What makes O.C. noir?
"It's the contrast between the county's sunny reputation and its darker undercurrents," said Martin J. Smith, once a denizen of Los Alamitos, who now drives daily from Palos Verdes Estates to Newport Beach to edit Orange Coast Magazine.
Smith refers to Orange County Noir editor Gary Phillips' comments, "Sunshine and surf are the metaphors for Orange County, but sunshine casts long shadows. It's in the shadows that these stories take place."
Smith finds that fascinating. His story, "Dark Matter," is set on Balboa Island, a location he believes is emblematic of Orange County's striver culture.
"It represents the good life and everything it has to offer — mansions, yachts, excess!" he said. "And, yet, the story is the tale of a guy who had it all … and then lost it all, and eventually succumbed to his own bad judgment."
Author and host of KUCI's "Writers on Writing" Barbara DeMarco-Barrett placed her character in Costa Mesa, which as she said "surely has its dark side."
She liked the setting because it has wealth and it has poverty and everything in between.
"My character Mimi lived on the Costa Misery side of town, but very much wanted a slice of heaven, found on the Eastside."
DeMarco-Barrett describes noir characters as characters "that have a little something loose, who circle the drain with little effort, who are drawn to the dark side" and have few qualms about getting what they want.
The Orange County areas featured in the anthology include Balboa Island, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach, San Juan Capistrano, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Tustin, Santa Ana, Santa Ana Narrows, Anaheim, Orange, Garden Grove, Seal Beach and Los Alamitos.