Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pro-File: Paul Bishop


Tell us about your current novel or project.

I have two new books coming out early next year via a new publishing paradigm. Lie Catchers is set in the world of interrogation and makes use of my extensive background and expertise in deception detection (I currently teach a week long interrogation course to law enforcement nationwide).  Next up is an all out action piece, Gun Hawks, about the LAPD’s Special Investigative Service, which The Los Angeles Times once dubbed the LAPD assassination squad.

Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on now?

Currently, I’m putting the finishing touches on my next Fight Card novella, Swamp Walloper, which is a direct sequel to Felony Fists.  By the end of 2013, we will have launched twenty-seven Fight Card related titles from some of the most exciting new writers working today.  The roster also includes three titles in our Fight Card MMA spin-off brand, as well as the debut of the first Fight Card Romance spin-off, Ladies Night.

What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Aside from telling the stories I’ve always wanted to tell, it’s the association with other creatives in the writing community.  Working with and mentoring so many bright individuals on the Fight Card series has been a true joy.

The greatest displeasure?

Being stuffed into legacy publishing’s mid-list hell.

Advice to the publishing world?

Adapt or die.  Stop licking your wounds and getting pissed off because Amazon is outsmarting you at every turn. Start your own innovating by realizing writers are the key to your future and begin treating them with the respect they deserve.

Are there any forgotten writers you’d like to see in print again?

Absolutely!  W. Glenn Duncan’s Rafferty books make up a real gem of a P.I. series, comparable to Spenser or Elvis Cole. And then there’s John Whitlach, who wrote a dozen paperback originals in the early ‘70s.  Better known today for their wonderfully lurid covers, Whitlatch’s stories, crossed several genres, but all delivered top notch action.  Also, Marvin Albert’s Stone Angel P.I. series deserves wider appreciation.

Tell us about selling your first novel. 

I was very lucky.  I joined the LAPD in 1977 and began writing professionally in 1980, running both careers concurrently for more than 30 years.  I started selling non-fiction freelance article and was published in magazines as diverse as Runner’s World, Psychology Today, Parent’s Magazine, and Police Products News, but what I really wanted to do was write fiction.

While I had actually written a paperback original western for Pinnacle under a house pseudonym, I had not yet had a novel come out under my own name.  Then I met editor and mentor Michael Seidman (who was then working for Tor Books) at a Bouchercon convention in San Francisco.  He mistakenly told me if I ever wrote a cop novel to send it to him.  In my naivety, it was all the encouragement I needed. 

When I joined LAPD, there rumors abounded about officers on slow morning watch (11 pm – 8 am) shifts driving, on duty, in their police cars, to Vegas or Tijuana and back, while their fellow officers covered any emergency calls.  As proof of their testosterone driven run, they would get their picture taken with their LAPD police car in front of a casino or with a guy in a sombrero next to a moth-eaten donkey (I emphatically deny any knowledge of participating in such irresponsible behavior as the statute of limitations has not yet run).  With a little tweaking, I figured I could get a full novel out of this premise, so I sat down and wrote Citadel Run.  I then called Michael Seidman and we engaged in the following conversation:

“Hi, Michael. It’s Paul Bishop.”
“Paul Bishop, the LAPD cop.  We met at Bouchercon.  You told me if I ever wrote a cop novel to send it to you.”
“Was I drunk at the time?”
“Very possibly.”
“Okay, you do know me.  Send it on.”

Six weeks later, I had a contract for Citadel Run and the sequel, Sand Against The Tide.  If only all book sales were so easy ...

Friday, August 30, 2013


1. Tell us about your current novel or project.
DEAD, WHITE AND BLUE, 24th in the Death on demand series, was published
in May. It was fun because I built the mystery around two missing persons
and the question became: Where Is the Body? Also newly republished are three
stand alone suspense novels. Two American sisters try to evade the
Gestapo in Occupied Paris in ESCAPE FROM PARIS. A teenager opposes the Viiet
Nam War yet reveres his military dad in NO EASY ANSWERS. In BRAVE HEARTS, lovers
cling to each other amid chaos after the fall of the Phillipines to the
Japanese. Coming in October is GHOST GONE WILD. The late Bailey Ruth
Raeburn returns to earth to help a scruffy young man someone wants to shoot but
this time Bailey Ruth may never make it back to Heaven.

