Category Archives: Elaine Flinn


It’s gonna be a good interview day today.  I can feel it in my bones.  I know I’m getting closer every minute to solving this case.  I can see that ‘ole light at the end of the tunnel – and I’ve got a pot of fresh coffee and a box of lucky doughnuts at my elbow (three apple fritters and three plain).  That’s always a good sign.  Yeah, this group will break things open for me.  I’m employing my secret weapon -I’ve got second sight – did you know that?  Hey, they don’t call me Evil for nuttin’.


THE CRIMES:  Writing some of the best damn fiction out there.



One does not introduce Ian Rankin.  His name says it all.

Well, I could tell you that he’s wonderfully witty, charming and erudite – but you know that.  I could also mention that he’s broodingly handsome – and that his dangerously mysterious eyes just drive me nuts (yes, even old broads like me can still feel the heat in eyes like his) – but you know all of that too.  So before I melt away – here are a few things we chatted about last July.

EE: We’ve all got a bad habit or two, what are yours?

IR:  I have plenty of bad habits.  I am an irascible drunk.  I bite my fingernails.  I listen to progressive rock.  My diet is a distaste – I am a chocolate junkie.

Ohhhh…my kinda guy…wish we lived closer.

EE:  Is it true ‘The Belles of St. Trinian’s’ with Alastair Sim is your favorite movie?  Or, is it really ‘Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla?

IR:  My favorite movies include:  ‘Goodfellas’, ‘Godfather’, ‘The Big Chill’, ‘Clerks’, ‘Gregory’s Girl’…I do like those St. Trinian films though…all of those skirts and stockings…are those films still legal?

Goodfellas? The Godfather?  Oh, yes – you are truly a man after my own heart.  Sorry to say – the St. Trinian films have been banned now, but-uh-I know a guy who can get them for you. 🙂

Louiseure_bwselfportrait_dec06 LOUISE URE

I adore Louise -but damn, it’s just not fair to be this talented.  Her prose is entrancing – and her imagery of Arizona is so exacting you can feel the blistering heat bounce off the page.  Oh, here’s more to feel under accomplished when you’re around this gal – she speaks seven languages, races Shelby’s and has a pilot license.  But don’t hold this against her -she has her good points.  Hell, she’d have to to put up with me.

EE:  Since I’ve let the cat out of the bag about your flying skills – how about explaining why Pari hired you to take her over the desert in New Mexico? Was it to check out those new circles allegedly made by UFO’s?

LU:  Oh, I’m not trying to hide the pilot part; I’ve been flying for about thirty years now. But I have few takers for passengers these days, ever since I ran out of gas and had to land on 1-10 near Picacho Peak.  And then there was the time I forgot to tighten the lug nuts on the engine cowling.  I think Pari was very brave to have asked for that New Mexico flight.

Brave?  I’ll say she was brave!  Bet she won’t go up again with you after reading this!

EE:  Driving race cars is – well – a pretty tough hobby.  How hard has it been for you to show up all those macho race car divers when you take to the speedway in your 1966 Shelby 350 GT?  I mean, they must really have a few testosterone fits.

LU:  At first, they were a little unnerved when I suggested we repaint the car from it’s original black and gold to match my new driver’s suit.  They finally came around when I offered to file my fingernails into the shape of Phillip head and regular screwdriver shapes to help with their repairs.

You did what??  Oh, how utterly brilliant of you!

Sarah_weinman SARAH WEINMAN

Sarah’s Confessions of An Idiosyncratic Mind is a one-stop snoop for what’s going on in BookBizVille.  Razor sharp observations, delectable books featured and an international readership.

EE:  Word around Manhattan is that you turned down a dinner date with Mel Brooks to discuss the intricacies of short story writing.  This can’t be true, can it?

SW:  He wanted to go to Elaine’s.  I wanted to go to Michael’s.  We had to agree to disagree, unfortunately.

Well, hell – I don’t blame you.  Too bad Mel didn’t know Michael’s was THE place for the literati.  But then, what do movie people know, huh?  Listen chickie – you’re better off without him.

EE:  Whispers are rampant that a certain hunky new writer is sending you roses and chocolates so he can become a Cabana boy.  What say you about that?

SW:  Rose, yes.  Chocolates, no.  I can be bribed, people, so please, make it chocolate, preferably 70% dark and up.

Hey guys?  Are you listening out there?  Forget Godiva, okay? is the place to go.  Try that nifty mahogany box from Pascal Caffet.  It’s a bargain at $171.40.  What price to be immortalized as a Cabana Boy?


aka JAMES BOND.  And he’s dressed for the role.  Imagine wearing a tux all the way through the many (Nine!-six original and three movie novelizations!) James Bond books under his belt.  Er, cummerbund.  But there is much more to Raymond’s writing career than Bond – and it would take an hour just to type his credits.  His new book – SWEETIE’S DIAMONDS is living proof there is life after 007!

EE:  So, Raymond – I imagine having to don a tux while writing those Bond books became annoying after a time.  I’ll bet your neighbors did a double-take when you took out the garbage.

RB:  Ha! Most of the time I write wearing only underwear or (gasp) less.  That’s the luxury of working out of one’s home.  My commute from the bedroom is ten feet.  I must admit, though, that when I do interviews like this, I dress a bit more formally.  I have on a white shirt, but no pants.

Ahem.  I do hope the shirt is at least buttoned.

EE:  Is it really true you were bored to tears while doing research for your latest – SWEETIE’S DIAMONDS? Gosh, I’d think checking out the adult porn industry would have been rather exciting, er…illuminating.

RB:  Research?  Who needed research?  Seriously, folks, I do take pride in the amount of research I do for all of my books.  For Bond, I had to get the weaponry and technical and British-ness right.  For TOM CLANCY’S SPLINTER CELL, I had to get the military jargon right.  For SWEETIE’S DIAMONDS I had to…you know.

Uh, yes – well – uh, we’ll just have to use our imagination I suppose.



Double trouble! And don’t laugh – these two sisters:  Kris & Kelly are so full of life and mischief-they’re addictive.  Mega-nominated for their great Louis Kincaid series-they are never still – always on the move – deeply involved in the mystery community-and always ready to help a newbie.  And their latest – AN UNQUIET GRAVE – is -naturally – superb!

EE:  Here’s a chance to squash a rumor – word is – Louis Kincaid is a real person under the witness protection program and he feeds you two all of his real life stories.

PP:  Damn, another truth exposed.  Louis is really Kelly’s four husband Karry, and an old white dude who was a delivery guy with UPS until his looks went and he caught on with FedEx as a lost package tracer.  He lives in a double-wide near the Memphis airport and emails Kelly about his adventures. "Larry is currently at work on his own novel, "The UPS Man Always Comes Twice."  Larry says it’s a thriller, but Kelly says it’s strictly fantasy.

Aha! Finally! I’ve got some spy’s who are on the ball!  But gosh, the poor guy is delusional, huh?  Good thing Kelly dumped him.

EE:  My best spy tells me that both of you have been approached by the producers of "Housewives" to be regulars next season. – and you’ll be portraying your real life roles as best selling authors.  Are your husbands good with this?

PP:  You know, Lee Goldberg got us a reading but we were rejected for not being desperate enough.  Or maybe it had to do with how we looked in the stilettos and thongs.

My insider source tells me it wasn’t the stilettos or thongs – it was because your parts were on the table to be expanded as co-leads and it caused a major hissy fit.  Expect a call any day now…but you didn’t hear this from me, okay?

Okay,okay – so I didn’t break the case today.  I’ve still got five more to go after this crazy bunch.  So my lucky doughnuts didn’t work.  It happens.  But hey – I’m an old pro, remember?  I always get my man or woman…or whatever.  But these nuts today?  Whew.  A Scottie who bites his nails and whose diet is a shambles?  A lady race car driver who flys a plane and runs out of gas?  What about the dame who wouldn’t break bread at Elaine’s and has Cabana Boys?  And how about those two sisters who wear stilettos and thongs?  And then I get a guy who thinks he’s James Bond!  I tell you – some of these people are two paragraphs short of a full page.  But never fear – I’m on to them and their games.  And I know I’m getting closer and closer.  We’ll see who has the last laugh.  I’ll have this case broken on December 27th if it’s the last thing I do. 

I’m taking off next week to see my therapist…it’s not headaches this time – it’s the eye twitching this group has reawakened.  But stop by anyway.  Naomi Hirahara will be dropping in.

Until December 27th – MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HANUKKAH!   


When I looked over my new list of interviews today, I realized I should have had more coffee this morning.  My head is already pounding just looking at this group.  But then, they’ve all been tricky – trying to trip me up – evading questions here and there – leading me down corridors of confusion – but they don’t realize who they’re dealing with.  I’ll get my answers one way or the other.  So, okay – my window is closed.  No problem – it was too drafty anyway.


THE CRIMES:  Writing some of the best fiction out there.



Tessgerritsen_1 Now, this lovely lady means business.  Just check out this photo!  You don’t want to mess with her.  Besides being an Edgar nominee, she just won the Nero Award a couple of weeks ago.  You already know she’s a NYT Bestseller – an international supernova with TEN Medical Suspense novels under belt-but did you know she also wrote NINE Romantic Suspense novels as well?  We all know Tess is a physician – but I gotta tell you -that mock autopsy she did with Doug Lyle at ThrillerFest was a show stopper!

Not only is Tess one hell of a stunner – which is easy too see – (so let’s just all get over our envy) – she is also warm, generous with her thoughts (check out her blog) – has a terrific laugh and a wicked sense of humor.  I had to keep that in mind whilst I read her latest  two books- VANISH – because that’s what she did to my sleep.  It vanished.  And her newest – THE MEPHISTO CLUB – added more wrinkles around my eyes.  But I’ll make Tess pay – she owes me a drink next year at ThrillerFest. 

EE:  Okay, here’s an easy one:  What is your favorite retreat?  And what do you do there?

TG:  My own head.  And I do everything there.  Not all of which I can talk about.

Really.  Hmmmm.  Oh, we’ll really have to have that drink!

EE:  Everyone has a Walter Mitty dream, what’s yours?  75,000 words or less.  I normally say to keep it clean, but after that last answer-I’m intrigued.

TG:  Brad Pitt decides Angelina Jolie just isn’t hot enough for him anymore, and then his gaze meets mine across the room, and…   No, honestly, I’m already living my Walter Mitty dream.  I still can’t believe I’m getting paid so well just to make stuff up.

Aw, shucks – you had me going there.  But hey, if you’re happy?

EE:  Word on the street is that Orlando Bloom is after you to star opposite him in the next Pirate’s of the Caribbean: The Quest for Tess’.  When do you see your calendar clear to begin?

TG:  Five minutes ago.  (Will I get to keep the sex scenes?)

There’s a slight problem – it’s a bit iffy at this point.  But I think I’ve got everyone convinced as long as you promise to get back to work on your next thriller.  See, the powers that be are afraid you might run off with Orlando…but not to worry, okay?  I’m on the case.



Jim Rollins is one of the few men I take to bed who can keep me up all night.

Well, it’s true.  His chapter endings are such cliff-hangers, I can’t let go of my anxiety.  But then, what can you expect from this best selling author of SEVEN pulse racing thrillers?  Oh, and then he’s also a best selling fantasy author of THREE different series under the name of James Clemens!  And then of course, he also has a Ph.D in veterinary medicine, his undergraduate work focused on evolutionary biology-he’s an amateur spelunker and a certified scuba diver.  Other than that, he’s just your ordinary regular guy.  Yeah. Right.  A super human dynamo is more like it.  Lest you think me gaga, be sure to pick up his newest – BLACK ORDER – and see for yourself.

Jim Rollins is the newest member of my secret loves club.   p.s. I have six now, and room for one more.  And I’ve got my eye on a few candidates.  Keep tuned.

EE:  Let’s try the ‘lighten up’ thing, okay?  Who would you love to do a book tour with?

JR:  Only you, El…can I call you "El"?  Think of the lonely road together, the whispers across late candle-lit dinners, debating the works of Proust, Shakespeare, and Lemony Snicket…then the occasional longing glance out of the corner of the eye, the sudden smile, the laughter that hides something more.  Where might it lead?  More than just the New York Times bestseller list?


