Nov 202014
 

Michael Connelly and Sebastian Rotella


Sebastian Rotella signing galleys of his forthcoming novel, The Convert's Song.


Richard Lange


Sebastian Rotella and Simon Wood


David Morrell signing galleys of his forthcoming novel, Inspector of the Dead.


Duane Swierczynski's signing line for CANARY

Oh, don’t mind us. Just looking over our photos from Bouchercon while listening to sad jazz and missing our authors. :’-(

Jun 192013
 
You knew it was only a matter of time before something like this happened, right? As Omnimystery News explains:
Amazon Studios has ordered a pilot based on a character created by crime novelist Michael Connelly. Titled Bosch, it will be centered on LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch, first introduced in the 1992 novel The Black Echo, which won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel the following year.

Deadline reports that Connelly co-wrote the pilot screenplay, though it isn’t clear if it is an original story or based on one of the novels in the series.
A hearty congratulations is due Michael Connelly. I’m only surprised it has taken this long to fashion a TV series from his very popular Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch books.

* * *

Speaking of small-screen endeavors, the British TV series DCI Banks, starring Stephen Tompkinson as author Peter Robinson’s longtime Yorkshire cop, Alan Banks, has been renewed for a third series (aka season). Production on a trio of two-part episodes is scheduled, beginning in August of this year. Those episodes will be based on the novels Wednesday’s Child, Piece of My Heart, and Bad Boy.

In the UK, DCI Banks started showing in 2010, but here in the States, series I and II didn’t debut until this last January, running back to back. Series III is being prepared for broadcast in the UK next year, but there’s no news yet on when it might reach these shores.
Jan 092013
 

By David Corbett

Ed Kaufman, the elfin, indefatigable owner of M is for Mystery (and More …) Bookstore, passed away on December 20th from complications resulting from kidney disease.

He was known by many of us in the writing biz—and cherished. You arrived in his store and felt like royalty. He not only actually read your books, he generously and knowledgeably expressed his enjoyment of them. He knew what you were up to and respected it. His encouragement crackled in his voice and in his eyes. 

Ed Kaufman spoiled me. After my first acquaintance with him, I suspected—or more appropriately, I suppose, hoped—that his level of intelligence, energy, and personal fondness might propel me along like the current of a river throughout my career. If only. Men like Ed are rare. Which is why his passing hits so hard.

More than once he came at me like a buzzsaw: “Where’s the next book?!” For a slowboat writer like me, it was half pat on the back, half kick in the pants. But I knew he was saying it because he genuinely believed my books were worth reading, not just putting on the shelf.

He also offered me the chance to introduce and interview writers like Michael Connelly and Richard Price, two men I very much admire.

He was the quirky uncle with a steel-trap mind and the metabolism of a dervish. His smile engulfed you, and his handshake was always warm and strong. I’m sure he could be prickly and impossible and self-absorbed at times—like I’m one to talk—and his employees were no doubt more long-suffering than we might imagine. His manager, Pam Stirling, remains one of the people in the book business whose warmth and appreciation remain among my fondest memories as a writer, and the other members of his staff, Jen and Ann and Warn and Charlotte, were always so welcoming and kind.

He closed the bookstore in December, 2011, and it felt like someone had dropped a nuclear bomb in the business. You can imagine what his death feels like.

There were two lovely obits online, one in the San Francisco Chronicle, the other in the The Daily Journal, and they flesh out his prior years—his growing up in Ohio, his service in the military as a plainclothes Counter Intelligence Corps officer, the chance to serve as clerk to US Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart that Ed turned down because he needed to make more money for his family, his longtime work as a lawyer in Los Angeles, his passion for art and opera—and his marriage to Jeannie, whom most of us got to know as well: She was the lovely, witty, wise-cracking counterpoint to Ed’s almost boyish enthusiasms.

