Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Another Hamilton post

I like the musical 1776, but it's not as exciting as it needs to be. They tried, but Broadway has always had to pull punches because it panders to the out of town crowd, which it assumes won't like certain jokes. Hamilton began off-Broadway and is a little unfettered in that regard, though it's no Avenue Q (just because it's got puppets don't mean you wanna take your kids! My favorite character is an evil landlady named Ms. Thistletwat.)

Hamilton is not boring. And tickets have opened in other cities, so you don't have to worry about ridiculous ticket prices. I saw it a week ago and I'm posting about it to annoy Dave White (whose latest Jackson Donne novel, Blind to Sin, is available for pre-order). I didn't pay above face value for tickets. If you follow them on Facebook, they announce when tickets are released, and if you're fast you can get them. Or you can wait at the door and get Standing Room Only tickets. Two people were standing right behind our last row orchestra seats, and I think they paid thirty bucks. 

I love historical fiction, or fiction inspired by historical discoveries. My latest story, which will appear in an as-yet unnamed anthology next year, was inspired by the Herxheim archaeological dig and the kurgan burial mounds (which also gave its name to my favorite villain, the Kurgan in Highlander). At Herxheim, the skulls have all been cracked open. Probably for the brains inside. It made me think for a long time, about the unpleasant realities of stone age life, and a story came from it.

Lin-Manuel Miranda has written extensively about how he wrote Hamilton, and Dave wrote about how well the story's put together. To me, Miranda's genius was in finding what was so interesting about the character. He's the most famous Founder on our currency who didn't die of old age. The duel that ended his life is well known (perhaps thanks to a milk commercial) but most of us have no idea what it was fought over, or that his son also died in a duel. I read a little about Hamilton's life when I read the excellent history of the Revolutionary War, Washington's Crossing, by David Hackett Fischer. It's not in the musical; his ability as a tactician is mentioned, but Ham led a brigade of cannon, and had a knack for creeping up on hills to catch the redcoats in cannonade, hitting their flank as they marched in row formation. And he was nineteen years old, like another war hero, Audie Murphy. 

Statue in front of his Harlem digs

Hamilton was imperfect but principled, an abolitionist like John Jay, Samuel Adams, and (later in life) Ben Franklin, but they could not get the slave states to join the union without leaving emancipation a question to be answered after the war. He had a hot temper and a sharp tongue and led a very interesting life, which you can learn in Chernow's biography, which Miranda used as a source. But it's what he chose as important that makes the story so compelling. We don't linger on his bank work, little of his politics, except for a few rap battles with Jefferson and Madison over state debt. Miranda saw him as a man who "wrote like he was running out of time," and found the human element to every milestone in his life. His orphanhood driving him to succeed and making him buck authority, his weaknesses and principles both making him easily manipulated by his enemies. 

If you can't see the show I'd recommend listening to the soundtrack, or even the new "mixtape" (which has a few cut songs which slowed down the story, even if they were important, like how he kept fighting to abolish slavery). Even if you don't like hip-hop or Broadway tunes, the songs are catchy and Miranda knows how to pen a great turn of phrase. So many of the songs have returned to me as earworms over the past week. Like 1776 did, he brings the Revolution to life, but with more passion, and a true love for its characters. I hope it inspires a lot of historical fiction set in the era.

What dueling gets you.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Maybe Your Baby Done Made Some Other Plans

Scott's Note: Angel Colon guest blogs this week.  Not that he needs any introduction, but Angel has written that most entertaining of novellas, The Fury of Blackie Jaguar, and now he has new novella out, No Happy Endings.  It's a heist novel about the robbery of a New York City sperm bank.  I figure robbing a sperm bank for supposedly choice semen would be a tough enough job, but it turns out the job gets even more complicated when a huge hurricane, super storm Sandy, hits the city.  

Intrigued? Laughing a little? I am.

Here's Angel.

Guest Post by Angel Colon

I quote a Stevie Wonder song for a handful of reasons, primarily and for the purposes of this little think piece because of that horrific, helpless, empty feeling that is letting go of a work in progress as it becomes a final draft and moves on to being its ultimate form: THE PRODUCT.

Don’t get it twisted, for all the merits of art, its final form is ultimately a product. Whether its bought, witnessed, participated in—the ultimate goal of art is to be distributed and consumed. In a bizarre way, those who create are scions of anti-capitalistic sentiment that births the very bricks capitalism used as a foundation.

Horribly pretentious, no?

