Interrogation—Jonathan Brown

Who: Jonathan Brown

What: A “Rock n Roll P.I. Writer” who is also a fitness trainer, drummer and martial arts practitioner. Originally from Vancouver, B.C., he currently lives in Los Angeles and is working on books three and four in the Lou Crasher series.

Where: Los Angeles

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

You have written two books in the Lou Crasher series, CRESCENDO and DRUMROLL PLEASE. What was your inspiration for this character?

I’m often teased by family and friends that Lou Crasher is a Hollywood movie version of me. I categorically deny the accusation…kinda…sorta. I moved from Vancouver to L.A. in 1994 and attended music school. I went back in ’96 and toured Canada and U.S with a couple of bands. In 2000 I returned to L.A. and it’s been home to my wife and me ever since. Furthermore, I constantly kept an eye on Los Angeles headlines since I was about age 17 and always dug L.A. noir stories.

I knew I wanted to do an amateur P.I. When I asked myself what/who is he, a reluctant, wisecracking, tough guy drummer tumbling into the P.I. biz just seemed to make sense.

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Interrogation—Brian Thornton

Who: Brian Thornton

What: Author of nine books, including THE BOOK OF BASTARDS and THE BOOK OF ANCIENT BASTARDS, in addition to serving as collection editor for the crime fiction anthology WEST COAST CRIME WAVE. His short fiction has appeared in such venues as ALFRED HITCHCOCK’S MYSTERY MAGAZINE and the Akashic Books anthology SEATTLE NOIR. A native Washingtonian, he is currently serving his second tour as Northwest Chapter president for the Mystery Writers of America.

Where: Seattle

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

You and I met at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix a couple of weeks ago when we were both guests on the Noir on the Radio podcast. Tell me about the short story you read that night.

“Half Smart, No Nerve” is both the shortest thing I’ve ever written for me, and my first paying fiction. I wrote it over a decade ago, in response to a notice on the venerable Rara Avis Hard-Boiled & Noir Fiction email discussion list that a new British publication called BULLET UK was seeking contributions of stories 1,000 words or shorter in length. At the time I was trying my hand at short stories, having already gotten my first “mistake” novel out of the way.

It had never occurred to me to even try to write something that short, so I gave it a whirl, spent three hours on it, emailed it to BULLET UK, and was delighted when they accepted it. I got 25 pounds for my trouble (still have the check.). Easy peasy.

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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—Dana King

Dana December 20 2014 in Ft Collins Co v2Who: Dana King

What: His first novel featuring detective Nick Forte, A SMALL SACRIFICE, received a Shamus Award nomination in 2013. Woody Haut named GRIND JOINT, Volume Two of a series set in the fictional, economically depressed town of Penns River PA, as one of the fifteen best noir reads of 2013. A short story, “Green Gables,” appeared in the anthology Blood, Guts, and Whiskey, edited by Todd Robinson. Other short fiction has appeared in The Shamus Sampler: Volume 2, Spinetingler, New Mystery Reader, A Twist of Noir, Mysterical-E, and Powder Burn Flash.

Where: Maryland

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

I just read the third Nick Forte book, THE MAN IN THE WINDOW. How would you introduce your protagonist to somebody who is new to the series? 

Forte is the first protagonist I created, in a series of short stories I wrote for friends at work. The stories featured thinly disguised versions of co-workers. Wait. That’s not right. They featured depictions of co-workers that were as accurate as I could make them with my tongue planted firmly in cheek. All I changed were the names. So Forte is me. Musical background that didn’t work out, but still influences him. Divorced father who has a lot of guilt about it.

Forte is an everyman with skills. He’s not a drunk or addict or suffering from PTSD or other demons. He’s a divorced father trying to make a living at a career he never would have chosen, but has found he has some chops for. Loyal friend, devoted father, good sense of humor, and genuinely tries to do what’s right. That comes to haunt him as time goes on.

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Interrogation: Paul D. Marks

Paul_D_Marks_bio_pic -- CCWCWho: Paul D. Marks

What: Author of the Shamus Award-Winning mystery-thriller WHITE HEAT. His story HOWLING AT THE MOON is short listed for both 2015’s Anthony and Macavity Awards for Best Short Story. VORTEX, a noir-thriller, is Paul’s latest release.

Where: Los Angeles

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

I just read your next novel VORTEX. I loved how the action bounced around Southern California, almost as if the region was one of the main characters. Was that your intention when you set out to write it?

Thanks for having me, Steve, and I’m glad you picked up on that. To me the location of my stories or novels are characters in and of themselves. They inform the stories, they mold the characters. Often the people are who they are not only because of their background in terms of upbringing or what they’ve done or not done, but also because of where they live now or grew up.

I have stories set all over the place, from Calexico down on the Mexican border to Morey’s Piers, New Jersey, Death Valley, Reno and even Graceland. But the majority would be in LA and Southern California. I like LA for a lot of reasons. It’s Chandler country, so you might think it’s been overused, but there’s always something new to bring to it. It also has Hollywood and Venice (LA’s #1 tourist attraction) and, of course, Disneyland. Plus I grew up here, born in Hollywood, literally. And I’m just old enough to remember LA as Chandler probably knew it from when I was a kid before the building boom and when City Hall was still the tallest building. I rode the original Angels Flight and explored Bunker Hill before they tore everything down in the name of “progress”.

LA and many parts of SoCal are like a femme fatale who seduces you with dreams and promises, then leaves you washed down some arroyo—forgotten about. That’s also what appealed to me about Venice Beach and the Salton Sea in VORTEX. Venice because at one point it was supposed to be a romantic American version of Venice, Italy; and the Salton Sea because it was billed as some waterfront desert paradise that turned into a wasteland of empty, undeveloped streets and rotting, dead fish along the shoreline. I guess the theme I was going for is showing the decay and wasted dreams and a noir sense of the main character being his own worst enemy. You couldn’t tell the same story in New York City or Boston, nothing against those places—they have their own unique attributes, but they have a different vibe than SoCal/LA.

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