Welcome to the third instalment this year of Crime Watch's exclusive 9mm author interviews, and the 47th instalment overall. You can check out some of the previous author interviews by clicking on an author's name on the sidebar to the right, on '9mm' on the header bar above, or you can see the first 44 instaments here.
But for now it is time to once again polish off the gun and point it towards a creator of tales mysterious and thrilling. Thanks to everyone for their comments and feedback on the series so far - I really appreciate it, as I know many of the participating authors do as well.
For those new to this rodeo, 9mm consists of the same 9 Murder Mystery questions put to a variety of New Zealand and international crime, thriller, and mystery authors. I hope you have all been enjoying the series as much as I (and the authors) have been. Suggestions are always welcome as to who else you'd like to see interviewed. Upcoming interviews include the likes of CJ Box, Victoria Houston, Kathy Reichs and Robert Crais, amongst others.
Today I am very pleased to introduce you to another up-and-coming Kiwi crime writer, Steve Malley. Christchurch-based Malley is an expatriate American who describes himself as "Tattooed, pierced and dreadlocked" - he is a writer, graphic novelist and professional artist. His debut thriller, CROSSROAD BLUES, was published in Amazon Kindle format last year. It is also available from the Smashwords website, in a variety of e-formats. Malley's second novel, POISON DOOR, was released earlier this year, and has been getting very positive reviews. Set in Christchurch, POISON DOOR revolves around three main characters: tough cop Sarah Crane, who is faced with a series of brutal murders and the disappearance of young women no one else seems to miss; vicious drug lord Tommy Knowles, who finds himself on the brink of disaster; and 14-year-old Michelle Swanson, whose nightly wanderings get her into terrible danger.
You can visit Malley's website here, and his blog Full Throttle and F**k It! here. You can buy POISON DOOR from Smashwords, Amazon (for US$0.99), and Amazon UK.
But for now Malley faces down the barrel of 9mm.
9MM: AN INTERVIEW WITH STEVE MALLEY
Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
These days I’m all about the Parker books by Richard Stark. The guy’s got this tough, matter-of-fact attitude that’s so compelling. I’m also a big fan of John D. Macdonald’s Travis McGee series (nobody does suspense quite like MacDonald) and Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins.
What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
Batman comics were my first love. I pretty much learned to read just so I could figure out what Batman was saying in the word balloons.
My first proper novel was 1984, by George Orwell. I was only eight at the time, and the library wouldn’t let me take it out. After a bit of a talk with me about why on earth I wanted to read such a thing, my Dad went in and got me adult borrowing privileges. 1984 blew my mind. Just, absolutely blew my mind. Graphic sex, violence, rat-bite horror, an ominous and all-powerful villain, this book had EVERYTHING. And the hero loses in the end! I’ve never read a darker thriller. I was hooked!
Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I actually started as a graphic novelist, writing and drawing my own work. My first book was Leather Tales - meant as a thoughtful meditation on violence and second chances and the dark pull our bad old habits retain through the years. As happens, all that was overshadowed by the plot: lesbian assassins taking on The Mob…
There were four more graphic novels after that before I turned my hand to novels and had to start the learning curve all over again. Effective storytelling is just so different between the two media.
Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Well, I'm a professional artist, and I deeply love my work there too. Also, after a hiatus of some years, I've returned to studying my two favorite martial arts: Wing Chun and Kali/Eskrima.
What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
At the moment our newest tourist activity is Earthquake-Touring. Christchurch had a 7.1 rip through a few months ago. A few thousand aftershocks and a good-sized jolt on Boxing Day (that’s the 26th for those of you in the US) have turned much of our town into piles of rubble. People here just get on with it, but tourists always seem to gaze openmouthed at the devastation.
[Ed Note: this interview was conducted a couple of days before the latest, devastating killer earthquake that Christchurch suffered on 22 February. I've been in contact with Steve since, and he's okay, although like everyone in Christchurch, he was badly shaken. Please feel free to donate to the Red Cross relief effort here].
If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I'd love to get Gary Oldman or Jake Gylennhaal, but I'd be happy enough with Steve Buscemi. :)
Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
Right now it’s my latest. Its working title is Wrecking Ball, and we’re still in that honeymoon stage where I’m happy with how it’s going and excited to see how it ends. A month or two from now, when I hate how it’s going and wonder if it ever will end, well I know that’ll be another story...
What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
The first time ever was with Leather Tales. I walked into this comics shop and there it was -right on the shelf. I mean, here was this owner, didn’t know me from a bar of soap, and he had like ten copies of my book on display! I couldn’t believe it, had to ask what made him order it. Tony must have misunderstood me, because he started justifying himself, saying, "Yeah, there’s a lot of violence and nudity and stuff, but there’s a real story here too." The rest is kind of a blur, but I’m pretty sure my head swelled to the point where they had to grease my ears to get me through the doorway!
What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Oddly enough, the strangest thing happened at an event where I wasn't even present. A couple of European fans emailed me a picture of them at a convention, dressed as two of my characters. I don't have the words to do that feeling justice.
Thank you Steve Malley. We appreciate you taking the time to talk to Crime Watch
Have you read any of Malley's crime novels or graphic novels? What do you think of e-books? Do they make it easier to give new, lesser-known authors a go? Thoughts welcome.