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John Rickards

Sunday, January 23, 2005


: Graham Powell
bolitar01: Jodi Dabson-Bollendorf
bquertermous: Bryon Quertermous
btinsley785: Bob Tinsley
calgflames: Jan Long
dpwhite237: Dave White
g_so: Gerald So
jamesrwinter: Jim Winter
megan_powell_net: Megan Powell
mysdawg2003: Aldo Calcagno
sarahweinman: Sarah Weinman
yemighty: John Rickards

g_so: Did you do anything to simulate US dialects when writing Winter's End? Did you do any extensive work to get into the voice?

yemighty: Individual regional dialects are a pain in the ass to get across in writing, even if you're a native - doubly so if you're writing for non-dialect speakers. So I got an idea for the patterns of speech from description and from posting style online, but that was all I decided I needed. yemighty: Could've been way off, of course...

g_so: I see. It wasn't far off to my ear.

yemighty: No? More luck than judgement, I'd say. But I watch a stupid amount of TV so I have a certain amount of in-built exposure to the range of US accents. yemighty: And people say TV's bad for you! :D

g_so: Go ahead, Dave.

dpwhite237: John, why Boston and New England?

mysdawg2003: ?

btinsley785: Yo Megan.

sarahweinman: ?

dpwhite237: instead of say... England and England (Says the ugly American).

yemighty: I needed a more or less empty part of the country for the small police department (larger one would have no need for outside help), and the SW had been kinda done, leaving the Pacific NW and New England. Aroostook came up first on a search and fitted nicely. And England is nowhere near big enough for it - even our most far-flung places are pretty packed, and our police structure's different. Plus I like having guys with guns.

dpwhite237: Gotcha... makes sense

sarahweinman: Yeah, baton sticks just don't have the same effect.

yemighty: "Don't move! Or I twirl!"

g_so: :) Next Aldo, then Sarah. Go, Aldo.

mysdawg2003: How did you develop the opening scene? My wife and I were instantly engaged and fought over the book in bed.

bquertermous: You should write a blog post about why you dont like crime fiction set in the UK.

yemighty: That was the first thing I thought of. That scene, and the guy refusing to talk. So it never really needed developing because it was self-contained. The 'why' and the 'how' side of things, and the story afterwards, took much more effort. I suppose it depends *how* they were fighting, of course...

g_so: An instant puzzle. Go ahead, Sarah. If you want to ask the next Q, type ? and I'll add you to the queue.

sarahweinman: Did you ever think of writing WE [Winter's End] in first person past tense, or was it always meant to be in present, and why choose that POV style.

dpwhite237: man... Sarah took my second question... I knew I should have chronologied better. or something.

yemighty: No, always present. I have written in past and in third person, but I like first-present. I think it has more immediacy than past tense, because if the narrator is saying, "I did this, I did that" then there's the unspoken assumption that he survived to tell the tale. Present, he could be dead next page. I like that.

g_so: I see, John. Neat. Next q, anyone?

mysdawg2003: John, I think this is why I liked the book, this POV.

dpwhite237: ?

bquertermous: ?

sarahweinman: ?

g_so: go ahead, Dave.

dpwhite237: The drugging scene, where he flips on Gemma. I'm not sure how that really tied in to the book... Could you explain more?

yemighty: The drugs he's been put on do cause psychosis and paranoia - the whatever-it-is for insomnia is banned in the UK for that reason. I just needed a way of showing the effect it was having (and that it was down to drugs, nothing else). And, in all honesty, it allowed me to apply the Formula for fictional romance.

dpwhite237: gotcha. I understood why he was taking, but why those drugs were substituted with the bad ones by the dead doctor.

yemighty: Oh, I see. IIRC (really should read my own books from time to time...) it's on instruction from Nick, who wants him put over the edge and has the doc caught in the blackmail trap to get him to do it.

dpwhite237: Ah, I missed the Nick instruction.

yemighty: Or it's actually a huge plot hole that I've missed up to now. Which is, sadly, possible... :)

g_so: Hi, Jan.

megan_powell_net: Greetings!

calgflames: Hi everyone!

