Thursday, May 10, 2018

Ink-Quisitions with Paul Beckman

Q. You oversee numerous New York readings at a place called the Red Room. I’m guessing it’s a bit different than the Red Room in FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY. So what can you tell us about your special playground?

A. Located on the third floor of KGB in New York City, the Red Room was once Al Capone’s speakeasy. It’s a beautifully refurbished room with an excellent sound system, comfortable seats, its own bar—a terrific Manager Lori, and always of great wait staff.

The Red Room is eclectic. It hosts the New York Writer’s Workshop, The East Coast Salon, Mistress Velvitina’s Variety Show, and NeuroNetic Institute of Poetry Monthly. My Fbomb and NY Flash Fiction readings take place the first Friday of every month. For the FBomb flash fiction series there is no cover but a two-drink minimum. We usually have between five and seven readers of either flash fiction or prose poetry.

Q. When you’re not playing around at the Red Room you write a helluva lot of flash fiction. When did you first start writing—and what attracted you to flash—besides the imaginary sex appeal I associate with this form?

A. I’ve been writing flash for well over thirty years and before I knew there was a name for it. I’ve always written short—under 2,000 words—and as I got to read more of the genre I found myself drawn to the under 1,000 word flash mark and also to the under 300 word micro mark. It’s a challenge that doesn’t allow me to go wondering with back-stories, multi-layered descriptions, and more characters than are needed for a flash or micro story. I’m basically a no BS kind of guy and so my personality and my writing are simpatico.

Q. It’s well known in certain circles you used to hang with a dubious crowd. And seein’ as how you’re talkin’ to me, some might say that you still do. But was there an event or series of events that led you to walk a different line? And assuming you aren’t currently in a witness protection program, are there any memories from your old life you might feel inclined to share?

A. Growing up on the opposite side of the tracks I hung with guys whose moors were different than mine when I first moved to the projects. Stealing a car was big time but running numbers (as I did in high school) and filching (God I love that word) apples, bread, spuds, Devil Dogs from small local groceries seemed to be okay. Also, being in a supermarket where ladies leave their pocket books open in the baby seat was akin to taking a number at the deli counter. So much was the challenge rather than the end result. Delivery trucks didn’t lock their doors to make a delivery, people didn’t lock their car doors, and I was most likely the only one of my “dubious” crowd who filched (that word again) library books or books of any kind. All that and I loved Damon Runyon’s Guys and Dolls and the pulps.

Q. Your stories have appeared in places like Yellow Mama and Spelk Fiction alongside many members of the Crime Writing community. Yet while you’ve written Noir and crime, your overall body of work remains diverse. What are some of the reasons you’ve shied away from a single so-called genre? 

A. I don’t think I’ve shied away from a specific genre—I write what comes into my head at any given moment. Sometimes it’ll be a few crime stories in a row and more often it’ll be dysfunctional families, which are fertile fields for me to plow. I always say I’ll stop writing about dysfunctional families when I meet a functional family. I believe I’m safe. Every family has secrets and most secrets are juicy and even juicer when I create them. Being a writer is like having a God complex or an orchestra maestro—good spots that let you control. Maybe that’s also why I could move a lot of planes when I was an Air Traffic Controller. As Mel Brooks said, “It’s good to be king.”

Q. In terms of sheer numbers, you chance to be one of the “busiest” writers I’ve encountered. Your sixth flash collection KISS KISS was released in April by Truth Serum Press—and you show no signs of easing up. What compels you to write so often?

A. Fear. I always have the fear that were I to stop I couldn’t start again. Plus, I like to write and since I rarely know what my story’s going to be about until I finish it, I look forward to seeing what’s going on in my own head.

Q. Your story “All for the Love of a Good Burger”—which found a home at Yellow Mama, remains one of my favorites. So in the greater New York area, what are your top three places to grab a burger?

A. This is the toughest question. I’ll give you two: PJ Clark’s Cadillac Burger on Third Ave and The Luger Burger from Pete Luger’s steak house in Brooklyn. (Big enough to share.)

Readers hungry for flash can find Paul’s KISS KISS assortment here:  paperback  e book

You can also visit Paul on Facebook. Or find him at his website (which contains Links to his published stories that readers can sample for free).

Going to be in NYC? You can find the schedule for KGB and the Red Room here:

Interested in learning more about the Fbomb Flash Fiction Reading Series which was created by Denver writer Nancy Stohlman in 2013? Then here’s a good article from Smokelong Quarterly in which Paul was interviewed alongside Nancy:


1 comment:

  1. That was a good interview. Paul Beckman is definitely on my radar.