Friday, November 27, 2009

Page 69 Test

My new novel, The Big Wake-Up, is subjected to the Page 69 Test at Marshal Zeringue's wonderful blog. Here's the photo illustrating page 69 of the book. Check it out.

Cupid at Temple of Love in Versailles

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Of Mermaids and eBooks

Apropos of nothing to do with crime fiction, here's a picture of a mermaid statue I took at the Allerton Garden on the grounds of the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Kauai. One interesting detail about the statue is that Mr. Allerton apparently felt that her (original) forked tail contrasted too much with the spear-like shape of the surrounding foliage, so he cut it off! Hey, maybe there was a connection to crime after all ...

Mermaid Statue

An item more congruent to the topics typically covered in this blog may be this article on ebooks and ebook readers from the Sacramento Bee. In it, John Lescroart, Cara Black and I (among others) are quoted on our opinions about them. Turns out I'm the only one in the bunch who has an ebook reader, which did surprise me a bit.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Mr. De Mille, I'm Ready for My Close-up

Although my new novel, The Big Wake-Up, came out at the beginning of November, it's only recently that I've been able to lay my hands on my very own copies of the hardcover and trade paperback editions of the book.

Here they are on my kitchen counter. Pretty handsome looking twins, aren't they?

The Big Wake-Up

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Have Camera, Will Travel

Carol Thomas, the Mystery Series Examiner for, did a nice write-up on my other avocation (as distinguished from crime fiction writing) : playing paparazzi to the (real) crime fiction writing stars.

She's put together a list of some of the bigger crime fiction celebs I've bagged, and a nice slide show of the photographs. Head over to her column and check it out.

Monday, November 16, 2009

If You Can't Make the Book Tour ...

To promote my new novel, The Big Wake-Up, I have been touring a select number of bookstores with partner-in-crime Michelle Gagnon, who is promoting her thrilling new book, The Gatekeeper.

Instead of the usual dry readings, we've been trying to spice things up a bit with PowerPoint presentations.

For those of you who haven't been able to check out our show live, here's a recorded version of the really big shoe ...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Riordan's Character and a Holiday Shopping Guide

My private eye protagonist August Riordan gets put under the microscope over at Ann Chambers Theis' site Overbooked. Here's an excerpt about his TV-watching habits:
It's not clear that he owns a functioning TV at present. If he does, he probably missed the digital conversion. All that said, he would enjoy Mad Men if he could receive it.
Read the whole profile here. (And check out the profiles for other characters, including Alafair Burke's Ellie Hatcher here.)

For even more background on Riordan, take a gander at his page on Kevin Burton Smith's Thrilling Detective site. And don't miss the banner ad at the bottom of the page for my new novel, The Big Wake-Up, while you're at it.

Speaking of my new book, syndicated columnist Terri Schlichenmeyer provides a holiday shopping guide for book lovers here, and makes The Big Wake-Up one of her two mystery picks.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Not-So-Poisonous Pen

I received the latest edition of The Poisoned Pen newsletter yesterday and was very gratified to find that owner Barbara Peters and her husband Robert Rosenwald (who is President of Poisoned Pen Press) both selected The Big Wake-Up as a November staff pick.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Featured on Overbooked and "Down to the Core"

My new novel, The Big Wake-Up, makes the featured title list for November on Ann Chambers Theis' great resource for readers, Overbooked.

And read an interview with me on Heather Paye's blog, "Down to the Core." Here's a little excerpt:
Heather: Some people say that you need to live life before you write a book, do you think that it’s experience that writes a book or imagination?

Mark: My mother would be among their number. When I told her I wanted to be a novelist in college, she replied, “But you haven’t done anything.”

I don’t think a deep well of life experience is required to write. If you have the talent and passion, you can learn to spin a good yarn. Experience (and practice) in writing are more important than decades and decades of living.
I dedicated The Big Wake-Up to my mom, but by now she might concede that I've "done something."

Friday, November 06, 2009

Election Day

As everyone knows .... most people know? ... Okay, the few who voted know, last Tuesday was local election day around the country, and as part of their coverage of the Iowa City elections, the Iowa City Press-Citizen ran a profile on election official Tom Slockett titled "What I'm Into." To quote from the section dealing with Slockett's book preferences:
"I like a variety. I don't have a specific type," Slockett said.

Slockett said he is reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver, the current selection for One Community, One Book through the UI Center for Human Rights.

