Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Lexi Revellian interview: Replica

Replica by Lexi Revellian
£0.99/$0.99

Lexi Revellian is a self-employed jeweller/silversmith living and working in London, writing when she can. She has one daughter, who is her most ruthless and helpful critic.

Remix was an enormous success. Sales of over 21,000 copies. A staggering 93 5-star Amazon customer reviews. That's an outstanding debut. Second novels are notoriously difficult. Were you ever concerned you might have set the bar too high?

I did worry that readers might not like Replica as much, as it’s a bit darker and edgier. Remix is crime for softies – the only murder happens three years before the novel opens, and the main interest is the characters and the twists in the plot. It’s a feel-good read, which is, I think, why people feel warm towards it.

Luckily readers seem to like the new book; some even prefer it.

Have you followed a similar marketing plan this time? Any tips?

My tip is to push as many buttons as you can bear, hoping that a few will make something happen. I have a website and blog, I tweet and am Facebook’s most clueless and reluctant member, I go on forums and apply to book review blogs. I don’t know which of these work, and I don’t let them consume too much of my time. You can get a bit carried away with promotion, I think.

Amazon is all about achieving visibility: if you get to the top ten (Remix’s highest was number twelve) it’s relatively easy to stay there. Amazon rewards success.

I keep a list of the nice people who email me to say they’ve enjoyed Remix. I always answer those emails, because it’s so very kind of them to bother. When Replica was out I let them know.

What are your ambitions as a writer and do you think a traditional publisher would help you achieve those?

I’d like to go on writing good books that large numbers of people enjoy. Lots of money wouldn’t hurt, either. I’m open-minded about mainstream publishing; if I got an offer, I’d consider it carefully. I’d like my books to be on show in bookshops in the high street, and only a traditional publisher could achieve that. But the industry doesn’t seem to have adjusted to huge recent changes. I wouldn’t want my books to be unavailable while a publisher took eighteen months to publish them, and then overcharged for the ebooks.

Who designed your cover?

I did. I’ve made three for Remix, and am not entirely satisfied with any of them. It’s cross-genre, which makes it hard to represent. Replica’s was much easier.

How important is a good title?

Very. With both books, I dithered, brainstormed and changed the title right at the last moment. Remix was Catch a Falling Star until Jade Goody used it, then Double-Take Gorgeous, then Heart of Rock. I was SO relieved when I thought of Remix, and astonished no one else had nabbed it.

What's the best piece of craft advice you've been given?

Alan Hutcheson told me: Readers are smart – trust the reader. You don’t need to spell everything out; let the reader join the dots, it’s more rewarding for him or her.

What's your favourite part of the writing process?

I love it when I’ve written a scene that really rocks. I’m the most difficult person to please – if I like it, I’m pretty sure others will too. Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this, but I enjoy rereading my novels when editing or formatting. They’re actually rather good…

What are your views on eBook pricing?

I’m with the majority of book buyers who believe ebooks should cost less than paperbacks, as once they are formatted they are cost-free to the producer. It’s entirely futile for publishers to attempt to maintain high prices, as this will simply encourage the growth of piracy. As a new, unknown writer, I price my books low to encourage people to take a chance on me. I want to establish a readership, and what matters is overall profit rather than profit per unit.


Replica by Lexi Revellian
£0.99/$0.99

Monday, 30 May 2011

Dave Zeltserman interview: Julius Katz And Archie

Julius Katz And Archie by Dave Zeltserman
£2.10/$2.99

Dave Zeltserman won the 2010 Shamus Award for 'Julius Katz' and is the acclaimed author of the ‘man out of prison’ crime trilogy: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, where Small Crimes (2008) and Pariah (2009) were both picked by the Washington Post as best books of the year. His recent The Caretaker of Lorne Field received a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, calling it a 'superb mix of humor and horror', and was short listed by ALA for best horror novel of 2010. His upcoming book Outsourced (2011) has already been called 'a small gem of crime fiction' by Booklist and has been optioned by Impact Pictures and Constantin Film.

