Friday 29 April 2011

O'Neil De Neux interview: New Orleans Confidential

New Orleans Confidential by O'Neil De Noux

Best known for his character-drive crime fiction, O’Neil De Noux writes in many disciplines – suspense, fantasy, horror, western, literary, children’s fiction, mainstream fiction, science-fiction, religious, romance, humor and erotica. He has had eight novels published, six short story collections and over three hundred short story sales in thirteen countries.

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

NEW ORLEANS CONFIDENTIAL is a collection of eleven short stories set in the 1940s featuring a lone-wolf private eye named Lucien Caye.

How important is a good title?

Fellow New Orleans writer Walker Percy once said, “A good title should intrigue, without being too baffling or too obvious.” I think titles are critically important. How many times have you thought back to a book and couldn’t remember the title? I work hard at my titles. As a former private eye, I realize how much of the work is confidential, so coming up with NEW ORLEANS CONFIDENTIAL wasn’t that hard. Putting New Orleans in the title has helped draw readers to some of my other books and I continued with the theme in NEW ORLEANS NOCTURNAL (a collection of NOPD police homicide stories) and NEW ORLEANS IRRESISTIBLE (a collection of erotic mystery stories). My eBook collection that is selling the best is NEW ORLEANS MYSTERIES (stories set from the 1890s to the 21st Century). I truly believe people search the eBook database and come across NEW ORLEANS MYSTERIES and try it.

I have other recent titles that I worked hard at, including SLICK TIME (a sexy caper novel), MAFIA APHRODITE (an erotic suspense novel).

Do you have any other projects on the go?

After recovering from Hurricane Katrina and some health issues, I reached a plateau a few years back and have been writing non-stop. As soon as I finish one book, I immediately start another and write short stories as I write novels.

During the last two years, I wrote an epic historical novel that will be released in 2012. At 320,000 words, it is the biggest and by far the best thing I’ve ever written. It was a titanic endeavour, beginning with six months intensive research, resulting in 70,000 words of historical notes. The book should be of interest in Britain as well as the US since it involves the last time the American and British armies met as enemies on a battlefield – The Battle of New Orleans, January 8, 1815. It is the book I was meant to write.

As soon as I finished that book, as I was editing it, I began another and just finished a Lucien Caye private eye novel set in 1950 New Orleans. I am about to start another novel.

How important is a book's central character?

Pretty damn important, especially in our genre. My latest novel, JOHN RAVEN BEAU (a novel about an NOPD detective), is the first book I named for the main character. I write character-driven crime fiction. I try not to burden the reader with all the police procedures (I know them by heart) or weigh the story down with too many plot twists. What the main character does, thinks, feels and his/her reactions to conflict is more important. It is all very personal.

What's your favourite part of the writing process?

My friend and short-story mentor George Alec Effinger once claimed he didn’t like writing. He liked to ‘have written’.

I like writing - the entire creative process from the initial inspiration to selecting which characters will inhabit the story, what will happen, to plotting out the storyline, researching, then outlining the story. Most of all I enjoy the actual composition. Writing. I even enjoy the re-writes, chiselling away at the book until it is perfect, shining it up and then moving on to something new.

What was the last good eBook you read?

BARONNE STREET by another fellow New Orleans writer Kent Westmoreland. He has created a very cool lead character, Burleigh Drummond, who isn’t actually a private eye but a ‘fixer’, a man who drives expensive cars, wears expensive suits and does things for the rich they don’t want to dirty their hands with. In this debut novel, Burleigh learns, “love sometimes means having to solve your ex-girlfriend’s murder.”

Ever tried your hand at screenwriting?

In 2001, I adapted my short story “Waiting for Alaina” into a screenplay, submitted it to a local production company which filmed it for local access TV and it aired throughout south Louisiana for several months. It was a nice, small production.

Encouraged, I adapted my police novel THE BIG KISS into a screenplay and wrote an original screenplay THE LONG COLD (about a private eye). Both were shopped around by my agent with no takers.

I enjoy writing scripts and if I could draw any interest, I would write more, but I admit I prefer writing novels and short stories.

Do you read outside of the crime genre?

Yes. Besides mysteries, I read a lot of historical novels (Bernard Cornwell, Alexander Kent, Ken Follett, Jeff Shaara), speculative fiction (Harlan Ellison, Kate Wilhelm, C. L. Moore, George Alec Effinger), mainstream fiction (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Edith Wharton).

New Orleans Confidential by O'Neil De Noux

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