One of the many perks of my alliance with agent Barbara Poelle (ahem, that's now VP BP following her recent promotion) is the opportunity to meet her other authors, all of whom share a certain....elan. Elan, right? That's the word? Well, about four years ago Barbara introduced me to a fellow bay area author named Robert Lewis and offered me a chance to read his novel.
Robert's one of those guys who's just naturally cooler than a menthol unfiltered, but he's also (shhhh, don't tell anyone) a really decent person. And he's got the juice. I still remember reading his book while on the treadmill at the gym, pushing myself to go just a little bit further because I couldn't stand to stop reading....well, that novel found its home and is being released today! To celebrate, I asked Robert if he would mind doing a little interview here at my blog.
I know that UNTOLD DAMAGE has evolved over several revisions. What is the biggest difference between the first draft and the one readers will soon hold in their hands?
Well, the story really changed, for one thing. The only characters left from that earlier version are Mallen, Orberon, Chris, and Anna. Oh, and Bill and Dreamo. And really, the world around those characters completely changed; their story and their world became larger, more layered and textured. I don’t want to give too much away, however, the crimes themselves also changed in major ways.
I know your agent rather well, and I've met your editor a couple of times. What's it like to work with your publishing team?
I couldn’t tell you enough how lucky I was to hook up with my agent. She’s like the Captain in those old WW2 films, right? You get blasted into pieces, and she’s there with bandages, telling you that it’ll be all right, don’t worry about your leg being over across the room you’ll grow another one here’s some whiskey and let’s go storm that hill that’s over there. And then on top of that, add in everyone at Midnight Ink. It’s been a blessing for me. I know how menacing and crazy and tough getting that first book out can be, and I was SO f’n lucky to have people like Terri Bischoff and Nicole Nugent over at Midnight Ink in my corner, cheering me on like I’m Rocky in the last round of my fight with Apollo Creed.
You write about a very tough and menacing world, but you're secretly such a nice guy. What gives?
Hahaha… fooled you: I’m not a nice guy, I just play one on TV. I love telling stories about folks that are down and out but have this incredible strength to carry on and make it through. I know I wish that I possessed some of those character traits. I’m drawn to the darker sides of society because that’s where society’s gold crepe window-dressing is torn away. In the world I write about, it’s about finding a way to survive, finding a way to keep a roof over your family’s head. It’s about trying to figure out how to stay alive in a world that doesn’t care about you unless you can pump money into the system itself, keeping it going and thriving. For the world I write about, the ramifications of failure are not some ten-day stint in rehab, a new reality show, or some other warped version of “notoriety”. No, the ramifications are about life or death on a physical, emotional, or moral level.
You have a great writer "look." I would adopt it if I could. It's the argyle sweater over band T-shirt, long hair thing I envy. How did you develop your sense of style?
Soph, you’re crackin’ me up! Well, the only real answer to that I have is that one day I sat down and wondered, “What would a forty-eight year old Kurt Cobain wannabe look like?” and I went from there. Glad you dig it though. I often feel like I’m usually waxing “Shlep”.
Could you please ask Dawn what you're like to live with? (plug your ears!)
Well… here: I’ll have to turn it over to the woman herself and let her tell you. Honeybunch?
“Husband? WHAT husband?!?! I never see the bozo. He’s always writing or playing the blues on that guitar of his. It’s like I’m not even MARRIED!”
:) Okay my friends that's Robert for you. I highly encourage you to pick up his book, because I'm pretty sure you'll be hooked, just like Barbara was those many moons ago...
|Robert and Barbara at Bouchercon 2009 in San Francisco|