 2. Can you give us a sense of what you're working on now?
  I am in the last third of GHOST IN TIME. Bailey Ruth Raeburn plunges
into  a puzle masking a puzzle in hopes of saving an innocent student from a
muirder charge.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Having written. I am always panicked that I won't be able to finish a book. I work with
a sense of desperation. The happiest moment for me is when I complete the
first draft and then it is sheer fun to rewrite. I have the book and
now I have the luxury of changing and improving.

 4. The greatest displeasure?
 Being out of an idea.

5. Advice to the publishing world?
 Stop pressuring authors to become Internet stars. Let them use their
 energies and talents to write.

6. Are there any forgotten writers you'd  like to see in print again?
Mary Roberts Rinehard isn't forgotten but she isn't available in print

 7. Tell us about selling your first novel.
 I wrote The Secret of the Cellars, a mystery for girls eight to
twelve, which won a contest sponsored by Dodd Mead and Calling all Girls.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Forgotten Books: The Killer by Wade Miller

Forgotten Books: The Killer by Wade Miller

Forgotten Books: The Killer by Wade Miller

Wade Miller was of course Bob Wade and Bill Miller. They collaborated on a few dozen novels until Miller died of a heart attack in the office they shared. He was forty-one.

Much of their best work was done for Gold Medal. The Killer is a fine example. A rich man named Stennis owns a number of banks. His son works in one of them. During a robbery his son is killed. Stennis hires a big game hunter named Farrow to find the notorious bank robber Clel Bocock and his gang. When Farrow locates them he is to call Stennis who wants to be there to watch them die. Farrow is a unique character and not just because of the big game angle. He's middle-aged and feeling it, something rare in that era of crime fiction.

The search for Stennis--and the love story that involves Bocock's wife--takes Farrow from the swamps to Iowa (including, yes, Cedar Rapids) to Wisconsin to Colorado. The place description is extraordinary. Probably too much for today's readers but the Miller books are filled with strong cunning writing. Same for twists and turns. For the length of the first act you can never be sure who anybody is. They're all traveling under assumed names and with shadowy motives. The only thing that binds them is Clel Bocock.

For anybody who thinks that Gold Medals were largely routine crime stories, this is the noel you should pick up. Stark House published this a few years back (still available) along with Devil On Two Sticks, one of the most original mob novels I've ever read. There's also an excellent David Laurence Wilson introduction on the careers of the two writers.

Wade Miller got lost in the shuffle of bringing back the writers of the fifties and sixties. This book, so strong on character and place and plot turns, will demonstrate why more of their books should be in print.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

BRITISH CRIME: HELL IS A CITY (1960) by Fred Blosser

Hell Is a City FilmPoster.jpeg

BRITISH CRIME: HELL IS A CITY (1960)  by Fred Blosser

“Hell is a city much like London,” a poet wrote.  I thought it was a line from William Blake.  Actually, it’s by Shelley, not Blake, and in Val Guest’s 1960 film HELL IS A CITY, the city is Manchester, not London, captured in gritty widescreen black-and-white.

I like British crime films, whether old-school, post-war gangster noir like 1947’s NO ORCHIDS FOR MISS BLANDISH (which turned Slim Grissom’s drooling yokel from James Hadley Chase’s novel into a tuxedoed Bogart-type nightclub owner) or Guy Richie’s post-millennial bullet-fests.  HELL IS A CITY, from the same era as U.S. products like Don Siegel’s THE LINEUP and TV’s THE NAKED CITY, THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, and 87th PRECINCT, captured some of the same filmed-on-location realism and nighttime neon noir as its American cousins.

