Wednesday, December 5, 2007

"Wilson's Man" in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine

My story "Wilson's Man" is now on the stands (but not for long) in the latest (January 2008) Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (fondly called EQMM; the digest-size magazine is usually available at Borders, Barnes & Noble, and places with a good periodical selection). The acceptance (and now appearance) of the story was a big boost to my confidence -- and perhaps to my creative productivity. As the image to the right shows, my name didn't make it to the cover -- Dashiell Hammett and Joyce Carol Oates beat me out.

The story was written in October 2003, an indication of how long the submission, rejection, acceptance, and publication process can take. Since that time, I've written a handful of other stories, some of which I think are as good as or better than "Wilson's Man," though they have been rejected from a number of places. I have two other finished stories that I never sent out, and a few unfinished stories (as well as unfinished longer works). Mystery writer Bill Crider, who participates in a blog (Nasty. Brutish. Short.) that reviews short fiction, had some very kind words to say about "Wilson's Man."

For those who don't know, EQMM has a long proud history, publishing notable writers such as Highsmith, Faulkner, Hemingway, Westlake, Mailer, Simenon, etc. I believe EQMM was the first magazine to publish Borges in English. Today, the magazine publishes a mix of crime fiction, including one story in translation each issue, and a fair amount of stories by British and Canadian writers. EQMM has also just added a "Black Mask" revival section. Because no one really makes a living writing short crime fiction, the stories are arguably less constrained by market forces than novels; this translates into a fair amount of strong, original writing.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Falling Even Further... and Eastern Promises

Okay, I've stumbled at the outset. I've got scintillating informed opinions to share -- I just can't get them out of my head. Before I move to more blatant self-promotion, I have a recommendation: David Cronenberg's new movie, Eastern Promises. Cronenberg's last three films (this one, A History of Violence, and Spider) have been far less idiosyncratic than his previous work. His masterpiece is still Dead Ringers -- polished but also bizarre and original (and I know at least one person who complained that he thought he was going to see a thriller and was stuck with an art film). Eastern Promises is a good straightforward crime yarn. It has a good plot, pretty good performances, nice visual details, some stunning and brutal scenes, and virtually no fat.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Falling Down on the Job... and Charles Willeford

Okay, I've already fallen down on the blogging effort. It was an exciting week: my story in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine finally came out (more on that later), so I became eligible for and sent my membership fee to the Mystery Writers of America. At this point, my hope is to have the opportunity through the MWA to submit some stories (waiting in the wings) to anthologies.

I became interested in crime fiction at first as a means of procrastination while in graduate school. Through a strange set of circumstances, I ended up writing and delivering a conference paper on Charles Willeford, with the focus on his 1960 novel, The Woman Chaser. (The novel was the source of a really great 1999 movie of the same title.) A couple years later, I wrote the biographical essay on Willeford for the standard reference work, the Dictionary of Literary Biography (Volume 226, American Hard-Boiled Writers). And then I had the honor of being invited to Florida to talk about Willeford when a number of his papers were donated and exhibited at the Florida Center of the Book. I think my biographical essay provides a good background on Willeford, though it likely has its mistakes. Even more detail on Willeford is provided in Don Herron's book, Willeford. I'll say more about Willeford in a future post. All of his books are good, but some are more, for lack of a better word, accessible. Miami Blues might be his most straightforward crime novel (a police procedural). When it came out, Donald Westlake (another of my favorites, in Richard Stark mode, but more later) really raved about it. An early, very dark Willeford novel, Pick-Up, can be found in the second volume of the Library of America volume, Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

My Dram of Poison

Before I begin to issue supposedly blog-worthy pronouncements, I am going to use a few posts to establish my quasi-credibility. Eventually, I suppose I'll just sum up my few academic and professional accomplishments in my profile. As a fiction writer, I enjoyed the enormous privilege of seeing my first published story, "Fire Lines," appear in Measures of Poison (2002), from Dennis McMillan Publications. I'm a homunculus squeezed among several crime-writing giants such as James Crumley, George P. Pelecanos, Michael Connelly, Howard Browne, Charles Willeford, Jon A. Jackson, James Sallis, and several others. Since that time, I've done a fair amount of fiction writing, on and off with mixed success, and finally a second story, "Wilson's Man" is due out soon in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. More on that later, perhaps...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Placeholding Welcome

Okay, this might be a bad idea, writing a blog. A cry for help. An endless form of procrastination. Eventually, I mean for this blog to serve as a small piece of self-promotion, and I hope, some useful comments for readers who share like interests (crime fiction, at least at first). For now, this post is it. A placeholder. A placeholder with one quick courtesy: I am the other Doug Levin, or a Doug Levin, but not the Doug Levin. The Doug Levin is a captain of industry who runs a technology company called Black Duck Software. He has a different blog, called Blougtopia. He looks like he's a nice guy and maybe even not too geeky for someone who runs a software company. I could ghostwrite for him -- and still sign my own name.