Category Archives: Elaine Flinn

ON THE BUBBLE WITH GREGG HURWITZ

I wasn’t sure what my intro for Gregg Hurwitz was gonna be.  See, along with Dave Montgomery, Paul Guyot, James Lincoln Warren and Jim Rollins, I adore this guy.  In fact, they’re all  part of my pack of secret loves.  Now, when you get to my age, it’s okay to say things like that.  I could just tell you that Gregg (which you already know) is the critically acclaimed #1 LA Times best selling author of FIVE blockbuster thrilllers.  I’d name them all for you, but you should really mosey over to his website and check them out.  You could buy one or two as well – because when Gregg writes a book – he lives it.  He joined a cult for THE PROGRAM.  For THE KILL CLAUSE, he learned how to pick locks. In MINUTES TO BURN, he went all the way to the Galapago’s for research!  I mean, the guy does live his thrillers!  And did you know he’s recently signed a deal with ESPN to write and produce a historical drama about a soccer team?  Well, why not?  Hell, how do you think he broke his wrist, his collarbone and a rib?  Playing soccer?  Yep – you got it.

So, come on along and join in the funny side of Gregg:

EE:  One of my sources tells me you turned to writing when you discovered you couldn’t make it as a polka accordionist and the bitterness still lingers.  How can we help you overcome this?

GH:  I was actually quite a noted polka accordionist, thank you very much.

Oh, well then I’d better get rid of that source, huh?  Don’t you just hate rumormongers?

EE:  So, Gregg – while there are some who know you’re considered a noted Shakespearian scholar, I have it on good authority that you’re secretely compiling proof that Shakespeare was really the illegitimate son of Edward VI, a sibling of Elizabeth I and that MI 5 is pressuring you to abandon this long-held quest.  Can you address this now?

GH:  I’m one of the old-fashioned few who stick intrepidly to the belief that Shakespeare was actually, well, Shakespeare.

Okay, okay…we get the drift.  Mum’s the word, right?  (Not THAT Mum-just a figure of speech, okay?)

EE:  Let’s turn to the writing life for a moment.  Which writers would be on your ideal panel at ThrillerFest?

GH:  Thomas Harris, John Le Carre, William Shakespeare (Macbeth as perfect mob thriller), and William Faulkner (corn cob scene in Sanctuary).

Thomas Harris????  Make it a morning panel, okay?  I’d like to be able to keep my lunch down.

EE:  I’m almost afraid to ask about book tours now, but who would you just love to tour with?

GH:  Well, probably the same authors I hang out with – Bob Crais, Will Staeger, Chris Rice, Chris Mooney.  I’ve really enjoyed even overlaps with T. Jefferson Parker a lot – he’s a graceful, gracious guy.

Whew!  You had me worried there for a minute.  I was afraid you were gonna include Harris again.

EE:  What best sellingbook do you wish you’d written?

GH:  Red Dragon

Thomas Harris again???  Gregg!  You’re beginning to scare ME.

EE:  Here’s a burning question that, I must admit, rankles many of your peers.  Have you considered making a plea to the women who attend your panels to stop looking at you as a sex object and simply concentrate on your formidable talent?  I mean, really, Gregg – someone is going to get hurt with all those hotel room keys being thrown at you!

GH:  It’s the rotten fruit that’s hurtful.

Oh, listen to this guy, will you?  See why he’s one of my secret loves?

EE:  Okay, let’s go with the Walter Mitty standard.  Surely you have one besides being a best seller.

GH:  Most of my daydreams involve entangling myself in some plot.  I tend to dream about why things can go interestingly bad.

Hmmmm. I knew there was a short cut to being a best seller. Wish I’d thought of that.

EE:  Here’s an easy one – tell us your favorite movie and TV show.  Just pretend Lee Goldberg isn’t listening.

GH:  Sunset Boulevard and 24

I’ll bring the popcorn.

EE:  What would you consider a perfect day?

GH:  Write for seven-eight solid hours, get in a workout, wrestle with my kids, gourmet dinner, see a movie, wrestle with my wife, then do some reading.

I just love a dedicated man!

EE:  Talk around law enforcement is that many of the surveillance tools Tim Rackley uses in your thrillers are now being manufactured on the quiet exclusively for LAPD and certain U.S. Marshall honcho’s who are claiming first rights.  Any comments?

GH:  I learn the surveillance and tactical techniques in the field, by following experts gracious enough to let me pepper them with questions.  So while many of Tim’s techniques are used by the Service, many are tricks I’ve picked up on the range from Navy SEALSs, or tagging along with, say, FBI agents or former spies.

Clever way you skirted around this one too.  Okay, you get a pass.

EE:  My more reliable sources (!) tell me that Joe Esterhazy is bristling over the rumors that Sharon Stone wants you to script her next movie, but Michael Douglas and Oliver Stone are working behind the scenes to get you off the project.

GH:  Michael and Oliver can be so petty.  Does Joe Esterhaus know you’re referring to him as Joe Esterhazy?  You’d better watch out or you’ll wind up with a pissed-off Showgirl at your front door.

Ha,ha, ha!  I spelled his name wrong on purpose!  He lurks here at On The Bubble, didn’t you know that?  I’m not afraid of a Showgirl! I WANT JOE to come looking for me so I can pitch him.  Hey, you didn’t give me the moniker of Evil E for nuttin’ now, did you?

EE:  The word on Rodeo Drive is that Jennifer Anniston has been bugging the hell out of you o play Dray, the Rack’s wife, on the big screen.  Please, Gregg – tell us this isn’t so!  She is so NOT Andrea!

GH:  I have a hard time answering the question of who I see for Tim, but when we were kicking around casting ideas for Dray, I have to say Marie Bello topped my list.

Oh, yeah!  She’d be perfect!  Sexy, tough and compassionate all at once.  But about Rack – uh, how about if we find a cozy table at ThrillerFest and throw around a few names?  I’ve been getting calls from Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe about talking to you, and I tell ‘ya, Gregg, they can’t seem to get the time difference right and I need my sleep.

EE:  Okay, another easy one. Which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the inaugural ThrillerFest convention in Phoenix in a few weeks?

GH:  Depends on how cozy.

Well, darling – we could scope the place and decide, hmmmm?

EE:  Not including myself in this, you understand – but most people have a bad habit or two.  What do you think yours are?

GH:  Mine are innumerable, but impatience tops the list.

We really need to talk – I finally overcame that with an ancient secret potion from Scotland.

EE:  Best selling writers – such as yourself – seem to be targets for fantastical rumors.  The latest is that you’re taking a year off from writing to take the family to Tahiti to find the lost works of Gaugin.  Surely you must know that Rack-Trackers are assembling now to form protest marches at ThrillerFest.

GH:  I’m taking the year off to go to Tahiti – true – but it’s to find the lost works of Patrick Nagel.

Oh, isn’t he the clever one?  He thinks he’s throwing us off the track here!  But okay, Gregg – if you say so.  Tell you what – if you find anything – I’ll put you onto an art dealer I know.  He’s honest too.  Muhahahahaha.

ON THE BUBBLE WITH GAYLE LYNDS

How does one write an intro for this extraordinary lady?  What can I say about this world wide best seller, the co-founder of International Thriller Writers, whose new book – THE LAST SPYMASTER – is already breaking sound barriers around bookstores – that hasn’t already been said – time and again – and more eloquently?

Try this on for size – and this is just about THE LAST SPYMASTER!

"Lynds is a kick-ass thriller writer!" – The Observer

"Today’s finest espionage writer unleashes an instant classic." – Lee Child

"Fascinating characters, nerve tingling pace..cements Lynds reputation as one of the premier espionage authors of our time." – Vince Flynn

I mean, who the hell can beat that?  Not moi.

But all that is about Gayle Lynds-the writer.  What about Gayle Lynds – the woman?  Okay, here is where it gets tough.  I could be effusive as hell.  I could offer up a ton of superlatives.  And they’d all be true.  Because I know them to be.  Many of you who know what Gayle’s been through these past months, will understand when I use one word to describe her.  It’s a word that instantly comes to mind when I think of Gayle.  Indomitable.

The Observer calls her writing ‘kick-ass’.  Wait until you see her sense of humor!

EE:  There are some frightening rumors going around that you and David Morrell co-founded International Thriller Writers as a ruse to recruit some of the best minds in crime fiction as covers N.S.A. agents.  Say it isn’t so, Gayle.  I mean, when would all these phenoms have time to write?

GL:  Well, I must admit your intel is somewhat accurate.  As the last spymaster says in the book that was named for him, use the BAR code.  No!  Not that kind of bar.  The clandestine kind –Befriend, Assess, Recruit!  Well, a little fine scotch never hurt either.

