Sunday, 17 February 2013 05:02
klavanandrew_akillerinthewind

Andrew Klavan is the author of more than 15 internationally bestselling novels, including Empire of Lies, True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Don’t Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas. He has been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award five times and has won twice.

Klavan’s latest novel is A Killer in the Wind.

In this mini-interview, Klavan gives Mystery Scene readers insight about his work and future plans.

A Killer in the Wind deals with repressed memory and hallucinations. What was your inspiration?
I began with an incident in my mind. A man has a dream of a woman—not a real woman, just a dream that obsesses him. Then one day, impossibly, against all logic, she washes up on the banks of a river. At first, he thinks she's dead. But then she looks at him and says, “They're coming after us!” That's where I started. So then I had to ask myself: Who's the guy? How is this situation possible? What happens next? I built the story backwards from there.

klavanandrew_killerinwindeA Killer in the Wind is unflinching in its look at child trafficking, yet the novel is never lurid. What is the greatest challenge as a novelist in using sex trafficking as a background?
You hit it right on the head. I did not want to be lurid or in any way prurient. I wanted the reader's mind and heart with the victims and with the hero at every moment. There are a lot of writers and filmmakers who pride themselves on taking a sympathetic look at evil, bringing the audience into the mind of, say, a killer. Well, I'm sympathetic toward the soul that's lost to evil—that's a spiritual tragedy—but I think fiction perverts the moral universe when it leads you into the mind of a villian without giving you a full understanding, awareness and empathy for the victims of his crime.

Will we see more of Dan Champion, the hero of A Killer in the Wind?
I don't know. This is a unique story in his life, but it could be formative, you know, the story that makes him who he is. He was a great character to write so I wouldn't say no out of hand.

So many authors are now writing Y.A., and you did too with Crazy Dangerous. How different is the approach to writing Y.A. as opposed to writing thrillers?
I've always put a bit of what you might call method acting into writing my books. That is, I've learned to inhabit the minds of the characters I write and try to write them from the inside. I didn't find it difficult to inhabit a younger person's mind, and once you do that, the point of view sort of writes itself. I don't try to pull off any hipper-than-thou slang or anything, so once I had the young person's attitude, it wasn't any harder or easier than writing books for adults.

klavan_truecrime
You’ve had success with your novels being turned into film, True Crime and Don’t Say a Word. What do you think of the films based on your novels?

I think they're pretty good. True Crime is well written and Clint Eastwood is an icon. Don't Say A Word is very exciting and was a big hit. I haven't yet seen a film of one of my books where I thought—yeah, that's it. That's what I wanted it to be. But maybe that never happens.

You also have written screenplays—the film A Shock to the System based on Simon Brett’s novel is a personal favorite—do you think about how a novel will play on screen when you are writing?
Never. They're two different forms. I mean, look, I learned a lot of my plotting technique from watching Hitchcock and other suspense movies as a kid, so there's a cinematic element to what I do. But books travel on the track laid down by the consciousness of the characters, movies travel on the track of events. The structure of a movie is just much more rigid, less expansive than a novel. If you wrote your novels like movies, you'd be cheating the reader out of some very good stuff.

You have adapted the trilogy of Dynamite Road, Shotgun Alley and Damnation Street into a screenplay titled Damnation Street. What’s the status?
It's been optioned by an outfit called Fox Hill Films and they're now trying to attach a filmmaker or a star. That's kind of the new Hollywood paradigm for pictures of this sort—I mean, stuff that isn't Spider-man or something huge like that. You put the picture together first, then you get a studio to buy in.

And why did you condense all three into one screenplay?
Well, because the trilogy is this sprawling story with lots of little subplots thrown in, but the central story starts in the first book and concludes in the last. There was no way to tell that central story without taking stuff from each book.

What is the best part of being a novelist?
I love what I do. Love telling stories. Love working with language. When it goes right, it's a weirdly spiritual thing—it orders your inner universe in a wonderfully harmonic way. And then there's that great thing where what happened to you in the writing happens to a reader in the reading, when a reader writes to you and says, I loved this, I couldn't put it down, I was up all night, one of my favorite books. That's kind of magical. Plus I get to work at home and my wife makes me lunch. I'm very fond of my wife.