Inspector Harry Martineau (Stanley Baker) cares more about his job than his marriage, and his work schedule intensifies even more when his nemesis Don Starling (John Crawford) breaks out of prison.  Starling has two fresh murders on his record: a guard he clubbed to death while escaping, and a pretty 19-year old girl, a bookie’s courier whom Starling inadvertently killed in a holdup after returning home.

The murder of the girl especially enrages Martineau, and the script (based on a Maurice Proctor novel) convincingly documents his investigative routine as he pounds the pavement to turn up leads.   In a couple of kitchen-sink domestic scenes, the movie also suggests that Martineau’s dedication is motivated as much by his reluctance to go home, where he’s bound to get into a fight with his wife, as by his passion for justice.

A few years ago, if you’d asked me who was the least remembered of the many talented, ferocious actors who emerged from the British cinema in the 1950s and early ‘60s, I’d have said Stanley Baker.   Now, with Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed, and Patrick McGoohan long gone, and Albert Finney, Peter O’Toole, and Michael Caine known mostly by younger moviegoers as doddering old geezers, the question may be academic.  But Baker was equally convincing in tough-guy mode as a cop and a crook (see Joseph Losey’s icy heist movie, THE CRIMINAL), and it would be nice to see him get some attention again.  For that matter, he was also one of the great seething villains from the heyday of big-budget costume epics; in THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE and SODOM AND GOMORRA, he blows good guys Robert Taylor and Stewart Granger out of the water.

An American character actor who made a shitload of movies and TV shows and looked a bit like Sydney Chaplin, John Crawford is sturdy enough as ruthless escaped con Don Starling, but really, what kind of tough-guy name is “Starling”?  Maybe Proctor was making a subtle joke, Starling busting out of jail like a bird getting out of its cage.  Or maybe it was just part of an avian pattern to the names in the movie.  Martineau sounds like “martin,” and the bookie whom Starling robbed, played by a relatively young Donald Pleasance, is named “Hawkins.”  Intentional or coincidental, and if intentional, what was the point?  Who knows?

Trivia fans will appreciate that HELL IS A CITY was a rare but not unique crime movie from Hammer Films, and that Val Guest also made the memorable  QUATERMASS X-PERIMENT, QUATERMASS II, and THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (maybe the first global warming movie).  All four films share a documentary-style attention to setting, character, and background detail; if Great Britain was as bleak in the post-war, pre-Beatles decade as Guest’s movies suggest, then the hysteria that attended the coming of the Beatles is easier to understand.

Another trivia note: I suspect that Jack Higgins, the thriller writer, was a fan of HELL IS A  CITY.  Three of his early paperback originals, reprinted a few years ago by Berkley Books, were gritty police procedurals, and a character named Harry Martineau has a lead role as a World War II spy in NIGHT OF THE FOX.  In HELL IS A CITY, the script wrings suspense from a vulnerable young female character, a deaf mute whose inability to scream puts her in jeopardy when she unexpectedly confronts Starling hiding in her grandfather’s shop.  In A PRAYER FOR THE DYING, Higgins places a blind girl in a similar cat-and-mouse situation with a depraved gangster.  I now wish I had seen HELL IS A CITY when I talked to Higgins briefly at a book signing a few years ago, so that I could have asked him.

There’s a new DVD edition of HELL IS A CITY from Studio Canal in the U.K.  The cover art, with a scratchy white illustration of Starling grabbing the bookie’s pretty courier against a black background, and the title splashed across in fat, shaky red letters, pretty obviously imitates the look of the poster for SIN CITY (2005).  I don’t know if younger viewers will agree -- probably not -- but in my humble opinion, Stanley Baker and Val Guest leave Frank Miller, Robert Rodriguez, and their stupidly grisly live-action cartoon in the Manchester dust.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review Roundup: Ed Gorman's Balancing Act

26, 2013

Review Roundup: Ed Gorman's Balancing Act

Dead Man’s Gun and Other Western Stories
By Ed Gorman
The Western Fictioneers Library, April 2013
$2.99: Kindle, ASIN B00CLTS6MC; Nook, BIN 2940016582924
128 pages

Though he’s better known for his crime, mystery, and horror fiction, Ed Gorman is no slouch at writing westerns, either. Gorman’s spare style and uncomplicated prose make it easy to imagine the author as a storyteller in the oral tradition, forced to put pen to paper during an attack of laryngitis.

