Look Around: An Interview with John Vercher, Author of ‘Three-Fifths’

9781947993679_3c3edBookPeople will be hosting John Vercher and Jamie Mason on September 22nd at 2PM. Vercher’s debut novel Three-Fifths examines race and identity through the plight of Bobby Saraceno, a bi-racial young man, who witnesses a hate crime committed by his white supremacist freind. Vercher deals with these issues head on through some well fleshed out characters. Mr. Vercher was kind enough to take a few questions about the people who populate his novel.

 

 


  1. Which came first, the character of Bobby or the premise he is thrown in?

Bobby came first. His story has been bouncing around in my head since I was an undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh. I was a freshman when I took a course in Black Film History and had been introduced to the “tragic mulatto” and passing narratives with the film Imitation of Life, which as young mixed-race man had a significant impact on me. From there, I discovered books like Nella Larsen’s Passing, as well as more contemporary novels like Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress, and wanted to create my own version of that kind of story.

  1. It seems that many books have difficulty depicting a character with extremely racist beliefs without falling into stereotype. How did you avoid doing that with Aaron?

No villain thinks they’re the villain—they’re the hero of their own story. Making Aaron a caricature would have made him far less interesting or terrifying. The most intimidating “bad guys,” to me, whether in books or in film, are the ones where, to our discomfort, we see some of ourselves in. I find it far more compelling to read antagonists who are not inhumanly evil, but humanly flawed—a  person, that despite their terrible actions, have real feelings and connections with other people. Aaron doesn’t think he’s evil—he believes he’s justified in everything he’s done because of what’s been done to him, and he’s not afraid to hold up a mirror to those who choose to judge him—whether that be Bobby or the reader.

  1. What made you decide this was a story that needed to be told from multiple points of view?

It was mostly a decision based on rhythm. I love novels that switch from multiple POV’s because each section almost acts as a cliffhanger. When it’s done effectively, it takes readers up to the brink, and just when they think things are really going to kick into high gear, the author pumps the brakes. It’s almost a necessary breather, to slow things down, whether it be character development or plot, and it makes for a page-turner. I hope I was able to effectively do that in Three-Fifths.

  1. What made you decide to set the story during the O.J. trial?

The trial came just a few years after the L.A. Riots, and the wounds were still open. The O.J. trial so fiercely divided people along both racial and class lines, and contributed to the tension and mistrust of police officers by people of color. I was in Pittsburgh as a student at that time, so placing the story in that context helped me to place myself in the environment to sort of “look around” to tell the story and capture what I observed at that time.

  1. Each character in this book comes off as a complete, complex, breathing human being. How do you approach your characters when constructing them?

As a reader, I’m, drawn to literary fiction—as long as something happens. What draws me to it, though, are the fully fleshed-out characters. I’m fascinated by what makes people tick—not just what they’re thinking, but what they say, how they say it, and what motivates what and how they say these things. The best writing advice I’d ever heard was write the books you want to read, so I try to create characters that feel like I know them in real life (as pretentious as that might sound). I love Vonnegut’s notion of putting characters up a tree and then throwing rocks at them. Characters in trouble will immediately be more complex and interesting to me.

  1. You also demonstrate your knowledge of comic books in the book. Any super hero you’d like to write for?
Oh, man—all of them? Recently, my oldest son, while watching one of the MCU movies, asked me why there weren’t any Falcon movies. He said Iron Man and Captain America have their own movies—why not Falcon? So I’d LOVE to write a Falcon graphic novel. In addition to writing for existing characters, I recently wrote a short story that I’m going to turn into a longer work, but I haven’t decided yet if that will be another novel or a graphic novel. If there are any comic book editors out there reading—hit me up!

Don’t forget to stop by BookPeople on September 22nd at 2PM and catch John Vercher and Jamie Mason in conversation with BookPeople’s Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery.

