fiction / writing

Reading Noir

Noir photo

There’s just something about a man in Noir…

I’m beginning to write Trickster Noir, the sequel to Pixie Noir. To get into the mood, I’m reading noir fiction. I’ve been looking for recommendations, and was given a nice list by friends. For Pixie, I was reading Spillane and Louis L’Amour’s detective stories. I’d been reading Hammett a few months before I started writing Pixie, and looking back, it likely was the inspiration for starting a noir fantasy. I didn’t realize that, though, until Amanda Green sent me the blurb for Pixie’s cover. She had been one of my beta readers, and I was tickled she liked it so much as to say this:

“If Dashiel Hammett, Larry Corriea and Jim Butcher had a love child, it would be Pixie Noir. A wonderfully “fantastic” mix of mystery and fantasy with just the right touch of noir.”

Wow… First off, I’m honored. Secondly, I need brain bleach. Thirdly, I’m thinking huh, I wasn’t trying for those three, but yes, I love all of them, and it stands to reason that would show in my writing. I always try to write what I’d like to read.

So I’m reading Ross MacDonald for Trickster Noir, to start. The first Lew Archer book, The Moving Target, which has some lovely visuals he creates with his words, and a great character in Lew, right from the beginning. I have a thing for tough, sad men, driven through life by their guts and honor. Lew is a tired man, in some ways, beaten down, but confident in what he does, even if he doesn’t always like what he’s doing, or how he does it. But it’s a job, and by golly, he’s going to do it right.

Macdonald takes the sun-drenched shores of California, the neon-lit bars of Hollywood, and paints them with a darker brush, turning over rocks to let us see the grit, and the pale, wriggling creatures who do their business in this underworld. Lew walks lightly through this, winding up in alleys and with shots flying around him, but never losing his focus on finding his man.

As I’m reading, I’m finding little gems like this: “‘What are you drinking?’

‘Milk.’

‘No kidding? I thought you were a detective.’

‘Fermented mare’s milk, that is.’”

And

“I wanted to respond to her melancholy look, but I didn’t know what to do with my face.”

“Nerve endings showing like tortured worms.”

 “He was an obscene shape, a vicious boy alert and eager behind an old man’s mask.”

“Most of my work is watching people and judging them.”

I’m looking forward to more, and I think I’ll find some Thin Man to watch. I adore that movie, and it’s sequels. I just have to be careful to remember I have Finals coming up, and I can’t get all focused on writing until Dec 13th! 1200 words tonight, and I only stopped so I could be sure to get other things done as well. The story pump is primed to flow, always a great feeling.

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2 thoughts on “Reading Noir

  1. I’ve always liked Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries: an armchair detective paired up with a snarky street-smart detective.

    I love your beta’s description!!

    Like

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