yemighty: Heya

dpwhite237: howdy

calgflames: Sorry I'm late.

btinsley785: Hi

bquertermous: Dave was probably laughing to hard to catch the plot hole.

megan_powell_net: I didn't read it as a plot hole.

g_so: Jan has not finished the book.

dpwhite237: Wow, Bryon, you're brutal...

yemighty: I'll bear that in mind for spoilerificness. (Jan, not Bryon)

g_so: Go ahead with your q, Bryon.

sarahweinman: hmm I'll have to rephrase my question I suspect.

yemighty: I'm pretty sure the IIRC was the reason for it, but I'm never entirely sure how well these things come across and it's been ages since I read WE...

dpwhite237: apparently I'm behind on my internet abbreviations...IIRC?

megan_powell_net: If I Recall Correctly.

bleekerbooks: If I Remember Correctly.

dpwhite237: thanks.

bquertermous: I'm not the first to notice that there is a substantial kick up in the quality between WE and TTOG [Rickards's second book, The Touch of Ghosts], what kind of things did you learn from writing WE that made the second easier...if anything?

sarahweinman: ooo good question.

yemighty: Ooh...

bolitar01: ?

yemighty: That's very true, Bryon. As you get used to writing a particular character or style, it gets easier. I'd also had all the plotting advice from agent and editor before I started on TTOG, and I was on much more solid ground to start with. On top of that, I was also writing full-time, no day job. I can't think of any specifics, but I can think of a bunch between writing TTOG and TF [Rickards's third book, The Fall]. I made some daft mistakes with TTOG which I was pulled up on by my editor. Avoided them with the third book. Hehehe. Of course, every book you write should be the best you've ever done. You should be learning from each, and if you stop and the quality starts to slip, that's the time to realise you've peaked and retire.

bquertermous: yeah and that third one came to pretty easily didnt it?

sarahweinman: incredibly so

yemighty: So in theory, WE is the worst book I'll ever write.

g_so: cool. Go ahead, Sarah.

sarahweinman: OK, now I won't get into specifics as it's spoiler city, but the ending has, shall we say, led to some discussion. Did you always have it in mind as you wrote or did you consider other alternatives?

yemighty: The ending is completely different to both the original idea and the eventual ending from the first draft. It is the original idea for the ending when I was planning out the second draft (on reading the first one, my agent said, "This is fantastic, John! Just change the plot." So a whole lotta story got changed. But I didn't consider any other ending from draft 2 onwards. These days, I would, yeah. My endings in TTOG and TF (especially) are much cooler.

bquertermous: ?

g_so: Go ahead, Jodi.

bquertermous: I want to know if Gerald has a little notepad by his computer where he keeps track of the questions or if he just gets psychic messages when its the next persons turn.

sarahweinman: ha. And I just finished reading a psychic detective book too.

megan_powell_net: You didn't know he was psychic?

bolitar01: The one thing in the book that didn't quite ring true for me was Rourke's interrogation techniques. Some of that can be explained by the drug issue. But this is supposed to be Rourke's area of expertise. I'm curious, what research did you do into police/FBI interrogation techniques?

yemighty: Good question, Jodi. I did a good amount of research, since that's supposed to be his big thing. There are different schools of interrogation, from the 'good cop/bad cop' model from the 40s (IIRC) to more 'getting them to trust you' methods of more recent times. But real interrogation takes hours and is very, very repetitive - not good to have written in a book. So Al is more the "persuading them to open up by getting them used to talking to you" sort than the "Face it, pal! We got you by da balls! You come clean wid me, maybe a square it with the DA and yous gets a decent cell. You play hardball, and you do 20 years in the electric chair!" type. It's all dramatic license really. That's my excuse anyway.

bolitar01: Thanks. That makes sense.

g_so: ok, moving on to Bryon.

calgflames: ?

dpwhite237: ?

g_so: Jan after bryon, then dave.

bquertermous: You mention your agent said he loved the book but you should change the plot, did he sign you for that or did you make changes before hed represent you?