In 2012 the Mystery Writers of America bestowed on Ed the Raven Award for outstanding achievement in the mystery field outside the realm of creative writing. But awards only say so much. Here are some words from other writers to give you an idea of what he meant to us all:

I am so very sad. I loved Ed, loved his drive, his manners, his charm and energy. He built a great business and you could see he just loved it when an author grew almost right in front of him. I was so nervous on my first visit there, with my first book, that I almost passed out. And a few years later, after a packed event during which I signed about 85 books, he put a few hundred more books in front of me to sign and date — and I almost passed out again, this time with shock! But it was always nothing but a pleasure to do anything for him, because he was a wonderful supporter of authors and of the mystery. That sparkle of passion was always there, even if he seemed weary the last time I saw him. —Jacqueline Winspear

Here's my favorite Ed story: I was once in M is for Mystery talking to Ed and I saw a copy of The Kite Runner on the front table. I looked at him and said, "Really Ed? The Kite Runner in a mystery store?" And he kind of grumbled and said, "There's a kidnapping in it. Besides, as far as I'm concerned, if someone in the story gets a parking ticket, it's a crime novel." —Mark Haskell Smith

What a champion he was of first-time authors, and how loyal. I remember how supportive he was so early on and how it never wavered. Then, as recently as August, he called me at home out of the blue to congratulate me on a review. Whenever I saw him we talked about his love of opera. When he spoke of it, his face just lit up from within. —Megan Abbott

I always looked forward to visiting Ed Kaufman.  He was a kind, enthusiastic, cultured man, with a love not only for the contents of books but for the artifact of the book itself.  A generation of great booksellers is passing, and we will not see their likes again. John Connolly

Ed Kaufman was a gentleman of the old school, unfailing in his support of authors at all stages of their careers. I treasure the memories of events I was honoured to participate in at M is For Mystery. He made me feel so welcome, and did so much to help bring my work to American readers. I shall always remember him with gratitude and great joy. Zoë Sharp

I met Ed when I was in law school in the bay area, well before I ever realized my books would be among those in his store. He was my friend, and I will miss his big hugs and sweet laughs. —Alafair Burke

I had the tremendous honor of presenting a Raven Award to Ed in 2012. I have always thought of him as "The Mensch of Mystery," and it was awfully nice to be able to honor him in return for his having hosted my very first signing at M is for Mystery. What a lovely, lovely man. —Cornelia Read

Ed was my hometown bookseller and a broke-the-mold guy. One of my highlights every year on tour was seeing him at the store. Because I'm from the Bay Area, he got to know my family and friends over the years and always remembered them and had a good word -- and a book recommendation or two -- for them. I miss him. —Gregg Hurwitz

Ed was such a gentleman, but always with that little twinkle in his eyes. He made me feel welcome, and special, and I'm sure he did the same for readers as well as authors. Most of all, you could feel his passion for books. —Deborah Crombie

I thought Ed treated me as a friend because he was an ex-New Yorker and a reader of The Wall Street Journal. Then I learned he treated everyone with warmth and friendship. He was a sweet man who was a joy to visit and a tireless advocate for authors whose work he admired. I miss him and am so glad we met. —Jim Fusilli

Ed was a leprechaun of a bookseller; kind and mischievous, delighted by literary finds both bound and unbound (in the form of the visiting authors), he regarded books and writers as gold to be treasured, promoted and championed. Ed and the staff at M is for Mystery—Pam Stirling, the manager, Ann, Charlotte, Jen—were like a family to me. I'll miss him—and the wonderful Xanadu they built together--forever. —Kelli Stanley

Ed was a superb lawyer, an extraordinary bookseller, a wise counselor and a supportive friend. He will be greatly missed. —Sheldon Siegel

