First published in paperback by PM Press/Switchblade three years ago, The Wrong Thing is the second novel in my Phoenix Noir series. It’s atypical in that, though it ends up in Phoenix, home of the doomed, most of it takes place in Santa Fe. It’s also one of my best books.

When I wrote it, I knew I had written a better book than I had aspired to write, ever. Others seem to agree; it was a finalist for the Spinetingler best novel of the year in the Legend category, even though I’m not a legend. (I was beaten by Lawrence Block, who most certainly is.) 

While the paperback is beautiful, I learned recently that there were formatting or scanning problems with PM Press/Switchblade’s Kindle version, and I think it was a bit pricey at nearly $10. So I’m happy to announce this new Kindle edition, with a new cover and perfect formatting, published by Cracked Sidewalk Press, priced $6.99.

A few years ago, some drawings by Vince Larue appeared in Les Nuits blanches d’Édimbourg, the second collection of my fiction published in French. One of them was for my story “Get Out As Early As You Can.” The version of it above will be part of May’s exhibition, Mom!, at R. Pela Contemporary Art in Phoenix.
If you like Vince Larue’s art and my writing, check out the graphic novel we did together, Dark Heat.

A few years ago, some drawings by Vince Larue appeared in Les Nuits blanches d’Édimbourg, the second collection of my fiction published in French. One of them was for my story “Get Out As Early As You Can.” The version of it above will be part of May’s exhibition, Mom!, at R. Pela Contemporary Art in Phoenix.

If you like Vince Larue’s art and my writing, check out the graphic novel we did together, Dark Heat.

"In America we love to kill people. Sometimes it is legal, more often it is not. But, legal or not, the killing is steady. Sometimes it is in self-defense, sometimes it is in a frenzy of rage or fear, and sometimes it is premeditated, planned for hours and days and months in advance.  

I’ve watched two killings.  I’ve looked in the men’s faces as they died. And many of the other killings happen near me.”

'She looked straight at him, but her face showed nothing. “Listen to me,” she said. “I think you’re going to get your parole. So, you better hear this: keep away from me. Stay out of my way. If I see you anywhere, even by accident, I’ll shoot you in the face.”

Frank kept looking at her but he didn’t say anything. So pretty. Then a lawyer went and said something to Laura, and Frank was led away.As Laura walked out of the prison, the Attorney General’s flunky said, “Laura, I understand how you feel… but you can’t just threaten someone…”

“I just did, so obviously I can. What you mean is you don’t want me to. They’re not the same thing.”’

"A romantic might have said that, when the sun went down, Death prowled the dark and arid streets of Phoenix, searching for people to take. But the truth was something worse: the streets were abandoned, left to themselves. No one controlled them, not Death, not the politicians, not the cops. On the streets at night, you were alone. Anything could happen to you and no one would save you."

Books written, books to write

I’m gratified by the response so far to One for My Baby. It’s a radical departure for me in various ways - the first book of mine with no reference to childhood, and with no backstory at all, and certainly the most stripped-down book I’ve written. My ambition was to get as close to having a blank page as it’s possible to get while still having a story.

It’s the fourth book in what I call my Phoenix Noir sequence (the others are How Do You Like Your Blue-Eyed Boy?, The Wrong Thing and When It All Comes Down to Dust, and I think it’ll be the last book I set in Phoenix for a while, though I intend to write a sequel to When It All Comes Down to Dust at some point. I’ve written about Phoenix since shortly after arriving there in 1995, and I’ve now said as much as I have to say about life there for the time being. 

My next book, which I’ve already started, is a cyberpunk story with no specific setting. I also want to write a book of stories set in Scotland, a place I stopped writing about after The Book of Man, and only started writing about again with a story I wrote in 2012, "Big Davey Joins the Majority." Writing that story unearthed something long-buried (and, I had thought, dead), and I realized that I have more stories to tell set in that small, cold country whose accent I still speak with.

And I want to write a Western. And a Zen police procedural series.

Onward…

James Johnson, a.k.a. J.J. Johnson, Jameson Johnson and Jimmy Carroll Johnson, is not an ex-cop or ex-rescue swimmer - but he’s still an ex-armed robber

image

"J.J.Johnson’s" OK Cupid photo - does the T-shirt mean another new name is imminent?

 

The fascinating thing about convicted armed robber Jimmy Carroll Johnson, later known as Jameson Johnson and, most recently, J.J. Johnson, is his mix of intelligence and stupidity - or perhaps insanity.

If you had gone to a new city to reinvent yourself and leave a criminal past behind, would you constantly call attention to yourself by becoming a public figure and telling absurd, Walter Mitty-esque stories about yourself that cast you as a hybrid of James Bond and the hero of Die Hard? Johnson can’t seem to stop himself.

Read More

In Phoenix, Public Transport Will Only Work If We Have Shade


Image: dustinphillips via flickr CC license

Here in Phoenix, the predicted high temperature today is 115 degrees. On Sunday morning at The Sitting Frog Zen Center, we discovered that all the candles had melted in the heat.
The light rail (We built it, you bastards, as Jon Talton is fond of saying) which opened at the end of 2008, has been a success, and has proved the potential of an efficient public transport system - something that, however addicted you are to your car, is becoming increasingly necessary. But weather like this means that only the youngest and hardiest can get by without a car, unless their home and their destination are adjacent to a light rail stop. For public transport to be viable year-round, we need to spend as much on creating shade as on buying trains and buses.