Nov 5, 2012

Post voting....

So tomorrow pretty much everyone I'm friends with will be hitting their local polling place and voting if they haven't already voted early. I've always felt that if you have a political view you need to express it with a vote. If you don't vote I don't want to hear your opinion.

I've got friends on both sides, Republican and Democrat. Almost all of them can discuss this stuff rationally without getting angry at each other. They can avoid name calling and rudeness. Of course if they couldn't I probably wouldn't be friends with them.

I get it, I understand why people get passionate about this stuff.  It's important and the outcome will impact everyone. So regardless of what you believe, back it up with a vote. And then lets see if we can't move forward from that and do something crazy. Lets all work together to make this country better. Talk to your congressmen and senators. Talks to your Alderman, send a letter top the President if you disagree with something.

But can we please stop acting like assholes?  People disagreeing is what helps us find the best solution for everyone if we can move past the disagreement and work together. Washington  needs to stop playing politics and lead. meaning what's best for the American people and not just your party.

We have common goals, we want to be safe, we want to be  free and we want to be able to make ourselves happy.
Let's try to do it together.

So as of Wednesday just maybe we can stop the name calling and the rhetoric and actually use that energy in a positive way?

I love my Republican friends, they are smart and bring up things I might not have thought about. My Democrat friends are passionate good people. They are all smart people that make me think and make me smile. And I trust my friends no matter how they vote. So maybe after the voting is done we can all start to trust each other and work together to make Washington does what best for us, the American people and not just best for their parties?

I do care who wins the election, but no matter who it is, and what office they are in, I want the politicians to stop playing politics and start governing

We can get it if we really want it.

Aug 10, 2012

We Love Sean Chercover Subscription Incentive

To celebrate Sean Chercover's new book THE TRINITY GAME, we are going to have a contest.

Any one subscribing to Crimespree or renewing by August 20th will be entered to win signed copies of all three of Sean's books. A signed copy of BIG CITY BAD BLOOD, TRIGGER CITY and THE TRINITY GAME will be sent to a person picked at random from all subscriptions coming in. We'll even throw in a Crimespree hat!

To subscribe, go to this page and hook up!  SUBSCRIBE

Apr 6, 2012

John Connolly Interview - from 2002

John Connolly

If human existence were a heavily wooded forest, John Connolly would be writing about the very center of it. That place among the tallest trees that has you looking around wondering how to get out and forgetting how you got in. Very little light reaches this place and every sound will have your heart pumping as the unknown creeps up behind you. His Bad Men are the shadows you see out of the corner of your eye and that snap of a twig in the midnight hour. What your mind conjures up doesn't live up to the reality of this forests beasts. His Charlie Parker is the guide that stands back to back with you, fending off the evil that men do as his own internal struggle darkens his eyes. As the night turns to dawn, and the dappled light finally reaches you again, you look down and see what the darkness has done to you. And you know you'll never be the same.
 - Jennifer Jordan

Jon:   Right off, I need to ask, as an Irish author - why an American protagonist?

John C:    Short question, but a very long answer.  Firstly, it was very much a reaction against what I felt Irish writers were expected to write about: famine, religion, sexual repression, Britain, terrorism, how  often it rains in Limerick.  When I was growing up, Irish fiction - although sometimes superbly crafted - was pretty miserable stuff.  In school, I once had to read 'Men Withering', in which an old man dies, and dies long and hard.  I'm sure it's a fine book, but it put me off reading for six months.  Also, we didn't really do crime writing in Ireland, crime writers tending to be the exception.  It's not a tradition we've really had, and a number of writers who might be considered to be writing crime have ended up using some of its structures to write about terrorism, which was our worst form of crime for so long.  Again, that wasn't an area I was interested in exploring.

Secondly, I was curious both about the United States - a place about
which I have mixed feelings, finding it both welcoming and threatening -and  American crime fiction, which seemed more concerned with empathy and  compassion than its British counterparts. (I was particularly influenced by Ross Macdonald.) I didn't feel like those structures necessarily transferred terribly well to other cultures or societies, so I decided to work with them in their original setting.