But that’s a deep bar discussion for another time. For this bit of time I’m stealing from you, let’s talk about what it feels like to be a hair’s width away from your product being consumed, judged, and ultimately “digested”.

I’ve been through this mess a few dozen times by now (short stories, articles, and long form releases) in only three short years. The feeling of immense dread, that expectation someone will turn on me hard enough to give us all whiplash and scream, “FRAUD” is a constant. It’s never enough that gatekeepers and people you respect within the craft have given you the green light, nope, now the reader is coming to the party. This is the person willing to part with money to put eyes on something you’ve worked hard on and they honestly give no fucks about how the sausage was made; only that it’s tasty, tasty sausage.

And that’s a tough one. Some folks dig breakfast sausage and others like hot links. There’s no way to please everyone and you know this but it doesn’t matter. The idea that anyone is going to openly hate or, worse, PRIVATELY HATE something you worked so very hard on is mortifying.

Now I’m craving beer brats…ANYWAY.

So how do we handle that? How do we move past our own egos, because let’s be honest, this fear is utterly soaked in the flop sweat of our ego, and allow the product to stand on its own wobbly legs while we close the door on it forever?

Well, I think for one you don’t do that. I think you need to watch your darling be accepted or torn to shred by the dogs. You need to accept that once things are out of your control there’s an opportunity to learn at hand. I’m not talking about assessing where flaws were in writing/promo/overall sales; we can all suss that out well enough. I’m talking more about building thicker skin—allowing the scars to build up and be able to tackle all feedback and lessons with as little emotion possible. Too often we allow our emotions to bleed out more after producing than we do during production. It’s a flawed approach. Scream, cry, and laugh while you create. Become stone when you present. Still take the bits and pieces that improve your craft but don’t anchor, be ready to move on to create the next big project.

That’s the only way to keep the screaming and crying from starting. And hell, maybe all that pent up anxiety and frustration helps your next work become something better. That’s the goal: to always grow and further perfect your craft. Never become complacent, never become satisfied.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hide someplace and ignore I have a new novella out. You should go buy it and judge me while I pretend not to care.

You can buy No Happy Endings by clicking HERE.

Angel Luis Col√≥n is the author of NO HAPPY ENDINGS, THE FURY OF BLACKY JAGUAR, and the upcoming short story anthology; MEAT CITY ON FIRE (AND OTHER ASSORTED DEBACLES). He’s an editor for Shotgun Honey, has been nominated for the Derringer Award, and has published stories in multiple web and print pubs. Find out more at or on Twitter by following @GoshDarnMyLife.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Overlooked Gift

During this season of festive cheer, it's easy to think about the gifts that are bought and exchanged on a fixed date, and come in a pretty bag or shiny paper.

For the creative writers, thoughtful storytellers, and those who appreciate a story of substance with less action, that probes the depths of a broken soul, there's been a gift out there for the last four years, and it's coming to an end in ten days.
I speak of arguably the most overlooked show on television. Rectify. We have been sharing Daniel's journey since the beginning, and I have no idea if it will end with some glimmer of hope, or with gut-wrenching heartache, but I do know this: I will have tissues handy.

Rectify is the story of a man who, at the age of 18, was sentenced to be put to death for a rape/murder. It begins with his release from prison after DNA evidence calls his conviction into question. As we move forward with Daniel's journey to adjust to a world where people use smart phones instead of Walkmans, to adjust to being out of isolation, to grapple with having choices and the ability to walk outside or sleep in or decide what he wants to eat for breakfast, we share his recollections about his experiences in prison.
We see how he was broken inside, and we watch as he's broken on the outside.

I don't know how else to describe this show, other than to say that it's one of the most haunting, sad and beautiful shows I've ever watched. I know I felt Tatiana Maslany was overlooked for far too long before getting her Emmy, but it is an absolute tragedy that Rectify has not received those accolades.

