Why is "normal" good?
Lethal Fetish is now available (via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Pen-L) . And real controversy may be hot on fiction’s heels! The day after the book was released, my publisher asked whether it should be tagged as “containing adult content” (to warn/discourage youthful readership). This had never occurred to me. The question was whether parents would be upset if their kid read a story involving sex (violence is evidently okay). The concern was not hypothetical; another Pen-
A Dark Genre’s Enlightening Lessons
Last semester I taught an undergraduate course on crime noir, including films, radio programs, readings, and (of course) writing. Upon reflection, I think there were five things that the students realized—“lessons” about this genre and perhaps even life—along with what I learned about my students... First, noir is not a past-tense, old-school, has-been genre. Initially, many students thought noir meant black-and-white gangster movies (not that most of them had watched many s
What So Good About “Normal”?
In my mystery writing, I hope for three things. First, I want to draw the reader into a good story through a plot that builds organically and dialogue as real as an overhead conversation. Next, I aspire to create characters who are deeply flawed but ultimately lovable (like most of us). And finally, I seek to embed perennial questions of humanity for the reader to ponder (or ignore if reading the book while lying on a beach blanket). Lethal Fetish (the tentative title of m
Know when to fold 'em
Maybe Kenny Rogers isn’t the best source for deep questions about life, but listen to “The Gambler” and ponder this central challenge: “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” What makes for a good quit? Some people abandon tough situations too soon—a rocky relationship or a frustrating job. But you can stay in a fight too long, prolonging pointless misery. I quit piano lessons too soon. I hung onto hard-driving rationalism for too long. I quit being a
Scientists Say the Darnedest Things
Back in the 1960s, my family watched Art Linkletter’s television show, which included a segment in which he asked children questions or vice-versa. This format gave rise to a series of books titled, “Kids Say the Darnedest Things.” The notion was that the simple, direct, unfiltered words of children can be wonderfully incisive. Their provocative questions can reveal that grownups don’t really know—or maybe haven’t even thought—about some matters that we might presume to un
Longing to Belong
In Poisoned Justice, I used a murder mystery to walk the line between vengeance and justice—a most difficult philosophical problem. One can read the book without worrying too much about whether the anti-hero, Riley, has crossed moral line. But for those with an interest in what makes an act right or wrong, the story works at this deeper level. My next book in the series, Murder on the Fly (tentatively titled), includes mysterious deaths, dark motives, and conflicted charact
A Textbook Project (really, it’s not as dull as you imagine!)
One of the challenges of being a writer is having too many interesting projects and not enough time. This is hardly the grounds for pity. Nobody feels sorry for the kid in a candy shop with a five dollar bill. And while I have a non-fiction project in the works (Behind the Carbon Curtain: The Energy Industry, Political Censorship and Free Speech, under contract with University of New Mexico Press) and my first novel (Dose Unto Others, a noir mystery involving a cop-turned-