Sunday, April 24, 2011

Bloodstains On The Wall by Mike Dennis

From the other side of the human condition comes this collection of noir tales by Mike Dennis.

It's 1984 and Biloxi, Mississippi has seen better days. Sherry Lamar, used car saleswoman extraordinaire, is feeling the pinch. Then one day, a stranger walks onto her small car lot and ushers her into a world of steamy sex and murder.

A seven-year-old boy is playing with his two younger sisters when a minor accident occurs. One of the sisters is to blame, but she blames the boy and their mother believes her, punishing the boy. This starts him on a downward spiral into self-doubt and later, depravity, that will last his entire life.

A famous crime fiction novelist thinks the book she's working on will revive her sagging fortunes. Halfway through it, however, she develops writer's block and is unable to continue her story, until a mysterious early-morning phone caller claims to have the answers.

After thirty years as a professional musician (piano), Mike Dennis left Key West and moved to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player. In November 2010, his noir novel, The Take, was released by L&L Dreamspell. It's a story of human desperation, set in Houston and New Orleans.

A collection of three short stories from the dark side, Bloodstains On The Wall, is now available digitally on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, and a print version is available on Amazon.

In addition, Mike has had short stories published in A Twist Of Noir, Mysterical e, Slow Trains, and the 2009 Wizards Of Words Anthology.

Next up will be a trio of Key West noir novels. The first one, Setup On Front Street, will be coming soon.

In December 2010, Mike moved back to Key West.
What will readers like about your book?
These short stories, in one way or another, delve deep inside the criminal mind. Because they're noir, the central characters are not criminals in the usual sense. I've tried to show how ordinary people can be driven to commit very horrific acts, and I think this will resonate with the reader.

Why did you self-publish?
For the same reason as many, many people have turned to self-publishing: I just got tired of cold-querying uninterested agents and I saw the success that midlist authors were having with self-pubbed ebooks. I've got three Key West noir novels that I'm going to self-publish, and the first one, Setup On Front Street, is in the editing stage right now. I had resisted self-publishing for so long for the same old reasons, but after reading the blogs of Joe Konrath, Amanda Hocking, Barry Eisler, and so many others, I finally tipped over the line. And not a moment too soon.

How long does it take you to write a first draft?
Well, of course, these short stories were written one at a time over a long period, but I wrote the first draft of Setup On Front Street in about a month. Then it took me about another year, working on and off, to shape it up. During that year, I also shaped up the other two Key West noir novels that I had written in the period surrounding Setup.

What inspired you to write these particular stories?
The first one, Fully Loaded, came from my desire to turn the noir genre on its heels and introduce a female character who is seduced by an homme fatale, rather than the other way around.

The next one, The Devil Drives A Big Mercedes, arose from an episode of a TV show called (I think) The Nanny From Hell or something like that. My girlfriend at the time made me watch it and I saw this little boy whose younger sisters were forever causing mischief and blaming him for it. Their mother always believed the sisters and to see the devastated look on the little boy's face was heartbreaking. This was apparently a routine occurrence in this household, and I said to my girlfriend, "This is how rapists are born."

Finally, Block is probably the most unusual of all the stories, very Twilight-Zonish, and I don't know where it came from other than the twisted recesses of my mind.

Excerpt from Block:

I took one look around the room before I walked out. It was like any one of thousands of identical Holiday Inn rooms, except for the sheets and pillows torn to pieces.

And the bloodstains on the wall.

I put the body in the trunk before going back inside to wash up and clean off my hunting knife. It was a good thing it got dark early this time of year. I'd've hated to have to do it in broad daylight, even though I wrapped her in the hotel bedspread. I could dump her in the woods on old Highway 10 south of town on the way home. This way the animals could have a feast and I could get home in time for dinner.

The bitch shouldn't've said those things to me.

I noticed the leaves in our driveway as I pulled in, as well as the trashcans still sitting on the curb. What the hell was I paying Dougie his allowance for, anyway? Karen kept saying, "Oh, he's only seven years old. He'll learn." Sure, he'll learn. He'll learn somebody else'd do these chores if he didn't.

The second I opened the door, I was hit with the irresistible aroma of something garlicky cooking in the kitchen. I just loved that smell.

"Honey, I'm home!"



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  1. Thanks for the nice feature, Nadine. I've added a permanent link to your site on my website.

  2. Mike Dennis' characters makes murder seem so easy, almost almost, and that may be why his stories are so chilling. This book was impossible to put down as was "The Take," his first novel. He places his characters in impossible situations but they ring true because they are driven by human need. Then he introduces a situation or a predator as in "Fully Loaded" and leaves us no way out but to go along for the ride - eyes wide open in horrified fascination. Great stuff!

  3. Scary and dark is how I would describe the short stories of Mike Dennis. I was compelled to continue reading. His writing is very sharp as it also was in "The Take", which I just read. It was full of twist and turns; lots of action and I enjoyed it very much. I look forward to his Key West series. I am hooked! Suzie

  4. From the dark side is exactly that--tales of compulsive violence, relentless greed, murderous revenge. Yummy! What a treat for noir fans. This stuff makes you shudder deliciously, begging for more. Let Dennis take you for the ride of your life, then go out and get his novel The Take. That one will keep you reading until you finish it. It's a page-turner.