Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Q & A with Sean Dexter

Here's an interview with a writer you might not know yet, but who deserves the attention... Sean Dexter, author of the Jackson Burke series...

Q: What makes Jackson Burke different from other hardboiled detectives?

A: For one thing, Burke isn't a PI by trade. But, like Jack Reacher, crime and violence have a way of finding him. He is a deeply flawed man who was responsible for the deaths of his family. He is also a killer and ex-con. There is little to like about Burke other than his unwavering sense of justice and his desire to protect those he loves. In the Burke books, he becomes involved in real-life crimes from the past. The stories are not set in the past like the Nathan Heller novels by Max Collins, however. For example, in Maggie's Drawers, John Kennedy's actual assassin is released from prison after 50 years and seeks Burke's help in retrieving evidence about the men behind the plot. In Dark Artist, a real life serial killer from the 70s (who was never identified or apprehended) resurfaces and targets someone that Burke cares about.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
A: Jack Burke is a composite of many of the characters that I have loved and followed for years. Lee Child's Jack Reacher is a big contributor to Jack Burke.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
A: For years, I attempted to publish the traditional way. I have been represented by two well-known agents in the past, but the books didn't sell. E-books take some of the stigma out of self-publication and allows independent authors a chance to be noticed.

Q: What's next for you and Jackson?
A: I am working now on a third Burke book that revolves around the real reason for the My Lai massacre that took place in Vietnam in 1968. In the next few weeks, I plan to release a book called Denial of Duty. This one is not a Burke novel. It is a political thriller about the Secret Service, a dirty president, and a nuclear capable Iran.

Q: How do you promote your work?
A: I wish I knew.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
A: There are other genres?

Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
A: Every protagonist needs one. Burke has Curt Turner, Vietnam vet. He is volatile, extremely dangerous, and fiercely loyal to Burke. These characters are able to do the things that the main characters can't quite bring themselves to do. Essentially, they are the dark half of the protagonist's personality.

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 Robert Crais is the new gold standard for this type of novel. Although he has been around for quite a while, he will continue to influence the genre for many years. I also believe that the Spenser novels written by Robert B. Parker will continue to inspire new writers long into the future.

Q: Charles Collyot came up with the following question: Why write a PI story?
A: People want a chance to live their tough guy fantasies through this type of character. It's what all men want to be: Tough, wisecracking, and fearless.

Q: What question should we ask every PI writer we interview and what is your answer?
A: "Is your character anything like you?" Jack Burke is like me in quite a few ways, but I would rather not share what characteristics we share. I was a private investigator for a number of years. However, my work was not terribly exciting. Mostly I found people and located assets for lawyers. I spent 90% of my time on the telephone. My activities were always within the law (well, mostly anyway) whereas Burke is not limited by the law, and wouldn't that be cool.

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