“I’ve read enough John le Carré and Eric Ambler and Robert Ludlum to grow suspicious when people carrying valuable items die moments before they reach their meetings with important officials.”—David Shafer connects the dots between his grandfather, the CIA, a sudden death, and a mysterious photo album in an essay for the New York Times.
“I once bum-rushed a coked-up transvestite down a flight of stairs without spilling my beer. I was pretty proud of that, not spilling the beer.”—Richard Lange talks to BULL about the time he worked the door at a nightclub. He’s the author of Angel Baby and the forthcoming story collection, Sweet Nothing.
Lauren brings some intriguing ideas to the table in each of those books. I will not spoil in this review; if you haven’t read her work yet, I envy you the experience of being able to read her for the first time. She brings an intuitive understanding of great stories to the table. It would be unfair to box her as a “mystery writer” or “thriller writer” or “scifi writer”. Pigeonholing impoverishes the work and the reader.
I find her dystopias utterly believable, barbaric and sophisticated in a way seldom seen since Gibson’s seminal works. Speaking of, note to self: reread them. Her works recall that great stories are made not on technology or magic, but on people. Her characters are real, and we react viscerally to their plights. This is a hallmark of a good writer.
Hear, hear! Did you all know Lauren Beukes has a new novel on the way? It’s called Broken Monsters, and it’s out in September.
Chatting with James Sallis About the Republication of Death Will Have Your Eyes
The Reading Room:How does it feel to have the novel back out in the public eye (with a striking new cover!) for a generation of readers who perhaps missed it the first time?
James Sallis:Well, considering that almost everyone seems to have missed it the first time, it feels great. Tremendous. The book’s had a tiny group of ardent fans over the years, was even optioned for some time, but it more or less remained among the good dishes you don’t bring out often.
RR:Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a particular routine – things that you prefer to have in place – or is it more of a free for all? And has it changed over the years?
Sallis:The thing I have “to have in place” is butt in chair, and that’s definitely become more difficult over the years. No more three- and four-hour writing jags; I can’t sit for more than forty minutes or so before I’m up, wandering about the house, reaching for a mandolin or guitar. There’s a lot more wandering about in the story itself, too: rummaging, poking it with sticks, seeing what comes to the top.
RR:What needs to happen on page one of a novel to make for a successful book that urges you to read on?
Sallis:The writer must lean close to me and whisper “I have something important to tell you.”
“The stakes are not merely life or death, but the difference between a blundering through one’s life and fully possessing it.”—Laura Miller in Salon perfectly describes why Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer is a thriller unlike any other. I can’t wait for you all to read it when it goes on sale next Tuesday.
The newest addition to the Mulholland Classic series is James Sallis’s Death Will Have Your Eyes. This espionage novel is suffused with music references. For the optimum reading experience, press play on the playlist above, pour yourself a cup of coffee (black), and crack open this slim, spare book to enter the world of a re-activated spy.
“The nature of modern warfare, modern espionage, is that it has truly become global – there is no one front, it’s all the front. In the same way that terrorism and organized crime have synthesized into one organism, we’re seeing the same in regard to military and espionage operations. To depict that, the whole world had to be open for play.”—Greg Rucka talks to The Reading Room about widening the scope of Jad Bell’s world in his new novel, Bravo.
Before I sat down to write BRAVO, I wrote a short-story that was half-character study and half in service of a very good cause, that of supporting the Muskego Public Library. The short story in question, “The End is Never Pretty,” was first published inMurder and Mayhem in Muskego, edited by Jon and Ruth Jordan of Crimespree Magazine.
The story is part of the “Bell canon,” though it is not itself a story about Jad Bell at all, but rather about Petra Nessuno, who plays a very large and very crucial part in the new novel. Petra herself recounts a somewhat edited version of this story to Bell in the course of BRAVO. The story served as the introduction of Petra and Heath both, as well as an explanation as to how Petra ends up where she is at the start of the novel. It is by no means required reading to enjoy BRAVO, but it certainly is, as they say, “value added content.”
“We’re all just in the muck trying to believe we’re capable of greatness, but closer to breaking than we want to admit. And we tell ourselves stories—about ourselves,but maybe also all these stories about other people, about characters—as a way to hide from how small we are.”—Doug Dorst, S. (via quoted-books)
David Morrell Talks About the Historical Hero of His Novel, Murder as a Fine Art
Society Nineteen:Why do you feel that Thomas De Quincey is significant?
