The Great Psychobilly Blog Road Trip of 2008: Day 5, Part 2

One of our favorite humans on the planet, Anthony Neil Smith has been driving around the country and defacing books, usually with his signature, and usually only in books he wrote. This travelling death squad (death to mediocrity!) is pulling into Milwaukee and Neil has hacked his way into Crimespree Central and left this for you:


Last stop:
Seth Harwood’s Crib

So far, the total we’ve spent in gasoline equals pretty much all the advances of my first three novels. And we’re not finished yet.

A cry for help out of Milwaukee. The problem? A general sense of malaise. The solution? Joining our road trip.

But as a large number of crime fiction writers have learned, a stop at the Jordans in Milwaukee means getting the royal treatment. And so it is again–a blessing for all of us dirty, overstimulated, sleep-deprived, hallucinating trigger-happy travelers. Can we all please stay the night?

And boy, what a night. The walls lined with crime novels, the food is tasty, the conversations are heated, and the DVDs are full of extras. Yes, one truth about the editors of the required-reading Crimespree Magazineis that they treat us writers better than we deserve.

From the first minute you meet Jon, Ruth, and Jennifer, you realize they know more about your work than you do. Their enthusiasm and respect for the genre bowls you over, too. My friends since at least 2002, we’ve traveled the same roads for a long time now–Bouchercons,Mayhems, signings, taco shacks. Through them I’ve met more writers than I would have imagined when I started in this gig. And I’m sure many others can say the same. It’s why we all flock to Crimespree–it’s become a almost like a club newsletter so we can catch up with our friends. It’s a brilliant idea: let’s publish a magazine that actually builds a stronger community around crime fiction. Quite an achievement. I wish them more and more success and growth.

And we can’t forget that Ruth is an up-and-coming author herself, winning lots of attention for her story “Little Blue Pill” in the great Expletive Deletedanthology (edited by Jen, and I’m in it, too). And we can see why: “He yanked off my sweater. The buttons of my blouse flew across the room. Don turned me around and pulled up my skirt. Rammed me from behind, pushing my head into the chair’s armrest. I felt fear. Glorious fear.” I’m sure she did! That last bit stabs at you, right? Nicely done.

Makes you afraid of Jen’s forthcoming sequel to Ex Del: Sloppy Seconds (Or Uncaged, as they’re calling it now. Damn. My guess: corporate pressure). She’s a woman who knows how to coax some dirty out of otherwise mild-mannered authors.

The next morning, we’re waiting in the Hummer-sine as they lock up the shop. Here they come: Jen’s in the bad-ass leather boots while carrying a book of Henry Rollins Essays. Jon’s face is hidden in a haze of dramatic cigarette smoke, Harley Davidson jacket warning enough for all of us. And Ruth, she just takes one look at the awful crew we’re hauling, cocks her eyebrow, and says, “Bunch of pussy lightweights if you ask me. Maybe I’ll show you a thing or two about road trippin’.”

They’ve been nice to my books, too. Big fans of all three, saying wonderful (and unfortunately untrue) things about me in the pages of Crimespree. And they even let me and the boys have a cover, for god’s sake. They wouldn’t do that unless they really believed the work was good, right (unless they’re cruel people who want to set me up for failure)? I’m just going to trust them when they say Yellow Medicine kicks a lot of ass. Well worth the investment of twenty-six or fifteen bucks (depends on if you like Hard or SOFTcover) at Barnes & Noble on Psychobilly Monday (May 12), or the cool and hip indie store of your choice, like Milwaukee’s Mystery One, where you can often find the Jordans hanging out.


Onward, this time to Maine, where we hack our way through the underbrush of the forests to seek out the cabin of
Patrick Shawn Bagley. We’ve heard that as long as we keep our hands up and take slow steps up to the door, we should be okay.


Driving time: A quick one. ‘Bout twelve minutes (give or take a day).

Tune for the leg: “This Ol’Wheel” by Shooter Jennings (not psychobilly, but definitely high-tech hillbilly)