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What influenced you to write crime fiction?

Thanks to my mom, I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a young child. My maternal grandmother was a fan of true crime and crime fiction magazines and I would read them whenever I was visiting her. That led to my interest in reading crime fiction books written by authors like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, and the like. By the time I entered college I already had the idea I wanted to write books someday. Since I read and enjoyed crime fiction that seemed the natural genre for me when I did start writing.

Who are your favorite crime fiction authors?

I’ve always liked the all-time hard-boiled greats like Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammet, and Robert B. Parker. I think those two authors have had the most influence on my own writing style. My contemporary favorites include John Roswell Camp who writes under the pen name John Sandford (The Prey Series), Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch novels), Ace Atkins (his continuation of Parker’s Spenser novels), and most recently Vanda Symon, a very good New Zealand crime writer.

How to handle reviews, both good and bad?

While I sincerely appreciate every single reader who takes his or her time to write and post a review for one of my books, to be honest I rarely read reader reviews. Reviews are incredibly valuable to authors because they can literally make or break a book as far as both visibility and sales. But here is why I rarely read reviews.

First, reader reviews published on Amazon and similar sites are meant for other readers more than for the benefit of the authors. They are expressions of personal opinions about a book. Since we all approach a book with different expectations and tastes, of course we aren’t always going to come away with the same opinion.  As an example, I read books all the time with lots of bad reviews and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I could read a book and love it. You could read the same book I’ve read and enjoyed and absolutely hate it. That doesn’t mean either of us is wrong. We just see the book differently and reached different opinions about it.

It doesn’t surprise me that I’ve received some bad reviews, but it also hasn’t offended me. Not every person who reads any book is going to like the book. I do pay attention to the number of reviews and the average ratings because those things have a direct bearing on things like book sales and advertisement opportunities. But, at the end of the day I write the kind of books I want to write. Reviews, good or bad, will never impact that. I do love it when people read one of my books and enjoy it. But, a bad review is never going to reduce me to tears. By the same token I don’t rely on positive reviews as validation of my abilities as a writer.