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Jason Pinter

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Jason Pinter
Gerald So
Dave White

Jason: So how is everyone?

Dave: Pretty good.

Gerald: doing well. sorry I missed the Aug. 6 launch. How did that go?

Jason: No problem. It was pretty good, fun had by all (I hope).

Dave: Definitely a good night. Lemme ask you something Jason, since this is a private eye list: Henry Parker, while a news reporter, does seem to have a lot in common with the PI genre roots. Is this intentional?

Jason: I think so. He doesn't play by the exact same rules that govern traditional journalists, he's a little more on the fringe (Like PI's, who don't follow the same laws as cops)

Dave: Yeah, it strikes me as we've gone forward, Parker becomes more PI-ish with each novel. The Mark is a very straight ahead thriller, then The Guilty has a lot of investigation, and then The Stolen has the most, plus the family stuff is rooted in Ross MacDonald. Why'd you decide to do that?

Jason: Well Henry is a reporter, so I needed to make sure as we went along that the books weren't all about him and his brushes with crime/death. He needed to be a reporter who, as a byproduct of his ambition and intuition, finds himself in the middle of things.

Gerald: You say he doesn't follow the same rules as traditional journalists. How so? Is that a part of him being a specific type of reporter?

Jason: I think there's actually more investigation in each of the books. The next book, THE FURY, has more than THE STOLEN. But I also like each book to have something personal at stake for Henry, something that fleshes out his character as well as driving the plot.

Gerald: You've worked that personal stake in well, yes.

Dave: Have you read a lot of PI fiction? Do you have favorite PI authors?

Jason: Though a lot of the books are based on real research and real reporting (and are based on the techniques of the profession), I didn't want to write what I'd call a "police procedural' type of book.

Gerald: I get what you mean. There are a lot of reporter procedurals out there.

Jason: What happens to Henry doesn't generally happen to most reporters, and he certainly skirts certain issues. I compare it to Harry Bosch, in that is Bosch actually killed as many people as he did in Connelly's novels, he would have either been booted off the force or gone insane a long time ago.

Dave: Yeah, Lehane says that's the reason Kenzie and Gennaro aren't written about anymore. They'd be psychopaths.

Jason: I totally get that. And it's something that I'll probably have to deal with at some point.

Dave: So, favorite PI writers?

Jason: Lehane. He's my favorite contemporary writer, and I LOVED the Kenzie/Gennaro books.

Dave: Yeah, I'd agree with that.

Jason: I like Crais too, the Tess Monaghan series. Some guy named Dave is pretty nifty.

Dave: Please, that White guy's an ass.

Gerald: Just remember who said it first.

Jason: LOL. Do people still say 'lol'?

Dave: Believe me, it's been said a lot more than just from me.

Jason: Or does that show how out of touch I am...?

Dave: Actually people say qud now

Dave: "qud" translates to "laugh out loud."

Gerald: From the Latin?

Dave: Yeah. So Jason when you say the novels have to be personal, not every case has to connect to Parker's past, right? Can you explain the personal thing more?

Jason: I also think Henry differs from PIs in that a PI novel is generally kicked into gear when someone solicits the business of the PI...Henry's job more often than not is to find the story himself. Not every case has to directly relate to Henry's past, but I like that each one has some element that impacts him. In THE STOLEN, it's that both Henry and Amanda came from broken homes so when they investigate the missing children it's not only a story. In the next two books we learn a lot more about where Henry came from, his family, and how he became who he is.

Dave: Nice.

Gerald: Jason, have you felt rushed with the number of Parker books published in the last year and a half?

Jason: Hmm...Yes and no. The deadlines are definitely tough, but at the same time I feel like it does keep me focused. I'm a pretty fast writer--THE MARK was written in about 9 months, and that includes a lot of time figuring out pacing. At some point I'd like to slow things down, maybe try something outside the series, but if this helps build an audience faster and I'm able to keep up, I'll make it work.

Dave: What's your writing process, if I may ask?

Jason: I get up around 7:30 (our dog wakes me), then I'll have breakfast, read newspapers, websites and blogs until about 10, then I start working. I work until about 1, then have lunch and slack off until about 3, then I work until 6 or 7 when my wife gets home. Then I usually put in another hour or two late at night, around 10 or 11.

Dave: Do you write to figure things out, outline, revise at the same time?

Jason: I never revise until I finish the first draft. I need to know how the story is going to play out, that way when I go back and edit I can edit with the knowledge of weaving all the strands together, dropping in hints along the way.

Dave: I'm the same way.

Jason: I know other people do it different ways, revising every page over and over again, I just can't work that way. I need to know what happens as I go through it a second time.

Gerald: How real is your New York? Are the Gazette and Dispatch based on real papers?

Jason: The NYC in my books is based on the real NYC (though Hobbs County in THE STOLEN is made up). The Gazette is kind of an amalgam of the New York Times and the Daily News, and the Dispatch is kind of an amalgam of the Daily News and the Post.