Remember the preacher from Deadwood? This show was created by that actor, and Ray McKinnon has demonstrated his storytelling genius with a show that is arguably one of the greatest series ever to date that should be on every top 10 list out there.
 "What was real to you, Daniel?" "The time in between the seconds. And my books. And my friend."
 The first three seasons are on Netflix, and you can catch up on season 4 on the SundanceTV website. Time to call in sick and cram to catch up for this Wednesday's penultimate episode.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Tis the Season for Genre

It’s that time again. Holiday gift shopping. And it probably comes as no surprise, but I tend to give books as gifts. A lot. So I always peruse those holiday recommendation lists in generalist magazines and newspapers. And then I throw them out.
Because, really, how many literary novels or enormous coffee table books can one person be in the market for? The lists are pretty and prestigious, but they’re not practical as gift-giving advice. Because what do people really read?
Crime fiction, science fiction, horror, romance, fantasy, western. Some people stick to one. Others freely admit to loving several. But their tastes are rarely – if ever – factored in when it comes to the gift lists in general publications. Genre is the dirty little word they won’t talk about.
To me, these lists should have two purposes. The first is to introduce people to books they might not otherwise know about (say, if there was a new ten-pound coffee table pictorial history of hard cheeses). The lists usually achieve this. The second goal should be to also recommend books that people would actually be interested in reading.
Forget about it. They don’t do it.
And this, especially to me as a former reporter, is just shoddy reporting. The list-makers should be examining the tastes of the book-buying public. It might be difficult and time-consuming and – oh, wait.
Bestseller lists. There are several, easily obtainable by pretentious listers and anyone else with an internet connection. And they all say one thing. Genre rules.
The most recent New York Times bestseller list for combined print and ebook sales has nine genre books in the top ten – one romance and eight EIGHT! crime fiction/thrillers. (The same thing held true the week before, with an adventure novel replacing the romance.)
And this trend has existed for a long time. People are putting their money where their bookcases are. They like genre novels. A lot.
So I’m going to go out on a limb here and bet that the kinds of books people buy are also the kinds of books they’d like to receive. That's the point of a gift, right? It should be the point of a gift recommendation list, too.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Picking a Cover With 99Designs...and a Request

Scott D. Parker

Let me just tell you how awesome 99Designs is.

Sure, back in September I wrote about the site that allows authors like me to interact with graphic designers all over the globe. It got me the cover of Ulterior Objectives, over there on the right. But I want to extol the awesomeness that is 99Designs again…and ask a little favor of y’all, too.

As a refresher, 99Designs is a venue where anyone who needs a book cover, logo, website landing page, or almost any other type of graphic can start a contest. With a written description of what you want including any images you may want to include as reference, designers will take a look. If they decide to give your contest a go, they’ll submit designs. Along the way, you, the contest initiator can interact with the individual designs via private conversations and star rankings. By the end of the qualifying round, you should have a pretty set of designs.

The book in question is Always Bet on Red: A Rogue Gambler Western. The main character is John Denton, professional gambler, who rarely is in one place for long. He lives on the road and by the cards. But he’s feeling the pull of home, and the closest thing he’s got to a home is in a little town in Texas where his best friend, Eli Jones, is sheriff. During a poker game, an agitated man bets the deed to a saloon he owns. Denton knows he has a winning hand, but Jones sees the saloon as a way to get out of the gun fighting business. Denton folds and Jones wins. Within an hour, Jones is dead. Denton saw the murderer, but the killer gets away. The next thing Denton knows, he’s being accused of the crime. The only way he can clear his name is to find the killer himself and bring him to justice even if it means defying the gambler code of honor.

I ended up with 71 different designs! Now, to be honest, some were variations on an original version or a designer taking into account feedback I delivered. But still. Seventy-one designs from which to choose. It’s an embarrassment of choices. Some were easily dismissed while others were fantastic. One of my friends in my local book club is a graphic designer and, in his words, “…you have an insanely talented batch of [designers]. These are pro level designs for the most part!  Some of these are so good, and clearly so time consuming, I'm blown away.”

I think a key aspect of this contest is that I chose a blind contest. What that means is the other designers cannot see what I’m seeing. They have only my description. Going forward, I’d recommend using a blind contest every time.

The possibilities ranged from traditional western to the untraditional, the cartoony to the photorealistic. I wrote to some designers that the book in question doesn’t match the cover submitted…but that I wanted to write the book that would fit some of these covers. I recently went to Barnes and Noble and examined the westerns and the covers of the paperbacks and hardbacks there. A few of the covers I received could easily be on the shelves in any bookstore.

Y'all wanna see some? All you have to do is click on this link. You’ll see 8 designs—in no particular order—and you can vote. I have to select the Top 6 by Monday, so if you’re gonna vote, please do it by Sunday, 4 December.

These are exciting times to be an author! Especially when you can get covers like these. 

If you have any other feedback, just leave me a comment.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Scott & Renee discuss The Hateful Eight (2)

This is part two of the discussion Scott Adlerberg and I had on The Hateful Eight. Part one is HERE. This half of the conversation is a bit more focused on the details of the film/filmmaking that part one. Enjoy.