It seems you've been incredibly prolific of late. Can you give us a list of your published books to date?

Al, here’s a list in order, and the publishing date.

Fast Lane (2004)
Bad Thoughts (2007)
Small Crimes (2008)
Bad Karma (2009)
Pariah (2009)
Killer (2010)
Caretaker of Lorne Field (2010)
Blood Crimes (2011)
Outsourced (2011)
Dying Memories (2011)
Julius Katz and Archie (2011)
A Killer’s Essence (Fall, 2011)
Monster (2012)

You have books available at different lengths and in different genres. What length and genre has been selling best?

With my print books, I’m finding length and genre hasn’t mattered as much as external events. Small Crimes, a crime noir thriller, gets picked by NPR as one of the best crime & mystery novels of 2008, so it sells well. The Caretaker of Lorne Field gets great reviews, so it sells well. I’m finding the same thing true with e-book. B&N recommends Bad Thoughts, so it quickly sells 3000 copies. Same thing with Blood Crimes.

And what's most fun to write?


The Julius Katz and Archie short stories and novels are a lot of fun, mostly because they’re a nice break from the dark depths I find myself in when I’m writing noir. That said, I probably had the most fun writing Pariah—partly because Kyle Nevin is such a beast of a character, and partly because the book is such a fuck you to the NY publishing industry.

How have the ebooks performed in relation to the print books?

My print books are selling far  better than my ebooks, although thanks to a B&N recommendation, my e-book version of Bad Thoughts sold much better than when it came out as a hardcover from Five Star.

Which of your books has sold best?

Small Crimes has sold very well in trade paperback—again thanks to NPR and the Washington Post. The Caretaker of Lorne Field sold well in  hardcover thanks to a barrage of great reviews, and I’m interested to see how it sells as a trade paperback when its out in the Fall.

Which one of your books would you like to see sell better?

In print, Killer, and in e-book, Blood Crimes. I’ve just put Julius Katz and Archie out as an e-book, and I’m hoping that sells well.

Why do you think Killer and Blood Crimes haven't sold so well?

Killer sold about 3000 copies, which while decent for an independent publisher, was far less than Pariah or Small Crimes, and this was disappointing since it’s the best of my ‘man out of prison’ trilogy, best reviewed of the 3, and most enthusiastically received by readers. But it wasn’t reviewed by The Washington Post, and didn’t make their best of the year list like Small Crimes & Pariah, and hence the lower sales.  But I’d love to see this book catch on.

Blood Crimes has sold well as a Nook book thanks to B&N recommending it, but it hasn’t sold much on Amazon. It’s gotten great reviews and a very enthusiastic reader response, but that doesn’t seem to matter with Kindle sales. From what I can tell, it’s a whole different ballgame where reviews and reader responses don’t matter as much as getting on arbitrary “cheap book” lists and getting enough initial sales so that Amazon starts pushing your book and generating an endless loop of sales. Amazon has proven itself very powerful at direct marketing.

What's the most effective way to find new readers?

With print books, it’s developing relationships with bookstores who will then hand sell your books. With e-books, it seems as if reviews and word of mouth doesn’t matter as much as heavy social networking, paid advertising (such as Kindle Nation) and getting enough initial sales so that Amazon flogs your book to death.

Can you sum up Julius Katz And Archie in no more than 25 words?

Julius Katz is a brilliant, eccentric and very lazy detective, and Archie is probably the most unusual sidekick in the history of mystery fiction.

What was your motivation for writing it?

The Julius Katz short stories that Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine have been publishing have been very well received, not only garnering a lot of fans, but winning a Shamus, Derringer and Ellery Queen’s Readers Choice Award, so it made sense to start a Julius Katz novel series. Archie’s also a lot of fun to write, and these stories/novels are a good break from writing my more bleak crime fiction.

How long did it take you to write?

About three months.

How much difference does an editor make?

