Wednesday, September 21, 2005
briannthorntonn: Brian Thornton
calgflames: Jan Long
duaneswier: Duane Swierczynski
g_so: Gerald So
macavityabc: Bill Crider
g_so: When did you first think of writing a mystery with Bogart?
macavityabc: Actually, the Bogart book was suggested by the publisher. I've always been a big fan, so I thought the idea was great. I'd read a mystery by Bogart's son a few years ago, and I thought he'd be a natural to write a book about his father. I guess he didn't think so, or maybe he was afraid people would accuse him of cashing in on the name.
g_so: I heard about the son's book. What did you think of it?
macavityabc: I don't remember much about it, if that tells you anything. I think it was a sort of p.i./serial killer novel. I remember thinking as I read it that it was OK but nothing out of the ordinary. I guess I was hoping for more from Bogie's son.
g_so: As I understood it, he was unheralded as a writer.
macavityabc: True. The book was well-written, and I think it got good reviews. I can't even remember the name of it now. But that's no surprise. I can barely remember my own name.
g_so: I believe it was Play It Again.
macavityabc: That sounds right. The editor chose the title for my book, "We'll Always Have Murder." That was fine with me, since I thought it was a good title.
g_so: Hi, Jan.
macavityabc: Hi, Jan.
calgflames: Sorry I'm late - got caught up in the Phillies game.
macavityabc: Hey, I'm an Astros fan, myself. In fact the game is on the radio behind me right now.
g_so: Pettitte is doing well, I'm happy to see. He was always clutch for the Yankees.
macavityabc: Pettitte is having a good year.
g_so: Go ahead, Jan.
calgflames: Bill, the copy of the book I have is from iBooks. I noticed that it was published in 2003, but the copyright date is 2001. Who did the original printing?
macavityabc: Which iBooks edition do you have, the paperback or hardcover?
macavityabc: OK, maybe I wrote the book in 2001 and it was published in 2003. The iBooks edition is the first.
calgflames: Oh, good. Thanks.
briannthorntonn: I am so glad to hear that Bill is ok.
macavityabc: Thanks, Brian. I'm fine so far. The hurricane is supposed to come in to the south of us, and I'm hoping it will.
briannthorntonn: Category five is nothing to take lightly, that's for certain.
g_so: Next question, anyone?
calgflames: I'm not finished yet, so no spoilers! :)
briannthorntonn: Bill: I've wanted to ask you this one for years: is there a real life basis for your Sheriff Dan? Any person in particular? Because he is a great character.
macavityabc: So, Brian, did you think there was a real-life guy? Actually, there's not. He's just someone who came to mind one day. I was "inspired," if that's the right word, by a column a county sheriff did for a small Texas newspaper. In fact, I've lifted a few incidents from his old columns for the books.
briannthorntonn: I did in fact think there was.
g_so: Go ahead, Jan.
calgflames: I was *so* glad to see that Five Star published a Carl Burns - my favorite of your series. Will there be more?
macavityabc: There's a long story about that Carl Burns from Five Star. An editor who'll remain nameless requested the book for Walker. I wrote about 1/3 of it, and he decided he didn't need it after all. Several years later, I decided to finish it and offer it to Five Star. I'm afraid there won't be any more. But I never say never.
g_so: Optimism, Jan.
calgflames: I think my liking a series is the kiss of death.
briannthorntonn: Note to self: make sure that Jan hates your stuff.
calgflames: How about Truman Smith?
macavityabc: Same thing for Truman Smith. Those books would have continued if they'd gotten a paperback sale. I loved that series, myself. PointBlank was supposed to reprint them this year, but I haven't heard anything from the editors lately.
calgflames: I heard that they'd fallen behind on their list.
macavityabc: Yeah, and I hope that's the reason. I'd love to see the books in print again. I might even get inspired to do another one.
g_so: Is the Rob Kantner collection out from PointBlank?
macavityabc: I heard that it was, but I haven't seen it.
g_so: I ordered it a while back, so I was wondering.
calgflames: I noticed that there will be another Terry Scott. When's that one due?
macavityabc: Where did you see that there'd be another Terry Scott? I haven't heard that one.
calgflames: On the dust jacket of the first one.
g_so: I think the wording is "First in a series featuring Humphrey Bogart."
macavityabc: Ha. Since Byron Preiss died, I'm not sure what iBooks will be doing.
calgflames: How about Sally Good?
