Tuesday, 17 June 2014

KA Laity: High Plains Lazarus

Welcome back to a lady who needs no introduction, but I'll give her one anyway :-)

She's an award-winning author of such stories as Unquiet Dreams and the Chastity Flame Series with Tirgearr Publishing, but also has many other titles to her name -- Rook Chant, Owl Stretching, Pelzmantel, and Unikirja, a collection of short stories and a play based on the Kalevala, Kanteletar, and other Finnish myths and legend, for which she won the 2005 Eureka Short Story Fellowship, as well as a 2006 Finlandia Foundation grant. With cartoonist Elena Steier, she created the occult detective comic Jane Quiet.

And if that weren't enough, she also a prolific writer under not one, not two, but three other name de plumes -- Kit Marlowe (Constance & Collier Series and The Mangrove Legacy with Tirgearr), C Margery Kempe (The Man City Series, The Swan Prince, and Love on a Spoon with Tirgearr), and Graham Wynd (a collection of noir including the most recent White Rabbit with Fox Spirit).

Don't think she's busy enough? She's also a professor, lecturer, and researcher. She loves old films, old pubs, and funky coffee houses, where I'm sure she gets a lot of her story ideas. And, enviably, she splits her time between the US and Scotland.

Who is this enormously interesting woman? Why, the incomparable, Ms KA Laity!

If you wonder how she manages to fit it in, you *must* pick up a copy of her wildly popular book, How To Keep Writing with a Full Time Job.

In keeping to character, Kate brings us, as she coins it, a weird western tale. It's a little bit horror, a little bit thriller, mostly western, and a lot funny as hell -- High Plains Lazarus.

If you're picturing a zombie Clint Eastwood in an old spaghetti western, you'd be about on track, though Kate prefers Paul Newman as her hero ;-) Either way you look at it, our hero has a predicament. People are turning up dead, but they refuse to lie down and stop twitching. What's a man to do when dead folks are after you and bullets aren't working?

This is a fabulously funny story which includes all of the traditional western background to set the scene, loads of western lingo, and a hugely engaging hero called Finn. Laity has created a wonderfully visual story here where reader senses will be put to the test by being drawn into the story by the shirt collar to fight zombies side by side with the characters. The old west will come alive . . . err dead? . . . in ways you'll never expect. An awesomely funny read.

Kate will be here through the day to answer any of your questions. And Tirgearr Publishing is giving away a copy of High Plains Lazarus to one lucky commenter. So get your skates on and be sure to leave your contact email address so we can get a hold of you if you win.

And take note, to celebrate the release of High Plains Lazarus, Tirgearr Publishing has reduced the price of Unquiet Dreams: A Mumuration of Unsettling Tales to just 99c/77p through June!

• • •

Dead folk are just about the last thing you want to see while wandering through the deserts of the great wild West. Things get a whole lot worse if they're not the lying down kind of dead but the running around trying to take a bite out of you sort. Whatever's got the corpses jumping is bound to spell a bad day for anyone unlucky enough to ride into town.

As another bottle went whizzing past my head, I knew that I had made some serious miscalculations. I knew, too, that Jim was likely to kill me because of those miscalculations, but at the moment that shambling wreck of a corpse was a much more pressing issue. I had unloaded most of my pistol into it already when Jim shouted that I should quit wasting bullets like they were made of manure and throw something more substantial, but somehow I found myself reluctant to put down the guns as they still seemed like a good idea. I might not be good at much of anything, but I was damn handy with a pistol most of the time.

Cursing his illustrious forebears, I finally holstered my beloved pearl-handled Colts and looked around for something heftier. The dead guy continued his staggering plunge toward me, so I grabbed a chair and flung it wildly across the room. It fetched up a glancing blow on his shoulder, which spun him around to the left. Jim took advantage of this momentary turn in events and hefted up another chair, bringing it down with a little more venom on the old guy’s noggin. The feller crashed to the floor with the splitting wood and lay there twitching and broken, but at least no longer mobile. Jim muttered something under his breath that could have easily been “stupid fucking white man”, but I tried to believe that it was aimed at the corpse and not me.

“Well, that don’t happen every day,” I said needlessly.

Jim just stared at me and wiped some of the blood away from his mouth. His name wasn’t really Jim. It was just I could never quite get my mouth around his real name without calling up a cough and he somewhat pityingly told me to stick with Jim, which is what he told most people who didn’t impress him on first meeting. It wasn’t that I meant any disrespect—I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, I know, as my pop always used to tell me—but that Navajo is a twisty language that leaves my tongue twitching in pain whenever I try to repeat the things he tries to explain to me.

“It's still wiggling,” Jim cautioned as I stepped forward to take a look.

