Canadian Noir #5

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

Entry the fifth: Kevin Cockle and Shane Simmons!

Kevin CockleStory: “Hedgehogs” by Kevin Cockle

Describe your story for the twitter: Sorta like Shane, only set in near future Calgary condo complex. Plus Shane is a cyborg.

Now, as an episode of your favourite television series: This week on Better Call Saul Mike Ehrmantraut reveals he’s not really a battle-worn former Philly cop, but a battle-worn joint public/private cyborg operative known as a “Gunboat”. People get hurt.

What does “noir” mean to you? Post-war cognitive dissonance. The peace you get isn’t what you thought you were fighting for. Your experience allows you to see the façade. You still have an instinct to do the right thing, but the universe has changed, partially because you helped change it, and whatever you think of as “right” doesn’t have a context anymore.

Tell us anything you’d like about your story. This “Gunboat” riff of mine might turn out to be a recurring character. I’ve sold another story using the motif, though the continuity isn’t well defined at the moment. But it allows me to write about a near-future market society, from the perspective of a character who was alive during the Welfare State era. So if you’re thinking that notion of perspective — that awareness of how the “new normal” differs from the previous normal — might have been influenced by the character of Sol in Soylent Green, you might be on to something.

Kevin Cockle. Screenwriter.  Former boxing quasi-journalist.  Author of more short stories than he can remember, but fewer than 35.

Shane SimmonsStory: “Choke the Chicken” by Shane Simmons

Describe your story for the twitter: The undisputed master of all carnival games can defeat any man, but not an opponent that is neither male nor human.

Now as an episode of your favourite television series: Game of Thrones. The reigning boy-king’s seat on the irony throne is challenged by a usurper chicken. When you play the carnival arcade games, you win or you die.

What does “noir” mean to you? Dark tales of crimes, legal or moral, motivated by lowly human weaknesses common to us all. Other genres tend to focus on strengths and overcoming adversity. Noir likes to wallow in failure and corruption. Unhappy endings loom, but even the good outcomes feel like defeat.

Tell us anything about your story. I love the inherent sleaze of travelling carnivals – rides that will kill you, food that will poison you, carnies who will fleece you. I only ever saw a tic-tac-toe chicken machine once, many years ago, when I was a kid. I didn’t play it because I knew a con when I saw one, even back then. But I enjoyed the hell out of watching plenty of adults fall for it.

Shane Simmons writes for film and television when he wants to put food on the table. He writes for books and periodicals when he wants to feed his soul.

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. Also available on the Internet, which is as disreputable as it gets.