Monday, September 20, 2010

Six Questions for Christopher Grant, Editor, A Twist of Noir

This site appears to be inactive.

A Twist of Noir publishers well-written fiction to 5000 words in the crime and noir genres. 

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

CG: In late 2007/early 2008, I had been writing my own crime fiction, some of it in my opinion good, some of it not so much, and placing it on my own personal blog.

And so I went looking for a place to maybe send some of it. But, beyond that, I went looking for places to read crime fiction from others. I didn't want anything by established authors such as James Ellroy or Max Allan Collins, both of whom I enjoy very much. I wanted to see what the unknown writers were doing.

I came across two sites almost simultaneously: DZ Allen's Muzzle Flash and Powder Burn Flash, run by Aldo Calcagno.

And, before I even started reading, I started reading the guidelines and then I jumped in with both feet, writing two stories rather quickly and sending them to DZ that very first day. Before too long, I had sent both DZ and Aldo probably about a dozen stories, had received encouragement from both DZ and Aldo, as well as fellow writers at both sites, many of whom are now A Twist Of Noir regulars and extremely high caliber writers.

Sometime in the early fall of 2008, DZ Allen decided to move on to other things and regrettably closed up Muzzle Flash. Shortly thereafter, Demolition Magazine folded. A number of other crime fiction sites ceased to exist and so the scene was quickly becoming a ghost town.

A short time later, Christopher Pimental announced that he was restarting BAD THINGS and sent out a mass mailing. Without Muzzle Flash, I felt that I was left with only Powder Burn Flash as an option (which isn't a bad option but a writer likes to have as many options as possible, right?). Thuglit was in its infancy, I believe. Thrillers, Killers 'N Chillers didn't exist yet.

So I decided to open a place where people could come and bring their crime/noir stories with them and piggybacked on Chris's mass mailing, announcing my own site was opening.

It was very much a "If you build it, they will come and maybe they'll open their own sites where you can bring your own stories" kind of thing.

SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?

CG: I'm going to blatantly cheat here, having read the next questions so...

...considering it's a crime and noir fiction site, that's three things right there. It's got to be crime-related or noir-related and it has to be fiction.

This may sound like I'm cheating and, as I said, I am, in a way, but you would be surprised how many stories I get that are NOT crime or noir or even close to either of these.

I admit that there is one story on A Twist Of Noir that is not crime or noir. It probably could have found a home at another site but I decided to house it instead of reject it because, while it may have been more speculative fiction-inclined, I liked it and put it up anyway.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?

CG: Before I answer the question, I would like to say that there have been stories that have come into my inbox and have not received publication or a rejection letter. These stories have simply slipped through the cracks and I regret that they have done so but I do understand, as well, that this happens sometimes and I apologize for this.

As for why a story might be rejected, one of the reasons is because it makes no coherent sense or is just too damaged by the way it is told that I can't possibly allow it to go through. It wouldn't be fair to the readers and it wouldn't be fair to the writer of the piece. And I will not, under any circumstances, do the work for the writer. Even if bribed, which shouldn't stop anyone from trying. To bribe me or to write again, that is.

The second reason is because it is not based in reality. And I've had my share of these come into my inbox.

This excuse might sound strange to some people because, hey, it's fiction, right? What does reality have to do with fiction?

And these people would be slightly right. But only slightly.

When you're writing fiction, you can say there's an entire race of people that stand on their hands or their heads and do so all day long, without blacking out. But this I would title speculative fiction. I can't even call it science fiction because science says that the human body cannot do this and not black out.

Crime fiction has to have more than a kernel of reality to it.

And for the most part, writers know this rule, but I've had a handful of stories that would be more at home somewhere else.

The third reason is because it doesn't stick with the narrative and winds up losing itself somewhere along the line, pulling rabbits out of the ether to make the ending make some sort of sense.

In all cases of where I send a rejection notice, I explain why and, where applicable, I give suggestions on how to improve the story.

SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?

CG: It all depends on the story. Sometimes it's the dialogue; other times, it's their actions or lack thereof. Still other times, it's the backstory of the characters.

And sometimes it's not even the characters that I'm interested in, but rather their dialogue.

SQF: Will you publish a story an author posted on a personal blog?

CG: Absolutely and I have already done so many times. I publish both new and reprinted fiction at A Twist Of Noir.

SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

CG: I don't really have a question that I would have liked you to have asked. I'd just like to thank you, Jim, for this opportunity and your interest.

Thank you, Christopher. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 9/22--Six Questions for Joseph R.G. DeMarco, Mysterical-E


  1. Top stuff. Christopher has done great work at ATON.

  2. ATON has a great mix of established and emerging writers. I've discovered so many incredible authors there--Jimmy Callaway, Matthew C. Funk, and, for that matter, Jim Harrington. And it's all thanks to Mr. Grant's tireless efforts.

  3. Great interview, and cheers for all the hard work you've put in over at ATON.

  4. That was great. Congrats Chris, you run a great mag over at ATON.

  5. Great interview and insight. I also would like to add my thanks to Christopher for all his hard work and encouragement.

  6. Enjoyed reading how the site came about. Hats off to Christopher for his hard work and for providing a place for developing writers to show their stuff.

  7. Great to hear from a guy who has done as much for crime fiction as anyone around.

    --Al Tucher

  8. ATON rocks and Christopher is the tireless guy who keeps it that way. Nice look into the mind of a superior editor.

  9. Chris is an author's editor, always there to lend his perspective on making other writer's words sing. ATON is a showpiece venue and attracts the best flash crime/noir writers on the blog-o-sphere. If you are new and inkling to get your feet wet, he is more than willing to work with you if your work shows promise.

  10. Thanks for the inside look at a great market.

  11. wonderful interview. Christopher is one of my favorites.