Gateway to the West

I’ve gotten unforgivably far behind on keeping up this blog. I have all kinds of folders of images of stuff I’ve been doing, I just haven’t gotten around to posting everything. In the morning I embark on my fifth trip in as many weeks (heading to the hinterlands of Minnesota), then I am home for at least one week. Hopefully I can do some catching up. I’ve decided to talk about St. Louis first, which was the hub of a trip I took the week of the 18th – 22nd.

Noir at the Bar

I did my first reading at the Delmar Lounge in St. Louis on October 21st. It was once of those coincidences that seem to happen from time to time when I travel. I saw this thing was on the schedule concurrent with me being in the neighborhood, so I emailed the dude organizing the thing to see if I could crash the party and go the thumbs-up. So I did it! This is an event, usually organized around a writer or two on a book tour, where a handful of writers will get up in front of a bar audience and read their work. It was more fun than I could have imagined.

The handsome fella in that image is writer and blogger Jedidiah Ayres. He was the guy who got me on board, invited me to meet early for dinner, and MC’d the thing. What a great guy. We (a rowdy group of 3 other writers besides myself) ate at a cool little restaurant called Blueberry Hill before the gig. Old time rock n’ roll fans would do well to dine there! Jed introduced each of us and basically kept the whole thing on the rails.


Dallas writer Jonathan Woods was up next, reading from his collection of short-stories Bad Juju & Other Tales of Madness and Mayhem, out on New Pulp Press. I’ve become a real fan of Jonathan’s work. He does a fantastic job of straddling the line between straight-up pulp stories and contemporary crime fiction, with lots of sex, violence, and just weird stuff in his stories. Check it out!

Yeah, the next guy up was me. I read a story coming out in the near future in a special edition of Crimefactory called Kung Fu Factory. The piece I read is called “Buster Lee and the Chucklehead That Wouldn’t Stay Down.” It’s a boxing story in the tradition of Robert E. Howard. It seemed to go over pretty well. I had a great time reading it!

Cameron Ashley came all the way from Melbourne, Australia, to be part of this. Yeah, he is here for other things too, but it was great to meet him. Besides being a great writer in his own right, he is also one of the editors for Crimefactory, and the editor I worked with for the Kung Fu Factory project. His story, a slice of Australian crime, was a blast to hear with the Aussie slang delivered in his trademark accent. Not only that, but Cameron was a great guy to hang out with.

Scott Phillips was next. He’s written a bunch of books and they’re all awesome. This night was the release celebration of his latest novel, RUT, and the excerpt he read from it was hilarious.

Rut is out on Concord Free Press, which has a unique way of releasing books. Here’s the deal:

We publish great books and give them away. All we ask is that you make a voluntary donation to a charity or someone in need. Tell us about it. Then pass your book along so others can give. It’s a new kind of publishing, one based purely on generosity, and it’s changing the way people think about books

So I urge you to order a copy, then pass it along. I have mine!

The mighty Dan O’Shea drove down from Chicago to participate. Dan is also a great guy; I met him last summer when he was in Missoula with his wife to attend a wedding in Polson.

He read his story that appears in a new anthology called Discount Noir, which is now out for Kindle, edited by my friends Patti Abbott and Steve Weddle. His story was a gas, and a perfect close to the evening. Get Discount Noir!

The discussion of the night wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the attendance of everyone’s favorite rural Missourian, Matt McBride. He drove up to attend, and turned out to be as cool in person as he is online. He also has a story in Kung Fu Factory, so that’s something to look forward to.

All in all it was a great night, and I think everyone who read and attended had a lot of fun. I can’t wait to do something like this again!

Earlier That Day

I had a few hours to explore St. Louis before the reading, so I went down to the riverfront. The weather was gorgeous. I wandered the old streets by the river, then explored The arch, took the tram up to the top, took photos, etc. Here are some images. . . .

Love the old brick streets!

Lewis & Clark and a dog named Seaman, the pet name that’s too dirty for elementary history teachers to be comfortable with for over 200 years!

It’s tight quarters up at the top inside of the arch, with people looking down through the windows. Not a place for claustrophobic types, or people overly afraid of heights!

Underground between the arches are museums, gift shops, movie theaters, etc. I saw a Lewis & Clark movie, but didn’t have time for much else.

Bouchercon will be held in St. Louis next year. I’m going if I have to commit a friggin’ crime to make it happen, especially after I had to cancel my planned trip to NoirCon this year. I’m looking forward to it.

9 thoughts on “Gateway to the West

  1. Kathleen A. Ryan

    >You did a beautiful job reporting on the Noir at the Bar event, Chris! I wish I could have been there. What a cool collection of talent rounded up for that evening in St. Louis.I had the good fortune to meet Dan at Bouchercon recently. I was hoping to attend NoirCon this year, but I don't think I can swing it. I was lucky enough to take the cross-country trip to SF for B-con. Your photos are awesome ~ thanks for sharing!Enjoy your next trip!

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