The Write Room Cafe

The Write Room Cafe
Kevin Lynn Helmick

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Shakespeare Was A Genre Writer- Guest Blog with Proffesor Josh Mark on genre vs literary

Author and Proffessor Josh Mark stopped in The Write Room Cafe, Sunday morning for a cup and a dark corner to contemplate the boundries of writing fiction.

"Morning Josh, what's on your mind?"

`Shakespeare Was A Genre Writer'

"Yes, of course, I'll be right back that for ya."

There is this wonderful passage in the Cornell Woolrich novel, I Married A Dead Man, which I believe refutes the bigoted `literary' claim that genre fiction is not truly `literature'. For those who don't know, Cornell Woolrich (who also wrote under the name William Irish) was a well-known and highly successful writer of `genre fiction', crime novels in the 1940's and beyond. His story, It Had To Be Murder, was the basis for the famous Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window and many of his stories, or plots derived from them, have served to provide writers with ideas from 1938 to the present. It would seem, then, that Woolrich should be regarded as a `writer' and not as a `genre writer' and, further, neither should `genre writing' be counted as less than `literature'.  As a human who has spent much of his life in the academic world, I have heard from fellow professors, countless times, that there is a definite distinction between `literature' and `fiction' with particular disdain accorded to `genre fiction'. Yet, when pressed on the question of what makes one piece `fiction' and another piece `literature' I have never received a satisfactory answer from any of these professionals.  Cornell Woolrich's work was, then, and is, today, considered `genre fiction' as it falls into the category of `noir crime fiction' but it is so much more than any label can hope to define. This is true of so much `crime fiction' or `YA fiction' or `horror fiction' that I think it's time we re-evaluated these tags we give to pieces of writing and try to approach them honestly and without labels.  The whole of this Woolrich novel is brilliant but this one passage stopped me cold when I first read it and I had to stare into space for a while thinking on it in the exact same way I have done when reading Shakespeare or Plato or any of the other greats. It goes like this:

"What makes you stop, when you have stopped, just where you have stopped? What is it, what? Is it something, or is it nothing? Why not a yard short, why not a yard more? Why just there where you are, and nowhere else?

Some say: It's just blind chance, and if you hadn't stopped there, you would have stopped at the next place. Your story would have been different then. You weave your own story as you go along.

But others say: You could not have stopped any place else but this even if you had wanted to. It was decreed, it was ordered, you were meant to stop at this spot and no other. Your story is there waiting for you, it has been waiting for you there a hundred years, long before you were born, and you cannot change a comma of it. Everything you do, you have to do. You are the twig, and the water you float on swept you here. You are the leaf and the breeze you were borne on blew you here. This is your story, and you cannot escape it; you are only the player, not the stage manager. Or so some say."

Not only is the passage beautifully written, it asks a central truth about human existence: Do we have control over our choices or are those choices dictated for us by some higher power? Whether that `power' is Fate or God or simply the sum total of all of our other choices or our upbringing, are we really free, in any given moment, to choose to turn right instead of left? Did we actually choose to become who we are today or was that choice dictated long before this moment by some factor far removed from our own freewill?

In the novel I Married A Dead Man, just before Woolrich writes this passage, the scene is this: A young girl has been deserted by her lover in a strange city. She's pregnant, which is why he's left her, and all she has is something like seventeen cents in her pocket and the train ticket back to her home town he bought for her. She gets on the train, tired and depressed, hopeless because she's returning home in disgrace, and lugs her suitcase down the aisle of the car. Worn out, she finally just stops, puts down the suitcase, and sits on it directly across from a young couple. That moment, when she stops there, defines the rest of her life.

Isn't this true for all of us at one point or another? It's the simplest thing, or seemingly the simplest, which leads to the greatest and most important times of our lives and which, actually, can come to define us. Who is to say, then, that genre fiction is not `literature'? What is literature but the story of what it means to be a human being? However one chooses to tell that story, it is a story we all need to hear repeated from time to time.  It lets us know that we're not alone.  I don't believe there should be any such designations as `crime fiction' or `noir fiction' or `YA fiction' if, by so designating a piece of work, one may then smugly dismiss it as `not literature' and, therefore, not worth reading.  The poets of today speak to us through the radio and off CDs in our stereos and, just because Springsteen or Gerard Way are not included in a college literature book, does not make the impact of their work any less. We should expand our understanding, and definition, of `literature' to include the totality of what goes to helping us all be more human and stop defining and trying to devalue those works which don't neatly fit the accepted understanding of what is `literary' work. Before he became `Shakespeare', Will was just a guy who wrote plays to entertain and, along the way, enlightened people to what it is to be a human being. So called `genre fiction' provides us with precisely the same experience.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Pluck You, the history of the middle finger, a guest blog and wisdom by Johnny A

The History of the Middle Finger
Well,'s something I never knew before, and now that I know it, I feel compelled to send it on to my more intelligent friends in the hope that they, too, will feel edified.
Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English s...oldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore they would be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous English longbow was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as 'plucking the yew' (or 'pluck yew').
Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and they began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, See, we can still pluck yew! Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodentals fricative F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute! It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as 'giving the bird.'

And yew thought yew knew every plucking thing.

