Greg Bardsley


Greg Bardsley

A novelist, columnist and veteran of Silicon Valley, Greg Bardsley tells stories about people trying to find their way in a rapidly changing world. He is the author of The Bob Watson [2016] and Cash Out [2012], which was listed by the New York Times as one of five notable novels written about Silicon Valley. His award-winning short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and his columns have appeared in CNN, The New York Post and other forums. A former journalist and speechwriter, he lives in the San Francisco Bay area.

One year ago

One year ago tonight, I let out a long sigh of relief. 

I’d just watched our system of laws, checks and balances (not to mention a few courageous individuals) thwart a final effort by a United States president to overturn his election loss. 

In the weeks and days leading up to that day, we’d all watched (or heard) our president employ a series of increasingly disturbing tactics to try to undo the will of the people. We’d heard the recorded phone call in which he’d threatened a Georgia election official if he didn’t “find” enough votes to reverse the results there. We’d seen how he’d invited small-town election officials to the Oval Office in hopes of convincing them to toss out validated results that helped deliver Michigan to Joseph R. Biden. And we’d read how he’d fired “disloyal” military leaders in the days and weeks leading up to the transfer of presidential power.

Back then, I was troubled that more people weren’t deeply disturbed by all of this. I found myself wondering if I was overlooking something that would explain their relative silence? Had I been watching too much cable news? Was I trapped in my own echo chamber? Were these news stories, recordings and anecdotes actually not nearly as important as they seemed to me? 

But then came Jan. 6, 2021, when the president of the United States incited a riot. And not just any riot, but one that actually succeeded in delaying the certification of our election–perhaps the most sacred proceeding of our democracy. We all sat helpless as the MAGA mob infiltrated the Capitol building with its Confederate flags, Trump banners and zip-ties. For the next three hours, our president sat in the dining room near the Oval Office and watched it all on TV, reportedly mesmerized by the fear and chaos he’d created. He tapped out a vindictive this-is-what-you-get message on Twitter. When he finally did speak, he told his mob, “We love you; you’re very special.”

Although that day was horrifying on many levels, I also saw hope. 

I truly believed that Jan. 6, 2021, was The Moment. 

This would be The Moment that would reveal with great clarity to anyone who hadn’t yet understood the jeopardy this president was willing to put our democracy in order to stay in power. After this dark day, I was sure that only the most zealous, vacuum-wrapped, unreachable of Trump’s followers would fail to finally see him for what he’d just become: One of the most notorious figures in American history.

On that night, I was sure that all of Congress [not just Democrats and a few principled Republicans] would take the earliest opportunity to unanimously impeach and convict this president. I believed that this man would live the remainder of his days as an American outcast [if not also as an inmate at a federal prison]. 

One year tonight, I was certain that all of our elected officials would cross partisan lines to ensure that something like this would never happen again. Collectively, they’d agree that the will of the people [our democracy] would always come first, that it is more important than personal interests, partisanship, culture wars, Supreme Court appointments, policy differences and deep-seated resentment. 

A year later, there’s a sinking feeling in my stomach. It’s the kind that skids lower and lower until it anchors to the pit of my gut and expands painfully in all directions, until I’m forced to accept that something is very very wrong:

A year later, our democracy is in grave danger. 

In the February impeachment trial of Trump, too few Republicans had the courage or foresight to convict him of inciting an insurrection. In fact, most Republican leaders have refused to condemn Trump, and the former president has not become the party outcast he should be. In fact, he is unquestionably the most powerful member of the Republican party, and now some of our elected representatives have taken steps to fill key election roles around the country with Trump loyalists, people who (unlike their predecessors) might be willing to “find” Donald Trump some votes in 2024.

A year later, Trump still hasn’t been held truly accountable for his efforts to upend our democracy. Most troubling of all, there’s no indication that the Justice Department is investigating Trump and his top enablers for the crime of impeding the electoral certification and attempting to deprive citizens of their constitutional right to vote.

Some 727 people have been charged in the insurrection, but not one of them is Trump or his fellow instigators. Donald Trump is not behind bars nor in criminal court; instead, he is at his resort where he’s making plans for a Jan. 15 rally that will perpetuate his election lies and celebrate the deadly mob that tried to subvert our democracy. 

And that is an American disgrace.

One year ago today, I believed that we’d finally experienced The Moment that would unite nearly all Americans to protect our democracy. Today, it’s clear that moment has not come, and I worry if it ever will. 

But there is something we can do.

Congress still hasn’t passed important voting-rights legislation that would help protect our democracy. This is because Senate Democrats lack the votes to stop a Republican filibuster that is killing important voting-rights legislation that would help protect our elections. On Jan. 17, they will vote on whether to change those rules so that the filibuster rule would be lifted and these important protections can become law. In Washington, DC, they call this the “nuclear option” because it is considered to be an extreme political move with potentially long-lasting ramifications to bipartisanship. 