But…but…I LIKE that kind of bar.  If you change your M.O., I’d be glad to play barmaid.

EE:  Gayle Lynds watchers have notified me you’ve been spotted on three occasions sipping lattes at Starbucks in Santa Barbara with two men wearing trench coats and dark glasses.  Friends, Gayle?  Maybe Hollywood studio heads in disguise?  But then, do movie folk talk into their Rolex watches these days?

GL:  Honey, those Rolexes came off a street corner in southeast L.A.  Do not look too closely, or the watchbands will disintegrate, the glass faces will drop like corpses, and the spooks – er – studio heads – will have to turn in their government credit cards.  I hate to see grown men cry.  It’s just pitiful!

I do too, but then – wouldn’t that be a Kodak moment?

EE:  Isn’t it true that Julia Robets threw a hissy fit when she found out that Angelica Houston got the role she wanted in THE HADES FACTOR – the mini-series that aired on CBS recently – the one adapted from the book you wrote with Robert Ludlum?  I mean, come on, Gayle – you can share here.  It’s okay. Sort of.  I mean, Julia and I haven’t spoken in weeks.  Actually, she hung up on me when I told her…well, nevermind.

GL:  It’s that darn pimple she has on the end of her nose that has made her a tad cranky these days.  Oops.  Didn’t you know?  The poor woman is really human.  Well, when you ring her up, please do NOT tell her that I revealed the Secret of the Giant Zit.  Pul-lease!

Hey, if it was anyone but you – I’d just run and tell the little princess.  But my lips are sealed.  Zip.  Can I get top clearance now?

EE:  Rumor aound Mysteryville – er – Thrillerville – is thatthe names of the winners of the first "Thriller" Award being presented at Thrillerfest (June 29th-July 2nd in Scottsdale, Arizona-hows that for a plug?) are under close guard at Price Waterhouse.  Were these extreme measures taken after Otto Penzler threatened to boycott the convention because no cozy writers were nominated?

GL:  I know what you mean.  Otto really adores cozies.  Until recently, he was in bed a lot with cozy…books.  And they just adore him back.  But I do wish he’d quit going on and on about how much he loves them.  You’d think he’d be a little more sensitive to the rest of us, especially the guy writers.  Otto doesn’t mean to be sexist.  He just can’t help preferring to knock back shots with female authors, praising more of their novels, point out that they generally write better than men, and saying sensitively that of course men shouldn’t take it personally because they can’t help it that they’re not as good.  As in all things, genitals are destiny.  Otto is not only passionae but logical.  When I grow up, I want to be Otto!

Hells, bells!  I laughed so damn hard while I typed that – I can’t think of anything to say!

EE:  I’ve been told you had a secret lunch meeting with John Le Carre when you were in Bristol for Left Coast Crime recently – and Le Carre had decided your new book – THE LAST SPYMASTER – is just too delicious for him to compete with and he’s planning on retiring.  So, Gayle – how was the fish & chips?

GL:  Yummy.  Mmmmmm. 

Is that standard issue spook talk?

EE:  Okay, enough of the nitty gritty.  Tell us which writers you would love to moderate on a panel?

GL:  Fiction writers, of course!  Bankers, lawyers, and most especially…politicians!

They do have a way with words! And so damn creative!

EE:  Your legion of fans have asked me to pose this very important question:  and be truthfull here, okay?  You’re having a dinner party with your ideal guests – who would they be – and what will you serve?

GL:  Oh, goodie.  Just my cup of cyanide.  I want Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Tony Blair…every head of state.  And I’m gonna serve Truth Serum!

Ah, my kind of party!  If you’re short on dishes, let me know.  I’ve got tons and tons.  I’ll even deliver them.  And I can help serve too.  Hell, I can drop food on people better than most.

EE:  All my victims, er, guests, are asked what their Walter Mitty dream is.  Tell us yours – 50,000 words or less.

GL:  To have my next book written.  Ah, sweet dream!

Aw, hell, Gayle.  That’s a no-brainer.  I’ll bet you’ve got three going as we speak.

EE:  When you want to spoil yourself, what do you do, or what do you buy?

GL:  I swear by aerobic shopping.  The thing is, you’ve got tomove so fast that you don’t buy anything.  Besides, 100 pair of shoes is enough, don’t you think?

Imelda didn’t think so.  But hey – can I tell Julia?  Ohhh, I’ll be that will really frost her!  And wait until she hears she ain’t invited to your dinner party!  I’ll call her when I’m done here,okay?

EE:  Is it true you’re a closet opera singer? And that your life long dream is to play Carmen at La Scala?

GL:  Heck, no.  Where do these rumors start???  My life-long dream is to WRITE Carmen!  Well, there’s a teensy-tiny problem with that – I’ve forgotten how to read music.  Did I mention that I really was probably destined to write fiction?  I love being paid to lie for a living.

Lie for a living?  Yeah, right.  It’s okay-Hayden hasn’t been totally confirmed yet.  Besides, he’s not monitoring me.  Well, not yet, anyway.

EE:  Is Oliver Stone still bugging you to ghost that children’s book he can’t find an agent for?

GL:  Sigh.  Ollie is such a drag.  So much whining!  He’s never been the same snce he did Richard Nixon.

No!  Him too?  And all this time I thought…well, never mind. 

EE:  What about the buzz that Dan Brown feels a sudden urge for legitimacy and wants to do a book tour with you so readers will take him seriously?

GL:  That buzz is bad.  The man’s legitimate.  I’ve seen his birth certificate.  It lists both his mommy and daddy.

Hmmmm. Okay.  If you say so.  I know your sources are impeccable

EE:  Which book do you wish you’d written?

GL:  The Bible.  Man, talk about buzz.

No kidding!  I’d love to know what the print run on that is every year!

EE:  Let’s clear the air on this one: Did you really teach Tom Clancy how to write thrillers?

GL:  What?  What?  Tom writes THRILLERS??!!

That’s what his book jackets say.  You mean they’re not?  Damn!  I want my money back.

EE:  And finally,Gayle – would you stop being such a soft-hearted, generous, warm and wonderful gal whose esy smile welcomes all that she meets?  It’s just not the right image for a take-no-prisoner thriller writer!

GL:  Honey, you’re looking into the muzzle of my AK-47.  SMILE when you say that!

For you, dear Gayle – there will always be a smile.

ON THE BUBBLE WITH DAVID MONTGOMERY

I like to tease David Montgomery.  I tell him the only reason he’s a reviewer is to get all those free books.  But it ain’t true.  David really, really loves mystery/crime/suspense/thrillers.  And because he does, he is one of the best out there.  Just look at his credits:  Chicago Sun-Times, National Review, USA Today, Kansas City Star, January Magazine, Philadelphia City & Inquirer and then there’s the Boston Globe and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  His CRIME FICTION DOSSIER is one of the best on the web, and he has another great site – OVERNIGHT SUCCESS?  It is here that some of the hugest (I know that’s not a word, but I like it) writers share their travails to being published.  And then David has MYSTERY INK – the home of the prestigious GUMSHOE AWARD- now in it’s fifth year.

So come meet David-

EE:  Word is, David, Marilyn Stasio, the infamous New York Times book reviewer confers with you first before writing her column.  I think it’s time we knew the truth.

DM:  I wish she would!  Stasio generally has excellent taste in books, and her writing is good, but I often find her reviews unsatisfying.  There’s not enough analysis or opinion in them.  It can be tough to do when writing in the column format, but I’d like to see more meat in there.

Yeah, me too.  I’d also like to see my book there. Do you know where I can find a voodoo doll?

EE:  And what about the rumors that your annual Gumshoe Award, so prestigious it fairly kills writers who are never short-listed, is just a ruse to get nominees and winners to join the publishing house you’ve got going on the back burner?

DM:  It’s funny that you say that, as I’d love to run a publishing house.  Soon as I win the lottery, I’m starting one.  As for the Gumshoe Awards…the staff at Mystery Ink tries hard each year to single out the best books, hopefully with an eye towards some more unconventional choices.  It’s a helluva task, but the really hard part is singling out the winners.  I’d rather just make the shortlist and leave it at that.

Just the shortlist?  Hmmm.  That idea has merit.  That would mean I was a winner!  Yeah, I like that, David.

EE:  Okay, here’s a hot one:  I’ve been told (and I’ll just faint if it’s true) that you’ve been approached by Rupert Murdoch to pen a mystery related gossip column for The Enquirer.

