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—Jack Getze

on the bechWho: Jack Getze

What: Former newsman and Fiction Editor for Anthony-nominated Spinetingler Magazine. His Austin Carr mysteries—four so far, BIG NUMBERS, BIG MONEY, BIG MOJO and BIG SHOES—are published by Down & Out Books. His short stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, The Big Adios and two anthologies, DOWN, OUT AND DEAD, and LAST WORDS.

Where: New Jersey

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

Your protagonist, Austin Carr, is a Jersey Shore broker with a mobbed-up partner. How did you develop this character and the circumstances he finds himself in?

Most of BIG NUMBERS and the character Austin Carr are based on me and my life. After writing and asking questions for the newspaper since I was a teenager, a new and pregnant wife moved me from Los Angeles to New Jersey where I couldn’t find a decent writing or public relations job. I ended up turning the knowledge I’d gained as a financial news writer—and how to work the phones—into a new career as a salesman of tax-free bonds, and later all kinds of securities and money-management.

I worked most of the next two decades for a one-office Jersey securities firm run by guys who looked and talked like gangsters, although coming from L.A., everybody in Jersey sounded tough. After the first three years of cold calling and “dialing for dollars,” I’d had it. But I needed the job. Two families to support, and just like Austin, I was trapped. I took my frustrations out on a typewriter and created BIG NUMBERS, which tells of a guy desperate to change jobs, but trapped by his obligations.

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Interrogation—Leslie Bohem

IMG_2742Who: Leslie Bohem

What: A participant of the great Los Angeles Music Scare of the 1980s. After his burgeoning career in rock and roll stopped burgeoning, Les found a job writing screenplays about rock and roll musicians whose careers had stopped burgeoning. He’s written some movies and television including the miniseries, Taken, for which he won an Emmy. His novella, FLIGHT 505, was just published by UpperRubberBoot, and his new album, Moved to Duarte, will be up and out any minute.  He is currently producing his series, Shut Eye, for Hulu.

Where: Los Angeles

Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited. Leslie Bohem guitar photo by Bonnie Perkinson.

I finished FLIGHT 505 in one sitting. How did you come up with this dark, funny and heartbreaking story? Why was 2015 the right time to tell it?

Well, first thanks. A lot.  I’d had a first chapter for a while—not the Chapter as it is now; a scene of Al, fixing bar games in a bar where he used to play.  And the story just sort of took off.

Why now? Honestly, I just finally got around to telling it. I think I had to get enough distance from my own days in music—and then, a few years ago, I began writing songs again, and that sort of brought me full circle.

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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.

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New Author Interview

rsz_screen_shot_2015-11-18_at_73441_am_2As many of you reading this blog already know, I do weekly author interviews every Monday. It’s probably one of my favorite parts of the week—getting to connect with another writer and finding out how they tackle this monster.

So, it’s always fun for me when the tables are turned. Today, Holly West gives me the third degree over at DO SOME DAMAGE

Also, it’s not too late to win a signed copy of BAD CITIZEN CORPORATION. Just visit my guest blog post over at THE SIRENS OF SUSPENSE and leave a comment for your chance to win! That post is all about why bars and crime/mystery fiction go hand-in-hand.

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 2016.

Guest DJ—Josh Stallings

What do you do when one of your favorite LA crime authors writes “a ‘70’s glitter-rock disco heist novel”? You invite him over to your blog to spin some amazing music! Click the YouTube player up above and you’ll be treated to 16 songs hand-selected by Josh Stallings himself.

Josh Stallings is the author of the multi-award winning Moses McGuire crime novels, BEAUTIFUL, NAKED & DEAD, OUT THERE BAD and ONE MORE BODY. His latest novel, YOUNG AMERICANS, comes out Nov. 20—one week from today.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview that Josh and I did last June:

Young Americans

I saw you read  from YOUNG AMERICANS at the California Crime Writers Convention. What can you tell us about it? How does it differ from the Moses McGuire novels?

YOUNG AMERICANS is a Glitter Rock Disco Heist Novel set in 1976 San Francisco. It is a fun ride and a wonderful romp. One More Body (Moses #3) was the angriest novel I’ve written. And because it deals with kids sold into the sex-for-cash world, the anger was well placed. Erika (Josh’s wife) laughed when I told her YOUNG AMERICANS was light comedy. Ok, maybe it’s Josh light. I was a glitter rock kid, (Glam to most). All the young dudes and stunning dames would go to The City, a gay disco in S.F., and sniff poppers, munch Quaaludes and drink Cuba Libres. We’d dance and fight and fuck and generally act the fool. It has been wonderful to get to spend the last year back in those days.

Read the INTERVIEW HERE.

And, if you’re in Los Angeles, don’t miss the YOUNG AMERICANS BOOK LAUNCH PARTY at Book Show on Sunday, Nov. 22. I’ll be there along with Josh, Danny Gardner and Tony Peyser.

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 2016.

Interrogation—Mike McCrary

Who: Mike McCrary

What: He has been a waiter, a securities trader, dishwasher, investment manager and an unpaid Hollywood intern. He’s quit corporate America, come back, been fired, been promoted, been fired again. Currently he is a screenwriter and author who writes stories about questionable people who make questionable decisions.

