Tuesday, May 29, 2012

9mm interview with Steve Hamilton

Today I'm very pleased to host another special guest here on Crime Watch, Edgar Award-winning crime writer Steve Hamilton, for the 62nd instalment in our ongoing 9mm quickfire author interview series.

I first came across Michigan native Hamilton's writing last year, when I read and was impressed by his Edgar Award-winning standalone thriller THE LOCK ARTIST, which features Micheal, a mute young man with a knack for opening any locked door (including high-security safes). As I noted in a review for Good Reading magazine in Australia:
Hamilton spins an intriguing yarn, mixing up the narrative between two major periods in Michael’s life, and between thrills and chills as he goes about his rollercoaster criminal career and an interesting character study of a troubled young man trying to get out from under his tough life, wanting nothing more than a fresh start with a girl he adores
I wasn't aware at the time, but that Edgar Award for THE LOCK ARTIST was actually the second Hamilton had won - putting him in very rare and elite company amongst his crime writing contemporaries, alongside the likes of dual Edgar Award winners James Lee Burke and John Hart.

Hamilton had ealier won the Best First Novel Edgar for his debut A COLD DAY IN PARADISE, which not only introduced the author to the crime fiction audience, but also Alex McKnight, a Detroit cop turned private investigator who would feature in an acclaimed ongoing series over the next few books. Recently, Hamilton brought McKnight back to the page in MISERY BAY, a very enjoyable thriller.

But for now, Hamilton stares down the barrel of 9mm.


9mm: An interview with Steve Hamilton

Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective, and why?
I love so many of them, from Jack Reacher to Harry Bosch to Myron Bolitar. But you know what, in my heart I will probably never feel more affection to anyone than to Maureen O’Donnell in Denise Mina’s Garnethill trilogy.

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
The very first? I’d actually have to say any or all of The Hardy Boys mysteries. For the right person at the right age, those are just absolutely addictive. (And yes, that’s when I decided that I would either write crime fiction, or else be a real-life private investigator. I guess the first one has worked out, at least.)

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) - unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I’d been writing short stories since I was a kid. I even sent one in to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine when I was twelve years old. (I wish I still had the standard rejection slip they sent back to me.) I wrote a short novel in college that won the Hopwood Award for Fiction at the University of Michigan, finally got a couple of short stories published in little magazines after I graduated. Then I decided to go back to that original promise I had made to myself and to try writing a crime novel!

Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Well, add those to having a family and still doing some work for IBM to keep everything together, and there’s not much time left. I still love reading, of course – that’s the only thing I’ll always have in common with everybody else in the business, whether they’re a fellow writer or a reader I meet when I’m out on the road. We’re all readers at heart, right? (Oh, and golf. I’m afraid that golf runs in my blood, sort of like vampirism.)

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?
Well, I’m going take my “hometown” here to mean Paradise, Michigan, where most of the books are set. (I grew up in Michigan, live in New York now.) If you go to Paradise, you’re going to drive a long way to get to a blinking light, but then you need to keep going, all the way up to Whitefish Point. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank just a few miles off that coast (sorry if the Gordon Lightfoot song is running through your head for the rest of the day now), and there’s an amazing Shipwreck Museum there. Leave time to just walk up and down the shoreline for a while, amazed at how big a lake can be.

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I’m gonna say Matthew Perry? Because he can probably nail a smartass who tries to hide his lack of self-esteem.

Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
You know, in a way it was the second book, Winter of the Wolf Moon, just because I had to prove to myself that the first book wasn’t a fluke and that I could keep doing it. But really, now that I’ve survived writing the absolute hardest book I’ve ever written and probably ever will write, it has to be The Lock Artist.

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?
I got the call that I had won the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Best First Private Eye Novel Competition, which is actually how A Cold Day in Paradise got published. (St. Martin’s Press now has four different competitions every year, by the way – now, more than ever, they are the best way to break into the crime fiction business. More info at:
http://us.macmillan.com/Content.aspx?publisher=minotaurbooks&id=4933) It really was an out-of-body experience, especially when I found out I’d attending Bouchercon, the biggest mystery conference in the world, just a month later.

What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
Oh my. We would need to sit down at the bar for a solid hour for me to tell you that story. It involves a tour through the former East German Republic, and it reaches its peak in the Dresden train station, with me reading out loud into a microphone with rock-concert-sized speakers behind me, just blasting away at innocent people walking to their trains in a language they don’t understand. And then from there it really gets weird.

Thank you Steve Hamilton. We appreciate you taking the time to talk to Crime Watch.   

Read more about Steve Hamilton:

Have you read THE LOCK ARTIST, MISERY BAY, or any of the other Alex McKnight books? What do you think of this 9mm interview? Were you, like Hamilton, a Hardy Boys fan growing up?

No comments:

Post a Comment