Wrestle Maniacs – Out Now!

The 1st of December saw the release of Wrestle Maniacs, a top-notch wrestling-themed short story collection edited by Adam Howe – the author of the highly recommended Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet and Tijuana Donkey Showdown.

Wrestle Maniacs includes my brand new story Real Americans, a standalone piece that also forms an unexpected epilogue to my existing wrestling noir online short story series, which will (hopefully) be collected and published as The Good Book in 2018.

In these stories, unhinged wrestling promoter Frank ‘Fingerfuck’ Flanagan – the owner of the infamous Testament Wrestling Alliance – rules his territory with an iron fist, and his personal road to hell is paved with dead wrestlers.

Real Americans takes place some eight years after the events of The Good Book, and follows the investigation of a brutal murder that sucks in the few surviving figures from Fingerfuck Flanagan’s unstable wrestling stable.

After drawing a line under my own wrestling series earlier this year, I was initially wary of revisiting my old stomping ground, but Real Americans was a hell of a lot of fun to write, and is (hopefully!) far funnier than the stories that preceded it.

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Over at my Dirty Books blog, I’m in the process of interviewing my fellow Wrestle Maniacs (Adam Howe, James Newman, Eryk Pruitt, Ed Kurtz, Hector Acosta, Joseph Hirsch, Duncan P. Bradshaw, David James Keaton, Gabino Iglesias, Patrick Lacey and Jason Parent), regarding their stories – and their own wrestling memories. As such, I think it’s only fair to share a few thoughts on my own relationship with sports entertainment…

I grew up in a small English town in the 1980s, and my first (indecent) exposure to wrestling was via the defiantly un-glamourous duo of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks – a morbidly obese pair of mortal enemies who waddled across my boxy TV screen on Saturday afternoons.

(Years later, when I was in the lucrative employment of Torbay Council, an ex-wrestler used to sleep in one of the shelters on Paignton sea front. I forget his name, but apparently he used to be a big deal and wrestle against Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks back in the day. He used to wake up soaked in his own piss every morning, and the council had to hose down the shelter before the holiday-makers arrived. I had to run interference – scaring off kids who were throwing coins and flicking lit matches at him.)

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After witnessing the underwhelming spectacle of Big Daddy (Shirley Crabtree to his family and friends) going through the motions, experiencing Vince McMahon’s WWF for the first time was a mind-blowing experience. Swollen muscles, bouffant hair, dangerously tight spandex: this was what was missing from my suburban childhood!

I struggle to recall the first ever WWF match that I watched, but I definitely remember renting 1989’s Hulk Hogan vehicle No Holds Barred from the South Pacific video shop, and then watching 1991’s Suburban Commando (twice) at a bizarre makeshift cinema at the English Riviera Centre a couple of years later.

The event that got me hooked, however, was definitely the WWF’s Battle Royal at the Albert Hall VHS from 1991, which I spent my pocket money on at the late, lamented Paignton branch of Woolworths. The London-based event was conceived as a push for a Davey Boy Smith – the British Bulldog – whose surging WWF popularity coincided with the recent arrival of wrestling on Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Sports channel in the UK. (Spoiler alert: Bulldog beat The Barbarian in 10:07 at the Albert Hall event, and then won the 20-man Battle Royal after upending a post-Tugboat Fred ‘Typhoon’ Ottman in the headline match!)

With Hogan, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart not making the trip over to the UK, the Bulldog was allowed to take centre stage (although the event was supposedly Ric Flair’s WWF debut, trivia fans!). With his meaty frame, braided hair and brusque Northern accent, the British Bulldog was an appealingly plausible home-grown alternative to exotic, balding middle-aged Americans like Hulk Hogan, and this event kick-started an obsessive relationship with early ‘90s wrestling – WCW included.

In truth, my own interest in wrestling died long before Davey Boy Smith did – I checked out in around 1995 – but I’ve had a lot of fun revisiting my pubescent passions in recent years, as I have put this series of wrestling stories together. I’ve also filled in a lot of gaps in my post-1995 wrestling awareness, although that initial era remains my clear favourite.

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Anyway, you can check out my earlier wrestling noir stories here (note: I’ll be removing these links in the near-future, as I prepare the collection for publication), and then buy a copy of Wrestle Maniacs to see how the saga ends!

   Amazon US

Amazon UK

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The Blood Red Experiment Issue #1

The chainsaw shrieks as it bites into the meat of her shoulder. She isn’t alive to feel the jagged burn – I strangled her with a length of electrical flex 40 minutes after picking her up outside Harbourside public toilets. She isn’t my usual type. I wasn’t aware of the bleached blonde hair and adult acne at first glance. She was pretty in her own way, but she didn’t excite me, so I didn’t dwell on the killing. The blood from the severed arm starts to pool under her blonde hair. It glints like dog piss on petrol.”