macavityabc: Another casualty of low sales, I'm sorry to say. St. Martin's isn't interested in any more. I have a contract for two more Sheriff Rhodes books, and that's it.
calgflames: What is wrong with these publishers?
g_so: They want to sell, I suppose.
macavityabc: A good question. Well, we might better ask, "What's wrong with those book buyers?" Gerald is right. The publishers are in business to make money.
g_so: The sales pressure is almost enough to scare me away from writing books. Almost :)
calgflames: My favorite parts of the Sally Good books are the grammar rants. (I can't believe I just admitted that.) Are those the result of your years as an English professor?
macavityabc: The pressure at my level isn't too bad. But if you get a huge advance, you'd better have a bestseller, or you'll have to write under a pen name.
g_so: I see.
macavityabc: The grammar rants are absolutely a result of my teaching. Some, maybe all, of the student examples in the books are straight from papers I've graded.
g_so: Who are some of your favorite authors, Bill?
macavityabc: To get back to Gerald's comment, I've been lucky to have one series that's sold steadily for years. Next year will the the Sheriff's 20th anniversary.
calgflames: That's the only series I haven't tried yet.
briannthorntonn: I hope to achieve such longevity some day.
g_so: I'll have to pick up one of those.
briannthorntonn: It's a good one, Jan.
macavityabc: As for favorite writers, I did my doctoral dissertation on Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Macdonald. I love all those guys. I read every Robert B. Parker book as it comes out. But I have many, many favorites. Of the old paperbackers, I love Harry Whittington, Day Keene, Bill Gault, and on and on. Check out the dedication in "When Old Men Die" for other names. I should have made special mention of Ed McBain/Evan Hunter. I'm really going to miss that guy's books.
calgflames: Now I see you on Rara-Avis and know that you're a fan of the dark stuff, but when I read BLOOD MARKS, knowing you only from your lighter series, I was shocked. What kind of feedback did you get on that one?
briannthorntonn: Bill, what do you think of the work of William R. Cox? And how many PBOs did he do (that you know of) besides "Hell to Pay"?
macavityabc: Blood Marks is another long story. I was writing a series of horror novels for Zebra Books as "Jack MacLane." Blood Marks was supposed to be the second book of a two-book contract. Zebra changed editors, and the new guy said he didn't want any serial killer books. I told my agent to sell it to another pb publisher, but she liked it so much that she sent it to my editor at St. Martin's, who bought it. I told her it had to come out as by "Jack MacLane, but she insisted on using my real name. My mother was shocked.
briannthorntonn: I passed that one on to Al Guthrie once I'd finished and reviewed it, by the way. Thanks again for sending.
macavityabc: I like William R. Cox a lot. He wrote westerns as well as mysteries. He wrote several books in the same series as "Hell to Pay." I'd have to find the books on the shelves to tell you how many. Three or four, and they're all pretty good. Cox's own favorite of his novels was one set in the '20s. I can't remember the name of that one. macavityabc: OK, the '20s novel was "Hot Times." That's a Gold Medal book. Cox did several for them, but they weren't part of a series.
briannthorntonn: I'd like to read more of his work, that's for sure.
macavityabc: It's worth finding. You can probably get the books cheap from abebooks or on eBay.
briannthorntonn: He had a terrific command of the narrative, nicely balancing dialogue and description, keeping the plot moving along.
macavityabc: It's the guys like that I really admire. It looks easy when they do it, but it's not.
briannthorntonn: Oh absolutely.
macavityabc: I think Parker does a fine job of it, by the way.
briannthorntonn: After good plotting, I suspect that proper pacing is the most difficult thing to do. At least it is for me. Parker does a good job of it, yes.
macavityabc: I think you're right. Pacing is something you can't teach. Plotting can be done with outlining and hard work, but pacing is different. Or at least I think so. Parker's early stuff was his best, I think, but that doesn't keep from reading him. Maybe it's his pacing I like, but he also puts some great sentences on the page.
briannthorntonn: And his characters are like old friends.
g_so: Poetry helps with pacing.
macavityabc: I used to write a bit of poetry. A lot of mystery writers did, as we found out on the last chat.
briannthorntonn: So have I. Quite a bit. None of it for serious publication. I just wonder sometimes whether [Parker] has another "Earl Autumn," "Looking For Rachel Wallace," or "A Catskill Eagle" in him.
