My Chat With David Berkeley

The nice people at Rare Bird Books bugged my phone during a private conversation with talented singer/songwriter/author, David Berkeley. And now they’re trying to claim that it’s a “podcast,” or whatever.

If you haven’t read Berkeley’s heartbreaking/uplifting collection of stories, THE FREE BRONTOSAURUS, you definitely should (it’s not a kids booooook, I promise). And make sure to check out the companion album, CARDBOARD BOAT. This dude’s got chops!

 

Interrogation—Jason Pinter

Jason Pinter photoWho: Jason Pinter

What: Founder and Publisher of Polis Books, an independent publishing company he launched in 2013. He is the author of five thrillers and one middle grade novel, with over one million copies in print worldwide, which have been nominated for the Thriller Award, Strand Critics Award, Shamus Award, Barry Award and more.

Where: New Jersey

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

Congrats on the third anniversary of Polis Books! What have you learned about the company you started over the last thirty-six months?

Well, being a business owner is far more difficult and complicated than being an editor or writer, which were my previous professions. It’s the difference between painting a room and building a house. I’ve been in dozens of editorial board meetings, publicity meetings, sales conferences, and pitched my own books in innumerable outlets, hopefully without boring people to death. But I didn’t have much more than cursory experience on the finance and distribution side, largely doing P&Ls (profit and loss projections) on acquisitions. Learning that side was the most time-consuming part, simply because I didn’t have a background in it, but I thankfully have good accountants and lawyers and am a total data geek and work very closely with our distributor, our bank, and our printing partner to make sure everything runs smoothly on the back end of the publishing equation.

Reading submissions, working on cover designs and promoting our authors is the fun part. That’s the muscle. That’s the stuff people see publically. But the other stuff, the skeleton, the support system that holds everything up, that’s been the biggest challenge but also one of the biggest rewards because I know we can do this.

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Interrogation—Marietta Miles

Who: Marietta Miles

What: Born in Alabama, raised in Louisiana, her short stories have been published by Thrills, Kills and Chaos, Flash Fiction Offensive, Yellow Mama, Revolt Daily and more. She has stories in anthologies offered through Static Movement Publishing, Horrified Press, and, soon, Gutter Books. Her first novel, ROUTE 12, is now available through All Due Respect Books.

Where: Virginia

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

Your debut release from All Due Respect is ROUTE 12, two novellas set in Appalachia in the seventies and eighties. Why was this era and that location the right time and place for these stories and characters?

Poverty is the wolf at the door in ROUTE 12, ordeals borne directly from need. The seventies were a particularly difficult time in Appalachia. Slashed jobs in the mines, bad soil on the farms, and stripped cuts along the mountains made for little money. As they had been for years, young people were leaving in waves. This area, at that time, seemed isolated and vulnerable, much like the characters.

Plus, I got to listen to loads of cheesy seventies music and tell everyone it was for inspiration. I mean come on…The Raspberries?

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Interrogation—Gary Phillips

Gary photoWho: Gary Phillips

What: Author of more than a dozen novels, a couple of short story collections, graphic novels, edited or co-edited several anthologies, and has various short stories in numerous anthologies. He is the former president of the So Cal chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, this year’s chair of the Eleanor Taylor Bland Crime Fiction Writers of Color grant awarded by Sisters in Crime, and current president of the Private Eye Writers of America.

Where: Los Angeles

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

Your most recent release is 3 THE HARD WAY, a collection of three novellas from Down & Out Books. What is it about novellas that you like as a writer? Do you also enjoy them as a reader?

Interesting that the famed (or is that fabled?) James Patterson is getting into the novella effort in a big way. Not sure this means all boats rise, but it is the case that various writers across various genres have been on the grind pumping out 3 the hard waynovellas – 20,000 to 40,000 words – for some time. This echoes the heyday of the original pulps in the ‘30s when you could buy for a dime then twenty-five cents a pulp magazine, so-called for the cheap paper it was printed on but now refers to a certain rat-a-tat style of writing, with superhero-type characters such as Doc Savage, the Golden Amazon, Captain Future, the Shadow and so on. Each would have a lead feature said to be a novel-length tale, usually 40,000-50,000 words, plus several short stories.

3 THE HARD WAY then is in that vein. Two of the stories are more pulpy, action-adventure oriented, and the third is crime fiction. As a reader to me a novella gives you just enough story to dig in for a while but the demands of the form mean less extraneous matter and more charging ahead. Though that is not to slight characterization. I like novellas too as that might mean for a series character you can put out three or four of them in a year. Or if the finances lined up, why not once a month like back in the day?   No one has done that quite yet, but I would think that’s coming.

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Interrogation—Brett Battles

Brett_author_0612_400wWho: Brett Battles

What: A Barry Award-winning author of over twenty-five novels, including the Jonathan Quinn series, the Logan Harper series, and the time-hopping Rewinder series. He’s also the co-author, with Robert Gregory Browne, of the Alexandra Poe series.

Where: Los Angeles

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

You are a full-time writer who has published with a Big 5 house, self-published, and now works with 47 North, an imprint of Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer. What have you learned from your travels in publishing?

Someone could write a whole book about that. Not me, though. I’m not volunteering. I’ve learned a ton, some of which was true at one time but then things changed and was no longer valid. Ultimately what I learned is that it is up to me to control my career as a writer. In other words, things change and I need to roll with them, and, no matter how nervous I might get, it’s okay to try something new.

