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 He wants a signed photo. Check out Tom's website at:

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.


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