Out now: Issue #1 (of 5) of The Blood Red Experiment, a serialised neo-Giallo magazine edited by Craig Douglas (Near To The Knuckle) and Jason Michel (Pulp Metal Magazine).

The Blood Red Experiment includes my Paignton Noir-Giallo fusion DIDN’T BLEED RED, which features the cult film ALL ANIMALS SCREAM!

To find out more about my story, check out this interview over at the Graham Wynd blog!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Bedlam Money @ Spelk Fiction

“Kendall Spate stinks worse than a wank-splattered lunacy booth. He is wearing an over-sized dog’s shock-collar, and looks like he has difficulty remembering his own name.”

In September I had my 10th story published at UK flash fiction stronghold Spelk.

Big thanks to new editor Cal Marcius for giving a home to Bedlam Money!

 

The Sunset Flip @ Story and Grit

“I first met Peter ‘Chicken Lips’ Delgado back in 1982 when I was wrestling down in Boca Raton. He was a 150lb weakling – out of his depth – and he got tossed around the ring like a rag doll. He barely lasted ten fights before his career flat-lined. I was the one who put him out of commission, with a Sunset Flip at a house show. Flipped him so hard I damn near broke his back. I was young and ruthless back then – more ruthless than I needed to be – and flattened him in front of less than a hundred people, just for the sheer fucking hell of it.”

Last month my latest wrestling noir story The Sunset Flip was published by Story and Grit, the new southern fiction site edited by Mark Westmoreland. Mark is a passionate wrestling fan, and a great short story writer, so his site was the perfect home for this simmering story of legacy and revenge. Check it out!

Skull Meat @ Do Some Damage

Earlier this month I was delighted to have Skull Meat reviewed by Marietta Miles, author of the excellent Route 12 (All Due Respect) over at Do Some Damage.

She said: “Tom’s writing is kinetic and fast-paced, perfectly suited for the break-neck feeling of this novelette. Start reading a few lines and the next thing you know it’s well past the witching hour. SKULL MEAT delivers dirty, British crime at its best. Descriptive. Violent. Bloody. Grotesque. Wait until you meet ‘Swollen’ Roland. I loved it!”

I wholeheartedly recommend checking out Route 12 – one of my favourite books of 2016. Here is my review from last year.

 

 

More Bizarro Than Bizarro – Out Now!

“It’s not even Halloween yet, but the stripper at the Dirty Lemon is already wearing a Santa hat. I drop a fake pound coin in her pint glass and she smiles through broken teeth. Out-of-season seaside towns – other people’s last resorts. I pick my way through the crowd – day-time drinkers crouched perilously on the edges of their barstools, like swollen suburban gargoyles – and head to the toilet.”

Out this week from Bizarro Pulp Press: ‘More Bizarro Than Bizarro’ edited by Vincenzo Bilof.

This collection includes my story, Here Comes That Weird Chill, which plays out like a grindhouse version of Scooby Doo. Set in the Westcountry!

Here is an interview on the Bizarro Pulp Press site in which I discuss my story.

Amazon UK link.

Amazon US link.

Interview @ Bad Citizen Corporation

“I sometimes wonder: could a private investigator really flourish in a town like Paignton? Well, they bulldozed Paignton police station to make way for a property development that never happened, and now they have to send out-of-town cops down in people carriers to raid local crack-houses. So, yeah!”

Last week it was a real pleasure to be interviewed by California crime writer S. W. Lauden over at his Bad Citizen Corporation website.

Steve is a great guy, and I look forward to checking out Hang Time, the third book in his Greg Salem series, next year.

You can read the interview here.

(Image created by S.W. Lauden.)

Dry Salvage @ Near To The Knuckle

“Spaulding was in his eighties, and looked far too vulnerable to put a proper beating on, but I had agreed to give Marie Andretti at least five of his teeth in order to get my full fee. They came loose effortlessly, and the old bastard bled like a stuck pig regardless.”

Last month my 10th story went live at top UK crime fiction site Near To The Knuckle. Check out Dry Salvage!

If you have read my novelette Skull Meat, this story is a sequel of sort, and sees the (un)-welcome return of demented ex-cop Wet-Look, who also appears in Wet-Work, a previous Near To The Knuckle story.

