Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Interview With Maine Mystery Author James Hayman

Maine mystery author James Hayman and I have been attending the same conferences, like Bouchercon and Crime Bake for some time, so here is more info on him and his works.
Plus, he lives in and writes about Portland, Maine, a place near and dear to my heart, and also the setting for my Zack Taylor mysteries, the latest being A Sharp Medicine.


With the holidays upon us, perhaps you'd like to try a new author and delve into some dark territory to take your mind off the stress of the in-laws?


Q: Tell us about your latest book.

A:  My fifth McCabe/Savage thriller, The Girl on the Bridge (right now a steal on Kindle for $1.99), was published by Harper Collins in May 2017. The book begins with a seventeen-year-old college freshman being drugged and gang-raped at a college fraternity party. Twelve years later, still suffering from an extreme case of post-traumatic stress disorder, she leaps to her death from a rusty old railroad bridge into the rushing waters of the river below. Her attackers, all former members of the college football team, have never faced or feared justice or retribution. Not until now, when one by one they are found murdered. Are their deaths simple revenge? Or something more sinister?

Q: How does it differ from your earlier work, or from other books in the genre?
A:  My books are all part of a series of police procedurals featuring two Portland Maine homicide detectives, Mike McCabe and his partner Maggie Savage. Most of the stories involve issues of social relevance. McCabe/Savage #2, The Chill of Night, deals with sexual abuse of runaway teens and touches on the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.  The third in the series, Darkness First, is centered around opioid addiction among teens and young adults in Washington County, which is the poorest county in a relatively poor state.  And, as I said before, the plot of McCabe/Savage #5 grows out of the epidemic of sexual abuse on college campuses.

Q: Why do you use Maine as the setting for your novels?

A:  A couple of reasons. First, I happen to live in Portland which means I am surrounded by the settings of my stories. I think that’s a good thing for any writer. Second, I think Portland, Maine is a great place to set a series of murder mysteries. It’s a gritty but beautiful small city. The waterfront provides lots of opportunities for plot twists. And it boasts a police department with approximately 180 members. Big enough to have all the bells and whistles of a big city department. But small enough so all the members of the department know pretty much everybody they work with in a personal way.

Q: How was your protagonist created as a character? Where did they come from?

A:  As I discuss on my website, my initial protagonist, Detective Sergeant Michael McCabe, and I are in many ways the same person. Like McCabe, I’m a native New Yorker. He was born in the Bronx. I was born in Brooklyn. We both grew up in the city and both married beautiful brunettes. McCabe’s wife, Sandy dumped him to marry a rich investment banker who had “no interest in raising other people’s children.” My wife, Jeanne, though often given good reason to leave me in the lurch, has stuck it out through thick and thin and is still my wife. She is also my best friend, my most attentive reader and a perceptive critic.
Both McCabe and I eventually left New York for Portland, Maine. I arrived in August 2001, shortly before the 9/11 attacks, in search of the right place to begin a new career as a fiction writer. He came to town a year later, to escape a dark secret in his past and to find a safe place to raise his teenage daughter, Casey.
There are other similarities between us that are reflected in the books. We both love good Scotch whiskey, old movie trivia and the New York Giants.
There are also quite a few differences between us. McCabe’s a lot braver than me. He’s a better shot. He likes boxing. He doesn’t throw up at autopsies. And he’s far more likely to take risks. McCabe’s favorite Portland bar, Tallulah’s, is, sadly, a figment of my imagination. My favorite Portland bars are all very real.

Q: What were the major influences that drove you to write?

A: I’ve been a writer all my life. First 30 plus years were spent writing advertising. Then another ten as a freelance business writer.  All that time I wanted to try my hand at writing fiction but I never did until I hit the ripe old age of 65. Not even a single short story. The first fiction I ever wrote was the first McCabe/Savage thriller, The Cutting.  Happily it almost immediately attracted a terrific agent, Meg Ruley of the Jane Rotrosen Agency in New York, who sold it in a two-book deal to St. Martin’s/Minotaur.

Q: What advice can you offer the fledgling writer?

Write. Write. Write. Keep on writing and don’t stop writing.  If you find you can’t or don’t want to do that, find something else to do with your life.

Q: What drives you to write?

A. I no longer have a day job. I’m a lousy athlete. I don’t play golf. Writing is about the only thing I think I do well. Though, I must admit, I’m not a bad cook.

Q: How has your background shaped your writing?

A: I’ve been a writer, though not a fiction writer, for all my adult life. I worked as a copywriter and creative director for major New York advertising agencies for thirty-plus years. I believe writing scripts for television commercial campaigns hones one’s skills for writing both tight prose and realistic dialogue. My books tend to be almost cinematic in structure, and they are heavy on dialogue.

Q: The publishing world is a strange and scary place. Can you speak to that?

