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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 Hammett, and Robert B. Parker, a more contemporary example. I think those authors have had the most influence on my own writing style. My other 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 fabulous New Zealand crime writer.
How to handle reviews, both good and bad?
I sincerely appreciate every single reader who takes his or her time to write and post a review for one of my books. Reviews are incredibly valuable to authors because they can literally make or break a book as far as both visibility and sales.
Reader reviews published on Amazon and similar sites are meant for other readers more than for the benefit of authors. As such they are expressions of personal opinions about a book. We all approach a book with different expectations and tastes. 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 thoroughly enjoy them. I’ve also read books with great reviews that I wasn’t even able to make myself finish. I might read a book and love it. You could read the same book and absolutely hate it. That doesn’t mean either of us is wrong. We simply saw the book differently and reached a different opinion about it.
Every writer must understand he or she will get some bad reviews, but you can’t take it personally. If someone spends his or her valuable time to read one of my books and then goes above and beyond to write a review, whether good or bad I am going to appreciate it. They have certainly earned the right to express their opinion. Oftentimes I learn things from both good and bad reviews I try to incorporate to make me a better writer. But, at the end of the day my style is what it is and I am going to write the kind of books I want to write. Reviews, good or bad, will never impact that.
How do you come up with the titles of the Malone novels?
From the beginning I decided to use lines from the writings of William Shakespeare as the titles of every Malone novel. It’s sort of a unifying theme for the series. Malone, the main character, is a fan of Shakespeare and often quotes him in the books. I’m a Shakespeare fan too so that works out great. Then I simply try to identify a theme in the novel after completing the first draft and find a line from Shakespeare that fits with it.
The only downside is other authors sometimes use the same title system for their books. So, unfortunately after I’ve decided on a title some other author (often several authors) may have already used it. And, sometimes after I’ve published a book another author (or several) will use the same title for his or her book. That’s why I started using a common subtitle, to hopefully distinguish my books from others with the same main titles. Titles can’t be copyrighted so any author is free to reuse any book title. Personally, I think it would be in poor taste to reuse the title of a classic book like “Gone With the Wind,” or “Lord of Rings,” or “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And believe me, I’ve seen people do that by reusing some very well-known book titles. But, if two authors decide to use the same partial line from Hamlet as a book title and end up with the same book title, it’s not a real issue.