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

Come meet JLW!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ohhhhh, is that a hot flash I feel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JLW:  Sadist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happened to Viagra?  Are they still dickering?

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

JLW:  Only if I get a thirteen episode deal.

Yeah, stick to your guns on that!

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

JLW:  John Mortimer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay, you’re still off the hook.

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

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

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


  1. Editor From Hell

    Lady, you can write for me any day! This is a riot, lol.

    Seriously – I’ve read all of your interviews, but haven’t posted until now. You get better with each one. My favorite was with Paul Gyyot, until now (sorry, Paul!).

    Keep up the great work!

    And – a comment for all those lurkers out there…get off your asses and post a comment here! F’ing Philistines.

    Best regards Evil E…look forward to your next skewering, er, interview.

  2. vito

    As a first timer I found this interview to be hilariously fun and entertaining, can’t wait for the next one.

  3. Elaine

    Dear Editor from Hell:Please accept my abject apology for a typo and a misspelling. I promise to be more careful, I don’t submit work like this normally, but you see, it’s like this-my left hand is in a splint, and then my cat ate my copy paper, and then…well, this program doesn’t have spell check, and…and suffice it to say I screwed up. But, CALL ME, okay!! I’M YOURS!

    But am glad you like the interviews – so stay tuned, I’ve got a stellar lineup waiting in the wings.

    And lurkers? Did you hear what the Editor From Hell said about joining in? First rule: ALWAYS do what an editor tell us.

  4. Elaine

    Hey, Vito!

    Howareya? Thanks for dropping in. You a friend of Tony’s? . I love the name ‘Vito’. I’ve got to use it for a character one of these days.


  5. Pari

    Elaine,I have to agree with the Evil E. You’re getting better with each interview.

    Please keep it up.

    You’ll have to compile these for a book.

    What say you, Evil E? Doesn’t she have a winner?


  6. Elaine

    Pari! I’M EVIL E!! That was the Editor From Hell. Please forgive her, Editor From Hell-she knows not what she does. Our Pari is exhausted – she’s in demand everywhere – she has a new book to edit – her twins are tugging at her apron – her husband forgot to pick up the Chinese take out and tomorrow is Mother’s Day!! But she’s a dear and took time out to stop by.

    A book? Hmmmm. Hear that Editor From Hell? Wanna take a lunch?

  7. Pari

    All right, already. I do know you’re the EE.

    I was addressing my comments to the Evil EfH, okay? That’s because I think your interviews publishable as an anthology — already.

    . . . and I don’t have twins . . . just two lovely children.

    And, Mother’s Day has been absolutely fab so far. Now, though, I’m getting ready to go to the gym. Argh.

  8. Elaine

    Arrggghh! Pari! Gosh darn! I know you don’t have twins! As usual, my fingers got ahead of my brain. Chalk it up to yakking with Robin Burcell- who does have twins – one of which just came home from the hospital from the same pneumonia that I had.

  9. Cellar Door

    What a great read and an excellent pairing that can seriously snag hold of a passing reader. I will eagerly await Mrs. Flinn’s next tantalizing interview.

  10. Elaine

    Welcome, Cellar Door! And thanks so much for the nice words. I’d love to take all the credit (and I would if I could get away with it) – but without great writer pals who are terrific sports and superb wits, I’d be humming all by myself. And trust me, I can’t carry a tune.

  11. JLW

    Guyot jests. His story “What a Wonderful World” was selected for the MWA anthology Burden of the Badge, and my story “When the Wind Blows” wasn’t.

  12. Robin Burcell

    Dear On The Bubble staff,When you are doing these interviews with guys like JLW, can you please, please translate any words over three syllables for those of us who, er, need the help?

    And JLW, what? You don’t read police procedurals? Why? Because cops can’t write words over two syllables? That is so snobbish. You’re missing some really good easy reading fiction… 😉

  13. JLW

    I only mentioned panels for genres that I work in myself. If I had considered a panel for police procedurals, you certainly would have been right at the top of the list, well, all right, near the top, after Mike Connelly. The others would be Peter Robinson, William Kent Krueger, and Joe Konrath. Notice that I myself would not be on the panel. I would be in the audience, wide-eyed and drooling, hanging on your every word. Although I’ve noticed I have a tendency to drool around you, anyway, from the first time Barbara Seranella introduced us.

    “Procedurals”, by the way, has four syllables, just like “Robin Burcell”.

    But anybody who has twins needs no lectures on anything from anybody. What I do is just show off. What you do is awe-inspiring.

  14. Robin Burcell

    Procedural has four syllables? See? These are things they just don’t teach you in the donut shops. (Which might be why I prefer Starbucks over Winchell’s. Both of which are only two syllables, however…)


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