And, as an Irishman, I thought I could bring something slightly different to the US crime novel.  After all, there was no point in simply slavishly imitating, since American writers do crime rather well.  I suppose I bring an outsider's point of view, as well as the influence of a slightly different European tradition.  My writing style isn't really similar to what would be considered "classic" American crime writing - the prose isn't stripped down at all; the opposite in fact - and there are strong elements of the Gothic, which is something Irish writers (Bram Stoker, Sheridan Le Fanu) did very well.

Jon:   Your books are a bit dark. Does it have an effect on you, or does it stay with the book?

John C:  A bit dark!  There are those who might regard that as understatement. I suppose they are dark, but it's balanced throughout with a promise, if not the actuality, of hope and redemption.  And there's a certain amount of humor, too.

But, yes, it does affect me at time.  DARK HOLLOW was particularly difficult.  I'm not sure why, to be honest: I suppose it deals with a man teetering on the brink of hope or salvation, and uncertain of which way he's going to fall.  And I feel that if, as a writer, you're dealing with dark material, with death and suffering, then it should affect you, otherwise you're just a dabbler and there's no truth to what you're writing.  I think it should affect the reader too: I'm not sure that crime fiction should always be an "easy read" for the reader; otherwise it becomes voyeuristic, almost pornographic.

Jon:  The books have a real feeling for the locations. Have you been to these places or is it just damn good writing?

John C:  I go to a lot of trouble to get the locations right.  I stay in the places I use, talk to local people, find out about their history and the history of the area, take notes when I eat, walk the streets, drive.  It's like scouting locations for a movie.  I suppose there are probably easier ways to do it, but this is the only way I know how to work.  It's very time-consuming, but worth it at the end if the reader feels he or she inhabits a real world.  And because I don't write "realist" crime fiction, insofar as any crime writing is truly realist, it is important that the world of the novels is as real and believable as possible, so that when the strange or supernatural begins to infect it the reader is prepared to go along with it.

Jon:  The British covers are beautiful, and even the American covers are pretty cool. Do you have any input on the art?

John C:  I have very little input on the American covers, although I hope that's going to change with the third book.  In Britain, it's been very collaborative, particularly for THE KILLING KIND and the forthcoming WHITE ROAD.  Hodder allows me to go off and find the illustrations that I like and then suggest the color schemes.  After that, it's up to Hodder's art department, who has been brilliant right from the beginning.

Jon:   The name Charlie "Bird" Parker is an obvious jazz reference. Are you a big jazz fan? What other kinds of music do you enjoy?

John C:   It's funny, I chose the name mainly for the nickname, since I liked the idea of a character so mired in mortality having a name associated with flight and freedom.  It irritates some people, but it's too late now. Also, it's kind of a small joke, since Parker hates jazz and his parents named him without realizing that he would be sharing his name with a jazz musician.  He listens to a lot of the music that I listen to: alternative country, indie rock, classic eighties.  I mean, he's only a year or two older than I am, although one of my friends was very distressed to think of a former policeman turned potentially violent private eye listening to The Blue Nile, who my friend regarded as kind of weedy.  I prefer sensitive.

Jon:   In the first book, one of the killers is getting ideas from anatomy drawings? Do these really exist?

John C:  Absolutely.  That whole tradition of anatomical drawing and modeling, of the obsession with the workings of the human body and the intimations of mortality that could be drawn from it, is factual.  I make up very little of what is in the books.  In THE KILLING KIND, the strange history of  religious obsession in the state of  Maine that forms the novel's backdrop is all true.

I tend to be a bit prickly about EVERY DEAD THING, at times.  I never really set out to write a standard serial killer novel, much as I've enjoyed some of them.  I wanted the Traveling Man to be one part of a larger web of corruption, from the level of city government right down to the individual human soul.  Maybe I didn't succeed, but I tried. That whole anatomical tradition is linked to something much stranger: the idea that this world is merely a passing thing, something to be endured, while the next world will provide the reward.  The idea crops up again in THE KILLING KIND: that idea of suffering being an integral part of the human experience.

Jon:  Do write you novels full time, or are you still doing some journalism work?

John C:  I still do occasional journalism: author interviews, mainly.  I remain a fan of good writing.

Jon:   I think Angel and Louis are great characters, are they going to stay a feature of the books?