What is the worst part of being a novelist?
When commercial considerations limit what you feel you can do. I'm not complaining about commerciality. I think art should have to make its own living. I don't believe in government grants and such—art should entertain people enough for them to pay for it. But I like to try new things, take different tacks, create something totally different than the last time and that just hurts you in the commercial world. If people like something, they want to see it again and again. I'm a natural experimenter. It goes against my grain to do the same thing twice.

What are you working on now?

Speaking of new stuff... I'm doing a new Y.A. series with a science fiction element. I've never really done that before and it's sort of mind blowing. Plus I have a ghost story film coming out and we're already starting the sequel. I'm busy.

klavanandrew_akillerinthewind

Andrew Klavan is the author of more than 15 internationally bestselling novels, including Empire of Lies, True Crime, filmed by Clint Eastwood, and Don’t Say A Word, filmed starring Michael Douglas. He has been nominated for the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award five times and has won twice.

Klavan’s latest novel is A Killer in the Wind.

In this mini-interview, Klavan gives Mystery Scene readers insight about his work and future plans.

A Killer in the Wind deals with repressed memory and hallucinations. What was your inspiration?
I began with an incident in my mind. A man has a dream of a woman—not a real woman, just a dream that obsesses him. Then one day, impossibly, against all logic, she washes up on the banks of a river. At first, he thinks she's dead. But then she looks at him and says, “They're coming after us!” That's where I started. So then I had to ask myself: Who's the guy? How is this situation possible? What happens next? I built the story backwards from there.

klavanandrew_killerinwindeA Killer in the Wind is unflinching in its look at child trafficking, yet the novel is never lurid. What is the greatest challenge as a novelist in using sex trafficking as a background?
You hit it right on the head. I did not want to be lurid or in any way prurient. I wanted the reader's mind and heart with the victims and with the hero at every moment. There are a lot of writers and filmmakers who pride themselves on taking a sympathetic look at evil, bringing the audience into the mind of, say, a killer. Well, I'm sympathetic toward the soul that's lost to evil—that's a spiritual tragedy—but I think fiction perverts the moral universe when it leads you into the mind of a villian without giving you a full understanding, awareness and empathy for the victims of his crime.

Will we see more of Dan Champion, the hero of A Killer in the Wind?
I don't know. This is a unique story in his life, but it could be formative, you know, the story that makes him who he is. He was a great character to write so I wouldn't say no out of hand.

So many authors are now writing Y.A., and you did too with Crazy Dangerous. How different is the approach to writing Y.A. as opposed to writing thrillers?
I've always put a bit of what you might call method acting into writing my books. That is, I've learned to inhabit the minds of the characters I write and try to write them from the inside. I didn't find it difficult to inhabit a younger person's mind, and once you do that, the point of view sort of writes itself. I don't try to pull off any hipper-than-thou slang or anything, so once I had the young person's attitude, it wasn't any harder or easier than writing books for adults.

klavan_truecrime
You’ve had success with your novels being turned into film, True Crime and Don’t Say a Word. What do you think of the films based on your novels?

I think they're pretty good. True Crime is well written and Clint Eastwood is an icon. Don't Say A Word is very exciting and was a big hit. I haven't yet seen a film of one of my books where I thought—yeah, that's it. That's what I wanted it to be. But maybe that never happens.

You also have written screenplays—the film A Shock to the System based on Simon Brett’s novel is a personal favorite—do you think about how a novel will play on screen when you are writing?
Never. They're two different forms. I mean, look, I learned a lot of my plotting technique from watching Hitchcock and other suspense movies as a kid, so there's a cinematic element to what I do. But books travel on the track laid down by the consciousness of the characters, movies travel on the track of events. The structure of a movie is just much more rigid, less expansive than a novel. If you wrote your novels like movies, you'd be cheating the reader out of some very good stuff.

You have adapted the trilogy of Dynamite Road, Shotgun Alley and Damnation Street into a screenplay titled Damnation Street. What’s the status?
It's been optioned by an outfit called Fox Hill Films and they're now trying to attach a filmmaker or a star. That's kind of the new Hollywood paradigm for pictures of this sort—I mean, stuff that isn't Spider-man or something huge like that. You put the picture together first, then you get a studio to buy in.

And why did you condense all three into one screenplay?
Well, because the trilogy is this sprawling story with lots of little subplots thrown in, but the central story starts in the first book and concludes in the last. There was no way to tell that central story without taking stuff from each book.

