Saturday, April 3, 2010

7 Questions: Christopher Grant

Who is Christopher Grant?

Christopher Grant is 32 years old, has been a writer in one form or another for at least half his life, has blue eyes and brown hair (at least that which is not turning gray) and loves Spaghetti Westerns.

Gotta ask. Which Spaghetti Western is your favorite?

There are still some essentials that I haven't seen, such as The Great/Big Silence, A Bullet For The General, The Hellbenders and Cemetery Without Crosses.

I'd say it's a toss-up between Once Upon A Time In The West (with my favorite scene being the introduction of Frank and his men; the scene is uber-cool) and Django, due, of course, to the cool and calculation of Franco Nero in the title role.

Some might have thought I'd say The Good, The Bad and The Ugly or For A Few Dollars More or even A Fistful Of Dollars but, to me, those are the Spaghettis that everyone says, sometimes because they haven't seen anything outside of these three (which, by the way, is not their fault, as the market in the US really doesn't push Corbucci or Sollima or Questi or Damiani or anyone else).

Corbucci's early stuff is horrendous (with parts of Minnesota Clay pretty decent) but he got it right with Django and, I think, from there on out.

Leone's masterpieces are seemingly limited to the Dollars Trilogy but I think Once Upon A Time In The West is a beautiful love letter, not just to the end of the West (via the railroad coming through) but also to the Western, which was starting to be replaced at that time by the crime drama.

See? It all connects back to crime, doesn't it?

How did A Twist Of Noir get started?

A couple years back, I was searching for crime fiction sites on the net simply to read and not necessarily write for. I came across a couple that I really liked a lot, DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash and Powder Burn Flash, which Aldo Calcagno does a yeoman's job on.

If you'll note, I have taken on the colors of Muzzle Flash and the style of Powder Burn Flash and applied them at ATON.

I liked both so much that I decided, why not attempt my hand at crime writing, despite never having written anything in the genre (I was more of a speculative fiction writer up until then). I quickly wrote two stories, GETAWAY and THE TOOTH, and fired them off to DZ and had both accepted and got encouraging comments from all involved. I, of course, then sent something off to Aldo and got that accepted, too. And the rest is history.

The evolution of A Twist Of Noir came about when DZ and a few other sites (Demolition Mag, for example) decided to close up shop. I owe a lot to Chris Pimental, in that respect, as he was restarting Bad Things and sent out a mass mailing to announce it.

And, as with the writing aspect, I shrugged and said, "Why not?" and piggybacked on that mass mailing a couple days later, announcing that I was opening my own site.

I figured that the more sites we had, the better results we would all get. The writers would have more access and exposure, the editors would have great original material (or reprints of excellent stories) and it would be a win-win for everyone.

My approach has been that we all should help each other get to the next level, whatever that level is. Why make enemies when you can make friends (and perhaps even a few bucks in the process)?

The Deaf Guy assassin is a hit with readers. Was it hard to allow other writers to roll with a character you created?

Not at all. I'm intrigued by what Jimmy Callaway and Joyce Juzwik and Chad Eagleton have come up with, building upon what was basically a five hundred word story.

When I wrote the story for Dan O'Shea's Church Challenge, I honestly thought that it would be a one-off and, while people would probably enjoy it (he said modestly), it would just be one of the handful of characters that I've written about.

Eric Beetner is the first person that said that I should start writing more about this character or someone would probably snap it up and run with it themselves. A couple days later, Jimmy sent me his story. Joyce enjoyed it so much that she said she'd like to see more and I encouraged her to write her own Deaf Guy story. Chad sent me his story a couple days after Joyce.

I have no problem whatsoever with anyone using one or more of my characters for their own stories, whether in a leading or supporting capacity. What I would ask, however, is that they send me the story before they send it anywhere else, if only so that I might see what they've done with said character. And, of course, if they wish to have it published at ATON, all the better.

People are always asking me how long I can keep BTAP going, so I'll toss that your way and expand on it by saying, what's the future of ATON?

The future of ATON is bright, as evidenced by my inbox yesterday and this morning, with nearly ten stories that need to go up in the next couple days.

Beyond that, I think, nearly every single day, about putting together an anthology and there have been talks with another editor about doing just that.

I would prefer the anthology to be original material, as opposed to taking material off of ATON and putting it in a book.

I think about it this way: if someone wants something that used to be on your site but is now in a book and not available for free, what are the chances that they're going to go out and buy said anthology? Further, what are the chances that they're going to be able to get their hands on it in a store?

On the other hand, what if they've already printed the story out before it's been taken off the site? Then they already have the story and have no need to buy the anthology.

And finally, it's an aesthetic thing. Who wants to a see a site that has a message for ten to twenty stories (and more if there are subsequent anthologies) that reads, "Go buy the book"? To me, it's like a beautiful woman that you meet and you can see she's missing teeth when she smiles. She might be a nice person and maybe you can be friends but you don't want to take her home to Mom.

Besides the zine, what are you currently working on?

My own writing, of course. I just pulled a story out of mothballs that had only seen the light of day on my own blog before I opened ATON and sent it to a print journal so we'll see what happens with that. I still want to get Col Bury and Matt Hilton at Thrillers, Killers 'N Chillers some more stuff. I'd love to write for BEAT To A PULP but, as I consider it to be almost like a temple (that's not smoke I'm blowing; I really mean it), I want to have those stories be just right. Same for Thuglit.

There have been talks about collaborations between a few writers and myself and hopefull those come off.

I'd love to write comic books but need to find an artist for that. I can't draw to save my life!