But if ever there was a time in politics to go “nuclear,” it is now. 

Hanging in the balance is nothing less than the future of our democracy.

Favorite read of 2011

This past year I read some great books, but in terms of delivering page after page of reading pleasure, nothing quite measured up to Frank Sinatra in a Blender by Matthew McBride.

McBride’s debut novel was one of the funniest books I have read in a long time. I laughed hard. I laughed so hard, in fact, that I wept — tears rolling down my cheeks, my nose running. There’s also a pretty compelling story in there, centering around the wonderfully drawn Nick Valentine (think, Bad Santa meets Hunter S. Thompson) and his hilarious little dog, Frank Sinatra.

I won’t spoil anything here, but suffice it to say McBride pulls off the difficult trick making you care about some of the most amusing, disturbing and low-functioning people you could dream up, and he does it with grace, economy and flare. I couldn’t put it down.

Hat’s off to you, Mr. McBride.

‘REVOLTING’ — Publishers Weekly

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have a story in the new, critically acclaimed anthology, Crime Factory: The First Shift, featuring fresh fiction by Ken Bruen, Dennis Tafoya, Charlie Stella, Dave Zeltserman, Craig McDonald, Leigh Redhead, Aidrian McKinty, Scott Wolven, Jedidiah AyresKieran Shea and many more.

Hailed by the Library Journal as “a beast of noir,” The First Shift is edited by maestros Cameron Ashley, Keith Rawson and Jimmy Callaway, and I am honored to have my new piece, Microprimus Volatitus, included even if Publishers Weekly calls the story “revolting.”

Warning: As this story features a horny, volatile primate the size of a canary that competes with an equally horny and volatile man, there *is* some ear penetration and hair soiling, and a variety of other unsavory activities, including but not limited to various incidents of blunt trauma, nostril abuse, tequila binging and intraspecial revenge. …. So, this story is not for everyone.

Our depraved litle baby is walking

It’s been a long time coming.

Been talking about this idea, working this idea, executing on this idea (slowly) for more than two years.

The idea? To publish a collection of fiction inspired by Dick Cheney.

Long story deceptively short, co-editors Kieran Shea and Jedidiah Ayres and I recruited 23 wonderfully sick writers and artists to help create something really kind of special: D*CKED: Dark Fiction Inspired by Dick Cheney [be sure to check out Shea’s behind-the-scene’s report on the making of our book].

I’m proud of our depraved little baby; it’s packed with great writing, creative storytelling and inspirational artistry.

Expect coverage from some major outlets in coming days and weeks, but for now I suggest you get yourself D*CKED.

Big news in the land of Greg Bardsley

I will give you some clues, and you can guess what’s happened ….

  • I have been dance-walking in public.
  • Several times in recent weeks, I have succumbed to gentle weeping.
  • I have told my agent, David Hale Smith, that the next time we see each other, he should prepare to  be monkey-hugged. … Tightly.
  • Buoyed by third-party validation, I have  been relentless at home. The wife has given me two weeks before I need to “cool it with the jokes.”
  • I have subscribed to the Twittter channel of publishing maestro Cal Morgan, and I have declared that if anyone F’s with Cal, he or she is instantly F’ing with me. Thugs, texting motorists, careless target-shooters, daydreaming crane operators and stray lightning bolts take note – stay the F away from Cal or I will seriously F you up. …. Try me.
  • This year is fine, but now I really can’t wait for next year.
  • And holy shit, I have a revision due Oct. 15

In other words, Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins, has bought my debut novel, CASH OUT, and has targeted a launch date of Fall 2012.

And I am still blown away.

I mean, Harper Perennial? Cal Morgan and the gang at Harper? Really? This really has happened? The same outfit that publishes Jess Walter, Dennis Lehane and Chad Kultgen? …. Me? Really?

I feel like a dog that’s been given a large stick of salami. I don’t ask questions. I don’t say, “Why are you doing this? Are you sure you have the right guy? I’m not supposed to have salami.” … No, I just take that salami and get to work. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.

It has been a long time coming. Thankfully, I have had a lot of fun – and learned so much – along the way. And because I get to work with the amazing folks at Harper, not to mention DHS and my posse of fellow writers who’ve been so generous with their time, I know my learning is only ramping up.

This is just the beginning, but I do have to thank some folks: My manuscript readers (Riske, Ayers, Richardson, Canon, Shea, Bill and Bruen); my wife Nancy, always enabling and always my toughest reader; my mom and sister, who always believed; the aforementioned badass agent DHS and the amazing Lauren Smythe at InkWell; my generous supporters and blurbers who didn’t have to but did (Black, Dorst, Huston, Bruen and Bill); my earliest and most relentless champion (Smith) and, of course, Cal Morgan and his gang at Harper.