All my books have been very lightly edited—if at all. I’ve never had any significant changes made to any of my books—at most, only a few sentences changed. So editors have never made much of a difference, at least with me. I do benefit from copyediting.

Who designed your cover?

A friend of mine, Laurie Pzena.

How much difference does a good cover make?

Well, in print books covers are critically important at all levels—covers influence how many copies bookstores are going to order, for example. And a great cover will help attract new readers browsing a bookstore. I’m not convinced covers are as important for e-books, though.

How important is a good title?

I don’t know if a title has ever influenced me in buying a book. So as much as I’d like to think a great title matters, I’m not sure they matter much at all.

How important is a book's central character?

Well, the story is what’s important, right? So the central character is as important as he needs to be in driving the story.

What's the best piece of craft advice you've been given?

I don’t think I was ever given any advice on the craft-side of things. I’m basically self-taught by reading and studying the books I love, so I guess the advice I pulled out from reading Jim Thompson’s is break every rule you want as long as you make it work.

What's the best piece of business advice you've been given?

Enjoy the ride. Too often in this business we get hung up on what we haven’t achieved yet instead of appreciating what we have.

What's your favourite part of the writing process?

The actual writing! At some point when I’m working on a story or novel, the work becomes something organic, and at that point I find myself deeply absorbed in the world I’ve created, and that’s when I enjoy this the most.

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

Stengths: plotting, characters, writing spare, lean prose. Evaluating my own work honestly and knowing whether or not what I’ve written works.

My biggest weakness is I couldn’t write flowery descriptive prose to save my life.

What aspects of marketing your book do you enjoy?

I don’t enjoy a single bit of it. Except doing interviews with you, Al!

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

Books with strong, absorbing stories, and written in lean prose.

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

Readers who want formulaic, cookie cutter books are going to be disappointed me, but readers looking for something different and willing to go places they haven’t gone before in crime fiction tend to become fans of mine.

What was the last good eBook you read?

Every Shallow Cut by Tom Piccirilli. Terrific book.

What crime book are you most looking forward to reading?

I have a stack of Richard Stark Parker books that I’m really looking forward to have time to read.

What are you reading now?

A soon-to-be-published crime thriller from Roger Smith titled, Capture. Roger is one of my favourite crimes writers, and like his other books this is terrific.

If you had to re-read a crime novel right now, what would you choose?

The Maltese Falcon. It’s been too long.

Who's your favourite living writer?

Ray Bradbury.

What makes you keep reading a book?

The book has to absorb me into its fictional world. The writing also has to be top-notch.  If either of those are absent, I quit pretty quickly.

Where do you find out about new books?

Trusted booksellers, friends.

What's the best collection of short stories you've read?

Far from the City of Class by Bruce Jay Friedman

Ever tried your hand at screenwriting?

I’m working right now on a screenplay for The Caretaker of Lorne Field, and I expect to finalize a film deal soon for my upcoming A Killer’s Essence where I’ll be writing the screenplay.

Ever tried your hand at poetry?

Fuck no.

Which author should be much better known?

I’ll give you two newer writers: Roger Smith and Paul Tremblay

Do you read outside of the crime genre?

I used to read a lot of differeny genres, as well as literary, but not as much any more.  I have too many crime novels piled up to read.

What was your favourite book as a child?

10 and under: Freddy the Pig books.  11+: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury.

Do you enjoy writing?

Hell yes!

What are your views on eBook pricing?

I know some writers are having success with a $0.99 price, but I think that’s short term and will ultimately be destructive to writers, and will help make sure none of us can make a living at this.  I’m guilty of this right now but will soon be pricing my ebooks back to $2.99 and then ultimately to $3.99 and keep them there. As writers we have to value our work more, and also think more long term about what the result will be if $0.99 ebooks become the expected price.

What are the biggest problems facing writers these days?

