The January Newsletter (part one…)
Sunset and Jericho is out in less than four months!
Here’s a blurb from Dennis Heaton, writer and showrunner of Motive, The Order, and Call Me Fitz, among other film and tv stuff. His latest show, The Imperfects, is on Netflix:
“Sunset and Jericho is classic Wakeland: sardonic, cynical and in way over his head. It’s also classic Wiebe: a fast-paced page-turner with a sucker punch for an ending. If you’re already a fan, you know what to expect. If this is your first foray into Wakeland territory, I envy you.”
Please pre-order Sunset and Jericho from your local independent bookstore (or online product barn).
I’m making some changes to the newsletter this year.
First, I’m moving from Mailchimp to Substack, which if nothing else should result in a cleaner and easier read. I like the way Substack looks, and most people seem to as well.
Second, the content. I use this newsletter to keep people abreast of what I’ve got going on, and to share recommendations for books and movies, short pieces on craft, etc. That’s not changing. But I also want to do some longer pieces.
Shot in Vancouver: I’ve written articles for Montecristo on Vancouver film topics, from Romeo Must Die to the history of Riverview Mental Hospital. I find Vancouver’s film industry fascinating—which is good because I also find it unavoidable. On Friday I walked past the crew of Spiderwick Chronicles dismantling the haunted mansion.
70s Crime films, westerns, TV procedurals, and social realist films. Like my introductions for Night Movesand The Conversation at VIFF last year, and my Montecristo piece on McCabe and Mrs. Miller and The Outlaw Josey Wales. I want to write about Cracker (maybe my favorite crime show) and Sherwood (the latest one that really stood out to me).
Contemporary book reviews are dicey, because I don’t want to shit on someone’s honest effort, nor do I want to pointedly avoid doing that by writing one of those “Fans of this author will sure like this one!” type reviews. But older crime novels—Laidlaw, Daughter of Time, Looking for Rachel Wallace—I think about those books a lot, and I want to write about them in some depth.
Craft pieces on writing and publishing? Yes.
Fiction? Not ruling it out.
Interviews, Q and As, guest posts, live events…all on the table.
Most of this will be free but there will be a paid tier, set at the lowest amount per month/year, and some stuff will be subscription-only. It’s how I’ll afford to do this, and it’ll help with writing the next novel.
Subscribing to anything is a big ask. I don’t do it lightly. I certainly don’t want your last five bucks. But if you have it and want to support local crime writing, if you value what I do, or if you want a little extra help with your own work and think this might be of use, please consider a paid subscription. It’s appreciated, as is reading this every month.
By the end of the week you’ll receive the first Substack post from samwiebe.substack.com. (Please whitelist the address, and if you don’t want to, either unsubscribe or email me and I’ll take you off.)
The very first review I ever received was a starred review from Booklist, which called Last of the Independents “a literary achievement” but also “not a beach read.” The last nine years have borne both those out. The work is good, it’s important to me, I’m going to keep at it, this will help.
So please read and enjoy the new and improved, deeper, more interactive, and better newsletter. Whitelist the address. Subscribe if you’d like. Send in your suggestions. Thank you.
I watched the trailer for Marlowe, starring Liam Neeson and directed by Neil Jordan. Casting Diane Kruger as Jessica Lange’s daughter is inspired, and I hope it’s good. Jordan wrote and directed Mona Lisa, one of my all-time favorites, so it’s possible.
But here’s what I’d do with Philip Marlowe:
First, the setting would be present day LA. Yes, Chandler captured the postwar era, but the stories are about hypocrisy and weakness and corruption. There's plenty of that to go around in 2023.
Second, Marlowe is a PI. Not a cop. Not a lawyer. Not an internet sleuth. A working stiff, someone "trying to make a living and stay reasonably honest," as Chandler once wrote.
Third, there would be female characters and lots of them, and NONE would look or dress or act like a '40s femme fatale. There'd be motive and reason to their violence, not motiveless malignity.
Fourth, Marlowe's relationship with the police is broadly antagonistic. They don't see him as fundamentally different from the gangsters and cons he associates with, and he's all too aware of the system's ability to grind people down on a whim.
Five, any fight he gets into, he takes as much damage as he dishes out. Being used to violence doesn't bestow bulletproofing. It just means you're not surprised at how awful people can be to each other.
Six, he'd avail himself of any modern-day work convenience he could--car co-ops, shared office space, Zoom, etc. Marlowe still mostly works face to face, but he's not ignorant of the world around him; he uses it as he sees fit, while disdaining it.
Seven, the city is multicultural, and Marlowe is comfortable in it (while always somehow feeling a little out of place.) He'd speak Spanish, maybe a little Japanese or Korean.
Eight, the villains would be the bootleggers and racketeers of our day: Oxy heiresses, real estate flippers, corrupt officials who hold onto the passports of their household staff. He'd know what fentanyl and tranq are, maybe be in recovery himself.
What I'd keep above all is Marlowe's voice--sarcastic and humanist, elegant and profane, playing the register between the gutter and the penthouse. Stunned at casual death despite experience. Wry. Funny. Serious.
Taking nothing away from Jordan’s or anyone else's swing at it, that's the Marlowe I'd want to see and read. That's the PI story that resonates with me. And if that sounds something like a Wakeland novel, well…
Sunset and Jericho comes out April 2023.