Tuesday, November 27, 2012
MY NEXT BIG THING--THE RAPIST
I met C.L. Phillips, mystery author of FIRST MISTAKE at Bouchercon and she graciously invited me to participate in a blog promotion where authors discuss their Next Big Thing. You can find her post here. And, thanks, Cindy!
But before we get to my next big thing, I’d like to throw a big shout out to Carl Brush, Maegan Beaumont, Jed Ayres and Richard Godwin, all of whom I hope will be participating in the blog chain with their own stuff next week. Meet these extremely talented writers!
Carl Brush is an old friend and colleague. He’s written several historical thrillers, the latest of which is titled THE SECOND VENDETTA and is a novel I recommend highly. His novels are set in and around San Francisco and Carl is a meticulous scholar so you’ll know the environment of his characters is perfectly accurate. More—his novels are all page-turners!
Maegan Beaumont started out as a student of mine when I was teaching at Phoenix College and is now the program director of my ongoing novel-writing class and a few months ago she signed a two-book deal with Midnight Ink Books with an option for a third. She writes thrillers with a female badass protagonist who Jack Reacher wouldn’t want to mess with! You can preorder her first novel in the series, CARVED IN DARKNESS by clicking this link. Just be sure that all the doors and windows are locked before you begin reading it… Just sayin’…
Jed Ayres is a guy who writes some of the most brilliant noir this side of the ocean. He’s also the founder and co-host, along with bestselling novelist, Scott Phillips, of the prestigious “Noir at The Bar” events in St. Louis and has edited two anthologies containing work from the best noir writers in the U.S. And now, he’s published his own long-awaited collection of stories, titled… ready?... A F*CKLOAD OF SHORTS. Don’t let the title mislead you… it’s more down and dirty and nasty than that… Keep it locked up if you have kids…
Richard Godwin is an absolute genius and his dark thrillers are bestsellers in the UK and should be breaking out in the U.S. soon as well. He runs the well-known interview called “A Chin Wag at the Slaughterhouse” which I was privileged to appear in—best interviewer in the business, on a level with the Paris Review class of interviewers. His latest thriller is titled MR GLAMOUR one of my picks for Best Novel of the Year. It’s got a twist at the end that will blow you away. If you’re in the UK, you can find it by clicking this link.
Tune in to their blogs and you should see their own “Next Big Thing” sometime next week, I hope!
And now, mine….
Meet THE RAPIST, a rollicking romp through the world and somewhat twisted mind of protagonist Truman Ferris Pinter who awaits his execution on death row for the crimes of rape and murder. Some serious moments also…Scheduled for release April, 2013 from New Pulp Press.
Okay. I’ll admit it. I lied in the above description. The thing is, this isn’t a high-concept book that one can describe with a one-sentence, TV Guide logline. In fact, to describe it kind of gives it away so I’m opting to provide pre-pub reviews by some authors I respect highly to give you a bit of an idea what it’s all about.
Meet Truman Ferris Pinter, condemned prisoner #49028, a snarling, wicked, silver-tongued misanthrope – a black hole of a man who sucks you in with the human gravity of his self-deception, then distorts your beliefs with the super-logic of his epiphanies. Oh, it’s all there – gut-grabbing lust, sex, hate and violence, deeply disturbing comments about our insane world – but The Rapist by Les Edgerton is much more than a new classic of Modern Noir. Against all odds, master wordsmith Edgerton has created the most mesmerizing and disturbing narrator since Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, an intense, strange, well-spoken villain whose story and sexual perceptions will frighten many more men than women. The Rapist is not who -- or what -- you think.
Jack Getze, Fiction Editor, Spinetingler Magazine
Again, I’m relying on a review.
So, I’m reading Les Edgerton’s The Rapist. The title has already made me uneasy.
Five pages in and I can hardly breathe.
Ten and I’m nauseous.
For the next 50, I’m a mixture of all of the above, but most of all, angry.
