Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Flash Fiction: Interview with Paul D. Brazill, author of 13 Shots of Noir

Jill: Writing is a fairly new vocation for you; your bio says you began writing flash fiction and short stories in 2008.  What took you so long?

Paul: It’s something that I’d wanted to for a long time but never got around to. I’ve always been a procrastinator, though I’ve heard it makes you go blind. 

Anyway, at the end of 2008 I discovered a handful of online venues for flash fiction. Most notably, Six Sentences and Powder Burn Flash. I realised that I may actually finish something if I wrote a piece for one of those places. And I did, which was a shock in itself. What was more shocking was that the pieces were accepted and received some good feedback. So I just kept on at it!

Jill: You’ve written quite a number of short stories.  Where do you get your inspiration?

Paul: I just take snippets and slices of life and take them to a more absurdist extreme.

Jill:  “13 Shots of Noir”, “Drunk on the Moon...” -  Alcohol and references to intoxication are a predominant theme in hardboiled crime fiction.  Why do you think this is? 

Paul: These stories are about people in extreme situations. Usually normal people trying to cope with extreme situations. Or abnormal people trying to cope with ordinary situations, maybe.
Booze is the most commonly available anaesthetic for the aches and pains of life and it can, of course, make a bad situation a lot worse, which lends a story more possibilities for twists and turns into dark corners.

Also, ‘Noir’ in particular is about people knowingly boarding a runaway train that’s bound for disaster, which is what intoxication is, more than somewhat.

Jill:  What is the most satisfying thing about being an author?

Paul: Well, I  certainly don’t consider myself an author –more a dilettante - but doing anything that puts a smile on people’s faces is pretty satisfying.

Jill:  The flip-side of the last question: What is the most frustrating thing about being an author?

Paul: To me, it’s only a positive thing. It’s not working down a mine.

Jill:  What can you tell me about your work(s)-in-progress?

Paul: A  few things at the moment but the first finished will probably be a novella with the working title The Hit Man and Her, which features a private eye character that  I created called Peter Ord. Ord gets his first ‘proper’ case and black comedy and slice-of -life absurdity ensue.
I’m also fiddling with Guns Of Brixton, a novella that’s due to come out from Pulp Press later this year.

Jill:  Writing crime fiction is tough: playing fair with the reader, coming up with motives, researching ballistics and police procedures... I can only imagine how much harder this is to do in the limited space of a short story versus a novel.  Or maybe the length makes it easier?  What are your thoughts on this?

Paul: Well, although my stories take place in a crime fiction milieu, I don’t think most of them are proper crime fiction as such. The plot is always a McGuffin to me, for example and I’m sure a fan of someone like Ian Rankin or Val McDermot would feel very, very short changed by my stuff. Even when I read crime fiction I don’t pay that much attention to things such as  ‘ballistics or police procedures’ so I can’t imagine spending time researching it. It’s my own world, no matter how realistic it is. It’s not Robert Fisk!

Jill:  Is writing dialogue fun or a challenge?

Paul: Always great fun but I suspect I avoid writing flat, informative dialogue, as I avoid reading it.

Jill:  Who are some of your favourite characters in crime and detective fiction?

Paul:  Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, Jim Thompson’s Lou Ford, Sherlock Holmes, Ray Banks’ Cal Innes. Normal, well-adjusted people.

Jill:  Taking over for a dead guy:  Robert B. Parker completed and added to the works of Raymond Chandler.  Vincent Lardo carried on the “Archy McNally” series started by Lawrence Sanders.  Robert Goldsborough added to the “Nero Wolfe” series by Rex Stout.  What are your thoughts on this? 

Paul: Sounds like a lot of hard work, doesn’t it? But why not? The BBC and Guy Ritchie have both got different spins on Sherlock at the moment and both work, on their own terms. Not much fun for purists, I suppose, but purists should just stick to the original books. Or get out more.

Jill:  Some wildly successful authors now partner with (or subcontract to?) other, lesser known authors.  What are your thoughts on this?  (James Patterson is a prime example).

Paul: Again, why not? A piece of writing is only finished when someone reads it and the name of the writer should really only mean as much as the typeface. I handed over my werewolf PI Roman Dalton to a number of writers for a series of short stories under the Drunk On The Moon banner and a veritable cornucopia of interesting stories came out of it.

Jill:  What was the best bit of writing advice you ever received?

Paul: I try not to give or take advice!

Jill: The last question is kind of a freebie: What question do you wish I had asked, but didn’t?  Now go ahead and ask and answer that question.

Paul: Q: Which crime books, films or television shows have floated your boat recently?
TV: The recent BBC Sherlock series was great  fun.
Film: The Australian film Snowtown was fantastic, though incredibly bleak.
Books: Graven Image by Charlie Williams was in turns delirious and realistic but completely of its own world.

Thanks much for the interview!

For more on Paul's thoughts and his writing, check out his blog:  
or follow him on Twitter @PaulDBrazill

Find Paul's works on Amazon.


  1. A runaway train that's bound for disaster: good way to put it. Nice intervew, Mr B.

  2. Greta interview with a great writer and man.

  3. Great interview with a great writer and man.

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