Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pro-File:Michael Connelly

About The Author
     Michael Connelly decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing — a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews.
     After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat.  In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written.
     After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo, based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles , was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Connelly followed up with three more Bosch books, The Black Ice, The Concrete Blonde, and The Last Coyote, before publishing The Poet in 1996—a thriller with a newspaper reporter as a protagonist. In 1997, he went back to Bosch with Trunk Music, and in 1998 another non-series thriller, Blood Work, was published. It was inspired in part by a friend's receiving a heart transplant and the attendant "survivor's guilt" the friend experienced, knowing that someone died in order that he have the chance to live. Connelly had been interested and fascinated by those same feelings as expressed by the survivors of the plane crash he wrote about years before. The movie adaptation of Blood Work was released in 2002, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.
     Connelly's next book, Angels Flight, was released in 1999 and was another entry in the Harry Bosch series. The non-series novel Void Moon was released in 2000 and introduced a new character, Cassie Black, a high -stakes Las Vegas thief. His 2001 release, A Darkness More Than Night, united Harry Bosch with Terry McCaleb from Blood Work, and was named one of the Best Books Of The Year by the Los Angeles Times.
     In 2002, Connelly released two novels. The first, the Harry Bosch book City Of Bones, was named a Notable Book Of The Year by the New York Times. The second release was a stand-alone thriller, Chasing The Dime, which was named one of the Best Books Of The Year by the Los Angeles Times.
     Lost Light was published in 2003 and named one of the Best Books of 2003 by the Los Angeles Times. It is another in the Harry Bosch series but the first written in first person. To celebrate its release, Michael produced the limited edition jazz CD, Dark Sacred Night, The Music Of Harry Bosch. This CD is a compilation of the jazz music mentioned in the Bosch novels and was given away to his readers on Michael's 2003 book tour.
     Connelly's 2004 novel, The Narrows, is the sequel to The Poet. It was named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Los Angeles Times. To accompany this Harry Bosch novel, Little, Brown and Company Publishers released a limited edition DVD, Blue Neon Night, Michael Connelly's Los Angeles. In this film, Michael Connelly provides an insider's tour of the places that give his stories and characters their spark and texture.
     His 11th Harry Bosch novel, The Closers, was published in May 2005, and debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. The Lincoln Lawyer, Connelly's first-ever legal thriller and his 16th novel, was published in October 2005 and also debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
     Michael will release two books in 2006. Crime Beat , a non-fiction collection of crime stories from his days as a journalist, will be released in May. The Harry Bosch novel, Echo Park, will be released in the fall and will be Michael's 17th novel..
     Connelly's books have been translated in 31 languages and have won the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, Dilys, Nero, Barry, Audie, Ridley, Maltese Falcon (Japan), .38 Caliber (France), Grand Prix (France), and Premio Bancarella (Italy) awards.
     Michael was the President of the Mystery Writers of America organization in 2003 and 2004. In addition to his literary work, Michael was one of the creators, writers, and consulting producers of Level 9, a TV show about a task force fighting cyber crime, that ran on UPN in the Fall of 2000.
     Michael lives with his family in Florida.

Pro-File: Michael Connelly

1 Tell us about your current novel.

It's called Echo Park and it is a Harry Bosch novel. Harry is assigned to the LAPD's open-unsolved unit and as such is assigned to take the confession of an imprisoned killer who wants to clear up old murders. One of those old ones was a case Harry worked about 13 years earlier and which has haunted him. Harry finds out during the confession that he could have caught this guy back then but made a simple mistake that allowed him to elude justice and kill other people. Harry has to deal with that guilt as well as solve a mystery that develops during the confession.

2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

I'm in the final editing stages of Echo Park and trying to think about what I want to write for a novella that will be serialized in the New York Times Magazine this summer. I have never tackled a 35,000 word story. Most of my novels run 100,000 words, so its the form as well as the story that are taking some thought.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The freedom in the work as well as the freedom in life. I can work wherever I want to work. I write about LA but don't have to live there. I work at home and get to see my kid everyday when she comes home from school. Little things like that add up to great pleasure. As far as inside the work, the greatest pleasure is probably in knowing that it all comes from you. You start with a blank screen--nothing--and what you end up with is all yours.

4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?

When that blank screen isn't cooperating and what ends up on there you have to acknowledge is all yours. In other words, when its not going well it is not going well.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Give writers more time to have the audience find them. I was lucky. I started only 15 years ago but I don't remember any pressure to have big sales and profit attached to my books. It seems like those expectations come down harder and sooner on writers today because of the publishing industry's increasingly bottom-line mentality.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

I've been acting as sort of an advisor to the estate of Mercedes Lambert/Douglas Ann Munson. She wrote some really nice stuff about LA and I know there is at least one unpublished novel. I'd like to see her on the shelves again. They are by no means forgotten but I'd also like to see writers like Vicki Hendricks, Terrill Lee Lankford and Kent Harrington get the publishing attention I think their work merits. But I guess you could see answer 5 about that.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I have a strong recollection as well. My father was dying of cancer and my five brothers and sisters and their families came from all over the country to all be with him one weekend. We knew it would be the last time we would all be together with him as a full family before the funeral. One night we were all about to get together for dinner when my agent called and said he had sold my first book. I brought my dad some ice cream before dinner because chemo was burning out his throat. That was when I told him the news. He then announced it to everyone at dinner. it was a very proud moment for him and for me. He had really been important in supporting my desire to be a writer--certainly a long shot profession for someone to choose at 19. He died before the book was published but he had kept a mock up of the cover propped up on his bureau where he could see it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Pro-File : Carole Nelson Douglas

Pro-File: Carole Nelson Douglas


Carole Nelson Douglas
"Her fine Sherlockian novels and her Midnight Louie books have made her a genuine mystery star. Pick one up and see why." --Ed Gorman, Mystery Scene

The author of 37 novels--mainstream, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and romance/women's fiction, Carole Nelson Douglas was an award-winning journalist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press until moving to Texas in 1984 to write fiction full time. In fact, she "found" Midnight Louie in the classified ads in 1973 and wrote a feature article on the real-life alley cat long before she began writing novels or Louie returned as a feline supersleuth with his own newsletter, Midnight Louie's Scratching Post-Intelligencer.

Carole the child loved the Sherlock Holmes stories, but the adult found something missing: strong women. That literary lack drives her multi-genre odyssey: "I began Amberleigh, my first published novel, in college because I was fed up with the wimpy heroines of then-popular Gothics," she says. "Since then, I've merrily reformed the fiction genres, reinventing women as realistic protagonists. Of course, creating true women means creating true men as partners and co-protagonists. I like writing popular and genre fiction because it's so influential; it forms attitudes that shape society." Many Douglas novels have received awards and appeared on various bestseller lists; her mystery short fiction appears in numerous anthologies, including The Year's 25 Best Crime and Mystery Stories, '93, '94, '95, '96 and '98.

Carole and her husband Sam Douglas reside in Texas with seven felines: two senior alley boys, Panache and Longfellow; four Persians, two adopted as adults--Summer and Smoke, Victoria (Summer and Victoria are shaded silvers like Louie's fictional ladylove, the Divine Yvette)and Victoria's shaded-golden daughter, Secret. The latest additions number two. Their first all-black cat, Midnight Louie, Jr., was acquired by virtue of a squeaky meow from an animal shelter concrete floor during Carole's first Midnight Louie Adopt-a-Cat tour of Texas. Carole found Xanadu, a species-confused chow-mix dog, dumped as a four-month-old puppy at a four-way stop sign near an elementary school. Carole picked her up because she was afraid the dog would be run over. Months later Sam saw Xandau's "twin" dead by the curb across from the school, so if you think a stray is in danger, you're probably right.

1. Tell us about your current novel.
Coming out June 27, priced at $19.95, is the Midnight Louie mystery hardcover, Cat in a Quicksilver Caper. Since the series is written like a
three-year ensemble television series and has alphabetical titles, Cat in a Quicksilver Caper is the 18th in the series, an exercise in literal and emotional and criminal "suspense," and the series' second "season" ender. All four human characters--two pro and two amateur crime solvers who are also two men and two women--find their careers and lives and futures up for grabs, even as a priceless Russian scepter is heisted and members of an aerial magic show above the art exhibition fall to their deaths at a big Las Vegas hotel-casino. Elements of international terrorism season the murder/theft plotline.

I'm about to start the 19th Midnight Louie mystery and "third season"
opener. Cat in a Red-Hot Rage will find the main characters trying to
to wrench some order out of their personal and professional chaos, and is
set at a gathering of "seasoned" (aka middle-aged before Gail Sheehy came along) women who wear purple with red hats and have fun . . . until murder
hits them hard.

Of course, Runyonesque black alley cat PI Midnight Louie is always at work behind the scenes, saving lives and putting the puzzle pieces together for his unsuspecting human acquaintances.

