Monday, November 26, 2018

Miraculum on Jean Book Nerd Podcast

Thrilled to be able to share my first podcast interview focusing on my upcoming novel Miraculum. And it's over at Jean Book Nerd's- a treasure trove of interviews, podcasts and articles on everything from YA fantasy novels to Battlefront to Her Universe. It's a must-stop for any sci-fi and/or fantasy fan and I'm honored to be now be a part of it.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Book Bites: Hank Early, author of In the Valley of the Devil

Happy (late) Thanksgiving! Today, I'm bringing you an interview with an intriguing author- Hank Early, who is nailing down a somewhat new corner of the crime and mystery fiction scene: the Southern Gothic Private Investigator. Taking place in the North Georgia mountains, with all the creepiness of haunted cornfields and wild forests, In the Valley of the Devil is Early's second novel featuring Earl Marcus a P.I. running away from his fundamentalist religious background and right straight towards a killer.

"Hank Early pens rural noir with the best of them, and his protagonist, Earl Marcus, is a worthy addition to the canon of hard-as-bark detectives."
―Laird Barron

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing with all of your free time?

Ha! It’s a good thing I write because there is no telling what trouble I’d get up to if I had all of that time. Probably some combination of drinking too much, gaming, and becoming even more obsessed/ invested in my long running fantasy basketball team. I'd definitely enjoy finally having time to keep up with the latest and greatest books. I usually run a couple of years behind on the “hot” books. But truthfully, I’d eventually find something else to pour myself into because I’m not the kind of person who does very well without an obsession.  

Were they any parts of your novel that were edited out, but which you miss terribly?

Actually, no. This is probably something I should remember, I suppose. Because I can certainly remember being upset about being asked to cut sections of novels. Offended even. Shows what I know because now I can’t even remember what I cut that had me so upset. The lesson here, I suppose, is to trust your editor. They know what they’re doing even when it pisses you off, especially when it pisses you off.

Have you ever given up on a writing project?

More times than I can count. But I never throw anything away, and almost all the stuff I’ve given up on gets bastardized into something new down the road. I’m always retrofitting old chunks of stories and novels into completely new frameworks. In fact, in the second Earl Marcus book, In the Valley of the Devil, I resurrected some setting and mood descriptions from a horror novel I’d abandoned a few years earlier, which probably explains why so many reviewers have been surprised (pleasantly, for the most part) that the novel has such a horror feel to it.  

Did the novel have any alternate titles? 

My latest novel, In the Valley of the Devil was previously called Skull Keep. I think in the end, my publisher found that a little too horror for what is ostensibly a crime novel, so I relented. But I did like that title. I think sometimes writers aren’t always the best judge of their titles. I’ve had plenty that I thought were amazing but when I shared them with people, they didn’t seem too impressed. So, unless I really, really feel strongly about a title, I’ll usually defer to the editor and come up with something different if they don’t think it fits. 

 How important is the setting in your novel? 

Setting is pretty much everything to me. I never understand my books until I have a good grasp of the setting which in turn helps me capture the mood and tone of the writing and characters. I’d say it’s the single most important aspect of my novels. But then again, writers aren’t particularly good judges of their own work, so an astute reader might disagree.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

So, Why a Carnival?

Many thanks to Jackie Minniti for hosting me over at Fabulous Florida Writers this week. In this piece, I do a little exploring as to why my new novel Miraculum has a traveling carnival as its setting.... Enjoy!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Book Bites: Tom Pitts, author of 101

It finally feels less-than-scorching here in Florida which is a clear indication that the year is slowly winding down. No worries, though, I've got a few more killer reads to showcase before we close out 2018. Today, I'm lucky enough to bring you an interview with Tom Pitts, author of the recently released 101- a wild ride of a tale replete with drugs, bikers and detectives, all scrabbling together in Northern California's "emerald triangle." This interview is a pretty wild ride as well...

101 is typical Tom Pitts, the kind of novel that proves he’ll forever and ever have followers, trailing behind him begging for one more hit.” —Eryk Pruitt

Are there any writers you’re jealous of?

This is gonna sound like bullshit, but … no. I’ve always lived my life believing I didn’t need the whole pie, just a little slice. I’ve never been that greedy. Years ago, when I was looking for some shady side work, an old gangster told me, “Tom, you’ll never make it in this kind of life. You’re not hungry enough.” And he was right. I know I’m never going to be huge, I don’t write blockbusters, I’m not trying to write the great American novel; I just do what I do and try the best I can. It’s important to have a little perspective too. Take a look at where you started and where you are. Occasionally I have to remind myself there’s always somebody down the ladder a couple rungs who’s sayin’, “Damn, look at how well Tom’s doin’.” As for the friends who succeed? I’m happy for them. Truly. Their success is there to inspire me and make me aspire. Besides, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing with all of your free time?

