So, what you pushing right now?
The re-issue of my novel, THE SKINTIGHT SHROUD, that has just come out on Amazon's Kindle. This is the second novel-length work featuring my private eye protagonist, Joe Hannibal.
What’s the hook?
Hannibal is hired to investigate the murders of two individuals—one young man, one young woman—who, as a sideline, had been on-camera performers in pornographic films. Hannibal's job is not so much to solve the murders as to determine if they are tied in any way to the porno ring, or if that connection was merely coincidence. There naturally is mob money behind the x-rated films; the local producers don't want any more of their people getting killed but at the same time they're hardly in a position to open up to the cops and risk blowing the lid off the whole operation … That's where Joe fits in.
And why’s that floating your boat?
I always wanted to do a mystery/detective story with porn films as a background, but without making it about "snuff films". That plot device had already been done to death, no pun intended (well, okay, maybe a little bit). Also I wanted to present the people involved in this kind of enterprise as a broad spectrum of personalities, not just stereotypes … And, finally, I always say that I had to write this book as justification proving to my late wife that all those skin mags and x-rated videos I perused and the strip joints I visited on occasion really was research for my writing.
When did you turn to crime?
I actually became inclined toward crime and mystery way back in 1956 when they began running a Hardy Boys serial on Walt Disney's original Mickey Mouse Club … It was The Mystery of Applegate's Treasure and each episode would start off with a crash of lightning on a dark night and spooky music and then the song "Gold Doubloons and Pieces of Eight" (Jesus Christ, forty-five years later and I can still remember the words to that song – I must have heard it about a gazillion times). Anyway, I decided right there that I would seek out all things—books, movies, TV— with the word "mystery" in them … Jump ahead about nine years to when I picked up a paperback copy of Mickey Spillane's The Girl Hunters and reading it absolutely blew me away. I knew by that point I wanted to be a writer and here was EXACTLY the kind of stuff I wanted to write … Jeez, how's that for an evolutionary track? From Disney to Spillane … to Hannibal. If I pondered that for very long it might be disturbing.
Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary?
Hardboiled. Contemporary. (Well, contemporary for me—remember I've been around long enough to damn near qualify as a fossil.) I'm never sure when things edge into 'Noir' territory … but I know Hardboiled when I see it. (And, just for the record, it's not confined strictly to the mystery/crime genre.)
And, what’s blown you away lately?
Josh Stallings has two recently-released books—BEAUTIFUL, NAKED AND DEAD and OUT THERE BAD—that are raw, gritty, tough, beautiful, and memorable as hell. Reminds me of a young James Crumley, and I mean that as high praise. We're going to be seeing a lot more from him and I, for one, can't hardly wait. I also recently discovered Zoe Sharp's Charlotte "Charlie" Fox stories and consider them top-of-the-line in thrillers.
See any books as movies waiting to happen?
A few of my own come to mind:
AND FLESH AND BLOOD SO CHEAP, a Joe Hannibal book involving human traffickers operating out of a Midwest tourist area.
DISMAL RIVER, an old-fashioned Western adventure that I think would translate beautifully to the big screen. And a yet-to-be-published novel tentatively called NIGHT SPOOR. It's a hit man vs. vampire story that came from some weird place in my brain. I started working on it before vampires were in vogue and now I'm told they are out … Dundee timing strikes again.
Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
Any or all of the above. Right now I'm pretty excited about eBooks as I have several titles out or coming out in that format. But whatever works, works. I'm a writer, I want to get my words out to readers … As long as I don't have to sell my guns or pimp my soul to make the deal, I'll use whatever means available.
Shout us a website worth visiting …
For sheer entertainment I check out James Reasoner's "Rough Edges" blog almost daily. James is a very talented, very prolific author who writes in multiple genres and always has something interesting to say. His blog list also links to numerous other blogs that I like. You can check it out at http://jamesreasoner.blogspot.com
On the more serious side of things, I also recommend Andrew Vachss's "The Zero" web site. It features a wide variety of articles, interviews, and updates related to Andrew's writing and to his life's work as a lawyer representing abused children. It also links to other worthwhile sites, including PROTECT, the National Association to Protect Children. You can access Andrew's site at http://www.vachss.com
Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
I wrestled a bear once in front of about 1500 people in the center court of a shopping mall. Bear was seven feet tall when he stood on his hind legs and weighed over 800 lbs. His name was Victor … and he lived up to it. I gave him a good two-plus minutes and then he knocked me down, laid on top of me, and started licking the sweat off my face. Luckily he had no romantic inclinations beyond that because I don't think I had enough gas left in me to have been able to stop him …
Other than that I'm just a blue-collar guy who worked his way up through the ranks in the corporate manufacturing world (and in writing, too, I guess). I was the founder and original founder of Hardboiled magazine. I was lucky enough to marry the greatest gal in the world and unlucky enough to have lost her back in 2008 to cancer and pneumonia. Whatever time I have left is devoted to writing, helping to raise my grandkids, and living a decent enough life to hopefully be able to see my beloved Pam again some day in a better place.