John C:  I've been working toward something with Angel and Louis, and it kind of comes to fruition in the fourth book, THE WHITE ROAD.  They become far more ambiguous characters, colder, more violent, and estranged from both Parker and each other.  In the beginning, I used them to show aspects of Parker that might otherwise have been hidden: his sense of humor, his capacity to inspire love and loyalty in others, and also his first faltering steps toward redemption.  But as he has progressed, I think Louis and Angel have begun to find that his struggle with morality is different from their own, that he is genuinely, deeply tormented by the choices that he is forced to make.  In THE WHITE ROAD, some of the consequences of that struggle become  clearer.  We also learn a bit more about Angel and Louis, and why they are the way they are.  Louis's story does, I think, have a blackly comic element to it, while Angel's does not.

Jon:   People being the strange creatures that they are, do you get any flak about having gay characters in your books?

John C: No, I'm sure that there are some complete rednecks that won't read a book with gay characters in it, but they're in the minority.  The fact that they are gay is largely incidental.  It doesn't define them, any more than Parker's heterosexuality defines him.  Love is love.

Some gay readers have written to me to say how much they like them.  In fact, one confessed that he was a bit in love with both of them: not sure that you could actually love both of them, since they are, in some ways, polar opposites.

Jon: Any thoughts on having Parker travel out of the US?

John C: I suppose it's a possibility, but only as part of a larger plot set within the US.  I'm not a huge fan of blockbuster globetrotting thrillers.  In fact, I think one of the stand-alones may be set almost entirely in a very isolated, self-contained community, which is the exact opposite of the globetrotter model, really.

Jon:  Is there anything happening with film or television options?

John C: I'm very cautious when it comes to film.  I just think a lot of film adaptations of thrillers tend to be average at best, and generally poor.

Also, I get depressed when I see writers obsessively chasing the movie dollar or, worse, tailoring novels for film. I write books, not movie treatments.  In fact, I was kind of perversely proud that EVERY DEAD THING is probably unfilmable. I would have fewer difficulties with the later books, but it's still something I'm cautious about.

Jon: With the new trend in publishing for authors to do stand-alone books, do you have any plans in that direction? And also, would you want to keep the series going in addition to stand-alones?

John C: Mystery readers are very loyal, but also very demanding. I know, for myself, how much I look forward to the next Robicheaux or the new Kenzie and Gennaro, so I sympathize.  It's nice to get a kind of "fix" of your favorite characters, to keep up with what's happening in their lives.  But that can be a kind of trap for writers, and can lead them to be unambitious.  Sometimes, what readers, editors, publishers or agents might want may not be best for you as a writer.

I think, after THE WHITE ROAD, there may be a non-crime novel: still genre, and still quite dark, but probably not what people would expect. Then, probably one or two out of the next three may be Parkers, but there will be a stand-alone somewhere along the line: either very traditional crime, or a book that takes the supernatural/ crime hybrid as far as it can go, from my point of view.  I love doing the Parker books, but I'm very anxious not to short-change readers or myself.

It's why I don't take an advance for books any more: an advance means that you commit to a date of publication, possibly for a novel that isn't ready yet but which you may have to give up, or to a novel that you may not want to write, but now you've taken the money and have to accede.  Each Parker novel has been quite different from the next, and has tried to push the envelope a little.  I'd like to continue to do that.  I will always return to him, I think.  I'll be curious to see what he's like when he's sixty.

Jon: Who are some of your favorite authors, and who would you consider influences?
John C: Macdonald, because of his compassion; Burke, for the quality of his writing; Lehane, because he's just so good and Mystic River is a superb novel; Harlan Coben, for being damn funny; Julia Wallis Martin, for the darkness and beauty of the novels; and Paul Johnston, for trying to do something a little different in creating futuristic, satirical crime novels. Oh, and Colin Batemen, who is Ireland's Carl Hiaasen.

Jon: You have a wonderful website. Do you feel that the internet plays an important role for authors?

John C:  I wanted the website so that people could contact me if they chose, could get to read other things I'd done (the BBC ghost stories, for example, or the author interviews) for free, could feel that I was as interested in  them as, I hope, they are in me.  It's really a way of staying in touch with people.

