Pulp Pusher - Criminally Good Writing

CHANCE plays a part in most fiction, where would writers be without the good old coincidence? In real life, it's no different.

It was a chance remark from a colleague of mine, the Edinburgh journalist, Andrew Midgley that started the big push for a new webzine.

Midge, as he's known at Scotsman Towers, where we both hold down sub-editors' roles by day, had been planning his own webzine for some time.

In a throwaway remark I suggested he should include a crime writing section, and knowing we shared similar tastes in the genre's cutting edge, I said I would be happy to contribute.

After floating the idea I hit a few contacts for contributions. What I got, by anyone's reckoning, was a heck of a lot more than I could have hoped for. With the power of the Web, word of mouth spread that a new eZine was on the way and the rest is history.

Pulp Pusher Logo

Pulp Pusher came to life on April 16, 2007 and the snowball has been rolling ever since. The names that rolled in with it, to the surprise of everyone involved, were some of the biggest in the business.

Shamus award-winning Irish crime writer, Ken Bruen; Edgar, Gumshoe and CWA Debut Dagger nominated Allan Guthrie; Donkey Punch author, Ray Banks and London Noir editor Cathi Unsworth filled the pages of the Issue One: Both Barrels.

By issue two Edgar award-winning Charles Ardai; double CWA short story dagger winner Jerry Sykes; Mr Clarinet author Nick Stone; Northcoast Shakedown author Jim Winter; Thug Lit editor Todd Robinson; and author of The Wheel Man, Duane Swierczynski had got on board.

For Ken Bruen, who was questioned about his new novel, Cross by the eZine's hard-headed wiseguy The Pusher, getting involved with the new venture was a positive experience.

Bruen said: “I'm delighted to be on board with a crew who are smart, hip, irreverent, in yer face and, oh envy . . . so damn talented.”

And, Scottish crime writer, Ray Banks - who contributed a piece of short fiction to the first issue - heaped similar praise.

Banks said: “There are far too few outlets for short British crime fiction - when Keith Jeffrey's Bullet magazine bit the dust, I honestly thought that was it. But then comes Pulp Pusher, not just doing the short stuff - and God knows we need quality short fiction of any genre - but doing British fiction with an American energy that typifies the new wave of British crime writing.

“You doubt me, check out the authors The Pusher's collared already - a Bruen interview, an Allan Guthrie interview, Cathi Unsworth - who's a direct literary descendent of Derek Raymond, as far as I'm concerned - Stuart MacBride ... me, I'm just happy to tag along.”

Pulp Pusher was never intended to be a forum for the great and the good alone. All involved firmly believe that there is a wealth of un-tapped crime writing talent out there that is thoroughly deserving of an audience.

Young Edinburgh-based writer, Tom Maxwell, is one such currently un-published author to feature in the pages of Pulp Pusher.

He said: “I'm on the lookout for an agent for my first novel and a forum such as Pulp Pusher is just the kind of thing that can help draw some attention to my writing.

“Writing is a tough business, as everyone keeps telling me, but the people at Pulp Pusher have been incredibly encouraging and helpful.

“My first submission, entitled No. 17, is up in issue two and I'm just thrilled to be a part of it.

“For me, the fact that the eZine is based in Scotland is just amazing. Writers from all over the world are coming to look at Pulp Pusher, submitting work and checking out what the Scots have to offer too ... it's a tremendous achievement for such a short space of time.”

Maxwell is right about the business of writing being tough. I myself have a novel, Paying for It, which is being shopped to publishers by a London-based literary agent and I know from past experiences how hard it is to get attention for unpublished work.

Webzines like Thug Lit and Demolition are huge successes in the United States, but in Scotland such zines are thinner on the ground, with Crime Scene Scotland having to carry the banner almost single-handedly until recently.

At Pulp Pusher we intend to try and tip the balance back in the favour of the writer - put the spotlight on those emerging and established talents - where it deserves to be.

Already, the evidence points to us doing just that. We've attracted so much attention that we've found ourselves doing the work of a small-scale copy agency, supplying both the print and web media with writers' news. Numerous PR plans have also been spun out, providing publicity for our writers, and, there may be more to follow.

However, these activities are pretty far from our original intentions for Pulp Pusher. Our ultimate aim is to produce a print anthology of contributors' work; Pulp Pusher the book may still be some way down the track, but we believe it's a target worth setting our sites on.

  • Cover scan of Donkey Punch
    Donkey Punch - Ray Banks - Paperback
    Cal Innes is fresh out of Strangeways, playing PI and running from a past muddied with ties to local gang lord 'Uncle' Morris Tiernan. Tiernan sends him to LA to chaperone an amateur boxer and Cal finds himself embroiled in fight rigging.

About Tony Black

Tony Black is a former Young Journalist of the Year, his novels are represented by literary agents in London and the US. He lives and works in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. More of his writing can be found online at scotsman.com, Thug Lit, Pulp Pusher, Shots Magazine and is forthcoming in the fall '07 issue of Demolition Magazine. Reach him at t_black_uk@yahoo.co.uk

Tony Black

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