Monday 4 April 2011

Bill Crider interview: Dead On The Island

Dead On The Island by Bill Crider
Amazon US, Amazon UK

Bill Crider is the Texan author of many novels in multiple genres. He's perhaps best known for his Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, but his laconic PI, Truman Smith, is venturing into the digital world as we speak. Dead On The Island is the first in the Galveston Island-set series. The second, Gator Kill, is also available.

How important is a book's central character?

I sometimes think this is the most important thing about a book.  If the readers don’t care about the protagonist, they won’t have much investment in the outcome.  This is especially important in a series.  If you want the readers to keep returning, then the characters (not just the protagonist) make all the difference.  Think about Robert B. Parker in this regard.  Here was a guy who did a lot of things right for a long time in his series about Spenser.  Spenser was one of those things.  He was a character people liked to read about.  And then there was Hawk.  Putting those two characters together was a great idea, one that’s been much imitated since (even by Parker).  Sure, there was Susan Silverman, and a lot of people found her irritating, but I suspect some readers liked her and her relationship with Spenser.  So the books just kept selling and selling.

What's your favourite part of the writing process?

I have two favorite (or favourite) parts: beginning a book and finishing a book.  When I begin, I’m filled with enthusiasm and hope, and the writing is as much fun as anything can be.  When I finish, I’m happy to have completed the work, and I’m even happier if I’m halfway satisfied with it.   It’s a great feeling to think you’ve done a good job.

What aspects of marketing your book do you enjoy?

I am, without doubt, the world’s worst self-promoter.  Marketing is fine for those who are good at it, but I’m just not.  I long for the old days, when writers didn’t go on tour or do YouTube book trailers or have their publishers encouraging them to be on Facebook and Twitter.  A lot of my favorite (or favourite) writers are from an earlier era.  I sometimes wonder what John D. MacDonald or Donald Hamilton would make of marketing today.  They sold millions of books, but I’ll bet they never did a tour.  I know, I know.  Times have changed, etc., etc.  But I’m an old guy, and change comes hard for me.  I’d rather not have to worry about marketing.

As a reader, how would you describe your taste in crime fiction?

I like short, hardboiled novels, the kind the writers I mentioned above wrote.  The Gold Medal Novels of the ‘50s and early ‘60s are my idea of real entertainment, along with a lot of the paperback originals from other publishers during that time.  Outside the paperback field, Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Macdonald are at the top of my list, so I guess that means I like private-eye fiction

As a writer, how would you describe your ideal reader's taste in crime fiction?

As much as I like the writers I just mentioned, I don’t write like them.  I’d love to, but what I write comes out sounding like me.  So my ideal reader would probably be someone who shares my low-key sense of humor (or humour) and likes straightforward stories that don’t deal with the fate of the world so much as with the fate of ordinary people faced with serious crimes.

What was the last good eBook you read?

I just finished one called Whatever Happened to Jerry Picco by Joe Florez.  It’s a private-eye novel about the disappearance of a midget porn star.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for the off-beat.

What are you reading now?

Right now I’m reading Heath Lowrance’s The Bastard Hand, which has a blurb on the back cover from some guy named Al Guthrie.  How incestuous can we get?

Ever tried your hand at poetry?

My first published work was poetry.  I published poems in some “little” magazines that paid in copies, and I even got paid in cash for some of my work.  It’s surprising how many crime writers have dabbled in poetry.  Gerald So even publishes The Line-Up, a series of books of poetry by crime writers.  I haven’t tried to crack the series yet, however.

Dead On The Island by Bill Crider
Amazon US, Amazon UK


  1. Man, that was one hell of an interview with some damn good questions and answers, especially BC's take on self promotion / msrketing.

    Loved this:

    "It’s a private-eye novel about the disappearance of a midget porn star."

  2. A really thoughtful article,this one. I would love to hear more.