Noir at the Bar was started in Philadelphia in 2008. It was the brainchild of evil genius Peter Rosovsky (fuck Peter Rosovsky.) Peter took the literary Q&A out of bookshops and libraries, and dropped it into a bar. Scott Phillips and Jed Ayers stole the idea and took it to St Louis in May 2009, where they adapted the format to ditch the Q&A in favour of more authors. Eric Beetner and Stephen Blackmore then got in on the act, and opened up shop with Noir at the Bar L.A. in 2011.
The idea by this point was simple. Gather together 6-8 authors in a bar, design a kick-ass poster to draw people in, and entertain the hell out of the crowd. The readings work best when limited to 5-7 minutes, and the drinking works best...well, in any amount.
From there, the event spread across the United States. They sprang up in such places as Manhattan, Queens, Seattle, Minneapolis, Portland, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Phoenix. There is also a spin-off event at Bouchercon each year, with a large roster of authors each getting sixty seconds to impress.
Both myself and Russel D. McLean had watched Noir at the Bar (and tradition) grow from across the pond, envious of the culture that was springing up around it. We saw a chance to build a platform for mid-list and indie authors in the UK, as well as providing a training ground for authors to go on and get festival invites.
Speaking for myself, as a dyslexic, I've always known how many people don't feel welcome in "literary" circles. Bookshops can be intimidating, libraries can be scary. (If you're reading this and wondering how, think of it another way. Pick a subject you know nothing about, be it comic books, role playing games, DIY, etc, and then think how you would feel walking into a shop that specialises in that subject. Scary, innit.) Literary events can feel like an exclusive club, even when talking about being open and inclusive. In Noir at the Bar I saw the opportunity to take story, which should be for everyone, out to where people actually are.
We sought permission from a few of the U.S. hosts, and -after we both read at U.S. Noir Bar events- brought it to Glasgow in 2015. We pulled in over sixty people to that first event, all of who got to engage with literature for free, in a relaxed environment.
If you're interested in attending one of our shows, keep an eyes on our facebook and twitter feeds for details of the next one. If you're itching to bring the event to your hometown, get in touch, and we can steer you through the rocks.