Jon:   What are some of your favorite movies?

John C:  Oh, that varies from day to day.  I've just been taking my videos out of boxes to shelve in my house, so let's see:  pretty much the whole Laurel & Hardy collection is there, early Steve Martin, Carpenter's 'The Thing', 'Southern Comfort' (a great action movie), Michael Mann's 'Last of the Mohicans', 'Chinatown', 'Annie Hall', 'Manhattan', 'Love and Death'.  Surprisingly, maybe, a lot of comedy, but very few crime movies.

Jon: As a fairly new author, how do you like doing store appearances? Is it a weird feeling to become a celebrity?

John C:  I love doing them. Well, I do as long as people show up, otherwise it gets a bit sad.  I'm always flattered when people show up, and I try to talk to them individually if they want to chat.  To be honest, I put quite a bit of effort into the store appearances: I hate writers who feel that it's enough just to read some chunk of their latest opus to a captive audience.  Most aren't good enough at reading their own work to hold an audience. I tend to just talk - about the books, about crime fiction, about whatever comes to mind at the time. I love what I do, and realize I'm very lucky to be doing it, but that's down to readers and booksellers. I owe them a lot, and when I do bookstore appearances I try to pay it back in some small way.

Jon: So, is there anything about you that would surprise people to know?

John C:  Er, I'm not tormented, at least, not all the time. And I have a Bob Wilson drawing in my kitchen, depicting a bunch of teddy bears loaded down with food and lemonade with the lead bear saying: "This looks like a nice spot..."

Jon:   When you write, do you have the book laid out in advance, or do you let the book show you where it needs to go?

John C: Half and half, really.  I've never plotted a book out in advance, but I tend to have an idea of where it's going to go. That usually changes, though: characters assume greater importance, plot lines assume more significance.  It's an interesting experience, both at once within and outside your control.

Jon:   How important are is an editor to the writing process?

John C: Hmmmm. I think I'm pretty open to editorial suggestions, but so far I haven't had any that were terribly controversial.  I think American editors are more hands-on: they tend to give detailed notes, while my British editor adopts a more softly, softly approach.  Most of the editorial stuff I've received has been very minor.  Funnily enough, I tend to be much harsher on my books than my editors, and keep making changes right up to the wire.  For example, my agent saw one ending to DARK HOLLOW my editor a second, and the readers a third.

Jon: Would you care to give an insight to the other two endings for DARK HOLLOW?

John C: Um, one was just a complete misfire, so I'll let it lie.  The other just involved a slightly brighter ray of happiness for Parker at the end, with Rachel arriving on his doorstep.  It was a nice scene (actually, someone who read it in proof burst into tears, but I think she may have been oversensitive) but just felt a bit premature.

Jon: Does your reading audience seem to be more male or female?

John C:I think I have a nice balance but, by and large, I think it's probably more women than men.  But that reflects the patterns within mystery fiction as a whole, I think, and readers in general.  Women read more than men.

Jon:   Do you put any of yourself in to your books? Are you at all like Bird?

John C:  There's a lot of me in Parker: I share his sense of humor, his view of the world.  I'm interested in the ideas of morality and compassion that infuse the books.  I think, like a great many people, I wish I was a better person than I am.  In Parker, I get to explore how one might apply that wish to life.

Jon:   What other things occupy your time besides writing?

John C:  I cook.  I go to the gym.  I travel a lot.  And I read.

Jon:  If you could go back in time and speak to a younger John Connolly, what would you tell him?

John C:  Don't take yourself so seriously.  Be nicer to people.  And when you have the opportunity to have a pint with your dad, take it, because when you'll want to do it later, he won't be there.

 Jon:   You do some relentless touring, almost non stop it seems. Does it take its toll on you?

John C:  I think it was Henry Rollins who said that you're only 75 per cent as interesting as you think you are. After eight or nine weeks of non-stop touring, you begin to feel that 75 percent is a vast overestimation of your capacity to interest other people.