Publishing right now is in upheaval due to the dramatic rise of ebooks and other factors, and publishers are retrenching and only buying the safest and most formulaic books they can. For the most part, print opportunities are disappearing quickly for those that aren’t already bestsellers, and ebooks is going to be the only opportunity a lot of writers are going to have, and it’s tough—a lot tougher than a lot of people make it sound, with a lot of randomness involved.

Do you have any other projects on the go?

I just sold a Frankenstein retelling to Overlook Press, and I’m very excited about this book. Right now I’m working on a screenplay for The Caretaker of Lorne Field, as well as writing a noirish YA horror novel, and I’m in the process of finalizing a film deal for my upcoming A Killer’s Essence, which will also have me writing the screenplay, so I’m keeping myself busy.


Julius Katz And Archie by Dave Zeltserman
£2.10/$2.99

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Nathan Larson interview: The Dewey Decimal System

The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larson
£6.64/$10.78

Nathan Larson is best known as an award-winning film composer, having done the music for over 30 films including BOYS DON'T CRY, DIRTY PRETTY THINGS, and THE MESSENGER among many others. He cut his teeth in the hardcore punk scene in Washington D.C., was the lead guitarist in the influential prog-punk outfit SHUDDER TO THINK, and currently lives in Harlem, NYC with his wife and son. THE DEWEY DECIMAL SYSTEM is his first novel.
Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words?
A haunted, deeply damaged book-loving veteran returns to his profoundly damaged hometown, where he half-heartedly tries and fails to stay out of trouble.
What was your motivation for writing it?
A personal challenge and an intellectual exercise from the outset, but as I filled the thing with more and more of my own private concerns it became (and continues to be) my own grappling with larger emotional and political issues.
How long did it take you to write?
The first draft took 2 months. Rewrites took another 2 months. Happened quite quickly (or so I’m told!) .
How much difference does an editor make?
HUGE! Johnny Temple is an old friend and a brilliant editor…I have a tendency to go off on tangents and digressions and Johnny kept me focused. It would be a far more scattered book (much more of a rant) had Johnny not forced me to stay the course and actually write a story with a beginning and an ending.
How much difference does a good cover make?
I think a massive difference. I wouldn’t have settled for something I wasn’t totally happy with. I just saw an edition of a friends book from the UK ((with all due respect, I love it and have lived over there, will be there this June), it is a crap cover with that crappy font most of your trade paperback thrillers have, and she was very bummed…changes the way I view her book, I can’t help it.
How important is a good title?
Well in my case I don’t recommend naming your book after a “thing” because you will never be able to Google it. You’ll get (in my case) a lot of outdated Library shit. Actually this is probably a positive side-effect cos one should NEVER Google oneself or one’s work unless you're prepared for the worst…another plus is librarians dig my title and they are a good group of folks to have on your side!
How important is a book's central character?
He’s the whole ballgame. He’s it. His issues and his problems and his handicaps make the story what it is.
What's the best piece of craft advice you've been given?
Never use anything besides “said” or “says” unless absolutely necessary (i.e. “shouts”, “yells”) and secondly look HARD at ALL your adverbs. Do you really need them?
Also the best plotting advice ever comes from Raymond Chandler: “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.”
What's the best piece of business advice you've been given?
I learned it early on, in my punk days. Be fair. Split things evenly. Set up a situation where if one party does well, the other party does equally well. This is the way my publishing house is set up: 50/50 deal, tiny advances…if one can deal with that it works out great in the end I think, and there can be no hard feelings.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?