EE:  Whew!  I’m not sure if I can go on here.  Pardon me for a moment whilst I fan my face.  Okay, I’m fine now.  I can do this.  Other than writing two series (!), what do you consider your biggest challenge?

JR:  It has to be my role as an international man of mystery.  It gets so tiring doing all those quick changes in disguise:  the modeling clay, the fake teeth, the tinted contact lenses.  The dry cleaning bill alone ate through my last royalty check. But at least the world is a much safer place.

The hell with the world, where shall we meet?



Great talent, beauty, brains, her warmth, crackling wit, generosity and welcome smile – all wrapped up in one long-legged supernova is just too damn much for one woman to have – but this lady has it all.  And then some. 

And then there are the books.  Oh, boy.  Fourteen books and a combination of damn near every nomination and award that’s out there.  Laura has won the Edgar, Shamus, Agatha, Anthony, and the Barry – and nominated for Best P.I. from Romantic Times.  And there is little doubt her latest – NO GOOD DEEDS – will most likely bring more nominations and awards.

EE:  Okay, Laura – I’m going to start off the bat with one of the hottest rumors running around Mysteryville.  In fact, it’s so hot – cell phones are sparking.  Can it REALLY be true you’re not taking Jude Law’s calls anymore???  And all because his so-called excessive craving for Greek food at midnight was the last straw?

LL:  More his excessive cravings for nannies.

Huh? That’s it?  Nannies?  But…but…I heard he swore on bended knee that he was cured.  Well, okay.  But hey-that does leave him open ladies and I’ve got his private number. Email me -but be warned-the highest bidder, okay?

EE:  My spy in Vegas (no not that Elvis look-alike that stalked you at Bcon/2003-he’s not working for me anymore. But that’s another story) – tells me that you’ve instructed your publisher not to give into the threats from that mega rich casino owner who is claiming you wrote NO GOOD DEEDS in his  coffee shop. And – that he was so taken with you, he personally waited on you!  All the poor man wants – he claims – is to be acknowledged as your muse, but you won’t even send him an autographed copy. 

LL:  I love you, Elaine, but you clearly have the worst sources in the world.  Who are you talking to, Jayson Blair and James Frey?

Uh, no – it was…well, I can’t really say.  My lips are sealed.  I mean, I have to protect my sources.  Surely, as a former journalist – you understand that, right?  But he had gorgeous hair and the dreamiest blue eyes…and…and…well, never mind.



I was prepared to remind you that besides being a criminal defense lawyer for the past fifteen years, Dylan was also a guest blogger here at Murderati, AND he writes an absolutely terrific legal thriller series – MISDEMEANOR MAN – which won Mystery Ink’s 2004 Gumshoe for best debut, and the second in the series – I RIGHT THE WRONGS, was a Booksense selection.  Oh, so was MISDEMEANOR MAN.  And then I was going to tell you that his next book, LIFE, DEATH & BIALYS: A FATHER/SON BAKING STORY (which made me laugh, smile and cry all at once) came out September 6th.  And…ta da…is a Barnes & Nobel Discover pick.

Anyway, God help me, I still don’t know why I asked Dylan for some additional info, but I did.  I mean, I know him, okay?  He’s a pal.  I know that a mischievous monkey resides in his cranium-so I shoulda been warned. Fasten your seat belts – here’s what he sent me:

Dylan Schaffer was born Hilda Nihelitheg in 1912.  During WWII she served as a factotum to the Emperor of Jerusalem.  Ms. Nihelitheg disappeared from the political scene until 1974 when, having shed his female skin, he took a position as Gerald Ford’s manicurist.  After careers in journalism, plumbing, and phlebotomy, Mr. Schaffer settled into the final chapter of his life as a writer.  His comic legal thrillers, MISDEMEANOR MAN and I WRITE THE WRONGS were both well received in the Japanese religious community.  The well known celebrity chef Mario Batali called Schaffer’s new memoir, LIFE, DEATH & BIALYS: A FATHER/SON BAKING STORY,  "a book."

See what I mean?  But, not to worry, it gets better.  Well, sort of.  But be warned – 

EE: Somewhere in the night, Dylan, or at what point in your career, did you find it necessary to stop after each chapter draft to go outside and stare at the moon?  I mean, to know you is to love you, but what?

DS:  Elaine, Elaine.  You’re amazing.  I haven’t thought of that weekend in New England in years.  It was fall, Saturday, 1970.  I was taking a few days away from my job trading zero coupon bonds on the Street.  My pockets were full, but my heart was empty.  I parked in a shuttered seaside town. The fog slithered over me, its chilly fingers sneaking behind my collar and up my pants legs.  I ducked into a dive, Avenue C.  The barmaid was called Mandy.  She looked like Terri Hatcher, only blond and tall, with Streisand’s nose and a chest that would have hooked Johnny Depp.  She fed me near beers and laughed at my jokes about Jewish cannibals and David Hasselhoff.  By the time her shift ended I swear I couldn’t smile without herIt could have been magic. But around daybreak, during some romantic gymnastics, I tripped and spent the next six hours in the emergency room trying to get the feeling back in my left foot.  Mandy said she was going out to find some Chuckles.  I never saw her again.  To this day I’m running too hard, chasing that feeling, saying these words, "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there."

Gosh, is that all it took?  Uh, Dylan? Don’t turn around. There’s a duck chasing you yelling, ‘AFLACK!

EE:  Please don’t be scared, or take offense, but I’ve got to ask this next question.  You do thoroughly scrub your hands before making those famous cookies you give out at book signings, don’t you?  I promise not to turn you into the Cookie Police if you just rinse them, but I’ve been asked to ask you.

DS:  Thanks for asking.  You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what a bialy is.  I suppose you can’t really blame them.  I sometimes think that bagels are the insecure bread, couldn’t tolerate sharing the Jewish breakfast food arena.  I suppose we have Noah to thank for that.  You don’t see that dude pushing bialys on bus stop advertisements, do you?  Anyway, I suppose by now it’s pretty obvious that bialys are like bagels – round, baked, made with flour, good for spreading cream cheese.  But unlike bagels, they don’t require boiling to taste good.  If you ask me, only narcissistic bread feels the need to sit in a hot tub before baking. A hot oven is good enough for bialys, and bialys are good enough for me.  There’s a good bialys recipe ( on my site.

Where’s my Advil?  Never mind, where’s my Jack Daniels??

EE:  Could it be magic, or can you really complete a first draft in two weeks?

DS:  Magic.  Please.  Magic?  I don’t think so.  I’m not trying to embarrass you, but magic?  If someone’s magic, it’s you, Elaine.  Your books?  Incredible.  The awards?  Deserved, deserved, deserved.  I remember watching you eat your Kung Pao shrimp in Chicago last year and thinking to myself, "Magic.  There’s really no other appropriate word."  Listen, if I’m Magic – and I have my moments, sure – well, you’re triple super-duper magic.  Seriously.

You’re a darling to say such wonderful things about me, but lean closer and I’ll let you in on my secret.  No, closer.  That’s it…a few more inches.  Okay, just between us, right?   I cast a spell, and it worked.  I have all these dolls, see, and at midnight at every new moon, I…well, I’ll have to show you.  It wouldn’t have happened otherwise.  I mean, a gal’s gotta do what she can, right?  So I used magic.  They don’t call me Evil E for nuttin’.



Six blockbuster books – over three million books and published in twenty-two countries – could it happen to a nicer gal?   If you don’t believe me – just pick up Alex’s newest – A NECESSARY EVIL and when you can’t turn off the lights when you go to bed – just don’t blame it on me.

EE:  Other than writing those mega-best sellers, which talent would you most like to have?  Don’t tell us you’re still hoping to go on the poker tour either, okay?

AK:  Scorpion killer!  I actually tried it at this year’s ThrillerFest.  (Seriously, I found one in my cottage.) But I was told squeezing a scorpion between a Kleenex with your bare fingers is NOT the way it’s done.  In my defense, it was the closest weapon I had available at the time.

You could have shown the scorpion the cover of your new book – it would have keeled over with fright!

EE:  My new spy hit me with a real juicy tidbit.  He swears up and down he saw you and Tess Gerritsen in a huddle with Dominick Dunne at ThrillerFest.  So…what was that all about, hmmm?

AK:  For those who might not know, Tess did an autopsy at this year’s ThrillerFest.  Now just think on those same lines for next year but add Dominick to the mix…well, I hate to spoil the surprise.  As a hint I’ll tell you that Tess needed to use some of my research I did for SPLIT SECOND on putting body parts in take-out containers.  Which by the way, a few weeks ago when the New York Times reviewed the ITW anthology, Thriller – that was my short story’s "Pie Topped With Spleen" that made it into the headline.  I couldn’t have been prouder.


I gotta tell you, it’s been a day with this bunch.  A doc who likes to do autopsies in public, a vet who is a master of disguise, a leggy blond who stands up Jude Law, a scorpion killer who can show you how to put body parts in take-out containers and a nut case lawyer/baker who thinks he’s Barry Manilow.  They think they’ve thrown me off, but I’ve got news for them – I’m on to their tricks.  See, I’m an expert face reader – I can tell when perp’s are trying to give me the bum’s rush.  Hey, I’ve been around the block a few times.  Okay, so I’m direction challenged, but I eventually get to where I gotta be.  And let me tell you, they know I’ve been there when I get there.  Never mind – you hadda be there to get that one.  My list is narrowing down – two more sessions and I’ll know who dunit.

So, until next Wednesday – stay safe out there people, okay?


Well, I shuffled through my long list of suspects and had a hard time putting this new batch together.  See, it’s like this.  They ALL look shady, you know?  But I’m a seasoned investigator, and I know that sometimes just throwing a bunch of names in a hat often presents some interesting leads.  This is a tough case.  I’ve got to admit it.  Of course, that’s just between us, okay?  So far, none of these people have given me the answers I need.  They think they can fool me, but I’m on to them.  I mean, just because they’re writers – they think they have a way with words.  Yeah?  Well, hey – I know a few myself.  I even have Webster’s School & Office Dictionary.  The standard version, too.


THE CRIMES:  Writing some of the best crime fiction out there.



Linda_richards_1 I’m a great admirer of Linda Richards.  Naturally.  I mean, she wouldn’t be here at On The Bubble – if I wasn’t, right?  Right.  She’s genuine, full of the devil, a wicked e-mail pal, a multi-talented reporter, stock trader – and one hell of a mystery writer.  And besides being the co-creator of  JANUARY MAGAZINE ( – one of the most respected internet stops for book lovers – Linda is also the author of three terrific mysteries with a protag – Madeline Carter – who is not only fun to hang out with, she’s wonderfully wryand savy as hell!  Madelines’ first appearance – as you already know – was in MAD MONEY.  I loved that book!  And then I met up with her again in THE NEXT EX.  I had a hard time putting down her newest – CALCULATED LOSS – life didn’t seem much fun without Madeline.  Grab it!  You’ll thank me.  Have I ever steered you wrong?

EE:  Linda, at what point in your career did you find it necessary to break your addiction to watching back-to-back reruns of ‘I Love Lucy’? 

LR:  Who told you I had broken it?  They lie like a bad rug!

Lie like a bad rug?  Where’s my notebook?  I gotta steal that one.

EE:  Okay, Linda – here’s a hot one.  Word on the street is that you’re ghosting Joan Rivers new biography.  Care to comment?

LR:  I didn’t realize that had gotten out.

Gotten out?  All of Mysterville is on fire with the rumors!  Hell, even Rush Limbaugh is talking about it…and Letterman!  And I hear Penzler is foaming at the mouth.  Did you know she rejected him?

EE:  Okay, Linda – here’s a hot one.  Word on the street is that you’re ghosting Joan Rivers new biography.  Care to comment?

LR:  I didn’t realize that had gotten out.

Gotten out?  All of Mysterville is on fire with the rumors!  Hell, even Rush Limbaugh is talking about it…and Letterman!  And I hear Penzler is foaming at the mouth.  Did you know she rejected him?



Such stuff as dreams are made on...   I think that’s very appropriate for John!

I mean, when was the last time you saw Pat Conroy blurb a writer? "The King of Lies moves and reads like a book on fire…an amazing new talent."  Besides all the raves from People and Entertainment Magazine, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Bookpage – I gave John ten stars.  So there.

