Noir. Houston Noir.

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Dear Reader,

There it is. The city I grew up in. The gritty, sweaty mess of a city where dreams can come true and die in the same second they are created. This is a city that knows what heartbreak is but aims for an upset. Hustle lives here, in the corners and dirty crevasses that are nearly forgotten.

What better city to write a collection of noir stories?

Noir: a literary genre closely related to hardboiled genre, with a distinction that the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Other common characteristics include a self-destructive protagonist. A typical protagonist of noir fiction is dealing with the legal, political or another system, which is no less corrupt than the perpetrator, by whom the protagonist is either victimized and/or has to victimize others on a daily basis, leading to a lose-lose situation. (Wikipedia)

Apparently, someone thought the same thing.

Soon to come from Akashic Books and the latest in their noir collection, Houston Noir.

And guess what? Yours truly has a story in it.

Yes! I have a story in Houston Noir!

This has been brewing for awhile, and it was such a pleasure to work with Gwen Zepeda, the first poet laureate of Houston and a friend of several friends! And now my friend too.  I loved the edits she did in the story, and it made it sing! Thanks, Gwen!

This for me has been a dream come true, something I asked the universe for and it provided!

But when I say a dream come true, I mean that when I was freezing in my apartment in Wichita, I told the universe that I wanted to be part of the Houston noir collection.

Then email and things happened, and years later, here I am, writing this short blog post announcing that I’m in this collection.

A couple of my friends are also in this collection, but I won’t steal their thunder. I’ll let them announce at their own time.

What’s so great about this collection is that we had a directive to make this noir more substantial.  After reading that article, I took the idea of resistance and protest and flipped it on its head. The thought of oppressor vs. oppressed was something I played with. What is oppression and how are we oppressed in our daily lives, in the way we all are but are too afraid to think about.

It was also refreshing to write something that takes place in my neighborhood. I’d never done that before, so it was cool (re: creepy) to see the streets and landmarks I grew up around as dark and potential crime scenes.

Well, on second thought, I do live on the east side so…

Another interesting story about the story I wrote is that I received some excellent writing advice from two writers, Jon Land and Meg Abbott. Both were visiting my campus (for different reasons) as I was trying to create this story. I asked both of their opinions.

Land helped me focus my noir on the relationships that people have with each other. Think small and subtle. Abbott reminded me that writing was fun and to “let my freak flag fly.”  Don’t worry about whether it will be liked, worry about the story.

So glad I followed their advice.

You’ll hear more about this collection when we get closer to publication.

Beyond excited,

-Icess

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