> 2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
I'm finishing a novel that returns to my roots in publishing: fantasy and
science fiction. This is a female-first-person dark fantasy where crime and paranormal elements reach a lethal and sometimes sexy boil. Paranormal Noir. While the Midnight Louie series satirizes Las Vegas and contemporary society, this novel reveals a hellish Las Vegas of a slightly future "now." The protagonists are an orphaned Midwestern TV investigative reporter who was named after the street she was found on, Delilah Street (yes, shades of Della), who is developing bizarre psychic powers, and a Latino ex-FBI guy who is supernaturally good at finding dead bodies. The novel has celebrity zombies and werewolf mob bosses, and takes an extreme, scary, and sassy look at what greed and modern media hath wrought.
> 3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Making things up, then discovering the meaning your subconscious put into what you've made up. I named a minor character in my mainstream SF thriller-love story, Counterprobe, "Turner." Bland last name, I admonished myself as I wrote it. I'll put in a name with more flavor when the book is done. When the book was done, Turner was no longer such a minor character; in fact, he and his actions were what the climax "turned" upon, the literal Turning point. Also a great pleasure is hearing from satisfied, insightful readers.

> 4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
Having your work and career totally dependent on the kindness (and integrity) of others. With the readers, that's a plus, with a giant corporate entertainment mills, that's suicide.

> 5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is
> it?
Forget selling to the middlemen; they're busy becoming you. It's a producer- to-consumer world. You sat along the dance hall wall too long while the new kids in town--internet startups and superstores--turned all the genteel "rules" of old-school publishing upside down. They waltzed away with the initiative and the momentum. Also, forget the acid-free paper; make books that disintegrate after two or three readings. The nouveau chic of buying used books is going to eat all of our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

> 6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
> in print again?
My favorite is Josephine Tey and I have an essay on her Miss Pym Disposes in Jim Huang's Mystery Muses, coming out from his Plum Creek Press very shortly. I have absolutely no interest in Wall Street, but "Emma Lathen's" John Putnam Thatcher financial world mysteries were always engaging years ago before I began writing novels. Mildred B. Davis wrote The Room Upstairs and Three Minutes to Midnight, great late forties domestic suspense. Speaking of which, Vera Caspary's classic Laura was reprinted last year, but her other forties romantic suspense noir novels deserve revival. Also Georgette Heyer's
charming mysteries.

> 7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget
> that moment.
Have I got a story for you! I'd been sending out the world's first post- feminist mainstream Gothic and getting it rejected by rubber stamp
(Gothics had died without telling me) when my newspaper assigned me to interview the brilliant director, playwright, and raconteur Garson Kanin
again after five years. Turned out he still had my previous interview in the
St. Paul Pioneer Press in his press kit, between articles from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. And he was still raving about my previous

When I timidly asked him if he had any suggestions for selling my novel, I was
hoping for an agent's name. Instead, he told me to drop it off at his hotel
that evening and he'd take it back to his publisher, Doubleday. I did, all
840 pages. The editor said they'd have bought the book two years before, but it was especially well done and she thought I could still sell it. She recommended other editors at other houses.

The first house I tried bought what was retitled Amberleigh and another novel. Both books were promptly orphaned and sent to the paperback original arm of the publisher. I never even knew who bought them. In those days, though, even orphaned paperback originals had print runs of over 100,000 and made money beyond their modest advances.


Midnight Louie mysteries:
SOMETHING FISHY, a ML illustrated
short story book from the author
COYOTE PEYOTE limited edition coming soon!
Jun '06 CAT in a HOT PINK PURSUIT pb

Irene Adler Suspense:
Jan '05: GOOD NIGHT, MR. HOLMES Adler I reissue pb
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Sept '05: SPIDER DANCE pb Adler VIII
Dec '06: A SOUL OF STEEL pb reissue Adler III

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Pro-File: Kris Rusch -Gorman

Kristine Kathryn Rusch is an award-winning mystery, romance, science fiction, and fantasy writer. She has written many novels under various names, including Kristine Grayson for romance, and Kris Nelscott for mystery. Her novels have made the bestseller lists--even in London--and have been published in 14 countries and 13 different languages.

Her awards range from the Ellery Queen Readers Choice Award to the John W. Campbell Award. She is the only person in the history of the science fiction field to have won a Hugo award for editing and a Hugo award for fiction. Her short work has been reprinted in six Year's Best collections.

Pro-File: Kris Rusch

1 Tell us about your current novel.

I write mysteries as Kris Nelscott. The latest is called Days of Rage. It's noir set in Chicago in 1969, right around the trial of (then) the Chicago Eight (later to become the Chicago Seven).

2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

Currently I'm working on my next sf mystery written as Rusch. It's called Paloma, and it's a murder mystery set on the moon. It'll be out in October.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want. (And the freedom to lie for a living. )

4. Thegreatest DIS-pleasure?

The low pay, the slow pay, and fighting the same publishing battles over and over again as the editors change.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Be flexible.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in
print again?

(Sorry Ed, none come to mind. Now if you were talking sf....)

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that

I was at my day job--I was a secretary to a forensic psychologist (great prep for the budding mystery writer)--and I got a call from my agent. I couldn't scream and carry on, especially in a psychology office, so I sat there and quietly glowed. Then my boyfriend (who became my husband) sent me a dozen roses that afternoon. My first dozen roses ever--and for such a great occasion. It was wonderful.

Ed here:

I was going to write about the deaths this week of Robert Colby and Don Knotts and Darren McGavin. Then just before I sat down to post this I noticed a "sad news" headline on the science fiction line. Now I'll have to include the death of Octavia Butler, one of the shining science fiction stars of my generation.

The older I get, the more I appreciate the people who entertain and enlighten me, who help me to persevere. All of the people mentioned did just that. So long, friends, and thank you.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Pro-File: Richard S. Wheeler

Richard S. Wheeler is writing his sixty-first novel. He began writing western fiction late in life, at age 50. He has won five Spur Awards from Western Writers of America, and the Owen Wister Award for lifetime contributions to western literature.

Pro-File: Richard S. Wheeler

1 Tell us about your current novel.

The Fire Arrow, out in a few weeks, is one of my Skye's West novels, which have been my bread and butter for two decades. Skye and his Indian wife Victoria deal with corrupt Indian traders who debauch villages with booze so they can clean up the pelts and buffalo robes for almost nothing.

2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

I'm writing another Skye's West. Skye and his two wives, Mary of the Shoshones and Victoria of the Crows, are guiding a wagon company of consumptives out to the southwestern desert, where they hope to heal. (TB was the scourge of the 19th century.) They discover they are the "Plague company" on the California trail, and subject to all sorts of troubles. I'm amazed at the way this story is blooming.

However, my primary work in recent years has been biographical novels. Genre westerns are extinct, give or take a few bimbo eruptions and Elvis sightings. So I have turned to writing fiction about real people, and it is a field I have to myself. I've done six: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Francis Meagher, Major Marcus Reno, Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, and (forthcoming) William F. Cody. I have a contract for a seventh, about the Fremonts.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

I'm an uneven writer, but now and then I write something that delights me. It might be a character's soul laid bare, or simply a lyrical sentence. These are humble pleasures but they sustain me and help me feel I am worthy of my calling.

4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?

Sometimes I discover that people misconstrue what I intended to say because my prose was murky or I somehow failed to achieve the clarity and lucidity that are my constant goals. When I see reviewers or readers misinterpret what I intended to say but didn't, I know I failed. It's a bad feeling. The book is in print and I can't go back and do it better.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Two pieces: The public buys authors, not titles. Yet all too often authors are treated with a yawn on the jackets or in the book's press releases and publicity. That hurts sales. Any time a publisher fails to present an author in the most intriguing and attractive manner, that author is losing sales, and the publisher is too.

In my western field it is commonplace to slap deceptive or even mendacious covers on novels. The titles and art and cover copy are all intended to deceive. When some guy forks out cash for a western and discovers that the story has utterly no relation to what's on the cover, he feels cheated, and is likely never to trust jackets again. One by one, after being snookered a few times, they quit buying.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Westerns, yes. W. R. Burnett wrote some distinguished westerns that were published by Knopf. And Gordon Shirreffs wrote great stories of the Southwest, which in fact drew me into the western field.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

It was really my third. I had done a couple of Double D westerns and returned to book editing. Then, in 1982, at a Western Writers of America convention in Santa Fe, I met Walker and Company editor Sara Ann Freed, and she bought Winter Grass, my third novel. When that happened it was like walking through a golden gate into a joyous new world, and soon I was writing these stories fulltime. Sara Ann became a distinguished editor at Mysterious Press before her tragic early death.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pro-File: Susan Oleksiw

Susan Oleksiw is the author of the Mellingham Mystery series featuring Chief of Police Joe Silva.

The first in the series, Murder in Mellingham, appeared in 1993. Double Take followed in 1994, and Family Album in 1995. Friends and Enemies was published in 2001.

Susan's first publication in the mystery field was A Reader's Guide to the Classic British Mystery (G.K. Hall, 1988; Mysterious Press, 1989), the first in a series of six readers' guides for which she is editor. She has been reviewing crime fiction for over twelve years with The Drood Review of Mystery and other magazines

Before turning to crime fiction, Susan received a Ph.D. in Sanskrit from the University of Pennsylvania, and lived and traveled extensively in India as part of her studies. She was the editor for a collection of scholarly articles on communications in Asia in the early 1980s; she has published several scholarly articles on Indian literature and art as well. Her short stories and essays about India appear in other literary journals.

Pro-File: Susan Oleksiw

1 Tell us about your current novel.

A Murderous Innocence by Susan Oleksiw (Five Star, April 2006) covers Chief of Police Joe Silva investigating two drug-related deaths in Mellingham. He's not willing to chalk both of them up to an accident, and after a third death he knows he's right. The drug threat is personal for Joe because it's threatening to wreck his new family. Joe and Gwen face this one together, and it pushes their relationship to another level.

