“New Yorked” is easily one of the best debuts I have read. The characters are smart, funny and damaged, and the plot takes some truly interesting twists without tying itself in a knot. Most of all, I liked the tone of this novel, which captures the heart of crime writing in a thoroughly modern way.
I was lucky enough to connect with the author earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from my interview with Rob Hart.
One of the many interesting things about NEW YORKED is the ongoing battle between “old New York” and “hipster New York”. How prevalent is that in real life?
There’s some goofy shit in this book—like the guy who’s name is Ian but stresses that it’s pronounced “Eye-Anne.” That’s a real thing someone said to me once. I’m worried people are going to say a lot of this is ridiculous, not realizing I’ve seen and heard a lot of it. I’m endlessly fascinated by the new v. old clash. This place really will chew you up and spit you out if you’re not strong enough. People who’ve lasted wear it like a badge of honor, and really disdain people who show up out of nowhere and act like they own it. At the same time, New York is a city where people flock to live out their dreams and fantasies. It’s by nature a point of refuge. I’ve never read a book where I saw that play out, so I thought it would be a fun arena to play in.
Is NEW YORKED a crime novel in your eyes? How important is genre to you as a writer?
Genre discussions make me go cross-eyed. If I was pressed I’d say it’s a little noir, a little literary. But I’m firmly in the class of: A good book is a good book, and I don’t care if it’s YA or poetry or literary or crime or a cookbook.
How did your experience as a former political reporter and a commissioner for the city of New York influence the novel? How did you make the transition from politics to writing fiction?
I was a reporter for four years, two of which were spent as a political reporter, then communications director for a politician, and after I left politics got a call to sit on a redistricting commission, as a commissioner. I got two things out of these gigs: Brutal efficiency and life experience.
The efficiency is—both reporting and politics are professions where if someone has to ask you for something, it’s already too late. You have to be able to do twelve things at once, and be fast and accurate and good at all of them. And I got to do and see some cool stuff that informed my writing. I like writing about New York, because I know a lot about it. The second book, set in Portland, was a little tough. I’ve been there half a dozen times, but I don’t know the beat of it. Which helped, a bit, because the narrator doesn’t either. But it really showed me how much New York is my comfort zone. As for making the transition—I’ve always been writing, it was just hard to find the time. My productivity exploded after I took the job with MysteriousPress.com, because suddenly I wasn’t working 24/7.
S.W. Lauden is a writer and drummer living in Los Angeles. His short fiction has been accepted for publication by Out of the Gutter, Criminal Element, Dead Guns Magazine, Akashic Books, Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey and Crimespree Magazine. His debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, will be published in 2015. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in 2016.