His current favorite political novel of all time is Charlie Wilson's War, and he called 1984 by George Orwell "the ultimate political novel of all time." His favorite election-themed novel is Runoff by Mark Coggins.
I'm pleased that a "pro" in the election business liked the book, but I have to say that Mr. Slockett's selection was pretty brave since the only election official in Runoff is murdered in chapter 3!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"M" for Mystery

I had my first signing for my new novel, The Big Wake-Up, at "M" for Mystery last night. My partner in crime for this signing and a number of others coming up is Michelle Gagnon, who is promoting her new book, The Gatekeeper.

Michelle Gagnon

Also attending was artist and illustrator, Owen Smith, who did the cover illustration for my book.

Owen Smith

Owen was kind enough to sign copies of my book with me, and he also brought smaller versions of two of his wonderful Maltese Falcon posters. Here's one he personalized for me. Aren't you jealous?!

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Story Behind the Story

Check out my post over at The Rap Sheet on the story behind the story of my new novel, The Big Wake-Up.

And after you do that, check out this video Rap Sheet editor J. Kingston Pierce "dug up" to use as a backing link for the "bizarre details" I discuss surrounding Evita Peron's macabre afterlife.

There's no narration, but I don't think you'll miss it ...

Monday, November 02, 2009

First Look and a Pick

Due to the vagaries of the publishing business, until 5:45 pm tonight I had not seen my planned-to-be-released-in-November novel, The Big Wake-Up, in the flesh.

I have now!

I left work a little early to get to "M" for Mystery before they closed and was treated with this display (which I captured on my cell phone camera):

We have the hard copy edition of Wake-Up, side by side with my touring partner Michelle Gagnon's book, The Gatekeeper, all positioned above copies of Michael Chabon's latest offering: a collection of essays entitled Manhood for Amateurs.

The display anticipates Michelle's and my event at "M" tomorrow night at 7 pm, followed by Mr. Chabon's the following evening.

I may be biased, but I have to say I was very pleased with the appearance of the finished book. The cover illustration by Owen Smith looks tremendous, the interior photographs of graveyard statuary are not too dark (a common problem) and I liked the copious use of mustard yellow on the dust jacket, even though some in my writers group were concerned about the issue.

And to add to my happiness, I found out earlier today that Jeff Pierce selected it for his pick of the week for January Magazine.

How about them apples?

La Closerie des Lilas

On this, the day before my latest novel The Big Wake-Up hits stores, I thought it appropriate to return to my lurching tour of Hemingway's 1920s Paris by writing about my visit to his favorite cafe, La Closerie des Lilas.

As Hemingway says in A Moveable Feast:
The Closerie des Lilas was the nearest good cafe when we lived in the flat over the sawmill at 113 rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, and it was one of the best cafes in Paris. It was warm inside in the winter and in the spring and fall it was fine outside with the table under the shade of the trees on the side where the statue of Marshal Ney was, and the square, regular tables under the big awnings along the boulevard.
It was at Closerie des Lilas that Hemingway wrote the Nick Adams short story "The Big Two-Hearted River" and finished the first draft of The Sun Also Rises.

He describes in A Moveable Feast how he worked on the story:
I sat in a corner with the afternoon light coming in over my shoulder and wrote in the notebook. The water brought me a cafe creme and I drank half of it when it cooled and left in on the table while I wrote. When I stopped writing I did not want to leave the river where I could see the trout in the pool.
He also places a scene from The Sun Also Rises there when narrator Jake Barnes and his friends Lady Brett Ashley and Bill Gorton take a taxi to the cafe:
Sitting out on the terraces of the Lilas Brett ordered whisky and soda, and I took one, too, and Bill took another pernod... Brett looked at me. 'I was a fool to go away,' she said. 'One's an ass to leave Paris.'
Finally, the cafe was the scene of Hemingway's second meeting with F. Scott Fitzgerald, during which time Fitzgerald complained that his masterpiece The Great Gatsby was not selling and asked Hemingway go with him to Lyons to pick up a car. The trip, too, is documented in a humorous passage in Feast.

When I was in Paris a year ago last summer, my wife and I visited the cafe and had lunch there. I made a point of taking in the photo of Hemingway they have in the bar near his favorite seat (pictured above). And once I returned to our table outside, I pulled out my notebook to record a few notes on The Big Wake-Up (which was still under construction at the time) to cement my claim that I, too, composed a work at the famous cafe!