Sunday, November 14, 2004
al_guthrie65: Al Guthrie
dpwhite237: Dave White
duaneswier: Duane Swierczynski
g_so: Gerald So
jamesrwinter: Jim Winter
mysdawg2003: Aldo Calcagno
tootsbinswanger: Donna Moore
g_so: If you have a formal question for Duane, type ? and I'll call on you.
g_so: Go ahead, Al.
al_guthrie65: Is it true that Secret Dead Men is based on real life events?
duaneswier: Leave it to you, Al. Actually, the final chapter of SDM is completely real... except for a minor detail, here and there.
tootsbinswanger: Good question Al :-)
jamesrwinter: Is it true Duane once shot a man for snoring?
duaneswier: I did weave in a bunch of real Philly events.
al_guthrie65: Such as?
duaneswier: And you might be surprised how much 1970s research I did, from the pop songs to clothing styles. This is not going to make sense to anyone who hasn't read it, but the Philly Mag party at the Art Museum is real.
g_so: Go ahead, Donna.
duaneswier: Jim: No, but I did snore once after shooting a man.
tootsbinswanger: OK, I have to do this - Houston? Please spill the beans.
duaneswier: I knew someone would mention Houston.
al_guthrie65: Fine place.
duaneswier: But Al Guthrie swore me to secrecy, so I can say no more.
tootsbinswanger: Had to be done.
g_so: Where is the reference from?
duaneswier: This cropped up in a DetecToday message or two a few days ago, Gerald. Frankly, I'm not sure what Al and Donna are smoking.
g_so: Ah, I remember now.
duaneswier: But it's not Marlboro, if you catch my drift.
al_guthrie65: It's not us, it's Ray.
duaneswier: Yeah, where is Raymundo?
al_guthrie65: No computer.
duaneswier: Like that's an excuse. Can't he enter the Internet from his mind?
tootsbinswanger: We're not all like you, Leblanc
g_so: Oh, yes. He did say he'd miss this. Go ahead, Donna.
tootsbinswanger: Was there ever a point during SECRET DEAD MEN when you thought the whole concept just wasn't going to work?
duaneswier: Great question, Kafka. Honestly, I thought the whole thing would fall apart at any given moment. Seriously.
duaneswier: The bare bones plot came from an awful screenplay I wrote when I was 22. To that, I grafted on this absurd idea about a detective who could collect souls.
al_guthrie65: 40 years ago? Good grief.
tootsbinswanger: What i really loved was how whenever I had a question in my mind about how something worked, within a couple of pages you had answered it.
duaneswier: So at the very least, I knew I had a plot that worked somewhat, beneath everything else. Thanks, Donna.
tootsbinswanger: Wow - in the 60s you were really smoking some SERIOUS drugs
duaneswier: Some of those instances, however, might be because my agent said: Uh, Duane, you'd better explain this...I was 22 back in 1910, just before the Great War. It was hard selling a screenplay back then.
g_so: :) ?
jamesrwinter: Wow. You could have dated Edna St. Vincent Millay before you needed an appointment to do that.
duaneswier: Hey, Gerald. Go for it!
jamesrwinter: (Your massively obscure reference for the day.)
duaneswier: Date St. Vincent Millay? Lady still owes me ten bucks.
g_so: Any real-life inspiration for Hilly Palmer?
duaneswier: Yes. He's part my grandfather Lou, part Jack Lemmon from GRUMPY OLD MEN, and part Harlan Ellison. Figure that one out. I'm fascinated by cranky old men.
jamesrwinter: I think Ellison was always a cranky old man, even when he was young.
duaneswier: You're so right, Jim.
g_so: Donna, go ahead.
tootsbinswanger: What about Del? Any inspiration for him?
duaneswier: Good one. Uh... I guess he's more or less me, if I were in his situation. Insecure. Inept. Clueless.
tootsbinswanger: I love the fact that Hilly is partly based on Harlan Ellison btw
duaneswier: But he tries to do the right thing.
