MysteryPeople Q&A with Rob Hart

 

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

Rob Hart’s first novel, New Yorked, made my list of Top Debuts of 2015. His follow-up to New YorkedCity Of Rose, finds his hero, Ash McKenna, adjusting to a new city, Portland, as he helps a stripper find her abducted daughter. Like New Yorked, it’s quirky and tough, yet even richer in pathos. Rob recently took some questions from us about the book.

  • Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery

MysteryPeople Scott: Usually in a PI novel, the detective is one with his city. In City Of Rose, you make him new to the area. What was the reason to drop him in an area he was just getting acclimated to?

Rob Hart: Ash has that classic New Yorker attitude, that his city is the greatest and that somehow makes him smarter and better than everyone else. I wanted to dissuade him of that notion, so it meant sending him into unfamiliar territory. It also keeps it interesting for me—putting him someplace new was a big challenge, and changed how I approached the research, but it was a lot of fun, too.

“Ash has that classic New Yorker attitude, that his city is the greatest and that somehow makes him smarter and better than everyone else. I wanted to dissuade him of that notion, so it meant sending him into unfamiliar territory…”

MPS: How did you choose Portland?

RH: I really like Portland. It’s a little goofy, but it’s also a lot of fun and has a very distinct personality. The strip clubs in particular have a very unique dynamic, in that they all serve food, and the crowd is usually pretty mixed between men and women—going to a strip club in Portland is like going to a bowling alley most places. All that together meant there were a lot of fun storytelling opportunities.

MPS: You have Ash search for a missing child. How did being a new father inform this aspect of the story?

RH: I knew the gist of the plot before I found out my wife was pregnant, but I delivered the final draft to my publisher two weeks after my daughter was born. So it became a lot more personal than I expected—in particular, the emotional beats at the end. Even though Ash isn’t the father and doesn’t even interact with Rose a lot, there was definitely something I was working out, in terms of responsibility and looking toward the future.

MPS: I felt Ash was a little less cynical than he was in New Yorked. What do you think the reason for that is?

RH: On a whole, I want this series to be about a kid growing up and finding his moral compass. So for the second book I wanted to take what Ash had learned in the first, and build on that. He’s in his mid-20s, which is a big period of transition for most people. You finally have the freedom of being an adult, and you revel in it, but you also rebel against it a little. Right now he’s still got some stuff to figure out, but he’s learning and growing.

MPS: How has being on the publishing side of things effected your writing?

RH: In terms of craft, reading and editing so many great writers has improved my own mechanics. In terms of the business end—I like to think it makes me a little more patient and understanding, since I’ve seen how the sausage is made. Though, my publisher might have a completely different take on that.

MPS: What do you admire about Ash?

RH: He does the right thing, even if it means putting himself on the line. He’s done a lot of stupid things, and he will continue to do stupid things—or else, I wouldn’t have any more books to write—but he’ll always do it with the best of intentions.

You can find copies of City of Rose on our shelves and via bookpeople.com

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