Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween fiction

My pals at Trestle Press have some great Halloween fiction lined up for you. Check this link for a list of their books.

First In, Last Out (Tom Gregory) by Gerald So

This is what the Kindle is all about. Cheap, fast and thrilling reads. This one collects the Tom Gregory stories by Gerald So. They're about an ex-Marine sniper that comes home and finds trouble. Gerald edited fiction on the Thrilling Detective site and it shows. The writing is tight and well thought out. Solid, fast read.
Check it out here.

More appearances of me and Mike Dalmas

I guest blog about my favorite PI's here.
Paul Brazill has good things to say about Find Her, the first Mike Dalmas story.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Q & A with John Gilstrap

I interviewed John Gilstrap, author of Threat Warning.

Q: What makes Jonathan Grave different from other (unofficial) PIs?
Jonathan Grave is a former Delta Force operator who makes his living as a freelance hostage rescue specialist. Unlike law enforcement agencies, whose hostage rescue activities are constrained by the obligation to collect and preserve evidence that will convict the hostage takers in court, Jonathan and his team care only about the victim. Everything else--including due process--is secondary to the rescue mission. Whereas more traditional PIs work more or less within the established justice system--ultimately working with the police who don't necessarily appreciate their activities--Jonathan and his team work completely outside of the law.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
I wrote a nonfiction book a few years ago called Six Minutes to Freedom, which told the story of Kurt Muse, the only civilian of record ever rescued by Delta Force. During my research, I got to know quite a few Special Forces operators, and I was very impressed by their single-minded dedication to their mission. Once dispatched to make a rescue, their Precious Cargo is coming home, even if the operators have to sacrifice their own lives to make that happen. When that order goes out--and it's always on foreign soil because of Constitutional restrictions on donestic military operations--there are no warrants, no concerns for the rights of the bad guys. The single mission is to reunite the PC with his or her family. People who get in the way of that mission are likely to die.

I thought it would be a cool paradigm for a civilian contractor to use domestically. The idea stewed in my imagination for a while, and Jonathan Grave was born.

Q: What's next for you and Grave?
In Damage Control, due out in July of 2012, Jonathan and his team are sent to rescue a busload of American missionaries who have been taken hostage by Mexican drug lords. When things go wrong, it becomes clear that someone within the American halls of power want Jonathan dead.

Q: How do you promote your work?
Promotion of fiction is an exercise in frustration. I have a newsletter for my fans, and a website ( I'm a weekly contributor to The Killzone, a blog featuring eleven suspense authors ( My column appears every Friday. I go to a few conferences every year, and I try to maintain a reliable presence on Twitter and Facebook. I do these things because I enjoy the interaction with people, and in hopes that the effort might sell a few books. In the end, though, I think an author's most reliable avenue for promotion is to keep writing books. I'm pleased to report that there will be at least two more Grave books after Damage Control. They'll be out in 2013 and 2014.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
I was one of the last holdouts. I even wrote a blog post for The Killzone that I called, "Kindle Schmindle." Then I was given a Kindle for Father's Day two years ago, and now I don't know how I ever lived without one. I enjoy everything about the Kindle--and, by extension, eBooks in general. I find the reading experience to be perfectly fine, and I love the quick availability of tens of thousands of titles.

There's a lot of Internet nonesense out there foretelling the demise of commercial publishing because of the birth and growth of the eBook. I just don't see that happening. In fact, given the amount of self-published dreck that is flooding eBook outlets, I think that in a few years readers will become even more depended upon the imprimatur of a publisher as a means of sifting readable material from the awful stuff that has been vanity-published for next to no cost. For that to happen, though, New York publishing needs to start pricing eBooks more reasonably.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Well, I sort of have one in Jonathan's long-time colleague named Boxers. I actually don't think of them as psychotic. I see them as loyal men who are willing to die for their friends. As such, it only makes sense that they would be willing to kill for them, too. I've known several people like that over the years.

