book coming out... With a new PI! Reason enough to ask him some questions here...
Tell us what the novel is about.
Brooklyn Justice is a work of fiction which I have come to affectionately refer to as a novel in stories.
It is about a man who know trouble—but not how to keep his nose out of it. A pool of blood spreading across a casino poker table, a Buick plowing through a storefront with a dead detective aboard, a fatal rendezvous in the shadow of a Coney Island landmark, a childhood friend gunned down walking his dog in the wrong place at the wrong time, a film distributor who thinks he can get away with murder through intimidation and violence, a mob boss assassinated leaving a neighborhood restaurant, and the particular brand of retribution necessary to level the playing field in the fourth largest city in America
Where did you come up with the plot? What inspired you? Why a new PI character?
It began with Pocket Queens, inspired by my observation of a high-stakes poker game at an Atlantic City casino and the crime-fiction writer’s mantra: What If? Pocket Queens became too long for a short story, and resisted being stretched into a full-length novel—resulting in something resembling a novella.
The story introduced Nick Ventura—a Brooklyn private investigator unlike Jake Diamond in that Ventura is considerably more hardboiled. Why a new PI character? I suppose the character developed from my subconscious interest in writing a much more dangerous protagonist.
When Pocket Queens was completed, my new ‘hero’ would not let me go. Ventura insinuated himself into five short stories—Buick in a Beauty Shop, The Last Resort, Walking the Dog, Roses For Uncle Sal and The Fist. The six pieces are tied together by common characters—and the action from the beginning of Pocket Queens to the finish of The Fist cover a period of only ten months. So, although they can be taken separately, consecutively they become a six-part work called Brooklyn Justice. The plots of the stories came from imagination and experience and the idea for each was partly dictated by the one previous.
How long did it take you to write BROOKLYN JUSTICE?
The writing went unusually quickly—ten months in the hazardous life of Nick Ventura penned in only a few months real time. In part, the quick result was inspired by the novelty of developing and making acquaintance with new characters—particularly Ventura who is much less inhibited than many of the protagonists in my other work. The was also a thread running through the stories, weaving them together and driving the writing—legal justice and street justice are, in many instances, very different things.
Did the writing require a great deal of research?
In terms of research—I did a bit with regard to the dynamics of a casino poker match, and a lot with regard to the logistics and character of Atlantic City. The Brooklyn characteristics, environment and geography came naturally—since Brooklyn was my little hometown.
What scenes did you most enjoy writing?
There is a secondary character in all of the parts, John Sullivan, who is in fact the narrator of Walking the Dog. I think the relationship between Ventura and Sullivan were the most enjoyable to write because they are often at odds but remain loyal to each other. I also enjoyed writing the opening poker hand—it has a sense of urgency that I believe ambushes the reader.
Who is your favorite among the characters in the book?
I like many of the characters. Ventura and Sullivan stand out. Freddy Fingers because he is such a colossal screw-up. Carmella Fazio, Nick’s landlady and proprietor of the pizzeria below Ventura’s office because she is the mother figure every hard guy needs. Roseanna Napoli, Nick’s very smart lady friend. Uncle Sal. Uncle Sal. Uncle Sal. And several others I will not name here—because, sadly, they do not survive.
Is there anything else you would like to say about the book?
All I can add is I believe Brooklyn Justice will appeal to current fans of my work and perhaps attract those who savor a little more cold-blood. Readers who enjoyed the journey through Gravesend should also relish a return to the Borough of Churches.