Saturday, November 28, 2009
Good Sunday Morning, Wonders in the Dark readers,
I was very fortunate to interview authors Eric Beetner and J.B.Kohl, on my blog yesterday afternoon, but due to the fact, that I don’t get as much “traffic” I decided to ask Sam Juliano, if it would be all right with him if I could
share my interview with his readers, as I give authors Eric Beetner and J.B.Kohl’s book one more push…before Eric, embark on a trip to China with his wife, to adopt their second child…Well, here it goes, I hope that you enjoy it too!…By the way, I have also posted a question and video for you at the end of the interview.
and Once again Thank -you, Sam Juliano.
[Editor’s Note: Good Afternoon, readers I’am so very “happy” to welcome authors Eric Beetner to sit down with me this Afternoon (before he embark on his trip to China along with his wife to adopt their second child.) and I’am equally, happy to welcome author J.B. Kohl, who is joining us via over the telephone intercom due to the fact, that she lives on the east coast…]
Well, let me begin our interview by saying…
Good-Afternoon Eric, and
I know that you have been very busy promoting your book “One Too Many Blows to the Head.”
That is why I ‘am so happy that you both have decided to join me this afternoon.
First, let me start by asking you this question…
DeeDee: Where Are You Both Originally From?
Author Eric Beetner:
I was born in Iowa but then quickly moved to California, back to Iowa, to one town Connecticut and then to another where I spent my “formative” years. I’ve also lived in Boston, NYC (briefly) and Los Angeles for the past 17 years.
I live in Virginia right now, but am originally from Nebraska.
DeeDee:When And Why Did You Both Begin Writing?
Author Eric Beetner:
I started writing screenplays as a way to make a movie without the expense of making a movie.
I went to film school so it has always been part of the plan to make movies and I was getting impatient. I like that when you write you are in control of the entire process. That control ends abruptly when you try to sell it but for that brief moment it is fantastic.
I took to fiction writing after I burned out on scripts.
I wrote my first novel in secret since everyone you meet is “working” on a novel but 90% never actually write one. I hate being that guy. I didn’t say it out loud to anyone until after I finished. Even now not all my friends really know I write. “One Too Many Blows To The Head” was a surprise to a lot of people.
DeeDee: Wow, Unbelievable, But Believable!
I have always written, I guess, but I didn’t begin writing professionally until about three years ago. At that time, we moved to the east coast and I decided that, rather than find a new job, I’d just give writing a try.
DeeDee: When Did Both Of You First Consider Yourself Writers?
In many ways I still don’t but I guess when I first got paid for screenwriting. For one script I got paid a paltry sum but when it was listed in Variety it said I got a six figure deal! I checked the contract wondering where my money was and the film would have had to make over 200 million dollars for me to make that much. Instead the film never even got made.
DeeDee:(Laughter!…Wow, I’am so sorry to hear that the film was never made, but hang in there Eric…
Ooh. Tough question. I guess I still have to remind myself that I’m a writer. I’ve never really thought about it. My husband tells everyone his wife is a writer.
I guess I say it but I don’t know when I started thinking of myself that way. I guess if I had to nail down a particular time I started thinking of myself as a writer I’d have to say it was after my first book was published.
DeeDee: What Inspired You Both To Write Your First Book?
Reading. Just loving the stuff I was reading and wanting to jump on that bandwagon. I make no pretense of reinventing the wheel or anything. I’m a genre writer and I am fine with that.
I had a character in my head that I had been carrying around for a few years.
I wanted to write something based on that character . . . just to prove to myself that I could complete an entire novel.
DeeDee:It Seems As If You Both Our On Your Way To Becoming Very Successful Writers. By The Way,What Books Are You Both Reading Now?
Just finished The Fifth Grave written in 1941 and banned for over 40 years. Not bad. My to be read pile is over 40 books deep. I just cracked open Missy by Chris Hannan. I am taking a very long plane trip soon and I plan to bring 5 or 6 Hard Case crime books to knock out on the flights.
I’m reading two books right now: Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer and Midnight Fugue by Reginald Hill.
DeeDee:The Books That You Both Are Reading Sounds Very Interesting.
DeeDee: Who Are Your Favorite Authors And What Is It That Really Strikes You About Their Work?
I am a huge Cornell Woolrich fan. The very definition of noir. I don’t have strong allegiance to many particular authors. I generally don’t read series so I don’t get caught up in reading 15 or 20 books about the same character. I LOVE Joe R. Lansdale. He may be my favorite of contemporary authors. Sunset & Sawdust is amazing and packs so many damn ideas and interwoven plots into one volume that is thrilling to behold.
I love anyone with a distinct voice like that. All his books are set in East Texas where he’s from and he knows the fabric of that country. It shows in everything he writes.
I’ve been reading all of Marcus Sakey’s stuff, I like Jason Starr, Steve Brewer who I think more people should be aware of. Scott Smith only has two books but I love them both. I really love finding an old out of print book from the 40s or 50s and digging up a gem. That is the best!
DeeDee: I Have To Agree With You Wholeheartedly, When It Comes To Author Cornell Woolrich, Being The Author That Defines All That Represent Or Defines What Film Noir Should Be…
DeeDee: J.B.kohl, How About You…
Denis Lehane is one of my favorites. I like the understatement he uses in writing. I find it more powerful than overzealous descriptions of events. He’s really good.
I like Agatha Christie. I love how she can keep a reader guessing until the end.
I think Stephen King does some of the best character work around. I felt a little sad when I finished It, The Stand, The Talisman . . . because I had to say good-bye to the characters. I think that is a mark of a good writer . . . when a reader is sad to get to the end of a book.
DeeDee: Ahh!…The Great Authors Denis Lehane, Agatha Christie and Stephen King…
Ha!Ha!…I Knew It! J.B…I Just Needed A Writer To Confirm My Suspicion.
Because I Too Am Reading Several Books, And I Don’t Want To Part Company With The Characters In These Books Neither.
DeeDee:What Books Have Most Influenced Your Life?
My life? Probably I’d have to go back to The Phantom Toolbooth. It’s a young adult book, but it is so in love with words and language it really makes you appreciate words in a way few books for that age group do.
DeeDee: Hmmm…Very Interesting!
With regard to writing, there are two books I pull out over and over again: If You Want To Write by Brenda Ueland, and Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I read both of these books long before I began writing professionally and I still pull them out when I need to feel inspired or reassured. Being a writer is a lonely road at times and it is easy to become discouraged.
I find if I need a little push in the right direction these books help with that.
As far as books I’ve read that have influenced me with regard to the genre I work in; I’d have to say it was my early introduction to noir, The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler, the Perry Mason novels by Erle Stanley Gardner were among the top of the list. Early on I tried to get as many 1930’s books as I could.
I’ve got one called The Door by Mary Robers Rinehart (1930) and I suppose I’ve read that three or four times in the last couple of years. I also have Motto for Murder by Merlda Mace (1943) and The Affair of the Fainting Butler by Clifford Knight (1943). I’ve read these over and over again. I don’t know how much they influence me, per se, but I find they keep me in the right frame of mind when I’m working on a new project.
DeeDee: Wow, Amazing!
Who Designed The Cover(s) Of Your Book “One Too Many Blows To The Head?
Author J.B.Kohl: A very talented man by the name of Marc Sasso did the cover for us. Eric tweaked it with the fonts and bylines.
DeeDee: Eric, Do You Want To Expand A Little More On My Question?
Oh! Yes, The amazing cover for our book was painted by a good friend of mine named Marc Sasso. He’s a professional illustrator and he did us a huge favor on this one. It’s not even really in his typical style but I gave him exactly what I wanted to keep it easy for him. I didn’t want him doing us a favor and then having to do a bunch of revisions. I sent him a reference photo and other ideas, he knocked it out in one attempt and then Jennifer and I collaborated on the layout, title fonts and back cover layout. We did all that stuff ourselves. People have really responded to it. We’ve gotten a lot of compliments.
DeeDee: I Must Admit That The Cover Of Your Book Is Amazing…Very Talented Artist This…Marc Sasso.
