Author to Author with Bruce Robert Coffin

Author to Author with Bruce Robert Coffin

I met fellow police procedural author Bruce Coffin at the 2019 Killer Nashville conference, where we both won Silver Falchion awards, and have become an avid fan of his John Byron series. His new book WITHIN PLAIN SIGHT comes out this week. Bruce took a minute to swing by and take us inside the series.

  1. Carmen Amato: Bruce, thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Your Detective John Byron mystery series, set in Portland, Maine, is drawn from your own experiences. Tell us a little about your background.

Bruce Robert Coffin: Many thanks for the invitation, Carmen! You are correct. In writing this series I rely on my past experiences as a police officer. I spent 28 years working for the Portland Police Department in Maine, retiring in 2012 as the detective sergeant in charge of the violent crime unit. Like most police officers, I spent the early years of my career in uniform patrolling a beat. Later, when I discovered my love of investigations, I transitioned to detective and finally detective sergeant. Although my novels are purely fictional, I draw heavily upon personal experience and the experiences of my fellow officers to bring realism to the page.

  1. CA: Your books are populated with a great cast of multi-dimensional characters. Where do you look for inspiration when creating characters?

BRC: Thanks so much. When creating the supporting cast of characters I sought to surround Byron with detectives who were as diverse and interesting as those with whom I once worked. Some of the characters, like Diane Joyner, Mike Nugent, and Melissa Stevens, were fleshed out using traits and quirks prevalent among my former coworkers. Others like Dustin Tran and and Davis Billingslea are largely products of my imagination.

No matter how thorough the detective, none function in a vacuum. Likewise, Byron must rely on the skills and tenacity of his fellow detectives to solve each mystery.

  1. CA: John Byron’s rocky personal life is a theme running through your books. If you were his wingman, how would you introduce him in a bar?

BRC: I wouldn’t! I’d tell any prospective love interest to run as quickly as possible. No, not really. Byron isn’t that bad, but he does have issues. In creating John I sought to paint a realistic picture of a homicide detective for the reader. One of the things I think most people are unaware of is just how much commitment is required to do the job properly. Murder investigations are all consuming, placing your spouse and children on the back burner, second to the needs of the case, is a necessity. The victim of every homicide, and by extension their surviving families, deserve the very best out of every detective working the case. Giving anything less means the detective probably isn’t the right person for the job. As you might imagine, most spouses and family members aren’t comfortable with such an arrangement. This inevitably alienates families and often leads to divorce.

Within Plain Sight

  1. CA: Portland, Maine, is not the first location that comes to mind when I think “mystery.” How do you use setting to create and build suspense?

BRC: Initially I considered creating a fictional town in which to set my series. But then I thought, why waste my thirty years of research into every nook and cranny of the port city? I think locale is every bit as important as the characters, and it should serve to support the stories being told. John Byron, who grew up on Munjoy Hill in Portland, is now responsible for solving the city’s worst crimes. Portland plays as large a role in these stories as Byron does.

  1. CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?

BRC: There are so many authors with whom I’d love to chat, but if I can only pick one I’d pick James Lee Burke. James is one of my favorite mystery authors and, despite my extensive travel, I’ve yet to meet him. I can’t get enough of his Dave Robicheaux novels. And if I’m going to host Robicheaux’s creator then I guess I’ll be serving Cajun cuisine. What will we talk about? Writing, of course.

  1. CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

BRC: I’ll leave you with the epigraph I used on the third Byron novel, Beyond the Truth. In my opinion, this quote epitomizes the mystery novel:

Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides. — André Malraux

Thank you!

More about Bruce: Bruce Robert Coffin is a retired detective sergeant turned bestselling novelist. He is the author of the award-winning Detective Byron mystery series from HarperCollins. His latest novel, Within Plain Sight, the fourth installment in the Byron series, is slated for a February 4, 2020 release. Visit www.brucerobertcoffin.com to learn more.

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CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Author Bernard Schaffer debuts new cop series

Author Bernard Schaffer debuts new cop series

Bernard Schaffer’s new book THE THIEF OF ALL LIGHT is the debut of a tension-filled new police procedural series. This interview first appeared in the Mystery Ahead newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

1  Carmen Amato: Bernard, thanks so much for stopping by and congratulations. Your debut mystery, THE THIEF OF ALL LIGHT, just came out. A rookie and a jaded detective feature in this start to a tantalizing new police procedural series. Tell us how you came to create this “odd couple.”

Bernard Schaffer: I published multiple books in multiple genres as an indie author from 2011 to 2016, and wanted to take a crack at the mainstream. My writing had reached a level where I felt ready to try something new, so I took all of my experiences as both author and criminal investigator, and put them into a book.

