Santa Cruz Noir–the Reunion Tour
I suppose that,strictly speaking, a tour should have more than two stops, but Santa Cruz Noir had a mini revival this month, when some of the local writers and Susie Bright, the editor of this 2018 anthology, were invited by the Santa Cruz County library system to appear at a couple of local libraries this October. The library dubbed October Mystery Month, which also included a panel discussion by local members of Mystery Writers of America, and two solo author talks by Nina Simon on her new book Mother-Daughter Murder Night and Rob Osler on his novel Devil’s Chew Toy. Quite the month for mystery fans!
Our first trip up to the Felton branch library coincided with what was (for Santa Cruz) a swelteringly hot day. No one was terribly surprised, then, that the turnout for this event was small, but we authors had a very fun time just reuniting again, and I was struck again by how good these noirish tales are. And as a reward for getting ourselves up there, we were treated to a story from an audience member who was awoken in the middle of the night by a phone call from Hunter S. Thompson, who was looking for his friend Susie Bright. When the woman politely explained that he had the wrong number, he answered “Doesn’t matter,” and proceeded to have her search her own shelves for a title he was needing, which she obligingly did at the late hour, unlikely as she was to find it. She was eventually able to get a hold of Susie and connect her with Hunter, but the two women had never met until this day. All agreed that even if we hadn’t had fun together, this story would have been worth the price of the journey.
Our second ‘stop’ occurred about ten days later at the Branciforte branch library. This event had the advantage of being in Santa Cruz proper, in the evening, and a great deal cooler (in temperature, that is). It had the disadvantage of lacking several of our Felton adventurers, all of whom were dealing with various unexpected calamities. But we had the presence of several of the SC Noir writers who hadn’t been able to make it up to Felton and so still were able to make a strong showing.
Noir is of course a dark genre, and I have sometimes described it as bleak myself. But believe it or not, some of these readings had even those of us who had read these stories before in stitches, and we as an audience realized that even in dark times, a little light can still break through. Which is a welcome message in our current moment.–Seana Graham
From left to right: Susie Bright, Seana Graham, Peggy Townsend, Vinnie Hansen, Jessica Breheny, Micah Perks and Wallace Baine. And apologies to the Felton readers Jill Wolfson, Elizabeth McKenzie and Jon Bailiff, as well as co-editor Willow Moon Pennell. I didn’t think of asking Jim Maughn to take photos till the second reading.
Seana Graham is the book review editor at Escape Into Life. She has also reviewed for the biography website Simply Charly. She attempts to keep up with her various blogs, including Confessions of Ignorance, where she tries to learn a little bit more about the many things she does not know. She has published stories in a variety of literary journals. The recent anthology Annihilation Radiation from Storgy Press, includes one of them. Santa Cruz Noir, a title from Akashic Press, features a story of hers about the city in which she currently resides.
(I wrote a short description of each story in the book starting on June 22, 2018)