A:  My experience with the publishing world has, thus far, been neither strange nor scary.
That’s probably because I have a great agent who handles most of my interactions with what you might call “the publishing world.” Through my first five books and counting, I’ve only worked with two major commercial publishers. The first two books, The Cutting and The Chill of Night, were published by St. Martin’s/Minotaur. The Cutting did well. The Chill of Night, not so great.  After the disappointing sales for book #2, St Martin’s and I parted ways.
Happily Harper/Collins picked up my third book, Darkness First, almost immediately and published it on their ebook first imprint, Witness/Impulse. After the fourth in the series, The Girl in the Glass, made the NY Times bestseller list, number five, The Girl on the Bridge, was published in both trade paperback and as an ebook under Harper’s William Morrow imprint.

Q: Take us through your writing process from start to finish. Do you have a prescribed way of doing things, or do you have more of a "free form" approach?

A: Very much free form.  I don’t work from a written outline.  Rather, I keep a rough concept of the basic plot elements in my head.  These elements change frequently as the writing progresses and the story moves forward.

So, readers, are you tempted to give it a try? 
Happy Holidays! 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Crime Bake 2017

Another weekend, another magical Crime Bake, like a family reunion with people you actually like and want to spend time with.
To see last year's Crime Bake writeup, 
which I call A Trip to Brigadoon, click here.

We had a new location this year, bigger space for all. 
With a pool next to the bar. Potential for a LOT of trouble...
Somebody just doesn't know what happens when you get alcohol next to a pool.


The conference is sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America and 
the New England Chapter of the Sisters in Crime.

We had Co-Chairs for the event, who worked hard to make it a smashing success
First is Sharon Daynard (right), shown here with
non-co-chairs Ray Daniel and Connie Johnson Hambley
To see an interview with Connie, click here
To see an interview with Ray, click here


And C. Michele Dorsey (left) with non-co-chairs Ray (again) and superstar Hank Phillippi Ryan


So many people work together to make the event more than fun.
Here's Tom Lyons of the New England Mobile Bookfair- they handle all the booksales for the event- and there are so many author works to check out.
To see a post on Tom and the Bookfair, click here


 Other folks were doing fun things, like Kameel Nasr holding video interviews with authors.
Here he is with Mo Walsh
 

People came from all over- like  Andrew Welsh-Huggins (left), here from the MidWest, 
with Michelle Clark and the ever-photobombing Ray


And Sherry Harris, here with Liz Mugavero

So there were big events in the main hall




And panels galore in the smaller rooms, on various subjects.
To  see an interview with Leigh, click here



And there was food for the hungry participants


And Ask the Experts sessions


So many people getting together to talk about life and the writing and publishing biz
Here's rising star Bruce Robert Coffin with fellow Maine writer Dick Cass
To  see an interview with Bruce, click here






Lea Wait with Barbara Ross, who gave a terrific talk on 
4 Lies They'll Tell You About Marketing Your Novel.
To see an interview with Barbara, click here


To see an interview with Edith, click here


Here's a gang of troublemakers: (L to R) Janet Halpin, Hank, Christine Bagley, Robin Stuart


And even scarier troublemakers- Joanna with Tilia Klebenov-Jacobs
To see a interview with Tilia, click here


Yet more! Kathryn Gandek-Tighe and Jessie Crockett


Leslie Wheeler gets into party mode.
I made her show off her new book, Rattlesnake Hill.




So just to prove that Ray is everywhere, here he is with Jay Shepherd


 And with Jason Walcutt


 And with Chris Holm, disapproving of a pool shot...

 

Dapper gents Daniel Palmer and Tom Lyons


Don Kaplan (Senor Sandbag, if you ever play poker with him) and Dick Cass


Elisabeth and Tilia


Tilia again, matching fashionably


Leigh, being very mysterious...


Michelle with Jay


So there were book signings after the panels.
L to R: Dana Cameron, Peter Abrahams, Bruce


And with Paula Munier


Daniel with Guest of Honor Lisa Gardner, who gave a wonderful inspirational talk for writers


Edith with Frankie Bailey and Clea Simon




Julie, checking it out


Linda Barnes with Elisabeth


Michelle goes fangirl for Daniel


Leigh and Michele


And Hank


Paula and Barbara





Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Niagara Falls

So we went to Niagara Falls- finally! In all my travels, I'd never made it up there, so it was time.

It's official when you see the sign.





And this was the cafe of the hotel. Any Rocky and Bullwinkle fans?





So they've got this waterfall thingie there. Some people have heard of it.
So what the heck, we figured to give it a look-see. 



It started getting wet




Mindy got wet, too. Plenty of water to go around.










We got out alive, but soaked. 




After drying off, we drove to Niagara-on-the-lake, a town about 20 miles away.
Lovely community of shops and fun stuff, beautiful streets of flowers.







They have a statue to George Bernard Shaw, and a theatre that performs his works!
So I struck a writerly pose.



Even a wine bar called Shaw's! How can you go wrong? You can't!
So we dined and drank rather well.


A lovely time in a lovely place. Shopping with decent prices and nice shopkeepers.
Highly recommended. And yeah, catch the waterfall thingie...