Saturday, May 11, 2019

Q & A with A.J. Devlin

A.J. Devlin surprised me this year with a great, fast-paced PI novel featuring a fun new private eye. Of course that made me eager to learn more about the writer and his work.

Q: What makes "Hammerhead" Jed different from other hardboiled characters?
A: I would say what makes Jed different first and foremost would be his professional wrestling pedigree, followed by his sense of humour. While he has several trademarks of a hardboiled detective in that he's emotionally damaged and drinks too much, he also has a really big heart and cracks wise in a way that I hope comes across as unique due to his wrestling history.

Q: How did you come up with the character?
A: I conceived of the character at a time when I had come across professional wrestling documentaries and biographies and was concurrently reading lots of books from what I like to call the "hybrid-athlete detective" mystery novel sub-genre. I've read mysteries about private eyes / amateur detectives who balanced sleuthing with their backgrounds and careers in boxing, surfing, hockey, basketball, working as a sports agent -- but as far as I could tell no one had ever cooked up a wrestler detective before. So that along with my longtime passion for professional wrestling was definitely my inspiration. I also sort of set out to write a classic Chandler / Spillane style story set in Vancouver, but by the time I finished the book it had morphed into a mystery-comedy. Since professional wrestling is rife with comical in-ring theatrics but also has a real life dark underbelly, it felt like the only way to accurately reflect the world of sports entertainment was to embrace the over-the-top action while also showcasing the behind the scenes drama.

Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
A: I think anything that gets people reading more is a great thing. COBRA CLUTCH was my debut novel and only came out last Spring, so I'm still navigating my way through this new career as I go and am learning lots about the publishing industry along the way. But since I know of so many people whose amount of reading has significantly spiked due to the advent of eBooks it's hard not to see it as something very beneficial to authors overall.

Q: What's next for you and your characters?
A: ROLLING THUNDER, book two in the "Hammerhead" Jed series, is set to be released in Spring 2020 by NeWest Press and I'm currently working on book three.

Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
A: I keep pretty busy as a stay-at-home dad for my 7 year old son and 4 year old daughter. I also really enjoy going on long walks or runs with our family dog and tend to do a lot of outlining in my head for the "Hammerhead" Jed series when it's just the two of us alone on a trail or out in nature. And of course I try to read as much crime fiction as I can.

Q: How do you promote your work? 
A: I'm very fortunate that my publisher has the most awesome and tireless Production & Marketing Coordinator and GM who do so much to get the word out about the "Hammerhead" Jed series. Also, due to my stay-at-home dad lifestyle, I have a certain degree of flexibility when it comes to attending author events or arranging in-store signings at bookstores. And of course having a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram has been invaluable.

Q: What other genres besides crime do you like? 
A: Interesting question! Although at this point I pretty much exclusively read crime I would have to say I enjoy a good sci-fi story for sure.

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: For me personally I was heavily influenced by the works of current master storytellers like Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Connelly, Carl Hiaasen, and Robert Crais — and they are all still consistently publishing outstanding crime novels. However what I've found most exciting is the recent surge of top notch mystery novels set Vancouver, led by award-winning authors like Sam Wiebe and Sheena Kamal, who are fearless in depicting what a unique and rich city my hometown truly is, and something I aspired to emulate in COBRA CLUTCH.

Q: Why do you write in this genre?
A: Probably because I've been a massive fan of crime fiction since I was a boy and once spent a summer tearing through the entire HARDY BOYS series, so it definitely got into me early. And also because I grew up on movies like THE GOONIES, BACK TO THE FUTURE, and DIE HARD, and I believe that crime fiction lends itself beautifully to escapist entertainment, which is ultimately the thing I hope people take away if they give COBRA CLUTCH a read.

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