- Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
Two of the greatest reading experiences I have had this year were both provided by the same author, Tom Pitts. Hustle tells the story of two male prostitutes who try to blackmail their high-powered attorney client, and cross a psycho speed freak with designs on the same lawyer. Their survival depends on teaming up with Bear, a biker who works for the lawyer. Knuckleball, Pitts’ recent novella, relates the murder of a police officer, played out against the backdrop of a weekend series between the Giants and the Dodgers. We caught up with Tom to discuss the books, their inspirations, and what he hopes a reader gets out of them.
MysteryPeople Scott: Hustle is drawn from your life on the streets. What did you want to get across about that experience?
Tom Pitts: The part I drew from my own life was the drug addiction. I get asked a lot if I was involved in prostitution, and the answer is no, but the sleazy hotels with the blood on the ceilings? I lived that. The relentless sickness and the insatiable need for drugs? Yeah, that was me. I was frustrated by reading novels featuring drug addicts whose addiction only played into the story when they were introduced. When the plot starts moving, a lot of writers forget their characters have habits. I wanted to be consistent with the reality of addiction. That, no matter what, after a few hours, junkies have to fix—they have no choice. The drugs are never far from their minds, no matter how much peril they’re in. They use in any situation. They find a way. That’s what it means to be a junkie.
Every job I’ve held was somehow tied directly to the streets of the city. It’s my canvas. I can visualize a block or corner with ease, if it’s a one way, or a busy street, or has a view of the bridge, that kind of thing. That being said, the current gentrification is killing SF as a backdrop for crime.