Friday, April 9, 2021

Please allow me to introduce myself… by Josh Stallings

As I type this I am looking out over the San Jacinto Mountains. I live in a valley populated by ancient cedar, oak and pine trees, bobcats, bunnies, squirrels, cougars, owls, ravens and every once in a while a brown bear wanders down from the high country. From my rustic perch I write crime stories set in Los Angeles, the city of my birth.

Hard Boiled, please.

My first books, the Moses McGuire trilogy were definitely on the harder side of hard boiled. I was angry and in need of an outlet for my pain. Moses was a bouncer in a strip club, a knight in tattered armor defending gee-string damsels, who hadn’t asked him to. The McGuire books spoke honestly about sex workers, the price paid. Each book took me deeper into a painful world.

Along came a glam rock disco heist novel. 

“I need to write a happier book. No really.” When I said that, my wife laughed. But it was true, I needed to lighten up. I’m a method writer as Stanislavski might have called it. I work from the inside out. I walk the streets I write about. I listen to the people I meet. I live in a book for a year or longer. I was with my brother on Martha’s Vineyard when three words came to me, Disco Heist Novel. I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded fun. It became Young Americans, the story of glitter rock kids involved in robbing a disco on New Year’s Eve 1977. It was a joy to write, like getting a chance to rewrite my teen years with more glamour and less painful mistakes. I told my wife when I gave her the first chapters to edit “Here it is, a light book.” She left me a large note, “This is Josh light, not light light.”

 Tricky, tell it true, tell it clean.  

My most recent novel is Tricky. Cisco, an ex-shooter for a LA gang is accused of murder. The case is complicated by the fact that Cisco suffered a brain injury, and is now intellectually disabled, or is he faking it? LAPD Homicide Detective Madsen goes into Cisco’s world to try and find the truth.

Tricky is my most personal novel to date. I have spent time on both sides of the law. My grandfather was the best man I knew, and he spent his life working for the LA Sheriff's department. 

Our older son is intellectually disabled. I wanted to try to capture his humor and largeness of spirit in the Cisco character. From those that know him, I hear I nailed that. 

It was harder to strike a balance with Madsen, he went through many iterations before landing.

What’s next?

I don’t know, but I will continue to use fiction to tell my truth the clearest way I can. I hope you will join me on this journey.

I want to thank the Criminal Minds for inviting me to join their crew. Some of them are old friends, some new but they are all writers I admire and am proud to stand beside.  


James W. Ziskin said...

Welcome, Josh! What a great first post. Thank you for joining us!


Ann said...

Welcome Josh. I'm off to have a look at your books

Brenda Chapman said...

Great post, Josh. Welcome!

Catriona McPherson said...

Welcome to the Minds, Josh. I've already laughed out loud at your first post, which is no kind of surprise at all. ("Josh light, not light light" did it.)

And everyone reading this, TRICKY is awesome!

Terry said...

So happy to have you here! I'd call your books hard-boiled with heart!

Cathy Ace said...

So pleased to welcome you here...really looking forward to these blog posts :-)

Susan C Shea said...

Wow, you started off with a bang! We are so very glad to haver you blogging with us. Your distinctive voice and author persona will enrich the Minds blog! (Heart.)

Josh Stallings said...

Thank you all for the kind and warm welcome. Buster is proud to have made it to the big big time, even if it was by photo bombing me.

Gwenivere said...

I've known Josh for too many years to admit--he is a great writer, an amazing friend, a loving and supportive husband, brother and father. Did I mention that he is also a great writer? Not to repeat myself, but yes, he is. As part of his "teen, disco, glam heist" past (well except for the heist part--we didn't actually do that as far as I remeber) I can attest to his Stanislavsky approach. Much love and much more success to you Josh--you are a man of (spiritual) wealth and taste!