I’m a sucker for noir. I love the shadows, the rain-slick streets, the down-on-their-luck characters, all the classic dingy and dirty trappings of the genre. Up until now, I’ve never tried my hand at writing it. As I’ve said before, I consider Jessica Rabbit to be the ultimate femme fatale, and the fact that the stylings of Who Framed Roger Rabbit imprinted themselves on me at such a young age made me fear my view might be a little too…skewed to pull it off successfully. But then Streets of Shadows came along, and couldn’t resist. After all, isn’t skewed a good thing?
So I thought about noir and the close, gritty, rain-soaked streets I associate with the genre. Then I took my story and plunked it in the desert, Las Vegas, Nevada to be exact (though I did sneak in a freak rainfall, cuz, y’know, noir). I thought about the archetypal tough-guy lead, the straight, white, male detective with the perpetual five o’clock shadow outlining his perfect jaw. Then I wrote a story with a black, lesbian boxer-turned-bodyguard as the lead. I threw in magic and luck and grifters and card games. There is a femme fatale of sorts, but she doesn’t look like Jessica Rabbit, and whether she’s bad or drawn that way, I leave it for others to decide.
Streets of Shadows is now officially available for purchase. It blends noir and urban fantasy in tales spun by the likes of Damien Angelica Walters, Paul Tremblay, Nick Mamatas, Nisi Shawl, Seanan McGuire, and many more. You can see the full ToC here, and read Tom Piccirilli’s contribution, What I Am, for free at Apex Magazine.
I’ll even give you a little taste of my contribution, A Game of Cards, to get you started…
Times like this, it’s like I never left the ring. The crack of fist to jaw, spitting blood, and that first bitter-sweet pulse of heat that’ll be a beautiful bruise by morning. Except there are no spotlights, no crowds shouting my name, and it’s a lucky elbow thrown with a wild prayer rather than a punch thrown with skill that catches me.
One thing is the same: It hurts like a motherfucker.
The blow lands in just the right spot to send pain along an old fault line, the one that ended my career. Now I’m pissed.
I’ve got at least ten pounds on this guy, all muscle. He’s skinny as a rag soaked in kerosene; wiry is one thing, if you know how to use it, but he doesn’t. He’s flailing, cornered. He got one lucky shot. He won’t get two.
To read the rest, you’ll have to pick up your very own copy of Streets of Shadows.