Back | Next

Kacey’s Introduction

I blame this whole thing on Raymond Chandler and Chris Smith.

Back in 2015 or so, I was living in Albuquerque, NM, and just really starting to dedicate myself to writing professionally. I started the practice of writing at least a set minimum number of words a day and found my creativity flowing as a result. During this time, Chris Smith (aka my Wonder Twin and/or my Aggressive Muse) and I started talking about detective novels and the noir subgenre. I’d loved The Maltese Falcon as a kid and said that I was interested in learning more. He suggested that I check out Farewell, My Lovely by the late, great Raymond Chandler.

At the time, my youngest was a toddler who had recently transitioned to a twin bed, and so it became our bedtime routine that I would lie down with her, sing her some songs, say a prayer (we’re religious) and then cuddle quietly together until she fell asleep. In order to keep from falling asleep myself, I started reading via the Kindle app on my phone and took Chris’s advice to check out Chandler.


Color me instantly hooked. Not only did Chandler craft some of the most beautiful phrases in the English language, but he absolutely pulled me into the seamy, smoky underworld of the genre. I became a fiend for noir. I devoured the movies Mullholland Falls and Chinatown. I burned through several other Chandler novels. My dreams echoed with the taps of high heels on darkened pavement and I couldn’t get rid of the image of a lone streetlight beaming down through a black-and-white misty scene. I imagined myself as a femme fatale, working every angle to further my own ends…

A story started to take shape in my head. I think I wrote it in about two evenings. When I was done, I sat back and read it and thought: “Wow. I really need to publish this.” Buzz was starting to heat up about the Black Tide Rising anthology from Baen, and so I started to scheme how, exactly, I could get Baen to produce a noir-themed anthology.

Enter Larry Correia.

I’d read the Monster Hunter International series about a year prior, and had liked it enough to comment online. A friend of mine saw the Facebook post and said that in his opinion, the Grimnoir Chronicles series was even better. With Chandler hot on my brain, I bought Spellbound for my Kindle and started reading. Once again, I was hooked. Here again was that gritty, seamy feel, but with a delicious fantasy twist and some really compelling femme fatale characters. I devoured the entire series and wondered if I would ever have a chance to pitch my anthology idea to the man himself.

A year or so later, I got my shot.

I was slated to attend LibertyCon as an “also attending” guest for the second time. Larry himself was scheduled to attend as well. With the wheels turning in my head, I reached out to Rich Groller, the amazing director of programming at LibertyCon and pitched a panel called “Panel Noir: a look at the intersection of noir and genre fiction.” I suggested that Larry’s fans might be interested in hearing him and some of the other guests at Liberty (of which there are hundreds. I’m not kidding. LibertyCon has the highest guest to attendee ratio of any con in the United States) discuss how science fiction and fantasy writers use noir tropes and devices to enhance their stories. I volunteered to moderate and even dressed for the occasion as a femme fatale in a pencil skirt and backseam stockings. It was a blast. The panel was well attended, and the audience really got into the discussion. I was thrilled.

Through sheer serendipity, the schedule that year was such that the annual Baen writers’ dinner followed immediately after Panel Noir. So I traipsed over to the Hot Chocolatier in Chattanooga, TN, in my femme fatale costume and waited for just the right moment to walk up to Larry and say:

“Hey, Larry, thanks so much for doing that panel. Did you enjoy it? What would you say if I said I had an idea for a similar anthology where I’d do all the work, you put your name on it, and we both make lots of money?”

Or words to that effect. As you can imagine, an avowed capitalist such as Larry Correia was intrigued by my presentation and listened to my full pitch.

“I’m really busy this year,” he said. “But it’s a good idea. I’m in. Let’s approach Toni about it next year.”

And that’s what we did. Toni Weisskopf really liked the idea of an anthology focused around the theme of the femme fatale archetype in fantasy and sci-fi fiction. Larry and I got the go-ahead and reached out to some of the best in the business to see what they’d give us.

And boy, did they give us their best.

The anthology you hold in your hands contains thirteen completely different, totally original stories. Some of the characters will be familiar faces, some will be new loves. Every story contains at least a modicum of the gritty darkness that underlies polite society. And every story contains a unique take on the archetype of a woman with her own agenda, ready to reach her goals by any means necessary.

I hope you enjoy this love letter to the femme fatale. We have definitely enjoyed bringing it to you. And I hope that when you’ve finished reading the stories, you’re able to remember that sometimes the hero doesn’t get the girl, but he does the right thing anyway.

That, my friends, is my definition of noir.

—Kacey Ezell

Back | Next