Thursday, 4 July 2013

PUSH-UPS: Stephen Jay Schwartz

Stephen Jay Schwartz.
So, what are you pushing right now?
First of all, thank you so much for letting me come by to pitch my stuff, Tony.  Much appreciated.

So, I'm pimping my two Los Angeles-based crime thrillers, L.A. Times bestseller  Boulevard and its sequel, Beat.  The two books have been out in the U.S. for a couple years, but I've just published the eBooks on Amazon U.K.

Boulevard can be found on Amazon here:

What's the hook?
LAPD Homicide Detective Hayden Glass is a sex addict.  When he worked vice he crossed the line with a prostitute he was supposed to arrest, and this ultimately resulted in his downward spiral into street-cruising and visiting massage parlors in the dark recesses of downtown Hollywood.  He's somewhat stable now, attending twelve-step meetings for Sex Addicts Anonymous and working the steps with his sponsor. 

However, when a series of seemingly unrelated  sexual murders occur in Los Angeles, Hayden suspects a connection.  Ultimately he discovers that the connection is himself - the killer is a "brother" in his twelve-step meetings listening to everything Hayden shares about his addiction.  Desperate to find the killer before more people die, Hayden is nevertheless unwilling to reveal to his superiors the connection he has to the killer, fearing that his addiction will be revealed and he will be removed from the case. 

What follows is a taut, dark journey through the mean streets of Los Angeles and the heart of Hollywood.  In the process, Hayden faces the demons of his past and reconciles his own tortured history with that of the killer.

Of Boulevard, Robert Crais says, “Boulevard is raw, twisted, and so hard-boiled it simmers from beginning to end.”

Says T. Jefferson Parker - “Boulevard is terrific.  Fast-paced and convincingly told.  The streets of L.A. have never been meaner or seamier.  Stephen Jay Schwartz’s clear vision and knowing heart make him a gifted writer to watch.”

And Michael Connelly adds - “Just as I thought there wasn't an original take left on the detective novel, along comes Stephen Jay Schwartz and Beat. Fast and slick, this book is a great ride!”

And why's that floating your boat?
While my books have had an opportunity to get some attention in the U.S., they haven't seen the light of day in the U.K.  The digital world is giving me a chance to introduce my work abroad. 

When did you turn to crime?

I used to be the director of development for filmmaker Wolfgang Petersen (he directed Das Boot, In the Line of Fire, Air Force One, The Perfect Storm, Troy) and I read and wrote studio development notes on a few thousand thriller screenplays in the process.  When I finally sat down to write my first novel I discovered I'd retained the sense of pacing I always looked for in a good crime thriller film.  I've also been influenced by the work of Jim Thompson.  I love his haunting, psychological profiles.  I think I read every Thompson novel while I was writing Boulevard.  Other influences are John Fowles' The Collector, Crime and Punishment, Lolita, and Fight Club.  What I really wanted to do was present a character haunted by a unique addiction, take his journey towards self-realization seriously, then throw him into an impossible situation where his actions can potentially determine the life and death of the people he loves.

Hardboiled or noir, classic or contemporary?

Hardboiled and noir, in a contemporary setting.  I wanted the reader to experience the dark, Hollywood streets as they appear today.

And what's blown you away lately?

I recently judged the Best Novel category for the Edgar Awards and a few great novels caught my eye.  I loved Meagan Abbott's Dare Me.  This is exactly the kind of psychological drama that gets me excited.  I also enjoyed Walter Mosley's All I did was Shoot My Man. I'd never read Mosley before and now I've got dozens of great books to explore.  Most every Elmore Leonard novel is a gem, specifically for tight, terse, character-defining dialogue.  And Palahniuk's Fight Club continues to astound me.  I've read it seven times (so far).

See any books as movies waiting to happen?

The moment I read Dare Me I saw it as a movie.  Shortly afterwards I was told that Meagan was already writing the screenplay for one of the top producers in Hollywood.  I've been reading memoirs lately and Jim Brown's The L.A. Diaries stands out as nice, indie film contender, something in the vein of Barfly and Leaving Las Vegas.  Jim has had film options on the book before, but it hasn't hit yet.  Hollywood is a crazy place - all the stars have to align in order for a project to get made.  Boulevard and Beat were optioned by Ben Silverman, producer of The Office (U.S. version), Ugly Betty, The Tudors, etc, but I've yet to see a TV pilot surface.  The series has been pitched as Dexter meets Californication.

Mainstream or indie, paper or digital?

I'm a classic paper guy.  I haven't bought a Kindle or eBook reader yet.  Instead, I drag around three tons of paper wherever I go.  My wife, who always had four paperbacks in hand, made the switch a couple years ago and she'll never go back.  She loves her Kindle.

Shoot us a website worth visiting

Well, I'd love you to visit mine:
One site that is still worth visiting is, a site where published crime and thriller authors blogged about style, structure and the general experience of being a working writer.  It has recently closed its doors, but still exists as an archived site, filled with wisdom and wonderful anecdotes.  You'll definitely recognize many of the authors who have blogged there in the past.

Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself.

Oh, boy, any old shit...well, the world of sex-addiction depicted in my novels comes from personal experience.  I'm nine years clean from cruising the streets of Hollywood myself, and I spent years in twelve-step meetings to overcome this addiction.  I write about the experience in a book called Writers on the Edge:  22 Writers Speak about Addiction and Dependency, published by Modern History Press.  I also had an interesting article published on about how the lie detector test saved my marriage:

So, the world I depict in my novels is real, the twelve-step rooms are real, the fear and anxiety is palpable.  I experienced much of this, and I wanted to represent it authentically.

Thanks again for letting me hock my wares, Tony!

:: Find out more about Stephen, here: