Thursday, May 15, 2008

How to Launch a Book

In the video below, Dennis Cass describes how to launch a book in a Web 2.0 world.

Money quote: "YouTube, of course. You know, that's the dream, right? Twenty years ago when I wanted to become a writer, a big part of it was being able to put little videos on the Internet. I mean, that's it. That's why we do this."

I'm ashamed to say I've done everything he mentions but the Twitter part, and even I can't force myself to do that.

Hat tip to Ann Hillesland of my writers group.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Runoff and San Francisco Politics

Chapter 31

I don't usually blog about reviews, but Betsey Culp of the San Francisco Flier has a great discussion of my novel Runoff and its connection to San Francisco politics--particularly the 2003 mayoral election--in the latest edition of the Flier.

See it here.

Less of a review than a sort of archaeological dig through the back story of the novel, she's really the first one to connect all the dots with local politics so I was thrilled to see it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'm an (Unpaid) Photographer for the WSJ

A new career for me: unpaid photographer for Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal. See here. Must be part of editorial cost reductions he's instituted since he acquired the paper.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

891 Post Street

Noir Czar Eddie Muller has a great article on crime fiction in San Francisco in today's Chronicle.

He interviewed 30 Bay Area writers to get a sense for why San Francisco is such a good place for writers and writing--particularly crime writing. I've got a short quote in the article that speaks to the importance of the city for my work, but Eddie also asked everyone, "Why do you feel this area has attracted, or bred, so many writers...?"

This was my answer:
I think San Francisco has served the same function for literary types roaming the country as a lint collector in a dryer. Writers like Twain, Hammett and Kerouac came to San Francisco as much because they’d come as far west as they could go as any other reason. The fact that San Francisco offered more in terms of culture and appreciation of literature and creative endeavors than the typical western city made it possible to stay—or at least stay long enough to write something of lasting significance.
He starts the article by talking about 891 Post Street, which is the apartment that Hammett lived in when he wrote many of his best novels, including The Maltese Falcon. To complement the photos from the article, I've got a sort of guided tour of the apartment up on my website, incorporating pictures I took the day it was dedicated as a literary landmark.

The apartment is doubly important for me since I also decided to base my fictional PI--August Riordan--there, although I never allude to the Hammett connection.

As I mention in the text that goes with the apartment tour, the current resident is Bill Arney, who also happens to be the "voice of Noir City," the yearly film noir festival Eddie programs. Here's a picture of Bill sitting on the tub in the apartment's bathroom--the very place that Sam Spade sat while he made Brigid O'Shaughnessy strip to see if she had secreted a thousand-dollar bill on her person.

Given Bill's connection to the apartment and the film festival, it was a particular thrill for me that KQED got him to read the first chapter of my novel, Candy from Strangers, for an episode of their Writers' Block program.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Megan Abbott: Woman of Many Talents

Congratulations to Megan Abbott for winning an Edgar for her novel, Queenpin. I've found her writing to be a wonderful noir mix of the styles of two James: Cain and Ellroy.

But after listening to her interview on Clute and Edwards' Behind the Black Mask: Mystery Writers Revealed, I learned that she's written more than just fiction.

For instance, would you have caulked up co-authorship of a report entitled, "The Shipbuilding and Force Structure Analysis Tool" or "An Analysis of Sabbatical Leaves for Navy Surface Warfare Officers" to her? If not, you'd be wrong.

Those two reports and more were written during a stint at the Rand Corporation. One can only wonder if she spiced them up with lines like:
You have to decide who you are, little girl, she told me once. Once you know that, everyone else will, too.
as she did in Queenpin.