Friday, November 30, 2012

The Bughouse Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini

From Publisher's Weekly:

Fans of Steve Hockensmith’s Holmes on the Range historicals will welcome this Carpenter and Quincannon novel, billed as the first in a new series from husband-and-wife MWA Grand Masters Muller and Pronzini (Beyond the Grave). In 1891, Sabina Carpenter, one of the original Pinkerton female operatives, the Pink Roses, moved to San Francisco to join former Secret Service agent John Quincannon in establishing the city’s “premier investigative agency.” In 1894, two simultaneous cases preoccupy the pair: a pickpocket is targeting the patrons of the Haight Street Chutes Amusement Park, and six policyholders of the Great Western insurance company have been burglarized. Meanwhile, Quincannon is bemused by press reports that Sherlock Holmes has survived his supposed death and has taken up residence in San Francisco, until the claimant to the master detective’s mantle becomes an unexpected rival. A doubly impossible crime only adds to the enjoyable plot. 

Ed here: This novel is so chock full of twists, surprises, humor, classic ratiocination and amused/bemused portraits of historical San Francisco you literally don't want it to end. Thank God the sequel is already on the Forge schedule. I sincerely believe this would make a great TV series for either network or cable. Sabina Carpenter and John Quincannon are characters made for the millions in the fashion of the great BBC series.

Pro-File MarciaMuller and Bill Pronzini

   Tell us about your current novel or project.
Marcia:  Although Bughouse is the first of a new collaborative series, Bill originated the characters in his solo western novel, Quincannon, in 1985, and then continued their adventures in a Quincannon—Elena Oliverez mystery we wrote together and in a number of short stories.  A couple of years ago, as a lark, we collaborated on a C&Q short for EQMM, with me writing the scenes from Sabina’s viewpoint and Bill those from Quincannon’s.  I had no difficulty slipping into Sabina’s voice and persona, and the story turned out so well that we decided to use the same method on a batch of novels.  Tor was enthusiastic enough to give us a three-book contract.
Bill:  We’ve delivered the second, The Spook Lights Affair, and will start work on the third, The Body Snatchers Affair, sometime after the first of the year.  There’ll be more after that, sales permitting. 

2.     Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on now? 
Marcia:  The next Sharon McCone, The Night Searchers, for Grand Central Books.
Bill:  The 2014 Nameless, Strangers, for Tor/Forge.

3.     What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
      Marcia:  Positive feedback from readers, especially those who tell me that my books have helped them survive difficult personal crises.
Bill:  Peer respect.  There’s nothing more gratifying than favorable reaction to my work from writers I admire.

4.     The greatest displeasure? 
Marcia:  Facing the blank computer screen every day with the irrational fear that it’ll stay that way.
Bill:  Having my work unfairly trashed by anonymous, clueless idiots passing themselves off as reviewers.

5.     Advice to the publishing world?
      Marcia:  Invest more time in and attention to your new authors.  Give them a chance to grow, as publishers did back when I first entered the business.
      Bill:  Quit judging a novel’s merits and promotional value based on its length.  Word-bloat isn't a synonym for quality.

Are there any forgotten writers you’d like to see in print again?
      Marcia:  Too many to list.
      Bill:  Ditto.  Our library is full of books by forgotten writers.

Tell us about selling your first novel. 
Marcia:  In 1976 I submitted Edwin of the Iron Shoes over the transom to Michele Slung at David McKay, who had foolishly put an ad for manuscripts in The Writer.  She was inundated with submissions, and I was fortunate enough to be on top of one of the piles.  She called and told me she wanted to buy it, but she was about to leave on a 3-week vacation in Europe.  Four weeks passed, then five; I panicked and wrote her a pleading note, which arrived on her desk the day after she called again and made me an offer.
Bill:  I was lucky enough to sell The Stalker on its first submission in 1970, to Lee Wright at Random House.  She asked for several revisions, which I was happy to make.  After reading and cringing my way through portions of the published version a while back, I wish she’d asked for a whole lot more.


Mathew Paust said...

Thanks for this, Ed. Much enjoyed the interview.

Cap'n Bob said...

Two of the nicest and most talented people in the word of letters. I'll be getting this book.