David Morrell:He was the first person to write about drug addiction at a time when opium in the form of laudanum was in everybody’s medicine cabinet and was used the same way we use aspirin. Many people were addicted to the drug, but the hypocrisy of the time was so severe that when De Quincey openly discussed his opium use, he became notorious and was called the Opium-Eater for the rest of his life. De Quincey was also an inventor of the true-crime genre. He was obsessed with the Ratcliff Highway mass murders of 1811. The first publicized multiple killings in English history, they paralyzed the entire country and created terror comparable to that of Jack the Ripper three-quarters of a century later.
BOLO Books Interviews Marcia Clark About Her New Novel, The Competition
BOLO Books:Did you and/or your publisher have any trepidation about centering your latest novel around a school shooting—with it being such a grim and hot-button topic of discussion these days?
Marcia Clark:People want to talk about this subject. They need to talk about it. We can’t push this under the rug and pretend that’ll make it all go away. We have to get out ahead of the problem and we can’t do that unless we to learn as much as we can, talk about it and find ways to spot these killers before they can act. That is, ultimately, our best protection. But it’s a difficult subject, to say the least. So putting it into a fictional setting creates somewhat of a remove, a safer forum to learn about it and think about it. I’ve been very glad and relieved to see all the positive reviews and reactions, and all the discussions the book has sparked.
“It is my hope that The Competition will inspire some meaningful discussion about who these killers are, what we should watch out for and how we can protect ourselves and each other with that knowledge.”—Did you know Marcia Clark spent a LOT of time studying psychopathy and sociopathy? Her research shines in her new novel, The Competition.Read her full interview with the Hartford Books Examiner for a taste.
I read Alpha and loved it so I plan on buying Bravo ASAP but I wanted to ask which other authors have influenced your work?
There is such a long list, man. SUCH a long list. I could got back to childhood and Conan Doyle, or high school and Douglas Adams (who remains a primary influence to this day; arguably the most significant influence on my writing, and I know that’s not readily apparent); to Stephen Crane and Hemingway and Hawthorne and Chandler and Cynthia Ozick and Tim O’Brien (I cannot recommend the collection The Things They Carried highly enough) to Glenn Cook to Lawrence Block to Ruth Rendell to Bill Pronzini and these are all just off the top of my head.
I could go on and on.
I didn’t even talk comics, there.
On and on and on. We do not work in the vacuum, you know what I mean? I’m influenced to greater or lesser extent by so much of the work I ingest, that I’m exposed to. I’m influenced by my peers, far too many to list.
BRAVO is, perhaps strangely, strongly influence by the late Donald Westlake, specifically his Parker stories which he wrote under the pen name of Richard Stark.
“I love reading about characters placed in impossible situations and forced to become instruments of their own redemption.”—Stephen Lloyd Jones, author of The String Diaries, is interviewed about how his reading preferences influenced his writing style.
“How can the man holding a Ph.D. in American literature, which he taught for 16 years at the University of Iowa, also be the man who created one of the great pulp heroes of the last several decades?”—Santa Fe’s New Mexican describes the David Morrell Paradox, which is reconciled by Murder as a Fine Art: a novel that is as smart as it is gory.
““Usually when we have the eerie feeling that something or someone dark and gruesome is following us, it’s just our vivid imaginations running amuck. But in The String Diaries it’s a very real monstrous being who is following Hannah and her family, and it’s been following them for nearly two hundred years as attested to in diaries passed to Hannah from her mother. The worst part is its ability to look like anyone — even someone Hannah loves. Prepare to grit your teeth and shudder. Yes, it’s that good!” —Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore, Spokane, WA”—The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones is on the July 2014 Indie Next List. Much love to all our bookstore supporters!
Richard Lange has written a short story collection, Dead Boys, and two novels, This Wicked World and Angel Baby, out now in paperback! Esquire calls him a ‘crime boss’ and the LA Times says Angel Baby is ‘unputdownable’ and ‘a page turner’! We asked him to share where he writes:
Our authors’ writing rooms are always more interesting than we dare hope. Richard Lange’s is no exception.
Did The Cuckoo’s Calling leave you wanting more? Good news: Cormoran Strike has a new case in The Silkworm! Click on the link above to read the first two chapters of Robert Galbraith’s new novel, which lands in bookstores on June 19th.