dpwhite237: Hey, folks.
duaneswier: Hey, Dave!
g_so: It's Dave White. Hide the cookies.
jamesrwinter: Dave's not here, man.
dpwhite237: Hide the cookies indeed. Anyone want to take the comprehensive exam for me?
tootsbinswanger: Hi Dave!
duaneswier: Can we sort it all out in this chat, Dave?
g_so: Comprehensive exam in what?
jamesrwinter: It doesn't involve a surgical glove, does it?
duaneswier: How hard could a comp exam be?
dpwhite237: Masters in Arts in Teaching. That's what I keep saying, which is why I keep putting off studying.
jamesrwinter: So it DOES involve a surgical glove.
duaneswier: (coughs twice)
dpwhite237: okay, I got that out of the way, proceed. (sorry, didn't mean to grind the chat to a halt.)
g_so: When is the exam, Dave?
dpwhite237: Thursday night. (That means I'm going to suddenly get sick Thursday to stay home and study)
g_so: The floor is open for the next Q.
duaneswier: No, that coughing was a reference to the surgical glove and a... oh, never mind.
tootsbinswanger: I got it, Duane. I just pretended I didn't.
duaneswier: Thanks, Donna. You've been there.
g_so: Type ? and I'll call on you.
tootsbinswanger: i couldn't spell proctologist.
jamesrwinter: Next time, turn your head, so we know.
g_so: Go ahead, Donna.
tootsbinswanger: me again - sorry :-) The chapter headings. Love them. Did they come as you went along or did you put them in afterwards?
duaneswier: I think some of them happened spontaneously, but I know I did go back and add a bunch. I also changed them obsessively.
g_so: Give us an example, Duane?
duaneswier: My favorite is probably "Toilet, Cat." There's no way you CAN'T read a chapter called "Toilet, Cat."
tootsbinswanger: oooh, the cat one. yup - that's it.
duaneswier: Some are literal, such as "One and Half Dead Bodies."
duaneswier: Some are in-jokes, like "Drinks at Tom's Holiday."
g_so: Go ahead, Dave.
duaneswier: Tom is my father-in-law.
dpwhite237: Sorry if I missed, but Duane, can you talk a little about the writing process? Outlining? Not outlining? Finding a plot, a hook, or a character, how the whole idea process works?
duaneswier: Very nice question.
dpwhite237: That's a good one, too.
duaneswier: What's funny is, both SDM and SMELL THE ROSES (my bank robbery novel, out next year) happened very differently.
tootsbinswanger: Lots of it.
duaneswier: Drink? Never. (Sipping a beer...)
dpwhite237: How'd they happen?
duaneswier: DEAD MEN had a basic plot, and I actually wrote scenes out of order.
duaneswier: Like a movie script--few directors plow straight from start to finish. duaneswier: In fact, the first chapters I wrote where in the middle. It was my first novel; I had no idea what the fuck I was doing. But with SMELL THE ROSES, it was straight chronological order, start to finish. If I tried to outline, or plot to much in advance, the characters shut it down on me.
dpwhite237: Ah okay... cool.
duaneswier: Weird. Now that I'm working on novel #3, I'm going with the "winging it" approach.
dpwhite237: I'm winging it now and it's killing me.
duaneswier: That is the downside, Dave. I wrote 20,000 words of two different novels this summer, and both shut down. See ya, Duane. Try again. Sucks, doesn't it?
dpwhite237: Ouch...I'm 40,000 in, but I keep having to take grad school breaks.
tootsbinswanger: I winged it all the way through.
al_guthrie65: You winged it beautifully, Kafka. Like an eagle.
tootsbinswanger: a blind eagle, with Alzheimers, and a wooden leg.
g_so: Go, Al.
al_guthrie65: The central premise behind Dead Men is utterly bizarre, yet it works. How the hell do you do that?
duaneswier: Good one, Sunshine. If the premise of SDM works, it's because some part of me believes it.
tootsbinswanger: Good grief - i wouldn't want to meet that part of you on a dark night
al_guthrie65: I believe it, too.