When I interviewed Ed K last year to write something up for the Edgar Awards program - he was awarded the prestigious and well-deserved Raven - I met him for coffee which turned into Ed taking me to lunch, yes that was Ed, but in all the years I knew him I realized I didn't know where his love of books came from. So I asked him. 'Years ago when I was a young lawyer I travelled all the time. Always on the road, my family at home. But I discovered bookstores. From then on I was never without a book under my arm - airports, waiting rooms, hotels, conference breaks in law offices.  A book was always my companion. Then as now you won't find me without a book under my arm.' That's how I always remember Ed, holding a book.  —Cara Black

When my first book came out I got a phone call from Ed, inviting me to sign at his store. I was new and completely unknown and felt so honored that he'd asked me. Never mind that only a couple of people showed up. Ed has been a dear friend ever since and even ordered me to bring my Celtic harp to play once. If you know how shy I am about playing instruments in public you'll know in what high regard I held him. His passing has left a hole in my heart. —Rhys Bowen

Ed made new writers feel incredibly valued, cherished. I'll always cherish him for that! —Pari Noskin Taichert

When my first book came out, Ed read my industry reviews and then took the initiative to contact my publisher and request to host my book launch (shown here).

I remember how he toured me, my husband, and our pug around his shop. My stage fright soon melted away in the warmth of Ed's welcome. He made this first book event so special for me. He even taught me how to sign my books. Such a mensch! Ed loved literature and was a true champion of authors. He had a keen intellect and a big heart. I'm sure that everyone who knew Ed was all the better for it — and Ed knew a lot of people! —Cynthia Robinson

What I remember most is Ed's infectious passion for mystery writers and anyone who shared his passion. Ed made me feel like I'd finally found my clan. I think that's why the local chapter of MWA always held their Christmas party there. Being in that store and standing among those bookshelves, seeing your name on the spines of some of the books and listening to Ed's stories, that was as big a thrill as getting published for the first time. He made a small bookstore in a small town a destination, because Ed was the destination.

Ed was also a great connector. He called me several times, sometimes at the last minute, to guest-host a number of author events, either at the store or occasionally at the local library. Usually they were authors I knew, but sometimes he just had an instinct an event would work if he threw certain authors together, and he was always right. I made some great friends at those events because Ed had a matchmaker's eye for people with shared passions. He was a great soul, and whatever bookshelf he gets in heaven, I hope it stretches as far as his reach did on Earth. He's the kind of guy we should all write stories about. Tim Maleeny

As a final note: I posted the following on my website in 2007 when the publication of my third novel coincided with Ed’s birthday:

I and a number of other northern California mystery writers—including Rhys Bowen, Ann Parker, Camille Minichino, Nadia Gordon, Tony Broadbent, Tim Maleeny, Kirk Russell, and Dylan Schaffer—threw a surprise birthday party on Friday evening, March 23rd, for Ed Kaufman, the owner of M is for Mystery in San Mateo, one of the premier crime and mystery bookstores in the country.

The evening was billed as a reading for my new novel, Blood of Paradise, but when Ed and I booked the date, he let it slip that it was his birthday, and the scheming began.

Ed's wife Jeannie, store manager Pam Stirling, and the rest of the M is for Mystery staff were in on the caper, and even though Ann and Camille, with all the best intentions in the world, almost blew the surprise by walking in a bit early with balloons, Ed didn't catch on until the cake appeared. (Though he did, in introducing me, express a little surprise that so many folks had turned out for my event—hmm.) Cara Black and Steve Hockensmith, unable to attend because of other obligations, nonetheless sent congratulations from afar, and a grand time was had by all (even Tilly and Morgan, the canine celebrants). The inscription on the cake read, "M is for Mensch," and truer words were never written—certainly not with icing. Many happy returns, Ed!

As it turned out, there were only five more happy returns. Far too few.

You’re missed, Mr. K. More than even a bunch of writers can say.

* * * * *

If you have any words or a recollection of Ed you’d like to share, please feel free.