That I have no idea what I’m doing and write with my gut as fast as possible, this is both my greatest weakness and my greatest strength.
What aspects of marketing your book do you enjoy?
Compared to marketing a record or a film, it’s a dream!! Wonderful people who actually give a shit. Little money involved which keeps out the scumbags.
As a reader, how would you describe your taste in crime fiction?
 I like it hard boiled and straight up, but with a serious twist and the occasionally flash of poetry/ genre transcendence. 
As a writer, how would you describe your ideal reader's taste in crime fiction?
I would like everyone to process things exactly like me.
What was the last good eBook you read?
Never read one. Are they different than the regular format book?
What crime book are you most looking forward to reading?
Megan Abbott’s new one THE END OF EVERYTHING
If you had to re-read a crime novel right now, what would you choose?
Any Jim Thompson, you can read and re-read his stuff end on end. He is the master from which all things flow. Just re-read THE CRIMINAL, what an ending.
Who's your favourite living writer?
I was going to say J.G. Ballard but he died in 2009! Man I don't know. 
What makes you keep reading a book?
I must be compelled to keep reading it, I must have no choice.
What's the best collection of short stories you've read?
Daphne Du Maurier’s DON’T LOOK NOW
What are the biggest problems facing writers these days?
A deluge of bad stuff to compete with and very little money. Same old thang really.
Ever tried your hand at screenwriting?
Yes, it’s good fun but I know plenty of miserable screenwriters. 
Ever tried your hand at poetry?
Well I (used to) write lyrics for bands, but that hardly counts. Not really.
How do you feel about the ease with which anyone can publish?
What could be wrong with that? Wait I can think of a lot of things wrong with that...look anybody can make a record too, it’s just more bullshit to sift through, but that which rises up is frequently worthy.
Which author should be much better known?
Do you read outside of the crime genre?
Oh yes!!
Do you enjoy writing?
Absolutely. I can’t think of much I’d rather be doing.
How do you feel about reviews?
I try very hard not to read them. I fail at this. For every 10 good reviews I will remember only the one bad one, that’s the cruelty of the brain and is an issue whenever you produce a product, whatever that may be.
How do you feel about awards?
When I get one I will let you know!
Was this your first experience of writing a novel?
Indeed it was. It was like a car accident. I only remember snippets. Very strange and wonderful experience.
Any lessons learnt during the course of writing it?
Write fast, before the little bastard in your brain who says “you suck” and “you can’t” gets the better of you. Write fast, write ecstatically.
How did you go about finding a publisher?
It was kind of a insider situation…I’ve know the publisher since we were about 16, we were in punk rock bands together. So I got to skip the whole step that involves shopping the book etc. I don’t have an agent…I realize now how lucky I am and am very thankful.
Megan Abbott's blurb invites comparisons with Jonathem Lethem, Charlie Huston, Philip K Dick and Chester Himes. Which writers would you say have been most influential?
Philip Dick is one writer I return to time and again for different reasons…I really feel emotionally attached to him, both strictly as a writer and with respect to his tragic amazing life. I can relate to the impression that you are somehow possessed, or being visited by an alien intelligence, his famous “pink laser” or what have you. I am probably 5 degrees more functional and luckily I am able to push through these feelings when they come, but I have experienced such things and known that kind of existential fear, not nearly thank God to the degree Philip and countless others have. I love all the writers mentioned above, but Philip Dick has been with me for longest and has a big place in my heart.
Do you have any other projects on the go?
I compose film music still as my primary job, and am working on 3 films, this is the nature of that work, you double and triple up. Truth be told I would rather be writing, and am indeed about a third of the way into the second book in this series (it is a series), the first draft of which I plan on having completed by July.

