Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Writer's Block Wednesday: Q&A with Jason Pinter

This morning I have the pleasure of hosting Jason Pinter, author of the Henry Parker series. His latest installment, THE FURY, launched yesterday from Mira Books.

Dana Kaye: Tell us a little about your writing process. How has it changed from book one to book four?

Jason Pinter:Writing the first book, the hardest thing for me to learn was pacing. I think most every first novel is a little overwritten, and when writing a thriller the first think you need to do, as Elmore Leonard so wisely said, is cut out the boring stuff. So I trimmed probably about 70-80 pages from THE MARK. Now as the series progresses, I feel like I have the pacing down pat, but I want to make sure that every book keeps the characters growing and changing. If the book doesn't have some sort of emotional impact on the character, it's not worth writing. I want readers to have a stake in what happens to the characters, so that's something I've worked hard on, especially in the new books coming out.

DK: THE FURY is out now and the THE DARKNESS is out in December. Multiple books a year seems to be the growing trend. What led you to publish two books back to back? Is this something you'll be doing every year?

JP: When it came time to write the fourth book in the Henry Parker series, I wanted to do something different and bigger. Probably my biggest inspiration for these books was James Ellroy's masterful L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. And what I loved about that book was how he took a seemingly isolated incident, the Nite Owl murders, and as you looked closer you saw it was the tip of a massive and sinister iceberg. I'm no Ellroy, but I wanted to write a story that was much larger in scope, intimate in character, but possibly a snapshot of the time (as Ellroy's book was of 1950's Los Angeles). I'm not sure if this will happen every year, but I think that because these two books should be read back to back it works well.

DK: You came from a publishing background as an editor. How has this shaped the way you write?

JP: I think I'm a good self-editor, and I also listen to my editor (who is very, very wise). I've fought battles before with authors who refused to believe that I had their best interests in mind. And anyone who thinks their prose doesn't need a fresh set of eyes probably isn't a very good writer. So I'm a pretty ruthless self-editor, but I also almost always defer to my own editor, as she's really made every one of my books better.

DK: Newspapers are shutting down, indie bookstores going under and kindle sales on the rise. How has the rapidly changing world of publishing changed your marketing strategies?

JP: Much more attention has shifted online, and that's both a blessing and a curse. Rather than add to newspaper coverage of books, online coverage seems to be replacing it. Newspapers in a lot of ways signed their own death warrants, but I'll never understand how they can ignore some of the biggest problems with their book sections. Many papers, including some of the biggest in the country, seem to almost willfully ignore the books that people are actually reading. And when you lose touch with your readers and the community, you're living on borrowed time. Thankfully the online community is full of passionate hardworking reviewers, critics and bloggers who don't care about what other people think they 'should' be covering--they just write about what they love. Which is why there's such a great mix of online sites devoted to mysteries, thrillers, romance, literary fiction, non-fiction, and everything else. I only wish newspapers would embrace such diversity.

DK: You mentioned earlier that James Ellroy inspired THR FURY. Has Ellroy read THE FURY? Any joint signings in your future?

JP: I wish and I wish. Though Ellroy is on Facebook, so perhaps I can cyberstalk him. Can one be 'The Demon Dog of Facebook'?

DK: What's one piece of advice you can offer aspiring writers?

JP: Use rejection as fuel. We've all been there, we've all faced rejection, but the successful writers internalize that frustration and anger and use it to hone their craft. It's easy to blame external forces--editors, agents, the industry--it's harder to sit back, look in the mirror and work your butt off. Success is often as much about discipline as talent.

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