Les Roberts gives us the lowdown on his novel The Cleveland Creep…
Tell us what the novel is about.Cleveland private eye Milan Jacovich is hired to track down the disappeared son of his client, Savannah Dacey. The son, Earl, is a jobless 30-year-old loser, and when Milan discovers he’s also a bit of a pervert, he’s drawn into the ugly business of pornography in Cleveland. (Yes, Virginia, there IS a Cleveland porno industry.) He’s helped by his very first employee, a young private-eye wannabe, Kevin O’Bannion—and not surprisingly, he finds his life in danger. He also butts heads with an arrogant and demanding FBI Special Agent, and his longtime involvement with his “frenemy,” mob boss Victor Gaimari, begins to look shaky.
How long did it take you to write the novel?Generally a Milan book takes from 7-9 months to write, providing I’m left alone!!!!
Did it take a lot of research?
Not much research at all, actually. Long talks with some local police officers, including vice cops, and a certain amount of my running around taking notes because Milan visits FOUR different NE Ohio counties in this one, and I wanted to get the perfect, unique FEEL for each of them.
Where did you come up with the plot, what inspired you?
There are stories about sex crimes almost daily on TV and in the newspapers. I was inspired, if you believe in THAT word, by three things: the arrest of a young man who cruises crowded shopping malls in the summer and attempts to videotape up the skirts of women, ESPECIALLY of young girls from Catholic schools who always wear skirts as part of their school uniform. The fact that teen-age girls who are sexually active have decided that having sex with older men would be a great way to earn lots of money. AND—a story about animal abuse that has haunted me for several years now until I simply HAD to write about it, even as a subplot.
Which scenes did you enjoy writing the most?
Probably the scenes between Savannah and Milan. She’s torn between wanting to find her son and her total crush, albeit unrequited, on Milan.
Who is your favorite among the characters in the novel?
I fall in love with ALL the characters I write—male, female, good, bad, etc. I particularly liked writing about Helene Diamond, a woman hanging on the fringe trying to make a relatively innocent buck by producing pornographic movies in her downtown Cleveland studio. I grew so enchanted with the character, and I was sorry I couldn’t include her in more scenes, but the story wouldn’t permit it.
I was wary of the new character K.O. Bannion at first but love him now. What’s in the near future for him?
Kevin O’Bannion showed up because Milan is getting older and has slowed down a bit. (Me too, by the way.) A Middle East veteran and a teenaged juvenile detention inmate, he’s generally mad about everything. Quick with his fists—K.O. is not just his initials, but shorthand in the boxing industry for “Knock Out”—-he and Milan butt heads as they try to figure out how to get along together. K.O. takes ONE LOOK at a very pretty young witness named Carli Wysocki, and he suddenly realizes he’s alwahys wanted someone special in his young but difficult life. He will appear in the next one, “Whiskey Island,” as will Carli—and assuming I’m around for another twenty years or so, I think he’ll be a regular continuing character.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about the novel?
Most of my novels are based on something that really touches me—and usually infuriates me. “The Cleveland Creep” came from: Young teen guys abusing their teenage girlfriends is far too common in today’s society. Horrific animal abuse happens every day for no apparent reason other than deep-down cruelty. Prostitution, especially among the upper and middle-class teens from comfortable suburbs. And of course the difficulty of people of two different generations trying to figure out how they can get along together.
Les Roberts came to mystery writing after 24 years as a Hollywood writer/producer. His next novel, “Whiskey Island,” will be published later this year, and he’s now writing what he hopes will be his TWENTY-EIGHTH book. He’s also a movie critic, book critic, teacher, singer, jazz pianist, lecturer and public speaker. However, he DOESN’T do windows!