DM:  I’ve got tons of great gossip, so I’ve been looking for an outlet where I can use it. (My blind items are killers!)  As it turns out, however, nobody knows who the mystery writers are, so the idea was greeted with a huge "WTHF?"

Huh?  Nobody knows US??  Who the hell do they think keeps them up at night?   We’ve got to remedy that, David!  We’ll put our heads together at ThrillerFest, okay?  Maybe we’ll let Guyot sit in on this.  He’s kinda twisted too. Too bad JLW ain’t gonna be there.

EE:  Okay, lets get to the nitty gritty.  What sex symbol do you think you resemble? Does Maili agree?

DM:  Unfortunately, the only celebrity I resemble is Anthony Edwards (formerly Dr. Mark Green on ER).  I was at the In-N-Out Burger in Ventura one time when a woman I didn’t know came up to me and told me how much I looked like Edwards.  I protested that, unlike Edwards, I actually had hair, but she didn’t seem swayed.

Awww (gush, gush) you’re much better looking than Edwards. And that goatee is soooo cool!

EE:  Who are the seven people you’d invite to dinner?  And why?

DM:  I’d invite anyone who’d pay!  Seriously, though, one person I’d love to have dinner with, but never got the chance, was Ross Thomas.  Ross was my favorite writer and unfortunately I never got the chance to meet him.  We corresponded for a little while before his death, but that was it.  From everything I’ve heard, he was a wonderful man, and he’s someone I really would have liked to know.  His books continue to dazzle to this day.

Yes, I can see you’d feel that way.  He was a master.

EE:  You’ve been a panelist, and a moderator at several cons, and will be sharing the table with Lawrence Block & David Morrell this weekend at BEA, so with all that experience, give us the ideal panel you’d like to moderate.  And don’t mention Dan Brown, okay?

DM:  To be honest, my ideal panel is one that I don’t have to moderate!  That’s the downside to getting a rep as a good moderator: people always ask you to moderate the panel, rather than participate on it, the latter of which is much easier and more fun.  (The upside to it is that you can always get a gig.)  In general, though, I like panels where people discuss books, writing and publishing in a serious way and aren’t afraid to share their true thoughts.  It also helps if Barry Eisler is on it, ’cause he’s cute and people like to look at him.

Well, yeah-Barry IS easy on the eyes. But I like the way you sneaked around my question, David!  Very diplomatic.

EE:  Which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at then next con?  We won’t tell Maili.  Cross our evil little heart.

DM:  I mentioned Barry already.  He let me touch his hair once…I’m still aflutter over it.  There are some very attractive female crime writers out there, no doubt.  If I were making a list, my darling Elaine, your name would be at the very top.  So let’s book a booth!

Ohhhh?  Now MY heart’s afluttering!  Honey, I’m so there.  Shall we take the booth in the back?

EE:  Whew, I’m still afluttering.  I’ll be calm in a minute.  Okay, I’m fine now.  So, David, which Rock & Roll star would you trade places with?  No substituting Hip-Hop, please.

DM:  Not a Rock & Roll star – I always wanted to be Frank Sinatra.  Frank put ’em all to shame.

I always knew you were a man after my heart.  Remember his ‘All Or Nothing At All’? 

EE:  Rumor running rampant in Mystereyville is that you feed Paul Guyot all of his best lines. Gasph.  Could this REALLY  be true?

DM:  Yes, it’s true.  Guyot has me on a monthly retainer to write jokes for him.  (I’m kind of like the straight Bruce Vilanch.)  Paul’s fashion sense is all his own, though.  I tried telling him that oversized hockey jerseys are So 1988, but he won’t listen.

It’s true??   Oh, no!  All this time I thought…oh, well…live and learn, huh? 

EE:  My spies tell me that you’re working on a new project that will blow the roof off The Da Vinci Code. A hint or two wouldn’t be too much trouble now would it?  I mean, we could get some advance buzz going on here.

DM:  The Da Vinci what?  Yeah, I’m working on a novel.  A thriller, of course.  It’s about…well, it’s really to sensitive to talk about now.  Next question?

What?  Is Hayden listening?  He hasn’t been confirmed yet, has he?

EE:  Buzz around town is that you’re Barry Eisler’s role model for John Rain and that Lee Child is claiming first rights for Jack Reacher.  Would you please put this rumor to rest once and for all?

DM:  Due to the ongoing nature of various legal actions, I can’t comment on that at this time.

Claiming the Fifth again, huh?  I gotta say – you reviewers are tough nuts to crack.

EE:  Okay, this time I want a real answer.  I’ll get you on this one!~  I have it on very good authority that you’re really not David Montgomery, but are, in truth, a runaway heir to the ancient Monrovian royal house because you just want to be a regular guy.  Tell me this is false, David!  I mean, if I have to curtsey every damn time I see you…well, it would just be too hard on my lumbago.

DM:  It’s actually the Stroganoff Family – not as well known as the Romanoffs, perhaps, but just as important.  Every time someone east beef in mushrooms and sour cream sauce, I get a nickel.  That’s the only way I can afford to be a book critic, which pays about as well as being a midlist mystery author these days.

Then I won’t have to cursey?  Thank God for that.  But, uh, David?  Stick with the reviewing, okay?  You’re probably making MORE dough than us.

EE:  Any truth to the talk that you’re planning to buy the Chicago Sun-Times so you can have the front page all to yourself whenever you want it?

DM:  Get into the newspaper business?  What are you, insane?  I think I’ll stick to playing the lottery. The odds are better.

Insane?  Moi?  Well, hell – I’ve been called worse.

EE:  Time for the BIG truth here, David!  Why don’t your legion of readers and friends know that you’re an accomplished symphony tuba player?

DM:  Unfortunately, I had to give up the tuba after I herniated myself helping Mike Connelly carry around his ego.  Can you believe that guy?  Have you ever heard anyone talk more about themselves?  You can’t shut him up!  Next time, I’m taking up the piccolo.

Ahem, yes, darling David – I do know a few that talk more about themselves than Mike.  We’ll trade notes at ThrillerFest.  But we can’t let Guyot sit with us then.  He’s such a damn blabbermouth.  Did you hear what he said about….

Oopps!  Sorry!  I forgot you guys were still here.  Come back next Saturday and listen to what Gayle Lynds has to say!

 

ON THE BUBBLE WITH JAMES LINCOLN WARREN

To say that James Lincoln Warren (aka JLW) is the quintessential short story writer is not an exaggeration.  His contributions to Alfred Hitchock Mystery Magazine is prolific and his stories can always be counted on to be not just well crafted, or fascinating – but unique.   JLW is, by the way, an incredible wordsmith.  He knows words (and their roots ) I never knew existed!  I could go on forever listing his accomplishments in the real world, but there isn’t enough space.  I can listen to him for hours (and I have) even though it’s tough to get a word in edgewise. <g>  But you don’t really need to know all of that – just believe me when I say he’s one hell of a great guy and will never, ever bore you!

Come meet JLW!

EE:  It’s well known, Jim – that you are a repository of arcane knowledge, but did you really find it amusing to inform Wikipedia of their many errors?

JLW:  Not half as much as I enjoyed showing off at Trivial Pursuit back in the 80’s, because then I had an admiring audience, that is, when they weren’t throwing things at me for being an overbearing snot.  In particular, there was one question, "How many Queens of England have there been named Elizabeth?"  The answer on the card was three:  Elizabeth I, Elizabeth II, and Elizabeth the Queen Mum.  This is wrong.  The correct answer is five: Elizabeth Woodville, Queen under Edward IV; Elizabeth of York, Edward IV’s daughter and wife of Henry VII: and another three.

Okay, folks – see what I mean?  What doesn’t this man know for God’s sakes?

EE:  As one of the few renaissance men in the mystery world, what historical figure to you most identify with?

JLW:  The medieval explorer Sir John Mandeville, one of the most spectacular frauds in history, and chronicler of the reign of Prester John – did you know that Marco Polo went looking for Prester John because of Mandeville, but wound up discovering pasta instead?  True.  Or speaking of pasta, maybe Gioacchino Rossini, the very fat composer who gave up music so he could cook and eat all the time.  There was a man with his priorities straight – not enough writers truly value the act of eating, even when they’re sober.  And then there’s Archimedes, who jumped out of his bath and ran screaming naked through the streets of Syracuse just because he had a good idea.  I think most of us scribblers can relate.

You mean we have an ENGLISHMAN to thank for pasta??  For God’s sakes! Don’t let Tony Soprano find out about this.  He’s got enough problems right now.

