Palm Springs Noir

Palm Springs Noir (Akashic, 2021)

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Palm Springs Noir | Edited by Barbara DeMarco-BarrettI’ve loved Palm Springs for a very long time. In 1987, soon after I moved to Southern California, I drove to the desert on weekends. The desert was a new, unexplored region. There were no deserts near San Francisco, where I’d come from, and certainly not near Pennsylvania or Vermont, where I’d spent most of my life.

Almost a decade later, my husband and I honeymooned in Palm Springs. Low on funds, we wanted a place within a couple of hours of our home, but one that would feel like we were far away, in another country, even. We found the Korakia, its archways, fountains, and white stuccoed buildings more Moroccan than American.

Later still, when I became, among other things, a travel writer, I wrote about desert resorts, Old Palm Springs bed and breakfast inns, and antiquing.

The heat in the summer can be fierce, but it burns away your troubles and cares, at least for a little while, and especially when you’re floating in the pool to a backdrop of music, it’s easy to imagine how it might feel to be carefree.

In 2010, my story, “Crazy for You,” was published in Orange County Noir (Akashic) and was later chosen for USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series. I’d never written noir before writing that story, though I loved film noir and the noir fiction of James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Patricia Highsmith. Noir made me see things differently, made me suspect what lay beneath bright, shiny surfaces. The contrast between light and dark are never more apparent then when I am in the desert. Such a sunny place, what could possibly go wrong?

Seven years ago, I began holding writers retreats in Palm Springs and like any good, i.e. paranoid, traveler and retreat host, I looked up crime in the Coachella Valley and found it wasn’t as sunny a place as it looked. Crime was high—higher than 92% of U.S. cities, and of all the desert cities in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs had—and still has—the most violent crime and property crime. This may be due to Palm Springs being a resort town, and resort towns tend to attract those who prey on tourists who can be oblivious to the opportunists around them. Still, I love it out there. But you don’t tend to see its dark underbelly unless you’re looking for it or are forced to notice.

I was driven. I had to go deeper. I took a leap and proposed Palm Springs Noir to Akashic. Known for its international noir anthologies, no one does noir better than Akashic, and Johnny Temple, Akashic’s publisher, said yes.

I’m happy to report Palm Springs Noir will be published on July 6, 2021, with fourteen stories by a powerhouse group of writers and me. Each story has its own unique flavor and voice as reflected by the diversity and talent of the contributing writers. Although Palm Springs serves as the shining centerpiece to the collection, the richness of the surrounding desert is reflected in stories that travel in all directions—west to Anza, east to Indio, north to Joshua Tree, and south to the Salton Sea.

I hope you enjoy reading these beautiful and complex stories that explore the mystique and majesty of the desert in all its brightness, darkness, and everything in between.

May 6, 2021

Kirkus Review of Palm Springs Noir

Palm Springs Noir | Kirkus ReviewPalm Springs Noir received a great pre-publication review from Kirkus. Check it out!