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?
Man, I'm the wrong guy to ask about the coming generation. I think that the current crop of PI writers--including myself--are on the trailing edge of what will soon be known as "traditional" storytelling. We all use characters who are bound in reaity and depend largely on shoe leather and firearms to get the job done. I see a new generation that is far more tied to technology than I will ever be, and that technology will be the key influence. Truth be told, I don't think I've yet read the author who will cause the next seismic shift in the genre.

Q: Max Alan Collins came up with the following question: Are you a Hammett man or Chandler?
Okay, stand by for heresy: Neither. I respect both authors for essentially setting the rules for the genre, but I don't particulary enjoy reading their books. These days, they seem for me to approach the line of historical fiction. I'd rather spend my time reading new voices than old ones.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
If it were possible, would you spend a year living your character's life? Why or why not?
My answer: Absolutely. Jonathan Grave is the man I wish I could be. His dedication and clarity of purpose inspires me. He knows who he is, and more importantly he has an inviolable moral center that defines for him who he will never allow himself to become. Plus, he's got some really cool toys.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

New Mike Dalmas story out now!

The new Mike Dalmas story is out now for just 99 cents!
Another in the Trestle Press Cliffhanger Digital Short Series:
Husband, father, vigilante... Mike Dalmas left Special Forces to become a dedicated family man, but when his daughter gets molested he had his revenge, killing the pervert who committed the crime.
Now the Bay City cops keep him out of jail if he takes care of their dirty work. The things their badge won't allow them to do but for which Dalmas has the right skill set.
When the death of an innocent young girl is ruled as an OD Homicide cop Carver thinks the girl's boyfriend, a tough K-1 fighter, is behind it. He orders Dalmas to see justice done. But is the girl that innocent? And is they boyfriend really a criminal?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Good, The Bad and the Murderous (Sid Chance) by Chester Campbell

Vietnam veteran and ex-park ranger Sid Chance goes to work for a young black man that just got out of jail. The ex-con is charged with a murder he swears he didn't commit. Chance is helped out by a quirky cast of sidekicks in this satisfying mystery filled with enough action, twist and turn to please any PI-fan.
Chester Campbell also happens to be a member of the Hardboiled Collective, so it comes highly recommended.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Bad Night's Sleep (Joe Kozmarski) by Michael Wiley

Joe Kozmarski is hired to watchdog a building. The burglars arriving turn out to be cops. When Joe is forced to shoot one of them it doesn't make him popular.
The Chicago PD asks him to infiltrate the gang of crooked cops. In the end though, he finds out the gang's plans weren't what the thought.
Besides this main story we also follow Joe's relationships with his ex-wife and his lover and his struggle with booze and coke.
Joe Kozmarski is not an unique character but has enough ant-heroic qualities to make him interesting. There's a nice number of action scenes and surprises, the ending surprising. All in all, not the best PI novel of the year but a very satisfying read.

Hardboiled Collective members on other blogs

Check out my guest blog here and read a great interview with Hardboiled Collective member Bruce DeSilva here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

News about and for international crime writers

Libby Fischer Hellmann gave me the chance to write a guest post on her blog about what the Dutch think about US-crime fiction. You can read it here.

And while we're on the subject... For you international crime writers go here to contribute to a great new concept!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Q & A with Lawrence Block

I'm delighted to present this interview with Lawrence Block!

Q: What makes Matt Scudder different from other (unofficial) PIs?
A: The PI is often labeled a man with a code. Bob Parker's Spenser, in what came perilously close to self-parody, would actually sit around discussing his code with Susan. If Scudder ever had a code, he's long since lost his Captain Midnight decoder ring. He has to work it out as he goes along. I find it more interesting that way.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
A: An agent suggested I develop a tough cop as a series character. I realized I'd be more comfortable writing from an outsider perspective, an ex-cop rather than a member of a bureaucracy. As much for convenience as anything else, I situated Scudder in the New York neighborhood where I was then living.

