Sunday, October 24, 2004
calgflames: Jan Long
dpwhite237: Dave White
g_so: Gerald So
harryhunsicker: Harry Hunsicker
james_hime: James Hime
mysdawg2003: Aldo Calcagno
webmavenmaggie: Maggie Griffin
calgflames: Hi, Jim
g_so: Welcome, Jim.
webmavenmaggie: Hi Jim!
dpwhite237: Now it's a party. How you doing Mr. Hime.
james_hime: Hi guys. Thanks for having me. Doing great thanks. Please call me Jim
g_so: Most welcome.
dpwhite237: You got it, Jim.
g_so: Hello, Harry.
harryhunsicker: Hi, Gang. Hi, Jim
james_hime: Hey Harry
harryhunsicker: Jim you probably won't recall but we met in Toronto watching the TX-OU game.
james_hime: No I remember- there weren't that many fellow sufferers there
g_so: Okay, if you have a question for Jim, type ? and Jan will add you to the questioners' queue.
dpwhite237: Okay, so all I have to do is ?
calgflames: Go ahead, Dave :)
dpwhite237: So Jim, you write about Texas, but I understand you do business in New York as well. Do you plan on writing about New York as well?
james_hime: I expect I will one of these days. I love the City and its excitement and the people - it's a great place to set a book I think. I'd have to work to master the patois though
webmavenmaggie: YO! (sorry, couldn't resist :)
james_hime: I've actually got a manuscript that's set partly there but it deals with a topic too sensitive for me to write well about yet
dpwhite237: Ah, I understand.
g_so: Dialogue was a high point of THE NIGHT OF THE DANCE. Each character was identifiable by the way they spoke and thought.
james_hime: Thanks- it's something I work hard at. Some people have remarked that the African American speech patterns are not all that different from those of the rural whites. There's a reason for that of course- they share the same basic linguistic roots
calgflames: Go, Dave
dpwhite237: Jim, you write in the present tense. It's not a typical style of writing in fiction these days. Why did you make the choice?
james_hime: That's a great question. First, that's how Turow wrote PRESUMED INNOCENT and I've always been a lover and admirer of that book and his work. Second, I thought it gave a sense of immediacy. Early on when I was working on it I heard a woman being interviewed about being sexually assaulted and she told her story naturally in the present tense and I could see she was telling it as it was happening in her head. I thought, wow. I'd like to try to write like that.
dpwhite237: Cool, I was wondering if you'd mention the immediate feeling of the novel, it's something I noticed as well. Felt more urgent. Especially the opening pages.
james_hime: I'm glad you thought so. It took a while to make it sound natural and I'll be the first one to admit it does turn some people off. I think some folks find it ostentatious or something.
calgflames: Question from Aldo. He asks, "Why did Jim apologize to the town of Brenham in THE DANCE's acknowledgments?"
james_hime: Because it really isn't anything like the town in the book, other than the setting which is pretty faithful to the facts. The town that was in my head was my old hometown of Kingsville, down in South Texas, but it didn't work as the setting. I wouldn't have apologized to Kingsville. So I felt a little guilty about treating Brenham so roughly, I reckon
calgflames: I'll jump in with a comment. You've got some pretty good questions on your site under the discussion guide heading. I particularly like "Are people who are willing to forgive and forget naive and misguided or saintly and enlightened?" A darn good question!
james_hime: Thanks. I think maybe I wrote those but it's been so long ago now I don't remember for sure. If you want to ask one go ahead- if I have to think too hard on the answer it will say something about who wrote the questions I suppose
dpwhite237: It's funny, I teach in a high school and a lot of these questions are better than the questions the text books ask about some of the novels we have to read.
james_hime: Well, there you go. I suppose that must of been a reference to Jeremiah toward the end. I think a lot of people think he was naive and misguided but I for one think he was guided by Virgil's edict, "Love conquers all."
calgflames: Go ahead, Gerald.
g_so: Which authors have most inspired you to write/influenced your work?
