Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Q & A with Mike Baron

I have been a fan of Mike Baron's comic books for decades (Punisher, Badger, Butcher) and he has been an influence on my early writing. So it's a delight to be able to ask him some questions.

Q: What makes Josh "Biker" Pratt different from other hardboiled characters?
John D. MacDonald grabbed me by the throat and wouldn't let go. Travis McGee is a brilliant character. He's of a type. Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Jack Reacher. You know the type. A man of integrity, close-lipped (except for Marlowe,) who stands with one foot in civility and the other outside. I've been a biker all my life. I wanted to create a character in Travis' vein, but unique. The name Josh Pratt comes from a roadside memorial I passed one day. I have friends who were patched in bikers and they generously shared their knowledge with me.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
The name came from a roadside memorial. A bicyclist killed in a traffic accident. The protagonist must be sympathetic, someone with whom the reader can identify. He must be violent, when necessary. He must not be a smart ass. There's room for smart asses in hard-boiled fiction. Marlowe. Spenser. But my guy had been through the mill and had all the smart ass beaten out of him in prison. Abandoned at fifteen, bounced from foster home to foster home, the Bedouins were the only family Josh ever knew. Josh came together while I was writing Biker. I wrote it five times before I was satisfied. Now I see his path clearly. Josh became a Christian in prison. This informs his personality. Man needs to believe in something larger than himself if he is going to be happy. Josh doesn't spread the word. He speaks as little as possible. He prays regularly.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
Hell, I'd still be typing on a manual if it were up to me. I'm grateful for ebooks expanding readership. Most of my sales are ebooks. But I prefer a book I can hold in my hand. I like gas-burning vehicles with manual transmissions. I like vinyl. Thank God for small, independent booksellers, who keep this vital tradition alive.

Q: What's next for you and your characters?
 I just turned in the 7th Biker, Unfortunate Son. Josh's father Duane, who abandoned Josh at fifteen, returns to hit Josh up for money. Duane's in a whole lot of trouble. He stole something from Ryan Gehrke, the former Miami Running Back who took a knee, and now spends most of his time partying.

Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
Ride my bike, sleep, go to karate.

Q: How do you promote your work? 
I just talk. I have no idea how to promote myself. I wish I did! I do what Ann says. She's my promo expert. She's got me on a schedule.
Monday: artwork or graphic
Tuesday: blurb of book
Wednesday: video
Thursday: writing tips “Never Say Nebudchadnezzar Again”
Friday: blog

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
Historical novels, horror, biography.

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?
Those same guys.

Q: How has having been a comic book writer influenced your work?
It helps me visualize, so I can show rather than tell. You can show in prose almost as effectively as in comics.

Q: I was a huge fan of your Butcher series? Any chance we will see any of that work back again?
I don't know. I understand DC has brought him back for some adventures.

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
I don't choose my stories, my stories choose me.

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