The Color of Coal

The Inlander's 2015 Fiction Issue

I'm a fiction writer, but I've been writing weird essays for the Inlander, and I was excited by the invitation to publish weird fiction here too, not to mention asking other writers to contribute their weird stories for this special fiction edition. Spokane is a fiction town — so many great writers and readers here. Lots of great poets, too, I know that. But this issue is about fiction. Hard-boiled fiction. Black-night-of-the-soul fiction. Noir. It's about playing with genre, form and darkness.

After settling on a theme — Holiday Noir — I asked for work from some of my favorite writers, each representing one of the five families (and if you don't get the "five families" reference, go watch The Godfather, parts I and II. Then watch again. Then watch six more times): There's Robert Lopez, representing our interests in Brooklyn, New York; Stacey Richter, joining us from Tucson, Arizona; Lily Hoang, of the Las Cruces, New Mexico Hoangs; and Jess Walter and me, from the darkest heart of Spokane.

The stories here are about dames and drunks, tweakers and junkies, arsonists, private dicks and bindle punks, the usual holiday fare. Coal's too good for these ginks and girlies. So buy yourself a drink, light up a gasper, and settle in for a dark evening alone, taking comfort in the fact that you're not nearly as horrible as the people in these stories, and that here, finally, is a place within the relentless holiday season where you won't have to worry about redemption. There won't be any. ♦

• The Matchstick Killer, by Lily Hoang

• Krystal Kringle, by Jess Walter

• Candy Claus, By Samuel Ligon

• How to Stop Working and Start Living, by Stacey Richter

• Woodpecker Pie for Christmas, by Robert Lopez

Harold Balazs: Leaving Marks @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Continues through June 3
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