 

Interview with Reed Farrel Coleman, Author of ‘Robert B. Parker’s The Bitterest Pill’

9780399574979With The Bitterest Pill, Reed Farrel Coleman’s latest continuation of Robert B. Parker’s character, Paradise Massachusetts Police Chief Jesse Stone, he delves into the town growing and taking on more big city crimes when a drug ring’s merchandise takes the lives of some of the teens. We talked to Reed about the evolution of the character and his surroundings.

 

 

 

 


  1. What drew you to looking into the opioid crisis as a backdrop?

Truthfully, I hate theme-driven books. So while the crime in this novel is centered around the opioid epidemic, it’s not a book about the epidemic itself, but rather how the epidemic resonates throughout an entire community. I was inspired by reading novels by two of my writing heroes, Don Winslow and Michael Connelly, in which each takes a different slant at the epidemic. I thought I might have a third take on how it rears its ugly head in small town Massachusetts.

  1. There is an interesting parallel with Jesse dealing with people addicted to drugs while he is doing his best to contend with his alcohol addiction. Where do you see him with his battle?

That is exactly what appealed to me as a writer. How does a man battling and struggling with his own addiction deal with other people struggling with an addiction to a controlled substance. Jess is many things, but he isn’t a hypocrite. So he doesn’t take a holier than thou stance. He understands the insidious nature of addition, so he’s not trying to get the users into trouble. He’s trying to find them help while at the same time trying to stem the flow into Paradise. Readers will see several junctures in the novel when Jesse is reminded of his own addiction and how it colors his decisions.

  1. How do you see the relationship with his new ound son effecting his life?

Well, there are several surprises there for readers. It’s always important for Jesse to have more than one issue to deal with. In the past it’s usually been the crime he’s trying to solve and his drinking and/or his relationship with women. Now that Jesse’s been to rehab and is going to AA meetings, he’s got to deal with a fully grown son who has shown up in town and who is living with him. It’s a fascinating dance between father and son, but I’ll leave it there.

  1. Jesse has to interview and work with a lot of teenagers in his investigation. What do you have to keep in mind when writing for teens?

Since Jesse is a new father—although his son is an adult—he is new to the minefield. He has in several earlier books dealt with teenagers, but now he has skin in the game. His perspective is very different from those earlier novels. Jesse realizes this and seeks Molly’s advice. It’s her voice Jesse hears in his head when dealing with the teenagers.

  1. Due to events in the series, Jesse deals with Vinnie Morris more. What has made him a fun character for you?

Well, having grown up in Brooklyn, mob guys are always a fun subject. And Vinnie is by his very nature an interesting man. A sharp dresser and a dangerous man, he’s also prescient and smart. He often gives Jesse, with possibly the exception of Molly, the best advice. It is Vinnie, after all, who had warned Jesse that as Boston encroached on Paradise, its sins would encroach as well. And, of course, there is an explosive secret between them dating back to Diana’s murder and Mr. Peepers. They are bound together, for better or worse.

  1. The book also deals with the town of Paradise itself growing. Are you doing this to give yourself more venues to explore or did it just come organically to the story?

One of the things I realized as I took over the series and re-reading the canon was that I could only keep things local for so long. I didn’t want to risk boring the readers or myself. First, I expanded Parker’s Paradise to include different areas—The Bluffs, The Swap, Pilgrim Cove—and then thought the town had to evolve. I don’t enjoy static series. That’s why I aged Moe in my Moe Prager series. In each of the nine novels in that series, Moe was a different age, his marital status was different, his job status was different. It kept me interested. I can’t really do that with Jesse, so I changed the town instead.


You can purchase Robert B. Parker’s The Bitterest Pill at BookPeople in-store and online now.