duaneswier: You'd never know a soul collector is you met one, because everything's in his head. In fact, I did intend for the novel to be read "straight"--that the main character was merely crazy, and had multiple personalities. At some level.
g_so: Go, Donna.
tootsbinswanger: oh, interesting Leblanc I don't think it would have worked half as well.
duaneswier: Nah. That's why I never made it explicit.
tootsbinswanger: Del's charm is in his sanity.
duaneswier: Thanks, Donna.
duaneswier: Plus, it's too much fun otherwise.
al_guthrie65: Multiple personalities suck.
duaneswier: You're right, Al. Who would ever use that concept in a crime novel?
g_so: Wink, wink.
tootsbinswanger: What would they be thinking of? Oh, my question - how much would it cost for me to get a room at the Brain Hotel with hot and cold running Orlando Blooms?
duaneswier: Rates are cheap. There's just that small matter of killing you, Donna.
tootsbinswanger: They never ask for that at the Hilton
jamesrwinter: It's just so you can't run off with the towels.
duaneswier: "Hi, I'd like a room for two..." BANG!
al_guthrie65: As opposed to a room for one bang?
tootsbinswanger: LOL Al!
g_so: Can you elaborate on the premise without spoiling anything, Duane?
duaneswier: Of SECRET DEAD MEN? Sure. It's about a guy who solves crimes by collecting the souls of the recently dead. Think of a cross between Philip Marlowe and the Grim Reaper.
g_so: I'm with you.
duaneswier: You'd think it be easy for a guy to solve a crime, once he has the murder victim stores in a hotel in his brain, right? Not quite. (Aside to Al: Get your mind out of the gutter.)
al_guthrie65: Can't be done.
duaneswier: The whole "Brain Hotel" idea is simply my way of visualizing what it'd be like in there. I have something like 12 souls knocking around one mind.
duaneswier: Shit, even I was confused.
al_guthrie65: Two of whom are whores.
duaneswier: That is true.
g_so: Go ahead, Dave.
dpwhite237: God help me if I'm wrong on my facts, but the book isn't out yet right? So when does it come out?
jamesrwinter: Kind of like the memory library in DREAMCATCHER, just not as wordy.
duaneswier: SDM is due out from PointBlank in January (just heard this from JT). But ARCs are bouncing around.
tootsbinswanger: Oh REALLY?
duaneswier: Yep. Thought it was supposed to be November, but...
tootsbinswanger: none of them have bounced my way?
duaneswier: They should... (shifts uncomfortably)...
dpwhite237: (By the way, thanks for the mention of me if your blog)
tootsbinswanger: Actually, I've already read it and will wait until the real things comes out - just wanted to whine is all :-)
duaneswier: My pleasure, Dave.
duaneswier: Jim: You're right. Although I did write SDM long before I read DREAMCATCHER....
g_so: Go, Dave.
dpwhite237: Who do you read? Who's inspired you? (Apparently King is one)
duaneswier: Good one. I grew up on a steady diet of horror novels--King, Clive Barker, Richard Matheson, etc Then I moved into crime fiction, and never looked back. (Well, except when I blend the two, like in SDM.) My favorite writers these days: Ken Bruen, Al Guthrie, Ray Banks, Richard Stark, Elmore Leonard, Hammet, Chandler, Dan J. Marlowe...of course, David Goodis and William McGivern (two hometown boys)
dpwhite237: Cool. Good choices. Except for that Banks character (he's not here right?) :-)
duaneswier: I'm not just name-checking Al because he's here. In fact, I pretty much think he's a degenerate human being. But his fiction rocks.
tootsbinswanger: Agreed, Leblanc. On both counts.
al_guthrie65: Two massive compliments! Ah, stop it.
duaneswier: In fact, I almost wish I didn't know Al. It's awkward being a huge fan of a friend's writing.
al_guthrie65: Tell me about it, Mr Swierczynski.