* * * * *

Jukebox Hero of the Week: In honor of Ed’s abiding love of opera, here’s Angela Gheorghiu in a live performance of Puccini’s “Vissi d’arte,” from Tosca. (Yes, it’s a crime story—she sings this aria right before murdering the villain, Scarpia):

Bonus Track: Ed's wife, Jeannie, when we emailed back and forth about possible arias, said, "just about any aria from Puccini's 'La Boheme' -- such as 'Che gelida la manina' ("...how cold is your little hand..." he flirts) and Pavarotti never disappoints. And neither does Puccini."

When I told her I was thinking of Puccini's "Vissi d'arte," she responded, "Oh, Vissi d'arte even better! Of course -- I lived for art, etc. etc. How silly of me not to think of that! (though Ed loved the schmaltz of the Boheme youthful flirtation)."

So, in honor of Ed's love of schmaltzy youthful flirtation -- as well as crime: 

 

Jan 022013
 
I've been having a vacation and reading all sorts of books and graphic novels (I really liked Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, which I'd never read), but it seems I'm running out of time to read all the books I meant to. I'm blaming Dean Koontz, whose Watchers I've been reading. It's a pretty good horror thriller, but it's too long! (I'll get back to the book shortly, once I've finished it.)

But Michael Connelly's Echo Park (2006; Sokkelokuja in Finnish) I finished with ease. Connelly is real comfort reading to me, and I don't mind saying that, since he's also always got some edge in his books. Connelly handles his dark materials (sic) easily but with verve, and his writing is smooth and simple without being simplistic. He's not a great stylist like Chandler or a great innovator like Ellroy, but he does very well what he does. His plots are also intricate and they involve some deep stuff without being heavy-handed or didactic.

Echo Park isn't one of the best Connellys (the plot is a bit too straightforward), but I still liked the heck out of it. I'm not so fond of Connelly's Terry McCaleb or Mickey Haller books, but Harry Bosch is a favourite. I remember when I interviewed Connelly and he said he's always imagined Donald Sutherland as the film version of Bosch. This may seem weird, but not long ago I watched Claude Chabrol's rarely-seen Ed McBain film Blood Relatives with Donald Sutherland. He's very good and convincing as McBain's Steve Carella, who's a blueprint for all the film cops. I can see him as Bosch, no problem.

By the way, it was nice to see both Duane Swierczynski and Sarah Weinman being Tuckerized in Echo Park.
 Posted by at 7:11 pm
Sep 072012
 
Michael Connelly’s 17th Harry Bosch novel, The Black Box, won’t even be released in the States until November. However, it has already won Spanish publishing company RBA’s 2012 Novela Negra Prize.

As British blogger Rhian Davies explains, “The prize money of €125,000 is for the best unpublished work in the genre, recognizing the confidence RBA has in its authors--both well-known and those waiting to be discovered. The competition is open to works written in any language with a translation into Spanish or English.” Previous recipients of this commendation are: Patricia Cornwell (2011), Harlan Coben (2010), Philip Kerr (2009), Andrea Camilleri (2008), and Francisco González Ledesma (2007).
Aug 202012
 
“Most people think that because I write books that I must be reading books all the time. Not true. On one hand, you have to always be reading. It refills the tank, stimulates ideas and inspires. It’s important. The only problem is it can be intrusive to your own work. So when I am writing I am usually reading sparingly. I am lucky in that I get sent a lot of books to read. I look them over and put the one I want to read to the side for later. That is, if I can wait. Sometimes I can’t wait to jump on a book as soon as I pick it up at the store or it comes in the mail.”

- Michael Connelly on reading writing. Learn what he read after he finished writing The Black Box today on MulhollandBooks.com
Aug 202012
 

Sunny readingI seem to be on a cycle in which I finish books in early summer for a late fall release. It happened again this year – much, I’m sure, to my editor’s frustration. I’ve just finished up my next novel The Black Box, blowing all kinds of deadlines in the process. The frustrating part for my editor and copyeditor is that the longer I take, the less time they have to work their magic and make the book better.

But I have no worry this year or any year. The team that works on these books is the best and the book is in very good hands.

