1. Have you always known that you wanted to be an author or is this something that you only realized as an adult?
I knew it from a pretty early age. I think after I read The Phantom Tollbooth I wanted to write a book. I did the whole high-school newspaper thing and wrote a couple of novels in my twenties that were never published.
2. Why write suspense thrillers?
I don’t really think of my books as suspense thrillers, although The Big Exit is more action oriented than my first book, Knife Music. I would describe them as unconventional mysteries or offbeat crime novels (that hopefully keep readers turning pages). They’re a little more literary than I think they get credit for. I would say they’re tweeners in the sense that they’re a cross between literary and commercial. I think the books may disappoint someone who’s expecting the typical action thriller.
3. Your bio states that you have a MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Have you ever written in any other genres or seriously considered writing in any other genre?
My thesis for my MFA was also a crime novel (never published). Every once in a while I’m tempted to try a Nick Hornby/High Fidelity type book. I always loved Brave New World and had a sci-fi streak as a kid, so something set in the future would also be fun. But as I try to build an audience I’m going to probably stick to plots that have a strong mystery element.
4. You’re obviously a busy man with a full-time career at CNET, a family and your writing. Do you have a writing routine, even if it’s only a few minutes a day or week or do you squeeze your writing in whenever you can?
Though I publish stuff on the Internet almost every day for my day job, I actually stop writing fiction for several months until the urge to write a new story builds and I formulate a set of characters and a plot. I’m also a deadline writer, so it helps to have a contract that says I have to turn something in on a certain day. When I’m writing fiction, I get up at 4 AM and write till about 9 AM (or longer on the weekends). I’m a morning writer as far as fiction goes. For CNET, I’m 24/7.
5. Although The Big Exit isn’t considered a sequel to Knife Music there are recurring characters. Will we see any of these characters return in a third book?
Some will, but I’ll have a new protagonist. My first two books were a little unusual in that the detective (Madden, who continued on) isn’t the main character. He’s an important character, but not the protagonist.
6. What authors do you consider to be your inspiration?
Truman Capote, Joseph Heller, George Orwell, Agatha Christie, Paul Auster, Philip Roth, Mario Vargas Llosa, Kurt Vonnegut, Milan Kundera, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, to name a few.
7. What are some of your favorite reads from 2012?
I thought Defending Jacob was well done. And Jo Nesbo’s Phantom.
8. What are you currently reading?
Dennis Lehane’s Live by Night. I’ve also been dipping in and out of Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Lincoln book. I tend to read a few books at the same time. I’ll read The Racketeer because my books usually have a bit of legal thriller to them, so it’s good to see what Grisham is up to.
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