Gerald So: What led you to write Silent City?
Alex Segura: It was a long process. I think first novels always are. I always wanted to write, and always wrote stories or songs or tried to inject as much creativity into whatever stuff I was writing, but the idea of writing a mystery/crime novel didn't crystallize until I moved to New York and started really immersing myself in modern crime fiction. I read the classics like Chandler, Thompson, MacDonald and so on - and I thought they were amazing, but I also felt like those books were happening outside of me, if that makes sense. It wasn't until I read George Pelecanos's A Firing Offense - where he introduces Nick Stefanos to the world. Here was a guy I could relate to. I could see myself running into Nick and having a conversation about the Replacements. That really flipped a switch for me. Once I read those books, along with Dennis Lehane's Pat and Angie books, Ellroy's "L.A. Quartet" and the early Tess Monaghan books by Laura Lippman - that's when I felt like a new world had opened up for me, and I started to seriously consider writing my own book, with a protagonist I could relate to. Someone I felt like I could have shared a meal with or run into while growing up. That, of course, didn't mean I knew how to write a book. Silent City started a long time ago, but didn't really get rolling until a few years ago. Once I got a first draft under my belt, I was able to stumble through revisions and the craft of writing a novel. After that, I sped through the second novel and now I'm pushing through on a third, so it's been a fun ride.
Gerald: How does Pete Fernandez stand out in your mind from other fictional PIs?
Alex: I think he'd be the first to tell you he's not a PI - he's just a guy who stumbled into something that he now feels compelled to see through to the end. That'll change, somewhat, as we proceed with the series, but I really wanted Pete to stand apart from the more classic PIs. The ones that are already defined and accepting of their lot in life, I guess. Pete is completely at his bottom when we meet him in Silent City, and while that changes a bit over time, he's still not completely sure what or who he is - so I think that gray area, and that evolving character, is what makes him more relatable and helps him stand out a bit. We're not meeting him at his peak. Quite the opposite.
Gerald: What's the best book or story you've read lately?
Alex: I'm finishing up James Ellroy's latest, Perfidia, which is a massive, Los Angeles novel told in real-time and set in the days following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It's a great read, and layered with so many crooked and terrible characters. Ellroy's control of language and mastery of word choice is really at full power here. It's a prequel to his "L.A. Quartet" but also features younger versions of people that populate his later books. That said, you don't need to have read all his previous stuff to get what's going on. It's a sordid tale of nasty people double-crossing each other with one of history's biggest surprise attacks as the backdrop, and the unforgivable things people did in response to the attack permeating the entire experience. I also very much enjoyed the new Lauren Beukes novel, Broken Monsters and World of Trouble, by Ben H. Winters. Greg Rucka's Bravo and Megan Abbott's The Fever were also highlights of my recent reading.
Gerald: What's next for you?
Alex: I've got two issues of Archie in the mix - one out now (#659) and another out next week (#660) - both are fun, beautifully illustrated and all-ages adventures featuring the classic characters. I'm hoping for the second Pete book, Down the Darkest Street, to hit at some point next year and I'm powering through the third book. I have a few other shorts appearing in various places, but I'll share more about those once details solidify.
Thanks for chatting with me, Gerald!
Gerald: My pleasure.
Silent City from Codorus Press and the best-selling and critically acclaimed Archie Meets Kiss storyline and graphic novel. He lives in New York with his wife and two cats. He is a Miami native.