EE:  It’s common knowledge around Mysteryville that you are an accomplished classical guitarist.  So is it true you walked out of a Santana concert when his rendition of Malajuena Salarosa was not executed the way you’d taught him?

JLW:  A base canard.  We had a misunderstanding about which one of us should be dating Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura of ‘Star Trek’ fame), and somehow this stupid rumor got started because folks noticed that Carlos and I weren’t speaking.   Hey, look, I play classical guitar.  Malaguena is flamenco.

Well, I KNEW THAT! But see what happens with rumors?  Don’t you just hate gossips? The dummies couldn’t even get that right!

EE: Which words or phrases do you most over use?  Other than WTF, okay?

JLW:  "I writhe at your feet in a frenzy of self-abasement."  How can you go wrong with Noel Coward?

Ohhhhh, is that a hot flash I feel?

EE:  Rumors are rife that your exclusive organization – PHARTS – (membership open to only the most soigne) – is really a recruiting ground for a subversive committee to kidnap Jon Jordon and force him to read and review The Da Vinci Code.  These are serious murmurings, JLW, and I’m offering you a public forum to answer.

JLW:  I am not at liberty to discuss any of the phases PHARTS intends to initiate as part of our program for overthrowing the world’s governments and assuming global dominion.  But there are teensy-weensy PHARTish symbols on the back of the dollar bill, and that should give you some warning.

Huh?  I’m a member of PHARTS and I didn’t know that!  Heck, I just thought that we…well, nevermind.

EE:  My spies have reported that your plans to take a production of The Full Monty to Bouchercon this year is on the back burner now that Paul Guyot has dropped out.  I mean, this stellar production has legs!  Have you found a replacement yet?  And who else is in the cast?

JLW:  Nothing could replace Paul.  I mean it.  Nothing is the absolute perfect replacement for Paul  The biggest problem I’m having with casting is that all my friends at mystery conventions, quite naturally, are sublimely attractive women and no matter how hard I try to convince them otherwise, none of them want to play skanky male strippers.

Well, yeah – Guyot IS one of a kind.  Which kind is up for debate, but we do love him.   And the women friends?  Oh, dear readers – you should see the entourage!

EE:  While you are probably one of the finest short story writers around (I believe I mentioned that earlier?), the rumblings from your legion of fans grow stronger each day as they await a real book.  When do you see this happening?

JLW:  Sadist.

Muahahahah!  But be advised – they don’t call me Evil E for nuttin’!

EE:  Your lovely wife, Margaret (oh, but she is a long suffering soul!) whispered in my ear that you no longer advise the script writers on Deadwood.  Can this really be true?

JLW:  Yes, because I thought all this time that the show was called Wormwood and chronicled psychotic episodes subsequent to the immoderate imbibing of absinthe, something for which I am naturally qualified, at least for the psychotic episode part.  Then I learned it wasn’t.  Can you believe it, Ian McShane doesn’t even play Lovejoy in it?  I mean, what’s that all about?  All right, so he’s too old now, but still.  I was so embarrassed when I found out, I can’t tell you.

Well, hell, JLW!  I don’t blame you for walking out!  I certainly would have too.  I mean, absinthe has been getting a bad rep for too long.  Your expert input would have enlightend the world.  Shucks.

EE:  What about the buzzing going round that you passed on the opportunity to replace Scott McClellan as Dubya’s press secretary?  Was this because you felt you owed your fans your total committment?

JLW:  I actually auditioned, but it didn’t work out.  I couldn’t keep a straight face.  And they didn’t like it when I mooned the President much, either, but I had to do my duty the way I saw it.

An officer and a gentleman through and through! But was that your former Admiral in the background waving you on?

EE:  There are murmurings on the Coconut Vine that you have discovered the revered ancient Polynesian chants are actually Lemurian and this unprecedented find will be documented by National Geograph.  Is this true, and if so – when might we see this epic?

JLW:  It’s actually more sensational than that.  I discovered that Maori war cries are actually Sumerian corruptions of the dialogue from eighteenth century French sex farces translated into Yodish, which is  lot like Yiddish, except that at the end of the sentences the verbs you put.  We had a sponsor, but the Depends people pulled out, so now we’re looking at maybe Ensure or Polygrip to help out.

What happened to Viagra?  Are they still dickering?

EE:  And will this spectacular discovery prevent you from penning your mesmerizing short stories?  Tell us this is not true!

JLW:  Only if I get a thirteen episode deal.

Yeah, stick to your guns on that!

EE:  Okay, let’s get serious now (?).  Which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next Bouchercon?

JLW:  John Mortimer.

That’s no fair!  You monopolized him last time he showed up at Bcon!  Besides, I kinda thought you might say…well, nevermind.

EE:  I’ll give you another chance to make nice.  Who would be on your ideal panel?

JLW:  It depends on the subject.  If it were short stories, I’d like Ed Hoch, Mat Coward, Jeffery Deaver, and Joyce Carol Oats.  If it were historicals, I’d like Lynda Robinson, Charles and Caroline Todd, Edward Marston, Ross King (author of Ex-Libris, not the KTLA Channel 5 entertainment reporter, who is an embarrassement to Scots the world over), and Leslie Silbert (if she ever writes another book).  If it were about P.I. fiction, I’d like Bill Pronzini, Robert Crais, Sue Grafton, and John Shannon.

Since you didn’t mention ‘accidental sleuths’, I’ll let you off the hook.

EE:  And who, if I may be so bold to ask, would you dearly love to tour with?

JLW:  Anyone of my main crime fic buds:  Paul Guyot, Scott Phillips, or Charles Todd.

Okay, you’re still off the hook.

EE:  Well, darling JLW – before I let you go, I’ve got one last mega importantante  question you simply must address!  The New York Times, The L.A.Times, U.S.A. Today and CNN and Fox News are waiting for my call.  Actually, I’m doing a conference with them now.  Why did you turn down Dan Brown’s plea to ghost his next book?

JLW:  Because if Langdon really were a professor of religious symbols, he’d be a professor of semiotics.  I could not bring myself to violate my oath as a Word Cop.

What?  Dan Brown’s been pulling the wool over our eyes all this time?  Should we doubt anything else he’s told us?   Okay, gang -You can quote James Lincoln Warren and run with it!  But wait! Don’t hang up yet – what about those full page reviews you promised me?   Sigh.  They hung up, JLW!  But hey, at least they’ll mention you.

ON THE BUBBLE WITH ROBIN BURCELL

The good news is that Robin Burcell is writing full time.  The bad news is that law enforcement has lost one hell of a talented investigator!  What can one say about this woman who not only ‘protected and served’ for more than twenty years?  From an officer to detective-to a criminal investigator and if that were not enough, how about an FBI trained forensic artist and hostage negotiator?  Oh, did I mention her Kate Gillespie series was a multi-nominated one, and has an Anthony to boot?

Come meet (if you haven’t already) Robin Burcell!

EE:  So, Robin, my San Fran spy tells me you were seen hovering over lattes at Starbucks on Union Street with a certain famous romance writer.  Is it true (Oh, please God!) she’s run out of plots and called you for help?

RB:  Well, that’s what I told the paparazzi that were snapping photos of the even, but the truth was that I happened to walk in at the same time as her, and she asked me to pass her the sugar.  I said raw or regular?  And she said, which is best?  So you can see how that was misinterpreted.  I’ll take my photo ops any way I can get ’em.

Okay, we’ll buy that for now

EE:  Word on the street ( love that cop shop talk) is that your role as Prez of NorCAl MWA is really a cover up for a special ops job you’re doing for the Maltese Society to find that damn falcon.

RB:  Well, that was before I realized the dang falcon was right there where we meet each month in the display case at Historic John’s Grill in San Fran all along.  Of course, I am a trained investigator.  Not everyone can lay claim to such refined skills.

Huh? I went to several of those meetings!  It was there?  All that time?

EE:  What’s the scoop on the new series you’ve got going?  Were the Feebs ticked off when they discovered you were writing actual protocol?  Was there a leak?

RB:  The new series is about an FBI agent/forensic artist (I’m a forensic artist trained by the FBI, so I thought I had some inside scoop).  The main character, Sydney Fitzpatrick is searching for the killer of an unidentified woman (as well as her identity), and Sydney’s also searching for answers about who may have killed her own father twenty years before-a murder Sydney witnessed.

In all my stories, I strive to bring accuracy to police work.  Especially with the new series.  And no, there wasn’t a leak.  Because of my past law enforcement experience, I was allowed priviliges not offered to the the ordinary writer.  Some of my research was so detailed, I had to sign a waiver that I wouldn’t disclose classified secrets, such as the details of the highly classified ******(the following information was deleted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, during its routine search for internet protocol violations.  Please visit http://www.fbi.gov/ for further information o matters involving national security.)

