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  • Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    by Craig Terlson

    A collection of short stories where the humour runs dark and the slipstream bubbles up.

     

    ...imagine if Raymond Carver called up George Saunders and Joe Lansdale, and they all went drinking with Neil Gaiman.

  • Correction Line
    Correction Line
    by Craig Terlson

    “… it's clear that Terlson is way ahead of the curve in terms of crafting an engaging premise that reaches for elevated territory and reinvents enduring archetypes of action and suspense.”  J. Schoenfelder


    "Sometimes brutal, often demanding and always complex, this novel will repay the reader who likes their assumptions challenged and is happy to walk away from a book with minor questions unanswered but the big ones definitely dealt with! It’s likely to satisfy those who enjoy Hammet and/or Philip K Dick and who like their fiction very noir indeed."   Kay Sexton

     

    "I love a novel that you can't put down, and this is one of them."  L. Cihlar

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Entries by Craig Terlson (485)

Tuesday
Jun192018

Why do you write crime fiction? Isn't it all just guns, blood, and violence?

 

Over breakfast, I was chatting with my wife saying how I was dealing with more dead bodies in that morning's writing session.


Her: Why do you write stuff like that?
Me (after I got over my defensiveness): Um, uh… well, cuz… FLANNERY O’CONNOR.

I didn’t even try to explain the blurted remark. She’s heard me wax on about O’Connor before. She is a wonderful patient woman (my wife I mean. Reading her correspondence, I got the sense that Flannery didn’t suffer fools, or critics, much... and would tear a strip off of any one that gave her a weak argument. A writer not to be trifled with.)


But it did get me thinking about why I love writing and reading crime fiction.

I really don’t like violence. The last fight I got into was in Grade 4. And I got my ass handed to me thank- you very much. I stopped watching horror movies in my early 20s because I just couldn't hack the blood and gore. (Haha, hack, get it?) I remember the movie - Cat People, the Paul Schrader remake, where someone gets their arm ripped off. And blood gushes out and out and out… okay, I feel woozy writing this. But I got up, said, ok, enough of that, and left the theatre.

So why in the hell write crime fiction queasy-boy?

Well, did I mention Flannery O’Connor? Oh, I did? Have you talked to my wife?
Anyway, here is what the master said:


I have found that violence is strangely capable of returning my characters to reality and preparing them to accept their moment of grace. Their heads are so hard that almost nothing else will do the work.



Now, don’t get me wrong... the crime fiction I write is not worthy to tie the sandal strap of the brilliant and fierce FOC. But her work, and reading other writers I admire, got me thinking about what my characters and stories are telling me. Why am I writing this stuff?

For starters, I learned over the years not to being with, or forcibly inject theme into a story - and thank God I learned it. Because when I look at some of my early work it was all shouting and pointing: hey, over here, major moral lesson!!!
The didactic lessons that I doled out would make Aesop blush. (Dude, a bit more subtly, old Aesop would say. Cuz, he was like from California or some tripped out place. Talking animals? Point made.)

But stepping back from my own crime fiction, I realized that I was pushing my characters into violence. I pushed them into situations where their heads were so hard that nothing else would work on them... and by work, I mean have them show their true character, and if I got incredibly lucky, expose a moment that espouses the human condition.

YES I SAID ESPOUSED THE HUMAN FUCKING CONDITION.

Relax. I say shit like that.

Growing up I read a shit-ton of science fiction and fantasy (you want morality plays? Read a couple of space operas and one dragon slayer to go please.) But I also loved the mysteries, as a kid it was the Three Investigators more than Encyclopedia Brown (because who could figure out that shit?) And later in my teenage years, I discovered a guy named Donald Westlake. In some ways his work was above me, I didn’t really understand what he was doing. But now, as a sort of adult, reading him, and especially his writing as Richard Stark, I was drawn into the darkness, into a place where violence happened, and things changed.

I’ll leave this for now, and say more in the next post.
But to say this is a lead up to what I am trying to do in the crime novels with Luke Fischer.


