Latest Flash

The Brit-Grit Addiction: Mr. Messy Business Jason Beech Duels with Paul D. Brazill

Born in legendary England, but having sojourned in Poland for some time, Brit-Grit author Paul D. Brazill typically pens what he calls “screwball noir.” His writing has been translated into Italian, Finnish, Polish, German and Slovene. His work has also been published in various magazines and anthologies, including The Mammoth Books of Best British Crime.

Back in the day, Mr. Brazill graciously provided content for Out of the Gutter Online’s Brit Grit Alley—bringing diehard readers news about British crime fiction’s notorious booze and blood-soaked alleyways.

Mr. Messy Business Jason Beech—himself both born and forged in Sheffield, England (before audaciously making the move to Yank-filled-New Jersey-USA to teach a game that he calls “football—but which parts of the world call SOCCER) decided to corral Mr. Brazill for a little tête-à-tête.

We hoped to bring you video footage … but the content proved way too graphic. So we’re sharing this heavily-edited transcript instead. Of course we had to kill the stenographer afterwards …. But that’s Life in The Gutter, eh.

Brit-Grit Crime Author Paul D. Brazill
Hi Paul. I’ve just finished Close to the Bone’s excellent short story anthology, A Time for Violenceedited by edgy U.S. crime writers Andy Rausch and Chris Roy. What attracted you to the anthology?

PDB: Really, just because the editors kindly asked me. I also wanted to write another story featuring Tommy Bennett from my book Last Year's Man and thought it might work to put him in a story with very little violence. The story title—"Baby's Got A Gun"—is from an old Only Ones LP.

The notorious Tommy Bennett: an ageing long-time violent hitman whose life has run amok. What drew you back to Tommy?

PDB: Tommy is getting on a bit. He’s at the age where he’s starting to lose control of things—his body, his business. He returns to his home town after a long time living in London in the hope that he can perhaps reboot his life. I just thought there were more possibilities with him. He had the potential to go in a new direction so I thought I'd give it a try.

Your stories are often laced with melancholy and regret on top of the sly humour. Am I right, and if so what pulls you towards stories of regret?

PDB: For sure. It's probably because I'm a man of an uncertain age. There's more “missed opportunities” sand in the bottom of my ever-filling hourglass than “dreams fulfilled” sand. Or maybe it's because I'm a northerner …. Anyway, it's a bittersweet symphony this life lark, as The Strolling Bones once sang.

What’s a northern reaction to a wrong turn of events—a shake of the head, a ceiling-directed eyebrow, a roll of the eyes—perhaps a shrug of the shoulders that this is life and you just have to get on with it? Would a southerner be more likely to try and control events?

PDB: The northerner wouldn't be at all surprised by things going tits up, because everything does, eventually, eh? They'll doff their flat cap, light a roll up and head off down the betting shop.

A southerner will put on their pearly queen costume, have a cup of Rosie Lee, pop down to the rub a dub and sing knees up mother brown with Ronnie and Reggie Kray. Especially around Kensington. Would you Adam and Eve it?

As a Sheffield Northerner, I definitely believe it—or “Adam and Eve it,” as our kinfolk back in England are known to colourfully say. A Time for Violence is packed with corkers, such as Richard Chizmar’s captivating "Blood Brothers" and Wrath James White’s thought-provoking and brutal take on race within the black community. Apart from your own, which is your favourite story?

PDB: Joe Lansdale is always great! I started reading him in the 90s with the Hap and Leonard books—which were recently turned into a television series, of course. They were completely addictive. Even in a short story, Joe writes great characters and mixes humour with the dark stuff to come up with a tasty brew. He’s been a successful writer for years now and never lets you down.

Speaking of great, how did the fabulous Punk Noir Magazine that you launched last year come about? This bad boy’s eclectic let alone electric: writers are talking everything from music, movies, books and film—to sharing their poetry and fiction.

PDB: It was a couple of things. First off, author and editor Jason Michel decided to put Pulp Metal Magazine on ice. PMM was fantastically eclectic and not all cliquey like a lot of writing blogs. Also, I lost interest in my own blog, and I was ready to ditch but I knew that there were a lot of great guest bloggers on there. So, I needed somewhere to put them. I set up PNM and thought about contacting a diverse group of individuals to contribute. And it's rocking and rolling along!

What’s the main thing you’re looking for from all the punks who contribute?

PDB: Enthusiasms! People that are interested in what they are writing about.

Has running the site given you ideas for future projects? If so, what are they?

PDB: Oh, god no! I'm just working on a couple of books and keeping Punk Noir Magazine alive and kicking!

So what are those books called? What are they all about?

PDB: Close To The Bone will publish Gumshoe Blues at the end of August, although the eBook is currently available for pre-order. It's a novelette and a few Seatown-set short stories starring the hapless and hopeless private eye Peter Ord. 

Following the breakdown of his marriage, in a booze-addled flash of inspiration, Peter Ord decides to become a private investigator. Dark farce and tragicomedy soon ensue. Peter must tackle many challenging cases, and when he comes under the radar of a local crime lord, he may have bitten off more than he can chew. With sidekicks, like boozy hack, Bryn Laden, failure is not an option—it’s compulsory. 

I've also finished a follow up to my 2015 seaside noir caper Kill Me Quick . It’s called Punk Fiction and features more music-biz has-beens and never-beens getting out of their depth. 

Love the music in your books, Paul. What’s your favourite novel of the year by somebody else?

PDB: Plenty of good ones but I'll go for David Nolan's Black Moss and Ted Lewis' GBH, which I read for the first time this year. 

Paul, you’ve been great. Any final words? 

PDB: The boy stood on the burning deck/ A pocket full of crackers/ He gave a cough/A spark went off/ And blew off both his … aye, that's yer lot. Cheers! 

Cracking. Cheers, Paul. 

Jason Beech lives in New Jersey, but it’s Sheffield, England, which forged him. He writes crime fiction, sometimes horror and supernatural, and loves a bit of Ellroy, Leonard, Banks, Sansom, Brazill, Nixon, Pluck, Hinkson, and other good stuff. You can find his work at Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and other digital retailers. And you can visit him on Facebook (where he manages Messy Business), as well as on his blog.