Monday, October 29, 2007
Q & A with David Housewright
This time we asked David Housewright, author of the Holland Taylor and Rushmore McKenzie novels a few questions.
Q: What makes your (unofficial) PI Rush McKenzie different from other fictional private eyes?
A: McKenzie is an idealist, or at least an optimist. He does what he does not for the money (he's independently wealthy), but because he believes that in his own way he's actually making the world a better place. So many other PIs today are plagued with demons; he is not. He is a pretty happy, well-adjusted guy who loives by a simple philosophy: live well, be helpful.
Q: What are your thoughts on the psycho sidekick in PI novels?
A: There seems to be a lot of them - everybody from Hawk to Mouse to Joe Pike to Lehane's Bubba and Burke's Clete Purcel. But I have to ask, would the heroes and these sidekick's be friends in anything except detective fiction? I think they exist mostly to do some heavy lifting so the hero and can keep his hands clean.
Q: What would a soundtrack to your novels sound like?
A: 1950's jazz.
Q: Has your writing changed much since the first novel?
A: God, I hope so. I hope it is so much better now that readers can scaresely believe I wrote both the first and eighth books.
Q: Do you do a lot of research?
A: I do a great deal of research. I am almost compulsive about getting the details right and hate it when I don't. I know authors who don't care all that much. So what if they make a mistake? It's fiction, they argue. I argue that it is not fiction. You are righting a true story involving real people in the midst of real emotional upheaval. It becomes fiction when readers find a mistake and say, "That's not right." I don't care how big or small the mistake is, it is at that point you lose credibility.
Q: What's next for you and Rush?
A: I have a book coming out in May 2008 called MADMAN ON A DRUM and another the following May tentatively titled JELLY'S GOLD. After that, we'll see.
Q: Do you have any favorite Sons of Spade yourself?
A: Dennis Lehane, James Crumley, Michael Connelly, William Kent Krueger, Jason Starr, and a few daughters, like S. J. Rosan and Laura Lippman.
Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI-writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, MacDonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation and in what way?
A: See above. As pat as it sounds, I think they are brining at 21st Century voice and 21st Century sensibilities into the mix. They deal with real issues and themes. Without exception, their books - as well as the books of so many others I folow - are always about more than who killed Mr. Body in the library with a candlestick.
Q: Robert J. Randisi, writer and president of the Private Eye Writers of America came up with this question: "Why?"
A: For the money, for the fun, and for the prestige - but mostly for the money!
Q: What question should be asked every PI writer we interview and what would be your answer to it?
A: What do you have to say? My answer: The world is not as screwed up as some people think; that there are good and honest people out there doing good and honest things; that we can get through this - whatever this is - if we just keep our heads.
For more information about this author see: www.davidhousewright.com