Production errors all over – story in CrimeSpree

My story “The Boxer” appeared in CrimeSpree 41, April/March this year (link goes to Amazon, Kindle edition $2.99 – non-affiliate link). It turns out there was a production error in the printing, with part of the story missing. And so the story appears in full on the CrimeSpree Website. Hope you like it.

Funny thing – I had my own little production error with the story. “The Boxer” was a kind of working title, but it quickly got changed to the final title – “Take the Fall” – which makes more sense. Somehow when I submitted it, I put the old title back on, and that’s how it’s stuck. To add to the irony, there’s a boxer (professional?) with my name too, so if you do an internet search for Sean Monaghan The Boxer, you’re going to find that guy way ahead of finding my story.

BTW “The Boxer” (“Take the Fall”) is an interlinked story with some others – “While He Lay Crumpled” published in The New Flesh, “Join The Band” published in PowderBurnFlash and “Breathe In published in Flashes In The Dark. Read in any order.

The issue of CrimeSpree also includes an interview with Don Winslow. I recently read his book The Dawn Patrol – very different kind of crime-thriller. Interesting guy.

Bathroom Break – flash fiction in PowderBurn Flash

My second publication for the year – Bathroom Break – is now up at PowderBurnFlash.

Feeling a little bored with having seen yet another movie where the kidnapper lets the victim go to the bathroom and she escapes through the window, I wondered if there was a way to write around that cliche and still have a satisfying, entertaining story, without that “groan” factor. I hope I’ve succeeded. Let me know what you think.

Nancy Pickard – The Scent of Rain and Lightning

Well, it’s not an Arizona novel, but Kansas feels near enough – certainly in terms of ranching and wide open landscapes, so for me that’s a big part of the appeal of Nancy Pickard‘s novel. Similar to Ray Robinson’s Forgetting Zoë, which I reviewed a few posts back – note even the similarity of the covers (though this is the UK cover – the edition I read – the US cover is slightly different).

And as with Robinson’s book The Scent of Rain and Lightning involves a crime, and the solving of that crime. Structurally the book is unusual, and challenging – opening in the present time, with the memory of the murder and some sudden changes coming from that – then dropping back to a time shortly before the original crime, in what it would appear to be a quick flashback that gradually becomes the main part of the novel.

With rising tension – we know the crime is coming – Pickard expertly delays and delays, delving into the family and their situation, making the murder almost inevitable. When, far into the novel, we’re returned to the present time, those sudden changes – the release of murderer from jail – take on a whole new context, and give the story a whole different, though inevitable direction. The ending is unexpected, the story-telling tight and fast, the atmosphere evocative.

This book is perhaps more in the realm of crime writing than Robinson’s, though both bear similarities. It is an engaging, tight read, and I’ll be looking for more of Pickard’s books.

Forgetting Zoë by Ray Robinson

I try to read broadly, but probably read just way too much contemporary American fiction*. I discovered Ray Robinson‘s Forgetting Zoë by accident. Firstly the cover appealed, and then the setting – Arizona (at least for part of the book) – my passion for four corners states, and surrounds, continually fed by some excellent literature.

Forgetting Zoë is an exceptional story, told to a certain extent as if it was a straight crime novel – there’s a crime, there’s some mystery to the solving of that – but beyond that it’s really a literary novel, savouring the words themselves throughout, while still maintaining pace and intrigue. The novel certainly seems to draw on events that have been in the media over recent years – the story focuses on the abduction and imprisonment of Zoë, and the experiences of the families involved.

Robinson’s attention to setting is striking – the novel is set between the dry heat of Arizona ranchlands, and an island off Newfoundland, cold and weatherbeaten.

*What I didn’t realise during the reading of the book is that Robinson is British. I’m surprised by what a good ear he has for writing fiction that fits with other mid-west novels.

Left to Chance – flash story reprint

My crime flash story Left to Chance originally published online in the wonderful, brutal and gritty Powder Burn Flash, has just been reprinted in actual print in Shalla Magazine number 4. It’s nice to have something in print – I can actually hold it in my hand (well, when it arrives in the post).

I generally don’t send stories out for reprint, but had an invitation from the editors for that story.

Join the Band, out now on PowderBurnFlash

My story Join the Band is out now on the crime writing site PowderBurnFlash. This is a quirky and compressed story, and some readers might notice links between it and an earlier piece – While He Lay Crumpled published last August in The New Flesh. Yes, there’s a bigger story at play here, which also involves (though it’s not obvious yet) Breathe In from Flashes in the Dark, and two other stories in late draft stage which will be looking for publishers in the next couple of months.