CONEY ISLAND AVENUE Behind the Book

A SHORT HISTORY OF GRAVESEND The street where I was born and raised in Gravesend, and those surrounding, was populated by Italian immigrants and their first-generation American children with very few exceptions—one of those exceptions being my mother who was a Russian-Jew from Kiev. The Dutch were the first to colonize the western edge of what was then The Long Island, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, the Long Island Sound and the East River. Breuckelen originally included six parishes—the first, Gravesend, was settled in 1643 by English Quakers who were granted the land from the Dutch. The town was annexed by the City of Brooklyn in 1894...

Behind the Book: Dana King

I’m from Penns River. Not Penns River by name, but the three small cities that make up the city in my books. Born in one (the hospital has since closed and become an urgent care/testing facility), taken home to another (the apartment has since burned down), and grew up in the third (my parents still live in the house). All three combined cover 16.6 square miles (the rural township that makes up “unincorporated Neshannock County” is another 15.2 with 2,240 people crammed into it.) For comparison purposes, the land area of Manhattan Island is 22.8 square miles. These are not metropolii. The average household income is about three-quarters the...

Behind the Book David E. Grogan

  I have always loved veterans’ stories. My dad was an Air Force fighter pilot in the 1950s, so there was no shortage of military tales to go around. Some of my favorites involved pilot candidates washing out of flight school because they passed out while getting their shots; an Air Force dentist reading instructions out of a manual while another dentist carried out those instructions on my dad’s teeth; and my dad dropping my mother off at the base hospital to deliver me because he had just returned from a training mission (he did come back after a nap). On a more somber note, he told us how his F-89 Scorpion carried nuclear tipped...

Behind the Book: Eating Dinner With Ninjas

When I started writing Betrayal at Iga, I knew the story would take my protagonists, ninja detective Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo, away from their usual stomping grounds in 16th century Kyoto and into the mountainous province of Iga—historical home of the infamous Iga ninja ryu. Although my protagonist, Hiro, is fictitious, the Iga ninja clan was very real. The ninjas of Iga were spies and assassins, trained not only in killing but in various methods of espionage. During the 16th century, the clan was run by Hattori Hanzō—also called “Devil Hanzō”—a brilliant (and ruthless) leader and one of Japan’s most famous historical...

My Evolution into a Domestic Thriller Writer

Years ago, I was the proud author of a procedural series about a federal prosecutor in New York. I loved writing those books, and they came pretty naturally to me, given that I’d actually been a federal prosecutor in New York. Write what you know, the old adage goes, and I definitely knew about narcotics and gangs and murder investigations. But there were a lot of other things I knew that didn’t fit into the neat format of the procedural, which demanded so much space for –well, procedure. I hankered to write about those things, too. When I think about the classics of crime fiction that I find most compelling as a reader, I have to confess...

Behind the Book: Researching BLOOD FOR WINE

Ordinarily, research is the bane of my writing life. Doing the grunt work, then deciding what to leave in and what to leave out, is simply not as satisfying as writing the prose that will eventually be my next book. Good research takes time, too, and time is always in short supply. I’d rather be crafting dialogue or honing a descriptive passage than chasing down whether a Glock 17 has a safety or if DNA can be extracted from a human hair. However, the research I did for BLOOD FOR WINE—the latest Cal Claxton Oregon Mystery—was a labor of love rather than a necessary evil. The story centers on Cal’s good friend and neighbor, Jim Kavanaugh,...