Diving Into The Deep End: Finding A Place In The Crime Fiction Family Feb12

Diving Into The Deep End: Finding A Place In The C...

What’s my part of the Crime Fiction Community? It’s a question all writers must ask themselves. It’s less to do with the “brand” of a writer or the genre you choose to write in, and more about deciding how you want to be a part of the group. I said early on my only goal was to be a part of the conversation. I didn’t go into writing with grandiose ideas of being a best seller, or of winning awards or accolades. All I wanted was to be included in the world I admired and to have my work respected as an equal. Since I kicked off my shoes and jumped in the deep end of the Crime Fiction Community I’ve drawn influence from two opposite experiences...

When Characters Overrule Their Author

When the characters take over a manuscript, that’s usually a good thing – for the reader, anyway. As Stephen King famously said, “How can the author surprise his readers if he can’t surprise himself?” Surprises can have a different impact on the author, though. For instance, when I began DESERT VENGEANCE my new mystery, I had a general idea of the plot: Private Investigator Lena Jones waits in a prison parking lot for the release of the foster father who raped her when she was nine years old. Lena is armed with a large knife called The Vindicator, and she can’t wait to use it. Before I even started working on the manuscript, I knew how...

The Literature of Cynicism: How Fracking Makes for...

If you Google the most polluted sites in the United States, the vast majority of them are the direct result of the bygone days of heavy industry: steel, mining, and, of course, oil. The success of these industries through the 19th and 20th centuries made the United States into the economic superpower it is today. On the other hand, when you consider the cost, you realize that the success of the nation has come through physically converting itself into currency, like a man who becomes wealthy by selling his own limbs and organs. The sort of corruption we’re talking about goes far beyond crooked lobbyists and cooked books. It’s a...

The Shanghai Five — Favorite Lawyers in Crime Fiction Jan10

The Shanghai Five — Favorite Lawyers in Crim...

“You should have let me live. You’re going to need a good lawyer.” — Marco Bannister’s dying words in THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI Lately I’ve been pulling some of my smelly books from the shelf. These are the oldies that crackle when you fold back the cover and shed those brittle little dog-ear whirlybirds when you ruffle the pages. There’s often an inscription on the title page reminding you that these smudgy gems started life as gifts for “Addie” or “Thom.” The smell is that moldy waft that powders the air in used bookshops everywhere. I’ve been stretching to the oldies...

St. Louis Noir Interview with Scott Phillips Jan02

St. Louis Noir Interview with Scott Phillips

St. Louis, especially in recent years, has come to reflect the struggles of many U.S. cities trying to pull out of decades-long decline. The tensions and ambitions among those endeavoring to evolve or just survive have played out in the media as a mere flashpoint; a city that’s barely a curiosity to much of the country which only knows it for its sports teams, beer, and attention grabbing headlines that have dominated the larger narrative. Editor Scott Phillips (THE ICE HARVEST, HOP ALLEY) has assembled a wide array of writers with ties to St. Louis, who peel back the layers of the community they know. Tim Hennessy: Akashic Books’ Noir...

A Citizen at the Academy

What does a lifelong student do when he needs to learn about something? Why, go back to school, of course. When I wanted to know more about how the FBI operated, I signed up for the 8-week FBI Citizen’s Academy offered at what was then the regional office, in North Miami, Florida. (Mine has since moved to a snazzy new building in Miramar, a suburb on the edge of the Everglades.) You can look yours up here. It took nearly two years, from the time I applied until my security clearance was approved, for a spot to open up, but it was worth the wait. I learned so much about how the Bureau operates, and about so many wild cases that provided...