MysteryPeople Q&A with Ace Atkins
Ace Atkins writes some of the most engaging crime fiction out there. In the last month, he released The Lost Ones- the follow up to his Edgar nominated The Ranger, and Lullaby- the continuing the adventures of Robert B Parkers’s Spenser. MysteryPeople is honored host Ace for a signing and discussion of both books, Wednesday, June 6th at 7PM. We recently caught up with Ace to ask a few questions.
MysteryPeople: You seemed to capture both Spenser and Robert B Parker’s voice effortlessly in Lullaby. Was it as easy as you made it look?
Ace Atkins: I felt very comfortable sliding into Spenser’s voice. In a way, I’ve been prepping to write Spenser for more than twenty years. The series has been such a big part of my life — the main reason I became a crime writer — that I felt I could get right into the next novel without much research. These characters are old friends and I know how they think and talk.
MP: There are so many elements from the Spenser books that are now standards in private eye novels. What did you want to make sure you got right?
AA: The absolutely most important part of a Spenser novel — and I think RBP would agree – is the flow of the language. Bob himself said he believed fans of the series — whether they knew it or not — enjoyed the play of the language and the dialogue more than anything. The crime, the investigation is important but we love Spenser for Spenser’s style.
MP: In The Lost Ones, Quinn Colson is now sheriff of Tibbahah County. Has this changed him in any way?
AA: I think Quinn is more comfortable in the driver’s seat as opposed to being an outlaw. I think his Army training made him uniquely qualified to take on the problems in Tibbehah. I don’t know if it’s changed him as much as given him an increased feeling of responsibility.
MP: You have some fun with moments with Quinn being somewhat frustrated that he can’t use more direct, violent methods from his Army days. Has he been more difficult to write since he has to play by the rules?
AA: Someone told me the difference between Rangers and Special Forces guys is that you send in the Rangers if you don’t care about the mess that’s left behind. They do the job by any means necessary and are the best at that skill set. Yes, Quinn does not like having to follow the rules especially when dealing with violent thugs — this goes against everything he believes in.
MP: Both Spenser and Colson are heroes that display their roots in the westerns. Knowing it is one of your favorite genres, have you ever wanted to write a classic period western?
AA: I would love to write a Western, always have. But in many ways, the Colson books are very much Westerns. So although we find ourselves in moderns times, the classic battles remain the same. I think there are some good stories about the Colson family from the 1800s.
MP: Our Hard Word Book Club recently discussed White Shadow. It started out as a series of articles when you were a newspaper reporter. What prompted you to take the facts and make a novel from them?
AA: I will follow up more with Hard Word when I get to Austin. White Shadow actually came as a prequel to those articles I wrote for The Tampa Tribune. But many of the same people cross both stories. To be honest the real story- the world of Tampa and Ybor City was too good to pass up. I had to tell it while many of the players were still alive to help me.
MP: I know along with the two books a year, you are working on some side projects as well. What keeps you writing?
Be sure to come help BookPeople welcome Ace, Wed, June 6th at 7!