What’s been nice for me is that it turns summer into a real vacation for me. I don’t want to start my next book, even though I am thinking about it all the time, until all the editing and polishing of The Black Box is finished. That gives me time to catch up on books and movies and other projects. So then, here is an update on how I spent my summer vacation.

First, reading list. Most people think that because I write books that I must be reading books all the time. Not true. On one hand, you have to always be reading. It refills the tank, stimulates ideas and inspires. It’s important. The only problem is it can be intrusive to your own work. So when I am writing I am usually reading sparingly. I am lucky in that I get sent a lot of books to read. I look them over and put the one I want to read to the side for later. That is, if I can wait. Sometimes I can’t wait to jump on a book as soon as I pick it up at the store or it comes in the mail.

This has been a good summer for me. Reading both old and new books and even new old books (I’ll explain later), I have not been disappointed.

One book that really popped for me was Michael Koryta’s new novel The Prophet. Koryta seems to be one of the young writers everybody’s watching. He wrote some early private eye stuff that I really liked. He then flexed his muscles and took a few swings at some horror-tinged stuff. I liked his ghost stories but between you and me I was waiting for him to come back to crime. He has done that with The Prophet but in a big way with a big story about brothers that sprawls across a couple decades. This is a pitch over the plate to me. I call them time travel stories. Not because there is any sci-fi here, but because they are stories about how the past informs the present, how it reaches right across time and grabs someone by the collar. Koryta has done it here and I count this as his best book yet.

I also had a good time reading Alafair Burke’s latest, Never Tell, toting it with me across Italy on a half work/half vacation trip. Burke also returns to roots with one of her series characters, Ellie Hatcher. You can’t go wrong there.

One of the highlights of the summer was returning to Catcher in the Rye through the eyes of my daughter who was assigned the J.D. Salinger novel on her school’s summer read list. Also on there was John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, which was fun because about six years ago John signed a copy of his book An Abundance of Katherines to my daughter and gave it to me, saying she should wait a few years before reading it. She’s doing that now.

The new old book I just finished reading was the latest from James M. Cain. That’s right, James M. Cain. The Cocktail Waitress was the last novel he wrote but it was never published and parts sat hidden in an agent’s file and the Library of Congress. The lost novel was tracked down by Publisher/Editor Charles Ardai of Hard Case Crime and will be published later this summer. I wrote a review of the book for the New York Times.

There’s a couple other books out there on the horizon and will be published fairly soon. I am reading ahead of the curve because I get galleys of soon to be published novels sent to me. One of the perks of the job. Dick Wolf, the creator of all those Law and Order shows and spinoffs, has finally written a novel and its pretty damn good. The Intercept is a cool introduction to Jeremy Fisk, a detective with NYPD’s Intelligence Division.

And a perennial favorite of mine, Stephen Hunter, has a book coming soon that is sure to make a splash. The Third Bullet is a contemporary story that draws us back to the Kennedy assassination fifty years ago. The book is imaginative and riveting. I loved what Stephen King did with the Kennedy Assassination in 11/23/63 and Hunter’s book is equally up to the task of telling a dramatic fictional story from such a monumental moment in history.

Next up for me will be Megan Abbott’s new one, Dare Me. I can’t wait to get into that.

This summer has scene some pretty good progress on a pair of non-book projects that are near and dear to me. First up, the documentary I am helping to produce – Sound of Redemption; the Frank Morgan Project – is coming along nicely. Director NC Heiken began filming interviews of those who knew the gifted but troubled jazzman and gathering archival material. There is already enough there to make me very excited about this film that will examine and honor Frank’s life. We are now gearing up for the second half of filming this fall and the film should be finished in early 2013. This started out as a labor of love. I liked Frank a lot and loved his music. He was very giving to me as he was to many others. I felt his story should be told and now it is. But it is being told at a level I think is much better and beyond what I could have imagined. NC and her crew have really taken the project close to heart and I think something special will come of it.