Thanks for reading, and please comment.

Illustration above by the late and very great Darwyn Cooke - illustrating Stark’s The Outfit.

Saturday
Jun162018

Okay, so apparently I am now a crime fiction writer…

 

 

It happened so fast that my unfocused eyes barely picked it up, but somehow Sam got a knee up and slammed it under his chin. Then she sprang up like a slinky on acid and gave one of the prettiest spin kicks I’d ever seen. Like a jolt of the best coffee, my world sharpened, and when Mr. Freight Train turned to give me another swing I came up and gave him one of my Montreal specials. I don’t think I broke his jaw, though back in my sparring partner days in Belle Province, I’d been known to do that. He timbered straight back, I’m sure unconscious before he hit the floor. Lydia kept screaming. I seriously didn’t know when she took a breath.

 

Last year with the release of my literary fiction novel, Fall in One Day, I entered the world of publishing as a literary writer. Heavily influenced by writers such as, Richard Ford, Don DeLillo, Raymond Carver, and Jennifer Egan, this all made sense.


But here is my dark, not so secret, secret: I love good crime fiction.

I am shifting the focus of this blog towards talking more about crime fiction, including some of my favourites, new and old—and I want to broaden it out to include films and anything else I think will fit the theme.

I call this my not so secret secret, because if you have read my two self-published novels, Correction Line, and Surf City Acid Drop, you might already know me as a crime fiction writer. And to be honest, there were elements of suspense in Fall in One Day that also emerged from these stylistic patterns.

So why is it that I think so much of Gene Hackman’s meandering journey in Night Moves, or Elliot Gould as the perfect Marlow in Altman’s the Long Goodbye (it’s okay with me), or my fascination with James Crumley’s bad ass detective, C.W. Sughrue, or especially Joe R. Lansdale’s Hap and Leonard novels (as well as most of his work)?

I’m going to answer some of those questions in this blog. I also want to look at why some crime fiction writers are more literary than others, and what the hell does that mean anyway?

A motivation for returning to this theme on woofreakinhoo (a theme I’ve talked about before) is that I recently completed the follow up to Surf City Acid Drop. The new novel is called Manistique (an excerpt starts this post), and yes, it is another Luke Fischer novel. I really enjoyed getting to know him at a deeper level, and I think a bit stronger skill set to this new book.

Also, because I love the craft so much, I am going to talk about some of the things I've learned over the last years. Stuff like: So how do you write violence (and why)? What creates suspense? How do you research?

Lastly, I'll do my best to increase the frequency of the blog.

I look forward to any of your comments.

Cheers.

 

 

Tuesday
May082018

OPBA Interview - Truth Through Scandal and Conspiracy

Over at the Open Book website, catch me talking about truth, scandal, and conspiracy.

Here is a taste:

Open Book:

Tell us about your new book and how it came to be.

Craig Terlson:

The impetus of Fall in One Day began with the idea of hidden truths. I have always been fascinated by stories of conspiracy and intrigue, as well as the paranoia that comes out of not knowing who is telling the truth, and what remains unknown. Growing up in the 1970s, I knew that Watergate was a watershed moment not just for the United States, but Canada, and really the whole world. In the novel, I wanted to explore these ideas of hidden truth and subversion in the era of Watergate, but in a more intimate, family situation—because families also can hide the truth.

OB:

Is there a question that is central to your book, thematically? And if so, did you know the question when you started writing or did it emerge from the writing process?

CT:

Ultimately the question that drove the novel was, “Is it better to know the truth, even if it is painful?” As teenagers navigate adolescence they experience this wondering about truth-telling in a profound way. Other themes emerged as the novel developed, but at the centre of the story was the question of who can be trusted.

