Harry Hunsicker (photo ©2006 Martin Rogers)
Sunday, July 10, 2005
bquertermous: Bryon Quertermous
dpwhite237: David White
g_so: Gerald So
harryhunsicker: Harry Hunsicker
jamiee5001: Jamie Engle
mysdawg2003: Aldo Calcagno
dpwhite237: Harry Hunsicker, how are you?
g_so: Hello, Harry, Dave.
harryhunsicker: I am fine.
dpwhite237: Good to hear. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to pick up Still River yet.
harryhunsicker: STILL RIVER. 300 pages that will change the face of literature for ever. Or not.
dpwhite237: Can you tell me a little about the book, Harry? I mean I've read the jacket cover, but how would you describe it?
harryhunsicker: Hey, Aldo.
g_so: I've started STILL RIVER. It's reminiscent of early Crais.
harryhunsicker: Thank you. I loved MONKEY'S RAINCOAT.
g_so: Yes, part of me wishes Crais hadn't adopted his new multi-POV style.
harryhunsicker: I too wish he would do another traditional PI novel. The MPOV stuff doesn't always work. Except in LA REQUIEM.
harryhunsicker: I am two fifths of the way done with the Shamus Best First list.
dpwhite237: I thought The Forgotten Man worked pretty well.
harryhunsicker: ASPEN PULP and THE LAST GOODBYE.
g_so: How are those, Harry?
harryhunsicker: FORGOTTEN MAN was the latest, right? Both are very different but good.
mysdawg2003: Harry, are you still planning to come to LA for the signing?
harryhunsicker: I was in LA for about an hour it seemed like two weeks ago. I did two TV things and drop in signings.
dpwhite237: Yeah FORGOTTEN MAN was the latest.
harryhunsicker: LAST GOODBYE is not the author's first novel.
g_so: Hmm. I have THE LAST GOODBYE in pb. But it is his first P.I. book, is that true? I'd also heard it wasn't technically a P.I. book as the protag is a disgraced lawyer.
harryhunsicker: Yes, Gerald it was his first PI book. The PI is a lawyer who didn't take money for his case, though.
g_so: I see, thanks.
harryhunsicker: Great book! But I'm not sure if it qualifies as a PI. But who am I to say.
g_so: Looking forward to that one. Paul Guyot seemed interested in this chat as well.
harryhunsicker: Paul got 'em stirredup on Friday with his blog. Loved it!
dpwhite237: So Harry. What went into the writing process with STILL RIVER? How do you write?
harryhunsicker: Every morning, and four or five hours per day on the weekend. harryhunsicker: This time around the promotion is really making it harder.
mysdawg2003: How did Lee Oswald come about?
harryhunsicker: I wanted a name that connected instantly with Dallas. J. R. Ewing was too Dallasy. Tom Landry...too much of an icon. After that, what else is there?
mysdawg2003: George Bush? LOL.
harryhunsicker: Clyde Barrow. LOL. George Shrub.
mysdawg2003: Welcome Jamie.
harryhunsicker: Hey, Jamie. Thanks for the interview!
dpwhite237: Howdy, Jamie.
jamiee5001: Hi everyone, and thank you for doing the interview! It should be posted in the next couple of days.
g_so: Where will it be posted, Jamie? And welcome in. (channelling Larry King.)
jamiee5001: Interview and review.
mysdawg2003: Nice site....
g_so: Dave White is reviewing Parker's Appaloosa for Crime Spree magazine.
dpwhite237: oohhhh yeahhhhhh
harryhunsicker: "The room was loud and quiet." --ROBERT PARKER. Isn't that the quote on Bill Crider's blog?
g_so: So now, if you have a question for Harry, type ? and I'll add you to the queue.
dpwhite237: I think so, yeah. I don't think I've gotten to that point in the novel yet, though. If I did I glanced right over it.
g_so: I think the line was "The room was quiet and noisy."
g_so: Do you plan on a set number of books in the Oswald series, Harry, or will you just see where things go?
harryhunsicker: I am under contract for two more. After that, we'll see where things go. I always wondered how an author could end a series. I now understand.
g_so: How so?
harryhunsicker: There are only so many places you can take your hero. I am not there yet by any stretch, but I now understand.
g_so: I think at that point, it's best to walk away, as the song goes.
g_so: Go ahead, Jamie.
jamiee5001: Do you have any stand-alones in mind?
