MysteryPeople Q&A with Jen Conley

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Jen Conley is one of the hardest working writers in crime fiction. An editor on the famed (or is that infamous) webzine Shotgun Honey, she had been knocking out some of the best short work out there, and has the admiration of both readers and her peers alike. Her work follows working class folks on both (and in-between both) sides of the law, examining morality when lives veer far from plans. This is encapsulated in her widowed patrol officer Andrea Vogel, who she has used in several stories. Last year a collection of her work, Cannibals, was released by Down & Out Books. We caught up with Jen to discuss the art of the short story, character, and her stomping ground.

MysteryPeople Scott: While you have many great twists in your work and the internal logic of your stories is perfect, character is the over riding element that drives them. Do you think the people you write about share something in common?

Jen Conley: Probably survival. All my characters are strapped by finances, whether I point that out or not, and getting through life is difficult for them. The lack of money straps people of choices and when you throw a crime in there, a moment where something might get screwed up, there’s a chance there’s no coming back from that.

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Crime Fiction Friday: “Socket To Me” by Glenn Gray

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  • Selected and Introduced by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Glenn Gray’s short stories are like bloody car wrecks – gross, but we’re compelled to watch. In this piece published in Shotgun Honey, he gets started with an innovative method of drug smuggling and things get darker from there.

“Socket To Me” by Glenn Gray

“Selma dug into her right orbit, using her curved index finger as a tool, and popped her right eyeball out of its socket.”

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “Vikings” by Scott Montgomery

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  • Introduced by Molly O.
MysteryPeople’s very own Scott Montgomery has a new story up on Shotgun Honey. Below, you’ll find the link to 750 words of pure sleaze, inspired by a chance conversation between Scott and author Laura Lippman at Bouchercon one year, as the two speculated on how a not-so-dynamic duo might form. This story is seriously creepy, y’all – but on this site, and to our fine friends at Shotgun Honey, creepy is a compliment. 

“Vikings” by Scott Montgomery

“The Blonde brought their beers and took their wing orders. Bob wished they had the brunette with the glasses. He eyed the babe with the red hair…

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “A Tricky Situation” by Lisa Gray

 

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  • Selected and Introduced by Scott Montgomery

Thank you Shotgun Honey for introducing us to another fantastic new author. Lisa Gray is a talented author from across the pond. We’ve decided to link to her story “A Tricky Situation” for this week’s Crime Fiction Friday – it has a well crafted opening sentence, keeps you hooked, and shows you Gray can deliver more than one twist in flash fiction. Here’s hoping we this will be far from the last time we read her.


“A Tricky Situation” by Lisa Gray

“Carol Turner did not know she was claustrophobic until the day she found herself bound at the wrists and ankles, and locked in a box.

Her prison was a cheap, wooden structure that fit snugly around her body. Stretching her bare foot as far as the restraints allowed, her big toe nudged plywood, and rough wood grazed her bare arms on either side…”

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “Thoroughly Murdered Millie” by April Kelly

 

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  • Introduced by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

With graduation nearing, this Shotgun Honey story of death in a dorm room at an exclusive girl’s school seemed fitting. April Kelly shows a deft voice for her protagonist a biting sense of humor.


“Thoroughly Murdered Millie” by April Kelly

“The girl had been shot, stabbed, poisoned and garroted, so the M.E. was not so much searching for cause of death as placing the wealth of possibilities in chronological order…”

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “The Orphan” by Billy Kring

 

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  • Introduced by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Billy Kring draws on his his experiences as a former border patrolman for his series featuring Hunter Kincaid, starting with Quick. In this Shotgun Honey story, Kring takes a gritty and moving look at life on the border from the criminal side.


“The Orphan” by Billy Kring

“Felix Olivares, called The Orphan, guided the flat-bottomed boat loaded with men and backpacks of meth across the Rio Grande.

Ramon asked him, “Why they call you the Orphan?”

“My mother abandoned me when I was four.”

“It happens. You did all right, looks like.”

“You call eating garbage from trash cans, stealing food from dogs all right?”

Read the rest of the story.

Crime Fiction Friday: “Heritage” by Eric Arneson

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  • Introduced by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Eric Arneson uses two crime fiction tropes for this fun, tight story with a great voice, the ordinary guy who takes a dangerous chance and that mysterious briefcase. Another great piece from Shotgun Honey.


“Heritage” by Eric Arneson

“It was my last night on the job.

Don’t worry, kid. This ain’t some cliche workplace violence violence story. I like it there. Made a lot of friends, did some stuff I’m proud of. I still miss the place, but it was the right time to retire…”

Read the rest of the story.