Favorite Hard-Boiled Noirs: Nacogdoches Contingent

9781944520687 For our Tough Guys & Dangerous Dames: A Discussion of Hard Boiled Fiction Panel on Saturday, August 31st, at 2PM, we have two literary stalwarts from behind the pine curtain in Nacogdoches, Texas driving in to join us. Tim Bryant owns The Bosslight, the towns’ independent bookstore and is one of those writers more people need to know about, with a great private eye series featuring postwar Fort Worth detective Alvin “Dutch” Curridge and a western one with John Wilkie Liquorish, a very dubious frontier hero. Joe R. Lansdale is a legend in practically every genre outside Harlequin romance, best known for his Hap and Leonard series that took the hard-boiled crime genre in several weird and wonderful directions. Here are their list of five favorite hard boiled novels.


tim-bryant-official-author-pic-1-219x300 Tim’s Picks:

1. Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze

This is a hell of a ride, one where you never know what’s coming around the next corner. But it has the South in it, including my beloved New Orleans, a beautiful dream/nightmare of a woman along for the trip, and a protagonist named Tim who’s living with hellhounds nipping at his heels and he’s not looking back.

2. The Nothing Man by Jim Thompson

The Nothing Man isn’t usually considered one of Thompson’s best, but I’ll stick up for it. It’s as dark and violent and alcohol-fueled as you would expect, but it will also make you giggle and squirm in spite of yourself. All of Thompson’s protagonists are missing something important, but morality tale of male impotence makes it all too literal.

3. Cockfighter by Charles Willeford

Willeford has that unflinching eye, putting the reader ringside on the cockfghting circuit in the dirty South. You might see a lot of things you don’t really want to see, but Willeford paints it in such a stark and beautiful way, you can’t look away.

Author Photo Joe Lansdale Credit Karen Lansdale (3) Joe’s Picks (descriptions by Scott):

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze

The book that pops up most often on our panelist’s lists. When people use the term fever dream, this is a fine example. All the elements of a hard-boiled noir, a cad narrator, femme fatale, and armored car heist.

Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Chandler had a huge influence on Joe’s phrasing and use of humor, both of which are in prime example in this, the second of the Phillip Marlowe books. Both authors also share the idea of using regional dialect as part of their literary style.
Double Indemnity by James M Cain
Joe has always described Cain as a clean writer in his narrative approach, which is reflected in this tight no holds bar novel that has a very different ending from the classic film

All Shot Up by Chester Himes
It’s easy to see Joe taking the humor and absurdity, as well as use of place that Himes developed and grafting it to his own work. They also share the ability for social examination through an entertaining genre novel.

Murder is Not an Odd Job by Ralph Dennis

Dennis’ Hardman series featuring unlicensed Atlanta PI Jim Hardman, assisted by his former pro football  back up, Hump, served as one of the influences on his Hap and Leonard series.


Be sure to join us to hear Tim and Joe talk more noir when they stop by the store on August 31st at 2PM for a panel celebrating twenty years of Stark House Press.

“A Constant Process Inside my Head”: Scott Butki Interviews David Lagercrantz

9780451494344_a5a17

Like many I really loved the Millenium Series both for the plot, but even more so, for the characters of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. The series was The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. Author Stiegg Larsen’s books received great reviews and became best-sellers…but there was a problem: He had died in 2004 and his books were published after his death.

In 2013 author David Lagercrantz was commissioned to continue the series. Resuming a series started by another is a tough challenge. Some, like Ace Atkins, who has done an awesome job continuing the Spenser series after Robert Parker died, have done it well. But it’s not an easy task. Since being commissioned, Lagencrantz continued the series with The Girl in the Spider’s Web in 2015 and The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye in 2017.

Which brings us to his new book, the latest entry in the series, The Girl Who Lived Twice. Lagencrantz will be speaking at Book People on Friday, August 30 at 7pm.

Lagencrantz was kind enough to allow me to interview him for this book.


Scott Butki: What inspired your newest novel, The Girl Who Lived Twice? Where did you first get the idea for this story?

