Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just Got a New Job at ...

Sterling Cooper. Here's a picture from the welcome aboard party. I'm the one in the black suit ...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Abbott and ...

No, not Costello. Try Schwegel--Megan Abbott and Theresa Schwegel from their signing last night at "M" is for Mystery to promote their new books: Megan's Bury Me Deep and Theresa's Last Known Address.

Megan Abbott
Megan Abbott

Theresa Schwegel
Theresa Schwegel

Read more from me on Megan here.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Not Anderson Cooper

My wife and I have been playing around with the camera, trying to come up with a new author photo for the dust jacket of my forthcoming novel, The Big Wake-Up. The default selection for the photo is this one she took in Paris, but she was inspired by another she found of Anderson Cooper:


So we set out to recreate it:

Not Anderson Cooper

Her final assessment? "Sort of the same ... except for ten extra years--and the nose hair."

Guess which one ended up plastered to our refrigerator door?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

What Does Chinese Candy Taste Like ...

I wrote earlier about the availability of my novel Candy from Strangers in a traditional Chinese translation. Well, I managed to get my hot little hands on some copies. Here's one sitting on my living room table.

You can see that the front cover is on the side English readers would expect the back to be. That's because the pages are turned from left to right. Another difference is the characters inside are printed in vertical columns--including the footnotes! Footnotes, you may ask, what are footnotes doing in a novel?

They are there to explain colloquial expressions or cultural references that Chinese readers couldn't be expected to know. For example, what "hair of the dog" means and who the heck Herb Caen was.

Turns out there a fair number of footnotes in Candy, but I'm pleased to hear it's not deterring sales, which I'm told are actually pretty good. Who knows, maybe I'll be to Taiwan what Jerry Lewis is to France ...

Saturday, July 04, 2009

The Real Deal

Here's my final-final post on the evolution of the cover for my forthcoming novel, The Big Wake-Up.

The Bleak House Books designer has had her say with the wonderful Owen Smith illustration, creating a classic, pulp-fictionish look for the title and author credit:

The Big Wake-Up: Final Cover!

Reminds me of the 1976 Vintage Books edition of The High Window, the very first Raymond Chandler novel I read, way back in college:

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Kurt Ribak

Jass bassist Kurt Ribak has served as a kind of real-life alter ego to my fictional private eye, August Riordan.

Kurt Ribak

In Candy from Strangers, August plays a gig with his sidekick Chris Duckworth at the House of Shields. I picked the venue because Kurt has played there frequently, often accompanying singer Lorna K.

Lorna K

And in Runoff, I pretty much ripped off Kurt and Lorna's whole set list in the description I gave of August's and Chris' gig at Shanghai 1930.

Last night I attended a fantastic show Kurt and his group, the Kurt Ribak Trio, gave at at Yoshi's, San Francisco's premiere jazz club. Although the club prohibits photography (ahem), I managed to snap these pictures of Kurt and Lorna performing, as well as this one of Lincoln Adler soling on Kurt's composition "Pseudoafrocubanismo".

Lincoln Adler

In a further example of real life inspiring fiction, Kurt was kind enough to allow public radio station KQED to use "Pseudoafrocubanismo" in the recording they did of the first chapter of Candy from Strangers.

Kurt and his group have three albums out: the self-titled Kurt Ribak Trio, More and their latest, Gone. Check them out--they are all excellent. After hearing it performed last night, I particularly commend Kurt's tune, "Tango Para Mi Padre" from Gone.