Sunday 3 April 2011

Joe Florez interview: What Ever Happened to Jerry Picco?

What Ever Happened To Jerry Picco? by Joe Florez

Joe Florez is the crime-writing pseudonym of British writer John Barlow. Check out for more info on Joe, John and Jack Storm.

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

A noir fairytale.

What was your motivation for writing it?

It started out as a short story, one of a set of Grimm’s fairy tales re-written for adults (the collection was going to be called GRIMMER). Based loosely on SNOW WHITE, I did it as a noir detective story, and it involved a midget pornographer who goes missing. Somehow everything just clicked, and the story grew into a novel. What I also found (to my delight) was that despite the slightly unusual plot, a good mystery is simply that: something the reader wants to follow and see resolved. I started off writing a vaguely ‘literary’ story, and it ended up as pure noir.

How important is a good title?

Very important. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO JERRY PICCO? is supposed to evoke the glamour of Hollywood (the book is set on the West coast of America) and also to suggest that its plot, like that of WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?, is about a faded movie star.

How important is a book's central character?

Crucial. My central character is the PI, Jack Storm. The novel is narrated by him, and I grew to enjoy writing in his voice so much that I immediately started thinking of new plots, just so I could stay in character!

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

James Ellroy’s THE LLOYD HOPKINS TRILOGY. I read them about a decade ago in a ridiculously short period of time (they’re all 600 pagers). I’d get in from work and read until bedtime, like a loon.

What makes you keep reading a book?

I dunno. I have failed to finish quite a few very well-considered books, despite repeated attempts; others just fade away. As I get older I think plot has become more important and the lushness of the writing perhaps less so. I’ve also learned not to feel guilty about skimming the boring bits, which is good if you’ve lost faith with a writer’s style but are still hooked by the story.

What are your views on eBook pricing?

Well, my first three books (non-crime) have all come out first in stupidly expensive hardbacks. $25 for a book these days? E-books are going the other way, with a glut of very cheap books on offer. I’ve priced my own first foray into e-books at 99cts, after reading blogs by Joe Konrath and others, and trying to reflect the pricing of books by big e-book writers like Amanda Hocking and John Locke. My feeling is that e-books will eventually fall into several price bands: free-to-cheap for those trying to find an audience (or deliberately using price to grab readers’ attention); $3-5 for most e-books (inc. successful indie publishers and the backlist of mainstream publishers); $5+ for new releases and top of the list stuff. Over all, as a buyer, I’d say $5 is about as high as I’d be happy to go for a digital book.

How do you feel about anyone being able to publish?

It’s great. It’s empowering on many different levels. It’s also fun. With this book, for example, I didn’t have to schlep it around to publishers. With so many things getting e-published there’ll be the need for more filtering of all the stuff out there, more review sites and so forth, more shortcuts so readers can get to their preferred kind of material quickly. I guess that’s exactly the function (or part of the function) of a blog like this one. I don’t think there’s ever been a better time to be a writer. As for publishers, I think they’ll catch up pretty quick. The e-book community loves nothing more than hailing the death of the legacy publishers, but businesses of such complexity and excellence won’t just die. The really interesting question is what will happen to agents...

What Ever Happened To Jerry Picco? by Joe Florez

1 comment:

  1. i just have to buy it. i think it's got something to do with my love for the movie Ball Of Fire. one of the great things about kindle is that, given this book is 71p, it's always worth taking a chance. i also love the cover. follow amazon link. thanks.