David Lagencrantz: I first got the idea when I caught sight of a beggar sitting not far from my home. Suddenly I felt that I really saw him, and started wondering about his life, his story. I began to think of a way to tell the story of his life alongside a story of absolute power in society. I carried an old dream of depicting the whole structure of society in one mystery. I also knew from the beginning that this book would contain the final battle between Lisbeth and her sister.

S.B.: Your books are very complex. Do you write from an outline?

D.L.: No, actually I don’t ever do that. It is a constant process inside my head. I never take notes. I imagine that the best ideas will make themselves clear, and will be refined as I keep writing.

S.B.: Tell us about the moment you learned you were inheriting Stieg Larsson’s infamous series. What did that feel like?

D.L.: That was explosive! Crazy. I was terrified, scared to death and could not wait to get started. All at the same time.

S.B.: Do you worry about straying from Larsson’s tone and style, or at this point, do you feel comfortable making changes and incorporating your own voice?

D.L.: At this point I feel free and confident, comfortable to use my own voice within Larsson’s framework.

S.B.: What do you hope readers will take away from these books?

D.L.: I hope that they will have great fun. And that the books will make readers aware of the horrifying threat that fake news and disinformation is to our society.

S.B.: You have made some incredible donations from the profits of your books to literacy and journalism nonprofits in Sweden. Why are these organizations important to you?

D.L.: Both literacy and journalism are based on freedom of speech and the free word. Free speech is fundamental in a democracy, and we all must do our utmost to protect it. That is why I support Swedish PEN and the Swedish Reading Society.

S.B.: What are you working on next? Another Lisbeth novel, or something else?

D.L.: I am very excited to tell you I recently signed a contract for a crime trilogy! I cannot wait to get back to my writing.


Be sure to come by BookPeople on August 30th at 7PM to hear David in conversation with local author Chandler Baker to discuss all things The Girl Who Lived Twice.

Sometimes Straight Up Stockholm Syndrome: An Interview with Rob Hart

The Warehouse August’s MysteryPeople Pick Of The Month, Rob Hart’s The Warehouse, has been a much talked about book this summer. A thriller set in near future corporate workplace environment, The Mother Cloud Complex, where the workers live in the factory. It is viewed through three characters Paxton, a security guard new on the job, Zinnia, a corporate spy infiltrating The Cloud as a worker, and Gibson Wells, the CEO and founder of Cloud who mainly speaks to us through his blog. Hart has created a frightening real world of the one percent and those who work for them. We got in touch with Rob to talk about the book and the dystopian future he created. 


1.) How did you decide on your two protagonists, Paxton and Zinnia?

Right from the start I saw it as two driving voices. One would be the slightly naïve company man (Paxton) and the other would be the more skeptical person with an agenda (Zinnia). I think for a story as big as this, in order to examine the different facets—especially in terms of the work environment—it needed multiple points of view. But I really didn’t crack it until I added the third: the CEO, Gibson Wells. Because someone needed to take on the role of defending the company, and litigating the history of it. Because otherwise, it was too black-and-white.

2.) How did you go about building the world of The Mother Cloud Complex?

I had to draw a map! The MotherClouds are essentially small, self-contained cities, so the first thing I did was create a list of everything you need in a city (police, fire, transit, schools, hospitals, etc.). Then I drew a map. I was actually really struggling with the layout of the facility; I needed to see it before I could move forward with the story. I ended up referring back to it constantly, just to get a sense of geography. So in a sense, it was great—I could create whatever I needed to suit my storytelling needs. But at the same time, it was a lot to keep in my head.

3. Was there anything you had to keep in mind while writing in your world?

You hear a lot about show-don’t-tell, and that’s something I thought about a lot with this book. There was so much world-building, and I felt like it was important to reveal that all organically. Stopping the story every ten minutes to explain stuff would have pumped the brakes too much. Rather, I needed to figure out how to reveal the world through the experience of the characters, so you’re sort of seeing what they see, and processing it the way they would. That way I hoped it would feel more natural.