Q: What's next for you, Scudder and other characters like Keller?
A: I never know what's next. Many times over the years I thought the Scudder series had reached a natural stopping point, but I've learned otherwise so many times that I no longer predict anything. My next novel, coming sometime next year from Mulholland, will be about Keller, and a week ago I could have told you the title, but now that's uncertain again. And of course all of this continges upon my finishing the thing...

Q: How do you promote your work?
A: I used to tour a lot whenever a book came out. Travel's become so cumbersome and unpleasant over the past decade that I've pretty much cut that out. Lately I've become very active online—Twitter and Facebook and my own blog—and I think that's probably more effective than racing around the country. God knows it's simpler. I think, though, that it's only a good idea for writers who enjoy it. I like the online and email interaction, I get a kick out of it, but I know writers who don it doggedly, out of a sense of duty, and I think it then becomes counterproductive.

Q: Tell us why the PI novel isn't dead.
A: One reads its obituary from time to time, and it always turns out to be premature. The individual relying on his own resources to right wrongs or calm troubled waters is an archetype that seems to endure irrespective of shifts in the culture. It gets all the reinvention it needs.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
A: I'm reading the second volume of Robert Caro's masterful biography of Lyndon Johnson, and I wish it were available as an eBook, because an hour with it leaves me with aching wrists. I love eBooks—as a reader and as a writer. My whole backlist is available now, and most of those boks have been out-of-print for years. That delights me. And I've published three eRiginal books for writers this year, The Liar's Bible, the Liar's Companion, and my early-days memoir, Afterthoughts; those wouldn't exist but for the eBook medium. And, of course, my new venture in self-publishing, The Night and the Music, is driven by the eBook; there's a print edition available, but I'd never have done this in an eBook-less world.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
A: I'm not sure I'd characterize either of those estimable gentlemen as psychotic—surely not to their faces! It's not hard to understand the appeal of a trusted friend who's more violent and less constrained by moral rules than the hero. I suppose Mick Ballou plays some of that role vis-a-vis Scudder, but only now and then; mostly he's a friend, and the evolving dynamics of that friendship keep me engaged.

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?
A: I have no idea.

Q: Gar Anthony Haywood came up with the following question: What other P.I. writer, alive or dead, would you want as a huge fan?
A: There's a conundrum here. If I idolize and/or idealize a particular writer enough to pick him for the role, I'd perforce regard him as too exalted to waste his time on my work. So, while Gar's question's a good one, I'm not going to answer it.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
A: How do you keep the series from running out of steam? And now I have answer it, huh? Okay. By allowing Matt Scudder to age in real time, and to be changed in one book for having lived through the preceding one. And by only writing the next book when it's ready to be written. And by avoiding the trap of trying to give readers what they want.

A great week for Noah Milano!

It's great week for Noah Milano... He appears on Thrills, Kills 'n' Chills with a new short story, War Crimes , Tough As Leather is reviewed at Murderous Musings AND the Noah Milano Novelette The Alabaster-Skinned Mule is available.
Here's the lowdown on this novelette, a cool 36 page story. It's probably the most action-packe Milano tale yet.

A pretty young girl is used as a mule, smuggling drugs for Mexican druglords. When she discovers the drugs she gets rid of them. The druglords will do anything to get them back.
She hires Noah Milano, security specialist and ex-mob fixer to protect her. He ends up putting his dearest friendship and his very life on the line for her.

Praise by other authors:
''Great pop sensibility with a nod to the classic L.A. PIs.'' - David Levien, author 13 Million Dollar Pop
"Terrific stuff.'' - Lori G. Armstrong, author of No Mercy
Jochem's deep and abiding love for classic pulp fiction comes through on every page, and his stories continue the time-honored tradition of the hardboiled American PI." -Sean Chercover, author of Trigger City.