james_hime: Mostly guys outside the genre. Cormac McCarthy is a particular favorite of mine as is Larry McMurtry. Being from Texas I admire any Texan that can read much less write. Within the genre I really like Furst, Pelecanos, Connelly, Burke- oh, hell, just call me a fan
calgflames: Dave, you're up
dpwhite237: Talk to us a little about your writing process. Do you outline? What comes first the characters or the plot? Just curious about how you go about writing.
james_hime: I don't outline. Maybe it shows. Characters always come first and then circumstances- I like to drop a character into trouble and see what she or he does. The plot generally follows from there. I often start out with an idea directionally about where the story is going and often as not it goes off somewhere else.
dpwhite237: I don't think it shows.
james_hime: Thanks, I think
calgflames: A little off-topic - is SCARED MONEY a Jeremiah Spur book?
g_so: I thought the story came together well. Very intricate, something I like.
dpwhite237: (that's a compliment)
james_hime: On MONEY yes indeed and thanks for asking.
calgflames: Thanks. I saw the absent Aldo last weekend and he mentioned that he'd read it, but I didn't think to ask him about it.
james_hime: Thanks Gerald. The book that got sold actually had a different ending than the one I first wrote. My agent said it kept getting rejected because the killer was too predictable. So I changed the killer.
g_so: Are you working on a third Spur now, Jim?
james_hime: It's done and in my agent's hands. It's set in Mexico against the backdrop of the 2000 presidential election. Woven through it is as much of Mexico as I could work in- I made a couple trips down yonder for research. It is by far the darker of the three, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
james_hime: Should have said darkest. Apologies to any English teachers who are online.
calgflames: Since it's fiction, will the election have a better outcome? :)
webmavenmaggie: It's exceptional - the scenes set in Mexico are so vivid.
calgflames: Sorry, couldn't resist. Harry, go ahead.
harryhunsicker: Give us the nickel version of your road to publication. Did you try to get short stories published first? How was the agent-hunting process? Any horror stories along the way? (Not "horror" in the genre sense.)
james_hime: Sorry- I meant the Mexican election. Not ours.
james_hime: I never wrote a short story that I would let anybody see. I sat down and wrote the book and then had the usual travails finding an agent. Lucked into a good one. Then he couldn't get it sold so I had to wholesale rewrite it. Nothing is ever as easy as it seems like it ought to be in this business, but it's still worth all the torture. I've never had more fun in my life.
calgflames: Another question from Aldo. "Why did Jim choose to make Clyde a black deputy?"
james_hime: I had this character in my head who was like Snoop Miller, the part played by Don Cheadle in "Out of Sight." I thought he would be fun to work with- but also I wanted to explore the theme of racism in modern day (Southern) society and he gave me a handy way to do that. The book was written in the aftermath of the James Byrd dragging over in Jasper and I wanted to get to the bottom as best I could of why people would do such a thing.
calgflames: Go ahead, Dave
dpwhite237: Piggy backing on that answer, You said you chose the present tense feel because of hearing an abused woman talk in present tense. Is the novel based on a real event? Do you get plot ideas from the news?
james_hime: Not typically- some people have said to me that DANCE feels too "ripped from the headlines" somehow. Like the pedophilic preacher being too much a reflection of recent issues in the Catholic church. In fact that was part of the plot months before all that hit the news stand. I have mentioned the Jasper dragging and that did influence the book directionally, as did the Branch Davidian fiasco. I wanted to explore religious fanaticism and its effect on people.
calgflames: I have a question not about the book per se but about something in the acknowledgements. You thank your writing teacher Chris Rogers. Is that the same Chris Rogers who writes the Dixie Flanagan series?
james_hime: The self same one.
g_so: Ah. :)
calgflames: I miss her series.
webmavenmaggie: Me, too.
calgflames: MUCH better than Evanovich's series. (For those who haven't read it, hers is a bounty hunter main character.
james_hime: She taught an evening course on mystery and crime fiction at Rice U here in Houston that I took. She said trying to get a literary novel published is like trying to win the lottery but there'll always be a market for good crime fiction.