harryhunsicker: Yes. I have a couple of ideas. I want to write from teh perspective of a bad guy for one.
g_so: Sounds intriguing.
harryhunsicker: Bad guys have more fun. "Rules? Huh?"
g_so: Go, Dave.
dpwhite237: Who do you consider your inspirations? Who has influenced you writing?
harryhunsicker: John. D. McDonald. Parker. Crais. Pelecanos. Michael Connelly. James Lee Burke. And (don't laugh) Louis L'amour. Among others.
dpwhite237: Can you explain Louis L'amour? (followup)
harryhunsicker: I've read every LL there is. It's always a version of the PI...the loner fighting insurmountable odds, that sort of thing. The backrop is just different.
g_so: Go, Aldo.
mysdawg2003: Harry, can you talk about the projects that you are working on for Hollywood or as I call it LA LA land?
harryhunsicker: Me? Projects in H-wood? I wish. Nothing going on on that front at the moment. Unless you've heard something I haven't.
g_so: Go ahead, Dave.
dpwhite237: What do you enjoy most about writing?
harryhunsicker: No, seriously.
dpwhite237: good answer.
harryhunsicker: When a scene really comes together and really really works. That makes it all worthwhile.
g_so: Do you outline, Harry?
harryhunsicker: Book 1 = No. Book 2 = Yes. Have I followed Book 2 outline? Sort of.
g_so: Hi, Bryon.
dpwhite237: Howdy Bryon.
bquertermous: hmmmm, somehow I got invited to a chat I didn't know was happening.
harryhunsicker: Hi, Byron.
g_so: This is the Harry Hunsicker/STILL RIVER chat.
bquertermous: Hi, Harry, I'm a newly converted Hank Oswald fan, love the book.
harryhunsicker: Thanks. Glad to hear it. I sure had fun writing it.
bquertermous: It reminded me a lot of Drink Before the War in that every possible convention of the PI novel appears in the book but has a new or unique twist and spin.
dpwhite237: I so have to pick this book up. Off to amazon I go.
g_so: Go, Jamie.
jamiee5001: Is it harder to write the second book? More expectations to live up to, that sort of thing?
harryhunsicker: The second book. Is agony. Like getting your gums scraped for six months straight. No foolin'
jamiee5001: Yikes! ;)
bquertermous: Did you have any of it underway when you sold the first book?
harryhunsicker: The deadline "might" have something to do with that. I had finished book 2 when I sold book 1. But I hated it so I never mentioned it when they asked for an outline. So I started cold on a new Book 2 when the contract was signed.
g_so: I see.
bquertermous: Who is your editor at SMP?
harryhunsicker: Sean Desmond. He works for Thomas Dunne, not Minotaur. He is the best editor in the world. A friggin' genius. Harvard Summa Cum Laude. Or something with a lot of Latin in it.
bquertermous: Ah, good guy. I met him at Sleuthfest a while ago. Him and Marcia Markland whom I liked a lot, too.
dpwhite237: I just have to say it "Go ahead Gerald."
g_so: Since we mentioned the Parker typos in Appaloosa, can you tell us how much copyediting went into your book after you turned in the MS?
harryhunsicker: My editor did a lot of work on my book. He really didn't alter the story, but the structure changed, for the better. He marked up probably every other page with changes. All of this was before the copyeditor. Which is a whole 'nuther kettle of fish. The copyediting was pretty intensive too. SMP likes the serial comma, for example.
dpwhite237: what's that?
bquertermous: I LOVE the serial comma.
g_so: milk, eggs, and bread.
harryhunsicker: the dog was black, green, and yellow.
dpwhite237: Ah okay. And me a grammar teacher.
g_so: for shame.
jamiee5001: Sheesh, we just were told to leave them out for newspaper writing.
bquertermous: Hi, Jamie, dont know you...what kind of reporter are you?
bquertermous: ah, I was a police reporter...hated it
g_so: Go ahead, Bryon.
harryhunsicker: So was Michael Connelly though. A police reporter.
bquertermous: it sucked the creativity right out of me...I liked how you used the land scheme in Still River and it shows that you have appraisal experience, but were you ever tempted to use something else as a plot device because you were so close to appraising?
harryhunsicker: Yes. I tried and tried to work more of a real estate scam into the plot but couldn't. Too close to really make it work. harryhunsicker: I originally envisioned my hero as an appraiser who gets drawn into a crime but couldn't make that work either.