I feel like ringing my feminist friends and confessing: Sisters, I’m reading something you will kill me for reading.
I feel like ringing my ex colleagues - parole officers and psychologists who work with sex offenders in Barlinnie Prison, Glasgow - and asking them if they think it’s helpful to publish an honest and explicit transcript which shows the cognitive distortions of a callous, grandiose, articulate sex offender; one which illustrates his inability to have a relationship with a woman and his complete lack of empathy?
I’m thinking I don’t know what I should be thinking.
Will it turn sex offenders on?
Should we listen to this guy?
Is it possible to separate the person from the offence, and to empathise with him as he waits to die?
I don’t ring anyone.
I read on.
And the breathlessness, nausea, anger and confusion increase all the way to the end, at which point all I know is that the book is genius.
Helen Fitzgerald, author, Dead Lovely, Bloody Women, The Devil’s Staircase, Donor and others.
What is the hook? What’s this book really about?
‘I live in a small, dark realm which I fill out’. Jean Genet’s words in “Miracle Of the Rose”. And like Genet, Edgerton writes with lyricism and a sense of history of things that disturb, balancing through his superb style themes that may otherwise unsettle the narrative. Edgerton’s brilliant archaeological dig into the motivations of a rapist is an unflinching look at the darker recesses of the human psyche. There is nothing gratuitous here and it takes a command to achieve a narrative pull in such territory. It reminded me of John Burnside’s “The Locust Room” but it’s better written. Edgerton voices the demonic forces at work within his narrator’s head. He embeds the story with the protagonist’s need for redemption set against the backdrop of his life. "The Rapist" is confessional, poetic, unrelenting, and as real as the newspaper lying before you. It challenges the assumption that fictions need to censor the things people read every day in what is deemed factual. It is told in a style that situates it among the classics of transgressive fictions.
Richard Godwin, Apostle Rising, Mr Glamour
Les Edgerton has written, in The Rapist, something that . . . that . . . well, defies explanation. Don't get me wrong; the writing is extremely powerful. The imagery is wonderful and startlingly clear. The emotions are vivid and visceral. Emotions that grab you physically and rattle your teeth violently the further you dip into his tale. But the question is . . . how do you define it?
Nihilistic existentialism comes to mind as a basis for understanding. The realization that nothing . . . nothing . . . is real or meaningful. But somehow the definition falls flat. There is, ultimately, a purpose for what happens to the character. Better yet; there is a deep, almost Freudian, mystery that grabs you and makes your imagination soar with the possibilities in understanding what is happening.
I wouldn't say that, after you finishing reading The Rapist, you're going to have a feeling of satisfaction. In fact I strongly suggest you're going to feel as if you've just walked out of a House of Mirrors. You certainly will be confused, shocked, and puzzled.
But you will realize that you've just read something amazingly original. Truly, magnificently, original.
B.R. Stateham, author of A Taste of Old Revenge, Tough Guys: The Homicide Cases of Turner Hahn and Frank Morales and others
What inspired the book? Where did you get your idea?
From reading Charles Bukowski’s short story, “The Fiend.” The bravest fiction I’ve ever read, bar none. I wanted to achieve what he accomplished there. In my mind, I have, but that will be determined by the readers. I was also inspired by my own time in prison and from a guy in a cell next to mine who was in for rape and who turned out to have been bumrapped and eventually declared innocent.
What genre is this book?
Literary. Existential. Noir. Philosophical. Who knows?
Where and when can I read the book?
In April of 2013 from New Pulp Press at all the usual online outlets, although the publisher, Jon Bassoff is aiming for an earlier release. You’ll be able to purchase it as an ebook and as a paperback.
Thanks, folks. Hope you glom onto a copy when it comes out. It’s easily the best thing I’ve ever written and it was exhausting to write. I don’t think I’ll ever have again the energy it took to write this book. I think it would literally kill me.