Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Bronx Noir: How I Got In...

Good question. I met Johnny Temple of Akashic Books at the Las Vegas Bouchercon some years ago. He moderated a panel I was on. Then I met him again a year or two later as Brooklyn Noir was coming out. He was promoting it at the Harlem Book Fair (a wonderful event each July). I told him them that if there were ever to be a Bronx Noir he should remember me.

It turns out SJ Rozan told him essentially the same thing and things started to roll. There are several writers who had a connection to The Bronx as lowly as that borough is in the NYC hierarchy (we've had NYC mayors who really would have been hard pressed to identify The Bronx on a map*). I know SJ Rozan from another Harlem Book Fair where she bought my first two books (God bless her). We always chat at conferences or wherever so when she set things up with Johnny Temple (a name that has to be said with both parts) we emailed and bada-bing, bada-boom** I was in. Now here's the criteria (besides some writing skill) - a connection with the Bronx. The stronger, the better. I was born and raised there. I moved out in my thirties. I was never arrested, never mugged. In fact, besides having our house burglarized a couple of times and my dad's car broken into (oh and his hubcaps stolen, but that's actually an almost comic story) we never had much to do with crime. I just observed a lot.

Did I tell you the one about how when I was about seven this woman in a bra and hot pants banged on our door screaming. She had a wallet in her hand and begged me to let her in. I refused (no fool, I). A half minute later, a man with no shirt and his pants unzipped dragged her away. I was looking at him, so he told me she was his daughter. I believed him then, but of course, she had been (ahem) working for him when she got the brilliant idea to just take his wallet and run. Where to? No idea. Didn't stop her.

For info about Bronx (and NYC) crime go to the source. The NYPD. Fascinating stuff. Bad things still happen in The Bronx and NYC but, to get real noir, you have to go back to the 1990s when NYC averaged 6 or 7 murders a day.

* For some interesting compare and contrast, check this out.

** Mostly a Brooklyn thing unless I miss my mark by a lot. A wise guy wanna be line now.


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