Tuesday, January 1, 2013
A Visit with Craig McDonald
Copies of Craig's novels will be awarded to two lucky blog visitors who leave comments here.
Craig, why your fascination with Ernest Hemingway and do you think his death might actually have been a homicide?
What’s the difference between crime and mystery novels?
I believe the designation “mystery” places a certain obligation on the author to actually satisfy a kind of puzzle imperative and that such books are typically expected to be more plot than character driven. “Crime novels,” to my mind, are squarely focused on character and more concerned with the impulses that lead to crime, and its aftermath. I think it’s telling, too, that we — or at least publishers and book designers — attach the word “novel” behind “crime,” but you rarely see or encounter the phrase, “a mystery novel.”
How would you categorize your work and which novelist influenced your own?
I consider myself a novelist with a tendency to center books around crime(s). My first two books were published by Bleak House, which touted itself as an imprint of dark literary fiction. In terms of my novels to date, the series was very much inspired by James Sallis’ Lew Griffin series.
You have two prominent female characters in your series. Is it because you enjoy writing about women or because there are more women readers?
While I think Print the Legend offers two very strong female characters, actually the only consistently recurring major characters (to date) in the series have been Lassiter, Hemingway and Orson Welles. I think women too often tend to be props in genre efforts — and not just in the books of male authors. Conversely, a number of female authors frequently tend to use their male characters as props or as kind of romantic hitching posts. I just try to put fully realized characters on the page, male or female. The next novel, One True Sentence, introduces the only major female character to date to appear in more than one book. This particular woman is the one who really shapes Hector into the character we’ve come to know through the first three novels.
How difficult was it to acquire an agent and how important is it to a fledgling writer’s career to be represented by one?
Do you carefully outline your novels or do you “wing it?”
If I outlined a novel I’d never write it. I really believe that. I have a beginning, an end, and maybe a few set pieces in the middle. It’s mostly improvisation.
What’s the most important ingredient in crime novels? Character development or plot?
For me, character development. I demand a strong character arc when I’m reading a book. And I want a series character who evolves and ages. I don’t want to read the same book over and over.
Advice to aspiring writers?
Read good books, and a range of books. And write to your passions. The key is to write material only you can write.
Craig's website and book trailer: http://craigmcdonaldbooks.com/