Thursday, June 24, 2010

Book Review: Rogue Males by Craig McDonald

Rogue Males by Craig McDonald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
McDonald is the author of the Hector Lassiter series of literary noirs, and this is his second volume collecting interviews with famous mystery and crime fiction authors. Much of the discussion in this book covered the craft of writing: how and where the authors write, their sources of inspiration and their plans for the future. Some of my favorite authors were included in this volume, so is was interesting to go "under the hood" so to speak and learn what made these writers tick. Andrew Vachss, author of the long-running series of "Burke" novels spoke at length about his work as an attorney representing abused children and how that work informed his famous series. He also spoke about his then new non-series novel Two Trains Running, and the research he did in order to write it. James Ellroy is notoriously upfront and always makes for a very compelling interview. He talks about the short pieces he had been writing for GQ and about the film adaptations of The Black Dahlia and L.A. Confidential. But Ellroy's most interesting subject is always himself and he talks candidly about his near breakdown and the effect on his marriage and writing. Lee Child and Max Allan Collins are like well oiled machines cranking out work, Collins' works to order for television series and tie-ins, and Child trying to keep his long running Jack Reacher series compelling for both himself and his fans. Two of the most interesting interviews come at the end of the book with noir writers James Sallis and Ken Bruen. Sallis discusses how other musicians and writers and a deep sense of place and time have informed his Lew Griffin and Turner series. Bruen's interview was compelling to hear him talk about the sudden success of his extraordinary Jack Taylor novels (calling himself "an overnight success after thirty years") and the subsequent effect book promotional tours have had on him. The book ends in a cool way with long-time mutual admirers Sallis and Bruen meeting for the first time at a bookstore in Arizona. This was a very interesting book especially for writers or crime fiction fans to go beyond the character and learn something about their favorite authors. Rogue Males - amazon.com

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