“I know, I know, I ain’t an idjit.” Sure enough, the old man was jerking around like a fish on the end of a line, his sightless white eyes rolling around, but his limbs seemed to convulse almost uselessly now. Not like before. “What do you suppose he’s got?”

Jim moved warily toward the too-lively body. “Whatever he has, we don’t want to catch it, I think.”

“Damn! You don’t suppose it’s catching?” I took a quick two-step back and looked around at what had seemed to be a normal sort of shack house. We rode up and hallooed at the open door. As usual, we had been trying our luck to exchange a little work for a hot breakfast of some kind. Now instead we had a strange dead man on our hands with something that might be catching.

“Maybe it is catching, maybe it isn’t,” Jim replied evenly, gazing closely at the old man’s face. “Best to be careful in the meanwhile.”

“Well, hell.” No arguing with that. “You ever seen anything like this?”

“No.” Jim picked up a broken chair leg and poked at the guy’s shoulder. He made a sort of wheezing sound and tried to attack the chair leg. He didn’t have much luck with that because both his arms seemed to be broken. In fact, the jagged end of one bone poked up through the graying skin I could see now as he rolled over weakly trying to right himself. The bone shone out as a flash of white in that corpsely flesh. Under the surface, the broken bones poked every which way. It was a peculiar sight.

“I think we better dismember the body,” Jim said, after we’d watched the old guy struggle aimlessly for a time without making any move to get up and go after us again.

“You mean chop it up?”

“That would be the gist of it in words of one syllable,” Jim said. If you didn’t know him, you might not have realized that he was being sarcastic. It took me a couple of months of riding with him to understand that sometimes he was just being funny when he said things that sounded a bit harsh. Me, I tell you when I’m making a joke. More like to get a laugh that way. Jim just figures you’ll find it out somehow. Inefficient, I call it.

“Why you want to chop him up?”

“Well…he’s dead, yes?”


“But he’s still moving, yes?”

“Yeah,” I said, “obviously.”

“Well, if we chop him to pieces, maybe he will stop moving and be all dead.”

Kantele music provided by the author herself. Just one of her many talents!
• • •

K. A. Laity is the award-winning author of Rook Chant, Owl Stretching, Pelzmantel and Unikirja, a collection of short stories and a play based on the Kalevala, Kanteletar, and other Finnish myths and legend, for which she won the 2005 Eureka Short Story Fellowship as well as a 2006 Finlandia Foundation grant. With cartoonist Elena Steier she created the occult detective comic Jane Quiet. Her bibliography is chock full of short stories, humor pieces, plays and essays, both scholarly and popular. She also writes romance as C. Margery Kempe and Kit Marlowe.

Find KA Online --

KA Laity http://www.kalaity.com
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/k.a.laity
Twitter https://twitter.com/katelaity
Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2915710.K_A_Laity
Amazon http://www.amazon.com/K.-A.-Laity/e/B002KL29FG
Lady Smut http://ladysmut.com
Tirgearr Publishing http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Laity_KA

-- > Don't forget, Kate is giving away a copy of High Plains Lazarus to one lucky commenter. Leave her a question or comment here with your email address to be automatically in the draw.

Or you can grab a copy of High Plains Lazarus now for just $1.99 through Tirgearr Publishing.


  1. Welcome back to Heart of Fiction and congrats on the release of High Plains Lazarus.

    This is a wonderfully funny story. Where in the world did you get the idea for it?

    1. Funnily enough, it came about through desperation. I was going to Trinoc-con and knew I had a reading slot and had come to hate everything I had ever written. So I needed something fun to read real fast. I wrote the first half of this in about a day or two and then read it out. "What happens next?!" people asked at the end. "Um, I don't know yet!." :-)

    2. I love how that happens though. In a pinch, eleventh hour, quickquick! Bam, there it is. And it works! :-)

      What else have you worked on that was like that?

    3. My short story 'Chickens' (about 6K) I wrote in a single night when I finished grading all the short stories from my Galway class. After reading all their stories I really wanted to write one of my own -- and Matt Hilton was looking for ACTION stories, so it was fun to write one that was mostly action and dialogue.

    4. I'll have to look up Chickens!

      What's next for you on the publishing front?

  2. I love Kate's writing - and I love Kate. Is there no end to the wonderful worlds this woman will wander in search of a tale to tell us?

    1. Aww, my fan! It's good to have one ;-) Thanks, Jay! Your kind words are always welcome.

  3. Sounds great Kate! I loved that you continued the reading on from the excerpt. Tirgearr will have to get into the audio book game I reckon!

    1. Heh, well I figure people will see it as more value (though honestly I didn't remember how much Kem was going to excerpt here). Hee! I love doing readings!