Ace Atkins joins us to speak and sign his latest, The Fallen, on Friday, July 21st at 7 PM. The Fallen comes out today! Before his visit to the store, we caught up with Ace to ask him about his latest addition to his Quinn Colson series.
- Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
MysteryPeople Scott: While you do dig into social themes and some dark things happen, The Fallen has a lighter and funnier tone than The Innocents. Was there a conscious decision to have a few more laughs after doing one so heavy?
Ace Atkins: Not really. I just think the world has become much more of an insane place. I mean we do have a game show host as president. If you can’t step back and just laugh at it, you’ll go crazy.
As far as The Fallen, many of the bad folks we have down South are so naked about their greed and intolerance. I could write a hundred essays about the evil and ignorance or just make fun of them. Making fun of them seems to be much more effective. Anger gives them a purpose.
MPS: Fall out from The Innocents have left Quinn and Lillie with ambivalent feelings about the town they protect. What did you want to explore with their take on Tibbehah County?
AA: Whether it’s Will Kane in High Noon or Cletus Snow in Smokey and the Bandit, we know that “you say you’re going to do a job, you do a job.” That’s what Quinn and Lillie are all about — honor. Surely they definitely want to say “screw it” and walk away. But they know once the do that, the bad guys have triumphed. Every day, they’re at work, it’s a flag in the face of the corrupt and soulless. I am pretty hardboiled but I believe in right and wrong. And that right will triumph in the end. Even if it’s for a short while.
MPS: Next to Elmore Leonard, you have the most entertaining criminals. What did you have fun the most with when writing for the Trump bandits?
AA: That’s high praise! Dutch and George V. Higgins have influenced me more than anyone.
I really like the crew of Marines. I understand them and their motivations. Put in a similar position, I can’t say I wouldn’t be drawn to the same line of work. What fun planning the bank jobs in The Fallen. I have a couple of buddies here — one a former fed and another a former Delta Force operator — who came up with interesting ideas about hitting banks. Let’s just say, it’s fortunate they’re good guys because they sure as hell could rob a bank and get away with it!
MPS: Caddy’s subplot of searching for two disappeared teenagers is the darker crime plot of the two. What was your purpose for it in the novel?
AA: That part of the novel came about unexpectedly and naturally. There is just so much action and momentum with the Trump bandits, I wanted the readers to know that time didn’t stand still in Tibbehah just for this crew of criminals. There are other crimes, injustices going on at the same time without a clear path of investigation. Sometimes bad things happen and you’re powerless to do a damn thing about it.
MPS: It might have been a tossed off character bit, but it stuck with me when Quinn declares he prefers fishing over hunting. Why do you think that is?
AA: Hah! I didn’t know if anyone noticed that. It’s a lot about Quinn’s evolution as a lawman. When he returned home, Quinn was very much in hunter mode. But as he matures and settles into just job, he enjoys the fishing/investigation as much as anything. It’s all about patience, guess work, and finesse.
MPS: Quinn’s new love interest doesn’t like westerns. Can Quinn really come to grips with that or is this relationship doomed from the start?
AA: That’s an excellent point! Only time will tell for Quinn and Maggie. And of course, the next book. Did I mention it’s due out in July 2018? These folks are too much fun to write about.