Friday 29 July 2011

Bill Cameron interview: Puppy Love Noir

Puppy Love Noir by Bill Cameron

Bill Cameron is the author of dark, gritty mysteries featuring Skin Kadash: County Line, Day One, Chasing Smoke, and Lost Dog. Bill’s short stories have appeared in Spinetingler, Portland Noir, First Thrills, and the forthcoming West Coast Crime Wave and Deadly Treats anthologies. His work been nominated for multiple awards, including the Spotted Owl Award for Best Northwest Mystery, the Left Coast Crime Rocky Award, and the 2011 CWA Short Story Dagger Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon. Bill tweets at Learn more at

Can you sum up Puppy Love Noir in no more than 25 words?

One kid wants to get laid, another wishes he hadn't got laid, and a third wonders if he'll live long enough to get laid.

What was your motivation for writing it?

I have a particular fascination with adolescence, that time in our lives when hormones and our twisted society conspire to totally fuck us over. Some of us are lucky enough to come through it reasonably whole. The rest become C-list celebrities, politicians, or the stuff of Nancy Grace's repressed sexual fantasies.

How long did it take you to write?

The three stories are separated by twenty years. I wrote first version of "On the Road to Find Out" in 1985. "The Thunderhead and the Beast" got its start in the early '90s, and I wrote "Counterflow" in 2008.

How much difference does an editor make?

Editors illuminate our blind spots and force us to think about what we're doing in a way we can't on our own. Even if we choose to disregard an editor's recommendations, I feel our command of our stories improves by listening. But more often than not, editors help us make our stories better.

Who designed your cover?

'Twas me. By day, I'm a mild-mannered graphic designer. I've had the privilege of designing my covers with Bleak House and Tyrus. With Puppy Love Noir, I chose to extend the design metaphor I established with Day One and County Line.

How much difference does a good cover make?

My gut is that a bad cover hurts more than a good cover helps. Of course, as soon as I say I think of covers which are so delicious I'd buy the book for the covers alone. Duane Swierczynski's covers do that for me. Of course, the books inside his magnificent covers are even more delectable.

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

I've heard this attributed to Nora Roberts, Stephen King, and several others, my mantra when the words won't come: "You can't fix a blank page."

What's your favourite part of the writing process?

I think this makes me a bit unusual, but revisions are my fave. Filling blank pages is an often slow, almost tedious process for me. But by the time I have a draft, I've begun to understand what the story is really about. My enthusiasm for explodes in the second and third drafts.

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

Broad. I read everything from gritty and hardboiled to cat mysteries. What can I say? I appreciate a gentle poisoning in a cup of tea as much as a brutal lead pipe bludgeoning.

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

Ideally, readers will have broad tastes as well. Category granularization strikes me as more limiting than helpful. Good stories can be found in every category and genre.

What was the last good eBook you read?

I'm about halfway through Brett Battles' Becoming Quinn and loving it. I've been a fan of Jonathan Quinn since The Cleaner, and really enjoy what Brett's doing with the character in the short stories and novella he's epubbed in the last year or so.

What crime book are you most looking forward to reading?

Fun and Games by Duane Swierczynski is tops on my list, waiting only for me to beat an end-of-the-month deadline so I can give it my full attention. Can't wait.

What are you reading now?

On the Nook, the aforementioned Becoming Quinn by Battles. My back pocket book is The Final Evolution by Jeffrey Somers, rollicking mayhem at the twilight of humanity.

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

I've had a hankering to revisit the Nero Wolfe vs. Arnold Zeck trilogy by Rex Stout. I think they'll be my next re-read.

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

When Lost Dog came out, a radio interviewer asked me if the people of Portland were rising up to run me out of town because of my depiction of the city. My answer: "Oh, shit. Was it really that bad?"

Puppy Love Noir by Bill Cameron


  1. Mr. Cameron, FUN & GAMES is really solid. Otherwise, solid interview and I am looking forward to read your books. COUNTY LINE and PUPPY LOVE NOIR that is. I have to say I'm sharing your fascination for teenagehood.

  2. Just finished COUNTY LINE. Great book.