4. I really thought the way you portrayed Gibson Wells was interesting. You are sympathetic to him, since he is dying of cancer and his arguments on his blog make sense in the beginning, so you don’t know through his blog if he is misguided, rationalizing his actions, or he’s masking something evil. How did you approach him so he wouldn’t be the corporate fat cat stereotype?

The villain of the story never thinks they’re the villain. I just kept coming back to that. Gibson believes that might makes right; for as much as he’s accomplished, he obviously must be doing the right thing. How else would he have succeeded? As I mentioned previously, I think giving him that voice, and that opportunity to explain his side, really opened up the story and gave it the balance it needed.

5. You have the Cloud corporate speak of being “a team” down well. In fact, I couldn’t help but think of an Amazon help wanted ad I read. What is the key to doing that authentically?

Lots and lots of reading and research, plus calling on my own experience, working in jobs where there was a lot of groupthink and gaslighting and, frankly, sometimes straight-up Stockholm syndrome, where your employers treat you like shit and you rationalize it, because at least you have a job. The trick was not making it feel too cult-like. I didn’t want to go toward a sense of fantasy with it. For a while I considered having all the employees be forced to run through a group chant or exercise at the start of their shift. Which on one hand, feels completely absurd. But on the other hand, is a thing Wal-mart employees actually do. So it was also recognizing that, sometimes, the reality is so absurd people might not believe it.

6. Can you tell us what you have in store for us next?

I’m working on a book now that isn’t a direct sequel to The Warehouse — it’s more of a spiritual sequel. The Warehouse is about the way corporations treat us like disposable products, and it poses some questions that I hope this new book answers. And it’s about power. That’s all I want to say for now.


You can purchase a copy of Rob Hart’s The Warehouse from BookPeople in-store or online now.

Five Favorite Noir & Hard-Boiled Novels – The Stark House Contingent

9781944520687This Saturday, August 31st at 2PM we will be holding a discussion on BookPeople’s third floor to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Stark House Press and their release of The Best Of Manhunt, the premiere crime magazine of the fifties and sixties. Authors Tim  Bryant, Josh Stallings, and Joe R. Lansdale will being joining. We also have two representatives from Stark House in on the discussion. Rick Ollerman is both an author at Stark House with books like Mad Dog Barked and Turnabout/ Shallow Secrets and well as their expert, contributing the historical and critical introductions to many of their reprints. Most can be found in the collection Hard Boiled, Noir, and Gold Medals, along with new essays. Jeff Vorzimmer is an author and editor, with The Best Of Manhunt being his latest project. We asked both of them to list five titles from their favorite noir and hard-boileds.


jeff Jeff’s Picks:

The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

This was the book that got me hooked on Highsmith. Previously I’d only read Strangers on a Train, which, like Ripley himself, also features a psychopath. In Ripley, though we get an uncomfortably close view of a psychopath in a novel set on the Amalfi Coast of Italy, one of my favorite places in the world. It’s also been made into—not just one—but two great movies, one French and one American.

The Far Cry by Fredric Brown

Like most readers of pulp fiction, my introduction to Brown was through his science fiction, but I soon discovered his fantastic crime fiction. The Far Cry is a great crime novel set in Taos, New Mexico, in which Brown made use of his background as a skip-tracer. A man looking to get away from the city for a few weeks learns that a woman who stayed in the cabin he rents had disappeared eight years before and he quickly becomes obsessed with the case.

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three by John Godey

The great New York City heist novel that’s been filmed twice. What an ingenious story line—hijacking a subway car! Whether you’ve seen either film, the book is well-plotted and well worth reading.

Swamp Sister by Robert Edmond Alter

I first came to Swamp Sister through Barry Gifford’s Black Lizard line of books in the 80s and I was instantly hooked, not just on Alter, but also the “swamp” subgenre of the 1950s and 60s crime fiction. Other great “swamp” books are Harry Whittington’s A Moment to Prey (Backwoods Tramp)—also published by Black Lizard—and Gil Brewer’s Hell’s Our Destination.