bquertermous: I like him as a PI.
harryhunsicker: Me too. Works better that way.
bquertermous: Best line so far is about the guy who might have gone through special forces training and Hank says "Too bad I designed the course." That doesn't sound cool coming from an appraiser.
harryhunsicker: I agree.
bquertermous: Do you have any short story projects in the works with or without Hank?
harryhunsicker: Not at the moment. I have a story coming out in one of Michael Bracken's anthologies this fall, I think. Fedora IV, maybe? The hero is a druggie.
g_so: Go, Dave.
dpwhite237: Can you explain a bit about the publishing process? Finding an agent, and then a publisher. What did you have to do? Besides write the book.
bquertermous: which is of course the easy part right? :)
harryhunsicker: I wrote the book in a little over six months. Figured how hard can it be to find an agent? Right?
harryhunsicker: Over the next year and an half I sent out 118 query letters. 117 rejections. One guys says yes and he gets an offer in about three weeks.
dpwhite237: Wow. Who's your agent, if you don't mind me asking?
harryhunsicker: Richard Abate
dpwhite237: Just ordered your book, Harry.
harryhunsicker: Thank you.
g_so: You mentioned your influences earlier. Can you tell us a little of what you liked about each?
harryhunsicker: I think they all contributed to the attitude and...swagger (for lack of a better word) I have in my head when I sit down to write. All except for James Lee Burke. I just love his writing. Of course when I try to do stuff Iike he does it all ends up getting cut out. But his imagery is still in the back of head. Along with those nagging voices. (The voices in my head part was a joke)
bquertermous: Was there any kind of book you wanted to stay away from writing or immitating when you started?
harryhunsicker: Stay away from? No. Imitate? Too many to list. See my influences above.
g_so: Go, Dave.
dpwhite237: Harry, I know you just said you didn't want to imitate, but if there was one PI in the genre you would compare Oswald to (and implicitly your own writing) who would the PI (and author) be?
dpwhite237: I can't believe I just used the word implicitly. And I'm not even sure if I've done it correctly.
harryhunsicker: Hmmm...Lehane or Crais probably.
g_so: Dave likes Lehane.
dpwhite237: I do like Lehane a lot.
harryhunsicker: I like DRINK BEFORE THE WAR and GONE BABY GONE. And of course MYSTIC RIVER.
g_so: Question, Aldo?
mysdawg2003: What type of warmup writing do you do to generate ideas? Do you have a blog yet? If no, why not?
harryhunsicker: I am active on http://www.bksp.org, a writers site styled after publishersmarketplace. No blog yet. I want to do one but don't really have the time. Or that much to say on a daily basis.
g_so: I see.
jamiee5001: I love Gischler's blog - and his interviews.
bquertermous: If I waited for something to say, I'd never post.
harryhunsicker: Gischler took everything I said out of context
! g_so: I hear he's cancelled his blog. (Gischler) A shame.
jamiee5001: That would be a shame.
mysdawg2003: Let's all spam him into submission to return to the blog.
g_so: That may not work.
harryhunsicker: Ply him with Tecates. That did wonders in El Paso at LCC.
bquertermous: okay boys, Ive got to go play frisbee, you may continue without me though I don't imagine you'll have any fun.
bquertermous: Will you be at BCon this year, Harry?
harryhunsicker: Yes, I will be at Bouchercon. But they stuck me on a panel two hours before my plane lands on Thursday. So I said, No Thanks.
bquertermous: Well, I'll hunt you down and buy you a drink, thanks for a great book.
mysdawg2003: I have to run too. The honey do list is growing by the second.
dpwhite237: I have to go to a BBQ as well, but it was a good time here, folks.
harryhunsicker: See you in Chi-town.
dpwhite237: I hope so.
g_so: Bye, all (who are leaving, that is).
harryhunsicker: Bye, everybody. Thanks for stopping by.
g_so: Jamie, any questions for Harry?
jamiee5001: You mentioned in the interview that nearing 40 had something to do with pushing you to write....why?
harryhunsicker: Because 40 is old. Midlife crisis and all.
harryhunsicker: It's not really old but you know what I mean...you start to get a sense of your own mortality then. Which is scary.
jamiee5001: Yes, know the feeling well :)
g_so: I know Parker didn't publish Spenser until he was 41.
harryhunsicker: Really. Lee Child I think was in his late 30s when DIE TRYING came out.