EEEEKKK!  They subverted my interview!!

EE:  Whew!  That was scary! But hey, if the FBI reads On The Bubble, should I be flattered?  Okay, maybe we should switch gears here. What’s your biggest challenge? And don’t say it’s not living near a Starbucks,okay?  I mean, we all know you live for caffeine.

RB:  That is so yesterday.  Our town has, count ’em, TWO Starbucks.  Three if you include the one they just put in Target.  But could they have built any of them when I was working patrol?  NOOO.  They had 18 years to build a friggin’ decent coffee house.  So the day I leave my department to go to another, I hear they’re building one in the middle of my old beat, and also a new friggin’ police building where women get a real locker room, real showers and not in a converted storage room in the friggin’ basement.  But I’m not bitter.  I own my own mocha espresso machine (the only way I could get mochas back in the old days)-So, for me, challenges probably come with juggling schedules for my three kids, my husband, and the writing career.  I don’t know what it is witht the kids.  They keep asking me to feed them. Stuff like that.  They didn’t listen to me when I carried a gun, so , you think they listing to me now that I’m writing full time?

Of course you’r not bitter.  Perhaps a tad pissed maybe?

EE:  What best selling book do you wish you’d written?  Can’t use The Da Vinci Code, Stephen Booth already did.

RB:  Darn you, Stephen!  Okay, maybe the James Frey memoir thing, only because I think I could’ve lied waay better.  At least about the police stuff.

Hell, I think you could have done the WHOLE book better!

EE:  My sources tell me you turned down the chance to tour with Stephen King because you were worried about hearing bumps in the night. 

RB:  Okay, who told you I slept with a night light?  No, really. Who told you????

Is this an interrogation, or an interview?  Do I need my lawyer present?

EE:  And what about that rumor that you’re a high ranking member of James Lincoln Warren’s PHARTS, but you’re afraid if it gets out you’ll have to go into a witness protection program?

RB:  Highly over-rated rumors.  Not true in the least.  Besides, even if the truth did leak out, the organization is so highly secretive, it makes the secret society of Freemasons look like the public information office.

Damn, but she’s a hard nut to crack!

EE:  Okay, next toughie!  Let’s see how she answers this one.  Tell us who you’d love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next Bouchercon.

RB:  Hmmmm.  This is a trick question, right?  I answer and then you email my husband???

Okay, chief – you take over.  I ain’t gettin’ anywhere with this witness.

EE:  So, Robin – Is it true you refused to teach Rhys Bowen how to handle a Glock.

RB:  The woman writes two award winning series.  For gosh sakes.  I should have something to brag about all on my own, don’t you think?

True.  I think you and I should get her in a small room and make her tell us how she does it.

EE:  What makes you laugh?  I mean, cops do laugh, right?  Is it reading the names of some of the authors on the NYT Best Seller list?

RB:  Are you talking about that self-deprecating laugh, where I say, yeah-I’ll be there next?  Or do you mean real laughing, like when I watch some of my fave comedy shows, like "Whose Line is It"?, or "Sponge Bob Square Pants’?  A little clarification here.

I have one of those laughs, too.  The first one, I mean.

EE:  Okay, last question before I turn off the recorder and let you call your lawyer.  How do you spoil yourself when you finish the last chapter of each new book?

RB:  My fantasy answer?  My husband brings me a crystal goblet, filled with the finest champagne, and I’m eating fresh strawberries.  My kids tell me how proud they are, and clean up their rooms and do their homework-all on their own.  And my husband looks into my eyes, and tells me what a wonderful writer I am, and that I’m as beautiful….Okay, this is starting to sound like fiction.

The truth?  This one’s easy.  I have just typed ‘The End’ on THE FACE OF THE KILLER, and zipped it off to the mail box this very afternoon.  So what am I doing now? Going to Disneyland?  Yeah, right.  I’m cleaning off my desk.  Someone once told me it was made of wood, but I don’t believe them.  I’ll let you know when I find out.  But the good news, is that my husband did just bring me a half a beer.  I drink it in a wine glass, because I like to pretend…

Robin, Robin!  You don’t HAVE to pretend!  You ARE a terrific writer!  You ARE beautiful. And, I happen to know for a fact, your kids ARE proud of you – as are all of us who think you’re one terrific gal!

ON THE BUBBLE WITH ROBIN BURCELL

The good news is that Robin Burcell is writing full time.  The bad news is that law enforcement has lost one hell of a talented investigator!  What can one say about this woman who not only ‘protected and served’ for more than twenty years?  From an officer to detective-to a criminal investigator and if that were not enough, how about an FBI trained forensic artist and hostage negotiator?  Oh, did I mention her Kate Gillespie series was a multi-nominated one, and has an Anthony to boot?

Come meet (if you haven’t already) Robin Burcell!

EE:  So, Robin, my San Fran spy tells me you were seen hovering over lattes at Starbucks on Union Street with a certain famous romance writer.  Is it true (Oh, please God!) she’s run out of plots and called you for help?

RB:  Well, that’s what I told the paparazzi that were snapping photos of the even, but the truth was that I happened to walk in at the same time as her, and she asked me to pass her the sugar.  I said raw or regular?  And she said, which is best?  So you can see how that was misinterpreted.  I’ll take my photo ops any way I can get ’em.

Okay, we’ll buy that for now

EE:  Word on the street ( love that cop shop talk) is that your role as Prez of NorCAl MWA is really a cover up for a special ops job you’re doing for the Maltese Society to find that damn falcon.

RB:  Well, that was before I realized the dang falcon was right there where we meet each month in the display case at Historic John’s Grill in San Fran all along.  Of course, I am a trained investigator.  Not everyone can lay claim to such refined skills.

Huh? I went to several of those meetings!  It was there?  All that time?

EE:  What’s the scoop on the new series you’ve got going?  Were the Feebs ticked off when they discovered you were writing actual protocol?  Was there a leak?

RB:  The new series is about an FBI agent/forensic artist (I’m a forensic artist trained by the FBI, so I thought I had some inside scoop).  The main character, Sydney Fitzpatrick is searching for the killer of an unidentified woman (as well as her identity), and Sydney’s also searching for answers about who may have killed her own father twenty years before-a murder Sydney witnessed.

In all my stories, I strive to bring accuracy to police work.  Especially with the new series.  And no, there wasn’t a leak.  Because of my past law enforcement experience, I was allowed priviliges not offered to the the ordinary writer.  Some of my research was so detailed, I had to sign a waiver that I wouldn’t disclose classified secrets, such as the details of the highly classified ******(the following information was deleted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, during its routine search for internet protocol violations.  Please visit http://www.fbi.gov/ for further information o matters involving national security.)

EEEEKKK!  They subverted my interview!!

EE:  Whew!  That was scary! But hey, if the FBI reads On The Bubble, should I be flattered?  Okay, maybe we should switch gears here. What’s your biggest challenge? And don’t say it’s not living near a Starbucks,okay?  I mean, we all know you live for caffeine.

RB:  That is so yesterday.  Our town has, count ’em, TWO Starbucks.  Three if you include the one they just put in Target.  But could they have built any of them when I was working patrol?  NOOO.  They had 18 years to build a friggin’ decent coffee house.  So the day I leave my department to go to another, I hear they’re building one in the middle of my old beat, and also a new friggin’ police building where women get a real locker room, real showers and not in a converted storage room in the friggin’ basement.  But I’m not bitter.  I own my own mocha espresso machine (the only way I could get mochas back in the old days)-So, for me, challenges probably come with juggling schedules for my three kids, my husband, and the writing career.  I don’t know what it is witht the kids.  They keep asking me to feed them. Stuff like that.  They didn’t listen to me when I carried a gun, so , you think they listing to me now that I’m writing full time?

Of course you’r not bitter.  Perhaps a tad pissed maybe?

EE:  What best selling book do you wish you’d written?  Can’t use The Da Vinci Code, Stephen Booth already did.

RB:  Darn you, Stephen!  Okay, maybe the James Frey memoir thing, only because I think I could’ve lied waay better.  At least about the police stuff.

Hell, I think you could have done the WHOLE book better!

EE:  My sources tell me you turned down the chance to tour with Stephen King because you were worried about hearing bumps in the night. 

RB:  Okay, who told you I slept with a night light?  No, really. Who told you????

Is this an interrogation, or an interview?  Do I need my lawyer present?

EE:  And what about that rumor that you’re a high ranking member of James Lincoln Warren’s PHARTS, but you’re afraid if it gets out you’ll have to go into a witness protection program?