The Hot Spot (aka Hell Hath No Fury) by Charles Williams

Having read all of Charles Williams, I’m hard-pressed to pick one, but this one is a good example of his crime fiction. Williams was a Texan and, like many of his early books, this one is set in Texas. It features a heist and two love triangles and was made into a film shot in central Texas with Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen and the beautiful Jennifer Connelly in an unforgettable scene at Hamilton Pool.

obj692geo677pg2p22 Rick’s Picks:

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

This is James M. Cain’s seminal noir work and when I apply my definition of noir (I know you’ve heard ad nauseum; you start out screwed and end up screwed-er) this is the book that I tell people to read when they ask, “So, what is this noir thing?”

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze 

I’m not as much on the bandwagon with this book as some people, and Chaze’s surviving family feels he wrote better books than this, but it’s certainly a compelling example of the ups and downs in a well-told noir story that trend in a disastrous direction up until its inevitable sort of ending.

One for Hell by Jada M. Davis

Davis published only two books in his lifetime, opting instead to follow the corporate path and take the safer money and look out for his family. But this book is what you’d get if you sparkled some fertilizer on Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me and allowed it to grow inside a summer greenhouse for a season. When it comes out it would swallow the Thompson book whole. Interestingly, the other book Davis published (The Outraged Sect) is almost a mirror image of One for Hell and because of it offers a fascinating analysis of why noir works as a form of literature. Stark House has also published the excellent coming of age story The Midnight Road and–when I catch up even more–a very tasty Gold Medal-esque home run called So Curse the Day as the centerpiece of an upcoming anthology. Assuming Jeff doesn’t use up all the good stories in his collections….

The Name of the Game is Death by Dan J. Marlowe

It offers another terrific trip through the noir landscape. In this case, the protagonist picks a name that’s as good as any other, Earl Drake, as he plans and commits his string of crimes. Being noir, of course things get more and more away from him, all the way through the grisly climax. Almost by definition, a truly noir book defies a sequel and though the ending of this book seems to adhere to the rule, Marlowe actually makes an exception and follows this book with One Endless Hour. Rather than having burned to death as we had believed after Name of the Game, Drake not only survives but plastic surgery gives him a new face. The first third of this book is a recap of Name of the Game and actually serves to transition into the character not only becoming the owner of the “Earl Drake” name, but Marlowe also making him a full-fledged government agent in a series of men’s adventure books. As a sequence, it’s fascinating, as is Marlowe’s personal story (amnesiac, slowly regains his memory, works with a convict/ex-con on future books) but aside from all that, The Name of the Game is Death deserves its position on the noir shelf, especially as a single book. Stark House did an omnibus edition with both The Name of the Game is Death and One Endless Hour.

The Eye of the Beholder by Marc Behm

It’s the story of a private investigator with a missing daughter who is surveilling a female serial killer and how this becomes a tragic obsession with him. Behm is in the top rank of French noir writers and this book was made into a movie (very different from the book, in a nowhere-near-as-good way with Ethan Hawke) and more recently a number of Behm’s novels have been made into graphic novels as well as found their way into new reprint editions.

As a bonus from left field, I’ll give you a complete unknown and dark horse. It’s more contemporary than classic, being published in 2002, and it’s by Hugo Wilcken, called The Execution. The simplified plot is about a man losing his girlfriend but as the story goes on, you see that what’s going on is the main character’s slow descent into insanity. It is a disturbing read.


You can order (most of) these titles from BookPeople online and hear more from Jeff and Rick when we host them on August 31st at 2PM for our panel celebrating the 20th anniversary of Stark House Press. 