The Dewey Decimal System by Nathan Larson
£6.64/$10.78

Friday, 27 May 2011

Harry Shannon interview: Running Cold

Running Cold by Harry Shannon
£2.10/$2.99
Amazon UK, Amazon US


Stoker-nominated author Harry Shannon has written four Mick Callahan mysteries, a number of horror novels, a thriller called The Pressure of Darkness and the motion picture and novel Dead and Gone.


Can you sum up your newest book in no more than 25 words?

Running Cold (A Mick Callahan Novel)
The alcoholic television psychologist is depressed and angry. Mick is also on a collision course with another violent man, the son of a murdered client.

What was your motivation for writing it?

"Running Cold" is a gambling term for bad luck. A lot of people have asked me to return to Mick Callahan a fourth time, but it took me a while to find another story that seemed appropriate. He's grown a lot since "Memorial Day" was released back in 2004. I like Mick best when he's troubled and really struggling to be decent. I felt I needed to find the right plot. Once I realized that he needed to fall almost all the way down and have to fight his way back up again, the story took off.

How long did it take you to write?

This novel was a tough one. I tried first person, since Mick has always been that way, but it didn't feel right this time out. Threw all of that out. The structure wouldn't settle down, either. When I landed on the second male lead, it came together. And eventually it became almost two story lines, both men in third person. The entire book took almost a year and a half to come together.

How much difference does an editor make?

If it is the right editor, all the difference in the world. It's difficult to edit myself at novel length, I cherish sharp, focused and impartial input. Unfortunately, that's not easy to come by these days, with or without a formal publisher.

Who designed your cover?

It's not finished at the time of this writing, but the photography will be by Yossi Sasson who directed my horror film "Dead and Gone." Yossi also did the cover art for "Daemon" and "A Host of Shadows." The cover design itself will be by graphic artist Lon Shapiro.

How much difference does a good cover make?

In the age of Kindle and Nook, the cover design is a lot more important than I'd realized until recently. The art has to pop and do so at a very, very small size. Making good book covers in the age of Amazon is fast becoming a new art form. Indie covers are often created by the author, and unfortunately that really shows--so great cover art is another way of trying to emerge from a crowded field.

How important is a good title?

Well, it's really about marketing, isn't it? The title and cover will not sell me a book, but can convince me to read the product description. If the story sounds intriguing, I'll download a sample. If the sample grabs me and the price isn't outrageous, I'm a goner. I love collecting books. My TBR stack, both electronic and paper, always runs to well over 100.

How important is a book's central character?

That depends upon the story, at least for me. I like a protagonist who is tormented in some way, someone like Mick Callahan. He always struggles to be good. Poor Mick is someone whose integrity causes him real suffering. I grew up on John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee, James Lee Burke is another idol of mine. That probably shows in my stuff.

What's the best piece of craft advice you've been given?

Mystery novelist Jan Burke told me, "Keep your head down." By that she meant ignore praise, criticism, failure, success, other people's failures and successes, just keep your head down and try to become a better writer. Stay with the craft, keep trying to improve. The rest will come if it's meant to happen. Don't be in a hurry but don't give up, just keep your head down at the keyboard and type.

What's the best piece of business advice you've been given?

I had a boss in the music industry Sam Trust of ATV Music. He told me, "Just do your homework and don't back down." Good advice.

What's your favourite part of the writing process?

That first moment of inspiration, when you know a problem is solved, an idea is bearing fruit, something magic is happening. A close second is opening a box of my own books for the very first time. That never gets old. Somehow I doubt downloading an ebook will every feel quite the same, you know?

What are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

Very good questions. I think my strengths may be character and dialogue. I struggle a lot with plotting. My weakness may be a wandering attention span. After rewriting a couple of times, I tend to lose interest and want to move onto something else. With lyrics decades ago, I'd rewrite a page for months. I cannot seem to do that with prose. Perhaps I'd be a better author if I did, but then it would take me five years to complete a book!

What aspects of marketing your book do you enjoy?

Meeting and communicating with new people. Readers, other writers. I love books and I am a fan of good writing. I can get completely lost in a conversation about the existentialist philosophy in Cormac McCarthy's "No Country for Old Men" and "The Road." The way a sentence that seems perfectly crafted can stick in your skull forever. One example that comes to mind is from Michael Scharra's Pulitzer Prize winning Civil War novel "The Killer Angels." He starts a chapter after the battle of Gettysburgh with the sentence "Black smoke rising.") So the part of marketing I enjoy most is just communicating with other authors and fans who adore the written word. In person, on Facebook, Twitter, wherever. We share a passion.

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

I'm not at all "cozy," let's put it that way. I like the dark stuff, so probably noir or hard-boiled suit me best. I write a lot of horror, and it's a natural overlap for a lot of us, as you well know.

