Archive for Noir

Hooray for Exhibit A!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2014 by nikkorpon

EA Logo

Yeah, this is a little late, but there was a flurry of activity on social media last week and I didn’t get around to posting it on here.

That said:

I am super, super stoked to now be a part of Exhibit A‘s posse of literary thugs. Bryon Quertermous, the head honcho at EA, acquired my novel FAIT AVE (synopsis below). My super-agent Brooks Sherman and I had a phone conference with the EA team–Bryon, North American Sales Manager (and fellow Baltimoron) Mike Underwood and Publicity Manager (and fellow GAA-er) Caroline Lambe–and we’re incredibly excited to be working with them. As I’ve said in other places on the interwebs, I think Exhibit A is at the forefront of the new publishing model. What that model entails, I’ve no idea, but they’re going to do some exciting things.

I’m also honored to be alongside writers I love reading, such as Rob Hart, Patti Abbott, Matthew Funk and Dan O’Shea.

While I’m waiting on edits and such, I’m outlining the sequel to FAIT AVE and trying to get this new novel into shape to send over to Brooks. There’s a TV pilot waiting to be edited as well, which is yet another story that has to do with thieves. Not sure what the thread between all of those is. Maybe I’ll talk about it on here later. Hopefully I’ll get around to updating this old thing too.

Anyway. Got some more cool news coming this week. More when it drops.

Here’s the synopsis for FAIT AVE.

Godspeed, friends.


A literary noir novel that crosses the moral journey of Breaking Bad with the neighborhood intrigues of Tana French’s Faithful Place.

Elroy is a morally-upright thief who is struggling to move his family away from the city, out to where all the corners are cul-de-sacs. This requires him to spend a lot of time away from home, straining his relationship with his precocious son Elijah and precariously-sober wife Denise. One night, he discovers a hidden cache of jewelry behind his basement wall and thinks he’s finally gotten a bit of a break. But when that jewelry hurls him into the middle of a turf war between a local kingpin and a crooked cop who just happens to be Elroy’s godbrother, Elroy is forced to choose between his family and his honor.

A Million (or three) in Prizes and some other stuff

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on June 14, 2013 by nikkorpon

ImageThe free book contest is running for another two weeks! Big thanks to Adam Autin, Benoit Lelievre, Richard Thomas and Gordon Highland for leaving reviews so far.

To rehash the contest, in an effort to be sort of proactive in promoting, I’m giving away some books in order to garner some Amazon reviews. They can be good, bad, lukewarm or whatever. All I ask is that they’re honest. At the end of the month I’ll draw names from a hat and give away some stuff.

In sort-of related news, there’s still a day or two left to grab some awesome Hoods, Hotrods and Hellcats swag through the Indiegogo campaign. Prizes include switchblade combs, signed prints and pin-up girls (well, pictures of them.) Head over to the site and check out all the great stuff.

Hopefully more news coming soon. Until then…



Want a Free Book?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 3, 2013 by nikkorpon

womanchaser1Over the past year I’ve seen a lot of press about how important Amazon reviews are to authors. Essentially, more reviews triggers something in the Amazon algorithm and the books show up on more screens, recommended reads and all that stuff.  I don’t pretend to really understand; I only passed high school math because I’d taken it three times and my teacher felt bad for me.

Anyway, my books have sold decently but don’t really have any reviews, and I found a few remaining hard copies of By the Nails of the Warpriest and Stay God when cleaning up my office the other day (read: My toddler went F-5 on the place and I was clearing the debris so I could work.) I thought I’d take a page from Joe Clifford‘s playbook and do some creative marketing by throwing a little giveaway contest in the time-honored indie-lit tradition of trading free books for reviews (as coined by Gordon Highland.)

Here’s the rub:

1) You post a review of Bar Scars, By the Nails of the Warpriest or Old Ghosts on Amazon.
2) I write down your name.
3) At the end of the month, I randomly draw four names and send those people books.
4) Take car, go round Mum’s, kill Phil
4) I love you long time.

Easy, yeah? The review can be good, bad, lukewarm, bored, whatever. As long as it’s honest, I’m happy. The only thing I’d ask is that you have some interest in crime fiction, otherwise you’ll be sorely let down. Don’t worry, you can commiserate with my wife on that account.

