Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Q & A with JL Abramo

JL Abramo is one of those great writers who is making a comeback via Down & Out books and that's a perfect reason to interview him about his PI Jake Diamond and his feelins about our favorite genre...

Q: What makes Jake Diamond different from other hardboiled characters?
I have always described Diamond as a private eye more over easy than hardboiled, albeit living in a hardboiled world.  He usually counts on others to do the muscle work. However, in Counting to Infinity, the third book in the series, Jake is moved by events to do some damage and he needs to be reined in by his friends and colleagues.  Another less than common Diamond characteristic is that Jake is an avid reader, always with a classic literature paperback handy.  And the book he is reading is somehow tied into the plot of the particular Diamond novel;  A Tale of Two Cities in Catching Water in a Net, The Count of Monte Cristo in Clutching at Straws, and The Brothers Karamazov in Counting to Infinity.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
The character came about very organically.  I wanted to try writing first person, and a private eye seemed like the perfect vehicle.  I have always been drawn to the smart narratives of Raymond Chandler.  Diamond’s personality grew out of my interest in including a good amount of humor in the narrative.  Jake’s background, the son of an Italian-Catholic/Russian-Jewish couple in Brooklyn, New York was based on personal background; as is his background as a less than idolized film actor.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
When St. Martin’s Press discontinued the series, and the original hardbacks went out-of-print, I thought that Jake Diamond was destined for a ride into the sunset.  Their decision was based purely on economics; the three books had earned very positive feedback from reviewers and fans.  Then Down & Out Books reached out to me.  The folks at D&O admired the work and wanted to get it out there again.  So D&O quickly brought Jake back in eBook format and gave him and J. L. Abramo a second shot.  And since, the new crime novel Gravesend has been released both digitally and as a trade paperback.  I recently ran into a friend I hadn’t seen for awhile, at an airport; we were both heading out to different destinations.  We had a few minutes to catch up, and she said she needed something to read on the plane and downloaded one of my books to her Kindle in a matter of seconds.  Personally, nothing can replace the feel of a printed book in my hands; but eBooks have made literary works less expensive and more easily accessible to readers.  So, yes, I like the revolution and am glad to be part of it

Q: What's next for you and Diamond?
I have two new books ready for editing.  One is a prequel to Catching Water in a Net which features Jimmy Pigeon, the PI who brought Jake into the business.  The second is a new Diamond installment that picks up where Counting to Infinity left off; and finds Jake reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  We are shooting to have one or the other ready for ThrillerFest in July and Bouchercon in September, in both print and eBook format.

Q: How do you promote your work?
My website,; social networking like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and BookPulse,!/jlabramo/app_278592948831507; guest blogging and interviews, promotional post cards, book signings and readings, annoying emails, and any other way possible.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
Science fiction, fantasy, and the occasional western.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
I like the edge that Hawk and Pike contribute to the works of Robert B. Parker and Robert Crais.  Mouse Alexander in Walter Mosely’s Devil in a Blue Dress is, in my humble opinion, one of the most entertaining crime fiction characters of all time.

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?
I believe that Conan Doyle, Chandler and Hammett will always have a profound influence on PI writers.  There is a lot of very good crime fiction coming out of Scandinavia, both PI and otherwise.  Writers like the late Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo, and Henning Mankell, who were certainly victim to American and British influences, have innovated the genre and will perhaps turn the tables and inspire new direction to their contemporaries in the United States and  Great Britain.                                  

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
I discuss the subject more extensively in my blog Why Crime at .  The short answer is that I have always been particularly fond of the genre, and I came to discover that it served my purposes as a writer most effectively.

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