Talk about things close to the heart, I am very excited these days about the prospects of seeing Harry Bosch realized as a character on television. It’s been a long journey but finally this year I wrested control of the rights to the character back. After much due diligence and cautious effort, the basis of a very credible production of the Bosch stories is taking form. I’ve partnered up with Eric Overmyer, a wonderful writer, and a production company called Fuse. Our group goal is to keep the integrity of Bosch and the stories as they go from the written page to the small screen. I think it can be done and I think this is the team to do it.

Henrik Bastin, the producer at Fuse, impressed me as the man to trust Harry Bosch with from the day I met him. We had breakfast in a Hollywood coffee shop. Henrik came in and put the cartridge of a rifle bullet down on the table. He said, “This is the kind of detail we must put into any Harry Bosch show.” Of course, I knew he was referencing the jar of bullet casings Harry collects at the funerals of officers killed in the line of duty. It told me a lot about what drew Henrik to the books and it made me excited. Now that Eric has joined the project I guess I am off the page with hope for something special. Stay tuned for ongoing developments.

 

Witness This!

 Michael Connelly  Comments Off
Jul 312012
 
Michael Connelly’s The Fifth Witness has won the 2012 Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, according to an item in The Gumshoe Site. As I understand it, this commendation is sponsored by the University of Alabama School of Law and ABA Journal, and it has only had one previous winner--John Grisham’s The Confession in 2011.

Also nominated for this year’s Harper Lee Prize were Robert Dugoni’s Murder One and David Ellis’ Breach of Trust.
Jul 202012
 

by Alexandra Sokoloff

I am writing my first series ever right now, with the exception of my part in The Keepers  series, which is not a traditional mystery series but rather a series collaboration between three authors, Heather Graham, Harley Jane Kozak and me: related books set in the same paranormal/urban fantasy world with the same core characters.  That is totally AMAZING fun, btw – sort of like repertory theater, only with authors as director/writers.  Love it!

But I wrote my new crime thriller Huntress Moon  with the absolute intention of making it a mystery/thriller series, and while I do have plans to do sequels to two of my other books (Book of Shadows  and The Space Betweenwhich MUST be a trilogy!), I didn’t write those two thinking of them as series, they just turned out that way in the writing process.

Writing a series deliberately from the get-go – that’s a whole different thing.

The thing is, I don’t read many series.  The ones I do, I’m obsessed with, but have never been one of those who have to read in order. I really expect a book to work completely as a standalone, whether it’s in a series or not, so I’ll pick them up randomly and work my way through them in whatever order I get to them.

I’m not much of a TV series watcher, either.  I watch many more movies than TV series.  Well, not so much lately, since feature films seem to have hit a total low creatively, thanks to the corporate culture in Hollywood, which has driven all the good screenwriters to cable TV and jacked the quality of cable series up to mindblowing proportions.  I think it’s a second Golden Age of Television, honestly, and I often spend days watching an entire cable show on Netflix (Mad Men, The Wire, Deadwood, Wire in the Blood, Luther, The Walking Dead) without moving from my chair for much of anything.)

Hmm, I may be digressing, but it’s true.

But since I am obsessing about the series thing, I wanted to ask you all today to talk about your favorite series. What are they, what draws you to them, what hooks you, what keeps you reading, what’s your burnout point (if any!)?

Here’s my list.  (Yes, the Top Ten List I’m always preaching about!)

- Lee Child’s Reacher series

- Mo Hayder’s Jack Caffery/Flea Marlowe series

- Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series

- Denise Mina’s Paddy Meehan series

- Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isles

- Val McDermid’s Tony Hill/Carole Jordan series

- Karin Slaughter’s Georgia series

- Ken Bruen’s Jack Taylor series

- F. Paul Wilson’s Repairman Jack series

- John Connolly’s Charlie Parker series

And, well, I have to add Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, but the rest of the Hannibal series I try very hard to pretend never happened at all.