EE:  So, John – now that you’ve joined the firm of Grisham, Turow, Margolin & Schaffer – are you going to throw away that sign you had in your office?  You know the one I mean – that Shakespeare ditty from King Henry VI – ‘The first thing to do is to kill all the lawyers."?

JH:  Kill all the lawyers?  Who would buy my books?  Actually, I’m pretty proud to be a lawyer.  Believe it or not, it’s a great community.  Shared experiences.  Similar war stories.  It’s funny, The King of Lies doesn’t really paint lawyers with a kind of stroke, yet some of my most outspoken fans are attorneys.  Quite a few of them have gone out of their way to say that I nailed it.  Of course, they’re referring mainly to criminal district court, which is a strange beast…you really have to see it to believe it.  So, I’m still active in the bar.  At the same time, I can’t say that I miss the practice.  But I need to be careful.  If book two blows up on me, I might be asking one of them for a job.

Attention to all lawyers in the audience!  Don’t hold your breath waiting for John to send in his resume.  It ain’t gonna happen.  He’s locked into a contract with the above mentioned firm.

EE:  So John – rumors are rampant (I just love that term) around the Sundanceville that Robert Redford wants to play the role of Work Pickens but you turned him down because his face is too weathered.  John!!  You turned REDFORD DOWN???  Oh…I’m wilting here.

JH:  I didn’t say that his ‘face’ was too weathered.  I said his ‘ass’ was too weathered.  I mean, come on, his face is perfect.

His what?  Wait a minute.  Work Pickens doesn’t strip in the book!  So who the hell cares about… Well, anyway, you’re right about the face.  He’s still to die over.  I remember the day I met him.  Stop laughing.  I really did.  It was…nevermind, my husband might be reading this.  I’ll tell you all about it at Thrillerfest.

EE:  So, John – which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at next year’s Bouchercon or ThrillerFest?

JH:  Any of the authors who blurbed my book.  It’s such a decent thing for an established writer to do for a new guy.  I would listen to their stories, I would thank them profusely, and I would stand them to drinks from dusk until dawn.

That’s very nice.  But, uh…I thought maybe you might say…well, I was hoping…  Gosh, maybe I’ll wave as I pass by, okay?  I mean, I wouldn’t want to barge in or anything.

EE:  Talk around Lawyerville, John – is that you’ve broken the cardinal rule of ‘telling it like it is’ – and the boys and girls are gathering on the footsteps of court houses all over the country getting ready to march.  How are you going to handle this?

JH:  Are you kidding?  The lawyers are rallying to my banner like I was William Wallace.  Now there’s talk of forming some kind of professional group, like a bar, maybe.  A state bar.  And a national version, too.  The American Bar Group, maybe.  Frankly, we’ve had enough.  We want reasonable compensation for reasonable work.  You win a case, and then get one third of a million dollar verdict?  That’s less than four hundred thousand dollars, which is just unacceptable for a hard week’s work.  We demand more, and we’re going to get it!

Kidding?  Me?  Get serious.  Listen Braveheart, I’ll run the bar, you take care of the dough problem, okay?  We can make this thing work.  Just don’t call me Kitty. 



If I were to list all the credits that accompany M.J. Rose, we’d run out of space.  So let’s just remind you of a few, okay?  She’s written eight novels-her newest is THE VENUS FIX, has an Anthony nom, short fiction published, and in the new THRILLER anthology.  She’s been called one of the reigning queens of psychological suspense and erotica – was profiled in Forbes, The New York Times, Newsweek. AND – she has the wildly popular blog – BUZZ, BALLS & HYPE and BACKSTORY.  Somehow, she manages to be on the board of International Thriller Writers and is the marketing chair.  I don’t know when she has time to sleep, let alone write!  You’ll need a good half hour to read all of her accomplishments on her website! 

EE:  So, M.J. – that was a pretty nifty idea your panel – "Sex in Thrillers, with Booze" (at ThrillerFest) came up with by offering free booze.  Uh, think you all might have started a precedent?  I hear some of the writers are going to bartender school now to come up with some wild drinks for next year.

MJ:  The real idea behind the booze was to get my fellow panelists tipsy so the women in the audience could take advantage of them.  But then, who knew how well Barry Eisler, John Lescroat and Steve Berry could hold their liquor? What’s a conference like without some good gossip?  Apparently wonderful, because the only hot stuff that happened at ThrillerFest was the weather, the energy-and the couple I saw having sex in the pool one morning at 4:30 AM when the time difference got me up too early.  And that scene was before Sex in Thriller panel.  And no, don’t ask.  I don’t tell.

Not even a little hint?  Okay-we’ll pretend it was one of those sorority gals and her boyfriend.  I mean, what writers do we know that would indulge in public, huh?  By the way, I’ve got a drink you can use next time that will do the trick.  We’ll talk, okay?

EE:  Okay, M.J. – time to fess up here – just how much research did you feel was necessary to conjure up the Scarlet Society in The Delilah Complex?

MJ:  About five years visiting every sex club in


.  You want to hear about it?  My lips are totally sealed. They say our country is repressed – the only thing repressed is the reality about what goes on between mild-mannered middle-aged men and women.

Five years?  And you want to know if I want to hear about it??  Surely you jest!  Egads, woman!  I’m all ears!  Come on, spill!

EE:  Your books have been touted as having characters so real they step off the page.  Uh, M.J.?  do you really know people like this?

MJ:  Don’t you?  Oh, you poor dear, you haven’t lived!  Come to

New York

for a few weeks and let me introduce you to some of my friends.

I’ll be there next July for ThrillerFest, chickie!  Set up the schedule.

Gregg_hurwitz 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!  And then, the latest – ONE LAST SHOT.  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. It wasn’t from my hugs.

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:  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.

Chassie_west CHASSIE WEST

I must confess that I adore this woman so much, I’m having one hell of a time coming up with an intro that doesn’s sound soppy.  It’s hard to describe so warm a heart, so giving a soul, or so fine a writer, but more – so fine a lady.  I mean, you all know Chassie is beloved by so many in our mystery community, so I’d merely be shouting to the chorus.  Maybe a recap of her writing prowess would be a good place to begin. 

Chassie got her feet wet in the young adult genre, then on to teen romance and adventures and then two Nancy Drew’s!  Add to that – three romantic suspense novels for Silhouette as Joyce McGil –Through The Looking Glass and Unforgivable made Waldenbooks bestsellers list and that one was the very first adult romance to feature an African American protagonist.  It wasn’t any wonder she received the 1989-1990 Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times for New Series Author, and then to top that off – the 1990-1991 Career Achievement Certificate of Excellence for Series Romantic Fantasy!  Foreign rights offers arrived faster than the Concorde.

From those wonderful achievements, Chassie went on to mystery.  And thank God she did!  Else we would never have met her wonderful Leigh Ann Warren.  Leigh Ann arrived in


– this one snagged an Edgar nomination.  Then came Killing Kin – Edgar and Anthony nomination.  And on to Killer Riches and her latest, Killer Chameleon – a pick of the week by Sarah Weinman.  Out now for Chassie, is a new anthology from


Bark M For Murder – with J.A.Jance, Virginia Lanier and Lee Charles Kelly.  Chassies story is Nightmare In Nowhere.  And, at the moment, Chassie is working on a standalone that will leave you breathless!

Oh, one last thing – before we chat with Chassie – I have to tell you that were it not for this incredible woman, I’d not be writing.  But don’t hold that against her, okay?   Chassie believed in me, and kept me rowing in that damn boat that often felt like it was ready to sink or capsize.  And I’m not the only published writer who can lay claim to that – you’d be surprised who some of the NYT bestsellers are who got a ‘green light’ from an editor because of Chassie West.

EE:  Word on the street is that Halle Barry was going to option one of your Leigh Warren books, but she didn’t think she was beautiful enough to portray her on the screen.

CW:  I should be so lucky!  Besides, Leigh Ann isn’t beautiful; even she will admit that.  A notch or two above average, according to her.  Of course if Barry wants to mess her up a little to take on the role, that’s fine with me.

Can I tell


that?  I’m supposed to get back to her. I mean, I told her that myself, but hearing it from you would make all the difference.  Sit tight – leave it up to me…we’ll be in



before you know it.  You are taking me along, aren’t you?  I promise to be good.  Honest.

EE:  Mysteryville is abuzz about that dinner you had last week in D.C. with a guy that could be Stedman’s twin.  Is this true?  Are you the reason for his split with Ophra?

CW:  You really are trying to get me killed, aren’t you?  There’s not a word of truth in the rumor.  Well, maybe a syllable or two.  But that’s all.  Honest.  Ophra used to live in my condo development.  That’s the closest I am to anything of hers.  I’m in no way responsible for who looks like who.  Or should that be whom?  Never mind.  It ain’t true!

Killed?  What?  I’m only passing on rumors here. Damn, but you’re a cagey one!  Okay, I believe you.  Sorta.

EE:  Whispers are rampant that the CIA wants you back in the fold.  What’s with that?

CW:  You bring this up considering what’s going on in D.C. with the special investigator and civil suits and stuff?  I know nothing.  I repeat, nothing!

Well done, Ms. West.  A representative from our office will be contacting you soon to begin re-entry into the system.  Until that time, please be careful what you say to Evil E.  We’ve got her on our radar, and keeping a close watch.

EE:  Ignore that man.  I don’t know how the hell he got in here.  Anyway, which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next ThrillerFest?

CW:  No contest there.  Lee Child.  I’d love to pick his brains about Jack Reacher and how he came to be.  I’m heavily into character and Reacher’s one complex so-and-so.

how he came to be.  I’m heavily into character and Reacher’s one complex so-and-so.

Lee Child and Reacher again???  Why does that duo keep cropping up here?  I’m gonna have to get them both On The Bubble.

Well, this was an intersting group, but I’m still at square one.  My window is closing fast, I’ve got nothing to hang my hat on.  I gotta think the next group I’m hauling in here next Wednesday will take me closer to nabbing my perps.  Damn, but these writers are shifty.  They cut, paste and edit every damn question I throw at em’. But hey, like I said – I’ll close this puppy – one way or the other – or my name ain’t Evil E.

So, until next Wednesday – stay safe out there people, okay?

M_j_rose balls hype/


This has been a long case – many suspects – hours of questioning – and I’m no where near a conclusion.  Some might even say I’m dancing in the dark – but then, I am Evil E – and they wouldn’t dare.  At least not to my face.  They all know my close rate is one of the best – I never leave a stone unturned.  I’ll follow my suspects to the end.  I’ll wring the truth out of them-no matter what it takes.  But now that the end of the year is at hand, I thought it would be a good idea to recap some of my interviews-take a look at some of their answers-see if I can glean that little slip of the tongue that will connect all the dots.  It’s not a job for the faint of heart – but it’s what I do.  You can lay money on it.  And then some.


THE CRIMES:  Writing some of the best crime fiction out there.



Paul has got to be one of the most successful and prolific TV writers who can combine a grueling television production schedule with writing fiction.  His TV credits are numerous (think FELICTY!)-plus he was the writer and producer of JUDGING AMY/  He’s worked with David E. Kelly and Michael Connelly -Quelle Diable!  And besides all this – new pilots in the works – Paul’s short stories can be found in Robert J. Randisi’s GREATEST HITS anthology-and more to come.  And did you know that Paul is a hot culinary artists?  Emeril?  Better watch out – Paul Guyot is gearing up…

EE:  Rumor around Mysteryville is that you joined International Thriller Writers just to hang out in the bar with Tess Gerritsen 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: 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.

Isn’t it obvious why I love this guy? 🙂

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…


Davidmontgomery_1 I like to tease Dave.  I tell him the only reason he’s a reviewer is so he can get all those free books.  But it ain’t true.  Dave 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 – oh, right – and then there’s the Boston Globe and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.  His CRIME FICTION BLOG is one of the best on the web – and he another great site – OVERNIGHT SUCCESS?  But let’s not forget MYSTERY INK – the home of the prestigious GUMSHOE AWARD – now in it’s fifth year.  BSP aside – I’m proud to say my first book – DEALING IN MURDER – was short listed for the GUMSHOE.  I, ah, didn’t win – but I don’t hold that against Dave.  But he made it up to me – as you’ll see in one of his answers.