DeeDee: What Was The Hardest Part Of Writing Your Book?
The hardest part was not being able to meet in person. Jennifer and I have never met face to face. It was a challenge in some cases but then I must say in others it was a good thing I think. We were really allowed to write distinct and different voices for these two characters.
The editing was by far the hardest part for me because it was so meticulous and so time consuming. Writing with Eric was fun and actually very easy. I was engrossed in the process a hundred percent from start to finish.
DeeDee: How Did You Come Up With The Title?
We tossed around title names for awhile. Our first working title was Fist, but Eric came up with “One Too Many Blows To The Head.” At first I wasn’t sure about it but over the course of a few days, it grew on me.
Always much harder than you think. We had a few tentative titles. For most of it we used ‘Fist’. Then I remembered a song I love called “One Too Many Blows To The Head.” It has nothing in common with the book but it sounds great and it just clicked.
DeeDee: Do You Recall How Your Interest In Writing Originated?
I guess I’d call it more of a compulsion than an interest. I wrote my first unassigned story in the fourth grade. It was called “John, the First-Time Quarterback.” I used the word “whiskly” in that story, which is not actually a word. But my dad was so proud he still uses that word today. I guess I knew, even at that young age, if I could create adverbs, I could write novels.
I recently found a pile of old schoolwork from the 5th 6th and 7th grade. In it was a story I wrote. It was a crime story with guns, loan sharking and a car chase. I guess I’ve always been into it, even before I knew what I was writing about.
DeeDee: Do You Have To Travel Much Concerning Your Books?
I wish! I have a standing invite to do a signing in Chicago but I can’t afford the time/money to fly out there. Doing a book tour is a luxury we don’t really have the resources for. Being on a small publisher doesn’t allow for a travel budget.
No, not at all. Not that I wouldn’t enjoy traveling, but it hasn’t proved to be necessary. There are numerous bookstores regionally where I am happy to do signings, but travel time for those events is negligible.
DeeDee: Did You Both Learn Anything From Writing Your Book And What Was It?
I learned the fine art of collaboration, I think both Eric and I are a lot better at understanding the publishing process now. And I think we are both better editors and writers as a result of working together. Going into something like this, you never know quite what to expect. It could have turned out to be one of those situations where we write a chapter a year and in ten years we’re still talking about how we really need to finish that book. That wasn’t the case at all. I work very well as a collaborator. Would I work as well with someone other than Eric? I have no idea. And I really don’t know that I would want to try. Eric is too much fun to work with!
I learned a ton about the craft of writing on this one. Much more than I did writing a book in solitude. I can say I am a much better writer after this process.
DeeDee: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Keep at it. Write as often as you can. Encourage yourself. Have fun with it. We writers can tend to take ourselves too seriously.
DeeDee: What About You Eric,…
Eric:…Knock it off. Just quit. More room for our book on the shelves.
DeeDee: Do You Have Anything Specific That You Want To Say To Your Readers?
For anyone to find a book as small as ours and actually buy it is astounding to me. I firmly believe that if you like crime books or mysteries you will genuinely like this book. But for someone to make the effort to read about it, watch the trailer, read an interview like this and then make the next step and purchase it – I can only say thank you. I know I find it much more gratifying to discover a new writer. I don’t read anything on any best seller lists. I’m probably missing out but I just love the discovery so much it makes reading more satisfying for me. If our book ends up as one someone tells someone else about that would be the best outcome of all. I can make all my friends buy it but that’s not nearly as gratifying as strangers who feel no obligation.
DeeDee: I Truly Understand What You Are Saying Eric,…J.B.Kohl,
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it. I appreciate the noir novels of old and I wish there were more around.
DeeDee: Do You Have A Specific Writing Style?
I have a bad habit of starting sentences with the word “and”. I’m working on that. I also write in incomplete sentences a lot of the time. I’ve learned that this upsets editors to some degree, which naturally makes me want to continue doing it, but I’m trying to break the habit.
Every time I try to write something other than crime I find myself second guessing the over-earnestness or downright cheesiness of it so I give up. In screenwriting I didn’t have this problem. I wrote a little of everything. But I like building a reputation as a crime writer. The community is just amazing and to be invited in as an equal has been really gratifying.
