Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Wayne Dundee Interview Part Two

What is your routine when it comes to writing?

I hate to admit it, but I'm probably the sloppiest, least disciplined published author you could ever find.

Up until a year or so ago, when I retired from my full-time job in the real world, my writing was strictly catch-as-catch-can --- i.e., weekends, holidays, late evenings after work, early mornings before work ... whenever I could find a spare half hour or hour or whatever. When you want to write badly enough, especially when you've got a story really cooking, you find/make time. I used to (and still do) carry a steno book in my car and sometimes when I was waiting for my wife to do some shopping I'd sit in the car and scribble down ideas or passages. Sometimes when we were driving somewhere and I had some specific wording sounding just right in my head and I wanted to get it down before I lost it, I'd dictate and Pam would write it down. At one point she bought me a little tape recorder so I could dictate as I drove back and forth to work, but I felt too dorky doing that so it never really worked out.

Now that I'm retired, I have a sort of routine that I follow, but I still can't claim to stick to it religiously.

On weekdays I get up around 6 - 6:30 and help get the grandkids off to school. Once they're on their way, I sit down and check the day's news and e-mails and do correspondence. After that I brew a fresh pot of coffee, get washed up, then sit down to do some writing. After lunch I take a break and read or watch TV for a while. After dinner I write for another hour or two. Then I finish off the night with some more reading or TV. I find that if I write up until I'm ready for bed, then I risk lying there with the story rolling around in my head and getting in the way of falling asleep.

I write in a large basement room on a huge old library desk, surrounded by bookcases and stacks of books. (Since Pam passed away I've moved a small bed into one corner and so the space serves also as my bedroom.) I am not a fast writer. In the course of a week, allowing for lags and spurts and family obligations/interruptions, I average 8 to 12 pages of fiction, discounting correspondence, blogging, and the occassional book review.

Is the PI/detective novel still relevant?


For a number of reasons.

First and foremost as pure entertainment. I believe the world is always seeking heros and, stripped down to its most basic core ---despite all the "tarnished knight" labels, despite flaws that might range from being somewhat psychotic (like Mike Hammer) to a drunken lost soul (like Matt Scudder and numerous others) to physical ailments or wounds to the psyche from various past traumas --- that's what the PI of popular fiction represents. A hero, however unlikely from the outside, often as a last resort.

A person who knows that sometimes the wrong thing is really the only right thing to do. A person who may not be completely "good" because often the only way to get the job done is to be "badder" than the bad guys. A person who --- in this insanely PC world where the threat of litigation smothers all common sense, where cops have their hands tied by the restraints of ever more ridiculous rules, where corruption and greed reign at the highest levels, and where self-serving political manueverings are the only interests at stake --- seeks to mete out a measure of justice that may not always be complete or perfect, but is the best there is to be had. All of this goes straight to the "rug-ged individual" heart that still beats within people, certainly most Americans. And the private eye is, of course, a direct extension of that most mythic image of rugged individualism --- the American cowboy.

Secondly, hardboiled crime fiction (including - but not limited to - private eye mysteries) has over the past decade or so held up as accurate a mirror to our changing society as you're likely to find anywhere. With the exception perhaps of Andrew Vachss's Burke series, I'm not claiming that any of this had an impact on changing society, but the imagery and indicators were there nevertheless. You want to know about things ranging from popular slang to fashion to the political climate to the changing face of organized crime to what have you ... you can find it all accurately represented in hard-boiled crime fiction, private eye mysteries always prominent in the mix.

You had Hammett and Chandler leading the pack in the Twenties and Thirties, then Spillane revitalizing the whole genre in the Forties and Fifties, Ross Macdonald and John D. (although McGee wasn't officially a private eye) achieving a new level of status in the Sixties, Robert B. Parker's Spenser revitalizing things all over again in the Eighties (and still going strong right up until his death earlier this year), the aforementioned Andrew Vachss ... and a host of others continuing to write very powerful stuff, often making the best-seller lists ... Yeah, I think the private eye is still damned relevant.

Will the Joe Hannibal novels be available in eBook form at some point?

We're working to make that happen sometime in the first part of 2011. I've got some re-formatting to do and some new illustrations to commission, and then should be able to kick it off. I also plan to compile a collection of Hannibal short stories, complete with introductions and at least one original story, which will then become available as an e-Book.

What's next for Wayne Dundee?

Wayne Dundee will keep writing until --- to paraphrase a popular quote from the NRA gang --- they pry my cold, dead fingers off the keyboard.

