SJ Rozan, a native New Yorker, is the author of eleven novels. Her work has won the Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Nero, and Macavity awards for Best Novel and the Edgar for Best Short Story. BRONX NOIR, a short story collection SJ edited, was given the NAIBA "Notable Book of the Year" award. She's served on the National Boards of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, and is ex-President of the Private Eye Writers of America. In January 2003 she was an invited speaker at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The 2005 Left Coast Crime convention in El Paso, Texas made her its Guest of Honor. A former architect in a practice that focussed on police stations, firehouses, and zoos, SJ Rozan lives in lower Manhattan.I
1 Tell us about your current novel.
THE SHANGHAI MOON is a Lydia Chin/Bill Smith book, narrated by Lydia Chin. It's the first in the series in seven years. Lydia's called in on a case that has its roots in the Jewish ghetto that sprang up when 20,000 European Jews managed to flee to Shanghai at the start of WWII. It involves the possible resurfacing of the Shanghai Moon, one of the world's most sought-after gems, that vanished in 1949 and has been hunted around the world, but never seen, since.
2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?
A new Bill Smith-narrated book, so far unnamed. To say more than that is bad mojo.
3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Having the opportunity to try to make real all the wild ideas flying around in my head. And to do research. I love research, which, if you're not doing it for a book project, is called poking around, reading, daydreaming... Learning about the Shanghai ghetto, what was going on in those years in China, was totally fascinating.
4. The greatest DIS-pleasure?
Loneliness, and the sense, each time I do make the ideas concrete, that my reach once again exceeded my grasp.
5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?
Go back to the days when eggs were spread among baskets! Forget selling a million copies of one book, try to sell fifty thousand copies of twenty books. It's more likely to work, and it produces more ideas/thoughts/worlds for readers to get involved in.
6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in
I'm not sure who's in and who's out of print these days. I think anyone who hasn't read Josephine Tey has missed something for sure.
7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that
I was at my architecture office, 4pm on a Friday. My agent called to say we had an offer, for two books. He gave me the highlights, asked what I thought. I told him to take it, hung up, whooped, and announced it to the whole drafting room. The boss was out of town, so we closed down immediately and repaired to the local bar.
8. What do you consider the highlight of your career thus far?
Winning the Shamus for Best Novel for CONCOURSE, my second book. It was a terrific thrill because I was such a dark horse, and because Sara Paretsky presented it to me and said she was proud of me.
9. How about the low point?
Every bad review is a low point. The good reviews, I think, "That's nice." The bad reviews, I think, "Oh, my god, that's true! How come I didn't notice?"
10. Which book or short story would you recommend to readers unfamiliar with your work?
For the series, you need to read from each point of view, so I'd say maybe the first of each: CHINA TRADE and CONCOURSE. Of course, I think I'm getting better as I go along -- you have to think that, otherwise you think you're stagnating or getting worse -- so maybe people ought to just go straight to THE SHANGHAI MOON.