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"....AND EVERYTHING CHANGED": AN INTERVIEW WITH MORE GROOVY GUMSHOES EDITOR MICHAEL BRACKEN

A couple years ago Michael Bracken put together the anthology Groovy Gumshoes, a collection of original private eye short stories that take place in the sixties. He recently released a follow up, More Groovy Gumshoes, that proves to be as entertaining. I'd personally argue it is also more introspective about the period than the first. Michael was kind enough to take some questions.



HARD WORD: How did a follow up to Groovy Gumshoes come so quickly?


MICHAEL BRACKEN : More Groovy Gumshoes (Down & Out Books, 2023) is the follow-up to Groovy Gumshoes (Down & Out Books, 2022), and both contain stories about private eyes in the psychedelic sixties. When I sent out the call for submissions to Groovy Gumshoes, I received more great stories than I could fit into a single volume. Even though I didn’t have a commitment for the follow-up volume, I asked several writers whose work I didn’t include in the first volume if I could hold their stories just in case. They nearly all agreed, so when Down & Out greenlit More Groovy Gumshoes, I had nearly enough stories already on hand. I asked two writers with whom I’ve previously worked if they would contribute stories to round out the anthology, and they agreed. H.W. : Did you notice any difference between the collections?


M.B. : I don’t think there is a striking difference between Groovy Gumshoes and More Groovy Gumshoes because I think of them as one large anthology split in two. I selected all stories but two from the same open submission window, and organized both volumes at essentially the same time. H.W. : What about the era makes it a prime background for storytelling?

M.B. :The sixties—especially the tail-end of the sixties—were a time of great cultural upheaval. Long established social norms were challenged and everything changed, from music to fashion to social mores. For these anthologies, I asked contributors to imagine private eyes working during this time, but the sixties would serve as a great background for nearly any subgenre of crime fiction.

H.W. :Graham Powell has a great story in the collection, “Plutonium Blonde.” He's appeared in some of your other anthologies. What do you like about his writing?

M.B. : Graham always sends me stories with situations and characters I didn’t expect—like the real-life character who plays a part in “Plutonium Blonde.” He also provides clean manuscripts that require little work to make publication-ready, and that always makes editors happy.

H.W. : What are some private eye novels from the sixties that you would recommend?

M.B. : One can’t imagine the sixties without John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee novels.

H.W. : What can you tell us about the next historical PI anthology you have coming out, Prohibition Peepers?


M.B. Prohibition Peepers, releasing later this summer from Down and Out Books, features private eye stories set during and shortly after the end of prohibition. The stories in this anthology take the reader back to the Black Mask days, but the contributors all avoided writing pastiches and each writer brought something new to stories set in those days.



On April 21st Graham Powell will be reading from his story in More Groovy Gumshoes at Vintage bookstore and wine bar in Austin, TX, April 21st, 7PM.




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