Renee: Definitely no pressure going into the second half of this discussion after getting a response from the first!
We covered some heavy stuff, so I'm going to take the opportunity to lighten it up a little. A couple weeks ago I went to see the twentieth anniversary release of From Dusk Till Dawn in theater, and before the movie they did an interview with Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. My favorite anecdote from that, was Rodriguez saying that while they were shopping at around people kept telling them, "We can't do this, it's two movies in one." After Pulp Fiction came out, they'd take it around and people would say, "Oh this is so great! It's two movies in one!"
I'd venture that Hateful 8 is three movies.
First, you have this act that's very 90s Tarantino. Basically a crime film set after the Civil War. Then you end up in this closed room murder mystery, and then, seemingly out of nowhere it's a horror film. Personally, I loved it. I watched it with my husband who didn't love it as much, but I always thought that Tarantino's films always veered to almost horror. This movie seems to take it to the next level. Of course, if it's a horror movie, then Daisy is the monster, and Warren and Mannix are the final "girls." Scott: How Tarantino plays with narrative and story and chronology has always been one of my very favorite things about him. No exception here, as you say. In this case I read one or two reviews before seeing the film, which I regretted because if you knew nothing going into the movie, the whole Agatha Christie like mystery section would have come as a twist out of left field. I really liked that turn, and that suddenly there's a narrator, who after telling the viewers what they need to know, drops away. Tarantino's not afraid to use whatever technique will work to suit his narrative, conventionality be damned. We shouldn't overlook, too, that the "investigator" during the mystery section, the one using his powers of deduction and questioning the suspects, is Major Warren, so I guess he qualifies as one of cinema's black detectives.
The last section - I hadn't seen it as a horror film, but you're absolutely right. The movie does become that. And that's a great way to put it, where two quite masculine men are the "final girls," the ones who survive the monster's carnage. Great inversion of that trope. And seriously, Tarantino should do a full out horror film one day. He helped do half of one, I realize, with From Dusk Till Dawn. It's a genre he obviously loves and he could make a great one.

Renee: I went in with no spoilers at all, so that moment with the coffee was really great. I saw a few people making a heavy criticism of the narration bit, but I agree with you - it's Tarantino's willingness to do whatever he has to do to tell the story he wants to tell.
And I would kill for a Tarantino horror movie! He's got the gore elements down already. You can see how he gets so close and then backs away in a lot of his films - which is fun because they aren't horror movies, but to see him go all out Kill Bill style "I'm going to do whatever I want with this" would be a spectacle for sure.
My big question, though, and this is more on the fun side than anything else. Do you think Mannix was really the Sheriff of Red Rock? As the movie progresses we learn that almost no one in the room are who they say they are, or at least, aren't there for the reasons they say (exception being Daisy) but we never get a moment where Mannix's truth is laid out cleanly. The only hint is when he says "So you finally believe that I'm the Sheriff of Red Rock," to Major Warren, but Warren dismisses that. Scott: Yeah, that is a tough question. I was wondering exactly that myself re-watching the movie the other night. I'd have to say, no, he isn't the sheriff. Partly because, as you've said, it would be consistent with the deceptiveness of everybody there, and finally, he just didn't seem like a sheriff. There's always that wonderful slightly weaselly quality Walton Coggins brings to a role, and if it can be said, he just doesn't carry himself as a sheriff, I felt. At the very least, after the coffee poisoning deaths, you think he'd try to take command of the scene and do the questioning himself. He's awfully passive when Major Warren takes over that role. Did you think he was the sheriff?