duaneswier: It completely ruins the t-shirts I would have worn, the shrine I would have built.
al_guthrie65: It ruins my underpants.
duaneswier: (To the others): See what I mean?
al_guthrie65: (to the others): What does he mean?
g_so: Go ahead with your question, Donna.
dpwhite237: The captain guides us back.
duaneswier: I'm sorry, Donna. "Mister Underpants" led me astray.
al_guthrie65: Everybody needs a sailor, Dave.
dpwhite237: Good classroom management, G. Haha.
tootsbinswanger: You mentioned research for the 70s stuff Leblanc. It seemed as though you had great fun with all the music etc?
duaneswier: For 1970s music, I bought that giant Rhino box set--"Have a Nice Day!"--and listened to it non-stop during the writing of the novel. After a while, "The Air That I Breathe"--one of those drippy AM station staples--struck me as "The Love Theme to Secret Dead Men."
duaneswier: I'm always putting together the soundtracks to the novels I'm writing.
g_so: Julio Igleasias?
duaneswier: No... it was The Hollies.
dpwhite237: Love the Hollies! (for some odd reason)
duaneswier: Aren't they great?
g_so: Did they sing "Hey, Carrie Anne," or am I thinking another group?
dpwhite237: No, you got it.
duaneswier: Exactly, Gerald!
g_so: Go ahead, Al.
al_guthrie65: John Donne: Any particular personal relevance?
duaneswier: John Donne was my favorite poet in college.
dpwhite237: Donne is awesome... Valediction: Forbidding Morning.
duaneswier: Donne, and that guy who writes all of the dirty Limmericks. You got it, Dave.
dpwhite237: and The Flea.
tootsbinswanger: Sunshine - is this you trying to pull yourself out of the gutter with the literary questions? Ya big swot.
al_guthrie65: Yeah, it's a bloody joke, don't know why I bother, K.
duaneswier: Dave--is Jackson Donne named for Donne?
dpwhite237: Yeah, actually.
duaneswier: Very cool.
dpwhite237: (it was either that or Herrick)
g_so: Go, Donna
. tootsbinswanger: Del - will he be back?
duaneswier: Interesting question. A while back, I mapped out three sequels to SECRET DEAD MEN. All of them following Del through different eras (a la Walter Mosley and Easy Rawlins.) I have a doozy of a sequel in mind, in fact...
tootsbinswanger: look forward to it
duaneswier: But unless SDM takes off, they're on the back burner.
tootsbinswanger: it will
al_guthrie65: As will ROSES. Don't know if anyone else here's read it, but it's jaw-droppingly brilliant.
duaneswier: I hope so, Donna. Thanks for the compliment.
tootsbinswanger: Guys, i'm going to be silent for a while, i need to go and throw up. I love you all but, frankly, you've made me vomit. [Ed. note: Joke. Donna had been ill.]
duaneswier: Feel better, Donna.
g_so: oh, gee.
tootsbinswanger: I'll stay connected but you may not hear from me again
duaneswier: Cool. We can talk behind her back.
g_so: Vaya con Dios.
tootsbinswanger: Well, not this evening
dpwhite237: Can you give us a quick summary of the bank robbery book? What's it called Smell the Roses? Adios Donna...w/o spoilers of course.
duaneswier: I can't reveal the meaning of SMELL THE ROSES without giving away some bit of plot in the book... but there are two reasons behind it: one, I love crime novels featuring flowers (NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH, THE BLACK DAHLIA, etc.) It sounds so wussy and so bad-ass at the same time.
duaneswier: And it sets up the sequel, PUSH THE DAISIES, so perfectly.
dpwhite237: but what's the book about?
duaneswier: It's about a bank heist in Philadelphia that goes horribly, horribly wrong. I know--sounds basic, right?
duaneswier: And as Al can tell you, it really is. I guess it's my version of a Richard Stark novel.
dpwhite237: Elmore Leonard is basic. As is Robert Parker... I like basic. It doesn't make my brain hurt.
