AMBER LOVE 04-OCT-2012 Novelist STEPHEN BLACKMOORE made time in his busy L.A. Noir schedule to come on VODKA O’CLOCK to talk about things plaguing and buzzing the literary world like paid reviews and of course Stephen’s dogs Emma and Angus. Please go to to sponsor the show, the site, and my work.

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Stephen Blackmoore’s first full novel CITY OF THE LOST is commonly labeled as urban fantasy and zombie noir. He says it’s very violent with lots of swearing. The second book is DEAD THINGS, due in February 2013. He’s involved in several short story collections including FEEDING KATE and plenty of magazines: GUNS, NEEDLE, SPINETINGLER and more. He’s represented by Allan Guthrie.

City of the Lost

“Ok, did I just do something that sucks? We are being judged by our work whether we want to or not.” ~SB

Stephen talked about his “weird relationship” with outlines. [Be prepared for my distasteful remarks here]. He said outlining was more forced in the editing stage because it’s easier to dissect a 20-page document than a 200-page document. He still hates it but does it.

Allan Guthrie is Stephen’s agent who he met through a friend. Guthrie went through the manuscript and took on quite the role of editing picking out pieces that weren’t working in the book. Guthrie’s own work as a crime novelist gives him different perspective than an average agent.

“It’s not just finding someone who can do that but to communicate it back to you in a way that you understand and he was able to do that.” ~SB

We talked about the surge in flash fiction and what it means when someone says, “This is great. I want more.” Do you take that as a compliment or an insult? Did it mean that you failed to conclude the action of your characters? Stephen can avoid doing the dreaded outlining portion when he’s working in a short story format.

“I will never write a 1200-page epic anything!” ~SB


Around the 33:00 minute mark, we delve into the influences of tabletop role playing games and how that can help form the writer within. There are certainly plenty of choices in the RPG world. Stephen said players are less forgiving than readers because if you do something that doesn’t make sense to them, they’ll savage you. It’s a real-time collaborative experience with the instant feedback and decisions made by players. The campaign writing needs to be locked down because players will derail any kind of campaign where there is an opportunity for it.

Trans-media has taken over the reading and writing experiences in new ways. People are able to follow feeds of fictitious characters. Novels and comics have commentary tracks and podcasts available just like television and movies. Then on a massively-nearly-incomprehensible scale, there’s HARRY POTTER which has taken over everything except cartoons and comics. We can keep hoping for those. But to think that it all started with one book which grew to a series and is now an amusement park, the legacy is unprecedented for literature.

Around the 52:00 minute mark we got down in the mud to talk about the notion that fan fiction of fan fiction got an amazing publishing deal. Stephen looks at this bizarre move by publishers as something hopeful for writers wanting to go professional. Things get weird when writing turns into money.

“Writing is about books, publishing is about money.” ~SB

Stephen says he doesn’t see publishing fan fiction as the sign of the end of times. I referenced a Goodreads review of The Book That Shall Not Be Named that had launched me into hysterics so grand, tears streamed from my eyes and my abs clenched more than doing a Jillian Michaels workout (ok maybe not that).  Check out Katrina Lumsden’s review.

Around the 1-hour mark, this discussion leads us to the controversy of paying for reviews and the scandalous unethical behavior of some authors that fake reviews. There have been falsified positive reviews that an author wrote of his own work but then he went another step and faked negative reviews on another author’s listings in Amazon. No one is suggesting authors can’t review each other but you shouldn’t have a fake name/ID/email in order to so. Why would the publishing world blow up and think that there is a way to keep assholes out of their industry when assholes are in every industry? (See my post about someone hired based on a fake art porfolio). Stephen believes that there’s a myth publishing is somehow different. Let’s face it – the average twitter user isn’t going to buzz about a new inventory processing database used only internally of a corporation; that “product” is an internal tool. No one is going to buzz about the splendid writing in the technical document you just wrote that will be seen only by your department. There’s “publishing” and then there’s “Publishing.” If your work is being set out into the world to mingle with other literature, your work will inevitably find its way into the hands of an asshole that’s having a bad day and feels compelled to destroy you, sometimes personally, in an Amazon review.

The literary publishing world doesn’t seem to have the brutal brand loyalty that is seen in comics. The neverending “DC v. MARVEL” arguments that fans and creators cultivate in comics is not helpful in growing the readership, not helpful in bringing new people to comics, and creates this miasma of elitism that feeds on negativity rather than promotion. This industry in-fighting is not seen in the other realms of publishing. I have never seen Bantam attack Penguin or small press call out for fans not to read Harper Collins.

Be sure to get your copy of CITY OF THE LOST and reserve DEAD THINGS. Links are below to follow Stephen so you can get to know more about how his twisted mind works.

Recipe du jour:

  • 3 oz apricot brandy
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • 3 oz. caramel vodka


Stephen on Twitter

LA Noir blog

Stephen’s official site

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