Now, the first thing I have to say about all of the above authors is that – it’s not the series, it’s the authors.  I would read anything any of the above put to paper, and pretty much have already, repeatedly. And I’m actually often more interested in books OUTSIDE the series than the next one in the series.

Writing a book, any book is an obsessive, encompassing, borderline psychotic thing.  (I threw in that “borderline” just for a laugh, cause, you know...)

Writing a series is all that, exponentially.  You have an ongoing, multidimensional, multi-generational parallel world inside you ALL THE TIME.

Does anyone else feel like that’s just – crazy?

Some worlds crazier than others.

I worry about Michael Connelly a little, or maybe I mean a lot, walking around with Harry Bosch in his head all the time. Because Harry is so fragile, you know.  To be constantly accessing that mindset, to be living in Harry’s skin... wow.  What would that do to you? You just want them both to have a BREAK from that, sometimes, but  - yeah, like that’s going to happen.

I guess I should be worried about Lee Child, too, because Reacher isn’t exactly the pinnacle of mental health. But Reacher has better social skills than Harry.  Even if Reacher never sticks around, he does make strong human connections consistently.  It just seems more balanced, somehow.  There was a point around the book Nothing to Lose, and then again in 61 Hours that I thought Reacher might finally be losing it entirely, but he seems to have pulled it together since then, at least for the moment.  I feel like Reacher can take care of himself because he’s actually aware of the need for help and really expert at recruiting it, while I always feel like someone should be taking care of Harry.

Notice how I’m talking about those characters as if I know them?  Well, don’t we?  That’s kind of the point of a series, right?  There is a lead character, sometimes two or three, that you want to get to know, that you commit to for a long-term relationship.

And for me, those characters are complicated and haunted and flawed.  Which might be putting it mildly – most if not all of the above characters seem to be genetically set on “self-destruct” and half of the suspense of the series is whether or not they’re going to survive the next book at all, or with sanity intact.

Actually, all the series above have some pretty strong things in common, besides the fact that they’re mindblowingly well-written.  They’re very, very dark. No happy endings (HEA) guaranteed here; in fact, you know going into any of those books that you’d better brace yourself for what’s coming.  They deal intensively with real human evil, and often with sexual abuse and child abuse, and they deal with it in a way that only a psychopath could be titillated. The characters fight that evil constantly and the battles are always bittersweet; there is no resolution, the battle may be won but the war rages on.  I think that’s just reality, and I appreciate that those authors don’t sugarcoat it.

There is a sensuality and lyricism to the writing that is hypnotic and addictive. The male/female relationships are twisted but incredibly erotic. The stories often let secondary characters take major roles (a trick I first noticed with Tess Gerritsen, one of the first series writers I got hooked on – I read her series more consistently than I did those of other authors because she would let a secondary character take the lead role in many of the books, which kept the series fresh for me).

All of those things are what I aspire to with Huntress Moon.  There are all kinds of ways that I’m trying to live my series, so I can do it justice. I’m taking kickboxing for the first time to see how my Huntress feels, physically and mentally and emotionally, when she has to fight.  (And I have to say that’s a real trip.  It’s not so different from dancing, really, a handful of basic moves that create a language of fighting, and then infinite variations on those.) I’m doing Lee Lofland’s Writers Police Academy in September to go through the law enforcement training that my FBI agent lead, and many secondary characters, would have had, and of course am addicted to Lee's blog, and Doug Lyle's, for fantastic forensics information.  I am living with my nose buried in atlases and Google maps and taking any number of road trips to be in the places that my characters are traversing, so I get that physical experience right.

But most of all I’m grateful to have such stellar examples as the authors I listed above, and many more that I have missed, to look to for guidance about what I am trying create. It is an amazing thing for us as authors that our favorite authors are also our teachers – for life.  All we need to know about how to do this is right there for us - on the pages of our most beloved books.

So please – readers, talk to me about your favorite series, and writers – give me some tips from your experience writing them!

- Alex