Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Meet LAst Resort Author Avril Adams "Independence Day"


Excerpt from "Independence Day" by Avril Adams


"So what brings you here?" she said.

"Business or pleasure?" The corners of her lips turned slightly upward when she said "pleasure". Easy does it, Ava. Take your foot off the gas.

"Neither." He glanced, discreetly, she thought, for a wedding ring. She folded her left hand, hiding the crooked middle finger broken during the escape. Frank had sent his own man from the mortuary to push her into a false-bottom coffin for the getaway.

"Art, you might say. I'm a writer. Freelance."

"What are you freelancing?" As if she didn't know.

"I'm covering the Coburn murder trial for People's Gazette Magazine."

"The Coburn murder trial? That gangland murder up in the hills a few years ago?"

"That's the one," he said with emphasis, circling a thick finger around the crest of his glass. Ava shivered, her well-shaped breasts contributing their part to the performance.

She set her drink on the bar and poked at the ice cubes with a swizzle stick while she thought of something to say that would imply she had some sympathy for the victims. "So they finally got the killers," she said. "I remember seeing the coverage and thinking what they did was so cold-blooded." She held her fingers like a pistol. "Each one of them, two to the head, pop, pop, execution style. Weren't there four people in that house? Four college students?”

"I believe so," he said, thoughtfully, after a pause. "Yes, four. You have a good memory, Danni."

One of them was Frank’s niece, you Dumbo. You could have just taken the cocaine, but you’re a killer at heart. So you’re gonna be number five, Conrad Oliver.

The Rochelle Staab Questions Asked of Avril Adams


What is the weirdest thing that's happened to you in Los Angeles?


One night someone knocked on my door. I lived on a hillside at the time and it was a hard climb without a car. I opened the door and there was a woman standing there. She had red hair and wore glasses. She said her car had broken down and asked to use my phone. Right out of a horror movie, right? Well this was in the days before cell phones so it was more reasonable than now. Since she appeared to be alone I agreed to let her use the phone . I pointed it out on the kitchen wall. I was busy for a moment as she picked up the receiver but unknown to her I was watching. I realized she hadn't actually dialed a number but was just pretending to talk to someone. Then I was really scared but I didn't let on. After a minute of very strange conversation she asked if she could stay the night. Whew! I was scared. I finally got her to go outside and locked the door behind her.

Do you have a yet-to-be-realized L.A. dream?

My dreams don't center around this town. This city has a thousand masks and you can try on a few but sometimes the masks can overtake you and you can become part of the craziness. I'm okay with being in it but not of it.

Why write short stories? Why write at all? What's in it for you?

A lot of life is about karma and the law of unintended consequences. Shot stories allow me to play god with these ideas, pack a punch and get out quick. Sometimes short stories leave an indelible mark because they are brief, ephemeral,  pivotal moments in time.

What is the biggest challenge to writing to theme?

Writing to theme can be a curse if you feel you have to be totally linear with it. It can also be a blessing in that it winnows a universe of possibilities down to a manageable few.

Los Angeles is a patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods. Why did you pick the area you used for your story and how did the neighborhood influence your writing?

This city is full of neighborhoods but most people drive through or around them without ever stopping to meet the people that live in them or to experience other cultures. You could have a story with a certain set of facts but it will be completely different when filtered through different neighborhoods and ethnic group experience.

Are there scenes in your story based on real life-yours, hearsay, or a news story you read?

Most of my stories are based on something real, in the news, an idea in a book, something that happened to me. I rearrange the facts and try to figure out why this event is important and what is the theme that I want to dress it in.

What came first, the character or the plot?

For me, always the character.

Available at Amazon
While you are writing: music (what kind) dead silence, or...?

I can sometimes write when there is music or the T.V. going on in the room, usually classical or something without  words. I can work while half-listening to the T.V.  Noise isn't so much a distraction but a mood changer. Sometimes that's also good to change the mood.

What's your favorite writing quote?

I don't really have a favorite but if I did it would remind me that one writes for its own sake and not for a reward or if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

What's my writing ritual?

Don't have one but I often warm up by reading something great by another author.



Avril Adams lives in the Inland Empire.  She writes crime fiction, often in the noir genre.  Her story, "The Lowriders" was included in Last Exit to Murder. She has had several other short stories published.  In addition to crime fiction, Avril writs science fiction with a humanist twist as well as children's stories. She is working on a novel starring an African-Amercican female PI. Her animals are an inspiration for her fiction.






Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Meet LAst Resort Author Gay Degani "Highland Park Hit"


Excerpt from "Highland Park Hit" by Gay Degani


Corner on Figueroa in Highland Park
Photo by Gay Degani
Late afternoon sun streams through my cousin’s renovated house, so bright I’m temporarily blinded, but find myself quickly wrapped in Clovis’s bony arms.  I think he’s crying.

I smooth back his hair. “Talk to me, cher?  Wha’s wrong?”

He points toward the kitchen.

I twist around taking in the open concept of living room, dining, and kitchen, the back yard through sliders, all on view in a single glance. Then I swallow hard at what I spy next. At the foot of the quartz island on the dark laminate floor sprawls a man’s body.

“Stay here,” I say, and offering up a pray to that Detective Lenny Brisco from Law & Order, I creep into the kitchen and stoop to take this poor man’s pulse but there’s a hole in his neck a bullet hole—I know this from TV. His flat dead eyes seem to ask me why?

I don’t know. I throw up. Twice.



The Rochelle Staab Questions asked of Gay Degani:


What is the weirdest thing that ever happened to you in Los Angeles?

