11 January 2018

The Anthology: An Announcement

by Brian Thornton

Over my previous three turns in the Sleuthsayers rotation I have discussed my experiences with anthologies. You can find those entries here (the story of how submitting to an anthology which never published kick-started my professional writing career), here (my first experience collecting and editing an anthology: a non-fiction gig that I did for hire), and here (my second, and much better, experience collecting and editing an anthology- crime fiction this time!).

This week's entry will be the final one in this series, and kicks off with an anthology-related announcement. Here it is:

Just last month I signed on with Eric Campbell of Florida's own Down & Out Books to collect and edit an anthology of crime fiction inspired by the music of Steely Dan!

I am over the moon about this project. More on it below.

First, here's a little bit about how it came about, and the role that Sleuthsayers played in it. As with so many good things, this anthology had its roots in tragedy. In other words, this all started with a death.

Back in September, guitarist, bassist, songwriter and arranger Walter Becker, died at his home in Maui, after a long illness. He was 68. Becker was one half of Steely Dan.

Walter Becker (left) on-stage with his Steely Dan partner, keyboardist and vocalist Donald Fagen

I wrote about his death here at Sleuthsayers (you can read this entry here).  I went on at some length about Becker's output with Steely Dan, and how the themes they explored in their music (and in their lyrics) were so frequently outright noirish. And I closed with this observation:

"I've often said that the music of Steely Dan would lend itself to a themed anthology of the type recently collected by Joe Clifford and centered around the music of Johnny Cash. I've even worked up my own short story based on 'Show Biz Kids,' from their Katy Lied album.

"I'm positive I'm not the only one so influenced by these masters of the bleak, jazz-tinged pop hook.

"What say you all? Anyone else written something Steely Dan-inspired?

"And lastly, adios, Walter. And vaya con dios."

I thought that would be the end of it.

And then my wife, who is my first reader and perennial wisest counsel, asked me, "Why don't you do it?" Turns out she soon had company.  Several friends asked the same thing after reading that piece.

So I took a while to think about it, all the while moving on with a couple of other things I've been working on. Included along these on-going projects was the expansion of a short story I sold to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine a decade ago into a novella-length piece of crime fiction.

Turns out there is a bit of a Sleuthsayers connection to this one as well. Friend and fellow crime fictioneer S.W. Lauden, no stranger to fiction influenced by edgy music (he's a refugee from SoCal's punk/hardcore scene), who agreed to be interviewed about his Anthony nomination and resurgence of the novella (you can read his interview here) had graciously introduced me to his publisher, Eric Campbell (who also agreed to be interviewed regarding the resurgence of the novella, and whose interview can be read here).

When I mentioned my nearly-completed novella to Eric, he asked to see it, and then offered to publish it (so I guess this is a double announcement! More on the novella in a future blog post, I promise.). It was while we were talking about the novella that my idea for a Steely Dan-influenced crime fiction anthology came up. Eric expressed interest in that as well, so I went looking for contributors.

I confess I was nervous about this part of the process. After all, I have a lot of friends in the writing community, many of them music aficionados. But it's one thing to like a certain type of music and another to write something inspired by it.

I needn't have worried. The idea sold itself.

So let me wrap this entry by announcing our proposed line-up of heavy-hitters. This anthology, entitled The Hangman Isn't Hangin': Stories Inspired by the Music of Steely Dan, to be released in mid-2019, will feature the writing of David Corbett, Simon Wood, Cornelia Read, Bill Fitzhugh, Sean Chercover, Steve Brewer, Reed Farrel Coleman, Aaron Erickson, Stacy Robinson, R Narvaez, Sam Wiebe, Nick Feldman, Pearce Hansen, R.T. Lawton, Michael Jacobs, Peter Spiegelman, Jim Thomsen, and Yours Truly.

I could not be more pleased and proud to be associated with this project, to be working with this fantastic group of writers. It is going to be so much fun!


Leigh Lundin said...

Wow. That's wonderful, Brian! Congratulations and good luck!

O'Neil De Noux said...

That is so cool. STEELY DAN - what a great band and inspiration for stories.

janice law said...

Very best of luck. It sounds like a fun project.

Art Taylor said...

A great idea for an anthology! I'll look forward to this one!

Steve Liskow said...

Steely Dan is perfect for this project. So many of their lyrics are already noir that half the work is already done. Now, if you could just add the music to the book...

Good luck with it. It sounds like a truck full of fun.

Michael Bracken said...

Congratulations, Brian. I recently completed a story for another "inspired by the music of" anthology, and I must say it was quite a challenge. The song I used for inspiration had nothing remotely criminous in it, and yet I managed to work a crime around the information and events that were in the song.

R.T. Lawton said...

Brian, it's a privilege to be included in this great line-up. Plus, both as writers and readers, we are all glad to find another interesting anthology come into being.

Robert Lopresti said...

Wow, cool. I look forward to it.

Debra H. Goldstein said...

Congrats on your Steely Dan anthology!

Eve Fisher said...

Congratulations! Sounds like a fun anthology. I hope there are some Sultans of Swing...

Leigh Lundin said...

I'm with you on that, Eve. This week I've been listening to
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5JkHBC5lDs and

John Floyd said...

This sounds great, Brian! Congratulations on the anthology.

Jenni Legate said...

Very cool! Congratulations, Brian!!

Barb Goffman said...

Congratulations and good luck with the project!