 

 

Skull Meat Reviews

My Paignton Noir novelette Skull Meat has picked up some nice reviews this summer. Check them out:

Book Bloggers:

David Nemeth @ Unlawful Acts:

Skull Meat is the epitome of gritty crime fiction, reading his noir novella is like chewing on a mouthful of sand mixed with shards of sea shells … Set in southwestern England, Paignton along with Torquay and Brixham make up an area that is collectively known as the English Riviera, but Leins’ version of Paignton is a decrepit and more dangerous version of Poisonville in Hammett’s Red Harvest … Leins has created a world where Tarantino’s characters would not live past their first five minutes in town — brutal does not cover the violence that lives in the pages of Skull Meat. If you like your crime fiction filled with dive-bars, whore-houses, and vicious beatings then Leins’ Skull Meat will be the best 99¢ you will have ever spent.”

Adrian Shotbolt @ The Grim Reader:

Skull Meat is dark, gritty, violent and really well-written. The characters are great, despite their limited time on the page and each one is given a memorable name … The violence is realistic and gritty, the dialogue even more so. I couldn’t put this story down.”

Colman Keane @ Col’s Criminal Library:

“Years ago I spent a week on holiday in Paignton with the wife and kids. After reading this one I doubt we’ll be returning. Low life characters, grimy watering holes, seedy nightclubs and dingy brothels, a private investigator or two, a midget and a pornographer, teenage strippers and prostitutes, a beating, a stabbing and lots more. Joe Rey is on a case and plenty of blood is going to get spilled. Fantastic writing, brutal imagery, tremendous turns of phrase with an interesting story.”

Crime Writers:

Paul Heatley, author of An Eye For An Eye (Near To The Knuckle) and Fatboy (All Due Respect): 

“I’ve been a big fan of Tom Leins’ prolific output of short stories for years now, and I’ve been waiting for him to put out something longer –Skull Meat does NOT disappoint. Dirty characters, a filthy setting, gratuitous violence and blacker than black humour, THIS is what I look for in noir fiction. Wonderfully, brazenly over the top Americanised British crime fiction. On every page you’re sure to find a line that will either make you laugh out loud, or it’ll turn your stomach – sometimes both!”

Paul D. Brazill, author of Guns of Brixton (Caffeine Nights) and The Last Laugh (All Due Respect):

“Skull Meat is Brit Grit at its grittiest. Ultra-violent, foul-mouthed, atmospheric, hilarious and choc-full of great lines.  I loved it!”

Gary Duncan, author of You’re Not Supposed To Cry (Vagabond Voices):

Skull Meat is a blast — an eye-wateringly violent tale of mobsters, ex-cons and hopeless bottom-feeders. It’s grubby and unsettling, and it makes you laugh out loud at things you really shouldn’t be laughing at. It’s James Ellroy with the dial turned up. Brutal and brilliant. You have been warned.”

Matt Phillips, author of Bad Luck City (Near To The Knuckle) and Three Kinds of Fool (All Due Respect):

“Hell of a piece of noir. This is as down and dirty as it gets – a brutal look at the dark underbelly where good ol’ Joe does his life’s work. Gritty and surreal and hardscrabble. “The road to oblivion is paved with tiny crimes…” Oh, yes it is.”

Benedict J. Jones, author of The Devil’s Brew (Crime Wave Press):

“In Paignton everyone has a story, and none of them are good … a frenetic roller-coaster of violence and small town crimes … excellent Brit Grit fiction.”

Chris Rhatigan, author of Wake Up, Time To Die (Beat to a Pulp) / Publisher of All Due Respect:

“This is how it’s done. Leins has a voice and style suited for lowlife literature … The superb writing sets this short and brutal work apart from the crowd. Paignton is my kind of town and I’m looking forward to reading the next one.”

 

If you are a book blogger or crime writer and would like a free copy of Skull Meat in exchange for a brief review drop me a line, and I will gladly send one over!

Buy Skull Meat:

Amazon UK link

Amazon US link

Sloppy Operator @ The Flash Fiction Offensive

“Her real name is Carol Cummings, but she prefers to be called Khandi Kane. She likes to tell people she works as a glamour model, but as far as I know she only ever made one topless calendar—for a local petrol station. She is better known as ‘Snow White,’ after she fucked a couple of midgets while shooting a video for a smut-freak called Caruso back in the ‘90s. She was supposed to fuck all seven but the others were too drunk and sat around in the background, wanking and smoking noxious-looking cigarettes.”

Last month I had a brand new Paignton Noir story featured online at the Flash Fiction Offensive: Sloppy Operator, Big thanks to editorial tag-team Rob Pierce and Hector Duarte Jr. for running the story!

I’ve had a whole bunch of stories online at the F.F.O. since making my debut on the old website way back in August 2009 with Triggerman, and it is always a real pleasure to be featured on the site.