Steve Weddle has prepared for crime fiction writing with an education in poetry and a career in newspapers. Quick writing. Imagery. Facts. Crime.
Weddle grew up near Shreveport, Louisiana, the setting for his first novel. He devoured science fiction and fantasy, as well as the occasional literary novel. Harry Harrison. Steven Brust. Graham Greene. Writers who dealt with crime fiction, despite genre differences. After graduating with an MFA in poetry from Louisiana State University, Weddle did what most poets do. He got a job that had nothing to do with poetry.
Weddle began his newspaper work as a temporary fill-in for an ad
compositor and eventually became editor of a neighboring paper. For 10 years, he wrote about small town crime, local politicians and county fair jellies.
Weddle said that he isn’t interested in big-time thrillers or high-powered crime right now. “The small town stuff, that’s what interests me. How local people go over the line,” he said. “One time, true story, I was standing with a defendant outside a courthouse and he told me how he was going to kill me because of the coverage I was giving to the case. Something pushed this guy over the line. Something that gets inside you and makes you do one bad thing after another. Maybe it’s evil. Maybe it’s something else. That thing. That’s the thing I’m interested in.”
Now a newspaper publisher, Weddle spends his writing hours working on his crime fiction.
TUESDAY: JAY STRINGER
DSD: Tell us a little about yourself?
JS: Born in 1980. Not dead yet.
DSD: Very droll. But really, who are you?
JS: Well, I’m a writer. I grew up in an area of England called the Black Country, but I’m currently living in Glasgow with my fiancée and an imaginary monkey. My first novel is under submission right now, and I’m very excited about it.
DSD: Why do you write? I mean, rather than doing something productive like, say, PS3?
JS: The simple answer is that there are stories I want to read that haven’t been written yet. And so I need to write them. The longer answer is that I’ve not been any good at expressing myself other ways- I sucked at comedy, music and real work. Writing lets me be myself, and to look at issues that interest me.
DSD: And why crime fiction?
JS: Well, that was sort of by accident. I like to read and write about real people and tough situations. I’m drawn toward social fiction, and I like a strong sense of time and place. I’m not that attracted to using too many words, and I don’t really like navel gazing or talking tigers. Crime just seems to be the place where I ended up, but I think most of the great writers of the past would be labeled as crime in the modern market. Just look at Steinbeck, total crime writer.
DSD: So are you a political writer?
JS: No, no way. I'm either not good enough or not bad enough to be political. I'd like to think I'm a social writer, but that also sounds very serious and worthy. I don't take myself seriously enough to worry about all of that, I just like to write about people who don't always do the right thing. And to throw in a few jokes and Harrison Ford references.
DSD: Tell us something interesting about yourself?
JS: Depending on who asks, I was named after either Jimi Hendrix or Irish whiskey.
DSD: Where can we see some of your writing?
JS: Well, like I said, my first novel is under submission right now. I’m represented by Decker Literary, and I’ll tell you more when we have it. Other than that, I have two stories I’m proud of here and here and of course, you’ll see me here every Tuesday.
I'm the author of the crime novels Dirty Sweet, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and the upcoming Swap which will be published in Canada in September and in the USA as Let It Ride in February. Why the different title? That may be the subject of a blog entry here soon.
For the last six months I've also been a member of the writing team of the TV show The Bridge which will debut in the USA on CBS and in Canada on CTV sometime in the next TV season.
I've also written a dozen or so flash fictions and a couple of short stories available for free from my website as an e-book, Flash.
With Do Some Damage I'm going to share my experiences in publishing and TV as best I can. In Canada I'm published by a small press and in the USA I was one of the writers caught in the middle when Harcourt merged with Houghton Miflin. I've since signed with Thomas Dunne Books at St.Martins, which has been great so far. And TV writing is whole different animal, so I'll have some things to say about that (the money is good, the peope are great everything else is frustrating as hell).
I've published two PI Novels: the Shamus and Strand Award nominated WHEN ONE MAN DIES and THE EVIL THAT MEN DO. Both received starred reviews in Publishers Weekly. I'm currently at work on a 3rd novel.
When not writing I teach 8th graders and watch my maturity level sink. Its one of my favorite things to do. I'm involved in The Dave and Krewer Show podcast. I also blog over at my own site.
I'll be blogging here at Do Some Damage on Thursdays and will spend the rest of the week pretending Jay Stringer has facial hair. That way I can stand out as the cleancut member of the DSD crew.
From the files of J. McNee, Private Investigator, Dundee, Scotland.
Subj. McLean, Russel D.
