Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Q & A with Carl Brookins

Carl Brookins has been in the writing game for quite some time now, but I never interviewed him about his PI Sean Sean and his work. Time to make up for that...

Q: What makes Sean Sean different from other hardboiled characters? 
 Mostly his attitude and world view are different. Sean is the antithesis of many hard-boiled detectives of the late nineteen forties and early fifties. He understands and accepts that he must sometimes protect clients by killing an adversary but that’s his last resort, and as he sometimes complains, he has to pay for his own ammunition and the recoil from his favorite weapon hurts his elbow. He’s too short at 5-2 to be a cop and he still has a need to help people. As a P.I. he naturally sees all kinds, but he has some rules. He doesn’t go out of town, he doesn’t do divorces and he never mixes it up with foreign espionage or mob people. Mostly. He would rather walk away from a confrontation. He doesn’t sleep around and while not married, he is deeply committed to a wealthy and successful massage therapist who happens to be just over six feet tall. Sean is not unwilling to discuss some of his cases with Catherine and she often offers sage advise to Sean.

 Q: How did you come up with the character?
 A lot of short people project attitude to varying degree. So does Sean. I roomed with a short man years ago while in the US Navy and I see a lot of his characteristics in Sean. Most of his attitudes probably reflect my own world view, but Sean is more adventurous and younger than I am. I thought about the character for a long while in the beginning and selected a number of physical and intellectual attribut4es for him. I borrowed a desk chair at a nearby mall and spent an afternoon scooting around in the chair to get a sense of how short people see the world in crowds. That was very illuminating.
 Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution? 
 In a word, liberating. A lot of good writing will be enjoyed by sometimes limited audiences, but that’s ok. Of course there will be a lot of dreck that gets published but that’s OK.

 Q: What's next for you and Sean? 
 More adventures. I’m currently working on a smuggling operation inside a bad construction company.

 Q: How do you promote your work? 
 By talking to good folks like you, attending reader conferences, using social media such as FaceBook and Twitter. I’m available to speak at bookstores and public libraries and conduct writing and marketing workshops. And I review crime fiction for several websites, and online stores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
 These days writing and reading for reviews takes up most of my time but I read poetry, history and other literature. We attend concerts and go frequently to the theater. Shakespeare is still my favorite writer.

 Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
 They are useful for various reasons, as someone to talk to and thus explain the P.I.’s thinking on a case and in some cases, backup the detective and sometimes do some very extra-legal actions. I prefer to have my detective, who has good relations with lots of cops, not do really nasty illegal stuff. Oh, an occasional B&E, shooting some folks, but nothing really off the charts.
 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 never try to predict who will have significant influence.  Who, writing today, will still  be read in twenty or fifty years? I don’t know, but here are some other really good writers who I believe will last. Val McDermid, William Kent Krueger, Ellen Hart, Michael Connelly, Richard A. Thompson, John Sandford, Harlan Coben, Steve Hamilton, Sara Paretsky. There are some excellent Scandinavian writers like Jo Dereske and Henning Mankill doing marvelous writing in the field.

 Q: Why do you write in this genre?
 I grew up reading crime fiction like the Hardy Boys, Hammett, Ross MacDonald and John D. Macdonald who are still being read today. I read a lot of other literature as well, including Westerns. But when it came to writing, I prefer to deal with today’s society and modern problems.

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