James Winter was one of the first guys to tell me he liked my Noah Milano stories. It's great to see a new novel by him coming out, so I asked him to come over and tell us more about it.
Tell us what to expect from Bad Religion.
Bad Religion has Nick undergoing a lot of changes in his business and his life. It starts out as a simple case of a minister skimming the collection plate. When that turns out to be a dead end, someone gets upset and starts gunning for witnesses. In the meantime, Nick and Elaine's relationship is evolving. Her marriage is crumbling, and they both wonder if their one-night stand wasn't just a fluke.
How long did it take you to write?
The original draft took about four months to write. It's hard to gauge the revisions because my publisher went out of business. So I looked at it sporadically over the next five years before digging it out last year.
Tell us about how you were inspired to write it?
There's a big televangelism angle in the story, and I remembered seeing quite a bit of that freakshow when I grew up. I wanted Nick to start investigating a minister accused of being such a fraud and finding out he's actually the victim of someone else's scheme. At the same time, I had fun creating the character of Calvin Leach.
Will we see Kepler return after Bad Religion?
There's a new short in the can waiting for revisions. Beyond that, I haven't decided. Part of the problem is that I fixed Nick to the calendar, and in 2013, it's a bit hard to write a story set in 2005.
Did writing the book take a lot of research?
Some of it was calls back to Cleveland to see what changed from when I lived up there. I also have an angle that ties into a cult killing that actually took place in the area. I had to walk a balance between exploiting it and making it part of the background.
What scenes did you enjoy writing the most?I loved writing the scene where Nick and Elaine visit the taping of Leach's show. Nick is absolutely miserable there, and he's stuck next to one of those middle-aged true believers I had to deal with when I was a kid. You know the type: Badly dyed hair teased to fright-wig perfection and a gushing enthusiasm for the star of the show. I let Nick voice a little revenge for me, with Elaine pretending to be his wife and keeping him in check.
Who is your favorite among the characters in the book?I like Elaine a lot in this one. She really grows as a character. I also like Teasdale, who's kind of a throwback to Jim Rockford.
Is there anything else you'd like to say about the books?The print version will soon be available if it's not already.