yemighty: He signed me for a different book entirely, about a year before I finished WE in draft 1 form. That book he liked, but it didn't get a publisher. The follow-up I'd nearly finished when he signed me didn't get a publisher. A third I wrote in the four months or so after that he couldn't make head nor tale of, and then, shit-scared I'd lose my agent, I wrote WE in a month and a half and he did the cool/change plot thing.

megan_powell_net: Wow.

yemighty: Nice guy, my agent. Could've dropped me so easily.

g_so: Jan's q.

calgflames: Dave already asked my *real* question (boo,hiss, Dave) - why set the book in the US instead of England. But your answer leads to another question. If you wanted to show the difference in police tactics between the two countries, then why a PI? I'm so curious about all of this because there have been comments on a few lists lately from Brits complaining about there not being many PI books set in the UK.

yemighty: I had a quiet week off work - the day job was going tits-up at the time - and did 32,000 words in 8 days to finish it.

bquertermous: tits-up?

dpwhite237: greatest phrase ever

bquertermous: I didn't know you worked with pam anderson.

bleekerbooks: I liked Ray's "knob rot" - where is he, anyway?

sarahweinman: You didn't know? John ghostwrote STAR.

yemighty: "Going down the toilet"/"Going to crap"/ etc. And true nob rot is *galloping* too...

bquertermous: uh Graham, your relationship to Ray's knob rot is none of our business.

yemighty: Anyway, Jan's Q... I didn't want to do a cop main character. Partly because I wanted to be able to play fast and loose with what he could do, procedurally, without doing the maverick cop ON THE EDGE!!!! thing. And partly because I don't know the nitty-gritty of police procedure and I'm too lazy to do that much research. :) But PI books set in the UK - again, we don't have the system to make them (PIs) worthwhile unless you think your husband/wife is cheating on you.

sarahweinman: don't look at me--Canadian PIs suck too.

bquertermous: yeah but we also have to endure a lot of shit PIs because of it.

bleekerbooks: Amen, BQ.

dpwhite237: Yeah like college PIs, what the hell.

yemighty: Somehow, I manage to survive on it...

megan_powell_net: Palmer method, baby.

g_so: go, dave.

dpwhite237: You mentioned you wanted your series books to be able to stand alone like the Reacher books instead of having them tie together. What's the reason for that? Should each event in a character's life buildin the next? And what's the deal with having a Red Sox player ever hit .380?

sarahweinman: I knew Dave was going to ask that.

sarahweinman: and not b/c I am psychic. Just smart.

dpwhite237: More like I'm very predictable.

sarahweinman: extremely.

dpwhite237: baseball wise, anyway (winks suspiciously)

bquertermous: and he talked about it on DetecToday, no fair repeating posts, Dave.

bleekerbooks: Didn't Nomar hit .383?

dpwhite237: I don't know, I blank out on whatever good things Sox do.

bquertermous: There's a funny canadian PI in Amos Walkers latest adventure, Retro. Alright I think john has his monkeys typing while he sleeps.

sarahweinman: you only just figured this out now?

bleekerbooks: What time is it in Jolly Olde England?

yemighty: 8:46pm. Red Sox? No, no. The team's never named, but they were talking about the state league (hence being on first name terms with the coach). Presumably about a good, but inconsistent player playing below his natural league level (hence his high average). Although the figure I stole from a Due South baseball episode from season 3. And I like the idea of people being able to pick up a book in the middle of the series and enjoy it without needing to read the rest. It annoys the crap out of me when writers constantly reference stuff in past exploits in their present stuff. Like they've only got one story and they're scared to let it go.

calgflames: ?

dpwhite237: Oh, it's not the Red Sox? Then I like the book a lot more now.

yemighty: And it means I don't end up repeating myself. No, not the Sox. :))

bquertermous: personally I love the meta story idea where all of the books in a series add of to on ebig book with lots of extended references and intertwining plots and characters...but I also like soap operas

dpwhite237: and, apparently, musical theater.

sarahweinman: which soaps, Bryon?

bquertermous: I'm not stupid enough to answer that.

sarahweinman: hahaha.

yemighty: He *claims*...

bquertermous: general hospital and young and the restless.

yemighty: You sad, sad, man.

bquertermous: who said that??

sarahweinman: ?

