Friday, September 26, 2014

SinC Blog Hop: Blog the Night Away!

by Paul D. Marks

Well, it’s my turn to hop on the Sisters in Crime blog hop. Art Taylor passed the baton to me last week, so now it’s my turn to hijack our weekly question. (And I’m tagging Susan Shea, you’re up next.)

To participate, I have to:

(a) ignore our regularly scheduled weekly question
(b) choose a question from the list below & answer it here today
(b) tag another Criminal Mind to take the next turn

The Question Choices:

1. Which authors have inspired you?
2. Which male authors write great women characters?
3. If someone said, "Nothing against women writers, but all of my favorite crime fiction authors happen to be men," how would you respond?
4. What's the best part of the writing process for you? What's the most challenging?
5. Do you listen to music while writing? What's on your playlist?
6. What books are on your nightstand right now?
7. If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

I’m going with #6. I know Robin did this a few weeks back, but there’s only a limited number of questions so I figured I’d give it a shot too. At least for the “short list” of nightstand books.  I’m also including digital books here, that might not be on the physical nightstand. And I’m purposely leaving off any books by people I know personally in case I might accidentally leave someone out, so they don’t come after me with a blackjack in the middle of the night.

Right now, I’m in the middle of reading Anne Tyler’s Breathing Lessons and Keith Richards’ autobiography, Life. The former because I like to mix things up and read different kinds of books, even though I mostly write mystery-suspense and the latter because, like Joan Jett, well, I love rock ‘n’ roll. I love the Stones and Keith—the ultimate rock ‘n’ roll outlaw. I also enjoy reading about writers, artists, musicians in general. I feel their pain, to quote another rock star...

In the on-deck circle are several books. But they can change. Things go in and out of the pile, often before I might get to them. So, in no particular order.

Viveza: The Secret to Creating Breathtaking Photography by Robin Whalley; and Plug In with Nik by John Batdorff: I bought the Nik suite of photographic tools/programs some time ago, but haven’t really had a chance to play around with it/them and learn by doing, so I figured if I bought a book or two I could read about it and at least feel like I was getting something out of the programs.

Goodis: A Life in Black and White by Phillipe Garnier—a biography of David Goodis, the “poet of
the losers,” a phrase coined by Geoffrey O’Brien. Goodis wrote the books on which the Bogie-Bacall movie Dark Passage and Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player (book title Down There), among several other films, are based. I’m a huge Goodis fan and have been waiting years (decades?) for this book to be translated into English—the only full-length bio on Goodis, to my knowledge. Got it as soon as it came out.  I started to read it, but was disappointed that it had no index or table of contents, things I really appreciate in non-fiction books, so I sort of set it aside, though I’m sure I will get back to it.

The Poet by Michael Connelly—I’ve read this one before and I think it’s Connelly’s best book. And just have the urge to read it again.  ‘Cause I like spending time with the scum of the earth.

It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell—Well, just because I love Carol O’Connell and her tough as nails (and I do mean nails) NYPD detective Kathy Mallory, but don’t ever call her Kathy. Mallory only. But this shows how far behind I am, as this book is about a year old and I still haven’t gotten to it.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein—This has been on my “to read” shelf for a long time and I just can’t bring myself to read it.  I like animals too much, especially my own, and I think it might be too much of a downer.

Await Your Reply by Dan Chabon—I read a review of this when it first came out and thought it sounded like an interesting and intriguing story.  And still do.  I will get to it, soon, I hope.

Perfidia by James Ellroy—Well, this one’s complicated.  I used to be an Ellroy fanatic. Would go to all of his LA signings, including one time when he even had a band with him.  And these signings are events in themselves. You either love ‘em or hate ‘em, Ellroy too.  Now here’s the complicated part: I don’t have the book yet.  In the “olden” days I would have bought it the day it came out (about two weeks ago), and there’s still part of me that wants to read it, but I’ve been disappointed by Ellroy lately. He’s adopted that staccato style, but has gone way too far in that direction to the point where some of his work is unreadable, at least to me.  So, while I still have an affinity for him, I haven’t been able to get through his last couple of books.  And, while Perfidia sounds interesting and like something I would like subject-wise, I’m also gun-shy about getting it and then not being able to get into it.  So, while normally it would shoot to the top of my pile, right now it’s on the phantom night stand. And maybe one day it will make to the solid, real-world nightstand. Maybe...

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And, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’d also like to respond briefly to this week’s regular 7 Criminal Minds question:

Is there a novel that you're afraid to write, that you're waiting to attempt until you're older/your mother dies/your skill level matches your ambition?

There’s nothing that I’m afraid to write—I guess I’m either fearless or stupid or both. But there is a Big Book that I’ve been wanting to write for years.  It spans most of the twentieth century, with several storylines that ultimately intertwine.  I’ve made notes on it, even a chart, so long ago it’s handwritten on a huge piece of paper, BC: Before Computers.  That’s how long I’ve had this idea.

And, while some ideas come and go, and some seem great at the time, but not so much later, this one has stuck with me.  And one of these days I will do it. No, I’m not going to go into details here.  But it’s one of those backpocket stories that you just carry around until it has to come out.

Many years ago an agent asked me if I had a “Big Book,” ‘cause that’s what he was looking for.  I told him I did, but it wasn’t written. It’s still not written...but it will be one day.

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And a little BSP: I just launched my Facebook author page this week. So why not check it out and if you’re so inclined give it a ‘like’. Thanks. 


Art Taylor said...

Fun post, Paul—and I know what you mean about Ellroy. I'm excited about the latest one mainly because it goes back (in a way) to the LA Quartet, which I really loved. But the style has become a chore at times: admirable, but not enjoyable always. (The turn for me came with The Cold Six Thousand; I never got through it.)

Good luck with your own big book eventually. Sounds ambitious!

Meredith Cole said...

Wow! You read a lot of books at once, Paul--which is something I can really appreciate because I definitely do the same! A good mix of fiction (including at least one mystery), and non-fiction (usually one biography) is on my nightstand... Can't live without books, that's for sure.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Art. Cold Six Thousand is what did it for me too. I will probably get Perfidia at some point, but whether I can get through it will be another question altogether.

And Meredith, isn't it nice to be able to switch things up and go from fiction to non-fiction. I like reading a little of both at the same time. And, as you say, can't live without books...for sure.

Anonymous said...

Visited your new FB Page!! Enjoyed your #Post and will be back next #Friday, Paul.


Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Charlotte. Glad you enjoyed it and also that you checked out the FB page.