2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

I've written almost a dozen short stories featuring Hindu-American photographer and amateur sleuth Anita Ray; some have appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and some in the Level Best Books annual anthology. Anita is loads of fun--very irreverent in the world of traditional India. I enjoy her enormously, so I'm writing a novel about her and her penchant for finding corpses.

The other thing I'm working on is a YA novel, which my agent has now. I've written a short story introducing the character, and there are a few special details that I won't spell out. I don't want to spoil the surprises. This was a departure for me, but I loved it. It was loads of fun being a teenager again.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career? I

have so many ideas--I enjoy discovering them and then working them out in a plot, watching the characters develop. I'm very nosey about people, but that can get me into trouble, so I channel it into writing. I can't imagine living with an idea and not being able to do something with it. Dorothy Sayers talked about the tactile pleasure in working out a plot with clues, etc., and she's right. That's a pleasure different from the writing process, but equally wonderful. Ideas--making them work, watching them grow, writing about them.

4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?

Struggling with an idea that won't work, even though I know there's something good there. I've gotten over my dislike of promoting and selling my work (maybe I have more confidence now), but I get so depressed when an Idea doesn't work. It's like watching someone drown.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Three times more books are published today then when I started out, in the 1960s, writing very bad literary fiction--but three times more books doesn't mean three times more variety. We have lots of books in each genre, but not much depth. Publishers need to remember that readers are different and like different things. The classics that today are the bread and butter and sometimes caviar of publishers were the short-run, no-review books of earlier generations. Take a chance. Publishing something with a small market. Publish with depth and variety in mind.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

I haven't checked but I haven't recently come across anything by P.M. Hubbard. He has no series character, but he does more with setting as a character and "weapon" than many, many others. Some of his scenes are still vivid 30 years after reading them. I've always thought Gwen Moffat was highly underrated by readers in the 1970s--her character was a feminist of supreme and quiet self-confidence long before anyone else.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

You're right. You never forget. It was a Sunday evening and Suzanne Kirk called, and of course my first thought was if I didn't get this settled right away she'd go on to someone else and my great opportunity would be gone! My agent was on vacation in the Bahamas, meeting her new mother-in-law. So, of course, I called her right away, and she and Suzanne talked. Then, later, Liz called and said, "Are you sitting down?" I was after that. I felt so foolish interrupting her vacation but also so surprised and excited I was shaking.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pro-File: Tom Piccirilli

Tom Piccirilli is the author of thirteen novels including HEADSTONE CITY, NOVEMBER MOURNS, and the mysteries THE DEAD PAST, SORROW'S CROWN and SHARDS. He's a fan of noir fiction and film, enjoys Asian horror cinema, and is always on the lookout for grade-z cult flicks that tend to boil the brain matter of normal middle class citizens. If anybody out there knows John "Ronnie Z-Man Barzell" LaZar from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, drop Tom a line at PicSelf1@aol.com. He wants a signed photo. Check out Tom's website at: www.tompiccirilli.com

1 Tell us about your current novel.

My latest novel HEADSTONE CITY is a crime novel with some dark fantasy tossed in. It's about an ex-con and his former childhood friend whose now a mob boss. As teenagers the two stole a car and went through a windshield together, leaving each with strange psychic powers and the ability to see ghosts. The mob boss blames his former buddy for the death of his sister, so you know a showdown is coming that'll include mob muscle, supernatural powers, and a shotgun-wielding granny. PW recently gave it a starred review and in part said, "Alternately funny, sad and thrilling, Piccirilli's stellar supernatural crime novel plays haunting riffs on old mob standards."

2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

My latest is called NIGHTJACK, another fusion of crime-fantasy that deals with four escaped mental patients, each with multiple personality disorder. My protagonist can actually see the other personalities, some of which are monsters, animals, characters from history, personages from Greek myths, and possibly even Jack the Ripper. The four are on the run from a tycoon who believes that one of them–or one of their alternate identities–raped his daughter. It's a pretty dark tale, but with some very offbeat, black humor.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The satisfaction of having readers say that you reached them on some level. That they enjoyed the work, that they were touched by it, that it had some kind of impact.

4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?

Invasive editors, backstabbing publishers, and this bullshit we call royalty statements which are handled with some kind of arcane mathematics that even Stephen Hawking can't figure out.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Clean up your act, treat your authors like the valued commodity they are, and quit putting downpayments on your penthouse apartments with their sweat and tears. Share the wealth and show some respect.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Thankfully, Hardcase has brought back some of my favorites, but there's so many more we need to get back on the bookstore shelves. If I could only choose a handful I'd say Gil Brewer, Fredric Brown, and Bruno Fischer.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I broke every rule in the submission process and sent in a fifty page partial of an unfinished novel with no synopsis, right over the transom. I don't know how the stars and planets lined up just right for Pocket Books to accept the book based on that, but they did. And thank Christ that they did. I'd just graduated college with an English degree and had no job and absolutely no prospects.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Pro-File: Laura Lippman

Laura Lippman is one of the most successful and distinctive voices in contemporary crime fiction. If you doubt that, consider that she has won the the Agatha, Anthony, Edgar, Nero Wolfe and Shamus awards. A remarkable acknowledgment of her formdiable skills.

Pro-File: Laura Lippman

Tell us about your latest novel.

1) The ninth Tess Monaghan novel, NO GOOD DEEDS, will be published in
late June. Baltimore Noir, an anthology I edited, shows up in early

Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

2) I'm working on my third stand-alone, although stand-alone is a bit
of a misnomer as there are some overlapping characters in these books,
an accidental trilogy set in suburban Baltimore. This one is sort of
Anastacia meets Scheherazade. A woman shows up, claiming to be a girl who disappeared thirty
years ago, but there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical.

What is the greatest plasure of your writing career?

3) I like writing, the actual act of it, the tactile pleasure of
fingers on keys, the giddiness of just making stuff up and watching it
show up on the screen. I like it better when it's going well, but even
a bad day writing is pretty good. I was a newspaper reporter for a long
time and the nature of that business is that bosses often interrupt
you, redirect you, spike the thing that you love and assign you to do
something else. No one ever sneaks up behind me anymore and asks: "What
are you working on?" (A question that, in the newsroom, was almost
always followed by: "Well, I need you to do this instead.")

I'm writing this from Phoenix, where I flew out to attend the Brandeis
Book Luncheon, one of the largest in the country. We were late leaving
the gate and the head winds were strong, so it took mor than six hours
to get here. I tried to work on the plane, but it wasn't going very
well. I arrived with only a little time to shower and change, then go
to the welcome reception. And you know what? If that's a tough day,
it's a pretty blessed life.

What is your greatest DIS-pleasure?

4) Well, it's not a meritocracy. And once you admit how much luck is
involved, you have to concede that your own luck could run out at any
moment, which is terrifying.

If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is

5) You know what? I've had the good fortune to work with people (at
HarperCollins and Morrow) who are really, really smart. They clearly
know more about publishing than I do, so I wouldn't presume to give
them any advice. I couldn't begin to do what they do. It does strike me
as curious when publishers knock themselves out, bidding on some former
politico's memoir to the point where it can never earn out. But maybe
there's some intangible benefit to such deals.

Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?

6) I know Sandra Scoppetone mentioned Liza Cody, but I'd like to
reiterate that. I was crazy about her Eva Wylie books. I think Kathleen
Taylor had an original sensibility and I miss her characters.

Tell us about selling your first novel.

7) I remember it was October 1995. The manuscript had gone out to 10
publishers, and the morning started with a phone call: Berkley had just
offered a three-book contract. My agent then checked in with the other
editors and two more bid. One of them, Carrie Feron of Avon, wanted to
talk to me, however, see if I had a firm idea for my second book. By
the end of the day, I ended up going with Carrie, who's still my

About midway through the morning, I wandered to the coffeehouse across
the street in a cheerful daze and ran into one of my colleagues who had
published a nonfiction book, with great success -- winning an Edgar,
seeing a television show based on his book become a moderate hit. It
just seemed natural to tell him what was happening. He totally got it,
insisted on buying me a cup of coffee and congratulated me. Many years
later, our personal lives had altered dramatically and we became a
couple. He still totally gets what I do. And, on occasion, he'll still
buy me a cup of coffee.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pro-File Mat Coward

Pro-File Mat Coward

Mat Coward leads a double life as a crime writer. In the UK, he is well known as a specialist in the short story; his extremely diverse work has been published in many anthologies and magazines and has earned Dagger and Edgar nominations. In the USA, in contrast, he is now well-established as author of a series of novels featuring police detectives Don Packham and Frank Mitchell; enterprising US publishers have also brought out a book-length collection of his tales of mystery and imagination and a novella is in the works

1. Tell us about your current novel.
"Open and Closed" is the fourth (or fourth-and-a-half, if you count a novella) in a series about London cops, DI Don Packham and DC Frank Mitchell. It’s set in a public library, threatened with closure, which is being occupied by its readers as a protest - until one of them is found dead. I used to work in public libraries, from my late teens to my mid-twenties, and have always thought they’re a great setting for fiction. You’ve got everything you need in a library: a diverse and dynamic population, sex, loathing, and hiding places.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
With great delight, I am not writing at all: I have a four month contract as a researcher on a TV panel game.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Not having to go to work, because you’re already there. That lack of rush in the mornings is worth a lot.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?
I’ve never understood why publishers spend all their money on books that they already know are going to be best-sellers.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?
There’s one: in the last days of apartheid in South Africa, a few crime novels by Wessel Ebersohn were published in Britain. They were terrific. I’m always asking people "Whatever happened to Ebersohn?" but no-one seems to know. I’ve even prayed to Lord Google for guidance, but to no avail.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.
I just remember being astonished.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pro-File: Jason Starr

Pro-File: Jason Starr

Jason Starr is the author of eight crime novels which are published in ten languages. In 2004, he received the Barry Award for his novel Tough Luck, and in 2005 he won the Anthony Award for Twisted City. He has two novels due in 2006: Lights Out (St. Martin’s Press) and Bust (co-written with Ken Bruen, for Hard Case Crime). He is also co-editing a horse racing anthology called Bloodlines with Maggie Estep for Vintage Books. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Starr now lives in Manhattan.