Perhaps nowhere is that better expressed than in the new anthology Dead Man’s Gun and Other Western Stories. The collection of nine short tales and one brief treatise entitled “Writing the Modern Western” provides eloquent evidence of the author’s exceptional range in storytelling. More than range, though, Gorman’s short stories display the author’s uncommon ability to dig into the darkest recesses of the human psyche and expose the thin lines separating good and evil, bravery and cowardice, love and hate, pride and shame. The way Gorman’s characters balance on those lines — always in danger of falling to one side or the other — will make readers alternately shudder and rejoice.

No matter how uncomfortable the thought may be, Ed Gorman knows us all. Gazing into his mirror is undeniably uncomfortable, yet oddly liberating. “Dead Man’s Gun” will resonate with anyone who’s ever wanted revenge. Writers and movie buffs will relate to “Pards,” a bittersweet tale about a middle-aged, unsuccessful writer who finds a spiritual twin in an aging matinee icon. “The Face,” a Civil War story, is an atmospheric, psychological study of men under pressure, inexorably sliding into madness. “Mainwaring’s Gift” is at once sad and romantic and hopeful. “Gunslinger,” “Blood Truth,” and “Dance Girl” are equally compelling, each in its own way.

Though all the stories take place in the 19th century American west, it’s difficult to define Dead Man’s Gun and Other Western Tales as simply “western.” Fans of psychological horror, crime, and mystery will find much to enjoy in this volume, as well.

Read the book.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Pro-File: Robert J. Randisi

1.       Tell us about your current novel or project.

      GREAT QUESTION!  It’s been a good summer for my books.  The second book in my ROPER western P.I. series, THE RELUCTANT PINKERTON is out. Also, the 8th Rat Pack book, YOU MAKE ME FEEL SO DEAD, which features not only the Rat Pack, but Elvis. And the book I’ve been waiting for, the first in a new Nashville based P.I. series called THE HONKY TONK BIG HOSS BOOGIE. This book was supposed to be published last August as The Session Man, which means it would have predated the successful Nashville t.v. series, but the publisher went belly up and I had to find someone new to publish it. My thanks to John Boland at Perfect Crime for seeing the book’s merits. I intend to do more.
                In addition, a bunch of the westerns Amazon picked up from Dorchester are out, more of the early Gunsmiths (I think they’re up to #12), and three mysteries have been published as ebooks by Crossroads Press (THE TURNER JOURNALS, COLD BLOODED and THE OFFER). Also, my crime anthology CRIME SQUARE is out.

      Just to name a few . . .

2. Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on now? 

     I’m working on the first of three original crime novels I intend to do for an epublisher (they haven’t announced it yet, so I’m sworn to secrecy), also Gunsmith #390, and an original mystery I’m doing for Crossroad Press.  I’m putting some original books out there as ebooks to see what happens. I also have a western anthology I’m working on for Piccadilly Press to do as an ebook.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

     I still get a big bang out of getting a carton in the mail of my new book (a pleasure that will go away if and when ebooks completely replace print books). I love holding it in my hands, especially if it has a great cover.  The three crime novels that Crossroad Press has reprinted have GREAT covers, and I can’t hold ‘em!

4. The greatest displeasure? 

     The way the business is changing. To me the word “Progress” does not mean “better.” I know, I’m an old fart.

5. Advice to the publishing world?

      Don’t be in such a hurry to pronounce the print book dead.

6. Are there any forgotten writers you’d like to see in print again?

           Warwick Downing’s first three books should be read and reread, especially THE GAMBLER, THE MINSTREL AND THE DANCE HALL QUEEN. And I’d like to see all 12 of Ralph Dennis’ HARDMAN books reprinted. It’s an excellent P.I. series that was twice packaged to look like men’s adventure.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel.  

