Thursday, October 16, 2014

Q & A with Bret R. Wright

I was excited when I learned about new PI Nate Jepson's debut in the novel "Nasty" and was happy his creator Bret R. Wright was more than willing to do an interview. So here we go...

Q: What makes Nate Jepson different from other hardboiled characters?  
Nate’s this ordinary, typical gumshoe kind of guy, but he reveals more of himself than he thinks he does.  There’s a lot of dramatic irony that goes into writing him.  I think he’s a blend of what a typical American is these days. He’s kind of conservative in a lot of ways, but then he’s surprisingly open-minded and matter-of-fact, too.  So, on the one hand, you have this ex-military bad-ass who can shoot straight and has no problems or hang-ups with bringing the hurt to the bad-guys, while on the other he may flip a $50 spot to a prostitute and tell her to go have a nice meal and take a load off for a bit. He understands that you have to meet people where they are, not where you want them to be.  He has a wry sense of humor that comes out as he watches the world, and that gives him an approachable air.  He’s just this guy you want to have a beer with and listen to.  I hope so, anyway.

Q: How did you come up with the character?  
That’s an easy one.  I was reading the other characters out there, and while I like and respect them, I found that I kept filling in blanks I wished were there. Does that make sense?  The popular PI’s out there right now are great, but they aren’t what I would write, so I decided to write the PI I wanted. One Ignatius Jepson was the result.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
First and foremost, I am a solid binding-glue and paper guy, beyond that, however, I really do love the eBooks. You can carry an entire library with you. From an author’s perspective, since eBook versions tend to be cheaper than paperbacks, the sales seem to be increasing in the electronic versions, and that’s always good.  Being a literacy advocate, anything that gets people reading is just fine with me.  

Q: What's next for you and Nate?
There are at least two more Nasty books coming, but I’d like to see the series go on from there, as he’s got a lot to talk about and a lot to work through.

Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
I’m a freelance writer for a local indy paper, and I’m a teacher. I teach middle school Social Studies and English. When I’m not writing, or working, I’m generally spending time with my family. I like to play bass, and I fish. I enjoy cooking, and spending time exploring all the interesting local establishments and sites where I live.  I split my time between Colorado Springs and Santa Fe, and between the two there is always something new in the offing.

Q: How do you promote your work? 
I do a little blogging, post on book promotion sites, do the whole social network thing, and book signings.  I’ve taught classes at the local writers conference off and on for years, as well. Now I have a novel to lean on as far as establishing my bonafides, as well as the time I spent as an on-line e-zine publisher, editor, short story author, and freelance writer.  My character, Nasty, has his own page on Facebook, where he posts about the things he’s doing on an every day basis, plus drops a few hints here and there as to what he’s currently working on.  The idea is to let him have an on-line life, of sorts.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
I like a lot of different genres, but I spend time reading fantasy, sci-fi, and people like Tim Dorsey, Carl Hiaasen, Christopher Moore, and Nick Hornby when I’m not reading crime fiction.  Being a Lit. major (yeah, I’m one of those) I like to revisit the classics, as well. Poe is a favorite, although since he’s considered the father of the modern detective mystery, that’s not really a genre change, is it?

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike? 
I like Joe Pike a lot.  Of course, I’m a huge Crais fan, so that’s to be expected.   I think the attraction there is that sidekicks that are a little (or a lot) off-center give the reader a visceral thrill to react to.  Characters like Pike and Spenser’s sidekick, Hawk, give the reader a chance to see what might happen if the main character were to remove all stops and just get after the bad guy, or the world around them,  on a very primitive level.  Kind of like watching someone doing a waltz while there’s a mosh pit off to the side. It’s that kind of foil that makes for some interesting dynamics and tension.

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?
Oh, Robert Crais, for sure. Loren D. Estleman is a master of the genre. Have you read Motor City Blue?  A masterpiece.  I also love Sara Paretsky’s V I Warshawski.  Sue Grafton is fun, though a little main-stream for hard-boiled. Still, she has some very nice character development and knows how to sustain a series.  I think we’ll find that she influences the genre quite a bit after all is said and done.

Q: Why do you write in this genre? 
Oh, it’s the chance to write the character!  His voice, the way he looks at the world and who lives in it. I could write him in a thriller or military thriller setting (which I plan on doing one of these days) but detective fiction really allows me to showcase his thought processes and the unique situations that live in the grey areas of our culture. It’s the perfect platform for Nate, and I love taking readers there. It’s thrilling, and there’s something about writing with the ghost of a smoky  saxophone playing in the background that is too perfect to ignore.

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