Monday, November 26, 2012

Scene of the Crime with Author Marshall Karp!

I love mysteries that have great characters and plots, and if they also make me laugh, well... that's just icing on the cake. When I read The Rabbit Factory, I discovered that author Marshall Karp could deliver my favorite two-ingredient cake with plenty of icing. This man has written commercials, TV sitcoms, a play, a movie, and six novels. I'm going to have to check out the rest of his work because if it's even remotely like The Rabbit Factory, I have something very pleasurable to look forward to.

I love the series of emails we had when I asked Marshall if he would do an interview for Kittling: Books. I wasn't in the best of moods when I received his reply, and I misunderstood his humor. Once I got myself straightened out and back to my usual chipper self, I decided to turn this into Marshall Karp Week. Today we have the interview; Tuesday you'll be able to read my review of NYPD Red which Marshall co-authored with someone named... let me check... James Patterson? And Thursday I'll be reviewing another Lomax and Biggs mystery, Bloodthirsty. It's great for me to be able to share my enjoyment with all of you.

Marshall Karp
As usual I've rounded up a few links because I really hope you'll want to learn even more about this talented man:

I can't wait to share this interview with you! I hope it makes you laugh just as much as I did. Let's get to it!

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

The Buddy books.  We couldn’t afford books when I was growing up, but even before I got my first library card, I somehow scored a bunch of hand-me-downs — all of them “boy books.”  Buddy was my first series.

Your question took me way, way back in time, and since I barely remember what I had for lunch, I decided not to trust my childhood memories for details about the series.  So I did some research online.  The 21 Buddy books were written by Howard Garis and published by Cupples and Leon between 1929 and 1947.

In the words of the publisher:

The author presents a distinctly modern juvenile series of stories for boys. Here we observe a really fascinating character study of an up-to-date young lad, whose exceedingly energetic mind, and whose overflowing youth and vitality, are constantly leading him into new and more tangled situations, from which by wit, courage and luck, he manages to extricate himself in safety. You will more than like Buddy with his carefree ways, his cheerful smile, his boundless enthusiasm, and his overflowing youth. Buddy is certain to linger in your memory long after you have finished these stories.
They certainly nailed it because Buddy has lingered in my memory my entire life.  There were three other series I was hooked on.  Baseball Joe, The X Bar X Boys, and, of course, The Hardy Boys.

What makes them so special is that they were all character driven.  The plot did not drive the book.  I mean, how different is Buddy on the Farm from Buddy and His Winter Fun or Buddy at Rainbow Lake?

For me, it was all about reconnecting with a hero I knew and loved.  I carried that feeling with me when I wrote for television and in writing my murder mysteries.  People respond to characters.  It could be love or hate or any other appropriate human emotion, but people come back to a book series (or a TV series) because they are looking for a predictable emotional experience.  Buddy was the first of many series to give me that kind of connection.

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

I like to waste time.  It’s a luxury most people deny themselves.  Who has time to waste?  But I have found that wasting time can be very rewarding and very productive, especially if you’re a writer.  I’m not saying I do nothing.  I just manage to find a lot of distractions — sometimes enlightening, but almost always entertaining.  Sometimes I’ll waste my time writing something that doesn’t have to be written and send it to just a friend or two.  Their usual response is, “It must be nice to have this much free time on your hands.”  The reality is, I don’t have any free time.  I’m always busy.  But sometimes I’m busy doing something that’s not on my things-to-do list.

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.)

Eleanor Roosevelt's sleeping porch at Val-Kill
The mid-Hudson Valley of New York is a haven for artists, writers, musicians, and poets; is home to the CIA (not that one — I’m talking about The Culinary Institute of America); offers up incredible outdoor experiences in four very distinctly different seasons; and, of course, is steeped in American history.  There’s no one guide book that covers it all.  But if you want something off the beaten path, go to Hyde Park, NY.  Yes, it’s the home of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum, but while you’re there, drive another three miles and visit the lesser known national historic site, the Eleanor Roosevelt Center at Val-Kill.    And if you’re hungry, the CIA is only another three miles away.  Book a table well in advance.

