Today is Stephen Jay Schwart's second day as GrandMaster.
From Rebecca: You did such an amazing job of setting the stage in your previous novel, BOULEVARD, in Los Angeles. After working so hard to set up the city, why did you move your next novel, BEAT, to San Francisco?
Stephen: I wanted Los Angeles to be one of the characters in BOULEVARD. In the same way, I wanted San Francisco to be a character in BEAT. And, if I get the opportunity to write a third Hayden book, then Amsterdam will be a character in that book. Yes, I know, Amsterdam. Where do I go from there? I might have to establish a sex colony on Mars.
Wherever Hayden Glass goes, he brings his baggage along. I like to see his mindset juxtaposed to different environments. Los Angeles is a cool, dark setting, one he knows well from having cruised all the major boulevards. He feels comfortable in its creepy, dusty corners. While there are many beautiful things in LA, Hayden sees only the grime. Much of that has to do with being a homicide detective. But a lot of it comes from his addiction and where it takes him. In some ways the City is a co-conspirator. It knows the real Hayden, it has shared his many dark secrets. In one section I write about how Hayden arrives at a murder scene and he recognizes the hotel from having spent time there with a prostitute years before. I describe it as such: “The two-story motel sat like a dirty old heroin addict nodding slowly, as if recognizing Hayden from a hazy night they’d shared long ago. The second-story windows had yellowing shades pulled half-mast like drugged-out eyes squinting at the streetlamps.”
I took Hayden to San Francisco because I wanted the city to befriend and torture him, to lure him into her secret, private places then slap him down for trusting her. San Francisco is such a vibrant city, filled with sexual triggers. It is a city that challenges his morals. It has a completely different attitude towards sex, too. The residents almost voted to legalize prostitution recently, so a lot of them don’t understand what the big deal is. It’s just sex, right? How can you be addicted to sex? But Hayden can’t even enter a strip club without falling into a binge cycle. He’s always on the edge, and the city tempts and challenges him every step of the way. Plus, I like him out of his element, a fish out of water. There’s a lot of inherent humor that comes from his LAPD attitude juxtaposed to the freewheeling attitude of the San Francisco cops. I think the characters in BEAT are richer and more vibrant, too, since I leaned on real SFPD officers as models.