I have the next Hannibal novel done (in search of a publisher), and am actually started on number eight. Events at the close of THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY foreshadowed that Joe, with his life sort of turned upside down during the course of that book, was on the brink of making some big changes and probably ending up reloacted to west central Nebraska (following in the footsteps of his creator). Well, as detailed in the next book (tentatively titled GOSHEN HOLE) and some subsequent short stories that have appeared, Joe is now living in Nebraska at No Name Bay on the shores of popular Lake McConaughy. Although he took out a PI license upon moving to the cornhusker state, as much from habit as anything, he doesn't activiely solicit investigative work these days but rather is operating a successful private security patrol serving homes and business around Lake Mac. As you might expect, however, trouble still has a way of finding him and ... well, you get the idea.

Additionally, I have just signed a contract for the publication of my first Western novel, DISMAL RIVER, due out in 2011. I'm pretty excited about this as I have long wanted to write in the Western genre. I've done a few short stories (and plan on doing more) but I think DISMAL RIVER ranks as one of my best works and I certainly hope to follow up with more novels as well. Ideally, I would like to alternate a Hannibal novel with a Western novel every ten months or so ... but it remains to be seen if the publishing gods allow that to happen.

Finally, I also have a crime/horror novel --- hit man vs. vampire --- submitted for publication. I don't see myself doing a whole lot in the horror genre, but this idea came to me from somewhere and it was fun to write. I actually had about a third of it completed several years ago but let it lag ... then, with more free time on my hands since retirement and the whole vampire thing having so much momentum, I decided to finish it off and see if I could find a home for it.
In the meantime, I will also continue doing short stories --- Hannibal and otherwise. It's an exciting time for short fiction, what with the wide range of excellent webzines as well as other outlets. There's a wealth of fresh talent out there for readers to enjoy, but I hope to show 'em that a few of us old geezers can still cut the mustard, too.


Dave King said...

Well, I was anxious to read the second part, and it sure didn't disappoint. I could relate absolutely to the descriptions of finding and making time to write.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great interviews, David. Every writer has their own path.

Charles Gramlich said...

I suspect I'm the laziest writer out there myself.

James Reasoner said...

As one of the fortunate ones who has already read it, I can tell you right now that DISMAL RIVER is one of the best Western novels I've read in years, and I hope Wayne gets the chance to write many more Westerns.

David Cranmer said...

Dave, I'm constantly scratching notes here and there myself.

Thanks, Patti.

Charles, With your output, I highly doubt that.

James, Lucky you. I'm looking forward to reading DISMAL RIVER and the next Joe Hannibal novel.

G said...

Cool interview. It's always fascinating to read about how particular writer ticks.

For a novice such as myself who frankly knows diddly/squat about that genre in particular, it was very nice to read a brief history of it.

Richard Prosch said...

Top notch interview, guys! Looking forward to DISMAL RIVER. Was it written on the snow-covered prairies of Nebraska?

Jodi MacArthur said...

Again, great stuff.

Hitman vs Vampire sounds like a fun book. I'm hoping that will be pubbed.

wayne d. dundee said...

David - Thank you for proposing the interview and allowing me to blab about myself and my writing. Most of all, thanks for the question that allowed me to share memories of my beloved Pam and how special she was to my life. Timely, given the Thanksgiving holiday and all --- I could be sad and focus on having lost her, but I choose rather to be thankful for the blessing of had her for as long as I did; which is how I believe she would want it.
I'm thankful, too, for all the nice commentary on the interview --- especially from old friends I haven't communicated with in way too long. I will rectify that by making direct contact with several of them as a follow-up to this.
Best wishes to all, and to all I say "Persevere" --- it is the singular trait that will see you through and carry you farthest toward your goals.

David Cranmer said...

Wayne, It was a real pleasure. Thank you for taking the time to do this in-depth interview and opening up your life, especially the touching passages devoted to Pam.

jrlindermuth said...

An excellent second part to the interview. I'm currently reading and enjoying The Day After Yesterday. If you haven't met Joe Hannibal yet, you're missing a treat.

Marja said...

What a wonderful interview! I read both Part I and Part II, and I can relate to so much of what you said. You showed a part of yourself in these interviews, and I appreciate what you said about Pam. And you sound like the type of authors whose work I would enjoy. Thanks for sharing.

WS Gager said...

I'm curious. You talked about the PI novel being a dying breed, NOT. What about Part III on the newest writing on Westerns and the outlooking for that genre.
W.S. Gager

David Cranmer said...

Wendy, I don't believe it is a dying breed but I asked the question because in some circles it has been suggested. And obviously Mr. Dundee's answer speaks for itself.

As for westerns, I take pride in having had some short fiction published in that genre and I believe it is on the rebound.

Btw thank you for stopping by.

Stephen L. Brayton said...

Very interesting interview. Thanks.