RB:  Highly over-rated rumors.  Not true in the least.  Besides, even if the truth did leak out, the organization is so highly secretive, it makes the secret society of Freemasons look like the public information office.

Damn, but she’s a hard nut to crack!

EE:  Okay, next toughie!  Let’s see how she answers this one.  Tell us who you’d love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next Bouchercon.

RB:  Hmmmm.  This is a trick question, right?  I answer and then you email my husband???

Okay, chief – you take over.  I ain’t gettin’ anywhere with this witness.

EE:  So, Robin – Is it true you refused to teach Rhys Bowen how to handle a Glock.

RB:  The woman writes two award winning series.  For gosh sakes.  I should have something to brag about all on my own, don’t you think?

True.  I think you and I should get her in a small room and make her tell us how she does it.

EE:  What makes you laugh?  I mean, cops do laugh, right?  Is it reading the names of some of the authors on the NYT Best Seller list?

RB:  Are you talking about that self-deprecating laugh, where I say, yeah-I’ll be there next?  Or do you mean real laughing, like when I watch some of my fave comedy shows, like "Whose Line is It"?, or "Sponge Bob Square Pants’?  A little clarification here.

I have one of those laughs, too.  The first one, I mean.

EE:  Okay, last question before I turn off the recorder and let you call your lawyer.  How do you spoil yourself when you finish the last chapter of each new book?

RB:  My fantasy answer?  My husband brings me a crystal goblet, filled with the finest champagne, and I’m eating fresh strawberries.  My kids tell me how proud they are, and clean up their rooms and do their homework-all on their own.  And my husband looks into my eyes, and tells me what a wonderful writer I am, and that I’m as beautiful….Okay, this is starting to sound like fiction.

The truth?  This one’s easy.  I have just typed ‘The End’ on THE FACE OF THE KILLER, and zipped it off to the mail box this very afternoon.  So what am I doing now? Going to Disneyland?  Yeah, right.  I’m cleaning off my desk.  Someone once told me it was made of wood, but I don’t believe them.  I’ll let you know when I find out.  But the good news, is that my husband did just bring me a half a beer.  I drink it in a wine glass, because I like to pretend…

Robin, Robin!  You don’t HAVE to pretend!  You ARE a terrific writer!  You ARE beautiful. And, I happen to know for a fact, your kids ARE proud of you – as are all of us who think you’re one terrific gal!

ON THE BUBBLE WITH PAUL GUYOT-Part 1

PAUL GUYOT has got to be one of the most successful and prolific TV writers who can combine a grueling television production schedule with writing fiction. Not only was he the writer and producer of JUDGING AMY, he also wrote for FELICITY, worked with David E. Kelly and Michael Connelly, and has recently completed a pilot for TNT-and-inked another deal with Sony Pictures to develop, produce and write another first rate TV pilot. Quelle Diable! But fear not! Paul is still one of ‘us’. His short story – CLOSERS – can be found in Robert J. Randisi’s new crime anthology – GREATEST HITS – (all about hit men, naturally) – which includes shorts by Lee Child, Lawrence Block and Jeffery Deaver. A man of many hats, a rapid fire wit, and a loveable rogue. My kinda guy.

See for yourself!

EE: A good friend of yours (and it wasn’t DM or JWL-or maybe it was) told me being an acclaimed, award winning TV writer no longer holds the allure it once did, thus you have decided to blow the roof off the barn and become a real writer. Would you kindly address this serious allegation?

PG: If I were a real writer, do you think I’d actually be wasting my time talking with you? Rest assured I am still the filthy money-grubbing whore you know and love.

Ah, can you see why I love this guy?

EE: Isn’t it true, besides all your other mind-boggling achievements, you long to be a NASCAR racer and leave Kurt Busch eating your dust?

PG: Since Kurt had surgery to pin his ears back (I’m not kidding) he is much faster now. Co-efficient of drag, or some horsepucky. Too bad they didn’t pin his mouth back, as well. And longing to drive a race car is not an achievement, but merely a wistful languishing…or a hankering.

Yeah, okay – I’ll buy into that. For now.

EE: What’s the story on the watch fetish? I mean, come on, Guyot, just how many Rolex’s and Piaget’s do you really need? Isn’t that Mickey Mouse watch Quentin Tarrentino gave you good enough? He’s heartbroken, you know. He told me so just the other day when we talked about my new script.

PG: Good woman, I’ll have you know I own zero Rolex’s or Piagets (sic). Now, if you want to talk Vacheron-Constantine or Blancpain, let’s get Joseph Finder in here hand have a good, old fashioned haute horology excursus.

And if you have the time – or over the four beers I owe you – I’ll tell you about my run-ins with that fraud QT.

Uh, let’s leave Finder for another time? I’d MUCH rather hear about QT! Will four beers do it – or will we need more?

EE: So what’s the real story about you Michael Connelly and that TV show?

PG: Ah, LEVEL 9. A show about cops battling cyber-crime. It actually had a chance of being cool, but we had UPN as our network back when they were the UPN airing "Homeboys in Outer Space." Thus, we were "noted" to death by people who could barely qualify to be convenience store clerks, and lacked the creativity of a cinderblock.

My favorite moment was when we got the notes re: the script for episode 3 or 4, something like that. We had just premiered to less than auspicious numbers for our targeted demographic of young boys, and the brain trust that was UPN sent down a note that said: "Can you put a severed head in the teaser, because kids dig severed heads!"

They do? Thank God mine are all grown!

EE: Rumor around Mysteryville is that you joined International Thriller Writers just to hang out in the bar with Tess Gerritson and Alex Kava at ThrillerFest. I’m really chuffed about that one. So what if I’m old enough to be your aunt? I’ve got a new night cream I’m working on. Besides, you still owe me four beers from Bcon in Chicago.

PG: Beers with you is on the calendar in pen, but if Tess or Alex even glances my way, you must understand that I will be on them like weird on Bjork.

I can change night creams.

EE: I hear you’re giving Lee Child elocution lessons. Wanna comment on that?

PG: Actually, Lee was my only student. You’d never know that when "Killing Floor" came out, Lee sounded like a cross between Foghorn Leghorn and Truman Capote.

What a marvelous job you did! His voice is soooo charming now. Sigh. If only…well, never mind.

EE: Give us the low down on Don Johnson, okay? I mean, you were his stand in on a few movies, so you should know if the rumors about his comic book addiction is true. Was he really secretly in love with Lois Lane? Or was it Superman?

PG: I’m the one with the boxes of original Silver Surfers and Daredevils. And I think he has always been secretly in love with himself.

You’ve got boxes of originals? Can the Antiques Roadshow be in your future?

EE: Was that really you doing the Cha Cha with Laura Lippman in Chicago?

PG: God, I wish. Actually, it was my paying lip service to Chachi. Scott Baio was in Chicago and he’s a bit insecure-not from the ‘Charles In Charge" days – his seminal work-but because of those "Zapped!" movies. So whenever I see him, I always have to say things like, "Yes, you’re better than Pacino."

Better than Pacino? Not! Well, maybe DeNiro is…but I mean, really, Paul! How could you?

ON THE BUBBLE WITH PAUL GUYOT-Part 2

EE: Is it possible that you’re really John Saul’s muse?

PG: No, but interestingly enough, I’m Saul Muse’s john. Saul’s the butcher at the deli I frequent, and the guy dumps on me every chance he gets. Isn’t it funny how my spies get things screwed up? No? I don’t think so either.

EE: Please squash the rumor that Ang Lee is badgering you to co-produce his next movie – ‘The Return of The Three Stooges’. We need you here, in Mysteryville, Paul.

PG: I just saw him at a Vic Tayback trivia night. Man, does Ang know his “Alice.” Anyway, I was telling him about the three G’s in Hurwitz’s name, and one thing lead to another, and we started making out. What was your question? Oh. Actually, his next project is a prequel to his Oscar-winning film – “CrackedRib Creek”. It’s about Ennis Jack’s early years – when it was just simple petting and they knew how to quit each other. I’m laughing too hard here to think!

EE: But enough of this trivia, tell us – and keep it clean – what is your Walter Mitty dream? 100,000 words or less, please.

PG: I’d like to be a sexy former antiques dealer, living in the land of sea lions and Steinbeck, hammering out novels, and occasionally drinking beer with friends. I’m blushing. Could the new night cream be working?

EE: What is your one regret in life?

PG: Doing this interview.

Aww, come on Paul!

EE: So, Paul – tell me…er, us…which sex symbol do you think you resemble?