1. Tell us about your current novel.

My new novel is LIGHTS OUT, a crime-thriller set in Brooklyn, and it's coming in March from Orion in the U.K., and in September from St. Martin's Press in the U.S. I think it's the biggest, most complex one I've done yet and I have terrific editors at both houses who are very excited about it. I also co-wrote a book with Ken Bruen called BUST for Hard Case Crime. Ken and I had a blast doing it. We think we created a whole new voice for us and we're planning to do another. BUST is due out on May.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

A thriller set in Manhattan, and then I'll probably do a sequel to this one. My books have all been standalones so far.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The moments when I'm writing and get "writer's high." No drug can match it.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

Angst. But that's where it all comes from, right?

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?
Publish authors, not books.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Gil Brewer and Charles Williams. Hard Case just did a Williams book and it rocked big time. More, please.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

My manuscript of COLD CALLER was rescued from several slush piles and made its way to No Exit Press in the U.K. Ion Mills, the publisher of No Exit, is a class act. I was lucky as hell to start out there.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Pro-File: Paul Guyot


Paul Guyot is an award winning television writer, though his awards
have all been plaques as opposed to statuettes. He has written for
such shows as Snoops, LEVEL 9 (created by Michael Connelly), Judging
Amy, and that mother of all crime shows: Felicity. Over the past
three years he has written and produced pilots for 20th Century Fox,
Showtime, TNT, and Warner Brothers. Not one has made it to series.
Currently he has deals with Sony Pictures, and Dean Devlin's Electric
Entertainment, to write and produce more unairable pilots.

On the prose front, Paul's first short story "The Closers" was
published last year in Carroll & Graf's GREATEST HITS anthology,
edited by Robert Randisi. Paul is contributing stories to another two
anthologies for 2006, as well as co-editing (with David J.
Montgomery) THE TICKING CLOCK - an anthology of time. His novel
remains untouched, sitting on his computer in a file labeled "The

He used to have a blog.

Pro-File: Paul Guyot

1.What is your current novel?

Being a TV scribe, my current novel is nothing. I did a pilot last year for TNT that I just found out is not going to make it to series. Which isn't a bad thing because I had been extensively rewritten - something novelists never have to worry about.

2.Your current project?

Currently, I'm working on a new pilot as part of a deal I signed with Sony Pictures. It's a character-driven (as opposed to plot-driven) cop show, centering on an organized crime task force. I'm also finishing up a short story for a Carroll & Graf anthology, and David J. Montgomery and I are still peddling our "Time" anthology idea around town. Ed,
This just in - you can add this to my #2 answer re: current project: I'm also writing a feature film for Stephen J. Cannell,
which all takes place in one location. The story, not the writing of it.

3.Greatest pleasure as a writer?

I often hear writers say their greatest joy is connecting with readers (or viewers in my vocation). But being the egomaniac I am, I write for myself. Always have. Well, except at the beginning of my career - when I wrote to make the kids in my 5th grade class laugh. My greatest pleasure is simply doing it. I hate hearing writers talk about how horrible the job is, how painful, how they wish they could do something else. If they really wanted to, they would. We write because we absolutely love doing it. We can go inside our imaginations and not just play, but create, invent. And sometimes we even have the chance of saying something that might be important to others, or touch them, or move them. Getting paid to play like this makes us the luckiest people on the planet.

4. Greatest displeasure as a writer?

For me personally, it is the fact the my job - television writing - is governed by people who are not creative, not artists in any sense. They are bankers, basically, and it often causes the writer to be forced to, not only do much more work than is necessary, but compromise themselves creatively. It can be very frustrating.

5. Advice to the publishing world?

I would tell them to let go of the thinking that only the High Concept-Blockbuster mentality will sell books. It doesn't work for Hollywood, why does the publishing world think it would work for them? I hope publishers would be smart enough to see that - Hollywood's own invention does not work. Yes, there are always exceptions to everything, but generally and overall, the blockbuster mentality has cost Hollywood more money than it's made them. And publishers who complain about the costs need to realize that the answer isn't publishing fewer books, or spending less money, or whatever. It's about publishing better writers. Better writing. Do that and everything else will take care of itself.

6. Which writers would you like to see in print again?

As Max said, W.R. Burnett was a master. And though most of his books are still in print, we need more Gar Anthony Haywood. Despite the awards and accolades this guy has, he is still one of the most under-appreciated and underrated crime writers over the last twenty-five years.

7. Do you remember selling your first novel?

I remember getting my very first paying writing gig. I had to go into the writers' offices of SNOOPS - a David E. Kelley show about female private eyes. I pitched episode ideas to the writing staff - the entire staff, staring at me, unemotional - and then I left. After a two-hour meeting, everyone stood up and said good-bye. I asked when they might make a decision. the executive producer looked at me and said, "You got the job. This was your first story meeting." As much as I fought them off, tears welled up in my eyes. It had been such a long, dark journey for me - becoming a writer. One of the writers laughed and said, "Look! He's crying!"

I learned there's no crying in television.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Pro-File: Brendan DuBois

Pro-File: Brendan DuBois

Award winning mystery/suspense author Brendan DuBois is a former newspaper reporter and a lifelong resident of New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife Mona, their neurotic cat, Oreo, and one happy English Springer Spaniel named Tucker.

He is currently at work on his twelfth novel, AMERIKAN EAGLE, and a variety of new short stories, as well as other writing projects.

His most recently published novel, BURIED DREAMS, was released in July 2004 by St. Martin's Press in the United States. This fifth Lewis Cole mystery novel examines the puzzling death of an amateur archaeologist who believes that Vikings had settled along the New Hampshire coastline more than a thousand years ago.

The next Lewis Cole mystery, PRIMARY STORM, has been accepted for publication by St. Martin's Press. This sixth book in the Lewis Cole series has Lewis involved in investigating an assassination attempt of a presidential candidate during the New Hampshire presidential primary.

St. Martin's Press has also accepted his newest thriller to be published in the United States, called TWILIGHT, a first-person account of a Canadian member of a UN inspection team investigating war crimes. Publication dates for these two novels have not yet been set.

However, Time Warner UK -- in the spring of 2006 -- will publish Brendan's most expansive thriller yet, FINAL WINTER, which depicts a supposed terrorist plot to destroy the United States that involves betrayal, heartbreak, and breath-taking courage.

Prior to TWILIGHT and FINAL WINTER, his most recent thriller, BETRAYED, was published in 2003 by St. Martin's Press in the United States and by Time Warner Books UK in Great Britain. This suspense thriller took a new look -- and provided a stunning new revelation -- to the enduring mystery of the fate of nearly 2,000 servicemen missing in action during the Vietnam War.

BETRAYED followed his thriller SIX DAYS, which was published in 2001 by the British publisher, Little, Brown (now Time Warner UK). It depicts a plot to overthrow the government of the United States and was called "A well-paced, exciting 'what-if thriller' " by the newspaper, Irish Independent.

His most widely-published suspense-thriller, RESURRECTION DAY, has received world-wide acclaim. First published in 1999, it takes place in October 1972, ten years after the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted into a full-scale atomic war, destroying the Soviet Union and decimating the United States. Called "one of the most inventive novels of alternative history since Robert Harris' FATHERLAND", RESURRECTION DAY is a chilling tale of what might have been. RESURRECTION DAY was called "brilliant" in a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, which also said it was "what-if thriller fiction at its finest."

RESURRECTION DAY has also been published in Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Italy and Japan, and will also be published in Estonia and Poland. At the 58th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago on September 2nd, 2000, RESURRECTION DAY received the Sidewise Award for Best Alternative History Novel of 1999.

DuBois' first novel, DEAD SAND, a murder mystery set in his home state, was published in 1994 by Otto Penzler Books, a division of Macmillan Books. The sequel to DEAD SAND, called BLACK TIDE, was published in 1995. Both are now available in paperback from Pocket Books. The third Lewis Cole novel, SHATTERED SHELL, was published by St. Martin's Press in 1999. The fourth Lewis Cole novel, KILLER WAVES, was published in June 2002, also by St. Martin's Press.

All these novels -- plus the latest, PRIMARY STORM -- feature Lewis Cole, a magazine writer and former Department of Defense research analyst, who investigates things mysterious in and around the New Hampshire seacoast.

