Interrogation—Jochem Vandersteen

Jochem 2Who: Jochem Vandersteen

What: Author of the Mike Dalmas and Noah Milano books. He blogs about PI fiction at Sons Of Spade, and founded the Hardboiled Collective, a group of hardboiled writers promoting the genre and their books. He’s also a big fan of rock music and comic books, blogging about those as well.

Where: The Netherlands

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.

I just read one of your recent novellas, THE DEATH BUSINESS, featuring a recurring protagonist named Noah Milano. How would you describe him to somebody who has not encountered him before?

Noah Milano is the son of LA’s biggest mob boss. When his mother got shot he promised her just before she died he would go straight and become an honest hardworking man. So, he breaks ties with his father and goes to work as a security specialist. He’s always trying to make up for his dark and criminal past. He can be a cocky wise ass, is a good fighter, loves rock music and is loyal to his best friends, Tony and Minnie.

Death BIzHow many Noah Milano stories have you published? Why do you prefer shorter length works to tell Noah Milano stories?

I have published about 25 stories featuring Noah Milano. A lot of them on webzines (collected in TOUGH AS LEATHER), some as ebooks. I wrote one full novel, THE WHITE NIGHT SYNDROME, and now publish his adventures as novellas. I like the shorter form because I follow the Elmore Leonard rule of leaving out the parts people skip, making for shorter stories. Also, I like my stories to move fast, like a punk rock song. Too often I read novels where a third of it seems to be in the book to up the page count without much contribution to the story.

How did you come to choose the name Noah Milano? Is there any special significance to it? 

There’s no special idea behind the name. I got the name Noah from a character in, of all shows, Beverly Hills 90210. They had an actor who I could envision as my protagonist. Milano because I used to have a crush on Alyssa Milano.

LeatherYou are a Dutch novelist who often writes in English. Why do you prefer to publish in English instead of Dutch?

All of the stories I love to read are written in English, so it made sense to write in English myself. Also, in the Netherlands there’s no market for hardboiled detective stories. Writing in English opens up a way bigger market.

What originally drew you to the hardboiled/crime genre? Who are some of your hardboiled/crime influences?

I think I was drawn to the genre after watching an episode of Spenser For Hire, after which I read the Spenser books. I just loved the lone wolf, wise cracking tough guy. Spenser seemed to be everything I wanted to be.

After having read all the Spenser novels I looked around for something like that and started to read Robert Crais, Raymond Chandler, Les Roberts, James Lee Burke… And I was hooked. Hardboiled detective stories can have action, romance, comedy all wrapped into a good story. But I guess what I like most is just walking along with cool characters.

White KnightYou are also a rock journalist. Do you specialize in any particular genre of music? Do you see any similarities between publishing genres and recording genres?

I specialize in metal and punk rock, my favorite genres. Publishing and recording genres both have great artists that give fans exactly what they love about a genre—the genre staples—but add their own identity and spin to it. Both have loyal fan bases, great communities, passionate and approachable creators.

You and I originally bonded over a shared love of punk rock. What are your five favorite punk bands of all time? Why?

I love the sense of passion of Ignite and BoySetsFire. The social conscience of Rise Against, the positive attitude of H2O, and the melody of Bad Religion.

If you had to compare Noah Milano to any punk rock musician, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

I guess Joey Ramone. Because he’s so very cool.


You do frequent author interviews on your blog, Sons Of Spade. What have you learned about writing crime/mystery from interviewing other authors?

I really learned how to promote my work. In general, I’ve learned that crime writers are incredibly nice people who write about terrible things. All the authors I have interviewed were more than happy to answer my questions, and help me out whenever I need my work promoted or some advice.

Since it is almost Christmas, what one crime/mystery book would you choose to give out as a gift this year? Why?

SILENT NIGHT, the Spenser Christmas novel, would be a fitting gift.

Find Jochem Vandersteen: WebsiteFacebook

Previous Interrogations:

S.W. Lauden’s debut novel, BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION, is available now from Rare Bird Books. His novella, CROSSWISE, will be published by Down & Out Books in March 2016.


  1. Robert B Parker has at least two crime writer fans along with the many others that have read his work over the years. There ain’t a gonna be another quite like him. But John Sandford, Ed McBain and a few others round out my list of “instructors” at Crime Writer U. I will now take a look at Jochem. Will there be a test?

  2. I like how he got his protag’s name from Beverly Hills 90210…funny, caz that show is the last place you’d ever find a hardboiled PI guy, tho the guys in it were all wannabe tough guys. I would have thought Luke would have been the closest tho, in a ultra laid back, cool kind of way. No matter. I want to read the Noah series now!

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