What is the best part of being a novelist?
I love what I do. Love telling stories. Love working with language. When it goes right, it's a weirdly spiritual thing—it orders your inner universe in a wonderfully harmonic way. And then there's that great thing where what happened to you in the writing happens to a reader in the reading, when a reader writes to you and says, I loved this, I couldn't put it down, I was up all night, one of my favorite books. That's kind of magical. Plus I get to work at home and my wife makes me lunch. I'm very fond of my wife.

What is the worst part of being a novelist?
When commercial considerations limit what you feel you can do. I'm not complaining about commerciality. I think art should have to make its own living. I don't believe in government grants and such—art should entertain people enough for them to pay for it. But I like to try new things, take different tacks, create something totally different than the last time and that just hurts you in the commercial world. If people like something, they want to see it again and again. I'm a natural experimenter. It goes against my grain to do the same thing twice.

What are you working on now?

Speaking of new stuff... I'm doing a new Y.A. series with a science fiction element. I've never really done that before and it's sort of mind blowing. Plus I have a ghost story film coming out and we're already starting the sequel. I'm busy.

Thursday, 14 February 2013 01:02

mysteryheartcrop

In honor of Valentine's Day, Mystery Scene surveyed our romantic readers on their favorite couples of mystery and crime. And the winning couple is...

nicknorakiss

1

Nick & Nora Charles
created by Dashiell Hammett

Winners by a landslide with more than 48% of the vote, the equal parts sass-and-class duo from Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man (1934) left all other couple contenders in their wake. Most readers agreed their favorite manifestation of the couple was not from Hammett's original novel, though, but rather from W.S. Van Dyke's popular films of the 1930s and '40s. Nick and Nora of the screen were played in all six films by William Powell and Myrna Loy (pictured). The Charleses also appear on radio and on stage. As voter Ann Mettert summed up, "Wit and class and equals." And as reader Kate Rohloff added, "Don't forget Asta, too!" We raise our martini glasses to our readers' all-time favorites.

tommytuppence

2 (tie)

Tommy & Tuppence Beresford
created by Agatha Christie

Thomas and Prudence "Tuppence" Beresford tied with another power couple for second place in Mystery Scene's reader poll. Tommy and Tuppence bill themselves as "two young adventurers for hire. Willing to do anything, go anywhere. Pay must be good. No unreasonable offer refused" in their first Agatha Christie outing The Secret Adversary (1922). The detectives go on to appear in three more Agatha Christie novels as well as several short stories. Their complementary combo of Tommy's steady focus and Tuppence's energy and insight makes for a match made in sleuth heaven. "[They] were such an interesting pair of sleuths," wrote reader Valerie Williams Tucker, "plus a very intriguing couple!"

(Pictured left is the first known illustration of Agatha Christie's characters of Tommy and Tuppence from the December 1923 issue of The Grand Magazine by Arthur Ferrier.)

wimseyvane

2 (tie)

Lord Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane
created by Dorothy L. Sayers

Mystery writer Harriet Deborah Vane first meets lord and criminologist Peter Wimsey while on trial for poisoning her lover in Dorothy L. Sayers' novel Strong Poison (1930). Needless to say, by book's end the dashing Lord Wimsey proves that there's no antidote like true love—even if its full effects don't kick in until two books later in Gaudy Night (1936) later when the resistent Harriet finally gives in to his affections. In Masterpiece Mystery!: The Lord Peter Wimsey Mysteries of the 1970s, the literary and lordly Harriet and Peter are played by Harriet Walter and Edward Petherbridge (pictured).

russellholmes

3

Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes
created by Laurie R. King, Sherlock created by Arthur Conan Doyle

Who knew the whip-smart fifteen-year-old Mary Russell of Laurie R. King's first series novel The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994) was going to crack some serious cases and Sherlock Holmes' heart? Readers are thrilled that 14 books later, the latest of which is The Garment of Shadows (2012), the evolving relationship of Mary and Sherlock is still stronger and richer than ever.

Finally, as one voter, Airieanne Andrews, said, "...and...and...too many to choose just one." Worthy runners-up include Mr. and Mrs. North, created by married writers Frances and Richard Lockridge, Egyptologists Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson of Elizabeth Peters' popular series, and socialite Sarah Kelling and detective Max Bittersohn from author Charlotte MacLeod, plus several other great nominations from the page, stage and screen. Thank you to all our readers for your votes and comments. We will announce our free book winner soon!