       I like touring. It's deeply flattering when people come along to a store and let you know that they enjoy your books, because writing is such a solitary pursuit for much of the time. The downside, apart from being a bit tiring, is that it's really hard for me to write when I'm on the road. I need to be at home, with a certain routine in place. In the end, there are only a limited number of outcomes to the that situation: either you curtail touring so you can write, or you begin rushing the books to fit the time available to you, or the books simply start to take longer to produce. I'm going for a combination of the first and third options. That, or death.

Jon: I really enjoyed BAD MEN. Are you going to be writing more in this  direction?

John C: I'm a genre writer, but I'm curious about experimenting in a number of genres. I've always been interested in supernatural fiction, and there's a strong element of that in the Parker novels. In part, it's because I have a  pretty flexible definition of what "mystery" means to me, stretching from  its use to describe crime novels right back to a much older definition of the word, which has religious/ supernatural origins. A mystery, as the word was originally understood, is a revelation - usually divine in origin - which cannot be understood by human reasoning alone. So I suppose that I  don't see any conflict between crime and the supernatural. Rather, one  seems to me to be a natural from the other.

Jon:  What are you working on right now?

John C: I've more or less finished a collection of ghost stories, the centerpiece  of which is a long Parker novella currently entitled THE REFLECTING EYE, although that may change. That book will be followed pretty soon after by the next full-length Parker novel, if I'm spared.

Jon: What's the last book you read and what did you think of it?

John C: The last book I read was Louise Welsh's THE CUTTING ROOM. I liked it a lot, although it told me a little more about certain types of sexual activity than I really needed to know.

Jon:   Steve Martin. Why does he make you laugh?

John C: Happy Feet. Bunny rabbit ears. "The Absent-Minded Waiter." Attempting to seduce Kathleen Turner in "The Man With Two Brains" while seated with his hat on his lap, then being rebuffed and, massively frustrated, walking  toward the window, his hat still dangling from his groin. The camera  focuses on his face as, from below, we hear glass breaking...

Jon:  What's the one thing that's always in your refrigerator ?

John C:  Skimmed milk.  I'm a healthy boy.

This interview along with others is available in

Mar 21, 2012

Author Gene DeWeese passes away.

 Author Gene DeWeese has passed away. Born in 1934 Gene wrote in all genres, but in particular Science Fiction.
DeWeese was an active member of science fiction fandom, and his first stories were published in science fiction fanzines. 
DeWeese's first professionally published fiction, the novels The Invisibility Affair and The Mind-Twisters Affair (both 1967), were part of the series of Man from U.N.C.L.E. books written with fellow science fiction fan "Buck" Coulson under the pseudonym Thomas Stratton.  DeWeese since has written over forty books, including novels in the Star Trek, Ravenloft, Dinotopia, and Amazing Stories series. His best-known young adult novel is The Adventures of a Two-Minute Werewolf, which was made into a television movie of the same name.
Gene DeWeese is survived by his wife Bev whom he married in 1955.

 Interview with Gene DeWeese
Summer 2003


Jon: Before writing fiction you were a technical writer for the Apollo program. Was that interesting work or mind numbing?

Gene: Actually, except for pressing pants in a clothing factory one summer many years ago, I don't think I've ever had a job that could be classified "mind numbing" -- unless it numbed my mind so much I've forgotten it altogether. As for Apollo, it was mostly fun, particularly when I was doing a series of programmed instruction texts that were supposed to be an "intuitive" approach to orbital mechanics and another series about the LEM and CM guidance computers. In fact, most of the tech writing I did was more fun than not, since a lot of what I did was try to explain how the equipment worked, which meant I had to find out myself how it worked, which usually meant reading lots of specs and then endlessly bugging the engineers to fill in the gaps and "clarify" the jargon. In a way, the "high" you get when you suddenly realize, "Oh, _that's_ how that works!" isn't all that different from the "high" you get in writing fiction when a plot problem suddenly resolves itself with an "Oh, _that's_ why Character X did that!" And with Apollo there was the fringe benefit of a couple trips to Cape Kennedy and Houston with enough spare time to do touristy things like take a ride to the top of the VAB. Jon: Among your work you have written some franchise books, Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Star Trek, is it a bit limiting to work with in an existing structure like that, or is it kind of fun to see if you can stretch the boundaries a bit?

