Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Q & A with David Fulmer
Today we interview David Fulmer, author of the Storyville series and the just released novel The Blue Door, featuring Eddie Cero.
Q: What makes Eddie Cero and Valentin St. Cyr different from other fictional private eyes?
Their histories, for one thing. They are both orphans of a sort with tragedies in their backgrounds that affect the way they operate. They are both very quiet, both loners, unlike wise-cracking gumshoes. Both are capable of violence and yet they both hate using it. They are, of course, different from each other in many ways, too. I work very hard to give my characters lots of dimension, including full biographies, before I begin writing. I find it makes a huge difference in the story.
Q: What are your thoughts on the psycho sidekick in PI novels?
There are two kinds of leading characters. Those who come to the page as heroes or anti-heroes. They proceed to do whatever heroee or anti-heroes do. This includes psychos of all stripes. They're colorful and active, but I find in most cases they're limited by their status. They have a few set responses to a situation and that's it. My characters are rather ordinary people who find themselves thrown into extra-ordinary situations and have to work through it, making it up as they go along. Eddie Cero in The Blue Door is a perfect example of this.
Q: Do you do a lot of research?
I do research for every book. First of all, I read all the books on a time and place. I also do something different. I go to the libraries and read old newspapers. I'm not looking for anything in particular, just soaking up the news from the street. I find this helps me with the content and pace of speech from the day. So I can use that in dialogue. The books are for the big historical picture, the newspapers bring me down to the ground where average people are living.
Q: Has your writing changed a lot since the first novel?
I hope it's better! I have worked to refine the atmospherics: the characters, dialogue, and settings. I want to make these elements vivid and evocative. I changed styles for my fourth book because it had a new setting. The same for this most recent book. That goes back to the question above. The newspapers helped me set the scenes for the characters to work in. I learn new things every day, and am humbled by how much more I have to learn.
Q: How do you promote your books?
My publisher Harcourt has a publicist on staff who works with me. I do much of my own publicity, too. Since my books have much to do with music, I go after the music press: print, radio, and web. This is a way to reach people who are interested in the music subtext. Likewise, I came up with a list of the boxing publications and websites for this last book. I was a newspaper and magazine writer for many years, so I know what editors want in a story. Again, all this involves extensive research.
Q: What's next for you and Eddie Cero and Valentin St. Cyr?
Next I'll go back to Storyville with "Lost River." I have several other books on the shelf waiting to be published. I would like to do another South Philly book, too.
Q: Do you have any favorite Sons of Spade yourself?
James Lee Burke, Donald Westlake, James Sallis, to name a few. I love one-off books like The Name of the Rose.
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?
That's a very difficult question. Because the media has changed more in the last ten years than it did in the prior fifty. I think that graphic novels might have an influence. Also programs like The Sopranos and The Wire. Also, there are just too many authors out there for any one to have major influence. It's a big field with a lot of fast horses.
Q: James Mitchell came up with the following question: are you making any money?
I'm doing all right. I supplement my book income with teaching and side media projects. As a single parent, I need to be careful about keeping the cash flow
Q: What questions should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Why did you want to write in this genre?
My answer is I didn't pick the mystery genre, it picked me. When I approached my first book, (Chasing the Devil's Tail) I decided that the setting called for a mystery. Nothing else would work as well. So that's what I wrote. Without any intention of writing another one. Then Harcourt made me a deal I couldn't refuse and I became a mystery author. What I've found since is that genre fiction can be as transcendant as any other kind of writing.
For more info about this author visit: www.davidfulmer.com