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

I suppose the people who like my stuff have similar tastes. A lot of us can instantly connect over the writing of John D. MacDonald, James Lee Burke, John Connelly, Joe R. Lansdale, Michael Connolly, Robert Crais, Mo Hayder, folks like that. I'm not sure I'm good enough to be considered in their league, but that's my bag, as it were.

What was the last good eBook you read?

The last one to really grab me? Probably "Collusion" by Irishman Stuart Neville. I loved "The Ghosts of Belfast," too. Another great Kindle read was "The Terror" by Dan Simmons. I haven't read a lot of books original to the Kindle that blew me away, but that's bound to happen soon.

What crime book are you most looking forward to reading?

Right now? Michael Connelly's "The Fifth Witness." I just finished Joe R. Lansdale's "Devil Red." I'm also dying for a new Charlie Parker from John Connelly.

What are you reading now?

"Dead Zero" by Stephen Hunter, a Bob Lee Swagger novel. I'm also reading "Swamplandia" on my Kindle, but struggling with it for some reason. Seems slow to me.

If you had to re-read a crime novel right now, what would you choose?

I'd go back to a James Lee Burke like "Rain Gods." Loved that novel, and it's amazing that it's one of his more recent efforts.

Who's your favourite living writer?

If I must pick one, which is difficult, I'd say Burke. But Cormac McCarthy rocks. And so does John Connelly....Crap. Okay, Burke.

From an artistic rather than financial perspective, what book do you wish you had written?

"No Country for Old Men" by Cormac McCarthy

What makes you keep reading a book?

A mix of a confident style, courage and a talent for placing interesting people in serious trouble.

What do you look for in a good book?

Effort. Style. Skill. Lazy writing turns me off instantly.

Where do you find out about new books?

Anywhere and everywhere, word of mouth and Amazon and friends.

What's the best collection of short stories you've read?

Wow. Not sure about that one. Guess I would probably pick one of Ray Bradbury's or perhaps Richard Matheson. Hell, even Stephen King's if I gave it enough thought, they are all amazing.

What are your views on eBook pricing?

.99 for short fiction and special bargains, $1.99 for novellas, $.4.99 down to $2.99 for novels. Think it will end up there within a year or two.

What are the biggest problems facing writers these days?

We live in interesting times. The landscape is shifting in new and terrifying ways. I just hope deflation, our biggest threat, doesn't wreck our potential to make a living. Don't give your work away for less than minimum wage, people. We work hard at what we do. The downward pricing spiral could prove fatal if we don't suck it up.

What are the greatest opportunities facing writers these days?

I love what the technology has done. It's possible to do your work, upload it yourself, publicize it via social media and actually succeed--witness Amanda Hocking. But as she herself has pointed out, she worked long and hard to become a good writer. She did NOT just scribble some vampire, upload a mess of typos and make a fortune. She had already been working at her craft for some time, and two or three novels, before becoming such a winner. So keep your head down. Be patient.

Ever tried your hand at screenwriting?

Yes. Wrote "Dead and Gone," of course, as an homage to all those lovely, funny 1980's horror comedies. I've had a couple of scripts optioned. One zombie fest called "PAIN," another action/horror/thriller hybrid based on my novel "Daemon." I think "Night of the Werewolf" (aka CLAN) was optioned once by Relativity Media years ago, but nothing much happened after that.

Ever tried your hand at poetry?

I made my living writing song lyrics back in the 1970's, but haven't been motivated to write much poetry. The haiku aspect, the limitation in the form, just doesn't appeal to me as much as it once did. I'm always searching for new challenges, so who knows. Perhaps I'll at least give that a shot at some point. For now, it's novels and short fiction and a movie if anyone wants that.
How do you feel about anyone being able to publish?