Gene: The U.N.C.L.E. books were the first sales Buck and I had made, in fact the first things either of us had written longer than a short story, so we considered them a great "earn-while-you-learn" program. And for the Trek books I mostly adapted ideas I'd originally had for sf novels. Even the Lost In Space novel was from an idea that had been laying around for a couple decades and a variation of which I'd used in a Hi-Lo book in the eighties.

Jon: You’ve written in a lot of different genres. Do you have a favorite to write in?

Gene: Juvenile sf, probably, since the informal "voice" in those is the closest to my "normal" style.

Jon: Do you have a favorite to read?

Gene: I've always read both sf and mysteries -- PLANET STORIES and Clarke and Erle Stanley Gardner in grade and high school, Priest and Clarke, Gorman and Pronzini, etc., now.

Jon: Does your wife Bev read your work, and is she honest with you about it?

Gene: Not much of the shared-world stuff, especially the Ravenloft fantasies, but, then, while they were fun and challenging to write and turned out pretty well, I probably wouldn't have found them, let alone read them, if I hadn't known the author.

Jon: You’ve used a few pseudonyms over the years, why?

Gene: It's generally been the publisher's choice. With the first U.N.C.L.E. book, for instance, they accepted the manuscript but rejected the title, our names, and the dedication. INVISIBLE DIRIGIBLE AFFAIR was too long for the cover format, so it became INVISIBILITY AFFAIR. Our names were likewise too long, so we took my unused first name and Buck's unused middle name and became "Thomas Stratton". (We'd already done dozens of pseudo-Will-Cuppy articles for YANDRO under that name.) And then, with only one author's name on the cover, they decided the original dedication, "To my wives and child," was too racy for the intended pre-teen audience, so that was gone, too, replaced by "To Serendipity," which was actually pretty appropriate since the only reason we sold it in the first place was that Juanita had already sold a couple of novels to Ace and the editor (Terry Carr) was also the editor of the U.N.C.L.E. series. As it turned out, Terry was looking for U.N.C.L.E. books with a bit more humor, so he offered Juanita a chance to try out, but she turned it down. Buck and I, being less choosy, decided "what the hell, it's worth a shot," and put together a fast three chapters and outline, which Terry shocked the hell out of us by buying -- and giving us a deadline of less than three months.

As for the other names: The editor who was buying my gothics insisted that I use a female name, so I just changed "Gene" to "Jean". (And later met the real "Jean DeWeese", who turned out to be a retired [male] hardware store owner in Ohio.) And for the one romance(GINGER'S WISH), it was again a combination of unused names of the two authors, "Thomas" again for me and "Victoria" for my collaborator, another one-time tech writer who, incidentally, was the model for one of my gothic heroines, a tech writer/instructor working at Elmendorf(sp?) Air Force base in Alaska. (One reader objected to the heroine as being "too competent," which always struck me as one of the weirder reasons for not liking a character.)

Jon: Your latest book, Murder In The Blood, set in Farrell County introduces some really great characters. Is this the first of a series?

Gene: Only if I can sell a paperback edition and find someone willing to contract for a sequel or two. As it is, I have ideas for a couple more, and I've saved one subplot that was originally in MURDER but was taken out when I had to shorten it. Although, come to think of it, I've already used one of those ideas in a Sherlock Holmes story that ended up in EQMM a few years ago.

Jon: How do you approach your writing? Do you outline in advance or do you see where the story leads you?

Gene: Always an outline, for a couple reasons. First, I once tried taking a "see where it goes" approach, and it didn't go anywhere. Second, you have to have an outline in order to sell the book. MURDER is, so far, the only one I've ever written without a contract, but it more or less made up for all the others, in that it's been written and rewritten so often that it would have to be a real bestseller before I'd even make minimum wage on it. And even it started with a fairly detailed outline. Actually, though, there is an element of "see where it goes," even when you're working from an outline. Unforeseen things pop up all the time, and the route you take to get to the end isn't always precisely the route taken in the outline. In WANTING FACTOR, for instance, I found myself killing off one of the characters I hadn't intended to kill, but it just "felt right," and it took me another week to figure out why he needed to be killed. And in MURDER, a couple of the final twists only showed up in the final manuscript -- or somewhere along the line in one of the half dozen or more "final manuscripts" I eventually did.

