Hey, remember me? The guy that used to blog here?
So I get this thing from Ed Kurtz. Who got this thing from . . . ah hell, I can’t remember where he got it. The deal is you answer these questions about your upcoming or most recent release, and then you tag some other folk so they have to do it too, and then you link back to the guy who tagged you, and, theoretically, you end up being linked like a bazillion times. And hey, I haven’t even gotten a post up in the last month, so what am I gonna do, pass on a blogging layup? So, on to the Q&A.
1) What is the working title of your next book?
The title of my book is PENANCE. It is my first novel. It will be published by Exhibit A on April 30 in the US and on May 3 in the UK. Exhibit A will also be publishing my second novel, MAMMON and, just maybe, in between a collection of short fiction that offers backstory on some of the characters and places that feature in my fiction. And for those of you who just can’t wait, you can check out OLD SCHOOL, published back in February by Snubnose Press. (Yeah, I know the question only asked about my next book, but hey, I gotta pimp baby pimp.)
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s a pretty sprawling book in terms of plot – a lot going on, most of which occurred to me while I was writing it. But the initial event that kicks things off comes from an idea that’s been kicking around my head since theology class back in my sophomore year of high school. (I went to a Catholic high school, actually a Catholic military high school. And yeah, in its way that sucked. But then again, you go from the Beatitudes one period to how to strip and re-assemble an M-14 the next, so it was great early training in cognitive dissonance.) The priest who taught theology was going on about the importance of the sacrament of confession. To underscore his point, he told us that we should hope that, if we ever were to die suddenly and unexpectedly, that we die stepping out of the confessional, since we would be in a state of grace. I thought hey, what if someone decided to start doing Catholics a favor, started bumping them off on their way out of confession . . .
3) What genre does your book fall under?
I don’t sweat genre much, but both my agent (the Princess of Crime Fiction, Stacia Decker) and the good folks at Exhibit A tell me it’s a thriller, so I’ll go with that.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Hmmmm, tough one. My characters tend toward middle age, so I’d need a mess of middle aged white guys, one middle aged black guy, one middle aged woman, a couple of older white guys and an ancient Chinese guy. Plus a mess of other people. Big cast of characters. Hear that you Hollywood types wondering what book to throw some money at? This thing could be a full employment act for actors.
For the protagonist, John Lynch, I could see Dennis Quaid or Gary Sinese. Pair one of them with Elijah Wood as Bernstein, his younger partner. Lawrence Fishburn would be great as Darius Cunningham, a Chicago SWAT sharpshooter with an interesting past.
Lynch needs a tall, smart love interest who is also a reporter. I wouldn’t complain about Kate Blanchete, although Maria Bello looked awfully, eh, athletic in that cheerleader outfit in A History of Violence . . .
Beyond that, I don’t really know. Maybe ten years ago, Brian Dennehy would have been great as Col. Tech Weaver, a sort-of bad guy with an evil yet avuncular vibe.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
If the past won’t stay buried, you have to kill it again.
6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am represented by Stacia Decker at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. PENANCE, and my second novel, MAMMON, will both be published by Exhibit A. I think I said that already, but hey, I work in marketing. Tell ‘em what you’re gonna say, say it, tell ‘em you said it.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I wrote some chunks of this book more than 15 years ago, but from the time I really got serious about it until it was finished, I guess 18 months. I think the first novel you write takes forever, partly because you aren’t really sure you can do it and, at least in my case, because I didn’t make it a priority. It took less than two months to write the first draft of my second novel, and 34 days to write the first draft of my third. Now rewriting, well, that’s a whole ‘nother thing.
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Young novel-writing stud Owen Laukkannen was kind enough to read my manuscript and offer a blurb. He says the book is half Stephen Hunter and half James Ellroy’s American Tabloid. Who am I to argue with Owen Laukkannen? Hell, women throw underwear at him. They sell his books on freakin’ airplanes.
8) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
From about junior high on, if you asked me what I wanted to do, I would have said write novels. And I did end up writing for a living – business writing, marketing communications, that sort of thing. But I let my novel-writing dreams languish. Part of me said I had obligations, a family, that I couldn’t afford the time away from paying work. Part of me said dreaming of being a novelist was like dreaming I was going to play third base for the Cubs, that it was one of those childish things you put away. Part of me said there would be time later. My very best friend, a guy I’d known since 4th grade, he wrote, too. Brian and I would talk about all this great stuff we were going to write. On Halloween night five years ago, he was killed in a car accident. When his family cleaned out his place, they found a manuscript of a strange, magical, almost-but-not-quite children’s story all typed up and ready to go. That was an epiphany for me, a sad one. I realized that everything Brian was ever going to do was done, and that, if there was something I wanted to do, then I’d better get to it. That didn’t inspire me to write this particular book, but it did inspire me to actually get off my ass and write. Or, as is often the case, on my ass and write.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
I’ve always had an interest in history, so there’s a lot of historical backstory in my novels, Chicago history in particular, especially in PENANCE. And both PENANCE and MAMMON combine some genres – some stuff that might normally be considered more espionage, some that might be more political thriller, some quasi-police procedural (I say quasi because I know this isn’t how the police actually do things). So I hope they will appeal to a pretty broad audience. Plus there’s even some romance, you know, for the ladies.
Anyway, there are my answers. I’ve forwarded the chain to some other folk, we’ll see if any of them want to play. Well, whaddya know, Nigel Bird has decided to chime in.