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:  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:  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.

Jlw And-speaking of JLW-


To say that James Lincoln Warren (aka JLW) is the quintessential short story writer is not an exaggeration.  His contributions to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine is prolific and his stories can always be counted on to be more than 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) -so just believe me when I say he’s one hell of a great guy and he will never, ever bore you.  In fact – I’ve recently finished his WHOSE LUST IS MURDER – and it was, naturally, terrific! 

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: 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?

Gayle26_thumb 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?

Here’s 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, 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. And did I forget to mention how much I adore her?

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:  Rumor around Mysteryville – er – Thrillerville – is that the 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 passionate 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:  Your legion of fans have asked me to pose this very important question:  and be truthful 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.


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 seven 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 SCARED TO LIVE.  This is a series with few peers. And with much deftness, Steve 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, not only is Steve a prince of a man, he is one of the finest gents in this wacky world of mystery.  I had the very great privilege to sit next to Steve at my very first panel.  I was nervous as hell to be next to this incredible writer. And you know what?  His innate kindness made the ordeal feel like a picnic.  I think I stuttered only once.  Thank you again, dear heart.

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 striptease.  So – you’ve got photos, huh?  Do you accept Pay Pal?

EEO:  This is a hot topic around the U.K., Stephen – any truth to the rumors that Bob Haskins and Helen Moreen 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 Kary brothers? 

SB:  Musicals are definitely my thing.  Anyone who’s heard me sing will know that I am to music exactly what the Kary 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 a Left Coast Crime in Monterey wasn’t you?

EEO:  I have it on good authority, Steve, that Dame Judi Tench is dying to get to know you better, yet you’ve not returned her many e-mails.  What does your wife think of this?

SB:  I’ve gone off Jude ever since she played a Klingon brother keeper in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Besides, my wife has never heard of e-mail.

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

   Photo_of_hamilton_2                             DENISE HAMILTON

You all must surely know Denise Hamilton has 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. What ever you do, don’t miss her latest – PRISONER OF MEMORY! This is 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!

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: 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: 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.
And speaking of Julia –
Julia_spencer_fleming JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING
In Julia Spencer-Fleming’s life – it’s pouring awards, accolades, starred reviews, legions of adoring fans clamoring for more, and book sales to make us all green with envy. But then – Julia has given us four books that have touched us. Yes, there is murder, yes there is mayhem, but there is faith as well. Is it any wonder she has won an Agatha, Anthony, Barry, Macavity, Dilys – and was short-listed for an Edgar, Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and a Romantic Times? And did you know that her debut book – IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER won more awards than any first mystery novel? EVER? I was thrilled to receive an ARC for Julia’s latest – ALL MORTAL FLESH – and while I loved all of her books, I was especially touched by this one. You’ve heard this before – and felt it yourself, I know – but I didn’t want it to end. The great news is that ALL MORTAL FLESH received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and Library Journal! Talk about a trifecta!
EE: Okay, Julia! Let’s get serious, okay? Word on the street is that there is an underground movement among female Episcopalian priests to move to small villages and find their own Russ Van Alstyne. And – they’ve been contacting you for guidance.
JSF: Hah. If they want a Russ Van Alstyne, they’ll have to go out and find him like I did.
Julia! How uncharitable of you! The least you could do is give them a few pointers. Kinda like a trade off instead of a tithe?
EE: Oh, this is a hot one running around Manhattan! Rumor has it that Donald Trump is building a chi-chi gated community on Long Island-and he not only wants to call it ‘Millers Kill’ – he’s asked you to pose for a bronze bust to set at the entrance, but you turned him down. What?
JSF: I didn’t want my bust to be responsible for a bronze shortage, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
Ahem. Well, darling – I’m always up for a compliment, but truth be known – in my case it’s the result of too much pasta.
EE: On a safer note (?) – which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at Bcon?
JSF: Janet Evanovich. In the shadowy darkness, I would slip an undetectable poison into her drink. Then, after removing her body under the guise of ‘helping out a friend who had too many’ (an utterly believable alibi at Bouchercon) I would fly to a South American country where a bribeable yet skilled plastic surgeon would give me Janet’s face. I would then seamlessly step into her life, with none the wiser, except maybe for a few suspicions when in 14 Points Stephanie Plum joins the Episcopal church and develops a hopeless yearning for a married man.
You wouldn’t! Would you? Think it might really work? Tell you what – you give it a try. I’ll check back with you and then maybe you could help me with…….
I’m letting these suspects off the hook for now – they’ve been forthright and cooperative.  But you can be sure I’ll have them back for more questioning as this case continues.
I’m turning off the lights in the interrogation room now – it’s needed for another case.  But stop back on Wednesday (OTB’s new day) and we’ll continue our questioning then with more ‘persons of interest.  I’ve still got a long list still to sit under the naked light bulb…and it will take all month.  I’ll get to the bottom of this caper – one way or the other – but you can rest easy knowing Evil E is on the job. 



You’d probably imagine this man in a magnificent home library – rare leather books lining the walls, a to-die-for Serapi carpet over marquetry floors, a fire burning softly in a massive fireplace, French doors leading to a stone terrace.. He sits in a tufted leather chair, a brandy snifter in one hand as he contemplates the history of ancient Rome. Or, you might want to drop him on the deck of a paddle wheel on the Mississippi thinking about that poker game he just won and wondering when Rhett Butler was going to show up. On the other hand – you wouldn’t be far off picturing him sporting a chef’s toque, or opening a magazine and seeing him modeling the lastest Brioni suit – or even -hold your breath here, accepting an Oscar! But check out the other photo – see the chick at the pool table? Hell, you wouldn’t figure him to be in a smoke-filled, seedy pool house in Texas with Tammy’s voice blaring away on a juke box, now would you? Well, think again – this is the former chef, male model and Oscar winners baby – and she’s aptly named – BABY SHARK!

Grab your coffee, and join us:

EE: So, Robert – going along with ‘write what you know’, uh, care to tell us how many roadside pool halls you frequented in order to soak up atmosphere?

RF: Like I can remember? My buddy, Snake, and I used to slip out the window during Ms. Herbert’s class and go to Chili Jake’s to shoot nine ball. That’s all I recall, and that’s all you get.

Oh sure…memory loss. Happens all the time.

EE: We will assume the rumors of that mini-rumble you supposedly were involved in at Ruby’s Red Dragon bar in Waco wasn’t your fault, right? You were just kinda setting things up for those knock-out scenes in BABY SHARK to get some flavor, right? I mean, we all know it wasn’t really your fault the place went beserk.

RF: You’re never gonna let me live that down. Have I got this right? The blonde in the purple corset said she’d be right back and I was just waiting around. It was all a mistake from beginning to end. Well, that brass knuckles business was a little bit my fault.

Well, I wasn’t going to mention the blonde in the purple corset, but since you did…

EE: Any truth to the buzz that Allison Fisher – the Number One – female champ of the billiards – aka The Duchess of Doom (yes, you read that right!) – was on your mind as you conjured your incredible Kristin? Talk about one determined female! Duchess_of_doom

RF: Would she make a great Kristin, or what? If there is any justice in life, I’ll get to meet her some day.

Send her a copy of the book! Who knows? She might call you over for a game or two. Pool, of course.

EE: But the real buzz around ThrillerVille is that Efren Reyes – the top men’s money maker in the game – hoped to convince you to model your protag after him instead of a woman. Is it true you had to let him beat you at pool to soothe his ego for being rejected?

RF: I’m thinking you know an awful lot about snooker and such, Ms. Flinn. But re: Mr. Reyes – not on his best day can he take me at the table – and you can tell him I said so.

Darling, I know a lot about a lot of things – but there just isn’t space here. I’ll pass your message on to Efren when I see him later. We’re having coffee at his place.

EE: At what point in your life did you decide that writing a sizzling page turner could be fun? What? Are you totally crazy?

RF: Oh, you jest. Writing the novel is not the fun part. Marketing and selling that novel – now that’s the fun part. Miles behind the wheel. Those motels. That food on the road-not roadkill. You know what I mean. That crowd that pours through the bookstore doors to hear you sing a medly of your hit.

Sing? Hell, I’d lose sales if they heard my voice.

EE: Rumors have it that Ralph Lauren discovered you’d once been a male model – and after reading BABY SHARK – he’s been pestering you to do a series of ads for his new ‘writerly’ campaign, but you turned him down when he insisted you lose the goatee. What? Really, Robert – you could always grow it back, right?

RF: I was waiting for the ‘hair’ stuff to start. At least you didn’t do that Barbara Bush thing I hear so often. Ralph, I said – That Markey Mark bit is so yesterday. And how many times did I have to tell him no tattoos. But you know how he can be. We’re still negotiating.

How true – that darn Ralph can be such a pain. I gave him hell too when he wanted me to wear a bustier. I mean, really. We’re working on a new Chanel design that might pan out.

EE: After winning an Oscar for special effects for Dune, it’s almost crazy to ask what your Walter Mitty dream might be, but what the hell – let’s see what you can come up with.

RF: I’ll have my people get back to your people.

I know it’s tough to follow that naked bald guy…but surely, you can think of something?

EE: Other than roadhouse pool rooms in West Texas, what is your favorite retreat? And what do you do there?

RF: Zihuatanejo. Nothing.

Ah,yes – just north of Acapulco and on the Mexican Riviera. Yeah, I’d do nothing too. Well, maybe read a good book. Got any suggestions?

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

RF: You, Elaine. Only you. It was that red rose in the teeth thing that did it for me.

Oh, no! Now the whole world knows. But hey – it works every time.

EE: Now that we know you were once a chef at an A-list Lala Land restaurant – tell us the six people you’d have over for dinner – and what would you serve?

RF: Holy Toledo. Let me think a moment. Okay. The six guests may bring someone with them and no one knows who that will be. Six surprise guests and six invited guests. Mick Jagger, Maureen Dowd, Kobe Bryant, Beverly Sills, Titus Welliver, and Catherine Deneuve – and my wife and daughter would be there, of course. The meal would take too long to explain, but easy and delicious. And wonderful wines. Sorry you asked, right?

Moi? Sorry I asked? Nope. I could handle that bunch. Think Titus might fill you in on all the gossip around the Deadwood back lots? Let me know, okay?

EE: Who would be your ideal panel mates at a con? And what theme would you like to have discussed?

RF: This seems too serious.

That’s not fair! You’re supposed to answer ALL questions.

EE: Okay for you. Just for that – here’s your last question. You’re going on a book tour – which writer would you love to tour with?

RF: Shakira

Really. You mean she can read?

My thanks to Robert Fate for playing with us at ON THE BUBBLE. If you haven’t read BABY SHARK yet, mosey over to Bob’s site and see what you’ve been missing!

Wit for the week: From Anthony Trollope – The definition of an author: ‘Someone who gets words wholesale and sells them retail.’

Hope to see you next week – I’ve got a big surprise for you! And – speaking of surprises – Typepad decided to get cranky – so – no spell check again – and no pretty colored text either.



Even though Chris Grabenstein is guilty of writing television commercials (you know, those things we love to hate?) – we can ignore that part of his shady past.  After all – anyone who can rescue a wonderful guy like Fred (the one without the shades) – he can’t be all bad.  And there is a lot to like about Chris.  Yes, there is.  He gives great smile.  A recovering stand-up improv comedian, Chris saw the light – and turned his magical way with words to mystery – and we’re all richer for that decision.  And the attendees at Bouchercon last month felt the same and awarded him the Anthony for Best First Novel for TILT A WHIRL.  In the meantime, Chris has been busy (as you can see from the book covers) – MAD MOUSE is awaiting your pleasure and now Chris wants us to have ‘a scary little Christmas’ with SLAY RIDE.    Oh, and get ready for Summer/2007 – for WHACK A MOLE.  Yes, the man has been busy – but it’s all Fred’s fault.  Fred is an unforgiving muse – he won’t even let Chris have time off to hit the rides.  Fred knows the pressures of the fame biz – he was a star on Broadway in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – and he knows that to stay on top – one must give up much for one’s craft. 

Reluctantly, Fred let Chris off for a bit to join us here today – so we’ll get right on with our chat.