With love, Mystery Scene

mysteryheartIn honor of Valentine's Day, Mystery Scene surveyed our romantic readers on their favorite couples of mystery and crime. And the winning couple is...

Wednesday, 13 February 2013 06:02

malice_domestic
Along with authors and readers, I also am one of those who anticipate the annual lists of award nominations.

I love to see who gets recommended not only because I love the genre but also because I like to see how my choices line up with the judges and readers.

The Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2013, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. That’s going to be a very special night and a list of the nominees, along with the Grand Master and other awards to be given that night are at this link.

And after the Edgars, come the Agathas, just a couple of days later.

The Agatha is given each year at the Malice Domestic, a conference that celebrates the traditional mystery.Malice Domestic will be May 3-5, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Bethesda, MD.

Here are the Agatha Award Nominees for books published in 2012.

And just for the record, many of my choices for best novels of the year have made it to the Edgar and Agatha lists.

Congratulations to all the nominees.

AGATHA AWARD NOMINATIONS

Best Novel:
The Diva Digs Up the Dirt by Krista Davis
A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best First Novel:
Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
A Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan
A Killer Read by Erika Chase
Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans

Best Non-fiction:
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels by John Connolly/Declan Burke
Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 by Joseph Goodrich, Editor
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie by Mathew Prichard, Editor

Best Short Story:
"Mischief in Mesopotamia" by Dana Cameron (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"Kept in the Dark" by Shelia Connolly (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon Anthology)
"The Lord is My Shamus" by Barb Goffman (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
"Thea's First Husband" by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"When Duty Calls", by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Best Historical Novel:
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder by Catriona McPherson
Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear


CWA Diamond Dagger


And speaking of awards, it was announced this past weekend that Lee Child has won this year's Crime Writers Association's Diamond Dagger award, which recognizes an author whose career is "marked by sustained excellence" and who has "made a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language, whether originally or in translation." Child will be honored at a ceremony next summer.

The British-born Child, of course, writes the very American Jack Reacher series.

In making the announcement, Peter James, chair of the CWA, is quoted as saying Child "is one of the few British crime thriller authors to have become a global brand name; he is also an extremely charming and open person and a tireless promoter of our genre."

malice_domestic
Along with authors and readers, I also am one of those who anticipate the annual lists of award nominations.

I love to see who gets recommended not only because I love the genre but also because I like to see how my choices line up with the judges and readers.

The Edgar Awards, presented by the Mystery Writers of America, will be held on Thursday, May 2, 2013, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. That’s going to be a very special night and a list of the nominees, along with the Grand Master and other awards to be given that night are at this link.

And after the Edgars, come the Agathas, just a couple of days later.

The Agatha is given each year at the Malice Domestic, a conference that celebrates the traditional mystery.Malice Domestic will be May 3-5, 2013, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, Bethesda, MD.

Here are the Agatha Award Nominees for books published in 2012.

And just for the record, many of my choices for best novels of the year have made it to the Edgar and Agatha lists.

Congratulations to all the nominees.

AGATHA AWARD NOMINATIONS

Best Novel:
The Diva Digs Up the Dirt by Krista Davis
A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best First Novel:
Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
A Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan
A Killer Read by Erika Chase
Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans

Best Non-fiction:
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels by John Connolly/Declan Burke
Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 by Joseph Goodrich, Editor
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie by Mathew Prichard, Editor

Best Short Story:
"Mischief in Mesopotamia" by Dana Cameron (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"Kept in the Dark" by Shelia Connolly (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon Anthology)
"The Lord is My Shamus" by Barb Goffman (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
"Thea's First Husband" by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"When Duty Calls", by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)

Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Best Historical Novel:
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder by Catriona McPherson
Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear


CWA Diamond Dagger


And speaking of awards, it was announced this past weekend that Lee Child has won this year's Crime Writers Association's Diamond Dagger award, which recognizes an author whose career is "marked by sustained excellence" and who has "made a significant contribution to crime fiction published in the English language, whether originally or in translation." Child will be honored at a ceremony next summer.

The British-born Child, of course, writes the very American Jack Reacher series.

In making the announcement, Peter James, chair of the CWA, is quoted as saying Child "is one of the few British crime thriller authors to have become a global brand name; he is also an extremely charming and open person and a tireless promoter of our genre."