jamiee5001: Has the recent drug war stuff in the DMN given you fodder for the books?
harryhunsicker: What drug war stuff?
jamiee5001: The Nuevo Laredo stuff, executions in Dallas, all that.
harryhunsicker: Oh, yeah. Actually sort of. But I am trying to stay away from drugs too much in Book II after all the dope in STILL RIVER.
jamiee5001: Is your writing group the one that used to meet at the 15th street Barnes & Noble?
harryhunsicker: We used to meet at Half Price Books on NW Highway and Legal Grounds in Lakewood. Now we meet at Dunston's Steakhouse on Lovers Lane, home of the $4.95 tee-bone and the surly waitstaff.
harryhunsicker: Anybody else read/reading THE TRAVELLER? Not a PI book but seriously awesome. I am about a third of the way through.
g_so: Who's the author? harryhunsicker: Imagine the DA VINCI CODE crossed with the MATRIX. Only better written than DCODE. harryhunsicker: John Twelve-Hawks. A psuedonym for some guy who allegedly lives "off the grid." No ss #, drivers license, etc.
g_so: I see.
jamiee5001: Haven't heard of it. Just finished Rule of Four, which was not great.
harryhunsicker: I heard it was slooooow. TRAVELER is anything but slow.
jamiee5001: Has anyone read any Christopher Reich?
g_so: Not me. What does he write?
harryhunsicker: I tried THE DEVIL'S BANKER. It was good, but I put it down for some reason and never picked it back up.
jamiee5001: Financial thrillers. He's received mixed reviews. I haven't read any yet, but he's being considered for the next "works" review.
jamiee5001: He used to live in TX, now in CA, I think.
harryhunsicker: The first half of BANKER was good. I just got sidetracked. He has all the signs of someone being groomed for the big time.
jamiee5001: That's what it sounded like when I started researching, then it sort of petered out the last year or two. Do you have any more book signings lined up?
harryhunsicker: I have a couple. One in Longview. Then the B&N in Plano (on 15th St, IRC.) and maybe one or two in the fall. I've have a break right now so I have put them all out of my head. For the moment.
g_so: I like the relationship between Ernie and Hank. Any real-life inspiration for that?
g_so: Nice imagining then.
harryhunsicker: Thanks. It's scary what comes out of one's head.
g_so: :) You mentioned promotion making things more difficult. How so?
harryhunsicker: I've been doing events just about every weekend since the first of May when the book came out, many of them an hour or two drive away. I've been to NYC (twice), Phoenix, and LA. Add this to the interviews--print, radio and TV--and it's a pretty busy time. That said, I do love every minute of it. This is seriously fun. g_so: It must be great to hear what people think of your book in person.
jamiee5001: That's quite the tour! It's good your publisher is behind you. Did their PR dept. make it happen, or yours?
harryhunsicker: They have a super PR department but I did hire an outside publicist.
g_so: Where did you go in NY?
harryhunsicker: The Mysterious Bookshop and the Black Orchid. Both very cool places.
g_so: Yes, I just visited Black Orchid for a Laura Lippman signing.
g_so: Where are you from, Jamie?
jamiee5001: North suburb of Dallas, Plano. Well actually, far west Richardson but Plano school district.
g_so: I'm in suburban NY.
harryhunsicker: Do you write, Jamie?
jamiee5001: I write nonfiction, articles, interviews and the like. No fiction. Also do PR/marketing writing. Oops, that would be far east Richardson. I do reviews for Kirkus, Library Journal, Foreword Mag, and a few online sites like Accent, newmysteryreader.com, compulsivereader.com and curledup.com. My postman hates our house :)
harryhunsicker: Wow. You are busy.
jamiee5001: Full time writer, part time pay.
jamiee5001: But it's nice to get paid to read and write :)
g_so: Harry, is there anything you'd like to write that you don't feel quite ready to tackle?
harryhunsicker: I want to write some more thriller type stuff. More excitement. More tension. That kind of stuff. Am I ready? I dunno. I feel Hank Oswald may not be (at least with me at the helm) So there might be new character out there.
g_so: Guess it's about time to wrap up. Thanks for coming, Jamie, and for a great chat, Harry.
harryhunsicker: Thanks all. Thank you especially for putting all together, Gerald.
g_so: My pleasure.
harryhunsicker: Bye, all.
jamiee5001: Thank you, everyone.