Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Opening of The Crime Writer

I woke up with IVs taped to my arms, a feeding tube shoved through my nose, and my tongue pushed against my teeth, dead and thick as a sock. My mouth was hot and tasted of copper, and my molars felt loose, jogged in their beds from grinding. I blinked against the strong light, and squinted into a haze of face, too close for casual—a man straddling a backward chair, thick forearms overlapped, a sheet of paper drooping from one square fist. Another guy behind him, dressed the same—rumpled sport coat, loose tie offset from open collar, glint at the hip. Downgraded to bystander, a doctor stood by the door, ignoring the electronic blips and bleeps. I was in a hospital room.

With consciousness came pain. No tunnels of light, no bursts or fireworks or other page-worn clichés, just pain, mindless and dedicated, a rottweiler working a bone. A creak of air moved through my throat.

“He’s up,” said the doctor from faraway. A nurse materialized and fed a needle into the joint in my IV. A second later the warmth rode through my veins and the rottweiler paused to catch his breath.

I raised an arm trailing IV lines and fingered my head where it tingled. Instead of hair, a seam of stubble and stitches cactused my palm. Lightheadedness and nausea compounded my confusion. As my hand drifted back to my chest, I noticed dark crescents caking the undersides of my nails.

I’d dug myself out of somewhere?

The cop in the chair flipped the piece of paper over and I saw that it was an 8 x 10.

A crime-scene photo.

A close-up of a woman’s midsection, the pan of the abdomen caked with dark blood. A narrow puncture below the ribs faded into blackness, as if a stronger flashbulb were required to sound its depths.

I raised a hand as if to push away the image and in the dead blue fluorescence I saw that the grime under my nails carried a tinge of crimson. Whether from the drugs or the pain, I felt my gorge rise and push at the back of my throat. It took two tries and still my voice came out a rasp, barely audible around the plastic tube. “Who is that?”

“Your ex-fiancée.”

“Who…who did that to her?”

The detective’s jaw shifted once, slowly, left to right. “You did.”

Monday, July 23, 2007


Crimespree is one of my favorite magazines, run by Jon and Ruth Jordan, two of the smartest people in Crime Readerland (and the fiction editor is the inimitable Jen Jordan). So I'm flattered to be on the cover of the latest issue with Lee Child. Inside, Lee and I discuss everything from drinking to James Bond to sock puppets.

Crimespree is well worth checking out. Oh, and there's a supplemental blog, too, with more tidbits about crime, books, flicks, shows, and comics.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

First Person

I'm getting asked a lot, in pre-pub interviews, why the move to first person for the first time in my career. I started out with three stand-alones, and then came the four Rackley books--all in third person. I knew somewhere during my writing of Last Shot that the next book was going to be a departure. A big departure. I love the stand-alone, and was ready to create a completely new world and cast again. I needed some fresh blood. I think the fact that I wrote The Crime Writer in the first person is probably because of how close I felt to Drew. The main challenge (aside from not starting every sentence with “I”) is, of course, viewpoint. In that all information—and all clues—are funnelled through one man’s perspective. And since it’s a novel of paranoia, well, there are distinct pragmatic advantages to first person, in that you can keep twisting the reader's understanding, one turn of the screw at a time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Meet the Foolkiller

Here he is, in all his glory. The first comic in the 5-book Foolkiller arc will be released from Marvel in October (along with a Wolverine Annual that I wrote), later to be compiled as a graphic novel. The art (and cover) are from the inimitable Lan Medina.

I talk about the inspiration behind the character here.

For an interview about Marvel Max (and Foolkiller) with my editor, Axel Alonso, click here.

Monday, July 09, 2007


This weekend, Newsarama ran a sneak peek of the Wolverine Annual I wrote, titled, THE DEATH SONG OF J. PATRICK SMITTY. The art, by Marcelo Frusin, is amazing -- I couldn't be more pleased with the job Marcelo is doing. I'm quickly learning that the artist, in comics, makes the writer look more talented.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Bum Beating

I'd say this article wins the award for Most All Around Ugly. The event, the parallels drawn, and the interpretation offered.

Note the ominous phrasing of "influenced by" below. I wonder what else those young men were influenced by, and what the respective weight of those influences was. People are influenced by anything they come into contact with. There is an enormous—enormous— difference between influence and causation, as the article suggests, and as countless morally indignant groups will surely maintain. (I also love the sneeringly sanctimonious statement at the end from the Bumfights website).


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- One of several teenagers who beat a homeless man to death was influenced by videos featuring homeless people brawling and performing dangerous stunts, according to a television interview transcript.

Jeffery Spurgeon, 19, expressed his first public remorse for the May 2005 killing in the interview that will air Sunday on CBS' "60 Minutes." It was conducted from a Jasper penitentiary where Spurgeon is serving an up to 35-year sentence.

Spurgeon said he and the others beat Michael Roberts, a frail 53-year-old homeless man who lived in the woods, "for fun." He said they were emulating scenes from "bum-rushing videos," according to the transcript. He mentioned "Bumfights," a video series available online, as a favorite.

Roberts died after three separate attacks with sticks, fists and logs. Justin Stearns, 19, Christopher Scamahorn, 16, and Warren Messner, 17, also were convicted and are serving prison terms from 22 to 35 years. Phi Huynh, 16, the fifth member of the group charged in connection with the attacks on Roberts, is awaiting trial.

Neither Spurgeon nor the others explained why they attacked Roberts during a weeklong sentencing proceeding in April, and Spurgeon's attorney Mitch Wrenn said the "60 Minutes" interview surprised him.

"I don't remember anything about bum fighting coming up," he said.

The videos depict homeless men and women engaged in humiliating, self-destructive acts, including ripping out teeth and ramming themselves into doors.

According to the Bumfights Web site, the videos are satire meant to call attention to the problems of poverty and violence.