g_so: Go ahead, Jan, then Sarah.

calgflames: Scrolling back and can't find it - someone said you'll be going to Bouchercon. Any chance you'll attend a Left Coast Crime? Or the 2006 B'con?

yemighty: Which one's '06? Chicago's this year, no idea where it is after that. But yeah, I'll certainly be at the next one. LCC's a different kettle of fish, IIRC when it is - timetables, work and things. But even that's a possibility...

sarahweinman: Well 06's LCC is in Bristol, after all...

yemighty: Oh yeah. That I'll go to, just for novelty value.

dpwhite237: not Bristol CT, I imagine.

calgflames: '06 B'con is in Madison, WI, LCC is in Bristol.

yemighty: Yeah, Bristol I'll be at, 'cos it's cool having it here in the UK. And I'll be in Madison too I very much suspect.

bquertermous: did you really just use 'cos?

yemighty: Yup. yemighty: I'm an abbreviating little scamp like that.

bquertermous: I still want to see you at Malice.

sarahweinman: oh that would be *hilarious*. John and the cat mystery writers.

yemighty: That would be brilliant. yemighty: I want an invite onto panel debates. So they can't throw me out.

g_so: Go ahead, Sarah.

sarahweinman: I always ask this so why not again: what are you working on at the moment? Whoa *somebody* is late

calgflames: Hi, Jim

bquertermous: JIM!!!

sarahweinman: hey Jim

btinsley785: Hi, Jim

jamesrwinter: I'm not late, just fashiionable. And the recurrent hangover is gone. Shot of Jameson, anyone?

yemighty: Finishing the editing on 'The Fall' (book #3), which is out this time next year in the UK. And then, #4 to be finished before November.

dpwhite237: James R. Winter.

yemighty: Hey Jim.

megan_powell_net: There goes the neighborhood.

dpwhite237: I'm jumping out of line, but do you have an idea for #4?

yemighty: Only vague when it comes to the story, but lots about the structure to #4. Which'll be very complicated to do (and very complicated to explain here, I think - all about big stories, individual stories, self-contained chapterish short stories, zoom in, zoom in, etc.). yemighty: Hehehe

g_so: Next q, anyone?

bquertermous: ?

mysdawg2003: ?

g_so: Bryon, go.

bquertermous: Is there anything youd like to write other than books?

jamesrwinter: ?

yemighty: Umm... maybe - in theory - screenplays or graphic novel scripts (which are effectively screenplays). That'd be cool, but I've got no plans for such.

g_so: Go ahead, Aldo.

mysdawg2003: Selfish question, will any of us appear as cameo's in future books?

g_so: Jim is next.

yemighty: Hahaha. That's actually a possibility. There've already been a couple of cameos for friends here in the UK in TF, so it's certainly possibly. And there was an accidental one in WE - I've got a mate called Dan Townsend who was convinced the sheriff was him. I have pointed out that if it had been, I'd have made the sheriff a fat ginger twat, but he still insists it's him and not an accident of naming...

g_so: one minute official chat remaining.

jamesrwinter: John, a lot of people are saying WINTER'S END doesn't seem like a series. Are you going to follow Connelly's method of changing up with each book?

yemighty: To an extent, yeah. There'd be no point trying to redo the same story - or type of story - with each book. WE's a one-off. But this does mean I don't have to repeat myself. So TTOG's a different style of story, TF's totally different, very noirish, and it'll carry on like that. The character develops and changes, but the stories are unique and standalone. Bigger, I don't know about, but better certainly.

g_so: John, you want to hang out a while longer, few more Qs?

dpwhite237: ?

yemighty: Sure, Gerald.

g_so: Just let us know if you have to leave. Go, Dave.

bolitar01: I've got to run. Its been fun. Thanks everybody!

dpwhite237: Any chance we'll see TTOG in the US of A?

sarahweinman: nice to meet you Jodi

calgflames: Bye, Jodi

yemighty: Bye Jodi

bolitar01: Bye!