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

Steve Martin
Steve Martin.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Alex Cross.  And really, it’s just a coincidence that I coauthor books with the man who created him, James Patterson.

If you could have in your possession one signed first edition of any book in the world, which book would that be? Why?

The Disappearance by Philip Wylie.  As for why, probably because it’s my favorite book of all time, and because I’m guessing it’s one of those books nobody else on the planet would have.

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

I was on vacation in Arizona when my first book was released.  My wife and I drove to a Barnes and Noble in Phoenix, walked up to the information desk, and I said to the clerk “Do you have The Rabbit Factory?

He tapped into his computer and said, “By Marshall Karp?

Yeah,” I said with my heart pounding. “That guy.

We’re sold out, and four people have it on order,” he said. “Do you want me to order you a copy?

I was about to answer him when my wife dragged me out of the store. “Why did you do that?” I asked.

Because I know you. You were going to whip out your driver’s license, show him who you were, and ask for the home phone numbers of the four people who ordered the book so you could thank them.

God, the woman knows me so well.

Name one thing on your Bucket List.

First thing — buy a bucket.  Oh wait, that was a serious question.  Let’s see — I’ve already learned to fly a single engine plane, bought a pickup truck, and written a best selling book.  So I guess right now convincing my wife to retire is high on my bucket list.  Our jobs keep us a hundred miles apart five days a week.  She has retirement on her agenda, but (and she’s been saying this for years) not just yet.  I think she’s afraid that if she retires, she’ll be stuck upstate riding around in a pickup truck with a man who openly admits he’s pretty damn good at wasting time.

You've just received a $100 gift card to the bookstore of your choice. Which bookstore are you making a bee-line for?

The Chester County Book & Music Co. in West Chester, PA.  It’s 30,000 square feet of book lover heaven.  But hurry.  Sadly, like so many great indie bookstores, CCBMC is on the verge of shutting its doors forever.


Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Marshall. It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you a little better.

May your book sales do nothing but increase!


Don't forget: Marshall Karp Week continues with my reviews of NYPD Red and Bloodthirsty! I wouldn't be at all surprised to see you adding this author to your wish lists!


  1. I got hooked on Karp @ Rabbit Factory. NYPD Red is fabulous...I love the characters in ALL of the books and the latest is no different! I thoroughly enjoyed it!

    1. It's always good to hear from a fellow fan, Eileen. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. I loved this personal glimpse of one of my favorite authors! This was my first chance encounter with this website, but i love the format and I will certainly be back.

    1. That's always good to hear. Thank you, Laura! I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

  3. You're going to think I'm talking to myself, but I'm not. I'm posting this comment on behalf of someone who's been having a technical difficulty or two. If you have a problem posting a comment to my blog, please email me using the contact tab at the top of my header.

    Now for the comment:

    "Don't forget to read Kill Me If You Can, Marshall's first book with James Patterson and when I knew he belonged on my favourite authours' list. My only problem with Marshall is the amount of time he takes between books. So I have to content myself with re-reading all the Lomax & Biggs books every once in a while and will do the same with NYPD Red shortly before 2 finally comes out.

    I just finished my third read of Kill Me.... and it gets better each time!

    Marshall Karp Week is a great idea Kittling Books...! I've added you to my favourites list.

    --Caye L-B

    1. Thank you so much, Caye! I'm just about to take one of Marshall's books out to read by the pool. With my luck, I'll start laughing so hard that I'll startle all the neighborhood dogs!

  4. If his sense of humour influences his books, I'm in!

    (And, oh, I love that sleeping porch of the Roosevelts!)

    1. The second I saw that sleeping porch, I fell in love with it, Debbie!

      I don't know how you feel about policemen, firemen, physicians and a few others who use some crude language. If you don't care for it, you *might* want to give the books a miss. I hope you have a tolerance, though, because I love his books.


Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I really appreciate it!