Deserted island scenario. Which three books and movie starlet would you prefer to be stranded with?

The three books are going to be the hard one, I think. I can think of any number of movie starlets that I'd LOVE to be stranded with but the books are the most difficult.

Let's see.

Books would be:

December 32nd, which is the first two parts of what was supposed to be a trilogy but I think is actually a quartet of a graphic novel story by European master Enki Bilal. I love that book for so many reasons that, if there was a fire and I had to grab one book and go, I'd be grabbing that one.

10,000 Ways To Die by Alex Cox, which is about, of course, Spaghetti Westerns and is the book I'm currently reading so, if I'm dropped on that island today, I want that with me to finish it.

And American Skin by Ken Bruen. If you've read it, you know why. If not, you have no idea what you're missing. This story moves like a stream, turning into a rapids, into a raging river.

As for the starlet, I'd go with Summer Glau. Loved her on Firefly and then in Serenity (which is what helps in qualifying her as a movie starlet, as opposed to a television personality).

Loved her on The 4400. Thought she could have chosen better than The Sarah Connor Chronicles so we'd have that to discuss. Plus, she seems extremely intelligent and, if we're going to get off that island, I want someone that knows what they're doing along with me.

And it doesn't hurt that she's beautiful as hell.

So Summer Glau and those three books and I'm set.


Naomi Johnson said...

David and Christopher, I enjoyed this and I thank you both for it.

I'm curious, though, how much time in a week do each of you spend on your zine? I would think the workload could be staggering.

Charles Gramlich said...

Enjoyable interview. I've got to see this Django. This is the second time I've seen raves about it recently.

Cormac Brown said...

A good interview, and where would most of us be, without Christopher, Aldo and you? That would be too many voices that went unheard, with so much to say. A toast to you all.

Jimmy Callaway said...

Christopher Grant: a gentleman's gentleman. And I like him, too.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Good interview with an important man in my worls and a fine writer too.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Oh and FYI:

David Cranmer said...

Naomi, Between reading submissions, editing, networking, etc, I would say a few hours a day. On the weekends, longer.

Charles, It's time for me to see it again.

Cormac, Thank you sir.

Jimmy, Agreed. And thanks for stopping by.

Paul, Thanks for the link. A couple on there that I've forgotten like the Burt Reynolds film.

David Barber said...

Great interview and hats off to you guys for running the sites that give us the oportunity to get our writing out there. Thanks!

Christopher Grant said...

Naomi, depending on the number of stories that I have come in (somedays, nothing comes in and other days, I've had up to ten stories in the inbox), it can be anywhere from an hour to a couple days (not straight on through, of course).

I try to get the stories up as quickly as possible and send out notices to the writers of said stories.

I don't know if there are still people out there that think there's a collection of editors at ATON or not (and it might have something to do with the two e-mail addresses that I have for you to send to) but it's just me.

So I get the story, read the story, edit the story, put the story up, inform the writer and everyone else via Facebook and (just recently) moderate the comments that come in.

But, as I've commented elsewhere, there's no way that I'd ever stop doing this. Where else do I get to read unbelievably great stories by such talented writers?

Charles, you'll love it.

Cormac, back at ya, my son.

Jimmy, awwww! You're gonna make me blush and tee-tee.

Paul, I thank you. And I still owe you something for your site. Keep my feet to the fire on that one. And Tarantino and I agree in a fair number of Spaghetti Westerns, though I would rate For A Few Dollars More above The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Django and Once Upon A Time In The West above both of them.

And David Barber, hats off to you for taking the time and trusting that we're going to do your stories justice. Sometimes, you get those butterflies and you wonder what an editor might do with your words.

Finally, I want to thank David Cranmer for the interview. The questions were both easy and challenging at the same time (the three books and starlet weren't the easiest, though it may look that way). So thank you, David.

Redbush said...

Love the spaghetti westerns, especially the Clint Eastwood, john Wayne ones!

matthew mcbride said...

Christopher, you published my first short back in Jan and I appreciate you giving me my first taste of exposure. I'm now a huge fan of ATON and it's an awesome way to start off the day, just scrolling down the list and picking a sick crime fiction story to read over breakfast. You rock! Thanks again brother.

David Cranmer said...

You bet Dave, but once again, without the stories we would have a blank page. So a thanks right back at you.

Chris, Thanks for taking the time.

Redbush, Like many, my two favorite cowboys on the silver screen.

Matthew, ATON is a must stop on my daily cyber trek too.

Anonymous said...

Chris, thanks for the complimentary words on BTAP. We live for this kind of praise. Nice to hear from you.

dave said...

Great Interview! It's so great there are people like you guys keeping the pulp novel tradition alive! So much writing today is so toothless!

And I'm totally with you - Once Upon a Time in the West is PHENOMENAL! If you're into Spaghetti Westerns, you should check out my Spaghetti Western Concept Rap album, "Showdown at the BK Corral" It's basically a Spaghetti Western over 9 tracks. I'd love to hear what you think of it! You can download it for free at

David Cranmer said...

dave, Thanks for the compliment and I'll be sure to check the links out.

Barrie said...

What a refreshing interview!

Alan Griffiths said...

A great interview David and I just wanted to add my thanks to Christopher for running a superb Webzine and for all his good advice and help. He is also a very fine writer.

Kind regards.

Randy Johnson said...

Fine interview. I've seen all the spaghetti westerns mentioned except Cemetery Without Crosses. I think I'll see what I can find on that one.

Alyssa Goodnight said...

Great interview! And that last question has to qualify as one of the best ever interview questions!