At the moment I have one hardcover of Stay God and one paperback of Old Ghosts (the other copy will be for Goodreads giveaway in July.) I’ll also throw in a digital copy of Bar Scars and Warpriest, because I don’t have any physical copies of them.

As ever, any kind of retweeting, sharing, social-media whatever is massively appreciated.


A Review of Richard Thomas’s Herniated Roots

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 1, 2012 by nikkorpon

As I mentioned recently, my first short story collection BAR SCARS recently came out on Snubnose Press. What I didn’t mention was that my homeboy Richard Thomas had his first short story collection, HERNIATED ROOTS, come out on Snubnose a week later. Though not planned at all, I thought it was very fitting. I came up with Richard, in a manner of speaking. We’ve published in many of the same magazines, we’ve edited each other’s stories for years, we have our first novels on the same press (albeit the same now-shuttered press.) The long and short of it is that we know the other’s work very well, so we thought it’d be nice to review each other’s collection. His review of BAR SCARS is posted here. Instead of talking about each story, I chose the ones that really exemplified something in his writing that I enjoy. On some stories I ramble longer and others I practice what I tell my students: Be concise. All of them, though, show something pretty special.

A brief caveat before going into this: Much of this review is very positive, but rest assured that it’s no easy back-pat for a friend. Behind closed doors, before these stories were published, we tore into them viciously, and probably bruised some egos along the way, but did it for the sake of the story. And really, isn’t that what friends are for?


A man meets a girl in playing pool in a bar and it all goes downhill from there. This story is an example of what Richard does best, creating that interplay between inference and action, the perceived bleeding over into the actualized. It’s not even a question of which one exists as much as which one you’d rather exist, which is possibly more unsettling than the story itself. While the narrative itself is compelling—what more can you ask for in noir than a hot chick and inevitable self-destruction? —the quick mental flash the protagonist has at the end shines a new light on everything. It’s one of those sleight-of-hands that cause you to reevaluate the story on a second, third and fourth read.

Your Enemies Will Devour You

Besides being a wrenching story of moral decay and loss, Enemies has one of the best lines of the whole collection, wonderful because of its disarming simplicity: ‘She is like an old pair of gloves—soft and supple, giving and familiar, torn and abused.’ Comparing a woman to a pair of old gloves—and particularly a love interest who is supposed to arouse us—is a risk to begin with. There are a ton of ways it can go awry. But the sentence just unfurls in this unexpected way, each paired-comparison deepening the understanding of this character. It’s so simple but so effective, like all great writing.

Later in the story, the protagonist utters a line that could almost be the thesis of the collection: ‘I cannot stop drinking so I don’t even try.’ It’s not because this collection, or Richard’s work in general, is populated by scores of drunks, but more that it focuses on people who recognize their internal darkness and embrace it. Though they might try to put a nice face on for the outside world, they never forget who they are, no matter how much they try to drink, snort, fight or fuck it into submission.

Even later in the story, he ups the ante again. With golf club in hand, he waits for his boss to leave work. One shot to the head knocks him down, the protag goes to work, but not on the head. ‘I beat his back like a dusty rug.’  I write a fair amount of depraved stuff, but this line really chills me. Part of it is the simplicity I spoke of earlier—this sentence is only eight words if you count the article ‘a’—but the chill runs much deeper. Part of it is the juxtaposition of this hyper-violent act right up against the domesticity of cleaning the rug that sits in your living room. What really gets me about it, though, was something that I didn’t fully realize until I’d read the story four or five times: How long do you have to beat someone on the back to kill them, and what other kinds of noises are made during that beating? With all the lush descriptions that Richard writes, it’s these short, sharp ones that cut through that lovely haze and fishhook you in the gut.

Last thing about this story: I love this story because, like with a lot of his work, we slip between mania and violent reality, only in this instance, I didn’t realize until the last line what the story is: A perverse love letter to a son.