EE:  I’m told, Chris, that the real reason you set TILT A WHIRL at an amusement park is because you’re addicted to Ferris Wheels and needed to find a write-off to justify your habit.  This is a serious rumor – and it needs clarification.

CG:  Well, ever since I read Devil in the White City and realized that there was a Mr. Ferris who invented his wheel for the Chicago World’s Fair, or, more accurately, the Colombian Exposition of 1892, which didn’t open until 1893, to rival the Eiffel Tower, an erector set project thrown together for the Paris world fair…

I’m sorry…what was the question?

Oh, yes. I have been known to spend hours on my summer vacation, I mean research trip, to the Jersey Shore hanging out on the Boardwalk in Seaside Heights and Wildwood, riding all the rides, fighting to keep the funnel cakes down.  This summer, I took a spin on a TILT A WHIRL, a MAD MOUSE and tried to play WHACK A MOLE, but could only find this game where you baned a frog into plastic lilly pads (The Frog Bog).  I also rode the Gravitron to experience all those Gs and Centrifugal Force and have the floor drop out from under me in anticipation of Ceepak #4 HELLHOLE.

Oh, how brave of you!  Well, I’d say that certainly is living your work and writing what you know.  Research is sooo important.  NOTE TO ANY IRS PEOPLE OUT THERE:  It is a mandate to write what you know, okay?  So, lay off the guy.  He’s doing his homework.

EE:  Well, now that we got that straight – we’ll proceed.  Isn’t it true – that now – due to the success of your series – amusement parks all over the country are besieging you to use their venues in your next books in hopes a few murders here and there might enhance their image and up their attendance? 

CG:  Not yet, but I’m working on a deal with Six Flags.  I think they want to bump off Bugs Bunny and that bald guy in the Paul Schaefer glasses who dances too much.

Bugs Bunny?  They want to off Bugs??  Any PETA folks out there?  Get ready to march on Six Flags!  I’ll get with you all.  We’ll talk.

EE:  Not that you would, but if you decided to cheat on your spouse/partner – who would that be?  This is, of course, all in fun.  But still?  I mean, you can tell us.

CG:  Not yet.  You see how clever we mystery writers can be?  You asked me "if I decided to cheat on my spouse/partner -who would that be."  That would be my wife.  And, I’d never cheat on her.  She’d still win.  She reads everything I write first.  It’s not nice to annoy your editor.

But, yes – one must never annoy one’s editor.  It could be hazardous to one’s health.

EE:  Rumors are rampant that Bruce Willis – your former comedy troupe member – is hankering to become a mystery writer, but you’re not returning his calls.  What’s up with that?

CG:  Yes, he’s ready to moonlight again.  But every time he calls, it sounds like he’s trapped in a building without any shoes hiding from German terrorists with semi-automatic weapons.  I remember when Bruce did his first movie, back when we were both still doing improv comedy for ten dollars a show down in the east village in a basement theater just off the Bowery and he had to shave his head (something he seems to do on a regular basis these days) to play a bald guy riding the Roosevelt Island tram.

Gosh, I like the way you skirted that question too.  But hey, who needs another mystery writer, huh?  I mean, we can live without Bruce in the bookstores.

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

CG:  Any of them!  Wouldn’t that be incredible, to have that many people read ones book? But, if I had to pick somebody else’s best-seller, I’d pick something by Stephen King.  He’s my all time fave.  Maybe BAG OF BONES.  A great story about re-energizing a lost and weary soul.  Or PET CEMETARY because it was so spooky and I miss Buster, who passed away in February.  Or, did he???

My condolences.  I miss my Max too.  We lost him in June.  And you know what?  I still see him! That darn Stephen King! See what he’s done to us with that book!

EE:  One of my NYC spies told me that Fred won’t jog with you in Central Park anymore unless you stop singing ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.  Jeeze, Chris, don’t you think poor Fred has heard that song enough?

CG:  First, everyone should know that Fred can do a seven minute mile.  I can not.  And he’s taking it easy on me when he runs at that pace.  Actually, the song that drives him crazy is his big number: Toot Sweet.  Now, I never saw the show on Broadway, but I think there’s a type of stick candy invented in it that works like a flute.  Or a dog whistle.  Fred and seven other canine character actors would dash on stage and jump on people.  Now Fred confines his jumping to our neighbors on the elevator.

I’m dying to meet Fred!  He sure as hell gives lie to ‘unfriendly’ New Yawkers, huh?

EE:  Okay, time for your Walter Mitty Dream sequence. Whatcha got for us?

CG:  I’m on stage.  People are blowing into sticks of candy like flutes.  I hear the strands of Toot Sweet.  I jump on the bad guy.  Okay, it’s Fred’s dream…but I want to have stage credits as good as our dog’s!

Hold that thought – I’ve got Carole Shorenstein Hays on the other line – we’re working something up.  Just make sure I have two front row center’s on opening night, okay?

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

CG:  Fred Flintstone.  Maybe Barney Rubble.  Oh, you should have seen me eighty pounds ago…which is how much weight I lost three years ago.  Weight Watchers On Line and Book Writing.  Perfect together.

Really?  You’re not kidding me, are you?  You LOST weight writing?  And with Weight Watchers? That awful food?  Oy. 

EE:  Who are the seven people you’d invite for dinner? And what would you serve?

CG:  Let’s see…Lazarus, from the bible.  (He’s the one human who knows what happens next).  Edgar A. Poe.  William Shakespeare (because he wrote plays to sell tickets!), John Stewart, Houdini (he could do the floor show), Natalie Merchant (she sings for her supper) and Bruce Springsteen.

I think we’d eat Chinese.  Cold noodles with sesame sauce.  It’s like spaghetti with peanut butter.

Hmmm.  I could handle that crowd.  And did I tell you that I love cold noodles with sesame sauce?

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

CG:  Stephen King.  Not Joe Konrath.  I think that car might get a little gamey smelling after book store number 107.

I’m on the floor laughing.  I’ll bet Joe isn’t though.  But what the hell, he’s probably not around anyway-most likely hitting up another bookstore.

EE:  Now that Konrath probably will never speak to you again, Chris – feel free to tell us about your ideal convention panel.

CG:  I actually suggested one for ThrillerFest:  Bigger, Faster, Shinier Thrillers.  A panel featuring all the ex-advertising copy writers who now write mysteries and thrillers.  Folks like me, James Patterson, Ted Bell, James Seagal, Stuart Woods, M.J. Rose, the list goes on and on.  We’d all tell horror stories about terrible clients and how we could go to fifty-three separate meetings to discuss what color the new Crystal Light Powder should be.  (I think Dorothy L. Sayers wrote copy too.  At least her MURDER MUST ADVERTISE sure reads like she worked at the same agencies as I did, only about sixty years earlier).

Fifty-three separate meetings over a color??  So that’s where all the advertising bucks go,huh? No wonder stuff costs so damn much!

EE:  With all the fascinating writers we all know – which one would you like to have all to yourself in a cozy corner in the bar at the next con?  To talk shop, of course.

CG:  Laura Lippman.  I think she’s one of the classiest, most talented people I have met ‘on the circuit’.  She’s also from Baltimore and might have some Old Bay Seafood Seasoning to share.

Wonderful choice.  I’m sure your ‘editor’ will approve.

EE:  Rumor has it, Chris – that Joan Rivers is worried about her career and since she heard you won a ‘Tony’, she’s bugging you about writing her into your next Broadway hit.  I mean, we know the poor darling probably doesn’t read – and hasn’t a clue that the Anthony you won isn’t a ‘Tony’, but, uh, how did she take it when you explained the difference?

CG:  Her face became a frozen mask of shock.  No, wait.  That’s the plastic surgery.  I actually made the mistake of calling the Anthony the Tony when I won ‘Best First’ for TILT A WHIRL.  People expected me to sing and dance a little.  Or, at least, to cry on cue.  There.  I’m doing it now.  Singing and dancing…

Oh?  I thought you were singing and dancing because you were so thrilled to be On The Bubble!   

My thanks to Chris for being a great guest!  Be sure to visit his site and discover so much more about this charming guy – and meet Fred!


NO INTERVIEW TODAYJUST SOME MUSINGS  You might call them ‘surface thoughts’ – nothing profound, groundbreaking – or deep.  But I got to thinking about a few comments presented last Saturday when my interview with The Editor From Hell appeared.  It started with his/her mention about men not wearing a tie when attending the Edgar’s banquet.George_clooney  Which led to a few other things I’ve had on my mind. But back to last week – I was  happy to see JLW (James Lincoln Warren) and Kris Montee (P.J.Parrish) chime in.  In one of my comments I made mention that JLW looked handsome as all get out (or something like that) in his white dinner jacket at the Edgar’s banquet a couple of years ago – and Kris said that she and Kelly -(they’re in charge of the banquet this year) – are hoping to encourage all the guys to dress up in black tie.   Also, I must add – at that same Edgar’s – Laura Lippman was a knock-out, and so were Kris & Kelly – and so were most of the guests.  But – there were enough ‘tie-less wonders, jeans and shirts untucked -to take a bit of the glitter off the glitz, you know?  Oh, and speaking of white dinner jackets – Ali Karim wore one to the ThrillerFest awards banquet this year!  And let me tell you, I was thrilled (pardon the pun) to be seated next to this suave and debonair guy.  Now, just take a gander at this guy on your left.  I mean, wouldn’t you rather be sitting at a table next to a dream like this?  Okay, so he’s not a writer.  But still?Charlieze_theron

And, okay – so we’re not all this slim, or can afford a designer gown, OR need to get this fancy – but wouldn’t you love to glam it up at least once or twice a year?  Kris also mentioned how elegant Tess Gerritsen looked at last years Edgar’s. And at ThrillerFest this year, Gayle Lynds was in a long gown and so was C.J. Lyons and quite a few others- along with some fetching evening pant suits as well.  And-dare I say this – quite a few guys in ties.  The point is – ‘dressing up’ lends an event stature.  It tells the world (well, our mystery world) that our award banquets are important.  So why shouldn’t we dignify them with the ‘stature’ they deserve?  A lot of people like to say that The Edgar’s are our Academy Awards – I’m not sure where that puts The Anthony, The Agatha, The Thriller, The Barry, The Shamus, The Gumshoe or The Macavity-but that isn’t important.  What IS important – is that these events and awards are to honor our best writers each year.  I think we ought to respect those distinctions with a little more sophistication and elegance.  Wearing jeans, or tee-shirts – or the same damn thing you’ve had on all day – just says you think you’re too cool to be impressed with the whole shebang.  If that’s the case, why show up in the first place?

Okay-I know what you’re thinking now.  Who cares?  I mean, really.  Why the hell is she wasting our time about this?  There are more important things in life-and in the world- than getting dressed up for some award show most of us might never attend.  Well, it’s not just about the Edgar’s – or any other awards banquet.  Like I said – a few things got me to thinking. 

About us.  All of us. 

What has happened to the way we look these days?  I have to thank Kris for another one of her comments – ‘the hairy guy on the plane in cutoffs’.  I remember when ladies wore heels (with hose!), and gentlemen donned a jacket and slacks on an aiplane.  These days I feel like I’m on a dirty, mud splattered bus with people who have forgotten how to bathe, let alone dress like civilized human beings.  On my last flight, a ‘young lady’ sat next to me. She had the window seat and had propped both of her bare feet up against the seat in front of her and was painting her toe nails.  She had on very short shorts, and well – two or three male passengers seemed to find a need to walk the aisle several times during that five hour flight.  No, it didn’t take her that long to paint her nails – but she kept her feet up anyway for most of the flight.  And no, none of the flight attendants said a word to her either.

Anyone remember when we used to ‘dress up’ when we went out to dinner?  And that many restaurants wouldn’t let a guy in without a tie or at least a jacket?  My husband and I had dinner at Morton’s in Portland a couple of months ago, and the two couples next to us were dressed like they were going to a mud wrestling contest.  The men had on torn jeans, dirty sweatshirts-and baseball caps they hadn’t the good manners to remove.  The women were in very low hip-huggers, cropped tops with bursting boobs- and one of them was very pregnant.  They were loud, profane and obnoxious to the waiter.  It was an evening of ‘in your face’ – and it ticked me off no end.  Thank God my husband – a six foot-four ex-Marine – had the sense to tell me to calm down when I wanted to complain.  He told me that at seventy-two (with bad hips and knees from playing semi-pro ball years ago), he thought he could take one of them, but not both, and suggested I zip it up.  It’s not that I’m a stranger to four-letter words.  Those that know me well, will attest to that.  In fact, I know some very interesting combinations I save for special occasions.  But Morton’s ain’t MacDonalds’, okay?  Or, Jimmy Bob’s Barbecue.  So it wasn’t thrilling to spend two hundred bucks for dinner and sit next to low-lifes whose only intention (it appeared) was to act as raunchy as possible and get away with it.   