calgflames: As a reader, that's good to hear.
james_hime: Yeah, she's between publishers and I don't know where her writing stands just now.
calgflames: Go ahead, Dave.
dpwhite237: Both Connelly and Lippman say the main character of a series is the series. How much of your series have you planned ahead in terms of Spur's life? Or in terms of the series, how much do you plan ahead, drop seeds of the future into current books?
g_so: I have two of the Factor books (Rogers, not O'Reilly).
dpwhite237: You don't outline so maybe you don't do it at all, but I think it's a worthy question.
james_hime: Gosh, I can only tell the truth since Maggie is listening in. Fact of the matter is, I don't think about where the series is going so much because I figure it will take me with it until it's done. And this one seems still to have a book or three to go but I won't know for sure until I write the next one. dpwhite237: In terms of my writing, I was hoping you'd say that. What are you working on now, Dave?
dpwhite237: I've written some short stories, private eye stories, but I just started a novel featuring the private eye, and I'm halfway through and don't know where it's going to go on the next page, nevermine 3 books down the line.
james_hime: Welcome to the club, bro.
calgflames: Maggie, go ahead.
webmavenmaggie: A pocket-poll: Would anyone here like to see a Jeremiah Spur prequel, before he retired from the Rangers?
dpwhite237: Prequels are always cool.
harryhunsicker: You bet
james_hime: Okay, you all. I'm between projects at the moment so be careful what you wish for.
calgflames: Another question from Aldo: "Will Jim be touring L.A. for his third book?"
james_hime: We'll need to get a publisher for it first and work that out with them I reckon. MONEY was a one book deal but I expect St. Martin's will want to do the third one too. So far they've spent touring money on me like extremely, extremely sober sailors. But I love 'em anyhow.
calgflames: Go, Dave.
dpwhite237: Judging by your inspirations, the authors you mentioned, and your setting (and perhaps I'm making a stereotypical assumption), but do you view hard boiled crime stories as an extension of the western genre?
mysdawg2003: hello, hello, hello, I'm here now
james_hime: I never thought about it that way but I suppose you could make the argument that they are. Good guys and bad guys and gun play. Same amount of whiskey. But fewer horses.
dpwhite237: You could use motorcycles. :-)
g_so: Come back to me. I'm still typing. Go with your question, Jan.
calgflames: I'll jump in then. You said you're between projects. Are you thinking at all of a standalone?
james_hime: As Maggie can tell you about one a day. Haven't hit on that perfect premise yet. But I'm toying with several different ideas.
webmavenmaggie: Notice I'm not saying anything? ;-)
calgflames: If you do one, I hope you go back to Spur.
james_hime: I ain't done with ol' Jeremiah by a long shot. At least I don't think I am.
calgflames: Maggie, is the prequel something you're pushing for? :)
james_hime: Whoops, shouldn't have called him "old."
webmavenmaggie: When Jim and I chat, the topics are just about anything under the sun.
calgflames: Ok, Gerald, go.
g_so: I like that Spur is an older protag. Was this a conscious choice?
webmavenmaggie: I don't mean to be mysterious but Jim can write just about anything IMHO so that's what we discuss.
webmavenmaggie: Pocket Poll: If you had to guess, how old do you think Spur is in DANCE?
webmavenmaggie: sorry - jumped the gun
james_hime: AH HA! Yes. I wanted a guy who had seen a lot of life. I wanted the quintessential moral man dropped into a world of immorality that was all around him all the time he just didn't see it. I'm 50 myself. I think young people are kinda boring. But I'll write a young protag in my standalone assuming I ever get traction on one.
dpwhite237: ouch, good thing I'm starting to consider myself old... don't want to be boring.
g_so: I agree. I don't like ageless heroes.
calgflames: Can I give a weasel answer, Maggie? Not as old as I originally thought he was.
james_hime: I was kidding about young people being boring of course. It's what old fools tell themselves to keep from feeling jealous.
dpwhite237: I know it, Jim, just couldn't resist, and If I had to guess, I'll go mid-fifties.