Bird in Hand

This is a lovely little twist, the double-double cross. Each time I read it, I think about the ending of A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s one of my favorite endings of all time, because everyone thinks they’re winning, but in actuality everyone is losing. Similar feeling here. It’s also, as a recent transplant to the ‘burbs, a nice subversion of the Suburban American Dream. The dialogue crackles, too.


This is an exercise in how many different ways there are to say ‘red’ and how those simple descriptions can color your understanding of a character. It also called back another example worth noting. Watching Philip Seymour Hoffman drink whiskey from a baby food jar in Capote is one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed. A glass jar is nothing by itself, but this glass jar is imbued with so much emotional weight that it hurts to watch. Same with the red barn in this story. I won’t ruin it for anyone, but by the time you understand what the significance of the barn is, it really deflates you, knowing that this barn will recur for days and days and days.

Herniated Roots

It’s not a flashy story, but a quiet and tense examination of a man’s disintegration. This harkens back to what I was talking about in Enemies. So, I guess in that vein, it’s not so much a disintegration of man but an acceptance, maybe even a dark enlightenment. My point is, this is what it’s like to watch someone die.

On a little side note, part of this stuff was chopped out by the editor, which Richard then rewrote and sent to Shotgun Honey. It’s interesting to read the two alongside each other because you can see the threads crossing between, yet they remain separate.


The blurring between reality and fantasy/delusion/hallucination is a common theme in the collection, and this story is a shining example. Looking at it from an analytical perspective, Descent is really interesting for the sub-genre explored here that could be adjacent to mystery, where instead of investigating ‘who they are’ we’re investigating ‘what they are.’

The story starts with ‘She haunts my dreams’ and ends with ‘I never ask why.’ The border between worlds/states reminds me of a tropical waterfall, in that the underside—a dark, protected cave—and the outside—a lush lagoon ringed by a throbbing jungle—are kept separate only by running water. Standing on one side, you can easily stuck your hand through and reach the other. It might be an ecstatic sensory experience, and it might rip your arm out of your shoulder and pull you under.

Tinkering with the Moon

This is just beautiful, top to bottom. It’s probably my favorite story in the collection. It starts with a simple premise: A young boy copes with dysfunctional and absent parents by building sculptures with Tinker Toys. The way the emotion is handled though completely gutted me. It mixes the painfully real with the emotion of the ethereal and leaves you wondering what you just experienced. Actually, it doesn’t leave you wondering. You don’t care what you’ve just experienced. It leaves you wanting to nestle down inside that feeling, close your eyes and just let it envelop you.

BAR SCARS: STORIES is now available.

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 12, 2012 by nikkorpon

I’m super stoked to say that BAR SCARS, my first collection of short stories, is available from the lovely people at Snubnose Press. Brian and company are putting out some of the best crime fiction over there, with stunning covers designed by Eric Beetner, and I’m humbled to be included in such company. I was fortunate to get two nice blurbs by Craig Wallwork, who writes some incredible stories and if you’re not hip to him yet you’re really missing out, and JA Kazimer, author of Dope Sick: A Love Story.

In other stuff, Shotgun Honey just released the cover for the BOTH BARRELS anthology, and it is pretty amazing. They have pictures over at the site. The lineup is even more amazing than the cover, so definitely keep an eye out for that.

I also got word that I’ll be teaching a noir fiction class through the Baltimore CityLit Project. The class starts mid-February and there will also be a panel in conjunction with the class at the CityLit Festival in April. More deets on those as I know them.

Last thing. Obviously, I’m pretty bad at keeping this updated, so I figure it’s better to just cut my losses. If you’re actually reading this and would like to stay in touch, please check me out at Facebook at The Crimes of Nik Korpon or on Twitter at @NikKorpon. I will post things up here from time to time, but I’m pretty active on those two. According to the new-media-author-experts, I’m committing virtual suicide, but I’d rather spend time writing stories than blog posts.

Double-crosses gone wrong, underage lovers with overprotective brothers, fathers searching for their dead daughters. No one in Bar Scars gets away clean. In Korpon’s Baltimore, whiskey is thicker than blood and the most important question is where to hide the body. It doesn’t matter that these are the normal people you see every day, because whether they’re from a broken bottle of beer or the jagged edge of broken dreams, these scars will always shine through.