Yeah, yeah…I know what you’re thinking again…who the hell cares?  Life is casual these days.  Live and let live. Let it all hang out. Do your own thing.  Chill out.  Get with the times, honey.  Well, life may be more casual these days, but IMHO -it’s beginning to erode more than the way we look.  It seems to me that this ‘casual’ attitude has permeated our manners and our civility in more ways than one.  Our outward appearance is only the packaging.  It’s what that packaging is intent on displaying that makes me ponder.  Now, I’m not a fashionista by any stretch.  Stop laughing.  It’s true. I live in jeans like a lot of us.  But I remember an old saying – ‘the British dress for dinner in the jungle.’  Think about that.  Maybe the image the world has of Americans – ‘loud, boisterous and uncouth’ – is well earned. It seems to be how we look, act and sound these days.  Maybe it’s time we dressed for dinner in the jungle too.

Blackph_1 Oh, and one other thing – (you knew I wasn’t going to go quietly, didn’t you?) since we’re talking about fashion and image (more or less) – when did women stop wearing hosiery with heels?  Where the hell did that come from?  I mean, even hookers wear hose.  Okay, maybe it’s fishnet, but still.   Thing is – not many females have gams shapely enough – or blemish free – to go around buck naked.  Have we forgotten that there is nothing sexier than silk stockings?  Okay, nylons.  The homeliest leg, the thickest ankle – can take on a hint of allure, a sheen that is irresistible – a whisper of…well, a hell of a lot more than bare legs. 

See what I mean?

So now you’re all wondering what the hell else I had on my mind, right?

Actually, not much.  Well, that’s a lie.  I have a lot of things that make me shake my head these days.  But I’d either bore you, or have you roll your eyes, or think Evil E has lost it – I might even tick you off.  Worse yet – Heaven Forbid – you might never buy one of my books again.  And we can’t have that now – can we? 🙂

But – indulge me – there’s another thing or two that perplexes me…

Forum Please tell me – how did we go from this…

P2grace8s And this…


Adpnfa A picture is worth a thousand words, right?  So is this one.  What the hell is she gonna do when tattoos are no longer cool?  Or, when she meets ‘Mr.Right’ and he takes her home to meet the folks?  And when – pray tell – did this tattooing business become so popular?  Now, I’m not talking about those ‘special’ adornments that have meaning – that are discreetly positioned -and/or meant only for certain eyes.  But Ladies!  We got the vote a long time ago – the bra’s were burned – the glass ceiling is shattering (more or less) – so why are we bent on losing the respect we’ve fought so long and hard for? 

Britneyspears3 Do we even have to resort to this to make it?

I mean, darlings – must we mimic biker chicks or white-trash to get attention?  And don’t tell me this is empowerment either.  Remember all the women bitching about being exploited?  So, tell me – now who’s doing the exploiting? 

Gosh, I wonder what her children will think of this photo when they grow up?

I know none of my musing have a damn thing to do with mystery -other than all this is a mystery – to me at least.

Your thoughts are welcome.  Just don’t yell, okay?  I’m very sensitive and I cry easily.


I won’t be offering a glowing intro today for my guest – because I simply don’t know who the hell he or she is.  Sounds like a mystery plot, huh?  There’s a killer somewhere, but who can it be?   Well, all I can tell you is my guest today is ‘The Editor From Hell’.  And guess what – he/she invited himself/herself.  I mean, since I don’t know this personage – it stands to reason I sure as hell couldn’t invite same personage, right?  Right.

So, what to do?  Decline with diplomacy?  Offer an excuse that an interview would be difficult since he/she isn’t known to me – therefore how can I pose dumb questions to a stranger?  Not this kid.  For all I know – he/she could be looking at my standalone at this very moment.  A fool, I’m not.  Well, mostly not.  Okay-so what to ask?  Hmm.  I pondered.  Mix it up, I thought.  Maybe slip in a sneaky question that might provide a clue to his/her identity.  Yeah, that might work.  So help me out here, okay?  Maybe one of you can figure it out.  Let me know if you do, okay?

So – come meet The Editor From Hell.

EE:  Let’s start out easy – maybe this question will help us to know a bit about you.  What was your childhood ambition?

EFH:  To have been able to spend a week with Ernest Hemingway, to hear his tales – the real tales – to drink him under the table and do some carousing.  Sadly, he was dead before I could make that ambition a reality.

EE:  You must have been some kid!  I mean, that’s a rather mature goal.  Would I be correct in assuming you are a man?

EFH:  I was, and am a unique person.  My ambitions are not mundane.  As to my gender, I’ll just say that some women carouse as much as men.  And some women drink rather well.  I would expect Evil E to know that.

I have to admit – I can bend a few with the best of them, but that was in my younger days.  So, okay-you get one brownie point.

EE:  As an editor – what is your biggest challenge?

EFH:  You can’t be serious.  Okay, I’ll bite.  I’d have to say it would be dealing with ego-driven whining writers and editors/publicists fresh out of college who think they know what the market desires, but are too young to have had enough life experiences to know what they’re talking about.  They want to set the world afire with matches that don’t strike anywhere.  It matters little that they work long hours – what matters is they fail to see the big picture and what it takes to get there. They don’t understand nurturing.  Slash and burn is their motto.

Amen and Hallelujah!  An editor of the old school lives!

EE:  As an editor – what inspires you?

EFH:  Besides brilliant writing that is marketable in this ‘dumb down’ society?  Besides a unique voice?  Simplicity (such as Hemingway) inspires me.  Lean prose.  Memorable characters who will linger after the last page is read.  I line out twenty-dollar words and and metaphors that do little except to show the reader how clever one is.  They are, in most hands, a trick conjured for literary pretense.  James Lee Burke is an exception.  Diane Setterfield, in her wonderful book, The Thirteen Tale, is another exception.  Yes, I read Dorothly L too.

You read Dorothy L??  Aha – you’re one of those lurkers, huh?

EE:  Which historical literary figure do you most enjoy reading?

EFH:  For my personal pleasure I find I revisit many writers.  Not all are ‘historical’.  In particular – Charles Dickens, James T. Farrell, Raymond Chandler, Robertson Davies and James M. Cain – and last, but not least, Sidney Sheldon.  These were master story tellers.  We see few of this ilk today.  Quantity pushes today’s market, not quality.

James T. Farrell and the Studs Lonigan trilogy!  Wonderful!  Hey, I’m getting to like you.  You may be okay.

EE:  What questions do you habitually ask your writers?   

EFH:  Why did you do this?  What were you thinking when you wrote this?  Why do you continue to ignore my suggestions?  What makes you think this will work?  Why didn’t you research this properly?

Oh.  Sorry I asked.

EE:  What do you most admire in a man and a woman?

EFH:  It’s a good thing you didn’t ask what I deplore.  You’d be treading on dangerous ground, Ms. Evil.  And your readers might not like my answers.  In men and women, I appreciate the same attributes:  strength of character, honesty, compassion, a healthy sense of humor and a genuine lack of hubris.  Too lofty, I fear.  But one can hope.

So you think my readers won’t be able to take the truth, huh?  Watch me.

EE:  Let’s tread on that dangerous ground.  What do you deplore in a men and women?

EFH:  You just had to go there, didn’t you!  You have earned your moniker.  Then be warned.  In men – in addition to the opposite of what I admire – I deplore swaggering and the constant insertion of a famous four-letter word in every utterance.  It’s the mark of a stunted vocabulary (particularly for a writer) and an overt attempt to prove one’s masculinity.  It’s not that I’m adverse to the word, I use it myself-but only when it fits a need.  In the female species – I’m mostly dismayed by the trend to dress like a hooker – and then be aghast when ‘hit upon’.  I find tattoos on women to be obnoxious and reminiscent of time when only low-class women were so adorned.  Oh, yes – women seem to adore agendas which stem from little logic and are born of adolescent emotions.  Should you now conclude that I am a male, let me say that many women share these sentiments.

Uh, you’re certainly not shy, are you!  Note to readers:  Don’t email me with your rants.  If you want to vent – do it here and get it off your chest. 🙂

EE:  I shudder to ask what your pet peeves are.

EFH:  I have many.  I think you’ve already discovered a few, but I can add two more.  First, my impatience with writers who ignore editorial suggestions, who can’t seem to adhere to deadlines, who demand a paid tour, who fall apart when their book does not land on the best seller list, and who can’t handle negative reviews.  Second, as a member of the mystery community, I find it discourteous of male writers attending awards banquets sans a tie – particularly at the Edgar’s, where I feel it denigrates the dignity and importance of the event.  I view this as an immature act of insolence and less an impression of appearing to be ‘cool’.  I also consider it a lack of breeding.

Who can argue with that?

EE:  On a lighter note – what brought you to Murderati?

EFH:  I see you’re looking for compliments.  Murderati was recommended by another editor.  And I read about it on Dorothy L.

EE:  Of course I’m looking for compliments!  What?  You haven’t it in you to offer one?

EFH:  I’m here.  Isn’t that enough?

EE:  Not really.  I mean, you volunteered to be interviewed. Why then?

EFH:  Let’s just say I find your interviews refreshing, light hearted and a nice break after a hectic week.  I decided it would be fun to – as you often say – ‘play’.

Yeah?  Well, you seem to have a funny idea of what ‘playing’ means.

EE:  Okay, what book do you consider your greatest acquisition?

EFH:  If I told you, then you’d know who I am.

So what’s the big mystery?  We won’t tell.  Honest.

EE:  You know what?  You’re no damn fun.  Of course we want to know who you are!  What is this?  Another Ms. Snark trip?

EFH:  Hardly.  I’m the real thing.

Oh oh.  I can see the flack coming.  Everyone duck.

EE:  How about this one? What book are you sorry you didn’t buy?

EFH:  Yours.

EE:  Ha!  Too late.  You had your chance earlier.  Come on now – get serious.

EFH:  You just scolded me for not playing – I’m trying to be light hearted.

Yeah?  Well, that was TOO light hearted, pal.  I have feelings.

EE:  You just lost your credibility with me – so now we’re back to regular questions.  Who would be your ideal panel mates at a con?

EFH:  You’re a hard woman to please.  To your question then.  J.K. Rowling, Val McDermid and John le Carre.  Oh, James Sallis, of course.

Hard to please?  Yes, I’ve been told that before. And you’re failing.

EE:  You appear to lean towards U.K. writers.  Why?

EFH:  They are better educated and they have a finer grasp of the language.

Oh, great!  I just lost my audience.

EE:  Now that we’re alone here – you might as well let it all all.  Earlier, you praised ‘simplicity’.  While your choices are favorites of mine as well – I wouldn’t call Rowling’s writing ‘simple’.

EFH:  Ah, but it is.  For all her complexity and detail, she doesn’t waste words.  None of my choices do.  This is where having a greater grasp of the language shows.

Okay.  I see your point.  Maybe I should dig out my Harry Potter books and take another look.

EE:  Which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next con? (If anyone dared sit with you, that is.)

EFH:  You, of course.  You fascinate me.  That’s why I’m here.  Your ability to ask inane questions is original and amusing.  I enjoy the way you offer your readers a more human side of their favorite authors.  I suspect your guests (aside from the exposure they experience here) welcome this opportunity to display their sense of humor and fun.  What a rare joy it must be to let one’s hair down.  Your On The Bubble reminds me of the ‘roasts’ comedians once had.  Not quite the same format, but the same spirit.  I must add – your alumni are impressive.  And now, I have joined the ranks.

Oh.  Well, uh…I am of course flattered.  But it sure as hell took you long enough to say something nice.  Too bad the readers are gone now.  I’d love to have shown off.  In any case, you’re forgiven. Thank you.