Occupation: Author. Reviewer. Occasional bookseller. Miscreant.
Observing subject now for three days. Time split between place of employment and home, where subject frequently sits in darkened rooms. Audio observation reveals sound of constant typing and occasional bursts of profanity.
Monitoring of email communication mentions novels published in UK; the forthcoming THE LOST SISTER and, previously, THE GOOD SON. US currently preparing for publication in Dec ’09
Subject ran webzine for approx. five years, give or take deadlines. Crimescenescotland has now moved and is still thriving, albeit as a review site when subject was unable to continue editing extremely dark crime short stories.
McLean is a fan of noir and hardboiled fiction, but loves genre fiction of all stripes. Unless it involves anything cute. He has an allergy to cute. Along with an allergy to mushrooms.
Gang affiliations include Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Spinetingler Ezine, The Thrilling Detective and Crime Spree magazine.
Frequently found at: www.theseayemeanstreets.blogspot.com, www.dosomedamage.com, www.thrillerwriters.org
“THE GOOD SON is the most exciting, and gripping, Scottish crime fiction debut of recent years.” John Connolly
“Scottish crime fiction is entering a new era and Russel McLean is at the vanguard.” Tony Black
I’m a writer and blogger who came late to the crime fiction party.
As a charter member of the Star Wars Generation, I was all about science fiction and fantasy and comic books. “Real life” stuff just didn’t interest me. I did have a soft spot for The Hardy Boys and, later, Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators, but that was the extent of my association with crime fiction.
In the mid-1980s, things began to change. I discovered Sherlock Holmes on paper and Jeremy Brett as the great sleuth on PBS’s Mystery. If I had to peg something as the seed of my eventual love of crime and mystery fiction, it would be Holmes.
Still I rarely read any mystery fiction. Can’t really say why, either. SF and fantasy were just more exciting for me. That was until I read Dennis Lehane’s Mystic River. His 2001 novel just blew me away. Never before had I realized how good crime fiction could be and what it could do. Rapidly I sought out others like him: George Pelecanos and Richard Price, to name but two. I was hooked.
When it came time to write my first novel in 2005, my new respect for crime fiction coupled with my two degrees in history led me to write a historical mystery featuring Harry Truman. As much fun as that project was, I still considered my knowledge in crime fiction to be lacking. Thus, in 2008, I put myself through a Crime Fiction Self-Education Course. I read all the old masters (Cain, Hammett, Chandler, Keene, Wade Miller) as well as modern practitioners of the form (Lehane, Pelecanos, Block, Guthrie, Winslow, Faust, Swierczynski). Hard Case Crime was instrumental in this education as that publisher introduced me to many new names I just never knew.
Now, I’m firmly in the crime fiction camp and I’ll never leave. Turns out “real life” stuff is much more exciting and complex than I ever knew.
I am a Canadian crime writer with two books to my name.
My books to date have been written from the perspective of a criminal. I love to read the bad guy and even more I love to write the bad guy. My choice to write this kind of book stems from a chance encounter with a copy of The Hunter by Richard Stark. The book was a complete one eighty from the type of material I had been exposed to by school and my parents. Up until then I had only read classics and the usual high school fodder. The book was raw, gritty, violent, and visceral - everything The Stone Angel wasn’t. I read through it in about a day and devised a plan to buy every book in the series using rare book dealers from all over North America. I moved from Stark to Spillane and then onto any other pulp writer I could find.
My books are set in the city I call home. I chose Hamilton as the setting because the city has everything: diversity, wealth, poverty, crime, and concrete tons of concrete. Hamilton is usually hidden in the shadow of Toronto and most people don’t know about its history of mob families and urban crime. I grew up around countless armchair experts of local crime and heard the stories whispered in the school cafeterias and local coffee shops. My city scared me as a youth and I did my best to not set foot in the core. It was a fantastic surreal place where people seemed harder and tougher than anywhere else. Downtown was the kind of place where you would roll up the windows and lock the doors in the summer heat just to make sure outside couldn’t get in. But as I grew up, I learned that the city has a hard beauty like a female boxer in the tenth round. Each rough edge makes Hamilton more interesting and more exotic than almost anywhere else I can think of.
I work hard to write books with a pulse, not a slow steady beat, but a driving arrhythmia that pushes faster and faster towards the eventual crash. It is my hope that both Darwin’s Nightmare and Grinder are something that will resonate with crime and mystery fans who just can’t seem to get the taste of hardboiled pulp out of their mouths.
Okay, so now you know the players. That's enough small talk, lets see what kind of mayhem these boys can cause each week...