Wednesday, 14 November 2012

PUSH-UPS: Todd Robinson

So, what are you pushing right now? 
I'm pushing two things, since I'm an opportunistic prick.  The first of which is my crime fiction mag, THUGLIT, which is back after a 2-year hiatus.  The second is my debut novel, THE HARD BOUNCE, hitting shelves in January from Tyrus Books.

What’s the hook?  
The hook for THUGLIT is that it's a bi-monthly short story magazine that has won more awards than I can even count at this point. We've kickstarted a lot of the careers of the people who might be sitting on your bookshelf as we speak.

My hook for THE HARD BOUNCE is that it's a "dynamic hard-boiled quasi-PI novel" according to Publishers Weekly, featuring bouncers Boo Malone and Junior. A Boston politician hires the two to find his runaway daughter before the media finds out that she's gone. So if you like PI-esque novels with a new style and a heavy dose of really stupid decisions, THE HARD BOUNCE might be your kind of read.

And why’s that floating your boat? 
Over the years, I've worked doors at many a bar, none more notorious than Boston's famous Rathskellar (sadly gone, lo these past 16 years). I've always been fascinated with the ins and outs of doing bar and club security. Like cops, everybody hates you until they need your help, AND you're expected to deal—many times physically—with issues that in other circumstances would be handled by the law. Except the bouncer doesn't have the cushion of the law's legal authority behind them.

THUGLIT is just my baby. I've always loves the particular challenges of writing a solid short story and have been blessed with the writings of many a talent over the years. These stories all deserve to be read, but the short story market continues to shrink every day. I had just become a new dad when we shut down the first time, but after two years, it was time to drag the old girl back from the depths and crank out some new stories from those talented writers who might not be able to find a home for their pieces anywhere else.

When did you turn to crime? 
You're gonna have to talk to my lawyers on that one…

OH, you meant literature-wise.  Got it.

In the late 90's, I got hip to some Andrew Vachss and Elmore Leonard. At first, I tried to write like Vachss; but man, that cat has a unique style that is all his own and a singular psychological inner-life that I'd rather not spend too much time in. I've never deluded myself that I'll ever be as good as Leonard.

Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?
I like it all, but obviously, I lean towards the hardest of the boiled. In the end, good writing is just good writing; tags be damned.

And, what’s blown you away lately?
I read a lot of genre stuff, which I usually enjoy immensely. But since I have an expectation of enjoyment, I'm hard-pressed to be blown away. For me to be truly taken aback by a novel, it has to be outside my literary comfort zone. THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruiz Zafón had two big strikes for me going into it.

1) It's translated from Spanish, and I find that most novels, when translated from another language, lose an element of their lyrical nature to begin with.

2) It's magical realism, a style that I have almost across-the-board hated.  That novel left me absolutely gobsmacked.

See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Johnny Shaw's BIG MARIA and Chris Holm's DEAD HARVEST.  Get BIG MARIA into Soderbergh's hands or DEAD HARVEST into Drew Goddard's? Cinematic gold in the making.

Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
I'm indie, all the way. That's where you get the good stuff. Mainstream very rarely braves into the dark and edgy territories that I dig. Business is business and I understand why the big publishers want to appeal to as many readers as humanly possible, but for the most part, what you wind up with is vanilla fiction.

Paper versus digital is a tough one. Digital is the wave of the future, and that wave has enabled me to publish the magazine in a way that it can reach an international audience without having to invest thousands of dollars.

That said, we just instituted a print version of the magazine for the first time, and maaaaan seeing that baby in print…holding it in my hands for the first time?  That felt real, real good.

Shout us a website worth visiting. 
Shee-yit, THUGLIT.COM, babies. Although, due to some recent hurricanes and whatnot, we're a little behind on the updating of it for Issue 2.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself. 
I have a big beard.