PI Pete Fernandez is Back
Alex Segura on the return of his washed up PI Pete Fernandez, writing comics and why the Miami in SILENT CITY and DOWN THE DARKEST STREET is darker and grimmer than any you’ve ever seen
“SILENT CITY is not a light book, by any means. But DOWN THE DARKEST STREET definitely ups the danger factor for Pete, his new partner and the city in general. It really pushes him beyond his limits. We start out thinking he’s settled into a new, calmer life – which is what he was desperate for after the tragic events of SILENT CITY. But that gets derailed pretty early on in the book. There’s a serial killer on the loose in Miami and Pete’s discovered an important clue that links the murders to the city’s own conflicted past. But Pete isn’t ready for this kind of case, and when it really starts to hit the fan, readers will find out if he can survive facing off against his own demons, and what happens when he doesn’t.
“I really wanted to up the ante with this book – to show Pete has evolved, but to also provide him with a new, different challenge. Part of Pete’s evolution also involves him taking a hard look at himself, and realizing that maybe the way he’s living makes it impossible for him to help other people. But even that journey has a price tag – one that we’ll see him pay a few times over before the book is done.”
“I knew it was going to be a pivotal year when I signed with Polis Books. Jason Pinter, the company’s founder and publisher, is extremely smart – and he saw the potential in not only putting out a new Pete Fernandez novel with DOWN THE DARKEST STREET, but in reissuing Pete’s debut, SILENT CITY. Now, readers can dive in from the beginning and get rolling with the series right away. Jason’s put together a really killer lineup of authors, so it’s nice to be part of a bigger team. It also helps that I’m a fan of a lot of them, too. People like Dave White, Rob Hart, Patti Abbott, Bryon Quertermous, Todd Robinson and Jason Starr – it doesn’t get better than that. I’m honored to be at the table.
On top of the two novels, we’re expecting our first kid – so, that really brought into focus how important this year is going to be. In terms of major life changes, it doesn’t get any bigger than that.
In terms of the books, though, I’m excited for fans to have a new Pete book, and for new fans to be able to start from the beginning without having to hunt down the first printing. SILENT CITY got such a great reception when it first came out, and I’m so happy that it’s going to be available to readers intrigued by the new one. It’s really positioning the series for a strong shelf life and expanded audience.”
“I never want it to be easy for Pete, because then it’s boring for me. When I created him, I wanted a protagonist that I could relate to, that wasn’t in the classic detective mold. I didn’t want him in his office, smoking a cigarette waiting for the dame to walk through the door, asking him to find her missing husband. That book’s been written many times over, better than I could hope to write it. I wanted a new character, from my hometown and who was like people I knew growing up – Cuban-American, younger, flawed and with something to prove. Her drinks too much. He says what’s on his mind. He ends up getting his ass kicked more often than not. But he’s also sharp, extremely smart and knows when to go with his gut on a case. He’s not afraid to fail, which is a good trait in a fictional character, but also a good lesson in life. If readers thought SILENT CITY was rough on him, they haven’t seen anything yet.”
MAKE MINE MIAMI
“There’s so much more to Miami than what people see on TV, or what you see in the media. It’s not just beaches, piña coladas and palm trees. There’s crime, there’s corruption, there’s urban sprawl and lots of culture – it’s an international city teeming with personality. It’s unlike any other place in the world. I wanted to show that. I wanted readers to get a sense of the city beyond the travel guides and stuff like that. I want to show the strip malls and suburbs. The dangerous parts of town and the hip areas. I think it gives readers a glimpse of what the real Miami’s like, as opposed to what they’ve seen elsewhere.”
“I was talking to a friend of mine and she mentioned something offhand that struck me as a really good idea, in terms of a job for a serial killer – something that would allow the killer to lead a fairly normal life and have access to various victims. I don’t want to reveal it, because it’s a twist in DOWN THE DARKEST STREET – but that idea stuck in my head for a while. I had the title for the book before I knew what it was about. I knew I wanted it to be tonally more intense for Pete, more dangerous. To use a Star Wars analogy, I wanted it to be the Empire of the first three books. Once I took that idea and fleshed it out, and figured out the personal journey I wanted Pete to take and the new status quo I wanted for him by the end of it, I had the framework for a novel. I was really happy with how it turned out, and over the moon that people seem to like it, based on early reviews.”
“I’m lucky to have a pretty creative day job at Archie Comics – where I do PR and also edit some of the company’s superhero titles. I also get to write a few comics from time to time, which is a lot of fun. I grew up on Archie, so having the chance to write stuff like ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES or “Occupy Riverdale” is beyond awesome. The process is also different enough that it feels almost like a palate cleanser from prose – it clears out the cobwebs and keeps me fresh before I dive into the next novel. It’s also neat when I can bring in my friends from the book world, like Duane Swierczynski, who’s writing THE BLACK HOOD for us – into the comic book side of things. Good writing is good writing, and I know someone like Duane can really tell a great story, so that’s helped elevate THE BLACK HOOD beyond just your run-of-the-mill vigilante comic. It’s his best work yet, I think.”
MORE PETE, MORE PROBLEMS
After the March reissue of SILENT CITY and DOWN THE DARKEST STREET, which hits in April, you’ll see the third Pete book, DANGEROUS ENDS come in 2017 from Polis Books. That’ll really tap into Pete’s Cuban-American background in a really interesting way (I hope), while also tapping into the true crime craze I think everyone’s been feeling in the wake of things like Serial and Making a Murderer. I can’t say anything else, though!”