As I said, love the fact that the cost of publishing or making movies has dropped to such an affordable level. Competition is a good thing, and keeps everyone on their toes. On the other hand, too many people think that this is an excuse to pump out unpolished material, and avoid constructive criticism much less good copy editing. It's amazingly difficult to get something together that is virtually error free. I can't proof myself for beans. So the down side may be a lot of junk to wade through in order to find the real gems created by indies.  My colleagues and I, authors such as Dave Zeltserman, Lee Goldberg, Ed Gorman, Libby Fisher Hellman, Max Alan Collins and several others formed Top Suspense Group to try to create a brand of sorts, a one-stop site where people could come and be certain to find quality ebooks. We just released our eponymous anthology TOP SUSPENSE on Kindle and Nook and in paperback.

Which author should be much better known?

Hate to say the obvious, but there are a ton of gifted people who should be better known. Off the top of my head, Stephen Gallagher. I'm always stunned that anyone has missed John Connolly. I know he's successful, but his name should be up there with the best of the best. Stuart Neville. Dave Zeltserman, and of course the other members of Top Suspense.

Do you read outside of the crime genre?

I read almost anything and everything. Biographies, historical fiction, military fiction, a few classics. My steady diet tends to be crime fiction, but I read an awful lot, and some fresh spices are absolutely necessary to keep me going.

What was your favourite book as a child?

A few that come to mind immediately are The Martian Chronicles, I Am Legend and Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Do you enjoy writing?

Usually. When it is flowing. As we all know, it can also be hellish when forced.

Do you enjoy the editorial process?

I love good input from others, but the older I get the less I enjoy anything past perhaps the second rewrite of a novel. My attention span just doesn't hold up as well as it used to, or perhaps I'm less obsessive? The honest answer is no, I hate proofing and only get enjoyment from editing when it is a spark of real inspiration that vastly improves the story. As for editing other people, I'm absolutely awful. The best I can do is give general feedback on the plot or style. I greatly admire people who have the focus and discipline to conceive of and properly edit thrilling anthologies, or help save the author's bacon with a novel. They are few and far between and vastly underpaid.

What's the oddest question you've been asked in an interview?

One lady wanted me to go on and on about my cats. Since I currently have four, and adore them--especially my bromance Samson--it wasn't difficult to derail me into cooing about the wee beasties. Unfortunately, most of our limited time was spent on felines, not crime fiction.

How do you feel about reviews?

The only ones that sting--honestly--are those nasty troll reviews, a very 21st century phenomenon. You know, where someone makes up an Amazon name just to post something horrid and quite generalized out of spite (some standard phrases are "I love the authors other works but this one stinks..." and "I never post negative reviews but..." and "Cardboard characters, plot goes nowhere, gave up reading"). Okay, if you click on their names, you find (a) they have never posted another review and likely never will again, or (b) they post only negative reviews of other writers. You have to assume those come from frustrated competitors, or stoned teens taking revenge for their bad acne. The critical reviews that make sense, and sound like the person actually purchased and tried to read your story, not only don't bother me but often contain a lot of valuable advice. Writing is an impossible craft, all we can do is struggle to get better. Keep your head down.

How do you feel about awards?

I've won a couple of small press awards, and been nominated twice for the Stoker. Learned a long, long time ago in 1982, when nominated for an Emmy for original lyrics, that the process is always skewed. Awards are far more exciting from a distance, because they appear to offer some kind of genuine validation. Up close, where one can study the warts, they are far less attractive. The popular misconception is that they can launch a career, when the opposite is more likely. Have a great career, and you're likely to eventually win some writing awards. In other words...just keep your head down. My two cents, anyway.

Do you have any other projects on the go?

I'm doing a short story for an anthology, a novella for the Lee Goldberg-William Rabkin Kindle pulp series "The Dead Man" (mine will be called  The Dead Man: Lust for Blood), and have outlined a sequel to my horror novel/movie  "Dead and Gone," tentatively entitled "Dead and Gone 2--Deader and Goner." As you can tell, that one should be both scary and humorous, loads of gory fun.

 
Running Cold by Harry Shannon
£2.10/$2.99
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