Our February 16th Alibi: Noir at the Bar Round-up!

  • Post by Molly O.

We had one of our most enjoyable Noir at the Bar events to date this past February 16th, both in terms of great stories and good company. We started off the evening with a set of murder ballads from Austin legend Jesse Sublett, then moved from there to a reading from Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery, quickly followed by a toast in honor of Scott’s birthday.

Our next reading came from George Wier, who read a selection from his new vigilante noir, Errant KnightNext up, screenwriter and sportswriter John Schulian read from A Better Goodbyehis debut novel, a hard-boiled tale of down-and-out boxers in backstreets LA.

Schulian was followed by horror and mystery superstar Joe R. Lansdale, reading from his new Hap & Leonard novel, Honky Tonk Samurai, his East Texas accent matching the comical violence on the page perfectly.

Jesse Sublett finished out the night with a reading from his true crime history of the Overton Gang, 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime That Rocked the Capitol

noir at the bar group photo
FROM LEFT: Authors John Schulian, Joe R. Lansdale, and George Wier, bookseller Molly Odintz, author and Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery, and author and musician Jesse Sublett

Thanks to everyone who was able to attend this wonderful event! Our next Noir at the Bar will take place May 12, and will feature authors Paul Charles, Les Edgerton, and Jesse Sublett, with one more to be added to the lineup.

More details to come closer to the date of the next Noir at the Bar event! 

MysteryPeople Q&A with Jesse Sublett

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

The essential Jesse Sublett – writer, musician, and Austin institution – will be joining us again for tomorrow’s Noir At The Bar at Opal Devine’s, where he will read from his latest, 1960s Austin Gangsters, and perform some deliciously creepy murder ballads. Thanks to Jesse, John Schulian – sportswriter, screenwriter, and now, with his debut novel A Better Goodbyecrime writer – will be joining us as well. 

 Noir at the Bar starts at 7 PM at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field. This event is free and open to the public, and we will have copies of each author’s latest for sale at the event. Joe R. Lansdale, author of the Hap & Leonard series, and the best thing to come out of East Texas since Janis Joplin left Port Arthur, will be reading from his latest Hap & Leonard, Honky Tonk Samurai. Local author George Wier will also be joining us to read from and sign his latest novel, Errant Knight, set in downtown Austin.

We caught up with Jesse to see how things were going with his latest book, 1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime That Rocked the Capitol, his music, and life in general.

“My favorite expression is “It sure beats working.” That’s how I feel about music, writing, and art, even though a lot of labor is involved—suffering and frustration, too—but the love of doing it removes the sense of it being work. I’ve always said that criminal characters and musicians (and other artists) are alike in that they just can’t see themselves going the day job route.”

MysteryPeople Scott: 1960s Austin Gangsters was released last year, and interest in the novel is still going strong. What has the book brought to you after its release?

Jesse Sublett: It’s astonished me that a book published 11 months ago still has momentum and still brings people to me, telling me how much it means to them, that they just bought a copy for their dad, or they bought ten copies for the family. People keep bringing me new stories about the Austin crime and vice scene of the 1960s. I’ve been meeting retired cops, children of notorious gangsters and thugs, who are proud that their family members have been authenticated by my book.

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An Extra-Special Noir at the Bar with Joe R. Lansdale

  • Post by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott  Montgomery

For the second year in a row, I’m celebrating my birthday with a Noir At The Bar. We have a line up of locals, a Los Angelino, and the legendary Joe R. Lansdale, with music as always by Jesse Sublett. I may get into the act and read myself, but I’m going first. No way am I following these guys.

George Weir is one of our local authors, best known for his Bill Travis series. His latest book, Errant Knight, is something completely different. It involves a disgraced cop framed for murder. To stay in Austin to hunt down the real killers, he takes the guise of a costumed vigilante, The White Knight. George has a lot of fun with downtown Austin and comic book mythos.

John Schulian dives deep into his own town with A Better Goodbye. The book looks at the hangers on in the City of Angels, including a former boxer, the massage parlor worker he is hired to protect, the has-been actor they work for, and his criminal friend as they head for a violent confrontation. The result is a moody, poetic, and moving character-driven L.A. Noir.