Jon: What inspired you to write fiction?

Gene: No idea. Probably just the fact that I started reading a couple years before starting grade school and was into pulp detective magazines (like Phantom and Black Book) by second grade and science fiction (mostly Planet and Startling) a year or so later. (Didn't find Astounding/Analog and Erle Stanley Gardner till around 6th.) First thing I ever tried writing was a "sequel" to a Mickey Mouse serial in Walt Disney Comics. (I don't remember what the sequel was, but the Disney serial was a variation on/steal from one or more of Ray Cummings' Girl in the Golden Atom type stories.)

Jon: How much time do you spend writing?

Gene: To paraphrase what Mickey Spillane said at the first Milwaukee Bouchercon (and probably many other places), it depends on how soon the editor needs it. Lately, with no contracts outstanding, not a lot. One time, when the editor needed the last couple chapters of PROBE by Monday, I only got three or four hours sleep the whole weekend and transmitted the last section to his home computer (this was before email and internet) around midnight Sunday night and a batch of changes to the same computer, which he'd taken to the office with him, Monday forenoon. Strange as it may sound, though, that weekend was the most fun I've ever had writing.

Jon: You’ve been using computers a pretty long time. Does it surprise you to see how far computers have come and the way they are a part of everyday life?

Gene: Actually, I was something of a latecomer to personal computers. Didn't get one until '84, which was the year after I'd done a juvenile non-fiction book about them. (COMPUTERS IN ENTERTAINMENT AND THE ARTS) As for being surprised about their ubiquity, not really, except maybe in retrospect. It all happened so gradually, and I'd been writing about the innards of computers since the early sixties, starting with analog, not digital. In fact, the first thing I worked on when I transferred to Milwaukee and what was then AC Spark Plug was the B-52 bombing/navigation computer, several hundred pounds of metal rods and gears. ("Clean the ball bearings with a cloth-covered finger" was one of the boilerplate sentences I came across early on. No one ever told me where they stored the cloth-covered fingers.)

Jon: How many miles a year do you think you put on your bike?

Gene: 1,825 miles the last Bical Year (July 4 to July 4). Most miles in a single year was approximately 3,700 when I was pedaling to and from work all days the weather permitted.

Jon: I found an older copy of Mike Shayne’s mystery digest magazine with a short story of yours in it recently. Have you written a lot of short stories?

Gene: Not a lot, maybe 15 or 20. There's a complete list of them and the novels on the ACWL.ORG website. Which, by the way, is the only complete and accurate listing I know of, since it's the only one I did myself.

Jon: What is the main difference in writing short fiction compared to novels, as far as pros and cons for the author?

Gene: Never really thought about it, aside from the obvious stuff. Like, it takes a lot longer to write twenty 5,000-word short stories than it does to write one 100,000-word novel. And except for the few exceptions that prove the rule -- like Bradbury or Ed Hoch -- it's almost impossible to make a decent living writing only short stories.

Jon: What was the last book you read and what did you think of it?

Gene: I'll fudge a little and say that the last one that made a real impression on me was The Prestige by Christopher Priest. It's Victorian-style sf about a magician who was able to transport himself instantaneously from one side of the stage to the other, and it's the only thing I've seen in decades that has a truly spine-chilling concluding scene.

Jon: What are some of your favorite movies?

Gene: Here I'll save time by quoting from an article I did for The Milwaukee Journal back in the late 70's. It's still true, the parenthetical insert in the first paragraph even more so since cable and the dozens of movie channels.

"There are only three movies I've purposely gone to theaters to see more than twice. (Watching movies time and again on tv late shows doesn't count; that's laziness, not enthusiasm.)

"Back in the fifties there was The Day the Earth Stood Still, the best of a huge spate of science fiction movies, most of which were mediocre or worse. It has the distinction of being the only sf movie I know of in which Hollywood actually improved on -- rather than destroyed -- the original story. "Then, about a decade later, there was 2001: A Space Odyssey, written by Arthur C. Clarke. Despite director Kubrick's tendency to be obscure, it was the most beautiful and most mind-jolting movie I've ever seen, and it will probably remain so until someone does a faithful version of Childhood's End...