DeeDee: Do You See Writing As A Career? On The Other Hand, Is Writing Your Career?
I have a day job. I can’t see writing becoming a full time job any time soon. That’s fine with me. My daily job is creative. I am a film/TV editor and producer (sometimes writer) and I do small film making projects on the side so I am very creatively fulfilled at work. I happen to get paid for it. I’m very lucky. I just hope to make a little noise in the writing world. If it becomes more – great. I’m not going to mortgage the house to chase the dream though.
DeeDee: Wow, I Was Not Aware Of Your Day Job Eric,…It Sounds Very Interesting Too!…J.B.Kohl,…
I don’t see it as a career. I had a career. I didn’t enjoy it. I look as writing as something that I’m lucky enough to do full time. I wish it made me more money!! But I love doing it and I enjoy it. “Career” sounds too much like “job.” And I don’t view writing as a job.
DeeDee: If You Had To Do It All Over Again, Would You Change Anything In Your Latest Book?
Eric: Not one bit.
I’m happy with the book. I suppose Fokoli would have liked to punch a few more people, but seriously, who wouldn’t? Sometimes you just gotta let things be the way they are.
DeeDee: Ha! Ha!
DeeDee: If You Had To Choose, Which Writer Would You Consider A Mentor?
I am too solitary and anti-social. I don’t do writer’s groups. I hate classes. I abhor feedback from anyone really. So, in a sense, Jennifer is the closest I’ve had to a mentor. As I said my writing improved a great deal with this book and I thank her.
My dad is a great writer. He doesn’t write professionally, but he is a great writer. When I was growing up my two sisters, my dad, and I would sit around the table with a stack of blank printer paper. One of us would come up with a sentence and we’d all write it down. A timer would be set for ten minutes and we’d all continue our own stories from that one sentence. At the end of ten minutes, we’d read to each other. Most of the stuff we wrote was really funny. I learned the art of writing during those sessions – sentence flow, reading aloud, writing to entertain others. And my dad was the driving force behind all of that.
My mother, too, is a great writer. She has a very subtle sense of humor that comes out on paper at times. She called me last week with a new book title . . . about flatulence. I laughed really hard. My mother is such a classy person and so sophisticated.
So my parents are my mentors. I can say other “professional” writers have influence me, but it is my parents who made me what I am, who gave me the genetic material that hard-wired me for this kind of life, and who have always encouraged me.
DeeDee: (Laughter! Ha! Ha!)…J.B. Kohl, That Is Funny! What Your Mother Said, About A New Book Title!
DeeDee: Is There Anything You Find Particularly Challenging In Your Writing?
The avoidance of procrastination. I find when I write on my own, it is very easy to become distracted by everything going on around me.
I find writing incredibly fun and when it’s fun it is easy. If it’s not fun I stop. There are always more stories. If a story isn’t working or is a struggle I ditch it and start something new. I always want writing to be fun.
DeeDee: Are There Any New Authors That Have Grasped Your Interest?
Oh, wow, there are so many great authors out there. I try to read as many authors by independent publishers as I can. Alan Draven, David Boyle, Thom Futrell, Nick Quantrill. In fact, Nick Quantrill has a new novel coming out in January. He writes a great crime novel.
I have befriended a bunch of short fiction writers in the online community and there are some amazing authors out there poised for greatness. Keith Rawson, Paul D. Brazill, Jimmy Callaway, Jake Hinkson, Cameron Ashley, Jason Duke, Christopher Grant, Col Bury,
Patricia Abbott,[Editor Note: Author Megan Abbott’s Mother)] Sandra Seamans, Libby Cudmore, Chad Eagleton, Cormac Brown, J.F. Juzwik, Robert Crisman…I could go on and surely missed more than a few but these are all people I have read multiple stories from and all are out there on the web. Webzines are the new pulps.
DeeDee: Name One Entity That You Feel Supported You Outside Of Family Members.