If John brings you down a little, we have Joe R. Lansdale to pick you back up. Joe is back with his heroes Hap and Leonard in his latest continuation of the series, Honky Tonk Samurai. This time the boys are up against a used car and prostitution ring and a tribe of inbred psycho-assassins. It’s always an experience to experience Joe.

Jesse Sublett will wrap up the night by reading from 1960s Austin Gangsters, his true crime book about the Overton Gang. Then, feel free to mingle with the writers and get a book signed. We will only have their current titles, so feel free to run by BookPeople to grab their earlier wok if you want it autographed. Join us starting at 7pm on Tuesday, February 16th, at the 3601 South Congress Opal Divine’s. If anybody wants to buy me a birthday drink, my choice is Jack and Dr. Pepper.

Come by Opal Divine’s at Penn Field on Tuesday, February 16th for an evening of booze, books, murder ballads from Jesse Sublett, and readings from Joe R. Lansdale, John Schulian, George Wier, and Jesse Sublett. The event starts at 7 PM. 

MysteryPeople Q&A with John Schulian

Sports columnist, screen-writer and now crime fiction writer John Schulian will be reading from his debut noir, A Better Goodbye, at our Noir At The Bar on February 16th. Noir at the Bar meets at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field and starts at 7 PM. John Schulian will be joined by authors George Wier, Jesse Sublett, and Joe R. Lansdale.  John was kind enough to take a few questions from us.

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

MysteryPeople Scott: Do you remember the first seed of an idea that A Better Goodbye turned into?

John Schulian: I gave up my career as a newspaper sports columnist to come to Hollywood in 1986, but I remained a faithful reader of the sports page. One day I came upon a story that touched me deeply because I had written so much about boxing: A fine young fighter from the San Fernando Valley named Gabriel Ruelas had walked away from his cruel sport after fatally injuring an opponent. His decision to quit struck me as extremely brave, maybe even braver than if he had kept on boxing. I knew of other fighters who continued to fight under similar circumstances – great ones like Sugar Ray Robinson, Emile Griffith and Boom-Boom Mancini – and I had always wondered about the ghosts that haunted them. But in the case of Ruelas, the ghosts won. Not only had they ended his career, but I imagined they would cast shadows over his dreams for the rest of his life. To me, that was the stuff of potentially powerful fiction. I carried it around with me for nearly twenty years before A Better Goodbye began to take shape in my imagination. It would have a beautiful young woman working her way through college in the sex trade, and a failed TV star finding a second career as a pimp, and a bloodthirsty sociopath menacing everyone who crossed his path. But the central figure in my first novel would be a former middleweight named Nick Pafko, who one fateful night let anger turn him into a killer in the ring. Ever since then, he has done hard time in the prison of his own mind.

“Athletes in other sports are coddled, pampered, treated like he golden children they are. Boxers are just the opposite. They grow up just as poor as many athletes in other sports do, but they do so tough and hard, often in trouble with the police as well as their enemies on the street. Many know first-hand about street fights and shots in the night, botched crimes and the inside of jail cells. And if you are a writer with questions, they will answer every one of them for you. In the process, they will be honest, forthright, funny and achingly human.”

 

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MysteryPeople Q&A with Joe R. Lansdale

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Honky Tonk Samurai heralds the return of Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard and all their friends. The redneck liberal and his gay, black, Republican buddy are now private eyes with a case involving used cars, prostitutes, bikers, and a clan of inbred psycho-assassins.

Joe will be reading from his latest and signing his substantial oeuvre at our Noir At The Bar on February 16th. Noir at the Bar meets at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field and starts at 7 PM. Joe R. Lansdale will be joined by authors George Wier, Jesse Sublett, and John Schulian.  Joe was kind enough to take a few questions from us.

MysteryPeople Scott: Other than the upcoming show on Sundance, what made you think this was a good time to return to Hap & Leonard?

Joe R. Lansdale: Hap and Leonard have been dormant for four years and it was time. The show encouraged the move, but was itching to do it anyway. Tachyon Press also has a short story and novella collection coming out titled Hap and Leonard. A graphic novel of Savage Season is in the works.

MPS: This book felt like old home week, practically every character we’ve gotten to know through the series makes and an appearance and you even pull characters from your other books, like Booger. What prompted you to catch up with everybody?