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Interrogation—J.T. Lindroos

Who: J.T. Lindroos

What: A designer and writer, he has worked on hundreds, perhaps thousands, of book covers since 1997. He ran Point Blank Press from 2004 to 2011 and published the first novels of Allan Guthrie, Dave Zeltserman, Duane Swierczynski and Donna Moore among many others. He was a music writer for AllMusic Guide and currently reviews European comics for Bookgasm.

Where: Indiana

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

Let’s start with the question that every writer wants to know—do you read the books before you design the covers? 

No. I don’t have the time. I design anywhere from 2 to 10 covers a week. I sometimes read the book after I’ve done the cover. My turnaround for first draft — which might mean a finished cover — usually ranges from half an hour to a couple of days. I do much of my freelance work on lunch break at my day job.

Have you ever turned down a design job because you didn’t like the book?

No. On occasion I’ve turned covers down because of the writer or the publisher.

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Interrogation—Bill Fitzhugh

Who: Bill Fitzhugh

What: Award-winning author of more books than you’d like to tote around in a sack all day.  He has worked in radio, television, and film.  He is currently at work on his next novel.

Where: Los Angeles

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

RADIO ACTIVITY is a really fun read with interesting characters and plenty of small town darkness. Where did you get the idea for this story?

I worked in a town and at a station just like the ones in the book.  That’s where I made the (illegal) recording of a phone conversation that is the basis of the blackmail story in the book.  I didn’t KNOW it was illegal (both a state and a federal crime, as it turns out), but ignorance of the law and all that.  Fortunately the statute of limitations has run out on that.  In any event, that was in the late 70s, early 80s.  Fast forward fifteen years or so and I’m out of radio and into publishing.  After HEART SEIZURE (my 5th book), I was thinking about my next one and thought it might be fun to write a series character.  It dawned on me that I had this fabulous tape recording that I could have used to blackmail the general manager of the station where I worked if I had been the blackmailing type.  So I took the tape and came up with the blackmail scheme and wrote it.  Easiest book for me to write because I didn’t need to do any research.  I’d already worked in radio 10 years, so I had all my background.  BTW, the tape in the book is a word-for-word transcript of the actual tape (except names and places).  I still play the tape for people now and then.  It turns out that’s also a crime.

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Interrogation—J.L. Abramo

Noir at the Bar Denver 12-15Who: J.L. Abramo

What: He was born in the seaside paradise of Brooklyn, New York on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo is the author of CATCHING WATER IN A NET, winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel; the subsequent Jake Diamond novels CLUTCHING AT STRAWS, COUNTING TO INFINITY, and CIRCLING THE RUNWAY; CHASING CHARLIE CHAN, a prequel to the Jake Diamond series; and the stand-alone thriller GRAVESEND. His latest work is BROOKLYN JUSTICE.

Where: Denver

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

BROOKLYN JUSTICE is a fast-paced hardboiled read. Where did the idea for your P.I. Nick Ventura and this novel come from?

The Jake Diamond series is set primarily in San Francisco with occasional runs to Los Angeles. I very much enjoyed revisiting Brooklyn when I worked on GRAVESEND and wanted to return again. I also wanted to write a more dangerous protagonist (Jake has always been more over easy than hardboiled). Combining both interests led to a Coney Island private investigator who is more inclined toward seeking justice in his own terms and handing out punishment accordingly.

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Interrogation—Rob Hart

pic1Who: Rob Hart

What: Author of NEW YORKED and CITY OF ROSE. His short stories have appeared in publications like Thuglit, Needle, Shotgun Honey, Joyland, and Helix Literary Magazine. Non-fiction has appeared at Salon, The Daily Beast, Nailed, Birth.Movies.Death., and the Powell’s bookstore blog. He’s been nominated for a Derringer Award and received honorable mention in The Best American Mystery Stories 2015. He’s also the class director at LitReactor and the associate publisher at MysteriousPress.com. 

Where: New York

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

CITY OF ROSE is your much-anticipated follow-up to NEW YORKED. This time around, Ash McKenna is brawling his way across Portland, Oregon. How did you pick the location for book 2?

It was originally supposed to be Austin, Texas. I wanted the book to be a spin on a Western—stranger rolls through town with a chip on his shoulder and saves the day. Like Shane or Road House. But I know way more about Portland than I do Austin, and it struck me as a really odd place to set a Western. That pretty much sealed it.

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Interrogation—Ingrid Willis

ingrid cu blackWho: Ingrid Willis

What: Chair of Left Coast Crime 2016 in Phoenix, AZ. She has been a devoted mystery conference attendee since she discovered the Bouchercon convention in 2002. She has attended almost every Left Coast Crime, Bouchercon, and Malice Domestic since then, and was Chair of Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach, CA. Ingrid has worked for more than twenty-five years in the entertainment industry. She left her position as Executive Director of Marketing for Columbia Pictures in 1997 to start her own company specializing in digital post-production. She is also a mystery writer and insatiable mystery reader.

Where: Los Angeles

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

You’ve been “a devoted mystery conference attendee” since you discovered Bouchercon in 2002. What was so magical about that first convention?

I had just left my studio job to start my own post production company.  I was thinking about writing a novel, and having worked in the music and entertainment field I wanted to check out the publishing “industry” before I did so.  I mean, what if I hated the business? What if it was as cut-throat as the entertainment & music? I went to Bouchercon in Austin, Texas without having been registered. (There wasn’t online registration in those days.) While in line to register I met Elaine Viets who was so gracious and encouraged me to write. Everyone was so welcoming.  It was great.  I realized I’d found my long-lost family I hadn’t even known I’d misplaced. I made acquaintances that have since become some of my best friends. Bouchercon literally changed my life and took me in a direction I could never have imagined.

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