calgflames: Hi, Aldo.
g_so: I would say 60s.
calgflames: We've already asked all your questions. :)
mysdawg2003: Hello everyone, back from my chores
james_hime: Howdy Aldo.
g_so: Hi, Aldo.
mysdawg2003: Thanks, I'll check the transcript
harryhunsicker: Hi Aldo
mysdawg2003: Mr. Hime, a pleasure
g_so: You can ask more anytime.
dpwhite237: howdy aldo.
calgflames: I think the "retired" business threw me off and made me think he was older at the beginning.
james_hime: The math on Jeremiah's age is that he was 54 in DANCE. You can't do it from that book but you can do it from MONEY. The math I mean.
g_so: Do the Rangers have a retirement age like other professions?
james_hime: Great question. I assume they do but have never researched it. I was assuming Jeremiah did his thirty with Texas law enforcement and hung 'em up.
g_so: I see.
calgflames: Go, Dave.
dpwhite237: This is kind of broad, and you've probably answered it a ton of times, but do you have any advice for younger writers trying to break in? Trying to get a novel done, for example?
james_hime: Oh, wow. let me think a second.
g_so: Dave "Self-Referential" White?
dpwhite237: Hey, I'll take all the advice I can get.
james_hime: I think it would be the old Churchill line: never, never, never surrender. Like they say the difference between a professional writer and an amateur is that a pro is an amateur who didn't quit.
dpwhite237: Nice, I like the sound of that.
calgflames: I'm curious about something. I haven't seen the paperback of the book. Did they do covers with both sides of the badge on that one, too?
james_hime: No, they did a more artsy thing. There's still a badge on the cover but it's de-emphasize and at the top is a sort of out of focus picture of people dancing taken from above with the center being a Stetson. Somebody told me it looks like two guys dancing. Not in Texas, buddy.
calgflames: I know it sounds weird, but I found the back of the badge interesting.
james_hime: The Ranger's badge is made from a silver Mexican peso coin, hence the Spanish lettering. They are very cool.
calgflames: Go, Harry.
harryhunsicker: What are you reading at the moment? Who is in your to-be-read pile that you can't wait to get to?
james_hime: Don't laugh, but I'm switching back and forth between Furst's DARK VOYAGE and Faulkner's AS I LAY DYING. Trying to get a handle on my roots as a writer. I have been trying to get to CALIFORNIA GIRL for months but everybody in my family loves the book so much I can't get them to give it back to me. May have to break down and go buy one.
mysdawg2003: How has your law practice influenced your characters? Isn't Spur based upon a Texas Legislator?
dpwhite237: rule-breaker :-)
james_hime: Spur was partly based on a State Representative I worked for in the early '70s named E.L. Short from Tahoka, Texas which is way out in the Panhandle. He was the original Marlboro man. A very straightforward kind of guy. And another former law partner made his way into the mix of Jeremiah's creation. But that's about the only influence there's been.
calgflames: Any other questions, folks? I promised Jim we wouldn't keep him more than an hour.
g_so: Thanks much, Jim.
dpwhite237: Thanks, very helpful.
harryhunsicker: Yes, thanks a lot.
james_hime: Hey my pleasure you all. This has been a lot of fun. Thanks for the interest.
calgflames: Looking forward to SCARED MONEY.
dpwhite237: me too
webmavenmaggie: Out now in your local bookstore :).
james_hime: As we say in Texas, bless your all's hearts.
calgflames: And hope to see you at Left Coast Crime next year.
webmavenmaggie: El Paso? Of course!
mysdawg2003: If you haven't read it yet, its great!
james_hime: I'll be there. You'll recognize me. Funny looking guy, talks with a twang.
g_so: Feel free to join the Yahoo! Group, Jim: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/DetecToday
calgflames: Thanks again for coming, Jim.
james_hime: You bet. Y'all have a nice week.
webmavenmaggie: Thanks to everybody for such exceptional questions!
g_so: And thanks, Jan, for setting things up.
webmavenmaggie: Jan rules!