DuBois has had more than 80 short stories published in such magazines as Playboy, Mary Higgins Clark Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, as well as in numerous original short fiction anthologies. In 1995, one of his short stories -- "The Necessary Brother" -- won the Shamus Award for Best Short Story of the Year from the Private Eye Writers of America, and the PWA also awarded him the Shamus in 2001 for his short story, "The Road's End." He has also been nominated three times -- most recently in 1997 -- for an Edgar Allan Poe Award from the Mystery Writers of America for his short fiction. One of his short stories in 1997 was also nominated for the Anthony Award for Best Mystery Short Story of the Year.

In 2005, he received the Al Blanchard Crime Fiction Award for Best Short Crime Fiction Story at the fourth annual New England Crime Bake, a mystery convention organized by the New England Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. This short story, "The Road's End," appeared in the Windchill crime anthology, published by Level Best Books.

His short stories have also been extensively anthologized, including the 1988, 1990, 1992 and 1995 editions of "The Year's Best Mystery & Suspense Stories," published by Walker Books, as well as the 1995 and 1997 editions of "Year's 25 Best Mystery Short Stories" and the 1997, 1999, 2001 and the 2003 editions of "Best American Mystery Stories," published by Houghton Mifflin. In addition, his short fiction has also been reprinted in the 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 editions of "The World's Finest Mystery and Crime Stories," published by Forge.

An anthology of his short fiction, "The Dark Snow and other Mysteries", was published in 2001 by Crippen & Landru press of Virginia. This was followed by a second anthology, "Tales from the Dark Woods," published by Five Star.

In June 2000, DuBois was honored when one of his short stories, "The Dark Snow," was published in the anthology, "Best American Mystery Stories of the Century," from Houghton Mifflin, edited by Otto Penzler and Tony Hillerman. Other authors in that anthology included Raymond Chandler, O. Henry, Flannery O'Connor and John Steinbeck.

His stories have also appeared in two short story anthologies published in Germany as well as in South Africa and Japan.

Brendan DuBois:

1. Tell us about your current novel.

Actually, and I’m not writing this to impress anyone, for heaven’s sake, I have three novels in the pipeline, coming out in the next year or so. First up is FINAL WINTER, a thriller about a terrorist attack on the United States occurring as a result of a secret intelligence organization that has a traitor in its midst. As of this writing, this novel will be published this April by my British publisher, Time-Warner UK. Again, as of this writing, we’ve not been able to secure an American publisher, though I’m sure something will pull through.

Coming this fall from St. Martin’s Press will be the sixth novel in my Lewis Cole series, PRIMARY STORM, in which my intrepid semi-hero, Lewis Cole -- magazine columnist and ex-Department of Defense research analyst -- gets caught up in an attempted political assassination during the quadrennial circus trooping through my home state that’s called the New Hampshire presidential primary.

Third up is TWILIGHT, another thriller -- though I think a quiet thriller, if there’s such a term, is more appropriate -- which will also be published by St. Martin’s Press. This novel follows a UN war crimes inspection team as it travels through a rural area, looking for mass graves... the rural area being a county in upstate New York

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

Currently working on another alternative history thriller, tentatively called AMERIKAN EAGLE. The most successful book I’ve done in my career was RESURRECTION DAY, which depicted a world in which the United States and the Soviet Union fought a nuclear war over the Cuban Missile Crisis. That was a tough book to write but very satisfying, so I thought it would be time to pay that particular genre another visit. In AMERIKAN EAGLE, it’s 1943, and there is no FDR presidency. The president of the United States is former Louisiana Senator Huey Long, who has little interest or concern about foreign affairs. Germany has conquered Europe (including Great Britain) and is bogged down in fighting the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan is turning the Pacific into their own domain, and at home, labor camps are filling up with dissidents and opponents as the Great Depression continues to grind along.

Oh, and as a short story author who finds himself amazed that he’s approaching the three-digit number of sold and published short stories, there’s always a couple of those in the hopper as well.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The greatest pleasure is that wonderful combination of being paid to do what you love, and what you love to do is create places and people and events from that gray matter between your ears, and to have these creations be read and enjoyed by others.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

The greatest displeasure is when everything is dark, formless lead. When the fingers are clumsy upon the keyboard, the dialogue is trite, the characters the form and shape of fog, the plotting to simple a five-year-old can figure out, when that little hidden voice inside of you whispers that you’ve lost your mojo. Everything else -- bad reviews, poor sales, indifferent editors -- pales compared to those days when it just doesn’t work... which, of course, makes the days it *does* work so much brighter and better.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Advice for the publishing world? As one who’s been published now for nearly twenty years, I still don’t have a good handle on how the publishing world operates. However, and this is a pipe dream akin to those who long for the restoration of the Romanov dynasty, it would be nice if publishing stepped back to a time when authors were supported over a number of books, when a career was nurtured and developed, as opposed to the current “sink or swim” process.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Well, three come to mind. First up is Tony Kenrick, who wrote a series of wonderful novels in the 1970s and 1980s, including A TOUGH ONE TO LOSE, STEALING LILLIAN and THE 81st SITE. He had this wonderful capability of writing humorous caper novels similar to Donald Westlake, and then crisp thrillers that really had you turning the pages as you went along. Apparently hasn’t published anything for more than twenty years, which is a pity.

Then there’s Edwin Corley, who wrote a number of thrillers, three which stand out in my mind: THE JESUS FACTOR, a thriller looking into whether or not the world’s nuclear arsenal actually works, and if the atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima were a gigantic hoax; SIEGE, a novel inspired by the 1960s turmoil and involving a an African-American military plot to hold Manhattan hostage; and AIR FORCE ONE -- not the movie with Harrison Ford -- but a novel with similar (and earlier) theme of the hijacking of Air Force One.

And Alistair MacLean, whose thrillers my brothers and I devoured during the 1960s and 1970s: THE GUNS OF NAVARONE, SATAN BUG, WHERE EAGLES DARE, HMS ULYSSES.... Great stuff that I’m sure is out of print nowadays.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

That’s right. We don’t.

September 1991. Prior to this date, I had written two suspense novels that made the usual and customary rounds of publishing houses with some sweet and polite rejections, but rejections, nonetheless. I also had written about a hundred and fifty pages of a third thriller that just died away on me.

So. Four years worth of writing novels, and nothing to show for it. In August 1990, I had an idea for a series detective, set in the home state of New Hampshire. It took about a year to write, and my agent, Jed Mattes, loved it. But he warned me that the market was still poor for new detective series.

September 1991. Working at my job at a state utility in corporate communications. I’m in the cafeteria, hear my office phone ring, and head upstairs. Our department admin aide looks at me and tells me its my agent. I go to my office, pick up the phone, and with cheer and joy in his voice, Jed tells me of a two-book offer from Pocket Books, for both hardcover and softcover, and I can hardly believe what I’m hearing.

I jot down the details of the deal and then take the rest of the day off. Go to the beach and watch the Atlantic Ocean work its wave magic, and sit there, in a sweet fog, knowing that a twenty year dream has been reached, that nothing will ever be the same again, and how wonderful it all was.

Of course... that was the high point, ha ha ha. After some bizarre twists and turns, it took nearly three years for the book to see print, and by then, it was under the Otto Penzler/Macmillan imprint but still... you never, ever forget that first wonderful moment, when you realize You’ve Done It.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Pro-File: John Lutz

Ed here: John Lutz

John is one of my favorie writers. He is also one of the most readable, cunning and stylish writers I've ever read. He has written and mastered nearly ever sub-genre of crime fiction, from the Alo Nudger private eye novels about a rather hapless guy who is a spirtual cousin of Buster Keaton to the bedazzling big city Lawrence Sanders-like novels he's been writing the past five years or so. His novel/movie SFW Seeks Same is exactly what I want in suspense: a familiar situation turned upside down one creeping and creepy step at a time. I have never read a bad novel or story by John. Never.

What is your current novel?

1) Current novel is FEAR THE NIGHT, a Pinnacle paperback original published in November of 2005. It is part of my “Night” series and features a legendary former NYPD homicide detective who is lured from retirement to pursue a sniper in Manhattan.

Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

2) I am working now on CHILL OF NIGHT, to be published in November, 2006. It is in the same vein as FEAR, and the earlier Night books. I’ve found that the sometimes maligned serial killer genre is a mine that contains a myriad of unexplored tunnels and plenty of rich literary ore. I’ve become a serial serial killer novelist.

What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

3) Writing.

What is the greatest DIS-pleasure

4) I’m not sure. I haven’t encountered anything that isn’t at least bearable. This is not like a real job.

If you have one piece of advice for the publishing industry, what is it?

5) Don’t fight technology; embrace it.

Are there two or three writers you'd like to seein print again?

6) Eric Ambler, Geoffrey Household, and the masterful short story writer Stanley Ellin.

Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

7) I began by publishing a string of short stories, and selling my first story was not transcended by my first novel sale.
The sensation was like finally clearing a hurdle after trying over and over and over. You never really come down.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Pro-File: James Reasoner

Pro-File: James Reasoner

Ed Here: Bill Pronzini and I always say that we probably would have been happiest back in the Fifties when the paperback original field was new and thriving. I supsect that James Reasoner would have been happiest back in the Twenties and Thirties when the pulps dominated newstands. This doesn't mean that his books read like old pulp. On the contrary, his cult novel Texas Wind remains one of the finest private eye novels I've ever read and brings a distinctly modern viewpoint to the dusty truths of Texas. And that modern viepoint and style can be found in almost all his books. I think what he shares with the pulp boys and girls is their spirit and the simple love of telling good stories. You find this spirit and love in virtually everything he writes--and he writes virtually everything--westerns, mysteries, war stories, tie-ins, mainstream...and I'm sure I'm leaving out a couple of categories here. The pro's pro, James Reasoner.