Photo by Rachael Warecki
I’ve lived here a long time.  I don’t think I know the difference between something weird and an “only in LA” moment.

Do you have a yet-to-be realized L.A. dream?

I do. I want to write a good suspense novel/film in the vein of “Rebecca,” “Suspicion,” & “Shadow of a Doubt.” These are all domestic suspense stories, and that’s what I think I do best, dealing with regular people in scary situations. It’s what my novel, “What Came Before” is.

Why write short stories? Why write at all? What's in it for you?

Short stories allow a writer to hone his or her craft. 6,000 words are much easier to tackle than 66,000 words. You can rethink the plot, edit, revise, polish, even start over in a relatively short time.

What is the biggest challenge in writing to theme?

I don’t think theme is a challenge. It’s really a tool to help shape a story, decide what should be in and what should be out. It helps keep the characters and plot on track and deepens a reader’s enjoyment. It gives the endeavor meaning.

Are the characters in your story based on you or people you know/met?

Of course.  It’s too difficult to pull stuff out of thin air.  Could you make a vase without clay?  The trick is changing to character to fit the needs of the story.

Los Angeles is a patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods. Why did you pick the area you used for your story, and how did the neighborhood influence your writing?

I’m interested in gentrification, how it affects the residents, though in this story it’s part of the milieu. I chose Highland Park which is an up and coming community in East LA because its close to me is an authentic community. Also I’m interested in other facets of restoring homes and how obsessed people are with watching renovation shows on TV.

Are there scenes in your story based on real life—yours, hearsay, or a news story you read?

No.  This story came about because of the premise of the anthology. I needed to pick an LA area, which dictated what the setting would be. Then all I had to do was kill someone.

What came first, the character or the plot?

Available on Amazon
Character—also dictated by the anthology’s theme: thinking LA is the promised land. I chose a Louisiana cousin as the inspiration for Fanchon Landry, or “Fig” as her family calls her.

While you're writing: music (what kind?), dead silence, or…?

Preservation Hall, Cajun music, the blues.

Favorite writing quote—yours or from someone else…

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.” Ernest Hemingway which leads to my own quote. “Never fear the shit draft.”

Your writing ritual begins with… 

Seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.




About Gay Degani

Available at Amazon


Gay Degani is the author of a full-length collection of short stories, Rattle of Want  (Pure Slush Press, 2015) and a suspense novel, What Came Before (Truth Serum Press, 2016). She’s had four flash pieces nominated for Pushcart consideration and won the 11th Glass Woman Prize. She blogs at Words in Place.















Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Meet LAst Resort Author: Wrona Gall "Thump Bump and Dump"

Excerpt from:  "Thump Bump and Dump" by Wrona Gall

Photo found in the Public Domain


LA embodied a trend-setting dynamic that challenged people to do more, be more, experience everything. This vibe inspired him to reinvent himself, to overcome his melancholy by rescuing an actual victim. Not some wimp like Francine who threw a bottle of pills down her throat.

Local scavengers would have boosted his rental van by now. The thieves were probably barreling down the 101, oblivious to the bloody cargo area. An abandoned house loomed in front of him. The rotted porch, a strong wind away from collapse, creaked under his footsteps. He ducked under the sagging doorframe. Testing the floor with each step kept him from crashing through the wood. After scrubbing every inch of exposed skin with antiseptic, he tossed his wig, moustache and costume onto a pile of garbage. 

He smoothed the wrinkles out of his second layer of clothes, a Lakers T-shirt, cargo shorts and flip flops and dug a candle out of his pocket. He lit the wick and wedged it into his trashed belongings. In a few minutes, Howard Green would be incinerated. He’d again be Stuart Evans, LA cool guy.

Walking toward a glow of neon lights, he texted an Uber to take him to The Grove. This atonement stuff really made him hungry. He craved a juicy cheeseburger oozing bloody grease.


 The Rochelle Staab Questions asked of Wrona


Photo by James R. Gall 
What is the weirdest thing that ever happened to you in Los Angeles?

We moved from Chicago to Ojai a year ago, so I haven’t experienced weird yet. So far, my impressions are great weather and wonderful people.

Do you have a yet-to-be realized L.A. dream?

Seeing my daughter Vanessa on the red carpet.

Why write short stories? Why write at all? What's in it for you?

I write to create the endings I want to be on the news. 

What is the biggest challenge in writing to theme?

Staying on track. I tend to wander.

Are the characters in your story based on you or people you know/met?

My characters are collages of people I know.

Los Angeles is a patchwork quilt of different neighborhoods. Why did you pick the area you used for your story, and how did the neighborhood influence your writing?

I found an LA neighborhood that resembled our inner city Chicago neighborhood of twenty years where street people, artists, and rich collectors mingled and enjoyed each other while gentrification changed the buildings, but not the rich diversity.

What came first, the character or the plot?

Character, always.

While you're writing: music (what kind?), dead silence, or…? 

I play old black and white mysteries that function as white noise.Favorite writing quote—yours or from someone else…

Enjoy what you write.

Your writing ritual begins with… 

Diet Pepsi and a chocolate chip cookie


About Wrona Gall


Wrona Gall moved from Chicago to Ojai with husband, Jim, daughter, Vanessa and rescue Westie, Zoe, in 2016. “Thump, Bump, and Dump” is her second published short story. She is currently writing Resolve, her second novella about Deckle Ahern who is diagnosed low-spectrum autistic and transforms his life from visual artist to Samurai Avenger when his mentor is murdered. Wrona divides her time between writing and sculpture.