Anna Lea Jancewicz:
I saw Spaceballs as a kid, before I ever watched the Star Wars movies. Kind of wrecked the experience, I guess. I’ve never been able to take Luke or Vader or any of the rest of them quite seriously. Maybe that’s part of why I’ve always swung to the Trek side.
I was a little anxious about the possibility of popping my Crime Fiction cherry to the same tune, because I’d realized that my conception of it was pretty much stitched together from cross-genre parody episodes of TV sitcoms. My mental image of Sherlock Holmes is a Hanna-Barbera cartoon cat with some kind of fucked-up hat and a magnifying glass.
I never said I was sophisticated.
I did figure out I’d be more likely to enjoy Crime Fiction with noir flavor. Hard-boiled anti-heroes, cynical and moody. Moral ambiguity. Hopefully, a few smutty bits. Eighty-six the high class British accent, I’m good.
And I kept reading very enticing things about this Steph Post. I was already wildly curious about the description of her as “the official voice of working class literature in Florida, akin to what Daniel Woodrell has done for Missouri, or Ron Rash for the Carolinas,” but when I heard her work labelled North Florida Noir, I was in thrall. I spent about five years living in and around Jacksonville, and my mother and sisters are scattered across the region. This sounds like the best possible noir for me!
I snatched up a copy of Post’s newest release, Walk in the Fire, and crossed my fingers that the novel, which has been hailed as “a wild ride through the dark side of the sunshine state,” would manage to take me on that ride without populating it with a slew of stereotypical dipshits and dirtbags.
Steph Post does not disappoint.
Her dipshits and dirtbags crackle with authenticity and are beautifully complex.
Seriously, though. The Florida landscape is swampy and flat, but her characters never are. The plot is clever, the pace is swift, and it’s all wickedly cinematic, but the truest excellence is in the nuances and ambiguities of the personalities she has created. The Cannon Family and all who constellate around them are both brutal and tender, fierce and darkly funny, very human. Brother Felton, in particular, knocked me out. One of the most compelling and unforgettable characters I’ve read in a long time.
Not only was I swept up in an edge-of-yer-seat crime thriller without once thinking about the “Al Bundy, Shoe Dick” episode of Married… with Children or Captain Picard on the holodeck, but I was genuinely invested in the working class Floridian underbelly so deftly portrayed. I’m putting all of Post’s books on my to-read pile.
I asked Steph to share with Rabble some dirt on her background, and her thoughts on writing working class characters.