Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reed Farrel Coleman Gives Thanks

Hilary here, with a very special guest: my amazing friend Reed Farrel Coleman. How do you introduce an author who's already so well-known and revered? I could mention that Reed is the author of the highly acclaimed Moe Prager series, seven other novels, and countless short stories and poems, but you undoubtedly know that already. I could tell you about Reed's three Shamus Award wins and his two Edgar Award nominations.... wait, you know about that, too? Well, have you heard that his latest Moe Prager book, Hurt Machine (which will be released in December), has already been named one of the Top 10 Mysteries of 2011 by Publishers Weekly? Or that his novel Gun Church was just released as an audiobook exclusive? Damn, you guys are well-informed.

Maybe it's best to let Reed speak for himself. This week's question, for Reed: For what, in your writing, are you most thankful for? Take it away, Reed!

Man, talk about a loaded question, Hilary. As I’m sure you and any other writers out there know, there are days when we’re not thankful for much about writing. As proud as I am of what I’ve accomplished, there are times my calling is more a curse than a gift. And that’s what writing is, a calling. I tell my writing students that if they’re getting into this field because they can’t wait for bouquets of roses to be thrown at them or because they are anxious to spend their millions, give up writing and get into hedge funds. Sure, you and I know some very very financially successful writers, but the fact is that writing to publish is something you should only do because you feel compelled to do it.

My first novel, Life Goes Sleeping, was published exactly twenty years ago, so I’ve been taking a hard look back at my career. What I’ve realized is that a lot of people have made sacrifices in order for me to pursue my dream. I owe a lot to my wife, Rosanne, and to my kids, Kaitlin and Dylan—though they’re not really kids anymore. I would have to say that my family is what I’m most thankful for in my writing because without them I couldn’t have come this far. Lately, I’ve thought a lot about the vacations we didn’t take, the schools my kids didn’t apply to, the clothes my wife wore one year too long. All this in service of my dream, my calling. I owe everything to them. I consider myself very lucky in that way.

But it isn’t all sturm and drang and misery, of course. For instance, one of the things I love most about writing is the flexibility of it. You needn’t look any further than the two novels I have coming out this month—Gun Church ( and Hurt Machine (Tyrus Books). I’ve had lots of jobs over the course of my life and very few if any afforded me the flexibility to do as I pleased and get paid for the privilege. These two novels couldn’t be more different, yet here they are, both written by the same man. See the charts below:

Gun Church
Format: Audio Download
Time to Write: 6 years
Type: Stand-alone
Narrative POV: First Person, Third Person (book within book)
Protagonist: Washed Up Writer/Professor
Contract/Spec: Spec

Hurt Machine
Format: Hard Cover/Trade Paper
Publisher: Tyrus Books
Time to Write: 5 months
Type: Series (7th book in Moe Prager series)
Narrative POV: First Person
Protagonist: Private Investigator/Shopkeeper
Contract/Spec: Contract

The list could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. As tough a profession as writing can be, it offers me something that I can’t find anywhere else: freedom. And there’s something else too, happiness. I thank that’s the tradeoff my family was willing to make. Again, I owe that to Rosanne, a woman happy in her work. She always said it was more important for us to be happier than wealthier. And it’s been reflected in our kids’ approach to their careers. My daughter is pursuing a career in the animal behavior branch of psychology and my son, God help him, is an artist. They have chosen these professions not as a calculation on high finance, but on happiness and satisfaction.

Thanks so much to Reed for visiting Criminal Minds today! You can keep up with what Reed is doing on his website, on Facebook, and on Twitter. Here's a little more about Hurt Machine and Gun Church:

HURT MACHINE: Two weeks before his daughter’s wedding, Moe is given very grave news about his health. If things aren’t hard enough, his ex-wife and partner, Carmella Melendez, reappears after a nine year absence to beg Moe’s help. It seems Carmella’s estranged sister has been murdered in Brooklyn, yet no one, not even the NYPD, seems very motivated to find the killer. Why? That’s the question, isn’t it?

GUN CHURCH: Kip Weiler is a former 80s literary wunderkind fallen on hard times. As a result of his own foibles, Kip has landed in the rural mining town of Brixton, teaching creative writing at a community college. One day he saves his class from being taken hostage. Not only does he get a second fifteen minutes of fame, but, more importantly, his spark to write is relit. Little does he know that the book he is writing may be the blueprint to is own demise. As this book—think WONDER BOYS meets FIGHT CLUB with guns—progresses, the lines between art imitating life imitating art begin to blur.


Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks for stopping by, Reed! And for the shout out to the families of writers. Sometimes it's the unseen and unheralded sacrifices that are most important, isn't it?

Still, it sounds like you did OK in the end. Happily married and with two kids who have the courage to pursue their own dreams. Congratulations!

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks for guest blogging for us, Uncle Reed! Writing definitely offers us a freedom (sometimes a scary freedom--what to write next?), and all we do is made possible by our families.

Hilary Davidson said...

So glad to have you visiting us today, Reed! If anyone reading this hasn't "met" Moe Prager yet, this would be a great time to start getting to know him!

Michael Wiley said...

Great to have you with us, Reed. Yes, the flexibility of writing: we work it into every hard-to-reach space and perform contortions to do so . . . and, I think, one of the benefits it that it makes us more flexible personally.

Joshua Corin said...

Great post, Reed - and a wonderful perspective to share. It's easy to forget the sacrifices that our loved ones have to make to deal with those of us who've received the calling to be writers and are therefore 1) ill-equipped to do anything else 2) constantly distracted by character and/or story ideas 3) believe that a trip to the library *is* a day at the beach.