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Palm Springs Noir, edited by local author Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, launches on July 6

On Tuesday, July 6, Palm Springs Noir (Akashic), an anthology edited by Corona del Mar author Barbara DeMarco-Barrett – which includes a story penned by her – will be launched. It is now available for pre-order wherever you buy your books. 

With this publication, Akashic Books continues its award-winning series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each book comprises all new stories, each one set in a distinct location within the geographic area of the book. 

Palm Springs Noir features 14 stories by a powerhouse group of writers. Each story has its own unique flavor and voice as reflected by the diversity and talent of the contributing writers. It features brand-new stories by T. Jefferson Parker, Janet Fitch, Eric Beetner, Kelly Shire, Tod Goldberg, Michael Craft, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Rob Roberge, J.D. Horn, Eduardo Santiago, Rob Bowman, Chris J. Bahnsen, Ken Layne and Alex Espinoza.

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. 

Palm Springs Noir has already garnered high praise: 

–“An appealing anthology of 14 stories about life and crime in the Mojave Desert’s playground to the stars.” –Mystery Scene Magazine.

Included in Publishers Weekly’s Adult 2021 Announcements (Mysteries & Thrillers).

Palm Springs Barbara

Local author Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

Courtesy of Barbara DeMarco-Barrett

From the introduction by DeMarco-Barrett:

“The best noir writers make us feel the heat of the sun, the touch of a lover. Setting can be gritty but can also be sublime, no longer relegated to urban locales and seedy hotel rooms but also mansions and swimming pools. Hence, Palm Springs, which may seem like an odd setting for a collection of dark short stories – it’s so sunny and bright here. The quality of light is unlike anywhere else, and with an average of three hundred sunny days a year, what could go wrong?...

“The stories in this collection come on like the wicked dust storms common to the area. More than half are by writers who live here full time; all have homes in Southern California. They know this place in ways visitors and outsiders never will. These are not stories you’ll read in the glossy coffee table books that feature Palm Springs’s good life. There is indeed a lush life to be found here, but for the characters in these stories, it’s often just out of reach.”

DeMarco-Barrett describes the path that led to Palm Springs Noir.

“I’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 she became, among other things, a travel writer, she 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,” said DeMarco-Barrett.

Palm Springs book cover

Click on photo for a larger image

Submitted photo

“Palm Springs Noir” launches on July 6

In 2010, her 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 than when I am in the desert. Such a sunny place, what could possibly go wrong?”

Seven years ago, she began holding writers’ retreats in Palm Springs. “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 percent 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.”

She 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, Akashi’s publisher, said yes. 

“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,” said DeMarco-Barrett.

To celebrate the launch on Tuesday, July 6 at 6:30 p.m., Skylight Books in L.A. will feature DeMarco-Barrett and contributors Janet Fitch, Eric Beetner and T. Jefferson Parker who will discuss Palm Springs Noir. This virtual event will be hosted by Skylight Books. For more information or to register, visit their website by clicking here.

For more information about events on July 11, 14 and 15 and Zoom logins, go to www.penonfire.com.

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