Cover Reveal: The Paris Game

I’ve been sitting on this for a little while, waiting until I returned from my trip. But now, I’m pleased to be able to show off the cover for my upcoming release, The Paris Game! It is the first in a new series, and I’ll be releasing a second book later this year.

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On the darker side of Paris, it’s dangerous to not pay your debts…

A singer in a jazz club past its prime, Sera Durand must come up with thousands of euros to pay back her boss, a ruthless gangster.  A confrontation with her ex, an art dealer profiting on the wrong side of the law, leads her into a questionable wager, but one that could solve her problems.

Marc Perron knows a winning proposition when he sees one. Seducing a shy young woman of Sera’s acquaintance will be the easiest thing in the world, and the prize, to have Sera in his bed once again, is worth the chance of losing a sizable sum. What he didn’t expect was the depth of Sera’s desperation.

When one of his deals goes awry, Marc’s solution could cost them more than money…

The Paris Game - Alyssa Linn Palmer

Movie: In a Lonely Place

I’m a writer, and noir is my chosen genre. Hence, most of my favourite films have some relation to the genre, and In a Lonely Place, starring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, is one that left a mark.

I hadn’t read the book before I saw the film, which is perhaps a good thing, as the book differs in some essential ways (of which I won’t get into here, as to not ruin it for the reader).

Bogart is Dixon Steele (and what a name it is), a screenwriter who is cynical and abrupt. He hasn’t had much success since the war, and his latest project is to adapt a book for the screen. Gloria Grahame is his neighbour, Laurel Grey, a sometime actress who takes an interest in Dix. When Dix takes a coat check girl home with him, as she’s read the book he’s to adapt and he doesn’t want to read it himself, Laurel notices him. After he sends the girl home, she is murdered, and Dix is a suspect. Laurel is brought into the police station and confirms that the girl left Dix’s place alone, and thus begins a rather intense yet dark relationship between the two.

One of my favourite quotes comes from this film, said by Dix to Laurel:

‘I was born when she kissed me, I died when she left me, I lived a few weeks while she loved me.’

The line so aptly mirrors the tempestuous relationship between Dix and Laurel, and the tone with which Bogart says the line enhances the bleakness of the film.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nNrIzx6bM4]

Dix is a strong, complex character, and the realism of Dixon Steele is one of the main reasons why I love the film so much. He’s not a typical alpha hero, as the main characters in so many films are. He’s a quick-tempered man, prone to violence, and to drink, but he’s loyal to his friends, even defending a washed-out actor from harassment.

As the murder investigation progresses, Laurel’s belief in his innocence is challenged, and his actions (side-swiping a car that cuts them off, beating up the driver) add to her worries, until she can’t continue their relationship. Her fear of Dix overwhelms her affection for him. It’s the gradual collapse of the relationship that is the strongest thread of the story in the film, in my opinion. At first, murder investigation aside, they are doing so well, but as events and doubts add up, it’s a slow-motion car crash.

Noir never ends with a happily ever after (nor usually with any sort of ‘happily for now’ ending), and In a Lonely Place is no exception. It isn’t the most pleasant and uplifting of films, but it’s incredibly compelling, and one I have re-watched multiple times in fascination. It’s one of Bogart’s best works.

Guest Post: Grit City Emotobooks Revolutionize Fictional Storytelling, by Ron Gavalik

When I heard about Grit City on Twitter, I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I love noir, and I love art, and when I heard that Dillon Galway’s gun for hire was a sultry lady sharing my name, I had to take a read. Author Ron Gavalik was happy to share his thoughts here on the blog.

As a writer it’s always been a goal of mine to bridge the gap between the cerebral gratifications of well-plotted writing and the visual stimulation of illustrative art or film. Like a mad scientist with crazy hair and a battered lab coat, I experimented with various styles, structures, and word painting exercises. Nothing seemed to achieve my goal.

Then it came to me. I had a mini-epiphany. Insert abstract, emotionally representative illustrations during peak moments of tension. By delivering a visual of what the character feels and experiences, the reader becomes more intensely immersed in the story.

The term emotobook is simply a portmanteau word I conjured, as a fun and memorable label for this new medium of fiction.

Unlike comic books that use direct illustrations as the primary storytelling device, Grit City emotobooks are written mystery noirs, with an urban fantasy twist. The four or five illustrations in each thirty-page installment merely lend a visual experience to the internal emotional processes of the characters.