yemighty: TTOG in the USA - possibly, I suppose. There's some complications given the current changes with my agent and hence my ability to comment on anything is limited, but there's a chance that they'll make a serious effort to sell TTOG to the US, depending on how the pb of WE sells. Hopefully for something other than the standard SMP UK-cheapo deal as well. But that's just be being greedy. In the meantime, Amazon UK ships internationally, you know... ;)

dpwhite237: yeah, but the exchange rates.

sarahweinman: and you can order TTOG from Canadian bookstores

bquertermous: or just not read it

dpwhite237: think they'll send it to me Sarah, or is my name on computer in those things too?

megan_powell_net: Bookstores Without Borders. yemighty: The price is about the same, h/b to h/b. $24 for WE, £9 for TTOG ($18 ish)

dpwhite237: ah, okay.

g_so: Next q? anyone.

bquertermous: most independant mystery bookstores can order it for you too.

dpwhite237: cool.

sarahweinman: Poisoned Pen is probably a good bet.

dpwhite237: Gerald, do you have a question?

bquertermous: though if you find a used bookstore John doesnt get any money from it.

yemighty: And I can buy copies and mail them internationally as well.

g_so: Ok, I'm typing. John, did you outline WE or just make it up as you went along?

dpwhite237: Ah, I knew there was another question I wanted ask. Good one, G!

yemighty: I do kinda outline books. WE and TTOG each occupied about a page and a half of bullet point style "this happens here" scribbled bits of pencil. As I get to them, I tick them off. But the plan's very loose. Gemma and that little subplot wasn't in the original plan at all, for example...

sarahweinman: shit that's how I outline too. I may have to change my method now

yemighty: All the cool kids are doing it Sarah!

bquertermous: yeah all the cool kids and John

g_so: I should try that.

mysdawg2003: What is everyone reading currently

g_so: STONE QUARRY by Rozan.

yemighty: It suits my haphazard aproach. But I do occasionally have to fill in gaps by scribbling supplemental lists on the backs of envelopes and stuff.

bleekerbooks: DEATH CLAIMS by Hansen.

dpwhite237: Walking the Perfect Square by Reed Farel Coleman.

sarahweinman: IN THE COMPANY OF LIARS by David Ellis (due out in April) which is written in reverse chronological order.

megan_powell_net: Perdido Street Station. Finally. Still. Not much time for reading the past couple weeks.

mysdawg2003: Three Way Split by Gil Brewer

bquertermous: Barely Legal February edition

dpwhite237: nice!

sarahweinman: one is not like the others...

yemighty: Umm... I'm not reading anything at all at the moment. The last thing I finished a couple of weeks ago was the last in the 'Powers' series by Brian Bendis.

btinsley785: Muder and all that Jazz, Dangerous Women, Wild Crimes, General Murders God, I love Powers!

jamesrwinter: I'm reading THE SUN ALSO RISES by Hemingway.

bquertermous: how'd you like IN THE MIDST OF DEATH, Jim?

megan_powell_net: Oh, yeah, somebody's gotta be all "literary"....

jamesrwinter: Thought ITMOD was great. I think that's where Scudder was fully realized.

g_so: John, who are your influences, fave authors?

yemighty: Ah, favourites/influences: Michael Marshall (Smith) (last book and next one excepted), Ken Bruen (fave, too recent to be an inf), Warren Ellis, Hunter S Thompson, Chuck Palahniuk.

dpwhite237: No Stephen King or Peter Straub?

sarahweinman: Although John's really excited for Michael Marshall's next book

yemighty: Nope - King's short stories are cool. The long stuff I can't stand for the most part - too waffly. Except 'Eyes of the Dragon', which rocks on toast. But that was kinda different. And we don't talk about MMS' next one - "The Straw Men 3: THE KILLER TAKES MANHATTAN!"

g_so: Q, anyone?

dpwhite237: Are any of your stories/novels based on facts from real life?

yemighty: Reali life? Nope, none at all. I lead a *staggeringly* dull existence for the most part, so I never use my own life, and the big real stuff is a bit obvious I think. TF is based in part on a historical case, but only loosely. The only exception so far is a story for 'Dublin Noir', which is based on a real piece of comedy coolness.

dpwhite237: Good work again, Gerald. Way to contain Quertermous.

g_so: :) Thanks, for coming.


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