PG: Rerun from “What’s Happening!” See why he’s such a great writer?

EE: Rumor has it that you’re not answering emails from the thousands of readers going through withdrawal since you shut down your blog –‘INKSLINGER’ This is beyond cruel, Paul. You’ve left an incalculable void and wannabe script writers are assembling to march on your home.

PG: It will stand as an icon of its generation. That, or Typepad will delete it to save face.

Paul is being too humble here. INKSLINGER was one of the most widely read blogs on the net. Not only was it a daily does of laughs, it was filled with insider tips for seasoned scriptwriters as well as those ‘hoping to be’ – and many posters were some of the biggest names on TV, film and in Mysteryville.. Visits-or ‘hits’-frequently hit over 2,000 per day! The mourning period lingers still.

EE: And last, but not the least – by any stretch – when will you finish that thriller we’ve all been waiting for?

PG: As Shell Winters used to say at Seder – “You gonna eat that?” In other words, don’t point out the spec in my eye until you get the bull out of the china shop. In other words, don’t cry over milk inside a black kettle pot. In other words, man does not live by listening to Bread alone. Baby, ImA want you. You get all that everyone? I mean, is the man heavy, or what?

PG: Is she gone yet?

ON THE BUBBLE with STEPHEN BOOTH

STEPHEN BOOTH needs little introduction, but because I adore
this man, I’d like to take a moment and laud (I love that word) him. A master
storyteller of six absolutely riveting books whose setting in the Peak District
of England rivals that of Poe and any ‘dark and stormy night’ you can imagine!
From BLACK DOG-#1 to his current THE DEAD PLACE-#6 (in pbo in the U.K.-which we
won’t get here in the colonies until next year), this is a series with few
peers. And with much deftness, he has created a duo –Ben Cooper and Diane Fry –
that you will loathe to leave the moment you reach the last page. By the way –
ONE LAST BREATH-#5 will be out in the U.S. on July 26th. Don’t miss it!

I could go on and on, but I know you’re anxious to meet this
amazing man and put some serious questions to rest. So, on to a few rumors
being bandied around about Stephen Booth-

EE: Any truth to the buzz that the inventor of the Dyson
vacuum cleaner is pressuring you to replace the British term ‘hoovering’ used
to describe vacuuming-for ‘dysoning’ in your next book?

SB: Strangely, vacuuming hasn’t featured much in my
books up to now. Or in my life generally, come to think of it. So I checked
with my wife, who did see a vacuum cleaner once, and she insists that people
will always use ‘hoovering’, not some fancy, new-fangled word. But then, she’s
the sort of person who won’t use a phone unless it’s safely fixed to the wall
with a bit of wire.

Your wife is a wise woman. I don’t trust portable phones either. I still think
electricity is black magic too.

EE: I have it on good authority, Stephen, that Dame
Judi Dench is dying to get to know you better, yet you’ve not returned her many
emails. What does your wife think of this?

SB: I’ve gone off Judi ever since she played a Klingon
brothel keeper in Star Trek: The Next Degeneration. Besides, my wife has never
heard of email.

Well, I can’t blame you there. Judi was a bit tarty.
Best your wife doesn’t know.

EE: By the way, Stephen, is it true that Mad Max is
your all time favorite movie?

SB: No, it’s Bladerunner. More replicants, less Mel
Gibson.

Ah, yes! Bladerunner! A classic. So noir-ish. But
then, so is L.A.

EE: As a discerning author, please tell us which
writer you’d recommend to Oprah.

SB: Elaine Flinn – for her moving, sensitive story of a
young African-American girl growing up in 1940s Ohio. Or was that Toni
Morrison?

Uh, yes, Stephen-that was Toni Morrison. But I’ll
snip the first part and keep it for a blurb, okay?

EE: We all have Walter Mitty dreams, and your legion
of readers are dying to know yours. Just keep it clean, okay?

SB: All my life, I’ve dreamed of being an author, and
giving up the day job to write novels full-time. Wait a minute, though…

Huh? Uh, yes, dear – you’ve made it. Hasn’t anyone
told you yet?

EE: Get serious now, would you please? Who would you
love to do a book tour with? Why?

SB: Someone who might actually attract an audience. In
the UK, that would mean anyone who’s been on the telly – even if it’s only the
stupid bald bloke from Celebrity Love Island.

Listen to this man! Crowds follow him where ever he
goes! Why, you should have seen what I saw at Bcon in Toronto! The women just
wouldn’t leave him alone!

EE: I’ve been told that your descriptions of the
physical dangers of walking your beloved Peak District in your books are
calculated fabrications intended to keep Starbucks and tourists away. This is a
serious charge, Stephen and needs to be addressed.

SB: No, it’s all true. Those sheep are lethal.

Finally! The truth! But…do you think you can keep
the sheep under control? Starbucks might consider offering you the franchise. I
mean, you could whip up lattes between books.

 EE: We’re dying to know, Stephen, which writers
would be on your ideal convention panel?

SB: I think I did that panel at Bouchercon once. Val
McDermid, Laurie King, Dana Stabenow. In fact, without me, it would have been
brilliant.

Ah, such humility! You know you were the main
attraction! And I have it on good authority you gave a stellar performance!

EE: What is the best selling book you wish you’d
written?

SB: Can I say The Da Vinci Code without becoming the
victim of a literary fatwa (‘Death to the infidel!’)? It seems to me that Dan
Brown has persuaded people to buy his books who’d never thought of buying a
book in their lives before. Also, I’ve noticed that my novels are right next to
his on that shelf in the bookstore. My new sales pitch is: "You liked Dan
Brown? Well, here’s another author whose name begins with a ‘B’ and is five
letters long, with an ‘o’ in the middle. Is that spooky, or what?"

Yes, you can say that with no fear of reprisal! But
not to worry about Dan. I always move your books in front of his at every
bookstore I visit.

EE: I know you to be the consummate gentleman, but
what’s this I hear about you dancing on the table at a private party at Left
Coast Crime in Bristol?

SB: Was that before, or after, the strip tease? It’s
all such a blur… Actually, since I’m teetotal, I never make a fool of myself at
conventions, I just egg other people on to do it. And some of those authors
don’t need much egging, I can tell you (photographs available for a small fee).

It was after the strip tease. So-you’ve got photo’s,
huh? Do you accept Pay Pal?

EE: Which writer would you love to have all to
yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next Bouchercon?

SB: J. A. Konrath, perhaps? Everyone knows he’s such a
shy, retiring young man.

Him?

EE: Talk on the street, Stephen, is that Posh is
writing her memoirs and has asked you to ghost for her and that Beckham is
frothing at the mouth and flexing his to-die-for abs.

SB: Okay, this is the woman who admits to never having
read a single book – not even the one she wrote herself? Well, she obviously
has good taste. As long as she agrees to tour with me, I’ll do it (well, she’s
been on the telly, you know).

You may need a few bodyguards. Maybe Lee and Barry
might volunteer?

EE: Rumor has it that Ben Cooper and Diane Fry ran
off and got married last fall but are afraid to let you know. How will you
manage to handle this? I mean, one of them will have to leave the department.
Might this be Ben’s chance for promotion?

SB: You know, this might just tie in with the plot of
the next book, in which Ben turns out to be Diane’s illegitimate love child,
and they both run away to live in a straw hut on the Moon with some talking
animals, until they meet a Klingon brothel keeper (played by Judi Dench), and
after that everything starts to go a bit weird…

Oh, hot stuff! This has legs! This has Best Seller
written all over it! Dan Brown will be placing his book over yours!

EE: This is a hot topic around the U.K., Stephen –
Any truth to the rumors that Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren are besieging you to
pen a new and darker series using them as the main characters, but you’d rather
spend your free time working on the musical about the Kray brothers?

SB: Musicals are definitely my thing. Anyone who’s
heard me sing will know that I am to music exactly what the Kray brothers were
to rival gangsters. I can murder any song you name.

Then that haunting baritone voice I heard singing
‘Blues In The Night’ beneath my window at Left Coast in Monterey wasn’t you?

EE: And finally, the most asked about question in
Mysteryville! Just what do you plan to do with all those goats?

SB: Well, the boys have gone off to do their thing in
other parts of the country, so the goat population has stopped increasing,
thank God. We just have three ladies growing old gracefully in a corner of the
property, occasionally being fed strawberries and grapes, like ageing dowager
duchesses. They have to stay here now – if only because I get asked about them
wherever I go in the world!

Now, Stephen! We know how much you love those girls
– and how kind you are to them! Only a prince would treat them so royally. And
a prince you are!