          Much too long a story. It was called THE DISAPPEARANCE OF PENNY, and was supposed to be the first of four Henry Po novels.  However, before I could do a second the publisher asked me if I could write westerns. That lead to the creation of THE GUNSMITH series.  There were no more Henry Po Novels.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

PART II is here! Be Cool, Elmore Leonard: Paying Homage to a Man Who Proved Hard Work Pays Off, Part II

Ed here: Jeff Pierce posted this Saturday hence the funeral reference. Rich, deep, by turns somber,
funny and even wise, the posts here by various writers demonstrate why The Rap Sheet has become the  
the most important of all mystery blogs.

The Rap Sheet:
A funeral was held earlier today for Elmore Leonard, the acclaimed Detroit, Michigan-area crime novelist who died this last Tuesday at age 87. Detroit Free Press staff reporter Jim Schaefer explains that Leonard’s Mass included “tears and laughter, and military honors for his time in the Navy during World War II.” He adds:
About 325 people gathered inside Holy Name Catholic Church in Birmingham on Saturday morning to say good-bye. The listeners included longtime friend Mike Lupica, a sportswriter and novelist, and Timothy Olyphant, an actor in the FX TV series “Justified,” which is based on Leonard’s works.

“Elmore truly was gifted with creativity, skill and talent,” the Rev. Joe Grimaldi said during his homily. “The twinkle in his eye showed he also enjoyed having fun.”
Fun was certainly had as well by Leonard’s millions of devoted readers. In Part II of The Rap Sheet’s tribute to this late author, posted below, we offer more than two dozen recollections of his work, as well as thoughts on his legacy, contributed by novelists and critics both. Part I of our feature can be enjoyed here.

Again, Rap Sheet readers may add their own thoughts on Leonard’s life and work in the Comments section at the end of this post.

James W. Hall, the author of Dead Last and 12 other novels featuring Florida Keys-based investigator Thorn, including the soon-to-be-published Going Dark:

Back in the early ’80s, before I’d published my first novel, I wrote Elmore Leonard a fan letter. In it I told him about my experience with teaching LaBrava (1983) in a university class and how delighted I was to find that a novel I loved also stood up to critical analysis. We’d spent a lot of time in class dissecting the book’s techniques. I mentioned we were particularly impressed with his use of black-and-white image patterns that recurred throughout the novel (which in part has to do with black-and-white movies and black-and-white photographs and black and white people). I was speaking as a fan and as a professor of English, and I really expected no response. However, a few weeks later I received a very gracious note from Elmore thanking me for my comments and expressing his gratitude that someone was teaching his novels in a literature class. But then he went on to say that he didn’t think he’d do very well in that course, because he had no idea in hell what an image pattern was.

Ah, yes, one of Dutch’s classic zingers.

Years later he wrote a wonderful blurb for my first novel, and afterwards we were thrown together on several occasions and got to know each other fairly well. At some point I learned that he’d incorporated my long-ago fan-boy letter to him in his “funny letters speech” that he gave regularly at libraries and on book tours. I was honored to have become a butt of Dutch’s jokes.

Whether or not Dutch Leonard was actually aware of the literary substance of his own work, we’ll never know for sure. But there’s a lot of evidence that he was quite a student of literature and read widely not just in the crime-fiction genre. To retain his blue-collar reputation, though, he couldn't admit to any of that. One of his friends and contemporaries, Bob Parker, had a Ph.D. in literature, but he rarely discussed that phase of his life and was happy to project the leather jacket version of himself. I think Dutch was cut from the same cloth as Parker. Every bit as smart and just as funny, and a writer who based many of his aesthetic values on Hemingway’s muscular, minimalist prose. A writer’s writer. A man who spawned a thousand painfully inadequate imitators.

