Monday, December 12, 2011

Scene of the Crime with Author David Handler!

I was only a few sentences into the first Berger and Mitry mystery, The Cold Blue Blood, when I fell in love with David Handler's writing.

I think most of us have an interior voice that does a lot of muttering, yakking, or shouting in the background. (Hey! I'm talking about one voice, not an entire choir!) That interior voice of yours sounds a certain way, doesn't it? I'm not necessarily talking about soprano, bass, mellifluous, or hoarse; I'm talking word choice and attitude. Well, David Handler is one of the few writers I've come across who writes the way my interior voice speaks... just the right blend of smart *ss, intelligence, and caring. Add marvelous characters, solid plots, and humor to that mix, and it's no wonder that I enjoy his books.

David Handler
Before we get the opportunity to get to know David a bit better, here are some David Handler Links for you:

Now let's get to the fun stuff, shall we?

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

I’d have to say it was The Tower Treasure, which was the very first of the Hardy Boys books.  I’d been a voracious little reader up until then but I’d never been captivated quite the same way as I was by the adventures of Frank and Joe Hardy.  I belonged to the Hardy Boys.  I must have re-read every single volume at least a half-dozen times.  If it weren’t for Frank and Joe I wouldn’t be leading the life of crime fiction that I am today.

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

Mostly, I try to stay far, far away from my computer.  I walk on the beach almost every day.  I take three or four yoga classes a week, cook, garden and work on my 200-year-old carriage house.  I also enjoy spending time talking to people, which is becoming vastly underrated as a form of communication.

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

Griswold Point
I’m currently living in Old Lyme, Connecticut, a quaint historic village on Long Island Sound that’s the basis for Dorset, the fictional setting of my Berger-Mitry mysteries.  I think I’d send you on a beach walk out to rocky, wind-swept Griswold Point, which is where the Sound meets up with the mouth of the Connecticut River.  This is the spot where I’ve situated Big Sister Island – home to Mitch Berger.  Bring sturdy shoes.

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Robert Mitchum
Robert Mitchum.  That’s not even open for discussion.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

I’d have to say Parker, the professional thief who is the lead character in the series that Donald Westlake wrote under the name Richard Stark.  Parker lives entirely by his own rules, is totally fearless and he doesn’t care one bit about what other people think of him.   Who wouldn’t want to be Parker?

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

I wish I'd written The Fools in Town Are on Our Side, which is my favorite book by my favorite author, Ross Thomas.  I love it because it’s witty and wise, brilliantly plotted and also heart breaking.

What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore? How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?

I actually got a tiny bit woozy the first time I saw one of my books on a shelf in a bookstore.  I was truly dazed.  When my agent phoned me with the news that she’d sold my first novel I celebrated by sharing a bottle of very good champagne with my girlfriend, Diana.  That’s a tradition that continues on to this day, some 20 books later.  Trust me, the excitement never goes away.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

Let’s see, there was that time my aunt Stella drove two hours in the pouring rain to come to one of my signings and yet was too cheap to actually buy a copy of my book – but I think you’d have to be a member of my own family to truly appreciate that...

Okay, here’s one that comes to mind: When I was writing my Hoagy series for Bantam the Bantam publicist had arranged an author event for four or five Bantam crime writers one evening at a big Borders bookstore in Paramus, New Jersey, which is a suburb of New York City.  We were supposed to give a reading and sign copies of our books.  Jeff Deaver was one of the other writers.  And Marilyn Wallace, a dear friend who passed away a couple of years ago.  I can’t remember who the others were.  

Anyway, somebody had a car.  We all arranged to meet on the West Side, piled in and fought our way for ninety minutes through bumper-to-bumper rush hour traffic to Paramus for the big event.  When we arrived there we saw no posters in the windows.  And when we got inside there were no fans gathered there, no chairs set up, no nothing.  Confused, we asked to see the manager only to be informed that he was on vacation that week.  The assistant manager stared at us blankly when we told her who we were.   She knew absolutely nothing about the event. Not only hadn’t they been publicizing it but they didn’t have one single copy of any of our books in the entire store.  We didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or throw a chair through the front window.  We ended up driving back to the City and going to a bar.  Let me tell you – it can be a really humbling career sometimes.

The way some people talk, the only way to read now or in the future is with some sort of electronic device, like my husband's Nook. What is your opinion of eBooks, and how will they affect you as a published author? 

I welcome electronic books.  I welcome anything that keeps people reading and gives them easy access to my work. The paperback reprint business has been shrinking fast for years.  As a result, it has gotten harder and harder for a writer like me to keep his backlist in print.  eBooks offer an entirely new and wonderful alternative – books on demand.  My guess is that there are still going to be people who will want to have and to hold hardcover books – at least for, say, the next 20 or 30 years.  But I think that eBooks will supplant and pretty much eliminate the paperback reprint business really fast in the years to come.

On Sale Now!
As someone who's recently been given her own eReader, I'm loving the fact that many authors' backlists are now easily available to me.

Thank you so much for letting us get to know you a little better, David. May your book sales do nothing but increase!

Don't forget to stop by next Monday when I'll be interviewing another of my favorite crime fiction writers!

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