g_so: That's what kills me about Parker. As repetitive as he's gotten, he still shows flashes of his best stuff. So I keep reading and I'm somewhat let down every time.
macavityabc: I don't really feel let down because I know that the books won't seem as fresh as they once did. His nonseries books are still pretty good, and I like the Jesse Stone books. Heck, let's face it. I like them all.
g_so: Jan does not like Parker because he slacks on research.
calgflames: Well, I've only read one book. Maybe it was a bad choice. I'm not sure why it bothered me so much. I'm pretty good at ignoring reality - I even read some cat detective books - but for some reason the lulus in his book really annoyed me.
macavityabc: I don't even mind that he slacks on the research. Usually I don't catch that sort of thing.
g_so: It's good he's had a long career.
macavityabc: There have been several lulus in Parker's books. I'm not sure anyone edits him these days. One great line is in the new Parker western: "The room was quiet but noisy."
g_so: What was he thinking?
macavityabc: Some Zen thing, maybe.
briannthorntonn: I haven't read any of the Jesse Stone books. I really liked The Godwulf Manuscript, and Early Autumn is my favorite.
macavityabc: They're not bad, and neither was the TV movie they made with Tom Selleck. They're a lot like the Parker books in some ways, though.
g_so: I like most of the Stones. It's a younger, more fallible character. I thought the Selleck movie finally portrayed Parker's work accurately onscreen.
briannthorntonn: Bill, speaking of writers we enjoy, and since you mentioned Ross MacDonald, I've read quite a lot of his canon: The Chill, The Zebra-Striped Hearse, The Wycherly Woman, The Far Side of the Dollar, The Drowning Pool, Black Money, The Goodbye Look, and the Galton Case. They're similar in many ways, and I wonder which you liked best, if you had a particular favorite, and if so, why?
macavityabc: My favorite has for many years been "The Chill." But I like all of them, even if Westlake did say they were all the same book. Or maybe that's why I like all of them.
briannthorntonn: The Chill was the first one of his I read. Black Money REALLY surprised me.
g_so: My first was Black Money.
briannthorntonn: And I liked the Galton Case, too, but yes, there are many similarities.
macavityabc: Those are both good ones. In fact, I don't see a loser on the list you sent. I don't remember what the first one I read was.
calgflames: Bill, what made you decide to set a book in L.A.?
macavityabc: I never planned to write a book set in L.A. That publisher wanted a book with Bogart, so I was forced to use L.A. I loved doing Bogie, and I faked the setting with the help of the 'Net, lots of old movies, and lots of old books. I think it turned out OK.
calgflames: Definitely OK. I thought you'd come out here to research it.
macavityabc: Hey, that make me feel good about it. I really wanted to get things close to right. I've been in L.A. only once, and that was a while ago.
g_so: Hi, Duane.
macavityabc: Hi, Duane.
duaneswier: Hey, Gerald.
duaneswier: Hi, Bill. Glad you didn't flee the area just yet...
macavityabc: We're riding it out. I hope it won't be too bad. The highways are parking lots.
briannthorntonn: Hi Duane, I think we met in Toronto.
duaneswier: Hey, Brian. I think so, too.
calgflames: How far inland are you, Bill?
macavityabc: Not far enough. About 25 miles from Galveston, but close in another direction.
duaneswier: I was just glued to CNN... crazy stuff about Rita. Cat 5 now, and the third most intense hurricane in history.
macavityabc: Right. But it's coming in to the south of us. Keep saying that over and over.
duaneswier: Let's hope so.
calgflames: Are the cats getting skittish?
macavityabc: Cats are fine. They don't know from hurricanes.
g_so: Good vibes, good vibes... Questions for Bill, anyone?
duaneswier: Wasn't Joe Lansdale's THE BIG BLOWDOWN about a hurricane in Galveston? (I think I screwed that title up...)
macavityabc: Joe's book was about the 1900 storm that wiped out the island. It's THE BIG BLOW. Sounds dirty, right?
duaneswier: Right. That's why I blocked it!
duaneswier: My apologies if this has been asked already, but what are you working on now, Bill?
macavityabc: Joe called this afternoon to tell me to leave. Told him it was too late to run. I'm currently working on a short story for some anthology called Damn Near Dead, or something like that. Plus a new Sheriff Rhodes novel.
duaneswier: Hah! :) (For everybody else: that's an anthology I'll be editing.)
macavityabc: It's "geezer noir," and I'm the token geezer.