Where: Austin, TX

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

Your 2013 novel, REMO WENT ROGUE, is one hell of a read—fast-paced, vicious and dark. How did the character of Remo come together?

Thank you, sir. Glad you dug it. Yeah, Remo kinda came out of a fascination of defense attorneys and the weirdness of their jobs. All the information that must be swirling around their heads at any given time, knowing all the horrible shit that your clients have done and it’s your job to set them free or at least get the best deal possible. It’s extremely necessary to the legal process, but thinking of actually doing it as a profession is a whole different thing. I also really liked the idea of one of these guys having a crisis of conscience and falling off the deep end. So, those elements plus I have a deep affection for drunk, broken, pill-popping, foul-mouthed bastards with a heart of gold.

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Interrogation—Jedidiah Ayres

Photo on 2013-05-27 at 08.13 #3Who: Jedidiah Ayres

What: Jedidiah Ayres is his real name.

Where: St. Louis

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

I tore through PECKERWOOD, your small town epic from Broken River Books. What inspired you to write this story? How did you come up with the three main characters—Terry, Jimmy and Chowder?

Thanks, I’m glad somebody finally tore through it. Most folks say it took a huge guilt trip from me and a whole lot of mood-altering substances to finish it. And they never follow that up with comments about how glad they were that they stuck with it.

I actually wrote it when I failed to write the sequel. I was writing a novel that I couldn’t crack the structure of—I didn’t want to split it into two parts and I didn’t want to rely heavily on flashbacks. That novel (SHITBIRD) is about what happens in the aftermath of the events of PECKERWOOD… I realized I had to back up and write an entire other book to come before the original story I wanted to tell.

As far as the characters go—Terry is just me without a filter or functional conscience. He’s completely without the concept of responsibility or the social contract and un-interested in anything that doesn’t serve himself or immediately gratify whatever whim he’s taken with at the moment. Easily the most fun character to write and also the most unnerving. I’d step back from his point of view and think, “wow, that escalated quickly.” But I loved being able to let go with him. He has absolutely no need to justify himself.

Jimmy, on the other hand, does. He feels the weight of responsibility for the well-being of the folks he polices, but he’s also a pragmatist and engages in plenty of illegal and immoral activity in an attempt to protect and serve. When I feel guilty, I write Jimmy. He’s a moral failure like me—claiming ideals he can’t live up to. He’s of a prototype I first became interested in exploring after watching the Matthew McConaughey character, Buddy Deeds, in John Sayles’s amazing 1996 film Lonestar. Go see that film if you haven’t. You’ll thank me. I’ll wait.

Chowder is the devil Jimmy knows. He’s a lesser evil—a career criminal, but not a psychopath, not without conscience—someone Jimmy can reason with. Their relationship is symbiotic and they both seem to understand what they and their partner bring to the deal. I like too that he’s a small business man, who’s locally sourced and giving back to the community… and pretty evil. I hope there’s a nice contrast there.

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Great #writingtips From Authors & Publishers

We’ve had the good fortune to interview some fantastic authors and publishers in the last year. Here’s a collection of writing tips and quotes from the last few months. Please click through to read the whole article and get to know these amazing talents.

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Read my interview with Les Edgerton

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Interrogation—Danny Gardner

gardner_ck2Who: Danny Gardner

What: He impressed audiences with his performance on the 3rd season of HBO’s Def Comedy Jam (All-Stars Vol. 12). He has enjoyed a career as an actor, director and screenwriter. He is a recent Pushcart Prize nominee for his creative non-fiction piece Forever. In an Instant., published by Literary Orphans Journal. A NEGRO AND AN OFAY is his first novel.

Where: Los Angeles

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

I just finished your debut novel, A NEGRO AND AN OFAY. Elliot Caprice is a flawed and troubled character, but I rooted for him throughout the story. How did you come up with the concept for this character and story?

Elliot Caprice came to me a long time ago, when I first tried my hand at screenwriting. Early on, he was almost a novelty—a setup for culturally-referential, purposefully anachronistic comedy. That never saw the light of day. It was all just exercises, really. Then, as life grew more and more serious for me, he became more and more serious. It’s been suggested that he’s an amalgam of me from a few different periods of my life. I’m not so sure about that, but perhaps there are parallels in our emotional fields.

perf5.000x8.000.inddWhen I was very young, and my life was ill-defined, I got off to a big start in stand-up comedy. Through all of that, I grew up a lot, and realized I wanted my creativity for me. Not to impress anyone else. Not to become rich, or famous. Yay me! Except then, I had to reconcile real life against desire. After doing television and a few movies, I wound up back in Chicago sitting on a help desk, not doing what I felt I was meant to do. I felt things were over for me before I really got started.

In an IT support capacity, there’s a lot of waiting around for the phone to ring. Left alone with my own thoughts in my own cubical, I’d write screenplays. The one that stuck in my wakeful consciousness was about Elliot. Elliot’s world is very real, visual. Palpable. I’d retreat in there when life was really roughin’ me up. Perhaps that’s how I built it. Seeking emotional solitude.

The story unfolded moment to moment. I make loose outlines about situations, but the rest comes from visceral experience. There are some realtime current events that influence the plot, of course. It just kind of folds in, like ingredients in a cake. Otherwise, it happens for me experientially, not empirically. I’m a witness. I hope that makes sense.
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