Oh. Well, I was kinda hoping…well, never mind.

And not only is Stephen Booth a prince of a man, he is
one of the finest gentlemen in this wacky world of mystery. I had the very
great privilege to sit next to Stephen at my very first panel. I was nervous as
hell to be seated next to this incredible writer – and you know what? His
innate kindness made the ordeal feel like a picnic. I think I only stuttered
once. Thank you again, dear heart.

ON THE BUBBLE WITH DENISE HAMILTON

 

Denise Hamilton needs little introduction. I mean, you all know she’s been nominated for an Edgar, the Willa Cather and the UK’s prestigious Creasey Dagger, so why do I need to tell you all this anyway? Well, darlings, because I want to remind you what a terrific writer she is, and hush…don’t tell her I said this…but she’s one hell of a gal as well. I mean, even Publishers Weekly said – ‘Like Raymond Chandler, Hamilton describes California in gritty, lyrical prose…’ They said more, so get thee to her website. And when you get there, be sure to note what Denise is doing with Akashic Books and International Thriller Writer’s new anthology. But FIRST, be sure to pick up her new book-out now – PRISONER OF MEMORY – the fifth in the Eve Diamond series – where Denise, once again, writes what she knows – and encompasses her own family Russian heritage this time to bring you an espionage thriller par excellence!

And now – a few things you never knew about Denise Hamilton!

EE: How emotionally tough was it for you when you turned down Hooter’s offer of ten grand a week for a two-week appearance?

DH: My agent’s working on getting them up to twenty grand.

Ohh la la! My kind of gal!

EE: How do you spoil yourself?

DH: I read for pleasure after my kids go to bed. I read omnivorously, in mystery, spy thrillers, memoir, literary fiction, history. Just read an extraordinary book set in 1919 Siberia called The People’s Act of Love by James Meek. My mother was of Russian heritage (and I’ve liberally borrowed from my family history in my latest Prisoner of Memory) so I have a fondness for that part of the world. Next up: The Marsh Arabs, a very old book by one of those wonderful Victorian era Brit explorers. Since we are so involved in the Middle East, I want to read about the history of the part of the world that is now Iraq.

Terrific idea! The more we know, the more we can understand, and perhaps…well, never mind.

EE: Any truth to the rumors around L.A. that Melanie Griffin claims Eve Diamond’s lover, Silvio, is a dead ringer for Antonio Banderas and Melanie wants to know how you’re so acquainted with Banderas’ amorous style?

DH: Funny you should ask. Melanie Griffin and I actually attended the same high school for a time – Corvallis – a girl’s Catholic prep school in Studio City run by nuns that closed rather than go co-ed. She was two years older than me. She left school to marry Don Johnson!

Hmmm…I love the way Denise skirted my question, don’t you? We’ll have to revisit that one of these days.

EE: What best selling book do you wish you’d written?

DH: Purely for filthy lucre, the DaVinci Code, of course. For artistic transcendence as well as a fast-moving piece of commercial fiction, how about The Spy Who Came In From The Cold?

Ah, excellent choice! But then, your taste is always impeccable.

EE: My spies tell me that Mick Jagger offered you a private evening of love songs if you’d cast him in your next Eve Diamond book. Care to comment?

DH: My husband quickly put the kibosh on that.

LOL! Can’t blame him one whit. Mick may be getting long in the tooth, but I hear he’s still got that whatever it is about him.

EE: Okay, Denise –everyone has a Walter Mitty dream – what’s yours?

DH: This isn’t too Walter Mitty-ish, but I adore traveling and would love to be able to pick up and go ANYWHERE in the world with my family, without the contortions of balancing pets, school, work and finances, for long periods to experience different cultures. We were in Seville last summer, and that’s a place I’d like to spend more time in. Other than that, I’m pretty darn happy with my life.

Maybe not Walter Mitty-ish, but it’s a great dream, and I hope you’ll soon see it happen.

EE: Which sex symbol do you think you most resemble?

DH: I’d pick someone really noir, smart, funny and sexy from the 1040’s films. Barbara Stanwick, who plays a card sharp who seduces Henry Fonda in the movie –‘The Lady Eve,’ comes to mind. Someone like that.

Exactamento! Those Hollywood gals of that era still have it all over today’s pseudo glam’s. And Barbara Stanwick was one of the best. Another excellent choice. But then, you’ve got great style, so I’m not surprised.

EE: Talk around the book biz is that you turned down Oprah because she wanted to co-write your next best seller. What’s the scoop on that?

DH: Oprah, please call me at home to discuss this. We can still make it work!

Ohhh…call me after you talk to her, ka? I promise not to tell a soul.

EE: We in the mystery world know you as a lovely, courteous and generous person. But come on, Denise – you gotta have a vice. Go ahead and let it out. We’ll understand.

DH: I love to escape the real world by diving into books. This is not always a good thing. It makes me anti-social. And takes up most of my free time.

Drat! She skirted that one too.

EE: Okay, let’s try another one. While I know you to be gracious at all times, I’d like to think you’ve got a smidgen of a temper. Something must tick you off. Care to share?

DH: Oh, let’s see. L.A. drivers, people who give you incorrect directions and cause you to be 45 minutes late to a signing in a town you’ve never been to before, waiting on hold, incompetence in general, people who ooze insincerity, when my cat uses the sofa I’ve just had re-upholstered as his big $1,500 scratching post.

Whew. I feel better. You just covered a few of mine too! Especially incompetence and ‘insincerity oozers’. Hey, wait…I think you just coined a new word, Denise.

EE: Your reputation as one of the most engaging mystery writers is well known, but I’ve been told you’re an authority on Danielle Steel. Would you like to kill that myth? Or…gasp…can it really be true?

DH: I’m co-writing my next book with her.

No comment.

EE: Who would you love to do a book tour with?

DH: I love to tour with Julia Spencer-Fleming. We get along like a house afire, both have kids, love to gab. Sometimes we’re so busy dissecting a book or yakking about our stuff that we miss the freeway exits.

Well, you wouldn’t want me in the car – I’m totally direction challenged. I’m lucky to find my front door. But it’s great to know you and Julia have so much fun together.

EE: We’ve all got a bad habit of some sort. What’s yours?

DH: I drink too much coffee and then get quite anxious.

Well, it sure as hell doesn’t show up in your writing!

EE: Writers seem to have favorite words or phrases they constantly over use. Got any for us to avoid?

DH: She ‘headed’ for the door. Another little verbal tic I see all the time is: ‘She ‘filed’ that away for now.’

Damn, I’d better go check my new book and delete all of those.

EE: Who would be on your ideal convention panel?

DH: Well you of course, Elaine! Plus Oprah and Danielle Steel. Wouldn’t we have a lot to dish about?

Oh, honey, that’s a date! I’m ready! And did I say how flattered I am?

EE: Which writer would you like to have all to yourself in a cozy corner in the bar at the next con?

DH: Oh that’s an easy one! Neil Gaiman. His "Neverwhere" is one of my favorite books – takes place in an alternate London, a cat’s whisker away from our own, and yet completely different.

Okay, I’ll stand look out.

EE: Rumor has it that you’re not taking George Clooney’s calls anymore. Is it that goofy smile of his, or his penchant for acting like Harpo Marx?

DH: It’s nothing but a rumor. I greatly admire and respect how Clooney is using his Hollywood clout to get movies made that are profound, intriguing, provocative, intelligent. We need many more like him. Syriana was a bit too convoluted for me, but it was an important film for out time, raising questions that need to be in the public debate.

Damn! She did it again! I mean, I agree with all Denise said, but that wasn’t the answer we wanted, was it!

EE: Okay, we’ll get serious now. What’s next on the list for Eve Diamond?

DH: A standalone, set in 1949 Hollywood. It’s two years after The Black Dahlia murder and the Cold War and the Hollywood Blacklist are starting, the 1950’s and retrenchment of gains women made during the war are around the corner, gangsters like Mickey Cohen are having shootouts on Sunset Boulevard, the cops and DA are dirty, movie special effects are getting very interesting, and pow! A starlet is found dead in a ravine.

That, and I’m editing Los Angeles Noir, a short story anthology of all new work set in different neighborhoods of L.A. that features authors such as Michael Connelly, Janet Fitch, Naomi Hirahara, Paula Woods, Robert Ferrigno, Susan Straight and many others. It will be out in Spring 2007 from Akashic books.

A schedule not for the faint of heart! But then, you are, without doubt, one of Mysteryvilles very best – and speaking for myself, and your legion of fans, all best to you, Denise!

And many thanks for being such a good sport and going On The Bubble!

 

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