duaneswier: Nah... we have Reed Coleman, too!
g_so: How does one get in on these anthologies?
duaneswier: Bill, how much cash did you pay upfront? :)
macavityabc: Hey, Reed's a spring chicken compared to me. To get in these anthologies, you have to pay plenty. I can't remember how much I paid upfront.
calgflames: Duane, are you in the path of the hurricane?
duaneswier: No, I'm safe in Philadelphia. How about you?
calgflames: Oooh, you lucky dog! I'm just outside of Los Angeles.
g_so: Jan is a Philly Phanatic.
duaneswier: Of course, safe is a relative term in Philly. Really? A Philly fan?
macavityabc: It's sad.
duaneswier: It's weird.
duaneswier: Did you grow up here?
macavityabc: Weird and sad. Might be a story in that.
g_so: 3 mins official chat time left.
macavityabc: Better ask fast, guys.
duaneswier: I'll bet I missed all of the cool questions.
briannthorntonn: This has been a real treat, thanks for hosting it, Gerald.
g_so: My pleasure, Brian.
calgflames: Is there anything else on the back burner?
g_so: We can hang out as long as Bill is willing.
briannthorntonn: I've always wanted to get a chance to talk mysteries with Bill, and he's always surrounded by people wanting part of his time at the B'cons.;)
macavityabc: Nothing on the back burner. I'm just hoping to keep going for a while.
briannthorntonn: As long as you keep writing it Bill, I'll keep reading.
duaneswier: You did have a crowd around you whenever I saw you, Bill. Kind of like Ken Bruen.
briannthorntonn: Yeah, Duane, but in Ken's case, I'm one of those with the sharp elbows keeping people out of the way as we squire Mr. Bruen off to the bar.;)
macavityabc: Brian and Duane are exaggerating. I'm starting to feel like a dinosaur at Bouchercons. The young guys are taking over.
g_so: I'll be there in 2008.
duaneswier: Is 2008 Baltimore?
macavityabc: Man, 2008's a long way off. Old as I am, I don't make plans that far in advance. But I hope to be there next year.
calgflames: I'll be there next year. I just couldn't bring myself to go this year with that terrible woman in charge.
duaneswier: What's funny is, I heard Laura Lippman and Harlan Coben saying the same thing... they feel like the old guard. Which is just plain wrong.
briannthorntonn: All I can say is if you get a chance to share a booth with Bruen, make sure that you mention that you've heard that Pat Lambe has a little bit of Ken Bruen in him.
macavityabc: Now THAT'S funny. As well as wrong.
macavityabc: Well, not what Brian said but what Duane said.
briannthorntonn: And when Lambe (God love him!) gets published, someone ought to blurb his novel to that effect!
duaneswier: That's a scary blurb. I'm afraid to ask what it literally means...
macavityabc: And I don't even want to know what it means.
briannthorntonn: It's just an inside joke left over from Toronto.
duaneswier: I felt like I missed all of the great action at B'Con. My agent... my own agent! ... sends me a text message at 1:30 a.m.: Crumley is here. Where R U? It's like, thanks, David. Thanks for the heads up. (I read the message the next morning.)
macavityabc: I was surprised enough when Al Guthrie introduced Ray Banks at their panel in Chicago as the guy whose wife said he had balls as big as coconuts. I think you were at that one, Duane.
duaneswier: I was, Bill. That was priceless. That was such a weird panel.
briannthorntonn: Yeah, thanks a LOT Chicago B'con committee for the BRILLIANT idea of having it over freakin' Labor Day weekend. Guaranteeing that I couldn't come.
macavityabc: That was the only weekend they could get a hotel in Chicago, or so I heard.
calgflames: And they got a crummy rate. The other groups that were staying there had better rates.
macavityabc: I hate to break this up, guys, but I have to go watch the Weather Channel and worry about the hurricane. Thanks, Gerald, for hosting, and thanks to you guys for showing up.
calgflames: Good luck, Bill.
duaneswier: Good luck, Bill. You'll be in our thoughts.
g_so: Good luck, Bill. You're welcome.
duaneswier: If you need to flee to higher ground, say in Philly, our home is open to you and the missus.
macavityabc: Thanks. I'll take all the good thoughts I can get. And if I show up in Philly, Duane, I'll warn you first.
calgflames: If you're not knocked offline, please let us know that you're okay.
macavityabc: I'll do that. Bye, all.
duaneswier: See ya, Bill.