Tell a Great Story: An Interview with Greg Shepard

gregWe’re celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Stark House Press this month with a discussion of hard boiled fiction with Joe Lansdale, Tim Bryant, Josh Stallings, and Stark House editors, experts, and writers Rick Ollerman and John Vorzimmer. One person who can’t make it is Greg Shepard (pictured), Stark House’s founder and publisher, who has been bringing back great genre fiction gems from the past back in print. We took some time to talk to the man about his twenty years of his great work.


1. How did Stark House Press get started?

My dad, Bill Shepard, was a magazine and newspaper editor and writer for many years. In 1998, he had the idea to start a family publishing venture. Several of my family members joined in as artists and editors. Our first book was the hardback collection, The Oracle Lips by Storm Constantine. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell as well as we had hoped. One by one, family members drifted away, leaving me with the basis for Stark House Press. My brother, Mark, still serves as our graphic designer, and my wife Cindy runs our website. I also have several friends and associates who help with writing, proofing and occasionally suggesting authors.

2. What do you see as the mission of the press?

The main goal of Stark House Press is to act as a reprint publisher, bringing back genre fiction of the past, and specializing in mysteries and noir fiction. We will occasionally promote new authors, but roughly 80% of our business will continue to focus on reprinting gems from the past.

3. Much of the crime fiction you publish are from the fifties and sixties. What do you think was quintessential about that era?

The 1950s and 60s were the golden age of the paperback, a time when all those pulp veterans and fledgling crime writers had an opportunity to expand their ideas from magazine short stories into the novel format. Fostered by the generous advances of Gold Medal Books, many of the classic mystery authors we celebrate today—John D. MacDonald, Charles Williams, Gil Brewer, Peter Rabe, Vin Packer—could make a living doing what they did best: tell a great story. The post-war, boom climate of the 50s also generated a lot of angst, giving rise to some very dark fiction via authors like Jim Thompson, David Goodis and David Karp. It was just a very fertile time for crime fiction.

4. While you have some of the bigger names like Gil Brewer and David Goodis, you have also brought back some lesser known authors. Who are some that you wish more readers would know of?

Douglas Sanderson, who also wrote as Malcolm Douglas and Martin Brett, is a favorite of mine. I love his lean, mean prose. I’ve been hyping Elisabeth Sanxay Holding to the point where we’ve reprinting all but two of her mysteries, but I still feel she could be better well known. And I would love to see more sales of James McKimmey, Bill S. Ballinger, Richard Wormser and John Flagg to justify more reprints of their forgotten treasures. This year we have also added a lot more women mystery authors, like Jean Potts, Bernice Carey and Dolores Hitchens, with more to come. The list of “lesser knowns” could go on and on.

5. Who is an author or book you’d like to get back into print, but haven’t yet for whatever reason?

I’d love to get David Karp back into print but have yet to track down his heirs. Same goes for Don Tracy and Robert Edmond Alter. And then there are authors like Edward S. Aarons and Marvin Albert, whose heirs doesn’t seem interested. And authors like Cornell Woolrich and Geoffrey Homes, whose agents are just charging too much for the rights.

6. Where would you like to see Stark House in the next twenty years?   

I should live so long. Seriously, if Stark House is still in business in 20 years, I hope it’s still bringing back more great authors of the past. I’d love to see a wider range of genres by then—more science-fiction, horror, fantasy, westerns—and a lot better balance of both men and women authors on our list. More anthologies as well. But other than that, I hope Stark House continues to be known for reprinting the authors who deserve another shot in print. And I hope we continue to have the resources to keep books in print, as well as making them available as e-books. But in 20 years, who knows what new changes in the publishing business will have occurred.


To hear more about Stark House Press and from the contributors and editors of their latest publication, The Best of Manhunt, join us on BookPeople’s third floor on August 31st at 2PM for a paneled discussion headed by Crime Fiction coordinator Scott Montgomery. The talk will feature Jeff Vorzimmer, Rick Ollerman, Josh Stallings, Tim Bryant and Joe Lansdale.