Keith Rawson has been a fixture in short fiction for a while now. Having appeared in A Twist of Noir and Plots With Guns, he went on to become part of the revival of Crime Factory and Spinetingler. He just released his short story collection, The Chaos We Know, and stops by to talk to us about that.
Let’s start off with The Chaos We Know. Tell us about that.
The Chaos We Know is kind of a “best of” collection. It’s about a quarter of my of my short fiction output over the last four years. I put it together mostly because I wanted to break into a new market, i.e., e-publishing. I’m not one of these authors who thinks e-pubbing is the end all be all in publishing. I think it’s a great way to monetize certain works like short fiction, but I still love the idea of being able to see my writing in a plain, good old fashioned book and being able to buy it in a brick and mortar bookstore.
I was particularly struck by “Taking Out the Trash,” where the narrator sort of picks out the protagonist’s life piece by rotten piece.
Thanks, I really loved writing that story. “Taking Out The Trash” came from one of Patti Abbott’s flash fiction challenges. When Patti put out the subject–which I think was something to do with an old Eurythmics song–I kept getting this picture in my head of a filthy old man, bone thin with coke bottle glasses and dressed in a purple beaded, strapless evening gown. The image was so strong that I think the story took me all of 45 minutes to write the original draft.
You brought this collection out with Snub Nose Press. How did that process work?
I love being a part of Snubnose. Anthony Neil Smith said a little while back that being a part of Blasted Heath was a lot like being a part of a cool indie record label. I feel the same about Snubnose, but it has the feel of being a part of a label like the old SST. Lindenmuth and Sandra just aren’t picking projects that you would describe as “commercially viable”. They pick interesting, heavy pieces of writing that wouldn’t normally have much of a chance in traditional markets. Plus their line-up of authors is so fucking cool: Patti Abbott, Sandra Seamans, Eric Beetner, Helen Fitzgerald, Dan O’Shea, Nik Korpon, Richard Thomas, R. Thomas Brown and a couple of others that I can’t quite talk about just yet. But it’s neat and very punk rock, which I dig.
As far as the process, it was pretty straight forward. I asked Lindenmuth if he wanted to publish it, he said yes, he edited the book and we scheduled a release date
You’ve been part of Spinetingler for some time now. How did you get involved with them?
Lindenmuth and the Nerd of Noir used to write for a website called BSCreview (now Boomtron) and Lindenmuth wrote this column called Short Thoughts on Short Fiction and one of his first columns featured Plots With Guns #5, which was the first issue of PWG I ever appeared in. I loved being in that issue because it was where I started to get to know guys like Frank Bill, Greg Bardsley, Johnathan Woods, Neil, etc., and Lindenmuth trashed the issue, with my story, Clinical Trial, getting an extra special beating. (the son of a bitch gave it one star) But I called him out on the review–which on my part was a bit of a newbie mistake and one I wouldn’t repeat now–but soon after that he invited me to participate in the first Conversations with the Bookless series and then a couple of months after that he invited me to write for BSC after I posted a blog about Benjamin Black and how the line between genre fiction and literary fiction was disappearing. I’ve been writing for Lindenmuth and Sandra ever since.
You’re also involved with Crime Factory, which is sort of a reincarnation of an earlier zine. How did that come about?
It all started on Twitter. Cam and I had known each other for awhile from appearing in various online zines like A Twist of Noir and Plots with Guns and the two of us would goof around a lot on Twitter and then one night Cam started updating his status as Crime Factory. I knew Crime Factory’s history and owned a couple of back issues. and I asked Cam what he was thinking about doing? We started DMing and then e-mailing about possibly reviving the magazine, but doing it online instead of as a print publication. We were both really worked up over it, so we re-started the magazine.
I stepped down from Crime Factory just before this year’s Bouchercon as the publisher of the magazine. It was a decision I’d been toying around with for awhile and after I signed on as a contributor to LitReactor, that pretty much cemented it for me. I loved my time with CF, in many ways I felt we helped usher in a lot of big changes in the short crime fiction market. But, with my freelance projects, my own writing and wanting to have a life, I didn’t think I could continue on with CF. But, hell, I helped put together 9 issues and an anthology, so I’m pretty proud of that.