Guest-Post: Look Who's Reading Mine by Bruced DeSilva

Fans of Bruce DeSilva, author of Rogue Island might have seen the cool 'Look Who's Reading' posts on his blog. I asked Bruce to tell us how they came about...

Publishers spend the most of their limited promotion budgets on sure winners – the latest books by the likes of Lee Child and Laura Lippman. A first-time novelist who wants to tell the world that he’s written a book is largely on his own.

So last fall, as the publication date for my first crime novel, “Rogue Island,” drew near, I was wracking my brain for a way to get some attention.

“I know,” my wife, the poet Patricia Smith, said. “Why don’t we take pictures of famous people reading your book? We can post them on your blog, and on Facebook and Twitter?”

That sounded like a plan. Books are sold largely by word of mouth: One person reads it, likes it, and tells his or her friends. Social networking sites are good for writers because they have greatly expanded the reach of word of mouth.

The problem with these sites, however, is that when you post something, it is seen only by the people you have “friended” on Facebook or who follow you on Twitter. However, you can reach many thousands more if your friends like your post enough to repost it, passing it on to THEIR friends.

The right photos, I thought, just might do the trick.

So Patricia and I started toting a camera and a copy of my book around in case we ran into famous people. Except sometimes, we forgot. It would have been nice if we’d had the book with us when we ran into Chris Rock at the Bronx Zoo.

But over the last year, we accumulated 84 pictures of famous people reading “Rogue Island,” and I’ve been posting several each week on Facebook, Twitter and my blog,

More than half of those who posed for our cameras are famous crime and thriller writers – Dennis Lehane, Walter Mosley, Val McDermid, Ken Follett, Lee Child – taken at crime writing conferences including Mystery Writers of America, Bouchercon and Thrillerfest.

But there was also Andrew Young, former ambassador to the United Nations, whom I ran into on a trip to Washington, D.C.

And Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr., TV pundit, convicted felon and former mayor of Providence, R.I., where my novel is set.

And famous journalists like Eugene Robinson and Roy Peter Clark, happy to do a favor for a former member of their tribe.

When Patricia journeyed to Hollywood to do a poetry reading at the Getty Museum, she snagged photos of actresses America Ferrera of “Ugly Betty” fame and Amber Tamblyn, who starred in “House,” “Joan of Arcadia,” and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.”

My favorite, though, was Patricia’s picture of Goth music star Marilyn Manson, who posed for two photos – one reading the book and another holding it against his crotch. I used only the first one.

The Manson photo was the biggest hit. When I posted it on my bog, I got six times the normal number of daily hits.

Most people just held the book open and smiled, but a few mugged for the camera. Sara Paretsky, a Mystery Writers of America Grand Master, and Marcia Clark, the lead prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson trial, stared at a page with their mouths open, as if they’d just read something shocking.

And no one, not a single person, turned us down.

Did this sell any books? It’s impossible to say for sure, but it didn’t hurt. “Rogue Island” has sold well for a first crime novel – and nearly a year after its release, it’s still selling.

Now I need to come up with a promotion idea for my second novel, “Cliff Walk,” which will be published by Forge next May. Any suggestions?

Treste Press offers cool digitals shorts!

I recently signed up with Trestle Press to bring out my Mike Dalmas series. There’s a great group of writers with this publisher and I figured you all deserved to know about them.

There’s Alexandra Weis, who puts out thrilling supernatural crime stories, the latest of which, set in New Orleans, is The Keeper of the Dead. Great for fans of horror and James Lee Burke.

Also for horror fans Trestle Press offers the work of April Pohren, whose latest short story is Dream Me To Death.

Showing how diverse Trestle Press is, there’s Big Daddy Abel’s work.

And, if you’re a fan of hardboiled crime (and if you’re not why are you visiting this blog?) you will have to check out B.R. Stateham’s Smitty series. Smitty is an Avenging Angel that will appeal to everyone who digs my own work.

