“Mr. Dynamite,” “Soul Brother No. 1,” “The Godfather of Soul,” deadbeat dad, convicted spousal abuser…
James Brown was all those things and so much more. Yet it can’t be denied his music impacted a generation of fans and influenced a grip of musicians who came after him—from David Bowie, Janelle Monae to Usher just to name three. In the tradition then of other Down & Out Books music-themed anthologies such as Murder-A-Go-Go’s: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of the Go-Go’s and The Great Filling Station Holdup: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Jimmy Buffett, this all-original set of fourteen stories follows in that stead.
The idea expressed to the writers was not literal interpretations of any given song by Mr. Brown. Rather to use that title or lyric and the ofttimes edginess behind such efforts as “King Heroin” and “The Payback,” or the fun in “Make it Funky,” as a prompt, a starting point for the story the contributor wanted to tell. Covers the Godfather of Soul did of others’ songs could have also been tapped. While the majority of stories in the collection are prose, there is a comics style one and more than one of the text versions have an illustration or two to accompany the story.
The collection includes stories by six-time Bram Stoker Award winner Lisa Morton; Anthony, Barry and Macavity Awards winner James Ziskin; Jim Fusilli, former Rock & Pop critic for the Wall Street Journal; and HBO Max Doom Patrol staff writer and comics creator Ezra Claytan Daniels.
Other contributors include Shamus Award winner Gar Anthony Haywood; Mysti Berry, creator and editor of the Low Down Dirty Vote anthologies; five-time Derringer and Golden Derringer Award winner John M. Floyd; Lise McClendon, writer of the Bennett Sisters mysteries; cultural critic and short story writer Michael Gonzales; novelist and former Miami Vice showrunner and writer-producer on Hill Street Blues Robert Ward; Fabrice Sapolsky, comics creator of FairSquare Comics’ Intertwined and Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man Noir; filmmaker and pioneer of Hip Hop horror Jeff Carroll; crime fiction novelist and Dark Yonder editor Katy Munger; and hardboiled novelist and co-producer on Snowfall, Gary Phillips.
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