Renee: I really don't know. My first viewing, it didn't really concern me, I was caught up in what was going on, but on the second watch it became a more interesting mystery. If he's lying about being the sheriff, then surely he'd be in hot water once they all arrived, but we never get there, so there's no way to know for certain. I totally bought Tim Roth as the hangman, he seemed to know what he was talking about and had opinions that seemed formed through experience. Then we learn the truth about him, and it does kind of turn everything on it's head. If he's not really the hangman, despite being incredibly knowledgable and opinionated on hangings, then maybe Mannix is the sheriff, despite not acting like a sheriff at all.
I thought it was an interesting way to present a character, especially after everyone else's lies and secrets came to the front. The question was left hanging there, but not in a way that made the viewer feel cheated for an answer.
I think we've proven there are a lot of things in the movie to think on long after the viewing, so this was almost like an Easter Egg - once you've picked apart all the lies and subterfuge, and considered all the issues brought up in the room, there's still something to chew on, even though it's of little consequence.
My assumption is that it was intentional. The last remaining mystery. You also have to consider that the final scene makes a good case that it didn't matter at all who Mannix and Major Warren actually were, in the end they were in the same position and suffering the same fate. They were even able to put aside deep seated differences to bond.
I also question whether Major Warren really met the General's son. He had a clear motivation for telling that story, it fit with what he said in the coach about the Confederate soldiers coming after him for the bounty, but it was almost too perfect. And we know Warren is capable of saying the right thing to people to catch them off guard and get what he wants. So maybe his story is just a story. When the General says "If he did what he went there to do, he'd have come home" it's easy to assume he meant that he went to kill Warren. But it doesn't exactly fit with the small show of respect the men give each other right before Warren tells the story.
Did you wonder about that at all?
Scott: I definitely wondered whether Major Warren's story was made up. He could have told that story just to upset the General as much as he could because he hates the man, or he could have told it to provoke the General into pulling his gun so he could have an excuse to shoot him. Even that small show of respect they share, how much of that was feigned by Warren to give him the excuse to get close to the General to tell that story? And what the nature of the job the General's son had in Wyoming was a mystery to me. Could have been he went to kill Warren or maybe something entirely unrelated. There are indeed a lot of little mysteries within the movie.
Thinking about it now though, this whole aspect of characters who say they are something but may in fact be something else. Maybe what Tarantino's getting at is the whole idea of self-invention. I mean, that is an idea so central to the whole US character and identity. In this country, supposedly, with all its fluidity, you can be what you want if you play the role and set your mind to it. It's the frontier, and if you go someplace new in the country, you can be someone new. Tim Roth's character sure does sound like a knowledgeable hangman and Mannix is or would like to be sheriff and Warren claims he secured a letter from Lincoln himself. American self-mythologizing and reinvention of self. In that way, by showing all these freewheeling unapologetic tall tale tellers, maybe the movie actually contains more optimism than is apparent on the surface.
Renee: Ah, that is a great point. Tarantino said something in an interview I saw awhile back about how he's really writing about deeper themes in all of his films, but he does it through a totally different lens that what we might consider a "deep" movie. I think there's a case for the movie being about re-invention and self-mythologizing, for sure. That's especially interesting when paired with the point you made early on about the "alternate history" movies in his oeuvre being about revenge and creating a better (or at least more just) past.
Though, if everyone is putting forward what they want to be, rather than what they are, it does raise some interesting questions about Joe Gage's book and his relationship with his mother!
Speaking of family, Daisy's only real shows of emotion are directed at Jody (Channing Tatum). Another amazing piece of acting by Jennifer Jason Leigh, the look on her face when she realizes he's there says so much. We see a lot of sibling pairs in fiction and film, but it tends to be same sex pairs. There was something really amazing about how much was implied about their relationship in such a short timeframe.
There is some optimism, or at least some depth, in that as well.
You might have inadvertently convinced me that this was a "feel good" movie.

Scott: Haha. Tarantino's very violent, obscenity-laced feel good epic. That's as good a way as I can think of to describe this movie as we wrap up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dark Fissures - Interview with Matt Coyle

by Holly West

One of the best things about being a crime fiction writer is being part of the crime fiction community. I count my friendship with Matt Coyle, the Anthony Award-winning author of the Rick Cahill mysteries, as a particular highlight--although you'd never know it to hear us banter with one another.

He's got a new book, DARK FISSURES, coming out on December 6, just in time for your holiday gift giving needs. Tell 'im I sent you.

HW: DARK FISSURES is the third book in your Anthony Award-winning Rick Cahill series. Tell us what it’s about.

MC: Rick is in a tough spot as the book opens. He’s now working solo as a P.I. and about to be foreclosed upon by the bank. He needs money quick and takes a case trying to help a woman prove her husband was murdered and didn’t commit suicide as ruled by the Medical Examiner and backed up by the police. Unfortunately, the [dead] man had been a cop under Rick’s nemesis, police Chief Tony Moretti, who suspects Rick may be responsible for the missing part of a missing person.

HW: Rick Cahill is a man deeply haunted by his complicated past but in DARK FISSURES, he manages to creep forward just a little. Understanding he’ll never be truly free, is Rick finally ready to leave his past behind? Perhaps more importantly, will his enemies let him?