While we're on the subject of great stuff from other people: Adventures of Cash Laramie and Gideon Miles Volume II is out now, featuring great tales of noir western by the talented Edward E. Grainger. Don't miss out on this one if you like noirish short stories.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Guest-Post: Truly Noir by Austin S. Camacho

I'm delighted to offer you this guest post by Austin S. Camacho, author of the Hannibal Jones series and The Piranha Assignment.

My Hannibal Jones series is not very different from other detective series, except of course for the fact that Hannibal Jones is an African American private eye. When I decided to write a hardboiled detective series I set out to explore my detective’s predecessors, the characters he’d be compared to when he made his appearance.

That turned out to require a lot less time than I expected it to. As a hardboiled detective with an African heritage, Hannibal Jones turned out to have few predecessors. The best known black mystery characters, chronicled by Walter Mosley, James Patterson, Chester Himes and Hugh Holton, are policemen or amateur sleuths.

So where are all the men of color following in Phillip Marlowe’s gumshoe footsteps? Ed Lacy introduced the first credible African-American private eye, Toussaint Moore, in 1957. He won an Edgar, but no one followed his lead. I assumed that John Shaft would turn the tide when he appeared in 1971. Ernest Tidyman's Harlem private eye was so hardboiled that at the time my friends and I jokingly referred to him as “Sam: Spade Detective.” Yet despite his film success, there was no rush of imitators. All the African American private eyes seem to have vanished mysteriously.

I can hear all the white authors out there now, shaking their heads and muttering, “Don’t blame me.” Well, why not? African American authors write white characters all the time, so why not reverse that spin. And white authors don’t seem to have any trouble writing black characters as sidekicks, or villains. Why not write them as detectives?

Of course, there is the danger of stereotyping. Your ethnic readers will look very closely at any characters you introduce who don’t look like you. So how do you get it right when you’re writing about people from another race and culture? Here are three hints that will help you.

Observe: spend time in the grocery stores, restaurants and bars filled with mostly faces of color. Don’t worry, no one will assault you as long as you mind your own business. And by listening closely you’ll get a feel for the attitudes and interests of that group, not to mention their food and drink preferences. You will also develop a feel for the rhythm of language and common phrases they use. I’ve found this works for Latin, Korean and Iranian characters too.

Avoid dialect: When we change the way words are spelled to imitate the sound of someone’s voice we not only insult them, we make it harder for readers to get through our writing. All you need to do to get the dialog perfect is to use the words your characters would use in their own unique order. Your reader will “hear” what you meant, be it North Dakota Swedish or inner city black.

Get a reality check: First, make a black friend. Next, have that friend read your work and beg them to be honest in their feedback. Watch their face as they read. Ask them to test the dialog aloud, and listen for changes they may make unconsciously. If your friend balks at something, don’t debate it, change it.

The most important thing, of course, is to remember that we are all more alike than different. Human motivations, desires, fears and joys are universal, so make sure your black characters are first and foremost human.

And in case you’re skeptical about writing a black detective, let me remind you that Toussaint Moore’s creator, Ed Lacy, was actually a white guy named Leonard Zinberg.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Q & A with Rick Nichols

Today we talk to Richard Nichols, author of the action-packed John Logan series.

Q: What makes John Logan different from other (unofficial) PIs?
A: I think there are several things. First is his background. Logan was born in America but raised in Japan. As such, he has a strong tie to the land and their philosophies of duty and honor. It has a profound effect on his actions. Secondly is his past as a Special Ops soldier and his work in covert intelligence. His career didn’t end well and his relationship with the government is strained because of it. He does think about the lives he’s taken and the men he lost and he desperately tries to help people as a way of atonement for his past “sins.” In the end, though, he must always rely on his training and skills to get him out of situations and it’s that duality that makes him so much fun to write.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
A: When I was in college about 30 years ago, I got the kernel of the character in my head. I knew a lot of his background but I had trouble figuring out what I wanted him to be doing in the present. When I hit upon the idea of making him a PI it seemed to fit and by the second paragraph I knew I was on to something.