duaneswier: But hopefully, the twists and turns will keep folks turning the pages. My secret is that even *I* didn't know key twists were coming.
dpwhite237: that's cool.
duaneswier: Everyone who's read it (well, all five people) says it's a page-turner, a book you can devour in one sitting. duaneswier: Which is the kind of book I love.
al_guthrie65: And it's hilarious, unlike the Parker novels.
g_so: I like those type, too. Jim said Ray's book was like that, I believe.
duaneswier: The difference is, Ray's book has serious weight behind it. Mine's like cotton candy.
dpwhite237: It's killing me that I haven't read Hillary Palmer yet, Duane, I just haven't had time...
duaneswier: Geez, no worries, Dave.
g_so: Go, Dave.
dpwhite237: Can you tell us about "The Big Book O' Beer?"
duaneswier: The BEER book was a blast. It's meant to be one long love letter to my favorite beverage.
dpwhite237: all right, what's your favorite?
al_guthrie65: You can't compare Ray and Duane. Two sides of the same coin.
duaneswier: Not for beer snobs, but for the average reader who likes the stuff, and follows pop culture.
duaneswier: My favorite? Depends completely on context.
dpwhite237: Top five?
duaneswier: Right now, I'm having a Sammy Adams. (Hey, it's 5:00 somewhere.)
jamesrwinter: Always a good choice.
dpwhite237: Sammy is good. The seasonal always the best.
duaneswier: I agree. I love the holiday mixed case.
al_guthrie65: I like lemonade.
duaneswier: Al does have a serious lemonade problem. He's always turning tricks, trying to score fresh lemons.
g_so: Hard lemonade?
duaneswier: It's embarassing really.
al_guthrie65: Ah, spot the Stark book, is it?
duaneswier: You got me.
al_guthrie65: I'm a hunter.
g_so: Don't start a flashfire.
dpwhite237: Ouch. All right since I'm the only one asking questions, what is that carries your novels, Duane? Characters or action/events/plot?
duaneswier: (Looks around nervously.) So no one else is drunk out of their mind? (Kidding, kidding.) Dave: I wish I knew
dpwhite237: Just kinda go with momentum?
duaneswier: I think SDM works--if it does work--because of the weird concept and the lead character, who helps make the odd stuff believable. As for ROSES, I do think the lead character--his name is Lennon--is interesting enough to carry the reader along.
g_so: Hi, Aldo.
duaneswier: Hey, Aldo!
dpwhite237: Aldo is here!
mysdawg2003: Hello all
g_so: question for Duane, Aldo?
mysdawg2003: Yes How was it for you to switch from writing non fiction to fiction?
duaneswier: Good question. Thing is, I've always done both at the same time. I started writing fiction in high school, to keep myself occupied during boring classes.
duaneswier: And even when I was a full-time journalist, fiction was something I wrote at night. So now, I consider my day job nonfiction (editing, teaching, whatever) and my nights are for fiction. Just like always.
dpwhite237: What do you teach Duane?
duaneswier: Journalism. That is, until December.
dpwhite237: Where? If you don't mind me asking.
duaneswier: Then I'm leaving La Salle U.--my new job at the Phila. City Paper is going to be tough enough. Right now, I'm doing both, which is insane.
dpwhite237: Ah cool. Good luck.
duaneswier: Thanks, Dave.
g_so: Official chat is over, but we can hang as long as Duane is game.
dpwhite237: All right what's with the nicknames? LeBlanc, Kafka... I feel like I'm missing something... even though I know they're inside jokes.
duaneswier: Sounds good. I have to split by 3:25--have to watch the kids for a while.
g_so: ok, thanks again, Duane.
duaneswier: Dave, you're not missing much.
mysdawg2003: Yeah....I guess it might be POINTBlank thing???
duaneswier: They are inside jokes, but...they're not earth-shattering, either. Even to us. Right, Al?
al_guthrie65: A bit of fun. A little sunshine in our lives.
duaneswier: Nice one, hunter.
dpwhite237: All righty.