1. Tell us about your current novel.

CALL TO ARMS, the first book in a new Civil War series entitled THE PALMETTO TRILOGY, was published in the fall, and the second book will be out in the spring, with the third and final book scheduled for next fall. These are in collaboration with my wife Livia, who is using the pseudonym Livia Hallam on them.

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

I just finished a house-name Western and plan to write a fantasy short story next, before moving right on to a historical novel which will also be under a house-name.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Seeing a new book of mine and knowing that people will be reading it and I hope enjoying it.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

Waiting. You send the books in and then wait for all the other steps in the process to unfold.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Stop cancelling books -- and entire lines -- that make money, provide livings for their authors, and entertain their readers, simply because they don't make *enough* money.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

I don't know if they're forgotten, but how about Ed Lacy, George Harmon Coxe, and Henry Kane (the early novels, not the later stuff).

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I had a post office box at the time, and one day there was a large manila envelope stuffed in it. Inside were several copies of a contract from Manor Books for my novel TEXAS WIND. No letter, just the contracts. But I didn't need a letter because I knew from the contracts they were actually going to buy and publish my book. I rushed home to tell Livia instead of going on to the real-world job I was holding down. The euphoria was tempered a bit when I actually *read* the contract and saw how little they were planning to pay me. We looked at each other and said, "That can't be right. That's all they pay for an entire *book*?"
Little did we know. They actually paid us even less.

But in the long run it was okay, because Manor published the book, and although I had sold short stories before, after that day I was an honest-to-gosh novelist.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Pro-File: Sandra Scoppettone

Pro-File: Sandra Sandra Scoppettone

From Sandra:

Gender: female

Astrological Sign: Gemini

Occupation: Author

Location: Southold : New York : United States

About Me

I'm a full time writer and have published nineteen novels, 5 for young adults and the rest are crime for adults. I've also published 2 books with Louise Fitzhugh ... the best known is Suzuki Beane. I used to live in New York City but since 1998 I've lived on the North Fork of Long Island.


The Yankees computers reading

Favorite Movies

The Grifters The Godfather

Favorite Music 40s music

40's music

Pro-File: Sandra Scoppettone

1 Tell us about your current novel.

In June, Too Darn Hot will be published. It's the sequel to This Dame for Hire which was the first in a series featuring Faye Quick. She's a P.I. in 1943. Her boss has gone to war and she takes over the agency.

2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

I can hardly give myself a sense of what I'm working on now. By that I mean I'm writing a crime novel in a way I never have before. As I wasn't writing a 3rd Faye quick novel and I didn't want to sit around and I didn't have an idea I devised this process. I found a list of 50 film noir titles on the Internet. I copied them and pasted them into a word document. Then I printed it out and cut each title into a strip of it's own, threw them into a box and then picked one out without looking. The first one was Asphalt Jungle. So I sat down and started writing with the title in mind, not the film. I let it dictate to me. And before I knew it I had a character, setting and action. No story though.

As the days and titles went on I got more characters who told me their stories and eveything began to happen. I won't say fall into place, because I'm not sure that's happened yet. I still don't know what's going to happen or how it's going to happen, but I have almost 70 pages of people I'm interested in and a glimmer of where I want to go. I think it's the kind of crime novel I always wanted to write and didn't think I could. Maybe I'll find out I can't.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Being on my own schedule, not having to answer to anyone on a daily basis, and doing what I love to do. Telling stories. I like the hours, too. I'm not a writer who writes all day, never have been. I write about 3 or 4 hours 5 days a week.

4. Thegreatest DIS-pleasure?

Never knowing when I'm going to have to reinvent myself again. Not having money I can count on.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Stop paying huge sums of money to 5 or 10 writers. Spread it out. Don't overpay the smaller writer either because you'll probably be disappointed and the writer will be left in the lurch.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Liza Cody, Marc Behm and ....I know I'll think of another the moment I send this off.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

It was a YA novel. I'd written about 4 adult novels before this and they'd all been rejected. My agent submitted my YA to Harper & Row (that's who they were then) and I got the call in 24 hours. I was making dinner. I threw it in the garbage and we went out. I thought it was always going to be like that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pro-File: Jack O'Connell

From Bluejack:

Jack O'Connell is known for dark, mysterious crime novels. "Imagine Kafka writing The Maltese Falcon," says James Ellroy.

O'Connell appears to be something of a genre bender. Although his novels have been firmly classified as mystery, and are thus not listed in ISFDB, critics name influences from Bruce Sterling to Philip K. Dick to J.G. Ballard. O'Connell himself seems to look to crime novelists first -- Thompson, Goodis, and Willeford -- but says "I'm not shy about stealing anything that rings my bell. I've yet to meet a form that didn't look ripe for pilfering." Now that's a crime novelist!

One interviewer notes with trepidation that O'Connell is known to be "moody, reclusive, suspicious, litigious, and mercurial."

One thing is clear: Jack O'Connell is a massively talented, enormously creative writer. His work is a true pleasure to read, even when it is incomprehensible.

Jack O'Connell:

Tell us about your current novel.

As my last book came out in – Jaysus! – 1999, it’d be a stretch to use the adjective “current” in reference to it. So we must be talking about the work in progress. Which brings us to question 2.

Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

I think, hope, I’m about two or three weeks away from finishing the book that has tried to kill me innumerable times over these last five years. It is my problem child, a story with severe ADHD that refuses to be corralled in one genre no matter how many times I offer it a carrot or beat it with a stick. Well, hell, Ed, how long have you been listening to me whine about this monster. As to subject matter, as I wrote Jim Sallis an embarrassingly long time ago, it’s about: pharmacists, coma, bikers, stem cells, comic books, salamanders, and circus freaks. True story: a photographer pal of mine – who loves to contrast my career with that of Robert Parker – said to me three years ago, “You know what your books need? A nymphomaniac nurse.” I shook my head and left his studio. Then woke up at 3 that morning and thought, “Maybe he’s right.” So she’s in there, too.

What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Still can’t think of writing in terms of career… But when you hit that moment – and it seems to grow rarer with age – when you’ve been at the desk for hours, for weeks, for months, spinning the story, and suddenly the world falls away and you slip into the fiction, into its world, you slide into that timeless and – forgive me – effortless zone where it’s all firing and you feel for a moment that you’re a transcriber.

Also: I have to say it’s been a kick to meet a few of my writing idols. And, beyond this, to have found all of them, truly, to be kind, gracious, accessible, generous, human, funny, and often wise.

What is the greatest DISpleasure?

When you review the pages you made while in that zone I just mentioned and you find them unreadable dreck.

If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

These days, I’m not being facetious when I advise larger type. You have to aim small when dealing with multinational congloms and I think larger type is a realistic agenda. (I could play the old riff about hiring accountants and marketing folks to account and market, rather than, say, acquire. But that’s just not going to happen.)

Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?

Well, you know, I’ve been lighting candles and killing chickens for Gil Brewer for some time now. And I’d love to see somebody republish Ev Skehan’s A Bullet for Georgie. (Hard Case, you guys listening?) And though he’s far from forgotten – and the book isn’t a mystery from what I hear –what about Marc Behm’s infamous female vampire novel?

Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

A fine memory that seems less real with each receding year. I’d had the classic Bad Day – full of lost keys, bounced checks, angry phone calls, parking place fist fights, midnight oil expended on the job site. I think there were locust and boils in there somewhere, too. It was days before 25 December, and, at 7 p.m., as I finally left the day-gig with my co-worker wife, she reminded me that we still needed to buy one last Christmas gift. This seemed a perfect end to the day and we headed for the mall, stopping at home to let out the mutt. As I opened my back door, I noticed, in the darkness of the kitchen, the flashing red light on the wall phone. Hit the playback and heard a message to call a New York #. When my agent answered, I told him who it was and said that I hoped I wasn’t calling too late. He said: “Not at all,” took the perfect dramatic pause, then barked, “Congratulations, you’ve sold a novel.” Of course, we did not make it to the mall that night. We made it to a favorite restaurant and, over a bottle of wine, spent the evening casting all the characters in the book for the movie that, inevitably, would be adapted from the book.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Pro-File: Martin Edwards

Pro-File: Martin Edwards

In introductory remarks to an interview in the UK's Macavity's newsletter, Martin Edwards answered as follows:

Q You write books on employment law, regular articles for journals, crime fiction novels, short stories, book reviews, edit anthologies of short stories and have a full time job as a partner in a solicitors firm as well as being head of the practice labour law department. How do you find time to eat and sleep?

A I'm very lucky in that I have two enjoyable jobs and it's very rewarding to move between them. For instance, if I have a bad day in the office, I can go home and kill someone (well, in print…).

Ed here: Martin Edwards is one of the finest stylists and most perceptive crime writers of his generation. Part of his problem in the marketplace is that he is writing in an era when same-old same-old and bombast rule the cash register. His gifts are of the more classical variey--there are points in his novels when I think I'm reading Graham Greene--and that recognition has begun to attract the attention of book buyers as it has so long attracted the attention of reviewers.

