Next Tuesday, Down & Out Books is releasing Unloaded: Crime Writers Without Guns, an anthology with a stellar line-up from all reaches of the crime writing community. Seriously, from way up the food chain with names like Joe R. Lansdale and Joyce Carol Oates to names like … well, mine.
I thought I’d do a little disclaimer regarding my contribution. The story I chose is from my non-fiction files. It was an adventure I fell into in my first few months of living in the big city. It’s called Ioki and the Fat Jap (How I Became an Informant for the F.B.I.)
What’s to tell? It really happened to me. How does one get caught up in such a drama? I guess I was just more open to any experience as a young man. When I was 18, working as a bike messenger, and living all by myself in San Francisco, I was as green as they come. Stumbling into an insane adventure like the one I got pulled into that day was commonplace. You know, I really should write a book about that one day.
Admittedly, I went into the Unloaded submissions with a bit of a handicap. Mixed in the book are some of the best writers tapping their keyboards today. (See list at bottom of page) But me? I was tits-deep in a novel and trying to draw from a dry well in the short story department. I elected to use one of the first stories I’ve ever written. I’ll call it a bold move, but, really, it was the only move I had.
But when I went to edit said story, polish it up with my newly found skills, I found myself taken back to that place. I was that 18 year-old kid all over again. Fresh from Canada, fearful and naive.
Being a bike messenger in the 80s in San Francisco was a special time. You could be half-hobo, eccentric artist, or fantastic fool and still find yourself gainfully employed whizzing around the streets of San Francisco. There were hundreds of us, clogging the streets and stinking up elevators all over town. A glorious time. Mind you, a lot of those guys went from pedaling bikes to pushing shopping carts full of aluminum, but some went on to greatness too. I just found myself keeping more in touch with the carts than the stars.
Editor Eric Beetner had plan with this anthology, a good one, a noble cause, but I took the proposal differently. To me, it was a brilliant deviation from the norm. I like anything that pushes the envelope. Besides, it was a perfect excuse to draw from my own true crime memoir. You see, you really can get pulled into a web of intrigue without guns, without violence. Real-life drama demands your attention whether you’re willing to give it or not. And did I learn a lesson from my experience with the F.B.I.? You’re damn right I did.
Unloaded. Pre-order it now for a special low price and get bullet-free works from the likes of J.L. Abramo , Patricia Abbott, Trey R. Barker, Eric Beetner, Alec Cizak, Joe Clifford, Reed Farrel Coleman, Angel Luis Colón, Hilary Davidson, Paul J. Garth, Alison Gaylin, Kent Gowran, Rob Hart, Jeffery Hess, Grant Jerkins, Joe R. Lansdale, S.W. Lauden, Tim O’Mara, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Pitts, Thomas Pluck, Keith Rawson, Kelli Stanley, Ryan Sayles, and Holly West. It’s not only a good cause, but it’s a hell of an entertaining read. It’s great to see some of the best out of their comfort zone.