1.Blowing In

In 1895, Robert W. Chambers wrote a horror collection called The King in Yellow. Each entry was about a person who had the misfortune of reading a play called The King in Yellow, a play that had the power to drive each of them insane.

H.P. Lovecraft was so inspired by The King in Yellow that he fabricated his own tome of forbidden knowledge called the Necronomicon. The King in Yellow went on to inspire John Carpenter’s films In the Mouth of Madness and Cigarette Burns. Its influence can be felt in The Ring and most recently True Detective, which references the king, the yellow sign, and Carcosa by name.

While True Detective referenced Chambers’s symbolism, the show left his premise alone. I wanted to tell a detective story where the cursed text took center stage. Enjoy. Continue reading Grieving in Reverse:  A Horror Noir

The Memory Palace Mystery

An author tries to solve a mystery from inside the pitch of his own story.

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My story’s pitch starts in the parking lot. The lot is empty apart from a lone convertible, a rusty old stepladder, and a thick layer of slush from last night’s snow.

The convertible is a classic, fully restored to its original mint green. Too bad someone thought to wheel it out in this nasty weather. The fenders are caked with black slush. There’s an awful mess in the interior. The windshield does little to hide the line of cocaine on the dashboard. There’s nothing but powder from the wheel to the glovebox. It looks like last night’s blizzard happened on the upholstery. A log sits on the passenger seat, too small for a support beam, too large for kindling. It leans forward. Its bark is nose deep in the fresh fallen blow.

I pace around the vehicle and wonder why the log was staged to look like it overdosed. This is the weirdest damn crime scene that I’ve ever seen. What business does a log have with such an epic line? Then it occurs to me. This is a terrible pun. It’s a “log-line.” Every pitch has got one.

A logline is the main idea sentence of a story’s pitch. It’s the bait that get’s the audience on the hook. I must have staged this mobile drug den to remind myself to lead with my logline. Continue reading The Memory Palace Mystery

The Writer’s Alibi (Audio Short)

This is an idea that originated on Twitter. The Tweet went:

Turns out a lot of writers have had this thought. We’re a solitary lot. If some flatfoot thought we looked good for a crime they’d be grilling us for awhile. We’re the red herrings that are mistaken for piranhas. They’d see our calm demeanor as a mask to hide our neurosis. They’d see our quiet manner as a smoke screen for an underlying rage. They’d peg us as self-involved sociopathic narcissists.

They wouldn’t be too far from the truth.

Under the harsh interigation room lights, they’d make us tell our stories. They’d ask where our ideas came from. They’d ask, “What do you mean you let your characters tell the story? Do you hear voices? What else do they tell you to do?”

Tread very carefully when answering their questions. They’re not fans and you are not at a reading.

Tell them to check the date and time stamps in the meta data from your document files. Tell them to interview all those poor souls you’ve pushed your story on. Get your beta readers on the line, tell them you’re going to need a whole lot of feedback to get you off the hook for this one.

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This is my fourth audio short to feature a soundtrack. These pieces are heavily influenced by the Ruby the Galactic Gumshoe a radio dramas from the 80s (worth your time).

I’m digging the contrast between the jazzy upright bass and the haunting ambient synth. It’s like beatneck poetry scored by Aphex Twin.

Now it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take you for a stroll through the graveyard. Disembodied fingers walk the scale of a harpsichord, unearthed from the basment of an old manor, clogged with cobwebs, detuned by time.

Top that off with some knee slapping, finger snapping percusion.

I’m really proud of this piece. I’ve listened to it way too many times already. Continue reading The Writer’s Alibi (Audio Short)

Curbside Noir (Video Short)

This is a video poem shot on my iPhone. A study in low light, lens flare and auto focus. I was looking for a visual component for my audio short Curbside Noir. It needed something to match the somber tone of its music and the spirit of its monologue. It had to be dark. It had to paint the world in silhouettes and shadows.

When it rained on the walk home, I took advantage of it, bobbing from entryway to entryway, hugging the storefronts. I cupped my fingers into a tarp over my phone. Then I let the storm put on a show.

Drizzle swarmed the street lamps. Headlights set the air aglow. Droplets turned everything into a reflective surface. Puddles tinted the street a shade of amber, light mirrored in the asphalt. I shot what I could before the rain water could trickle through my fingers. Forgive me if my white balance is a little off.

Waves mounted the curbs. Tide came to the boulevard. Little rivers flowed down the sidewalk. My shoes went for a dip. My jeans weighted my ankles. Water had pooled in the rolled up denim. There might just be a tad bit of motion blur.

Trees argued with the breeze. Leafs fluttered with the thunder. Branches swatted at the night and my video is all the better for it.

Enjoy it with the blinds closed. Continue reading Curbside Noir (Video Short)

Curbside Noir (Audio Short)

This is a soundtrack for those moments when you’re stuck in limbo with just your impotent rage to keep you company. When you’re pacing back and forth on the same street corner. When you’re caught without an umbrella and you just soak it all in. When its pitch black outside and it suits you just fine.

This is an internal monologue for when the bad guys leave you in a pit of snakes. When you’ve got no traction and you’ve got to claw your way up. When life doesn’t bother to give you lemons. When it just squeezes you dry. When the hand of fate presses you down into your lowest possible moment. The one that comes right before the revelation that you either have to make a change or be changed.

This too will pass, but you’re the one who’s stuck with the mess it leaves behind.

This is your pain in black in white, emphasis on the black, on the Rembrandt lighting, on the shadows it casts. This is the alley where they catch you. Where you make your last stand. Where fedoras are helmets and trench coats are security blankets. Where you’re puzzled but never quite defeated. You’re an artist with a brush up your sleeve. It’s time for you to make some outlines on the sidewalk.

This audio short is about that film noir attitude seeping into our lives, empowering us to stand up to each and every son-of-a-bitch that comes our way. This is the first of my audio shorts to get its own score, a haunting piano melody, infused with synths and a subtle beat. The piece needed this haunting soundtrack to bring you to that dark alley, where you’re surrounded by thugs. Pain and its henchmen, here to collect their debt.

Pain has already made such an awful mess of our lives. Let’s make a mess of it. Continue reading Curbside Noir (Audio Short)