Saturday, December 8, 2007
Q & A with Thomas Keevers
This time our Q & A is with Thomas Keevers, author of the Mike Duncavan novels like The Chainsaw Ballet.
Q: What makes your P.I. Mike Duncavan different from other fictional private eyes?
His warts, I think, his inner demons are more obvious than most, maybe to the point of being a turn-off for some readers. Also, he is both a former lawyer (disbarred) and former cop (fired in disgrace), a background I believe to be fairly unique. He's only a P.I. because there's nothing else left for him, but he draws on both experiences in his work.
Q: What are your thoughts on the psycho sidekick in PI novels?
If it works for you, it's great. It doesn't work for me.
Q: Do you do a lot of research?
Yes. I scout all my locations. I run through most of the physical feats Mike is called on to perform. Much of the current novel, The Chainsaw Ballet, takes place in strip clubs. You bet I did research, a lot of it.
Q: Has your writing changed much since the first novel?
I don't think so, but a number of my readers have said that the writing has become leaner with each new book. I don't know, I thought it was pretty lean to begin with. I'm a big believer in Elmore Leonard's caveat: cut out the parts readers tend to skip over.
Q: How do you promote your books?
Badly. I do a few signings, but otherwise I am a terrible promoter, which is why I hired a publicist for my latest. Her name is Carol Haggas, and she's great.
Q: What's next for you and Mike?
Don't know yet, I haven't started on the next one. I took a leave from writing Mike to work on a different kind of book. It took a year and a half, and I just finished. It isn't a mystery, it's a mainstream novel, a coming-of-age story about an idealistic journalism student who takes on, as a semester-long project, an investigation into the infamous raid on Black Panther headquarters in Chicago in 1969. His peg: how did the cops get away with murder? He gradually becomes convince that they didn't, that conventional wisdom got it all wrong. Falsely accused, the cops were made the target of a witch hunt that lasted 10 years and devastated their lives.
When I was with the police I had some involvement with the case. I have always felt that the other side of this story needs to be told. The novel tells it in an oblique way, through the eyes of the student.
Q: Do you have any favorite Sons of Spade yourself?
Ken Bruen. I love Joseph Wambaugh and Scott Turow, but they don't really qualify.
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 and in what way?
I don't have a clue.
Q: Tim Maleeny came up with the following question: The PI is usually the one standing up for the underdog, the person who takes on the powerful and the corrupt on behalf of the little guy. Do you have any favorite targets (or people) at which you like to take aim through your characters?
No, I consciously avoid it. Writers who do this inevitably wind up sounding shallow and preachy, setting their cardboard bad guys lurching about a two-dimensional stage like Punch and Judy. You see this a lot in Hollywood films. A recent example: Shooter, with Mark Wahlberg. If they had an ounce of literary integrity they'd be embarrassed. Now there's a whole new spate of these coming out about the Iraq war.
Q: What questions should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
Q. Does alcohol stimulate your creativity?
A. No. I often think so, then I sober up.
For more info on this author visit: www.thomaskeevers.com
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