"You know what? The bastard blows me out of the water. This guy writes Maine like Ardai writes New York. If you're not reading him, you don't know what you're missing." --Chris F. Holm, author of The Big Reap, The Wrong Goodbye and Dead Harvest.

"Bagley's got the poet's eye, but that doesn't mean everything is prettier in his work. It means the ugly stuff is more vivid. More intense. Like a sudden switch from analog to HD. And that's a trait to very much admire in his work." --Anthony Neil Smith, author of Hogdoggin', Yellow Medicine, The Drummer and Psychosomatic.




Thursday, July 30, 2009

Late to the Party

This is probably a strange admission, coming as it does from a writer of crime fiction, but I've just started reading my first Michael Connelly novel. I hear you out there: Are you nuts, Bagley? How can you NOT have read Michael Connelly before now?

Easy. I've always hated going along with the crowd, whether we're talking about politics, religion or books. Another reason I avoid the big bestsellers is that they're often overrated. I'll admit I'd long dismissed Connelly as just another guy who wrote serial-killer stories. But I recently read a fascinating interview with him in Craig McDonald's Art in the Blood. I began to think that maybe I've been missing out on something good by avoiding Connelly's novels.

I'm only about a third of the way through Echo Park. It's the twelfth book in the Harry Bosch series--my local library doesn't have the earliest installments. So far, I've been pleasantly surprised. Connelly's prose is terse, his characters well-drawn. On top of that, the man has something to say.

What about you? Are there any "must-read" authors you avoided, only to discover that you liked them? 'Fess up now...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Uncage Me Reviewed at BSC

Over at Bookspot Central, the infamous Nerd of Noir has given his blood-stained seal of approval to Uncage Me. His Nerdness says, "A whole fucking fleet of the Nerd’s personal faves are writing sans-fucking-abandon in Uncage Me. Favorite novelists Allan Guthrie, Scott Phillips, Victor Gischler, and Christa Faust are rocking the fuck alongside short story extrordinaires like Greg Bardsley, Patrick Shawn Bagley, and Stephen Blackmoore...The range in this motherfucker is simply from rock-solid to fucking brilliant." You can read the full review here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Uncage Me Unleashed

Uncage Me went on sale today. Yeah, I'm probably biased because I have a story in it, but I think it's a helluva good anthology. Editor Jen Jordan put together new work by some of the best writers in the crimefic biz: Christa Faust, Scott Phillips, Victor Gischler, Greg Bardsley, J.A. Konrath, Stephen Blackmoore, Allan Guthrie, Declan Burke and more, with an introduction by none other than John Connolly. Ask for it at your local bookstore or order online ($24.95 cloth/$14.95 trade paperback).

Monday, July 13, 2009

August Hanrahan is Dead. Long Live August Hanrahan

Not long after my short story “Pandora” appeared in Thrilling Detective, I began taking a fresh look at it and wondering if it could be expanded upon. I was mostly pleased with the story as written, but felt there might be more to it. So I sat down and started diddling with the thing. After a couple of days, the realization crept up and kicked me in the nards: I’d begun turning “Pandora” into a novel.

For those of you who haven’t read the original story (you bastards!), August Hanrahan was a private investigator until he lost his license for interfering with a police investigation (and inadvertently causing the deaths of two people). His left hand was also maimed during that final case and can no longer play guitar. He’s embittered, angry and prone to violence. A couple of old hippies convince August to search for a missing child, goading him into it by mentioning his murdered nephew. Wind him up and off he goes…

Now. Here’s the problem.

I hate August’s name.

Sure, I came up with it, but I’ve come to hate that fucking name. It sounds like I tried too hard to give him a unique moniker, something along the lines of Elvis Cole, Derek Strange, Harry Bosch, Easy Rawlins, etc. I like those characters, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that August sounds gimmicky.

Before he was called August, the character’s name was Gideon “Giddy” Cross. Yeah, I know that’s even worse. I was going to keep it though, until I discovered it had been the name of an obscure comic book character from the ‘70s. But Gideon Cross wasn’t the character’s original name, either.

The character who later became Gideon Cross and then August Hanrahan began life in a story called “The Western Gate,” which was published in issue #53 of The Iconoclast (1998). He wasn’t a detective then, but crime was a central element. The character’s name at the time?

Harris Tilton.

The idea was that he hated the name Harris (and hated being called Harry almost as much), so he always insisted that people call him Tilt. I’ve mulled it over for a while now, and I’ve decided to reinstate the character’s original name. Does it matter to anyone but me? Probably not. But writing Pandora-the-novel feels much more natural in Tilt’s voice than it did in August’s…even though the voice is essentially the same. “It’s all in your head…it’s all in your head…”

So I’ll leave you with a treat (depending on your idea of a “treat”). What follows is the opening page of “The Western Gate,” the very first Tilt story, as published in The Iconoclast eleven years ago. Warts and all. The title, by the way, is taken from Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem “Luke Havergal.”

From THE WESTERN GATE:

My father sits there smoking a Lucky Strike, watching Rollo State Penitentiary and the eight grid-patterned streets of Rollo, Wyoming getting smaller in the passenger’s-side mirror. When finally there is nothing behind us but mountaintops and nothing ahead but rolling pasture and the arrow-straight macadam, he looks at me and says, “Thanks.” His first word to me since I picked him up outside the gate. Hell, his first word to me in my whole life as far as I can remember. I’d never even gotten a letter from him until about three months ago.

He’s clean-shaven with a fresh haircut to match. His hair’s mostly gray and his skin’s surprisingly tan for a guy who’s spent twenty-three of the last thirty years in prison. Other than the hair, a few wrinkles and a small fish hook-shaped scar below his left earlobe, he looks just like me. No wonder my mother couldn’t stand the sight of me. She saw in me the man who’d left her, seventeen years old and eight months pregnant, in the middle of the night; the man who’d run off to the west for God knows what reason, only to end up killing some stranger in Wyoming. She saw in me the man who drove her to the bottle, to Jesus, and back to the bottle. Walter Tilton. What could she do with a baby who was the spitting image of Walter Tilton but dump him on her older sister and crawl deeper into booze and religion.

“Harris,” Dad says. We’ve been traveling about two hours now. “Harris, I got to make a piss stop.”

“Nobody calls me Harris.”

“Why not?”

“’Cause I hate it.”

“It’s your name, the one your mother liked best for a boy.”

“It’s a faggoty name. Sounds like a character off Mawsterpiece Theater.”

“So what do people call you? Harry?”

“Tilt. Just Tilt.”

“Izzat what your Aunt Polly and Uncle Ray call you?”

Ray’s still snoring in the backseat, too overwhelmed by the idea of being out from under Aunt Polly’s thumb to take in any of the sights.

“Uncle Ray calls me Tilt,” I say, pulling onto the shoulder. “Polly usually just refers to me as You or That Boy.”

Dad snorts, gets out of the car to do his business by the trunk.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Update: John Connolly in Waterville


As previously mentioned, the short film John Connolly: Of Blood and Lost Things will be screened next Friday at Waterville's Railroad Square Cinema, at 6:45 pm. Beginning at 8:15 that same evening, John will sign copies of his latest novel, The Lovers, at Children's Book Cellar (52 Main Street in Waterville). I'll be there to help my friend Ellen Richmond with this special event. We're going to have a great time. I hope you can join us.