You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?: Short Sharp Interview: Kevin Lynn Helmick

You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?: Short Sharp Interview: Kevin Lynn Helmick: PDB: Can you pitch your latest publication in 25 words or less? KLH: I’ll give it a shot- Heartland Gothic . It’s a fish outta water, bla...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Blogging Sucks


I absolutely fucking loath it, blog, blooog, sounds like a flat tire or something. I'd prefer "essays," but it don't quite fit. I'd even take "flash fiction," but that ain't it, because my flash fiction is usually flash because it couldn't float. Who came up with the term "blog" is that the best ya could do? Is it short for something? I don't know.                                                                                                                          

This is sometime how write through a tough spot, bitch and write at the same time, and maybe the muse will come up from the vast depths of my creativity and grace the page with that certain unattainable magic that happens in moments of heated composition of projects when all the cylinders are fully injected and firring away at fifty fuckin thousand rpm's.

See it kinda works, but it's late, I'm beat and I get up at hit the keys not long after the haunting hour of the night, when dreams, the story, the characters, and reality are only separated by a thin veil that only thickens with the rise of the household occupants pulling me out into the world, where I obviously do not belong.

I doubt if anybody will even read this first real blog of shit, and I don't blame ya, I wouldn't... just based on the title. I mean it has no cool links, cuz I don't know how to do that. It has no advice, cuz I don't like sounding like one those an ass clown blowhard, who just can't help from spouting advice every time they open their mouths. In fact, it has no useful, informative content what so ever.

But I got it out of the way all the same. Maybe next time I'll have something to actually talk about. I do have a few biographical adventure I'd like to share, mostly about bar fights, close calls, famous people run ins, and shit like that.

So stay tuned if you really have no life at all, cuz this ain't gonna be pretty, and everybody loves a train wreck.

Pocketful of Ginch: Book Trailer

Pocketful of Ginch: Book Trailer: Here's the trailer for "The Adjustment," now available at your local booksellers. Take this and repost it everywhere you can! Unfortunately...

You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?: Short Sharp Interview: Kevin Lynn Helmick

You Would Say That, Wouldn't You?: Short Sharp Interview: Kevin Lynn Helmick: PDB: Can you pitch your latest publication in 25 words or less? KLH: I’ll give it a shot- Heartland Gothic . It’s a fish outta water, bla...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Paul D Brazill gives away the farm, just for one day




Amazon Kindle Best-Selling and trailblazing author Paul D. Brazill has decided to drop the price of his legendary “Brit Grit Too” to $.99 for one day, Monday, January 16, 2012. If you purchase “Brit Grit Too” Trestle Press will match that with any title up to the full purchase price of $4.99 as part of the BOGO sale.

Just email Paul D. Brazill or find him at his legendary blog-

Or email Trestle Press directly with your proof of

This is what you will find contained within “Brit Grit Too”:

  Edited by Paul D Brazill, Brit Grit Too collects 32 of Britain's best up and coming crime fiction writers to aid the charity Children 1st

The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots. Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp, blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter—this is BRIT GRIT

Table of Contents.

1. Two Fingers Of Noir by Alan Griffiths

2. Looking For Jamie by Iain Rowan

3. Stones In Me Pocket by Nigel Bird

4. The Catch And The Fall by Luke Block

5. A Long Time Coming by Paul Grzegorzek

6. Loose Ends by Gary Dobb

7. Graduation Day by Malcolm Holt

8. Cry Baby by Victoria Watson

9. The Savage World Of Men by Richard Godwin

10. Hard Boiled Poem (a mystery) by Alan Savage

11. A Dirty Job by Sue Harding

12. Squaring The Circle by Nick Quantrill

13. The Best Days Of My Life by Steven Porter

14. Hanging Stan by Jason Michel

15. The Wrong Place To Die by Nick Triplow

16. Coffin Boy by Nick Mott

17. Meat Is Murder by Colin Graham

18. Adult Education by Graham Smith

19. A Public Service by Col Bury

20. Hero by Pete Sortwell

21. Snapshots by Paul D Brazill

22. Smoked by Luca Veste

23. Geraldine by Andy Rivers

24. A Minimum Of Reason by Nick Boldock

25. Dope On A Rope by Darren Sant

26. A Speck Of Dust by David Barber

27. Hard Times by Ian Ayris

28. Never Ending by Fiona Johnson

29. Faces by Frank Duffy

30. The Plebitarian by Danny Hogan

31. King Edward by Gerard Brennan

32. Brit Grit by Charlie Wade

Spinetingler Award nominee Paul D Brazill has had stories in loads of classy print and electronic magazines and anthologies, such as A Twist Of Noir, Beat To A Pulp, Crime Factory, Dark Valentine, Deadly Treats, Dirty Noir, Needle, Powder Burn Flash, Thrillers, Killers n Chillers, Noir Nation, Pulp Ink, Pulp Pusher, Radgepacket Volumes Four and Five, Shotgun Honey& The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 8.

He writes for Pulp Metal Magazine and Mean Streets.His blog, You Would Say That, Wouldn't You? is here:

He is the creator of the  horror/noir series, Drunk on the Moon, published by Trestle Press.