Matthew McBride wrote a book called FRANK SINATRA IN A BLENDER. He’s represented by Stacia Decker of the Donald Maass Literary Agency. He blogs at GOT PULP?
Can you tell us a little about Concord ePress?
It’s a side project from Concord Free Press, a press that publishes books and gives them away for free. Frank Sinatra in a Blender was a part of their big launch on June 1st. There were 12 books in all, including two from Scott Phillips—RUT, and Rum, Sodomy, and False Eyelashes.
How did you come to get published by them?
I liked the idea of trying FSIAB as an eBook and Concord just seemed like the perfect fit. Stona Fitch read the book and he loved it. I’m happy with the whole experience so far; they’ve treated me great.
Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words?
Probably not, but I’ll try.
Nick Valentine is a private detective who abuses pharmaceuticals with great enthusiasm—and he drinks. A lot. He drives a black Crown Vic. He carries a shotgun and a chainsaw.
What was your motivation for writing it?
I wanted to write a book that was fun to read. I think it has everything a good book should. Suspense, action, gritty violence, and a big dose of dark humor to wash it all down. I wanted to write something I felt was completely original.
When was the last time you read about a PI who was a former chainsaw salesman?
How long did it take you to write?
It took about 5 weeks of really hitting it hard. Writing around the clock. I began with 3 thousand or so words from various short stories I’d already written. I’d had a lot of shorts published in the last year or so and I began to think of them as scenes. I really liked several of the characters, so I just decided to take a few of my favorite scenes -- all of them unrelated -- and throw them together (like, in a blender) and see what happened. I added the larger story of the credit union heist and I introduced new characters. After that, I just tied everything together.
Tying everything together was actually the hardest part. So if people read the book and think something sounds familiar, it probably is. That’s the thing I like about short stories. They all have the potential to become long stories. Even books.
How important is a good title?
A good title is the difference between people remembering your book and people forgetting it. I wanted people to read the title to my book and think Frank Sinatra in a Blender? What the hell is that about?
I wanted to make people curious.
What are the greatest opportunities facing writers these days?
Between technology and networking the opportunities for writers these days are endless. Every day I talk to writers from all over the world. We’re living in a time of communication and accessibility. A time where a writer can write a manuscript, edit, design a cover, and then put it on Amazon to sell—basically sidestepping every other part of the traditional process. But I think anyone will tell you, editing is the superglue that holds all of that together. It’s the most important part of the whole process if you want to sell books.
What's the best piece of craft advice you've been given?
I can’t think of any real craft advice I’ve ever been given, but one thing I learned on my own was Finish your writing projects. I realized early on not to abandon projects halfway through and jump into something else. It’s very easy to do, with the strict intentions of returning, but I think it’s important to force yourself to see your projects through. Otherwise you just end up with a bunch of beginnings and incomplete manuscripts. I think when you’re new, that kind of pattern can be self-destructive. I think a new writer does him/herself a disservice by not pushing ahead. Seeing a piece of material through until the end is the real test.
What's your favourite part of the writing process?
That indescribable feeling you get once you realize you’re on the trail of something special. That rare moment once you recognize it’s happening—you’re not really sure where the story is about to take you, you’re just along for the ride.
There’s nothing like spending 15 hours in the chair, and you’re having one of those epic nights where every word is magic. Your body is spent and your mind is on overdrive, but you push through, afraid to stop writing. You don’t want to go to bed because you’re on fire. You’re deep in the zone; afraid you might lose it once you stop, so that drive becomes fuel.
Then the next day you rediscover all the things you wrote the night before while your brain was on autopilot. I love that experience.
What was the last good eBook you read?
Despite the fact I have an eBook published, I’ve never read one. Not even my own. I don’t have a Kindle. I wouldn’t have a way to download a book anyway without a credit card. I don’t have a bank account. I sort of live off the grid.
Do you read outside of the crime genre?
Absolutely. I read fiction when I want to be entertained and I read non-fiction when I want to learn something. I just finished a book called WITSEC about Gerald Shur, the man credited for creating the Federal Witness Protection Program. It’s compelling because these are true stories about mobsters who broke the code of omerta.
The first paragraph of the prologue describes an informant they find that’s been gutted by members of an organized crime family because she was working with the FBI. It’s a very fascinating book.
What was your favourite book as a child?
Anything by that crazy bastard Dr. Seuss. His rhymes were strong and the raw images he created were like scenes from a powerful mescaline trip. But the good Dr. was a genius. His books were visual poetry that stretched the boundaries of my imagination to maximum capacity—while at the same time holding a mirror toward society.
Take The Sneetches, for example: a classic tale about attitudes and social norms. It’s a story about class, segregation, and the greedy snake oil salesman who rolls into town and exploits all of that for a couple of bucks.