The Magnificent Seven (Questions) -- Title thanks to Terrill Lankford

1 Tell us about your current novel.

The Cipher Garden is my second Lake District Mystery. DCI Hannah Scarlett, head of Cumbria's Cold Case Squad, is prompted by an anonymous message to reopen inquiries into the death of landscape gardener Warren Howe. Meanwhile, historian Daniel Kind, whose father was Hannah's mentor, becomes obsessed by the mysterious design of the garden at his Lakeland cottage: what secrets does it hold?

2 Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?

The current work in progress is another Lake District book, provisionally entitled The Arsenic Labyrinth. The return to Coniston of a drifter with a talent for deception coincides with renewed interest in the disappearance of a young woman ten years before.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The joy of friendship with people - writers, readers, publishers, agents - with a common passion for the written word.

4. What is the greatest DIS-pleasure?

Being urged to do what is 'commercial' - typically, writing to some sort of formula - rather than what seems to be right for you as a writer - for example, doing something fresh and different. If you do what is right, I still believe - however naively - that it will pay dividends in the long run.

5. If you have any advice for the publishing industry, what is it?

Have faith in good writers who show commitment and a passion for their craft and be prepared to support them while they develop a following.

6 Name two or three mystery writers you'd like to see in print again.

Henry Wade, Rupert Penny and Richard Hull.

7.Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I won a prize in a writer's competition for a short crime story which was published in a national magazine - my first ever published fiction. A few weeks later my first novel, All the Lonely People, was accepted by a publisher and a few weeks after that my first child, Jonathan, was born. Teh novel was later shortlisted for the Dagger for best first crime novel - though Walter Moseley won it. Definitely an unforgettable period! Though selling Take My Breath Away, my first non-series book and a very ambitious story that proved very challenging to write, felt like an equally exciting achievement. It didn't attract as much attention as my series books, but I'm still very proud of it.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Pro-File: Graham Masterton

*Graham Masterton has published more than 35 horror novels and has won numerous awards, including an Edgar. Altogether he has written more than a hundred novels in a range of genres.

Born in Edinburgh in 1946, Graham became executive editor of Penthouse and Penthouse Forum magazines at the age of 24, at which time he began writing a best-selling series of sex how-to books.

His grandfather was Thomas Thorne Baker, the eminent scientist who invented DayGlo and was the first man to transmit news photographs by wireless.

Graham now lives with his wife Wiescka in a Gothic Victorian mansion high above the River Lee in Cork, Ireland.--horrorwriters.uk.com

Ed here: among Graham's many fine novels, Trauma stands out as one of one of the most original and stunning crime novels I've ever read. While there is a horror aspect to the story, it doesn't play much of a part in this thriller about a working class woman who cleans up murder scenes after the various law enforcement people are done with it. It is one of the most honest noels I've ever read about the isolation of a woman from her family and friends and about the effects a job can have on a worker. It is also, flat out, one of the best written novels of any kind I've ever read. (Cemetery Dance published the novel as Bonnie Winter, NAL as Trauma.)

Graham Masterton:

1. Tell us about your current novel.

My most recent mass-market horror novel was MANITOU BLOOD from Leisure Books. I brought back the original characters from my 1975 novel THE MANITOU and had another go at devastating New York. Ancient Native American wonder-worker Misquamacus returns to life and employs long-incarcerated vampires to help him in his battle against the white man. Fake seer Harry Erskine attempts to thwart him, with the help of a sultry Romanian lady.

My most recent hardback was TOUCHY & FEELY (Severn House) based on the Beltway snipers. Two wildly different but equally disaffected characters accidentally meet in snowbound winter Connecticut and begin a random shooting spree. They are pursued by ageing fortune-teller Sissy Sawyer.

NIGHT WARS, a fourth saga in my novels involving Night Warriors -- ordinary folks who become heroic warriors in their dreams and battle against the forces of evil -- will be published this summer by Leisure. In this one, two epic nasties called the Winterwent and the High Horse are trying to steal the dreams of newborn infants in order to discover the secrets of the universe (and dismantle it).

DESCENDANT will be published by Severn House this summer, too. An American vampire hunter is sent to London in the 1950s to track down the last of the vampires who was used by the Nazis during the war to exterminate the French and Belgian resistance. He discovers some deeply uncomfortable secrets about his own family history...

2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

EDGEWISE, the story of a woman who uses a Native American demon to find her kidnaped children...with terrifying consequences

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

No commuting.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

Irregular income and no friends.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Stop mimicking Hollywood by relying on tried-and-tested formulae. Take some risks.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?


7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

I was writing very successful sex "how-to" books in the mid-1970s (remember that I was executive editor of Penthouse at that time). But the bottom fell out of the sex book market quite abruptly and Andy Ettinger at Pinnacle decided he didn't want to honor my latest contract. So I sent him THE MANITOU as a substitute. He called me when I was sunning myself in the garden and said he'd take it, so long as I changed the ending. Which I naturally did. Wouldn't you?
Thank you

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Pro-File: Andrew Coburn

Pro-File: Andrew Coburn

Andrew Coburn is one of the three or four best crime fiction writers alive today. Most people who’ve read any of his novels—from the bestselling The Babysitter to his current novel On The Loose—will agree. While he has always been more widely read in Europe than in the United States, it’s hoped that with the reissue of some of his key novels here, he’ll win the popularity he has so long deserved..

1. Current novel. It's about a boy, born with a bent brain, that murders two women. Who do we blame?. Do we sue God? And which God? The Christian one or one of the others?

2. Current project. Collection of short stories. Finishing one called "Egg Yolk," about a man born with a hole in his height and cuts his wife down to size. Another is about a Roman Catholic priest and a woman assistant district attorney who meet on a nude beach.

3. Greatest pleasure of a writing career. Being more or less my own boss, moving more or less to my own tune, and being more or less at my own beck and call.

4. Greatest displeasure. Realizing how much time I didn't spend with my four daughters.

5. Advice to the publishing world. Publishing world is a money world. Would a conglomerate listen to my advice?

6. Forgotten mystery (crime) writers I like to see back in print. George V. Higgins. He created dialog much imitated and never equalled. I'm sure there are others, but they immediately come to mind.

7. Selling my first novel. For two years I tried unsuccessfully to sell it on my own; then I lucked out when a editor at one of the publishing houses steered me to an agent, who sold it (The Trespassers) within a month. To Houghton-Mifflin. My wife and I did a dance.


Friday, February 10, 2006

Pro-File: Marijane Meaker aka Vin Packer

Pro-File: Marijane Meaker aka Vin Packer aka M.E. Kerr. I’ve always rated Vin Packer (Marijane Meaker) as one of the three or four best of the paperback original writers. She came as close to turning pulp into mainstream as anybody ever did—and in this instance I mean this as a high compliment. She was frequently compared to John O’Hara and while the influence was obviously there, she had baroque wit in her Big City novels and a dark Faulknerian strain in her Deep South novels that nobody else came close to matching. One of her lost gems is a Gold Medal novel called The Girl on The Best-Seller List, which is her take on the sad (and at the time notorious) Peyton Place writer Grace Metalious. And none of this even touches on her best-selling award-winning Young Adult career as M.E. Kerr. tMarijane Meaker is one of the great ones.

What is your current novel?

1.I have just finished Scott Free, a new Vin Packer about a transgendered detective who was Scott(male) and is becoming Scotti (female). It is now being offered to publishing houses by McIntosh & Otis of NYC, my agent.

2.Your current project?

I also just finished a young adult novel( under my pseudonym M.E. Kerr) about an undocumented Latino boy and a girl he meets when he works for her contractor father. I am now beginning a lesbian comedy of the 50's, an adult novel as Marijane Meaker. I am delighted to say Stark House is reprinting many Vin Packer novels, bringing them out with such care.

3.Greatest pleasure as a writer?
The freedom to be what I always wanted to be (for some 50 years now) and the pleasure of finding a new idea in everything from something a neighbor tells you, something in another author's book that triggers your imagination, something you see, remember, hear about, read about or imagine. Writing can also be a career from which you never have to retire.

4. Greatest displeasure as a writer?
The greatest displeasure is sometimes watching the disappearance of the caring editor, the midlist novel, the small independent publisher, and the avid young reader who existed before computers.

5. Advice to the publishing world?

Help beginning writers, nurture them as writers like Anne Tyler, William Kennedy, Elmore Leonard, Stephen King etc. were encouraged with advances, advice, and patience while they developed their skills.

6. Which writers would you like to see in print again?
Peter Rabe, Charles Williams and there was a paperback writer, Jerry Weil*, who wrote regular novels and suspense.

7. Do you remember selling your first novel?

Dick Carroll, then editor of Gold Medal books was taking me to lunch. I was 22. In the cab, just as we went under the ramp near Grand Central Station, he said, "We're going to buy your book," and the taxi came out of the darkness to sunny Park Avenue. I'll never forget it. The book, by the way, was at that point one chapter and an outline. He advanced me $2000. It was 1952. Imagine what an unbelievable windfall.