Now, back to the dance-walking. [I think I am done with the gentle weeping].

P.S. – This post comes nearly four years to the day after I wrote my first item for this blog — something about “chasing the chimichanga” (publishing a novel). … Weeeee-ird.

She giveth and she taketh

Life can be that way, sometimes – as soon as it gives in one area, it takes in another.

It happened again these past seven days.

Last week, I received word of some really nice comments made by The Los Angeles Review of Books, which took kindly to my contribution to the anthology, By Hook or Crook: The Best Crime and Mystery Stories of the Year [Tyrus Books]. The review, which called the anthology “forward-thinking,” also praises pieces by Sandra Seamans, Bill Crider, Laura Lippman and Tom Piccirilli.

Then this week I was saddened to learn that one of the editors of the anthology, Martin H. Greenberg, has passed away after a sustained illness. I never met Greenberg, but all I had to do was look at his body of work to understand what kind of impact he had on the business.

I think Jedidiah Ayres over at Ransom Notes does the best job explaining why Greenberg will be missed so dearly.

Aw, man … Those guys have all the fun

Talking about Jed Ayres and his Noir at the Bar buddies.

This weekend Jed brought in yet another impressive group of transgressive-fiction writers for his ongoing Noir at the Bar series of readings in St. Louis (I think the name pretty much describes what happens). If the uncensored details on Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere are any indication, the night was packed with the kind of storytelling that would make a parolee blush. Jed pretty much sums up the night up here.

Anyways, reading about these events makes this old man wish for younger days, when I didn’t have to think abnout the kids and The Suits and geriatric realities when considering a cross-country road trip.  So I am left thinking of Ayres, Bill, McBride, Phillips, O’Shea and the rest of that lot — with all their fun and games — and I mumble to myself, “Those guys have all the fun.”

My sweet consolation

One of the things about earning coin during the day, writing crime fic at night and being a family man throughout is that you don’t get to read nearly as much as you’d like.

My consolation? I have some scary-talented buds sending me some of the best crime fic around.

Case in point, I have been thoroughly enjoying Tony Black’s latest sensation, Truth Lies Bleeding. If you haven’t read Black yet, do yourself a favor and check out this novel by the talented U.K. prose stylist, who once again has managed to suck me in with a story that appeals to the mind and heart. With Truth Lies Bleeding, Black introduces us to yet another fascinating and fully evolved character, Edinburgh Investigator Rob Brennan, who is dealing with demons on many fronts, not the least of which is a ruthless killer who’s left a mutilated corpse in a back-alley dumpster. The police procedural element of the book is captivating, and the emotional connection to Brennan is nearly immediate. Top-shelf material from Black — again.

Also just “in”: My e-book copy of Matthew McBride’s breakout first novel, Frank Sinatra in a Blender, which I admit to taking a peek at last night despite the fact I’m in the middle of other books. I mean, with a title like that, how could I not take a peek? Regardless, I was laughing out loud within minutes and can tell that I will thoroughly enjoy that morsel.

Meanwhile, had the pleasure of reading some underground prose (for now, at least) by the prolific and powerfully voiced Kieran Shea – learn that name. … And Crimefactory just came out with a sick new issue with crate of great pieces by Eric Beetner, Jedidiah Ayres, Tony Black, the Nerd of Noir, Nigel Bird and Mike Sheeter. … Oh, and there’s some seriously discounted, tart transgressive fic by Anthony Neil Smith over at Herman’s Greasy Spoon.

And finally, was thrilled to see an excerpt of my recently completed novel appear in the legendary Plots with Guns. If you like your Crazy Larry and your Calhoun, be sure to check out The Frequency, To Which He Must Attend.

Did “that” just happen?

I still can’t believe I am in this thing.

I mean, I’m right after a piece by Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins, and right before a story by Dana Cameron. And the name parade by no means ends there. This thing is packed with stories by legends like Dennis Lehane and Mary Higgins Clark. … And Laura Lippman. … And Tom Picirilli and Dave Zeltserman. …. And Luis Alberto Urrea – holy shit, what a story he tells in the 2009 Edgard Award winner, Amapola.

 Is this real? Do I really have a story in the same anthology as these writers?

 Hell yeah.  


The book arrived a few months back, but it’s been crazy here at Bardsley Industries — bills to pay, revisions to write, speeches  to complete – and I never got the chance to note the moment, or even thank editors Ed Gorman and Martin H. Greenberg for including my story.

I’m grateful and humbled — and still thrilled.

P.S. – If you’re a collector, be sure to consider the leather-bound, limited-edition version of this book with every story signed by its author.

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