My genre is called humorous mystery, funny mystery or the tag I prefer, screwball mystery. I prefer it because my character Austin Carr is definitely a screwball. The leading practitioners I would think are Janet Evanovich and Carl Hiaasen. I can't say I chose the genre at all; it chose me. When I sat down to write the first novel in this series, Big Numbers, Austin's voice was -- well, the voice of a screwball. Somebody angry, fed-up and disillusioned, but a guy who still looked at his troubles with a strong sense of humor. I suppose it's my philosophy, too. If you can't laugh at yourself, life is awfully disturbing.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
Like most novelists, I'd say the biggest challenge is obscurity: very few people read your work. Sure, everybody knows writers like Harlan Coben or Gillian Flynn, but Amazon will publish more than two million books in 2016. Everybody's a writer. Fewer and fewer people get a New York publisher behind them every year; fewer and fewer names appear in Barnes & Noble. Novelists are artists, and we'd better figure on dying undiscovered. At times that can be a tough pill. When we start out, we all half-expect to someday be rich and famous, to eventually write that bestseller. Hey, I'm still hoping it will happen. I'm still trying. But I write every day because of who I am, not who I want to be, and that's how I deal with the lack of financial and critical success most novelists face. My life's purpose is to be an observer, a storyteller, and I'm okay with that. I paint pictures on the cave wall.
When and where do you do your writing?
Wherever and whenever I have to, but usually in the den at home and the earlier the better. When I wrote a lot of stories for the newspaper, I forced myself to rise early and work on my fiction before work. All that writing at the paper made fiction particularly hard after the job.
So early morning writing is a habit I liked and stuck with all my life. I get up before everyone else. If I'm hot and heavy on something, nearing the completion of a draft, I'll rise at 4 a.m. As for where, I used to have a big Lazy-Boy in the TV room where I loved to write, but my wife replaced chair with an L-shaped couch. My corner does have a foot-rest, my wife points out, but it's no Lazy-Boy. If the house gets noisy, I move to the garage.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
I've traveled the country, attended over a dozen mystery conventions, hired pubic relations people, spoken at libraries, bookstores and literary fairs, advertised online and in print publications. I'm convinced after a decade of promotion and publicity that only word-of-mouth can make your books sell well. So I stay home now and try to write a better book.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
I am most proud not a single one of my 150-plus reviews mentions my beautiful writing. I earned my first byline for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner when I was nineteen, more than half a century ago, and clarity and brevity are my objectives as a writer. I'm a student of the Elmore Leonard School of Fiction: "If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it." The idea is to disappear as an author and let your characters tell the story.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
It would have to be Elmore Leonard. I have a lot of questions for him about that School of Fiction his work represents. Plus "Dutch" was an interesting character and had several fascinating grudges I'd love to hear more about. Did you know Get Shorty was written and titled as a revenge against Dustin Hoffman (who claims to be 5' 6") for optioning a piece of Elmore's work and then letting the film die? Supposedly, that restaurant scene with Danny DeVito acting like a jerk came from a real life meeting between Elmore and Dustin. Maybe the story I read wasn't accurate, so I'd love to hear the real skinny from Leonard himself.
A former reporter for The Los Angeles Times, Jack Getze is Fiction Editor for Anthony nominated Spinetingler Magazine, one of the internet's oldest websites for noir, crime and horror short stories. His Austin Carr Mysteries BIG NUMBERS, BIG MONEY, BIG MOJO and this fall's BIG SHOES are published by Down and Out Books. His short stories have appeared in A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, The Big Adios and Passages.
On Amazon: http://amzn.to/1LVwK54
On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26783711-big-shoes