Today, my big news is that I received the interview for this series for one Lawrence Block. I hope I'm not offending anyone else by saying that it absolutely made my day and that I can't wait to put it up there at the end of February. Of course I've read it and know what you've got coming. I feel like Santa came to me a couple of weeks late.
Anyway, to today.
She's anonymous times 9 so I don't know who she is, but I think she's lovely and talented. Here we go.
What are you doing these days?
I’m finishing my novel, Hard Bite. Research is grueling and expensive. I have to take days off work to go out in the field and research police work—not an easy task in Los Angeles, to get police to trust you enough to talk. Add on top of that, every screenwriter in this berg is trying to interview cops, and a lot of times they’re trying to make cops look dirty. So I’m swimming against a tide of mistrust and scarcity. But right now, I’m deep inside the plotting and I think it’s a good, twisty, turny story. The short story won Spinetingler’s 2008 Best Short Story on the Web, so I think it’ll get looked at when it’s done.
What’s different about it?
First, the main character is a serial killer that readers actually identify with. He’s a paraplegic with a helper monkey who is arguably making Los Angeles a better place by hunting down and killing hit-and-run drivers who killed innocent victims. LA has an enormous hit-and-run problem, and I have a friend who was nearly killed, very seriously injured, by a hit-and-runner. So it’s easy to identify with the serial killer, although his vigilante tactics go seriously awry in the book. The villain is a woman, a boss in the Mexican Mafia, whose son was taken out by the serial killer. This is the son she shielded from the trafficking business, the one she sent to college. She had dreams for him to become a priest. I did interviews and research around the psychology of women in gang culture and how they rationalize the life. I wanted to get in her head, in her shoes. We all draw lines in our heads. Hers really got to me.
Why aren’t you writing more short stories?
I have to make a living, at the same time as I write the novel, and something has to give. I love writing short stories, and I love being part of the living on-line community, so I hope people won’t forget about me. I have a short coming up in Crimefactory’s anthology called “2,894,000 Pounds of Pressure.” I took time off from Hard Bite to write that. It’s not a whodunit, or a howdunit, it’s a “is he going to do it?” I laid out all the options of how this character, a guy who works for a gas company, could kill someone, and then took all the suspense away from everything but will he do it.
Who is the best friend of on-line short story writers?
All the people who put their time in publishing and reviewing on-line writer’s work. Brian Lindemuth has been my greatest champion, enthusiastically reviewing my work and I believe, working like a “fairy godfather” behind the scenes to support writers. David Cranmer of Beat to a Pulp was very helpful getting me off the dime and he actually wrote a few, dynamic scenes for the novel. Of course, David also published Hard Bite. It was the second story that went up on the website, I think. Matthew Funk wrote a review of “The Master Bedroom” and he “got” what I was trying to do with the story so accurately that it brought tears to my eyes. Friends like Glenn Gray and Frank Bill and Alan Griffiths have been cheerleaders. Every writer needs friends who cheer you on when you’re lagging and kick your ass when you’re laying down. Those guys do that.
What kind of a writer do you consider yourself?
I’m a crime/horror crossover with some pretensions to literary. Some stories weigh a little heavier on the crime side, some heavier on the horror side. I’m always surprised at the end of a story to find out I’ve written one or the other. Mort Castle, the horror editor, just called M-N-S, “a literary South Park.” My story wasn’t his taste, but I couldn’t have taken it as higher praise. Literary? Holy shit! Moi? And I’ve always loved the satire of South Park.
Can’t stop myself. Don’t do anything else as well.
What are you most grateful for?
On-line publishing renewed my life as a writer. I was coasting, writing everything for everybody else but myself. On-line embraced me from the beginning with such enthusiasm, that it breathed the energy and hope in me to write fiction again. Recently, Kristen Weber, a former developmental editor with Penguin in New York, had complimentary things to say about “Hard Bite,” the short story. I’m grateful for her encouragement. I’m also knocked out by the kind words more established writers have for me. Nick Mamatas left a comment on a blog calling me one of his favorite crime writers. James Reasoner said that if I actually wrote “Hard Bite” into a novel it would be different than anything else that’s out there. Those encouragements are like gold. You can’t possibly buy them. They give me the strength to keep going.