Friday, January 15, 2021

An Attitude of Gratitude

How do you decide who to acknowledge and who to dedicate a book to, and have you ever had an awkward moment in making an “in” or “out” decision?

by Paul D. Marks

Only the best doctors for me.
Before I get to today’s question:

I’ve been on forced hiatus for a couple of months now. I want to thank Cathy Ace for helping find replacement posters to fill my slots in that time and to also thank the various replacement posters. 

Towards the very end of October I wasn’t feeling well. Could barely stand up. Long story short, my wife and general practitioner “forced” me to go the ER. ER found cancer and said if I hadn’t come in when I did I probably would have been dead by the following weekend. Guess it’s a good thing I let Amy jam me into the car and down to the hospital.

I was in the hospital off and on for several weeks. It was torture in more ways than one. My body reacted strongly to the first dose of chemo. That is, the chemo worked—maybe too well. And threw off all of my other labs and numbers. It was and – to some extent—still is a mess. But I’m home—mostly—these days. With some return hospital visits scheduled. And following up with chemo and other treatments.

There’s a lot to deal with and I’m shorthanding this greatly. It’s going to be a long, tough road, but at least it finally looks like a little light at the end of the tunnel.

And I want to thank everyone who sent notes or commented/liked on my much rarer Facebook posts these days with updates.

Now to today’s question:

I tend to write often about things I know to one degree or another. So, in my first two Duke Rogers novels (set in the 1990s), White Heat and Broken Windows, I really just thank the folks at my publisher Down & Out Books. And I don’t think there were any acknowledgements in my stand-alone Vortex.

For my most recent novel, The Blues Don’t Care, that came out this past June, and which is set in the 1940s on the L.A. homefront during World War II, I had a few more acknowledgments. 

One of those was the actual city of L.A. itself. L.A. is such a part of me, such a part of who I am, for better or worse. And I definitely have a love-hate relationship with it. Although World War II was before my time, the city still had that Raymond Chandler ambience when I was a kid. It hadn’t turned to all steel and glass yet and the Powers That Be hadn’t destroyed the Bunker Hill neighborhood (which I would go exploring in) or much of the rest of its past. So I remember the city being that Chandler or John Fante city from back then. And that certainly informed The Blues Don’t Care. Click here to see an article I did on this for Sleuthsayers. 

And I love the movies and music from the 1930s and 40s. That helped greatly with research. As did books and the internet and all the other usual sources.

But the thing that helped me the most on this particular book was first person research with people who were there. My mom, a native Angelino, and her friends, also born here, helped greatly with memories of the war time period that you won’t necessarily find in books. Little tidbits that hopefully give the story a greater sense of verisimilitude. They were invaluable and were acknowledged.

Another first person source was my friend Clyde Williams (click here to see my piece on him over at SleuthSayers). Clyde and I became fast friends while working on a video that he was doing the voice over on. Clyde was a cowboy, a Viet Nam vet, served on an honor guard for President Kennedy. He was also an African-American artist whose work was exhibited at the famous Dunbar Hotel on Central Avenue in Los Angeles, where many famous black artists, musicians, politicians, etc., stayed when they couldn’t stay in white hotels. And though his time, too, was after World War II, he soaked up that ambience and history like a sponge. A good portion of Blues Don’t Care takes place at the Dunbar and Clyde’s insight was invaluable.

So these are the people I give acknowledgment to in this book. People who could particularly help with insight that maybe isn’t so easily found in the usual places.

There’s no particular formula for deciding who should get acknowledgments. It’s what seems right and fair.

And I must say that I am given acknowledgment in one of our fellow Criminal Minds, Jim Ziskin’s book Cast The First Stone. I was really glad to be able to help Jim out with some first-hand L.A, history. and it’s really a kick to be mentioned there. 

So that’s my take on it. I hope to be back more regularly in the future though there might be some occasions when medical issues keep me from posting. But hopefully not or at least not much.


And now for the usual BSP:

The Blues Don’t Care has been chosen by the terrific and well-respected crime magazine, Suspense, as The Best of 2020 Historical Fiction Novel. I’m grateful to the fans, staff and contributors of Suspense for this terrific honor, which came totally out of the blue. And, besides infusions of platelets, as you can imagine I needed an infusion of good news right now… 

And not only did Blues win a Best of 2020 Award from Suspense Magazine, but Coast to Coast: Noir, the third volume in our Coast to Coast crime stories series that I co-edit with Andrew McAleer, also won a Best of 2020 Award from Suspense Magazine in the Anthology category. So I’m thrilled about both of these awards:

And Blues Don’t Care was also on two other best of/favorites of 2020 lists:

DeathBecomesHer, Crime Fiction Lover: Top Five Books of 2020 


Aubrey Nye Hamilton, Happiness is a Warm Book:  Favorite Books of 2020

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Dietrich Kalteis said...

Nice to have you back, Paul, and I'm glad you're on the mend. Also, congratulations for the winning nods from Suspense Magazine. That's well deserved.

All the very best.

Debby Obinna said...

CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN PAUL!!! I'm so happy to see these awards piling up but happier to know you have Amy. I'll keep you in my thoughts for a full recovery - and more awards.

Wil A. Emerson said...

Welcome back...and best wishes, too. Rough roads usually lead to a smooth highway. You'll, no doubt, be hitting the trail soon. Love to read your stuff!..
Cheers, Wil

Susan C Shea said...

Good to hear your voice again, Paul. But letting guests take up some of the work when you need to focus on recovery is fine too.

GBPool said...

Your description of Old LA is a great history lesson. I always look forward to another stroll down those mean streets. Glad you are on the mend. Your fans want more stories about those other times along with those cool characters you craft.

Brenda Chapman said...

So glad you're back posting, Paul, and that you're on the mend. Congratulations on all your award news!

Cindy said...

Glad you're healing, Paul. Loved The Blues Don't Care and it's journey through LA's music.

Lisa Ciarfella said...

Yes! First person research is like detective, and fascinating!
Broken windows and white Heat r two if my faves from yourlarge collage of reads!
So glad you're back 😎

Kaye George said...

It's great to see you back here. Hope you're feeling better and better. Congrats on the well-deserved honor from Suspense Magazine!

Jacqueline Vick said...

I wonder if the interviews were more fun than writing the book. Sounds like they must have been an experience!

Pamela Asbury-Smith said...

On January 28, I will celebrate 35 years as a survivor of lung cancer. Early diagnosis saves lives! First came the diagnosis, then I quit smoking when I heard of the Challenger disaster. I had surgery to remove the lower right lobe of my lung, then had 5 months of chemo. Much as I'd like to carp about those 5 months, I can't complain because I'm still alive and cancer-free.

Jim Shaffer said...

Good to see you're back and to read your words again, Paul. I know "The Blues Don't Care", but we all sure care about you. Stay strong and safe.