JRL: I felt since it had been awhile it was time to get the gang together. A kind of reunion novel. I wanted to define some of the characters in the Hap and Leonard universe and see how they interacted.

MPS: Like any good series that has been around awhile, you’re starting to deal with Hap and Leonard’s mortality. What have you enjoyed exploring about that?

JRL: It’s merely what we all think about as we age, but frankly that has always been a theme. I don’t age my characters as fast as I age. Leaving them about 50, but mortality is something I’ve been aware since a young age. It’s awareness is part of my drive.

MPS: This book, especially near the end when Hap and Leonard round up their allies that had a western feel to it. That’s been a genre you’ve be drawing from or down right diving into. What is it about that genre that you like to work with as a writer?

JRL: I grew up with western movies and tales about the old west, but read few westerns until I was in my twenties. I took to them like a duck to water. I think my finest two books are Westerns. The Thicket and Paradise Sky.

MPS: After all these years, what makes Hap and Leonard always worth coming back to?

JRL: I think of them as holidays, but they are also my favorites of all the characters I’ve created. They are so much me and my background, Hap in particular.

You can find copies of Honky Tonk Samurai on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. Come by Opal Divine’s at Penn Field on Tuesday, February 16th for an evening of booze, books, murder ballads from Jesse Sublett, and readings from Joe R. Lansdale, John Schulian, George Wier, and Jesse Sublett. The event starts at 7 PM. 

MysteryPeople Q&A with George Weir

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

George Weir’s latest novel Errant Knight is a a comic book story via Elmore Leonard. Shelby Knight, a former cop haunted by a bad shooting, is framed for a murder. To investigate on the streets of Austin he takes the guise of The White Knight, a costume hero in full medieval armor. With the help of a drunken sensei he searches for justice for himself and others. We caught up with George to ask him a few questions about this quirky crime novel. George Wier joins Joe R. Lansdale, John Schulian, and Jesse Sublett to read and sign at Noir at the Bar. The event will meet at Opal Divine’s at Penn Field on Tuesday, February 16th, starting at 7 PM


MysteryPeople Scott: This is a different kind of story from your Bill Travis books. What prompted it?

George Wier: I suppose you’re right, this is a different kind of story than I’ve ever written. I did want it to be noir–and it is that. But what I wanted was to write a book that travels from the depths of the dark toward the light. I’ll tell you, I had a number of fans of my writing read the book well before I released it, and every one of them loved it. As for why I wrote it, let me just say that when the idea struck me, it didn’t just challenge me to write it. No sir, it dragged me kicking and screaming to the word processor. I mean, I’ve always been interested in the whole medieval arms and armor thing. But taking that and putting it into a crime novel–there was no way I couldn’t NOT write it. When I started on the book, it pretty much consumed me body and soul. It took over my life and wrote it from start to finish without interruption. It was one of the fastest novels I’ve ever written as well. I think it was no more than six weeks from start to finish.

“I wanted to convey the aliveness of Austin. It has its own drumbeat. The rhythm is distinctive, particularly at night. I wanted Austin–and particularly downtown Austin–to be a character in the book, and I wanted Shelby to be challenged by first, its size, and second, its connectedness.”

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MysteryPeople Pick of the Month: HONKY TONK SAMURAI by Joe R. Lansdale

 

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  • Review by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

When Joe Lansdale writes a Hap and Leonard novel, you know you’re in for a good time. The misadventures of the red neck liberal and his gay black Republican partner-in-crime supply a lot of laughs and action. With Honky Tonk Samurai, the boys are back and joined by all their rowdy friends.

By now in the series, Hap and Leonard are officially private eyes. Hap’s girlfriend, Brett, has bought the agency from their friend, Marvin Hanson, who is now chief of police. Their first case is for a salty old woman who wants to find her granddaughter. The clues quickly lead to a used car/prostitution/extortion ring. when the bad guys call on an inbred family of psycho-assassins to do their dirty work, the boys put out the call, rounding up their friends like good ol’ boy PI Jim Bob Luke, reporter Cason, the beautiful and highly skilled hitwoman Vanilla Ride, and Cason’s sociopath friend Booger, like the magnificent seven with fewer and weirder members.

For the fans of the series, it is like getting together with an old friend, especially the one that just got out of prison.

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