MC: I’m glad you noticed he’s moving forward, even if you had to measure his progress with a magnifying glass. There’s hope. I’ll probably stop writing him if he ever becomes truly healed.
Rick will always have enemies. He’s good at making new ones.

HW: Rule breaking is an integral part of a P.I.’s stock-in-trade, and Rick’s not adverse to breaking a few rules himself when the situation calls for it. But in order to keep his demons (internal and external) at bay, he operates his personal life under a strict code of ethics. In DARK FISSURES, he reluctantly strays from it. Was this a deliberate choice on your part to develop his character or did the choice evolve organically as you wrote the book?

MC: Rick is deeply flawed and sometimes fools himself about his conduct. However, I didn’t intend for him to break the rule I think you have in mind. Secondary characters grow as I write them and force themselves deeper into the story. That’s what happened with Brianne Colton. She’s talented, beautiful and capable. She needs Rick’s help with the case, but doesn’t need to be emotionally rescued. That appeals to Rick. I think his decision to break a rule is a healthy choice and, in a way, aids in his need for emotional rescue.

HW: While your books are masterfully plotted, I think, at heart, they’re character driven. So with that in mind, how would Rick answer these questions from the Proust Questionnaire: What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 

MC: Emotional weakness.

HW: What is the trait you most deplore in others?

MC: Being unjust…if that makes sense.

HW: For the craft geeks among us: DARK FISSURES is a well-plotted and fast-paced mystery that deftly juggles a couple of different story lines. Do you plot your novels in advance?

MC: Thanks for the compliment. I don’t outline. I find plotting the most difficult part of writing mysteries. I start with an inciting incident and then Rick’s and other characters’ decisions drive the action. Although DARK FISSURES is only my third book, I’ve been writing Rick for fifteen years, so I have a feel for how he’ll react to certain scenarios. I try to pick ones that will cause the most chaos, both plot-wise and emotionally.

HW: DARK FISSURES is a hard-boiled P.I. novel but there’s some police and FBI procedural mixed in. Hell, you’ve even managed to incorporate some mixed martial arts. How do you conduct your research and how important is authenticity? (Remember, it’s okay to say if you make shit up. I know I do).

MC: Authenticity is very important to me, but I’m not a research junkie. I generally only do as much research as I needed to make a scene or character seem authentic. That’s not to say that the only research I so is what comes out on the page. I try to talk to experts in their field and use the one or two things that makes the scene ring true. Of course, I’ve gotten things wrong a couple times because I didn’t do enough research.

HW: I know book one in the series, YESTERDAY’S ECHO, took many years to write and several drafts before it was published. Has your process changed over the course of writing the next two books in the series? Does it ever get easier?

MC: My process has probably gotten even more loose than when I started, but I’ve learned to trust it. That has been a big key for me.

I’ve found my first drafts have gotten a lot cleaner. I throw a lot less stuff out. However, the process itself is a mess. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. Sometimes I’ll toss something into a scene that bubbles out of my subconscious. I may expound on it right away or come back later when my subconscious tells me what it means. I call that dropping anchors. Sometimes the anchors give the story and emotion a lot more depth. Sometimes they have to be pulled up and discarded on revision.

DARK FISSURES was probably more difficult to write than the first two because of the way NIGHT TREMORS ended. I had to deal with backstory from that book to satisfy my continuing readers but not spoil things for first readers. A delicate dance that I think I pulled off.

HW: What do you consider your greatest strength as an author?

MC: I think it’s being open to any possibility. Thus, the anchor dropping above. This can lead you into many corners that you have to work very hard to get out of and make the book better. However, it can also lead you into a corner that turns into a box that doesn’t work and costs you a few days of valuable writing time. It’s a dangerous, but exciting way to write. And, although I’ve had my doubts in every book, I still trust the process.

Matt Coyle grew up in Southern California battling his Irish/Portuguese siblings for respect and the best spot on the couch in front of the TV. He knew he wanted to be a crime writer as a child when his father gave him THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER by Raymond Chandler.

His debut novel, YESTERDAY’S ECHO, won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel, the San Diego Book Award for Best Mystery, and the Ben Franklin Silver Award for Best New Voice in Fiction. His second book, NIGHT TREMORS, was named a top pick for 2015 by and was a Lefty, Shamus, and Anthony Award Finalist. DARK FISSURES, is the third book in the Rick Cahill crime series. Matt is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara and lives in San Diego with his Yellow Labrador, Angus, where he is working on the fourth Rick Cahill crime novel.