But as they say in the sports world, you can’t teach quickness. In Dutch’s case, he’d mastered the poetic cadence of speech as only someone with a great ear can do. He often cited George V. Higgins as an influence on his dialogue and you can hear that, of course. But Dutch pushed into new territory. That dialogue in LaBrava and Stickand most of his best books is the heart and soul of the work. The characters come alive and inhabit three-dimensional worlds in large part because they talk with such crunchy energy. No one really talks that way. But everyone, in a perfect world, should.

for the rest go here:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

One of The Rap Sheet's greatest-Be Cool, Elmore Leonard: Paying Homage to a Man Who Proved Hard Work Pays Off,


Ed here: Jeff Pierce at The Rap Sheet has written so many amazing pieces over the years.  Not to mention conducting dozens and dozens of extraordinary interviews.  I, as a blogger myself, have no idea how he is a) so productive and b) maintains his blog as the true voice of the mystery field. Nobody else could have written and collected and edited this definitive collage of comments on the life and times of Elmore Leonard. I've probably read twenty or so attempts to do something like this but none have come close. And there's Part Two to come.  
Be Cool, Elmore Leonard: Paying Homage to a Man Who Proved Hard Work Pays Off, Part I
Like so many other enthusiastic readers of crime fiction, I was saddened to learn earlier this week that Elmore Leonard--the author known as the “Dickens of Detroit” (even though he’d long moved away to a suburb of Michigan’s largest city)--had died at age 87, aftersuffering a stroke last month. His novels had for so many years, and so consistently, fed my reading addiction (over the course of the last six decades, beginning before I was born, he’d produced almost a book a year!), that it was near-unthinkable to conceive of his prose spigot being turned off by such a bit player as mortality.

Despite the fact that I resided in Detroit for a while during the mid-1980s, and attended an abundance of literary events there, I never had the opportunity to meet Leonard. However, not long before I moved to the Motor City, I did correspond with him. At the time, I was employed in my first reporting job out of college, with Portland, Oregon’s “alternative newspaper,” Willamette Week, and as part of my efforts to assemble a special crime fiction-themed edition of that paper’s entertainment section, I sent letters out to a variety of mystery and thriller novelists whose names were familiar to me, even if--as was then the case with Leonard--I had not yet read much of their work. I asked each of the authors for suggestions of recent books in the genre that they’d recommend to others.

Leonard was generous enough to reply in a letter dated April 28, 1981. He specifically recommended Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park and George V. Higgins’ Rat on Fire, and added that “My favorite suspense writers are Ira Levin [A Kiss Before Dying] and William Goldman[Marathon Man].” He also sent me a copy of Gold Coast, one of his earliest crime novels (after he’d made a modest reputation for himself by penning tales of the Old West), andapparently the last of Leonard’s works to be published straight to paperback in the United States. At the end of his letter, he wrote: 
I’m enclosing my latest, which came out in December but was easily missed on the racks.
for the rest go here:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Pro-File: Margaret Maron

Baby Doll Games

"When a shadowy figure kills a dancer in a Greenwich Village theater before an audience of horrified children, NYPD detective Sigrid Harald is outraged and soon has a gut feeling that passion played a large part in the murder. With no physical evidence, she turns to special dolls used by therapists to help children talk about crimes they've witnessed." -- Good Reads

"This is one of Margaret Maron's most intriguing and elegantly plotted mysteries. Lt.Sigrid Harald at her best." --New Improved Gorman

1. Tell us about your current novel or project.

I just finished re-reading Baby Doll Games, fifth in the Lt. Sigrid Harald series, so that Oconee Spirit Press could reprint it as a trade paperback. Although I don't own a Kindle or Nook, I recognize their portability and their appeal. Nevertheless, I and many of my readers prefer a print-and-paper book and Oconee is doing a lovely job with these. All the early Sigrid Harald books had been out of print for years, but they seemed to find a new audience when I uploaded them as eBooks.  And now my readers who want the print version can have them. Win-win all around. But it was weird to read a book set twenty-five years ago and realize how much the world has changed in those twenty-five years, back when telephones were tethered to the wall and computers were starting to replace typewriters. Still, the old verities remain and the old motives for murder haven't changed all that much, have they?

2. Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on now?

Four projects are in the works:

1) I'm fine-tuning  DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS, an August 2014 novel with Judge Deborah Knott. My editor's copy edit should show up in my mailbox any day now. Joan
Hess gave me the title, her term for the caregivers who take on the family's dying or invalid member, usually out of love but often out of
duty when no one else will. Designated daughters come in both sexes and may be in-laws, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, grandchildren.

2) A  short story for the next MWA anthology. Because it must use Manhattan, I'm making it a Lt. Sigrid Harald story.

3) The next Judge Deborah Knott novel. I'm only at the very, very beginning of plotting it in my head because I want to do flashbacks to
when her parents met and fell in love. I'm curious to know why a respectable small-town debutante type could fall for a disreputable
bootlegger with 8 little motherless boys.

4) Another short story set in 197 AD. The first was a Christmas chapbook titled "Yo Saturnalia!" published by Doug Greene's Crippen and Landru.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Other than the writing itself, when it's going well? I think it has to be the writing friends I've made over the years. It took me a long time to find my tribe, butthey've enriched my life immeasurably.

4. The greatest displeasure?

Well, I must admit that I don't enjoy the letters from disgruntled right-wing readers who take me to task if I let Deborah, who has to run
for office, voice her personal beliefs. They act offended --  as if she has no right to political opinions. I've had several who say they're
going to quit reading my books and will try to keep  their libraries from shelving them. One of them even wrote that she was burning her
copy of Killer Market, in which I mentioned how Ronald Reagan gutted the nation's mental health system.

5. Advice to the publishing world?

Absolutely none. The whole industry is in such flux I couldn't begin to predict where things are going to come down.

6. Are there any forgotten writers you’d like to see in print again?

You mean deceased writers whose books should be reprinted? I can't think of any. That's another good thing about the Internet. Between Alibris and AbeBooks and the Gutenberg Project, we can now find almost every book. But don't we miss new Westlakes? And in the years to come won't we miss new books from Elizabeth Peters and Elmore Leonard?

7. Tell us about selling your first novel.

Selling? That only took a year or so.  It was writing that first novel (One Coffee WIth) that took forever because I didn't think I could
write a real book. I began as a poet (a very bad poet) and progressed to short stories. That's the operative word:  short. My first pass at
what eventually became a book was about 2500 words long. It didn't sell. I doubled it into a magazine-type novelette.  It didn't sell. I
doubled it into what I hoped was a book-type novelette. It didn't sell but I was advised that book-type novelettes are closer to 25,000 words.
 So I doubled it again. (Anybody still doing the math here?)  It didn't sell, but it did interest an agent. He liked the characters, he liked
the plot. He even said he liked the writing, "but nobody's buying novelettes.  So if you could double it . . .?"  I went back and
interpolated a long subplot and added lots of adjectives and adverbs to the main plot. It sold.

As for the actual sale, a magazine editor had recommended an agent, who did agree to represent me. It was a dreadful fit. He had absolutely
no feel for what I'd written and sent it around to some of the worst pulp markets. After a year, when all his submissions had been rejected,
we agreed to dissolve the relationship (and that, incidentally, was the last time I ever signed a contract with an agent.) A week later, the
ms. fetched up on a Canadian editor's desk with the last two chapters missing. She wanted to read the ending. This was for Raven House,
Harlequin's abortive attempt at a mystery line. She bought the book and published it for their book club, but the line folded before One Coffee
With made it to the open market, so I was able to take the second book in the series to a new agent, who immediately sold it to Doubleday
Crime Club. Eventually, that editor went back and published the first book. I can't say enough about how ethically Harlequin treated me. They
did not ask for a return of the advance and they immediately reverted all the rights back to me. But it was a huge disappointment to write and
sell a novel that didn't see a bookstore till years later.