duaneswier: It's like geeks in computer camp calling each other "ByteMan" and "Chip."
dpwhite237: I see.
duaneswier: Al, we can give Brother Dave a nickname, can't we? And Brother Jim? And Brother Gerald and Brother Aldo, too?
g_so: Well, it wouldn't be a POINTBlank thing then. Can't have everyone on the A-Team after all.
al_guthrie65: And it takes real talent to come up with nicknames.
duaneswier: I guess that's true. Plus, you wouldn't want to be associated with degenerates like Al.
jamesrwinter: Back. And I don't need a nickname.
g_so: I have nicknames for some DT people that I will keep to myself. :)
dpwhite237: Just struck me as odd, being that I'm referred to as "Senor Blanco" at my school and you're LeBlanc, which is probably the original last name by great grandad had when he came in from Canada. (oh, man Gerald probably refers to me as "That asshole over there.")
duaneswier: Well, with a handle like "Swierczynski" I appreciate any nickname I can get. That's pretty funny, Dave.
dpwhite237: so I figured I'd ask.
mysdawg2003: How about Calcagno???? The staff and student refer to me as Mr C. or El Jefe (the chief)
duaneswier: Good point, Aldo.
dpwhite237: El Jefe, I love it.
duaneswier: See? A nickname is born.
g_so: "Today, he is...33 years old."
dpwhite237: Three Amigos?
jamesrwinter: Los Tres Amigos.
mysdawg2003: But what about Gerald?
g_so: Keep them for when I leave the room, please :)
mysdawg2003: and are you saying Duane that i should use El Jefe, Dave - Senior Blanco
g_so: Go, Al.
duaneswier: Do your worst, Sunshine. I like El Jefe.
al_guthrie65: A rare serious question this time. Where would you hope to see your fiction career three years from now?
mysdawg2003: Jefe it is. Thanks Duane.
duaneswier: Geez. Three years from now?
mysdawg2003: Great question Al! Everyone should answer that question.
g_so: I would like to still be writing three years from now.
duaneswier: I guess I'd like to be the author of six novels, the fourth of which hit big, which meant that five or six were optioned for a ton of cash. duaneswier: Seven was a sell-out wash, and eight was obscure.
duaneswier: Then I'll have hit my stride by novel #10, hailed as a breakthough in crime ficton. Anyone else?
dpwhite237: Poor book nine.
al_guthrie65: That was the romance novel.
duaneswier: Book nine was a western.
jamesrwinter: After that, you write "literary" tomes and sneer at the up and comers.
duaneswier: Never, Jim! It's down and dirty crime novels for me.
jamesrwinter: I plan to invest my royalties in either real estate or strippers. Depends on how drunk I get when the checks are cashed.
g_so: How about yourself, Al?
mysdawg2003: Not to be laughed at by my peers. They can laugh with me, though
dpwhite237: I just want to have one of those cool book signings where you get to give a lecture and answer questions by fawning women.
duaneswier: Al knows all about that, Dave.
al_guthrie65: 3 years from now, I'd like to think I have a worthwhile idea still kicking around. If I did, I'd consider that a major success!
duaneswier: In three years, I hope to be cleaning Al Guthrie's pool.
al_guthrie65: Pools are too dangerous for me. Crossing the road's terrifying enough.
mysdawg2003: What's this thing about Dallas and strippers?
duaneswier: Well, the bride is giving me the evil eye, so I'd better go. Thanks to everyone here--especially you, Gerald, for the invite. Now that I know how to do this Yahoo messenger thing, I'll be back for more DT chats.
dpwhite237: Wow, bolts from the hooker question. Thanks Duane, very insightful!
duaneswier: I know when to split!
al_guthrie65: See ya, Leblanc.
g_so: Many thanks, Duane.
dpwhite237: Good luck, and stay in touch.
jamesrwinter: Later, Duane.
duaneswier: Take care, guys. See you in Sarah's backblogs...
dpwhite237: Definitely.. .and update your own!
duaneswier: I know, I know...