I didn't know this when I started writing Fall in One Day. The writing began by following the main characters, and listening to where they were going. I know it sounds a bit odd, or mystical, when writers say that, but I've learned that you can't force a story where it doesn't want to go. Writing under the constraints of theme is a recipe for a novel that becomes an overlong Aesop's Fable.


read the whole interview here:

http://open-book.ca/News/Craig-Terlson-on-Exploring-Truth-Through-Scandal-and-Conspiracy

 

And stay tuned for new developments here at the blog.

Wednesday
Dec202017

Shhh... writing

Yes, the old woofreakinhoo is taking a bit of a hiatus - I am busy working on a new novel, and I only have so much time to commit. Feel free to poke around. There's 10 years of stuff here!

And yes indeed, Luke Fischer is coming back.

 

 

Thursday
Sep282017

Luke Fischer is Coming Back

Hey, I'm a big fan of Luke Fischer... and I know of some other readers out there who feel the same way.
I've been working away at the follow up to Surf City Acid Drop, and I wanted to share an excerpt.

Stay tuned for updates on Manistique - the next Luke Fischer book.

Here is a taste:

Thick clouds stuck to each other like wet cotton, hanging in the air, full or moisture, but not letting go of their rain. Not yet. Still, the road ahead, the shoulder, the tree line, everywhere I looked hung a mist. Up and down the rollercoaster road we drove. It was smooth enough, probably be hell in winter, slide your car right into the pines, and they’d never find you. Left to freeze to death or be eaten by a moose. I admit, I wasn’t sure if a moose would do that, but I thought the thought anyway.

We drove in silence, I didn’t even feel like asking Sam what the plan was, I wasn’t sure I cared anymore. In the last few days I’d lost my way. Right from the beginning, I had questioned my reasons. I wanted to help out Franko. But how was this helping? Me drifting with a local sheriff from depressed town to sadder town.

The sides of the highway were dotted with mom and pop motels with names like NorthWoods, TimberView, and Iron-everything. The weathered signs were the originals, letters flaked off, and even older than the restaurants they advertised. No one thought to update them. If you were driving along this road you knew where the good places were. Maybe the odd tourist family, the ones too poor to go somewhere where something was, they ended up on this road— them and the fishermen.

Why did I want to help Franko? Sure, I felt for him. You see someone gut shot and just about die in front of you, well, it’s gonna affect a guy. He probably should have died. But it was more than that. I was damn pissed off. I wanted answers and not one person was providing them.

Sam and I weren’t one fucking scrap of dogshit information closer to knowing a goddamn thing. We were doing what this always comes down: chasing money. What was it about money anyway? Why did everything end up there? What were you supposed to do with it anyway? How much crap can you buy? How much could you drink or snort up your nose? For some, a lot I guess. Those old movies, the westerns, they always had the guy that was going to pull one more big job, and then hang it up, get a ranch in Butthole Wyoming and raise llamas. And they never did. They always got shot, or screwed by someone else, or jailed, or all three.

“Pretty deep into it, Luke.”

Sam’s voice bounced off the car ceiling and smacked me in the head.

“Yeah.”

“You’re wondering what this is all about,” she said.

“You do card tricks too?”

“Come again?”

“Mind reading me.”

She gave a low laugh.

“Well maybe Luke… because I’m wondering myself. Kinda thought you would be too.”

“I figured you got some info from the girl at the desk and we were following that.”

“Not curious?” she asked.

I didn’t answer her. A surfer’s wave of tiredness crashed into me. I let my eyes travel along the landscape as it whipped past. A doe poked her head out of the treeline. Sam slowed, seeing it when I did. The deer took a few timid steps toward the highway and stopped as we passed, spraying mist up at her.

Another rollercoaster hill came up and the rain picked up. The gray clouds became a solid dull mass overhead.

“We looking for more money?” I asked. “Is that what’s going on?”

“Yep. But that’s not the whole of it.”

“It was for Phil. That’s all he saw.”

“Things are getting pretty bleak there Luke. Maybe we should pull in and have plate of eggs and a few PBR’s.” She blew a stream of air trying to get a strand of hair out of her eyes.

“Just tell me this is about more than money.”

 

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