Obviously Eric has been a huge support. If we didn’t support one another, we wouldn’t have been able to write “One Too Many Blows To The Head;” however, my writer’s group, The Gloucester Owls, is always instrumental in giving me great feedback on my writing.
I have had great success among the webzines like A Twist of Noir, Darkest Before the Dawn, Thuglit, Pulp Pusher, Powder Burn Flash, Flash Fiction Offensive all of whom have published my work. Of course let’s not overlook Second Wind publishing who is putting the book out. We wouldn’t be talking if not for them. Lots of great crime titles there under the Dagger Books series. Next time you need a new book, look no further.
DeeDee: Can You Share A Little Of Your Current Work With Us?
Sure, we plan to work together on a new novel. But we both continue with our solo projects. I’ve got a rough draft of The Deputy’s Widow done, but I hate it so I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day again. I’m also working on a sort of a horror novel, which isn’t my usual genre, so I’m having a lot of fun with that.
I just finished the first draft of a new solo novel called The Devil Doesn’t Want Me. Now I just need to go back to the start and edit away, add, subtract and embellish. Then I try to get it published. In other words, you won’t be seeing it for a long time. I don’t want to divulge anything for fear of jinxing it. I told you, I don’t talk much about things until they’re done.
DeeDee: (Smiling) Right you, are Eric,…Can you discuss or tell us your latest news?
My news is that in a little more than a week my wife and I will travel to China to adopt our second daughter. It is seriously cutting into my writing time!
DeeDee: Yes, I know, That Is Why I Truly Appreciate You And J.B.Kohl, Taking The Time Out Of Your Schedule To Sit Down And Talk With Me…By The Way, Congratulations And Good Luck! With The Adoption Of Your Second Child.
What A Wonderful And Nice UnderTaking To Bring Your Sweet Innocent Children Into Your Lives.
DeeDee: Finally, Other than promoting your new book “One Too Many Blows to the Head” What are your current projects?
More words. More shorts, more novels. I have a series of short films I am prepping for early next year. I have a story in the Second Wind anthology “Murder on the Wind” and another one in a really interesting and exciting project called Harbinger *33 that is in the works. Both stories I really like. It will be nice to be in print in more than one place.
DeeDee: Eric and Jennifer, I Want To Take This Time To Thank You Both For Taking The Time Out Of You Very Busy Schedule To Sit Down And Discuss Why You Write, Your Personal Lives, And Your Book (“One Too Many Blows To The Head”) With Me.
Thank-You, Very Much!…This Have Been A Fun Day!
No, thank you. Toiling alone for months working on a book can get lonely and then to surface with a finished novel and have it out there in the world can be even more so if no one pays attention. Thanks to people like you for noticing our book and we certainly hope you find entertainment from it.
DeeDee: Eric, I’am Quite Sure That I Will Enjoy Reading Your and J.B.Kohl’s Book Very Much! Alone With The Current Winners Of My Book GiveAway Too!
And They Are:
Tony D’Ambra From Over There At…FilmsNoir.net
CoffeeMessiah (C.M.) From Over There At…Cofffee Messiah
And The Most Gracious Host Sam Juliano, From Over There At…Wonders In The Dark For Sponsoring The Book Giveaway Of “One Too Many Blows To The Head”
By Authors Eric Beetner And J.B.Kohl.
Linda (Is the first person on the video that Eric, meet) from the Mystery Bookstore sent a photo of Eric, signing the only copy of the book last Saturday, the proof copy that Eric, gave to the store staff.
According to Eric, It will have to do because, for now, that’s all there is…due to the delivery snafu.
Here goes author Eric Beetner, going door to door hand delivering copies of his and J.B.Kohl’s book…“One To Many Blows Too The Hand.” After what occurred due to a
Author Eric Beetner, Hand Delivering His and J.B.Kohl’s Book “One To Many Blows Too The Head.”
I found this interview to be very revealing and very informative too…kind of like looking into the mind of a writer. Well, here goes a couple of questions that I would like to ask the readers, here at Wonders in the Dark too…
Who Are Your Favorite Authors And What Is It That Really Strikes You About Their Work?
What Books (if any) Have Most Influenced Your Life?