Canadian Noir #1

To celebrate the release of The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, your very humble authorganism hereby presents a series of short, intensely sweet interviews with participating writers on their contributions to this already-classic anthology.

Entry the first: Kelly Robson and Michael Mirolla!

Kelly RobsonStory: “Good for Grapes” by Kelly Robson

Describe your story for the twitter: A potty-mouthed Australian winemaker returns to the Okanagan winery where, years ago, he had a violent feud with the proprietor.

Now, as an episode of your favourite television series: HannibalYears later, Will Graham returns to Hannibal’s house expecting another big battle. He finds something else.

What does “noir” mean to you? More Bogart and Bacall than Kaiser Soze. Noir should be sexy, understated, and tense.

Tell us anything you’d like about your story. BC’s Okanagan has many absolutely excellent wineries but BC wine gets no respect internationally because: A) They only started trying to make good wine around 1990 (as a side effect of free trade with the US), whereas Europe has been making it forever and even Australia has been making it for over 100 years. B) It’s an industry teeming with lunatics, some of whom know what they’re doing and others don’t. And C) The Okanagan is fairly small. Japan has more acres of vinifera than BC does. It’s a hotbed of drama.

Kelly Robson wrote the Chatelaine wine and spirits column for four heavenly years. She has a story in the February issue of Clarkesworld.

Michael MirollaStory: “Safety” by Michael Mirolla

Describe your story for the twitter: Don’t be afraid of strangers. It’s the familiars you need to worry about.

Now, as an episode of your favourite television series: The Twilight Zone. Picture this if you can. A young woman. An average-looking apartment. An ordinary day. A perfect recipe for visceral fear. Stay tuned.

What does “noir” mean to you? Noir is a tone, a way of looking at and perhaps re-shaping the world to reveal the dark-edged blades that spin all around us (often without our knowing it). It’s a mood. It’s Kafka and Poe rolled into one. It’s the place where everyone is a stranger and the postman only knocks twice.

Tell us anything you’d like about your story. Well, the original idea was: How does a newly-married young woman, husband off to work and she all alone in a sparsely-furnished apartment, make it through the day? From there, the story started spinning out of my control and headed towards the realm of ultra-paranoia and mind games. Did the woman invent her tormentors? Was she a victim of hysteria? Should we get Freudian? No, no, I told myself. That way conventional wisdom looms. So why not make it a little like the theatre of the absurd (with Ionesco in the background)? And add a touch of horror? And top it all off with some suspension of disbelief? Yes, I said. What a relief! Well, relief for the writer at least. We all know “noir” characters never emerged unscathed from the heavy weight of being human.

The author of a clutch of novels, and short story and poetry collections, Michael Mirolla describes his writing as a mix of magic realism, surrealism, speculative fiction and meta-fiction.

The Exile Book of New Canadian NoirThe Exile Book of New Canadian Noir — available now at all fine bookstores, and probably a few of the less-reputable ones.