First up: Barbara Fister A moderator for the wondrous list, 4MA, Barbara works in a library and has the nickname Barfly. Really, the keg I ordered is just for her... (Okay, seriously, I have no idea how she got the nickname, but I wish I had a cool nickname like that!)
Your new book is called IN THE WIND. Where did the idea for the title come from?
Well, it’s a Dylan reference tied to the fact the story is about a Vietnam War-era crime, and a reference to the setting (the Windy City), and slang for being a fugitive, which is the status of the character in the book who my narrator is helping, a woman who is being hunted now for the murder of an FBI agent 35 years ago. Also, I seem to have a prepositional phrase thing going on with my titles . . .
What's the hardest thing for you about writing? What's the easiest?
I need a lot of time these days for ideas to ripen, for the shape and feeling of a story to emerge. I don’t know if it’s because I am a more critical reader, so have higher standards than when I first started to write fiction, or if I’m just slowing down. At the moment, revisions may be the easiest part because I have an editor who is very good at putting her finger on things she feels need work, and I kind of enjoy renovating manuscripts.
What's the one thing you most want readers to take from the experience of reading IN THE WIND?
I hope they enjoy the ride while having something engaging to think about. It’s quite a political story, but also one with a strong emotional component.
What do Barbara Fister and Anni Koskinen have in common? What things are opposite about Anni and Barbara?
I hope I have some of the moral fiber that Anni has, and her sense of justice. But she’s braver than I am, and she’s spent ten years as a cop in a very rough part of town, while I’m a librarian and am too soft-hearted to even scold the students when they act up. I had a pleasant, safe childhood in a university town, but she’s a mixed-race woman who was abandoned by her mother and grew up in foster care trying to look after an autistic brother. I think we’d get along, though, wimp that I am.
As a native of Wisconsin and a current resident of Minnesota, why Chicago?
The short answer is that I live in a very small town, and I’d rather live in a very big city, so I do it vicariously. Chicago is in many ways the quintessential American city. It’s diverse and has over 200 distinct neighborhoods, including pockets of terrible poverty. There’s certainly no shortage of crime to go around. But it is nevertheless amazingly friendly. I’ve spent a fair amount of time there and just fell in love with the place.
Now, Tom Piccirilli. Tom hangs his hat primarily at The Big Adios, when he isn't busy writing horror and crime fiction novels.
Where did the idea for the title to THE COLD SPOT come from?
I'm an emotional guy, and of course most of my protagonists, no matter what their backgrounds, are as well. But I wanted my protagonist in this one, Chase, to have a place where he could go inside himself where all the frustration and fear and pain is cooled down so that he can put on an icy demeanor and get the task at hand done. In this case, it's about getting revenge on a group of diamond heisters who've done some very bad things, and so he has to tap into a very dark portion of himself to help him keep after them.
THE COLD SPOT marks the launch of a new series. What do you like most about the idea of continuing with Chase in future books?
There's a great deal of backstory between my young thief Chase and his career criminal grandfather. There's a deep well there that I can return to again and again, and I can keep plying the action and the painful personal history between them.
You've written in different genres. Does that help keep you on your toes as an author, keep you from coasting? What do you like most about switching genres?
It's not so much about keeping me on my toes as it is about allowing me to become a part of the literature that I enjoy and admire so much. I read all kinds of fiction, all across the board, from SF to high fantasy to horror to thrillers, so it only makes sense that I'd want to somehow impress myself upon the history of those various fields. I want to take the elments that make up those other genres and distill them through my own style, themes, and voice to see if I can manage to make some small mark on those different types of fiction.
You've had numerous books published over the years. I'm going to ask an evil question... which is your personal favorite and why?
I think I have two. THE DEAD LETTERS and THE COLD SPOT, and I think they're my favorites for the same reason. They each have very forward-driving front stories but also have a lot of depth were personal themes are concerned. They're my most mature works, meaning I was stretching myself quite a bit to talk about matters that are very important to me, and yet I think they're both very fun books. I managed to say what I wanted to say about the world and not get in my own way while doing it.
With all the experience you have with the book business, do you get nervous when a new book is coming out?
No, not at all. If I was going on major book tours or showing up on Oprah, it would be a whole different thing. But as it is, I just look forward to reader reaction and hope the books keep selling.
Now, it's a three-way book launch because (as most of you know) today also marks the official release of my new book.
I don't think anyone needs to hear more from me...
I mean, if you're desperate, there's the latest in-depth interrogation by Damien Seaman and there's the first grilling I got from him.
January Magazine ran a nice profile (that's mercifully much shorter) and WHAT BURNS WITHIN was put through the Page 69 Test.
For anyone curious about the opening scene to WBW, Dorchester ran a piece that includes the scene, and the true story that inspired the scene.
I've collected together all the great reviews that have come in so far at my website.
And today, I'm on the Oprah of the blogs... CRIMERANT, where award-winning authors Gregg Olsen and M. William Phelps tackle the latest in true crime. My own part of the story will be familiar to some, but it connects to the context of what I'm talking about, and it's probably the most extensive account of the incident I've ever given online, plus there's a hint about what readers have to look forward to in WHAT BURNS WITHIN's follow-up, THE FRAILTY OF FLESH, due out in November. You can check it out here.
Or carry on with the partying, and don't forget to congratulate Tom and Barbara! My thanks to them for joining me here, 'cos I'll be honest, sitting here just talking about my own book wouldn't be nearly as much fun. When you're trying to get a book deal you just dream about getting published, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd be sharing an online book launch party with two such talented and amazing people.
* Just kidding. I think.