*Ed here: Coincidence. A week ago I was at Half Price Books and found in their Nostalgia section three Jerry Weil novels for a buck each. I remembered how much I’d liked his stuff—he was kind of soft-core hardboiled Francoise Sagan, in other words, you never knew what the hell he was going to write next but he was an interesting guy—read one of them Escapade and liked it a lot. One of the many good writers lost to time.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pro-File: Max Allan Collins

Pro-File: Max Allan Collins


MAX ALLAN COLLINS has earned an unprecedented seven Private Eye Writers of America "Shamus" nominations for his "Nathan Heller" historical thrillers, winning twice (True Detective, 1983, and Stolen Away, 1991). The new Heller novel, Flying Blind (to be published by Dutton in August '98), explores the most famous mystery of the twentieth century, the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. His previous Heller novel, Damned in Paradise (1996), the story of Clarence Darrow's last case, will be reprinted by Signet in July 1998.

Termed "mystery's Renaissance Man" (by Ed Hoch in The Best Mystery and Suspense Stories of 1993), Collins has created three celebrated contemporary suspense series --Nolan, Quarry and Mallory (thief, hitman and mystery writer respectively). He has also written four widely praised historical thrillers about real-life "Untouchable" Eliot Ness; and is an accomplished writer of short fiction: "Louise," his contribution to the popular anthology Deadly Allies, was a Mystery Writers of America "Edgar" nominee for best short story of 1992.

He scripted the internationally syndicated comic strip DICK TRACY from 1977 to 1993, and wrote three TRACY novels; a number of collections of his TRACY comic strip work have been published. He is co-creator (with artist Terry Beatty) of the pioneering female P.I. comic-book feature MS. TREE, and has written both the BATMAN comic book and newspaper strip. The Collins/Beatty mini-series JOHNNY DYNAMITE (published by Dark Horse) has been optioned for film by Adam Kline Productions. MIKE DANGER, a science-fiction comic book project with bestselling mystery writer Mickey Spillane for Big Entertainment, ran for several years, ending in 1997; it is currently under option to Pressman Films. An epic graphic novel about Capone-era crime, Road to Perdition, is forthcoming from Paradox Press/DC Comics.

Collins is the one of publishing industry's leading authors of movie tie-in novels, including the international bestsellers In the Line of Fire (Jove, 1993), Maverick (Signet, 1994), Waterworld (Boulevard, 1995), Daylight (Boulevard, 1996), Air Force One (Ballantine, 1997), and Saving Private Ryan (Signet, 1998). He has written two original NYPD BLUE novels for Stephen Boccho and Signet Books, Blue Beginning (1995) and Blue Blood (1997).

His screenplay THE EXPERT was shot in Nashville in 1994 -- starring Jeff Speakman and James Brolin -- and was an HBO world premiere film, airing in April 1995. Upcoming movie projects include his screenplay SPREE (from his novel of the same name), under option to filmmaker William Lustig (RELENTLESS, MANIAC COP) and IN HEART AND SOUL, a 1960s midwestern drama to be written and directed by Collins.

Working as an independent filmmaker in his native Iowa, he wrote, directed and executive-produced "Mommy," a suspense film starring Patty McCormack, which aired on Lifetime cable in 1996; he performed the same duties for a sequel, "Mommy's Day," released in 1997. The recipient of two Iowa Motion Picture Awards for screenwriting, he wrote "The Expert," a 1995 HBO World Premiere film starring James Brolin. He was also Creative Consultant on the Disney production, "Dick Tracy" (1990), for which he wrote the bestselling novel.

One of the creators of the controversial and enormously successful "True Crime" trading cards published by Eclipse in 1992, Collins has authored (or co-authored) a number of bestselling card series, reflecting his interests in popular culture and true crime, including PAINTED LADIES, POCKET PIN-UPS, DIGEST DOLLS and CHICAGO MOB WARS (the latter with longtime associate, George Hagenauer). He has also co-authored ONE LONELY KNIGHT, an Edgar-nominated critical study on Spillane (with James Traylor) and THE BEST OF CRIME AND DETECTIVE TV, a review of TV detectives (with John Javna); and a collection of his movie review columns from MYSTERY SCENE magazine is forthcoming from Borgo Press.

A longtime rock musician, he has in recent years recorded and performed with two bands -- Seduction of the Innocent in California, Crusin' in his native Muscatine, Iowa, where Collins lives with his wife, writer Barbara Collins, and their son, Nathan.

Collins and his wife Barbara have collaborated on a number of short stories and their first novel is in the works.

1. Tell us about your current novel.

ROAD TO PARADISE, which came out from William Morrow in December 2005,
completes the trilogy begun by the graphic novel ROAD TO PERDITION. Like
the second book, ROAD TO PURGATORY (currently out in mass market paperback),
PARADISE is a prose novel. A few reviewers and listings refer to this as
the "Perdition" series, but it isn't really a series in the usual sense --
more a family saga in the context of several kinds of families. The
protagonist, Michael O'Sullivan Jr., is an adolescent in PERDITION, in his
early twenties in PURGATORY and in his fifties in PARADISE. The attempt is
to bring this story full circle, with Michael finally finding his redemption
(or the path to it) in the third novel -- in which he and his teenager
daughter retrace the violent journey of Michael and his father in PERDITION.

My recent tie-in novels are the latest CSI, KILLING GAME (Pocket) and THE
PINK PANTHER (HarperCollins). The latter is a very funny novel. No

>2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?

I've just completed the first draft of a television movie screenplay based
on my long-running female P.I. comic book, MS. TREE. And I'm working on a
paperback-original novel called A KILLING IN COMIC BOOKS for Prime Crime, a
medium-boiled Rex Stout-ish mystery dealing with the comic book industry
right after the Second World War; and researching my next big historical for
Morrow, which is about Wyatt Earp. Also, we have just premiered my new
indie movie, ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE, based on my Edgar-nominated
>3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Hands down, the great pleasure is being able to pursue a passion and get
paid for it. I consider myself a storyteller and, accordingly, work in
many mediums. I love readiing novels and get to write them for money; I
love movies and occasionally get to make them; I love comics and get to
script them. My hobbies have turned into my job, and what could be a
greater pleasure than that?

>4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

I disilike the editiorial phase, even though I like working with editors.
That sounds contradictory, but when I finish a novel, I finish it -- and a
real attitude adjustment is required from me to do revisions (especially
when I don't think they're necessary) and deal with copy-edited manuscripts
and galley proofs. But I am too anal retentive to blow these things off, so
I handle all of this in a responsible, professional way. My pet peeve for
decades remains the same: over-eager copy editors, particularly those with
either a tin ear or a desire to write their own novels.

On the other hand, the actual editors -- as opposed to copy editors -- have
helped me improve my work. Sarah Durand at Morrow gave me great notes on
PURGATORY, for instance, and definitely improved the book. The biggest
problems, of course, occur in licensing work -- there is never any
predicting on what the Hollywood side will demand of a novelization or a
tie-in novel. My worst experience was novelizing the screenplay of ROAD TO
PERDITION (which of course was based on my own work) -- I delivered 100,000
words, fleshing the story out into a genuine novel not unlike my
sequels...and was forced to cut it in half, leaving out anything that wasn't
in the filmscript.
>5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

This applies to a specific aspect of my own career -- publishers who are
interested in pursuing that seductive buzz word GRAPHIC NOVEL (okay, buzz
words) should find existing properties that can be effectively repackaged,
as opposed to trying to fund new ones, at least right now. The comic book
market is such a niche one that great things published there, over the past
twenty years -- like my own MS. TREE -- would be brand-new for a mainstream

I have had at least half a dozen calls, post-PERDITION, from publishers
wanting to do graphic novels with me...until the numbers got crunched and
the budget required to hire an artist to illustrate, say, 300 pages made the
projects unrealistic.

>6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in
>print again?

W.R. Burnett is the great forgotten master -- the true peer of Hammett,
Chandler, Spillane and Thompson. And his impact on the popular culture is
at least as great as any of them. He lived too long and wrote too much,
however -- a problem that resonates with me.

He's not exactly forgotten, but I place Horace McCoy high on the list, as
well -- KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE is better than any Jim Thompson, and I say
that as one of the couple of people (Ed Gorman's one of the others) who put
Thompson back on the map.

And Ennis Willie -- who wrote a couple dozen wonderfully fun, pulpy
Spillane-school tough guy novels that were published in the mid-'60s as
softcore porn -- deserves at least a one-volume retrospective. Lynn
Meyers, who co-edited my Spillane anthology BYLINE: MICKEY SPILLANE, is
putting one together with Steve Mertz and myself, and will soon seek a
publisher. Willie was sort of the Betty Page of paperback pulp -- a cult
favorite about whom nothing was known, and who utterly disappeared after a
short, prolific period. But he has turned up alive and well, a successful
printer. We should print him.
>7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that

I attended the esteemed Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, where my
mentor Richard Yates guided me through my early mystery novels. BAIT MONEY,
NO CURE FOR DEATH and THE BROKER were all written there. Yates helped me
land Knox Burger as an agent, and -- during my grad school days -- Burger
showed BAIT MONEY around for almost two years. Originally BAIT MONEY had a
bleak ending -- the hero, Nolan, died. The typescript got coffee spilled on
it (at Pyramid Books, I believe, dating me and the book) and Burger asked me
to re-type it, and "Change that goddamn downer ending." Nolan lived in the
new typescript, and it promptly sold -- on Christmas Eve, 1972, weeks before
I graduated. When I told Don Westlake at the time, he said, "Sometimes God
decides to be O. Henry, and there's nothing we can do about it."

Max Allan Collins