Q: What's next for you and Logan?
A: A third book entitled The Sheltering Tree is due out in 2012. I have a few other ideas that Logan might pursue but they are still percolating in my brain. There will be more Logan stories to come.

Q: How do you promote your work?
A: Anyway I can. My publisher helps of course, but I am on Facebook as well as have a fan page (Rick Nichols, Author), I am on Twitter (RickNichols3), and I have my author page ( I also have a blog ( I try to grant interviews to anyone who wants them and I generally find that just getting your name out is the biggest task. Once people know who you are, if the books are good, they will buy them.

Q: What are your thoughts on ebooks as a reader AND a writer?
A: I think that ebooks are the future of the business and recent sales figures from the traditional publishers show ebooks outselling hard copies. The paperback is a vanishing species and let’s face it, being able to store 1000 books on a small pad is neat! I haven’t made the switch yet, simply because I’m old fashioned and like the feel of a real book but I will. It’s a matter of time.

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
A: Well I wouldn’t use the term psychotic. Chandler and Hammett started the lone PI thing and Parker originally wanted to do the same with Spenser. Hawk and Pike are both loyal and have a great sense of justice. Hawk has a darker side to him that Pike doesn’t seem to have but he is a good man with a strong sense of justice. I think a sidekick can bring out other facets of your character that otherwise might not get revealed. You learn a lot about Spenser through his relationship with Hawk and the same with Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. The bonds of friendship between them, the respect they have for each other, and their willingness to risk everything for their friend is a great concept. When I had the epiphany of Logan being a PI, I knew I wanted him to have one guy, one friend, to be there for him. Mason Killian was born and I created him with no preconceived ideas, just allowed the character to write itself. And it worked. There is a great chemistry between Logan and Killian that I think is amazing and it is the key to making these kinds of relationships work on the page.

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?
A: I think the masters will continue to influence many generations to come. I think Crais needs to be in there as well as Walter Mosely and Ed McBain. There are a couple of other but I honestly can’t think of their names right now.

Q: Max Alan Collins came up with the following question: Are you a Hammett man or Chandler?

A: Chandler. Hammett is great but there is a power to Chandler’s prose, almost a rhythm to it that hooked me from the first paragraph of The Big Sleep and never let me go. I have all of his novels and even the pulp stories he wrote.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
A: Wow, that’s an interesting question. You’ve certainly asked some good ones today. I would have to say, especially if they are doing a series, is how do you keep the stories fresh? Even Parker had some weak plots from time to time and I’ve found in writing three Logan novels that it can be so easy to stick with what worked before. In The Sheltering Tree, I tried to change things up a little and I try to reveal parts of a character or a relationship that I have not explored before. Just trying to keep it fresh and not fall into repetition is certainly a challenge for me. It’s easier since Logan still has some things to discover but by the 20th book (if I make it that far), I’m sure it will be more challenging.

Pocket-47 (Nicholas Colt) by Jude Hardin

He used to be in a rockband but after surviving a plane crash that killed his band and family Nicholas Colt became a PI. Cool back story, right?
In his first outing he tracks down a runaway but ends up confronting neo-Nazi's and discovers shocking secrets behind the plane crash.
Colt is a character in the vein of Elvis Cole, Rush McKenzie and Noah Milano. A pretty good guy who uses violence when pissed off. Well... There's a scene with a pencil in the book that would be a bit hardcore for those characters, even for Mike Hammer. It surprised me a bit and felt a bit out of character. Also, the ending involving a form of virgin sacrifice, read a bit too much like a B-movie.
However... For the most part Colt is a character you can relate to, the pacing is great, there's a good mystery and enough action. All in all, I'm looking forward to a follow-up.