EE:  Where do you see the world of mystery (and genres) going?  It has been said in some quarters that it’s losing readers and on the way out.

EFH:  Don’t be daft!  Aside from too many mediocre books on the shelves from writers more interested in ‘being a writer’ instead of writing, mystery, etc – will  never see a demise and will continue to flourish.  What I see disappearing – is ‘chick-lit mystery’.  The majority are poorly plotted, characterizations are thin and vaporous, and in my opinion, a waste of readers money.  Those writers would do well to return to romance.   I refuse to accept them from agents.  I liken them to ‘See Spot Run’ books.

I hear a shuffling of chairs out there and a low roar.  I thought for sure everyone was gone.  Hold it, okay?  I’m just asking the questions.  Save the bricks for after I leave.  I don’t run as fast as I once did.

EE:  I’m almost afraid to ask the next question.  Here goes.  What are your thoughts about the onslaught of self-published book in the marketplace?

EFH:  Generally writers who self-publish can’t make the grade. That’s not startling news.  Happily, they are not a part of the ‘onslaught’ in the book stores.  What IS crowding the shelves, is a new popular ploy to create a personal imprint by writers who are unable to attract a legitimate publisher. They come up with an indistinct name, take out a business license (usually a friend or relative will do this-so as to not leave a paper trail), create letterhead and business cards, and then have their tome published by a local printer.  They offer generous discounts and a return policy to book store owners (mainly independents) and then – Voila! – they have a publisher.  Said publisher will then place ads in industry publications, convention programs and sometimes place a small ad in a local market.  The telling clue here is that said publisher rarely, if ever, publishes any other writer – and you can’t contact them to offer a submission.  This is the ‘onslaught’ that is eroding the market.  This is the reason the pie, so to speak, can no longer be cut in enough pieces to feed the legitimate family of writers in the mystery (etc) community.  This is why writers are being dropped, why good solid series and standalones are no longer meeting their sell-throughs.  Publishing is no different from any other business.  We’re all slaves to the numbers game.  There are simply too many writers competing for the same dollar. 

Not great news, by any stretch – but I’m glad I asked.

EE:  Okay, last question.  I’ve figured out who you are.  Otto Penzler, right?

EFH:  Who?  Sorry. The name doesn’t ring a bell.  I’m kidding.  But seriously, If I were, would I tell you?

Damn!  Foiled again!  Well, to those of you still with us – my thanks for sticking around.  And, of course – my thanks to my guest – whoever he or she may be.  I hope he/she will visit again. (?)  I’m kidding too.  It was a pleasure…



Don’t laugh!  About the ‘Double Trouble’, I mean.  These two sisters are so full of life and mischeif-they’re addictive.  You have to believe me when I tell you they are dynomite gals!  Kris and Kelly Montee have to be the most lively female team writing knock-out-can’t-put-down books around.  Mega-nominated for their great Louis Kincaid series-they are never still, always on the move, deeply involved in the mystery community-and always ready to help a newbie (and many not-so-newbies) to understand the mysterious, sometimes confusing-and often frustating lay of the land.  And what’s so great-is that it’s all offered with much generosity and sincerity.  Next time you see these two at a con – mosey over and say hello.  But be warned!  If you’re not into laughing and having a helluva time and tons of laughs – don’t bother.  And if you’re really into some chuckles – be sure to stop by their blog – CABBAGES & KINGS  This is a genuine crack up!

Their new book – AN UNQUIET GRAVE – out now – is superb.  I know..I know…you’re thinking I say that about every guest’s book. Well, that’s true.  I’ve told you a zillion times – Evil E invite’s only the best – and not just the best writers – but the best people.  The real people.  No Grand Diva’s here -no swelled heads, phonies or new self-made icons.  Just fine writers and the same kind of great folks you’d love to know – and who I am pleased and proud and flattered and all that stuff – to know myself.  So before we all get soppy here, be sure to run over to http://www.p.j.parrish  after this ground-breaking interview – and check out their great website and discover for yourself just how much detailed research goes into each and every book in the Louis Kincaid series.  But not yet!  Wait until after you see what these two have to say!

So come on and have a few laughs with the P.J. Parrish Ladies!

EE:  Some awful wag – and we all know who she is – told me that there are actually FOUR Montee sisters writing the Louis Kincaid series – and they’re the youngest and they’re not allowed out of the attic until they’ve edited each and every page you two write.

PP:  All right, confession time.  We actually are V.C. Andrews and keep the Kincaid girls locked in the attic.  Once a week, we unlock the door and toss in some red meat and Fat Bastard merlot.  Once a year, they toss out a manuscript.

You’re kidding!  It’s true??  Okay-my lips are sealed.  I’ll tell her she’s wrong, wrong, wrong.  I don’t much care for her anyway so it’ll be fun.  But, geeeze – couldn’t you at least spring for some better wine?

EE:  Here’s your chance to squash another rumor about you two.  Word is – Louis Kincaid is a real person under the witness protection program and he feeds you two all his real life adventures. 

PP:  Damn, another truth exposed.  Louis is really Kelly’s fourth husband Larry, and an old white dude who was a delivery guy with UPS until his looks went and he caught on with FedEx as a lost package tracer.  He lives in a double-wide near the Memphis airport and emails Kelly about his adventures.  Larry is currently at work on his own novel, "The UPS Man Always Comes Twice."  Larry says it’s a thriller but Kelly says its strictly fantasy.

Ah!  Finally !  I’ve got some spys who are on the ball!  But gosh, poor guy’s delusional, huh?  Good thing Kelly dumped him.

EE:  Buzz is that you two discuss plot via individual web cam’s and are thinking about posting them on MySpace.  What?  You want to let aspiring writers know how easy it is to write a book?  I mean, the field is crowded enough!

PP:  Okay, let’s be serious here.  The field IS crowded and it’s getting harder every day to break in – and to stay in.  But whoever said this was going to be easy?  Writing’s like having thin thighs.  If it were easy, everyone would do it.  Kelly sez, everyone IS doing it.  Okay, if GOOD writing were easy, everyone would be doing it.  If you are good – and you have enough passion – you will make it.

You’re on the mark there!

EE:  So I’m hearing that you two do a damn fine rendition of ‘Blues In The Night’ and are rehearsing now for next year’s Edgar’s.

PP:  When we were named co-chairs of Edgar Week 2007, the first thing the MWA board did was tell us we couldn’t sing anything.  But we have come up with a bunch of ways to spice up th Edgar banquet.

1-Board members will walk Manhattan streets with sandwich boards saying FOLLOW ME TO THE EDGAR’S!!

2-Reed Farrell Coleman will open with a musical membership pitch to join MWA called ‘Why MWA?’ sung to the tune of "YMCA."

3-David Morrell, wearing a loin cloth and bandana, will be on standby to shoot paintballs at any speaker who goes over the two-minute limit.

4-Every table will be decorated with a lifelike statue of Poe peeing out free champagne all night long.

5-At evening’s end, in a final tribute to Hitchock, 5,000 live ravens will be released to swoop over the tables as guests exit.  (Actually they’re crows becasue they’re cheaper to rent but everyone will be too drunk on free champagne to notice.)

Seriously, folks – we’re going to have a helluva party at next year’s Edgar’s.  And we’re having a ball planning it.

Just seeing David Morrell in a loin cloth would be worth the price of admission!

EE:  My best spy tells me that both of you have been approached by the producers of ‘Housewives’ to be regulars next season – and you’ll be portraying your real life roles as best selling authors.  Are your husbands good with this?

PP:  You know, Lee Goldberg got us a reading but we were rejected for not being desperate enough.  Or maybe it had to do with how we looked in the stilettos and thongs.

My insider souce tells me it wasn’t the stilettos or thongs – it was because your parts were on the table to be expanded as co-leads and it caused a major hissy fit.  Expect a call any day now…but you didn’t hear this from me, okay?

EE:  Word on the street is that Kelly’s expertise as a former dealer at the gaming tables will be the basis for a ‘tell-all’ coming up soon.  Uh, does Donald Trump know about this?

PP:  Yes, and it has his hair standing on end.


EE:  And I’m also hearing Kris – that you’re planning on revving up the love scenes in the next Kincaid book, but Kelly is do damn shy, she’s turned that portion of the writing over to you.  Are you good with this?

PP:  This is true, we swear.  We just wrote our first on-camera love scene in our next book.  A THOUSAND BONES (Pocket 2007).  Neither one of us wanted to write it, especially since it involves, well, our heroine getting pleasured by her man in certain way. (how’s that for a euphemism?).  We were so squirrely about it that one night in the bar at SleuthFest we asked a bunch of female crime writers if they really wanted to read that sort of thing.  A resounding YES!  Especially from Don Bruns and Jerry Healy, who were eavesdropping.

This isn’t exactly a family channel, but we’ll go with the euphemism.  So, uh…when in 2007?  Not that I’m anxious…just thought some others might want to know.  What I mean is….oh, hell, never mind.

EE:  Okay, time to get serious!  Let’s hear about your Walter Mitty dreams.

KRIS:  I want to be a Rockette.  I can dance okay, but I’m 56, five-foot-three and shrinking fast.

KELLY:  I want to be a torch singer in a New Orleans blues club.  The closest I got was singing "Hey Good Looking" a a karoke bar in Tunica, Mississippi.  True story.

And the board won’t let you do a routine at the Edgar banquet??  I protest!  I’m going to call Margery right this minute.  I can picture it now – Kelly belting her heart out and Kris kicking up her heels all over the stage.  This could be the utlimate show stopper!  It ain’t fair, I tell you!

EE:  Tell us who you’d both (not at the same time, naturally!) love to have all to yourselves in a cozy corner of the bar at the next con?

PP:  Ken Bruen.  A lovely man.  And why not at the same time?

Why not indeed?  Excellent choice.

EE:  Okay, Ladies!  Get ready for this one.  You’re at ThrillerFest and you get to choose your panel mates.  Who are they?

PP:  We would surround ourselves with the prettiest faces and bask in the reflected glow.  Tess Gerritsen, Gayle Lynds, Zoe Sharp and Barry Eisler.

Oh. Well, since you want ‘prettiest’ I won’t pout about being left out.  Besides, you chose my some of my favorites anyway.  And yeah-Barry would certainly qualify!

EE:  So Kelly – what’s the scoop on the rumor that Kris does a mean hula and won’t show you her moves?  That’s not very sisterly like, but are you handling it okay?

PP:  First of all, it’s not a hula.  It’s a hula-hoop-watusi-Hullabaloo thing left over from the Sixties, an era from which my sister has never quite emerged.  she still brags about getting tear-gassed in college but she won’t tell me what she was protesting.  I think her author picture is from the Sixties too.

Call me –  okay?  I have the scoop and it wasn’t over Bra burning either.

EE:  You’re on tour – it’s a double signing schedule – you get to choose who goes with you.  Who would that be?  Kris?  Kelly?  Come on, don’t be shy.

PP:  Whoever’s atop the Times bestseller list.  We’re no fools.

So if you were on the road now – I guess that would be either Brad Melzer or Cormac MacCarthy?  I sure as hell know it ain’t gonna be Bill O’Reilly!  Oh, could you just picture that?

EE:  You’re having a dinner party for six.  Who would they be and what would you serve?

PP:  Otto Penzler and five cozy writers.  We wouldn’t have to serve anything because they’d eat him alive.

AUTHORS TAKE NOTEKris and Kelly will be thowing names in the hat to select five cozy mystery writers.  Should you wish to partake of this fabulous offer – this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – you must contact them before midnight – October 14th.  You may do so here at On The Bubble if you so desire – or should you wish to remain anon – then an email will suffice.  Please note in the subject line – ‘Cannibals R US’.  But hurry! This offer will not last long.

Kris & Kelly!  You were both absolutely terrific!  Thanks for playing with me – and thanks so much for being such great gals. 