It’s lots of fun.

Grit City is a continuing story, published each month to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and other eBook retailers. In each installment the reader is exposed to a dark and calamitous world, where the nefarious rule.

Our main character is Dillon Galway, an idealistic freelance journalist in his mid-twenties, who barely scrapes out a living reporting on corruption for the metro newspaper and his own blog.

Dillon embodies a double meaning of the term grit. He is a gritty individual, who drinks and lives meagerly. But he also possesses grit. Courage and strength of character are his dominant personality traits.

I’ve constructed a world where Dillon shares a symbiotic relationship with the city. Its failures have lowered him, yet he remains hopeful for the restoration of peace and opportunity. Occasionally, he relies on the sexy and sultry Alyssa Stephano (gun for hire) to help when situations require her nickel-plated Colt .45 revolvers.

Grit City was an ideal place to live at one time. We all know of towns that have fallen over the years. The murder of Dillon’s father and the rise of the Syndicate started Dillon’s downward spiral. All meaningful power in business, politics, and law enforcement were funneled into the hands of this wealthy organization.

But in the shadows of the back alleys, whispers stir in the underground of an unnamed force. Something or someone that’s determined to upset the status quo. When Dillon is tipped about horrifying activities he’s propelled into a perilous investigation that may lead to dire consequences.

As the series progresses he’s faced with unfathomed challenges, but also gains abilities most consider impossible.

We’ve all dedicated our lives to the pursuit of a new fiction medium. We’re thankful such a broad audience is heralding the story. It seems our tagline on the website is true: Read one installment and you’ll be hooked until the gritty end.

Grit City is the maiden series of Grit City Publications. Our team of illustrators and editors are working with writers to launch a catalog of emotobook titles in 2012. It’s our goal to offer emotobooks in the following genres: Mystery, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Western, Romance, Erotica, and Inspirational. Cross genres are welcome and encouraged.

Maybe you have what it takes to write or illustrate for us.

Ron Gavalik has devoted his life to the written word. He’s practiced a long and successful career in fiction writing, journalism, and technical documentation. His short fiction has appeared in several magazines and online venues. His news articles have informed thousands of readers throughout the United States.

He conceived the new medium of emotobooks in 2010 while earning his M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Grit City is the maiden serialized story, and is receiving accolades among a large and diverse base of readers throughout the US, UK, and Germany.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Ron spends much of his free time in the outdoors of Southwestern Pennsylvania. He enjoys fishing, hiking, and riding his trail bike. He can be reached through his website at: RonGavalik.com.

Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Causes

The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Alder-Olsen. (translated from Danish by Tiina Nunnally.)

Carl Mørck is one of Copenhagen’s finest, albeit cranky and anti-social, detectives. After investigation of a murder goes horribly wrong, killing one of his partners and sending the other to hospital and likely to be paralysed for life, Carl is given charge of the newly created ‘Department Q’. With a staff of one, plus his assistant Assad (whose own origins are questionable), Mørck begins to take on cold cases, convinced that he’s been shunted aside.

One case catches his interest, after several weeks of laziness and dithering: the disappearance and possible suicide of well-known politician Merete Lynggaard. She’s been gone for five years, presumed fallen overboard/jumped from the top rail of a ferry. However, Mørck starts digging, and the case is more than it appears to be on the surface.

Adler-Olsen has created a page-turner. I’m often able to guess at the identity of the guilty party long before it is revealed, but this one kept me puzzled, and I was happier for it. The book jumps back and forth between years, from the time leading up to Merete’s disappearance and for the present day (2007) and Mørck’s investigation, but it didn’t take me out of the story in the least.

His prose style is (at least in the English translation, as I can’t read the original Danish) reminiscent of Hammett or Chandler – what’s often described as ‘gritty and realistic’. If this book were a movie (and I wish it was!), I’d call it film noir. Even if you’re not a fan of crime novels, I’d still give you this one to try. If you’ve read Stieg Larsson and enjoyed his work, then you really should pick this up and expand your Scandinavian noir repertoire. However, you’ll have to be patient: the novel isn’t out until August 18th, 2011. It’d be that perfect last read for the summer, on a lounge chair on the deck, sipping a glass of lemonade.