That’s gotta be a sarcastic question. Man, what free time?! As it is I need to carve out the time I have for writing, steal it from my life. I run myself ragged. I look back at my novels and wonder how the hell I did it. Between the job, the family, and getting enough sleep so I don’t crack-up and kill someone, there is no time, let alone free time. Oh, wait … drinking. I’d probably do a lot more drinking.

Have you ever given up on a writing project?

Two of note. Most recently I surrendered 20k words into a novel. It just wasn’t lighting a fire for me. I think the story line was too ambitious. I was out of my element and when I slipped back into my element, I felt like I was running over well-tread ground. The other one was a book I was writing while I was still out on the street. Joe Clifford still tells people I was pushing around a shopping cart with a desktop in it—and that’s not too far from the truth. I was out of my mind on drugs, but I was trying to write this huge crime novel that just kept splintering and splintering. Years (and years) later I went back and found the floppy discs (yeah, floppy discs) and downloaded the damn thing and had a look. It wasn’t too bad. The title was so good, I won’t tell you what it was ‘cause I might still use it.

Who was your intended audience for the novel?

Aside from folks who’ve read and enjoyed my last two novels, and the new readers I hope will discover it, I was acutely aware while writing this book that a lot of the people who the characters are (loosely) based on would be reading it. Some of them are not big readers either. I’m anxious to see what they think of my interpretation of their world. A lot of my pals who’re out there on the fringe give me great feedback about my work. It’s always a great feeling when someone tells me they don’t read and yet they finished a book of mine in a couple sittings.

How important is the setting in your novel?

All my novels (so far) have been set in and around the Bay, and the Bay Area’s played an important role in all of them. San Francisco is alive and well in my work and I’ve been told many times that I treat the city like a character. But with 101 the setting is even more integral. The backdrop of the story is deep in the redwoods of Humboldt County and I went to great lengths to deliver an accurate portrayal of life in the Humboldt hills. From way back in the bush to the little hippie town of Garberville, all the way down the 101 to Oakland and San Francisco, I cover a lot of ground in this baby. I’m finishing out my Northern California Quartet with the next book, Coldwater. That one is set mostly in Sacramento, but ends in Malibu, of all places.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Book Bites: Patricia Austin Becker, author of Cane River Bohemia

As always, I'm excited to bring you something just a little bit different, and today I'm featuring a biography! Patricia Austin Becker's Cane River Bohemia examines and fleshes out the life of Cammie Henry, a freethinking woman who, in the 1920s, turned a former Louisiana plantation into an artist colony and surrounded herself with writers, painters, naturalists and other intellectuals. Just released, Cane River Bohemia is a fascinating look into the forgotten life of a woman who cultivated her own paradise and changed the lives around her.

Are there any writers you’re jealous of?

I’m not sure “jealous” is the word I’d use but I am rather envious of people who have the luxury of time and solitude to write. That’s one true gift that Cammie Henry offered to the writers that came to stay at Melrose, and I am definitely envious of Lyle Saxon and how he was able to walk away from his full-time job at the Picayune, move into the cabin at Melrose, spend his days writing and his evenings sitting in the company of Miss Cammie and whomever else might be in residence that day. The environment there was so rich for creativity.

If you weren’t writing, what would you be doing with all of your free time? 

I can’t imagine not writing, but probably I would be digging through some archives someplace or else knocking things off my bucket list like driving Route 66 from East to West or attending Oktoberfest in Munich.

Were they any parts of your book that were edited out, but which you miss terribly?

Hahaha! The first line of Cane River Bohemia was initially, “Cammie Henry spent her entire life on damned rivers.” Both Bayou Lafourche, where she grew up, and Cane River where she spent her adult life, were dammed. I thought it was hilarious; my editor, thankfully, had better judgment!

Do you have a set routine as a writer? 

I discovered that I write best in the morning and when it is raining. The best writing days for me on Cane River Bohemia was when we had three consecutive snow days, the schools were closed, and I couldn’t go anywhere. It was glorious. I plugged in my headphones, cued up my favorite playlist, and went to work.

What single book has been the most influential to you as a writer?

I’m not sure I can name a single book, but Southern writers speak to my soul: Eudora Welty, Rick Bragg, Harper Lee. Not Southern, but I love his seeming simplicity and the rhythm of his writing: E.B. White.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Miraculum ARCs are here!

...And they're gorgeous. Just sayin'. :)

Want to know what's inside? Check out Entertainment Weekly's feature on Miraculum for a sneak-peak at Chapter One... Oh, and pre-orders are up as well! 

(If you are a reviewer interested in an advanced copy of Miraculum, please contact me or Jason Pinter at Polis Books. Miraculum is also available on Netgalley for request. Many thanks!)