Gerald: I got the sense that the Dispatch was somewhat trashier than the Gazette, which I would say is generally true of the Times vs. the Post.

Jason: Yeah, it's definitely got a lot of the Post's DNA in it. Much more tabloidy, much more lowbrow. The Daily News is kind of in the middle.

Dave: If you were a PI, what would you keep in the top drawer of your desk?

Jason: A resume, since I don't think I'd be a very good PI.

Dave: HA!

Gerald: Jason, what's your take on the reception the Parker books have gotten?

Jason: I'm really happy with it so far, but it's still weird to think people actually read my books. Obviously there are a few people who haven't liked them, but overall it's been really positive both from critics and readers. It's pretty humbling and flattering, but also raises the bar since I don't want there to be any stinkers.

Dave: Do you have any favorite reviews of the ones you've gotten?

Jason: Best review I've gotten is probably a tie between the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Sentinel for THE GUILTY. Not just because the reviews were good, but because the critics who reviewed them (Oline Cogdill and Paul Goat Allen) have read everything ever published in crime fiction, so it really felt like I was being validated by the best.

Dave: Congrats! What advice would you give for up-and-coming writers?

Jason: Keep writing, and keep revising. Never submit your work until you can read it and honestly say you wouldn't change a single word. And if that book doesn't sell, write another.

Dave: Are you willing to tell us more about what The Fury is about?

Jason: Sure thing, Dave!!!

Dave: Hey, I'm trying here, gimme a break.

Jason: The story kicks off when Henry is accosted outside of his office one night by a man who's totally strung out, muttering something unintelligible. Since a colleague had recently been attacked, Henry goes straight home. A few hours later, he gets a call from a detective who tells him that the same man was just found murdered in his apartment. And that the man was Henry's brother.

Dave: whoa. cool.

Gerald: This is what you meant by Henry's origins coming out.

Jason: So as readers knows, Henry doesn't have a brother. At least that he's aware of. So he has to go home for the first time in a decade to get to the bottom of this. And just when he thinks he has the answers, the bottom falls out from under him, and a much darker story comes to light. He has to both find out who he really is, while also investigating why this man was murdered, and why he presumably came to Henry for help.

Gerald: Kind of an Oedipus Rex thing.

Jason: Certainly in his relationship with his father, which has been touched on but not really developed until THE FURY.

Gerald: Speaking of that, do you share anything in common with Henry? I always wonder if authors put much of themselves into their protags.

Jason: Some things for sure. I wrote THE MARK partly because I was sick and tired of my generation seemingly being represented by people like Jayson Blair et al, simply because they got the most press. Everyone thought he was indicative of the moral decay of this generation. So I wanted to create a character that could be something of a role model, or at least appeal to people my age (while also traditional crime fiction fans). Henry and I both share a mutual disgust for the people who seem to hold the megaphones for our generation, and the media that gives it to them.

Dave: The books have already been released overseas right? If so, how's the reaction been there?

Gerald: I think that's great motivation. I remember Lehane created Kenzie and Gennaro after being bitterly disappointed in the work of one of his favorite writers.

Jason: That was part of my motivation too, I read a few books (which shan't be named) that just pissed me off, and I felt like I could do better, frankly. They've been published in, I think 11 countries so far. The reaction has been really good overseas, especially in the UK.

Dave: Cool.

Dave: Hey, how'd you come up with Henry's name?

Jason: I wanted him to have a name that wasn't really common for a younger guy, and I've never met anyone under the age of 40 named Henry. Since he's kind of a bridge between two generations (the old school journalism and Gen X/Y) I thought it'd be apt.

Gerald: It works.

Jason: Thanks!

Dave: Okay, I have one more question and then I'm spent. Who's the best New Jersey author you've ever spent a plane ride with?

Gerald: :) Has Jason flown with Wallace Stroby?

Dave: Crap, I hope not.

Jason: Harlan Coben. I read HOLD TIGHT on a plane and it made it so much more enjoyable! ;-)

Dave: HA! Good one.

Gerald: How do you decide on your book titles, since they are so brief? And would you ever break that pattern?

Jason: THE MARK was originally titled HERO OF THE DAY (after the Metallica song). THE MARK just seemed punchier and more to the, well, point. THE GUILTY was originally titled THE REGULATOR, but we changed it because you'd have to read the whole book to understand why. THE STOLEN was the original title, as was THE FURY. I kind of like the short, punchy thing, but at some point I'll run out of words 6 letters and under.

Gerald: Oh, right. I remember the original title from the preview in The Mark. I hope to see what kind of reporter/man Henry is when he's Jack O'Donnell's age.

Jason: Yeah, that'll be interesting. Hopefully he can stay away from the bottle and have better luck in love.

Gerald: Thanks again for the chat, Jason. And Dave actually asked good questions. :)

Dave: once in a while I come through.

Jason: Thanks Gerald, this was fun.

Gerald: My pleasure.


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