Sunday, September 29, 2013

Catch and Release

by Lawrence Block

Subterranean Press has begun shipping hardcover copies of my new short story collection, Catch and Release, and a beautiful book it is. While the entire edition is essentially sold out, you may be able to secure a copy, if not from the publisher then from an online bookseller or mystery specialty store. But don’t drag your feet; Subterranean’s printing is a small one, and when they’re gone, well, they’re gone.

I’ve just published the Catch and Release eBook, expertly formatted  by Jaye Manus, with Ken Laager’s great cover art. It’s eVailable right now at Amazon (for Kindle) Barnes & Noble (for Nook) and Smashwords (for virtually everything else—Kobo, Apple, Sony Reader, and your pop-up toaster.)

This is the book that led Publishers Weekly’s reviewer to enthuse, “If Block were a serial killer instead of one of the best storytellers of our time, we’d be in real trouble.” The book’s a big one, with 17 previously uncollected explorations of the dark side, including 13 short stories, two novellas, a one-act stage play, and a newspaper op-ed piece, and I have to say I’m pleased with it.
Will there be a paperback?

There will indeed, same size as the Subterranean hardcover, same cover as the eBook, and it’ll be coming soon to an online bookseller near you. Rest assured I’ll let you know about it. that’s all for now. I’ve got packing to do, I’m off to Bouchercon in Albany in the morning, but I wanted to get this to you first.


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Monday, September 9, 2013

A Guest blog by K. M. Rockwood

I’ve worked in a variety of settings, including a steel fabrication plant, a fiberglass manufacturing facility, correctional institutions and alternative schools. In my writing, I try to give a voice to some of the people I’ve known who struggle to live on the fringes of society. Protagonists in popular fiction are the beautiful people, and often the villains are those who never had a good chance at a middle class life or who made mistakes early on and will pay for them for the rest of their lives.

Sendoff for a Snitch, released in e-book by Musa Publishing on August 22, is the fourth in the Jesse Damon Crime Novel series. After nearly twenty years in prison on a murder conviction picked up when he was sixteen, Jesse Damon has been released, a home detention monitor strapped to his ankle. Determined to make it and mindful of his parole restrictions, he struggles with life outside prison. He finds a basement apartment, a job on the overnight shift at a steel fabrication plant and a few people who treat him like anybody else. With a murder conviction already under his belt, Jesse is a natural suspect whenever a crime is uncovered anywhere around him.
Jesse is a fictional character, but he is based on prison inmates who were on my work crew when I was employed at a large state prison. Many of them were convicted as adults at ages 14 through 17, and worked hard in an attempt to become decent people and have a future when they are released. The deck is stacked against them, especially if they have no family or support system when they are released, and just earning a living is an uphill battle.

In Sendoff for a Snitch, Jesse's trying to make it, but nothing comes easy. He's always broke and the police figure he's a natural suspect for almost anything, even without his coworker Aaron trying to set him up.

Jesse can't catch a break. His forklift at work is wrecked. His sometimes-girlfriend is furious with him. Heavy rains and snow melt have flooded the rustbelt riverfront city. His basement apartment has a few feet of water in it. And it's still raining.

Wait until his parole officer finds out he's been caught driving Aaron's pickup truck. Without a license. That alone might violate his parole and send him back to prison. Then when Aaron's body is found floating in the flooded stairwell of his apartment, prison looks like a foregone conclusion, unless Jesse can manage to steer the police in another direction.

Jesse is first introduced in Steeled for Murder, when a forklift driver at the steel fabrication plant where he works is found dead in the warehouse, and he is the first suspect. In Fostering Death, he goes to a funeral home to pay his last respects to his foster mother, only to discover she has been murdered and the police think he had something to do with it. His sometimes-girlfriend Kelly is assaulted in Buried Biker, and he has to convince Kelly's father's outlaw bike club that he was not the rapist, then, when the real culprit is found dead, everyone is sure he is responsible.

In Brothers in Crime, the police tell Jesse he has been caught on video surveillance committing crimes he did not do, including breaking into an ATM and killing a man Kelly has grown close to. It is due to be released in spring of 2014.
KM Rockwood draws on a varied background for stories, among them working as a laborer in a steel fabrication plant, operating glass melters and related equipment in a fiberglass manufacturing facility, and supervising an inmate work crew in a large medium security state prison. These jobs, as well as work as a special education teacher in an alternative high school and a GED teacher in county detention facilities, provide most of the background for novels and short stories.