"Then there's No. 3: The Rocky Horror Picture Show..."

In the original article, I went on about Rocky for a thousand words or so, but here I'll limit myself to saying that I first saw it at MidAmericon, the '76 World SF Con, and four more times at the Oriental before the Rocky "fans" (nowhere near as clever as the movie they were drowning out) started getting out of hand. And I'll finish with the one line the Journal censored: "I hesitate to say that it's all in good taste, but, then, taste is in the mouth of the beholder." (A reference to Meatloaf being on the castle menu. The editor/censor changed the last eight words to: "... taste is a pretty subjective business.")

Jon: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Gene: Write!

Jon: What’s harder, the original writing or the re-writing?

Gene: Usually the original writing. I certainly enjoy the rewriting more, which probably explains why I generated at least 8 manuscript boxes full of notes and drafts of Murder in the Blood in the 20+ years between the first draft and the sale last year. Of course there are always exceptions, like Jeremy Case, which I did for Laser in the mid-seventies. That turned out to be one of best things I've ever done -- won Best Novel of '76 from the Council for Wisconsin Writers -- and it was virtually effortless. Went from idea/contract to finished manuscript in roughly one month. And it's just been reissued in trade pb in the MWA Presents series, complete with the original Kelly Freas cover. (Hour of the Cat, a mystery starring one of our cats, was also reissued in the MWA Presents series. All available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, of course.)

Jon: The University of Southern Mississippi has a collection of your papers. How does this come about? Did they ask you? And who tracks down all the papers? Can anyone view them?

Gene: I honestly don't remember. I think Tom Aylesworth touted me onto it, which prompts a sidetrack regarding a question you never asked, something along the lines of: "Have you ever felt like your life was one big coincidence?" Answer: Yes, especially the year I accidentally ran into the "real" Jean DeWeese in downtown Milwaukee, which was by itself a ridiculous coincidence, but only one of many. That was when a new book had just come out, I don't remember which one, and my hometown newspaper, the Rochester (IN) News Sentinel, did a small article about it, ending with the sentence, "Another Rochester native, Tom Aylesworth, just had his 14th book published." Which, at the time, was half a dozen more than I'd done. (He eventually did a hundred or so.) Anyway, I'd never heard of him, so I looked him up in the reference books and found that, not only had he written 14 books, he was a senior editor at Doubleday, who had been publishing my books at the time. So I wrote to the editor I'd been working with and asked if she knew Aylesworth. She wrote back that, yes, he was one floor up, "and he has the cutest picture of you in his high school yearbook." Turns out he had been student teaching my freshman year, and he had the yearbooks to prove it. (To appreciate the magnitude of the coincidence, you should know that Rochester had a population of under 4,000 and the whole high school was less than 400 students) Not only that, he was juvenile fiction editor at Doubleday, so he asked if I had anything along those lines. And that's how I got into writing juvenile sf.

As for the original question again: The university has a huge juvenile literature research collection, the deGrummond collection, and they solicit material from any and everyone who's ever published in juvenile or YA. And my 25 cubic feet pales beside other donations. The champ in that category has donated well over 100 cubic feet. And it's not a case of anyone "tracking down" the papers, etc. In my case, anyway, I just mailed them everything I could find in the attic closets where I'd been packratting rough drafts, notes, correspondence, etc., and they mailed back the paperwork needed to get me a bunch of neat little tax deductions. And they're remarkably well organized. At one point Margaret Wander Bonanno and I wanted to see just what one set of Paramount's comments on Probe had been. I emailed them the specifics, and they located and faxed us exactly what we were looking for within 48 hours. And yes, anyone can view them if they go to the university. What they have on the web is just a sampling and description, done with the money they got from a federal grant a couple years ago. I was just lucky they picked mine as one of the several collections they used the grant for.

Jon: What your favorite way to spend free time?

Gene: Probably play table tennis, despite a lack of depth perception, so if anyone wants a game sometime, feel free to contact me. I got a table and a robot in the basement just last year and haven't gotten nearly enough use out of them yet.

Jon: What’s the one thing always in your refrigerator?

Gene: Coke. And lactose-free milk for one of our one-eyed cats, who apparently is lactose intolerant.