Yeah, yeah…so I’m borrowing from Will – but I don’t think he’d mind all that much.  I’ll bet he’d agree it fits John Hart.  I mean, when is the last time you saw Pat Conroy blurb a writer?  "The King of Lies moves and reads like a book on fire…an amazing new talent."  And Janet Maslin? "There hasn’t been a thriller as showily literate as The King of Lies…since Scott Turow came along."  And then there are raves from Entertainment Weekly, People Magazine gave him 3.5 stars out of 4!  Even Barnes & Noble said – "Scott Turow meets William Faulkner.  This amazing first effort by a former trial lawyer, John Hart, augurs a brilliant writing career-a relentless pace, emotionally gripping, and a beautifully written saga of a doomed family in a small southern city."  And then, of course, starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and Bookpage.  Well, actually, that’s not all…but I have to save room for the interview, right?  But – I would be remiss not to tell you that John’s book has been selected as an Editor’s Pick by The Mystery Guild, a Featured Alternate by the Doubleday Book Club, the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Literary Guild and Smart Readers Rewards.

Pretty heady stuff, huh?  How many debut writers would kill to have this said about their first book?  Debut, hell!  How many writers period!  But seriously, don’t hate the guy.  He has a lovely wife and two daughters, and loves dogs! Besides, he has a very charming soft southern drawl that just makes one…well, I’m happily married… but still…  And did I mention a great sense of humor?

Come meet John Hart!

EE:  So, John – now that you’ve joined the firm of Grisham, Turow, Margolin & Schaffer – are you going to throw away that sign you had in your office?  You know the one I mean – that Shakespeare ditty from King Henry VI – ‘The first thing to do is to kill all the lawyers."?

JH:  Kill all the lawyers?  Who would buy my books?  Actually, I’m pretty proud to be a lawyer.  Believe it or not, it’s a great community.  Shared experiences.  Similar war stories.  It’s funny, The King of Lies doesn’t really paint lawyers with a kind of stroke, yet some of my most outspoken fans are attorneys.  Quite a few of them have gone out of their way to say that I nailed it.  Of course, they’re referring mainly to criminal district court, which is a strange beast…you really have to see it to believe it.  So, I’m still active in the bar.  At the same time, I can’t say that I miss the practice.  But I need to be careful.  If book two blows up on me, I might be asking one of them for a job.

Attention to all lawyers in the audience!  Don’t hold your breath waiting for John to send in his resume.  It ain’t gonna happen.  He’s locked into a contract with the above mentioned firm.

EE:  Talk is, John – and I’ve got this from impeccable sources – that Mick Jagger said you could go along with the Stones on their new tour, but you had to pay your own way – so you wrote The King of Lies to finance it.  Care to comment? 

JH:  That’s right.  After I left the law, I ended up working for a major Wall Street firm, where I consulted on a billion dollars of other people’s money.  The pay was unacceptable, so I went for the sure fire route of the thriller writer.  Easy money.  Guaranteed.  So far I’ve earned enough to wave at the bus as is screams past my hometown on the interstate.  But by the time the paperback comes out, I should own a squeegee: and I think that will put me over the top.

Uh, in that case…I wouldn’t worry about hangin’ with Mick just yet.  Maybe next year?

EE:  Gosh, after learning you won’t be going on tour with the guys, I almost hate to ask you about that ’61 Corvette.  I mean, you must be pretty down about now, and I don’t mean to rub salt in the wound, but…

JH:  That was a dark day.  Candy-apple red, matching numbers, completely restored…and it flamed out on the side of the interstate after a freak accident.  Melted to the frame.  Backed traffic up all the way to Chapel Hill.  I remember running down the shoulder and wondering, "Should I dive?"  I guess cars don’t really blow up when they burn.  Hollywood got that one wrong.  I do have two hub caps, though, if anyone needs really expensive ash trays.

Ohhh…I really do hate myself now for asking.

EE:  So John – rumors are rampant (I just love that term) around the Sundanceville that Robert Redford wants to play the role of Work Pickens but you turned him down because his face is too weathered.  John!!  You turned REDFORD DOWN???  Oh…I’m wilting here.

JH:  I didn’t say that his ‘face’ was too weathered.  I said his ‘ass’ was too weathered.  I mean, come on, his face is perfect.

His what?  Wait a minute.  Work Pickens doesn’t strip in the book!  So who the hell cares about… Well, anyway, you’re right about the face.  He’s still to die over.  I remember the day I met him.  Stop laughing.  I really did.  It was…nevermind, my husband might be reading this.  I’ll tell you all about it at Thrillerfest.

EE:  Tess Gerritsen is gonna get a kick out of hearing you left med school when you decided you couldn’t do a cross-section of a cadavers penis.  Bet you’re glad though, huh?  I mean, you might have become a famous surgeon instead of a best seller. What a bummer that would have been.

JH:  Actually, it wasn’t med school.  It was pre-med in undergrad.  But still, the same rule applies.  Any job requiring me to saw off a man’s Johnson, be he dead or alive, just wasn’t in the cards.  There is probably something dark and easily interpreted in that fact, either a metaphor or some quirk of mind that I would hide from most shrinks; but there it is.  And my entire family history is built on medicine.  A doctor father? Check.  A doctor grandfather who was surgery chief at Duke? Check.  Aunts and Uncles that could deliver babies, remove tumors and make you better than you were before (think Steve Austin)?  Check.  I don’t blame people like Tess for taking up writing.  Tumors? Growths? Toenail fungus?  No thanks.   

But then again.  Murderers, rapist, child molesters?  I guess lawyers can’t talk.  Bottom line, writing novels is pretty cool.  Doing stuff like this is alright, too.

Good thing you didn’t see Tess’s mock autopsy at ThrillerFest!  I covered my eyes during most of it!  But look at it this way – you gave up toenail fungus to catch bad guys. You could say there is some sort of trade off here, couldn’t you?   

EE:  How’s your wife Katie handling all those women lining up at your book signings?  You know what I mean (wink wink)…the Picken’s Chicks?  I’ve been told the fan club is growing so fast, they’ve had to incorporate.

JH:  E, my friend, if you saw my wife you would never ask that question.  Suffice it to say that I consider myself a lucky man.

Ah, spoken like a truly smitten man.  I love that in a guy.  Really, I do.

EE:  Okay, let’s get serious now John!  This thing you have with beer and bacon for breakfast just has to stop.  I mean, I know you Southerners have a different idea of healthy food groups, but really – this combo just won’t jump start your writing day.

JH:  No, no, no.  Beer and bacon is for dinner.  You could never get through th day on that, especially not on the grueling schedule of a full-time writer.  Why, I must sit perfectly still for as long as five or six hours a day.  And then there’s the email, and the afternoon massage.  And let’s not forget the need to sign all those royalty checks. I don’t know how it works for you, but I get a single check for each book sold.  Why, just last week, I must have cashed seven or eight.  And two people wanted autographs.  Two!  I mean, come on.  There needs to be limits.  I need at least ninety minutes for a nap.  Two hours for coffee at Starbucks.  Then there are the groupies.  They have to be dealt with.  My five year old has a school teacher right?  And she asked me to sign a permission form for a field trip.  Come on.  Permission form?  We all know what that really means.  So I told her I was married, and that seemed to handle the problem.  Now the principal is there every day when I come for my baby girl.  I guess that teacher needs the moral support, you know?  Just to keep her within limits.  So, no, beer and bacon just won’t cut it for breakfast.  I generally stick with bourbon and grits.

Royalty checks?  You know some royals and they send you money?  But, yeah…I can see how hard your days are.  Whew.  Glad I don’t have your problems!  But, uh…John?  I’d love to meet some of your royal friends.  Maybe we could get together for breakfast?  I’m good with the bourbon…but could we nix the grits?

EE:  Talk around Lawyerville, John – is that you’ve broken the cardinal rule of ‘telling it like it is’ – and the boys and girls are gathering on the footsteps of court houses all over the country getting ready to march.  How are you going to handle this?

JH:  Are you kidding?  The lawyers are rallying to my banner like I was William Wallace.  Now there’s talk of forming some kind of professional group, like a bar, maybe.  A state bar.  And a national version, too.  The American Bar Group, maybe.  Frankly, we’ve had enough.  We want reasonable compensation for reasonable work.  You win a case, and then get one third of a million dollar verdict?  That’s less than four hundred thousand dollars, which is just unacceptable for a hard week’s work.  We demand more, and we’re going to get it!

Kidding?  Me?  Get serious.  Listen Braveheart, I’ll run the bar, you take care of the dough problem, okay?  We can make this thing work.  Just don’t call me Kitty. 

EE:  Oh, John!  I just got a call from one of your neighbors.  Did you give my number?  She’s in a snit and wants me to talk to you about your singing when you’re out on your hammock.  She thinks it’s unseemly for a best selling author of your stature to be singing all those songs from Mary Poppins – and wants you to cool it.  It doesn’t look good for the neighborhood.  What do you want me to tell her?  She’s on hold…

JH:  Now you’ve hit the nail on the ugly side.  Mary freakin’ Poppins, that good for nothing, nineteenth century London trollop!  I don’t care if a spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down.  She needs to chill out, have a bad hair day.  Something.  She’s right up there with Shirley Temple and Cinderella.  And don’t get me started on Ariel, Sleeping Beauty or that tramp Jasmine.  I can’t get these songs out of my head.  I feel like Jack Nicholson trapped in a long, dark winter.  God knows what my next novel is going to look like.  But I love my girls, you see, and they LOOOOOVE these songs.  It makes me understand Prosac, alcoholism and vasectomies.  Actually, not the vasectomy part.  But the rest of it for sure.  I have, quite literally, caught myself driving, alone and and singing, "So This Is Love" from Cinderella.  When the bass pumping low rider pulled up next to me, I thought I’d hit new lows.  Then the hot college girls pulled up at the next light.  It’s not cool.  Trust me.

Uh, John?  You want me to tell her all that?  Can I leave ‘Mary freakin’ Poppins’ out?  Maybe the trollop description too?  I mean, they like you now, and think you’re cool, but?   This might backfire, you know?  Tell you what, I’ll just say…well, I’ll think of something.

EE:  Okay, here’s a tough one.  What’s your Walter Mitty dream?  I ask every guest that – and you’re not off the hook.

JH:  This one is simple, and no BS.  I’d be a search and rescue helicopter pilot.  Those guys are just bad-ass.  Can there be a better job?  I doubt it.

And no BS from me either on this one.  That’s admirable.  And you’re right. True hero’s.

EE:  So, John – which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at next year’s Bouchercon or ThrillerFest?

JH:  Any of the authors who blurbed my book.  It’s such a decent thing for an established writer to do for a new guy.  I would listen to their stories, I would thank them profusely, and I would stand them to drinks from dusk until dawn.

That’s very nice.  But, uh…I thought maybe you might say…well, I was hoping…  Gosh, maybe I’ll wave as I pass by, okay?  I mean, I wouldn’t want to barge in or anything.

EE:  Okay, now that I know you’re not fooling around with choppers or sailing small boats across oceans anymore – so what would you be doing if you were not writing?

JH:  That’s easy.  I would be hating whatever job I happened to have.  This whole writing thing may go nowhere, but, damn, I love it.

Get a grip here, John.  Face facts – you’re in it for the duration.  Get used to it.

EE:  Besides Katie – who would you love to be on a deserted island with?

JH:  My dog, Tom, who makes me laugh and would probably taste like chicken.

Very funny.  What a sense of humor you have. I tell everyone I know that.  He’s kidding, folks.  Honest.  He. Doesn’t. Mean A. Word. Of. It.  Really. Really.  Really.

EE:  Rumors are running amok that residents of Salisbury, North Carolina are talking about erecting a statue of you in Hurley Park, but you’ve declined the honor because they want you to wear a baseball cap backwards.

JH:  No, E.  This one you truly misunderstood.  You see, the book is set in my hometown of Salisbury.  The folks who live there don’t want to erect a statue with my hat on backwards.  There’s your confusion.  They want to stand me up and kick my ass backwards.  Big difference.

Oh, now I get it.  Guess that’s what the mayor was trying to tell me.  We had a bad connection.  Poor man was shouting so damn much I thought…well, thanks for setting me straight.

And many, many thanks to you, John – for being such a grand guest, not a pain in the ass, at all…I mean, none of my guests are, you understand…but then…as I often say…I only know the best people and the finest writers.  None of it has rubbed off on me yet, but hey – I’m working on it.  And might I also add – congratulations for a stunning debut – and may the writing gods stay with you.  Oh, if you happen to chat with one of them…mention I’m still on hold, okay?  My ear is getting sore.