2  CA: Your main character, Carrie Santero, has a fascination for serial killers? What research did you do to make this convincing?

Schaffer: I’m a career police detective for a department in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. I’ve been studying criminals, up close and personal, my entire adult life.

3  CA: Fill in the blank for us, please, and tell us why: If readers like books by ________, they will also like the Santero and Rein series.

Schaffer: If readers like books by Thomas Harris, Lee Child, Lisa Scottoline, and anyone else who writes gripping thrillers, they will also like the Santero and Rein series.

4  CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?

Schaffer: My stock answer would be Hemingway, because I have an imaginary Hemingway who sits off to the side whenever I’m writing and gives me hell, kind of like a boxing coach. But at this point, I probably don’t need to sit down with the real one. I’d say either Alan Moore or Carlos Ruiz Zafón. Both fascinate me and I feel that I could learn from either of them.

5  CA: What is your best protip? Tell us about a writing habit, technique, or philosophy that keeps your writing sharp.

Schaffer: A few things. Real authors finish. They don’t work on ten pages of a manuscript for years on end, carting them all over to every writing conference they can find, in hopes of someone finally giving them permission to write the whole thing. If you want to do this, you have to finish your book. That means multiple drafts and rewrites, too. There’s no sitting around in the publishing world. I graduated from the indie game, where you live and die by your ability to produce quality at a rapid pace. That’s served me well at this new level. There’s no time to be lazy or unmotivated when people are relying on you to get your work done, and get it done right.

The Thief of all LightThank you so much for having me, Carmen. THE THIEF OF ALL LIGHT cameout in hardcover and audio on 7/31/18 from Kensington Publishing, and I cannot wait to share it with everyone.

More about Bernard: Bernard Schaffer’s law enforcement philosophy book titled WAY OF THE WARRIOR is now taught in multiple police academies, Field Training Programs, and universities across the United States. His fiction collaboration with J.A. Konrath combined concepts and characters from Konrath’s Jack Daniels series with Schaffer’s novel SUPERBIA. Schaffer is the father of two children, still working as a police detective, and still writing. Read more at https://www.bernardschaffer.com/

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CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

Straight Shooting with Mystery Author Mike Faricy

Straight Shooting with Mystery Author Mike Faricy

I just finished THE OFFICE, the 17th entry in Mike Faricy’s addictive Dev Haskell series and immediately scooped up his Dev Haskell boxed set. The books are like Pringle’s chips–you can’t read just one. In this chat, which originally appeared in my Mystery Ahead newsletter, Mike shares the secret of his writing success.

1  Carmen Amato: Mike, thanks so much for stopping by. Your wonderful Dev Haskell series is a briskly-paced PI series with a main character whose inner voice channels Robert B. Parker’s Spenser. Tell us how Dev came to be and the type of cases he handles.

Mike Faricy: Thank you for having me, Carmen. It’s great to be here. Over the years I wrote maybe fifty or a hundred, no doubt award winning, first chapters. Then one day I had a unique thought, maybe finish one of these or stop wasting your time, so I wrote Russian Roulette, the first book in the Dev Haskell series.

I’m a voracious reader and when I land on an author I like, I inhale just about all of their work, Robert B. Parker, Elmore Leonard, Carl Hiaasen, Stuart MacBride, Ian Rankin along with a number of others. I had a ton of ideas bouncing around in my thick skull, and once I finished Russian Roulette I thought I can write another book with this character. Suddenly, I’ve had a series going and it just keeps coming.

One of the things that surprised me was I initially wrote Dev Haskell with a guy like me in mind as my reader. Almost immediately I started getting emails and messages from women telling me how much they enjoyed the books. One woman said she would love a wild, getaway weekend with Dev, but you wouldn’t tell your girlfriends about it for at least ten years, and then, when you did, one of them would say, “I did that, too.”

Dev ends up with all sorts of women who think; you know with a little work I could maybe fix this guy. Of course, by the end of the book they’re telling him to never, ever contact them again. I think there’s a couple of restraining orders out there on him. The most recent work in the Dev Haskell series is The Office.

The Office by Mike Faricy2  CA: Dev’s world is populated with a great cast of multi-dimensional secondary characters who both help and hinder Dev. Where do you look for inspiration when creating characters?

MF: I look no further than real life. In all actuality some of the crazier characters are based on people I know, things that they’ve done, good and bad. What’s the line? Truth is stranger than fiction. I’ve found that to be pretty accurate. In a lot of my reading, things get so unbelievable. Some special forces guy jumps out of a plane using his raincoat as a parachute and lands on the roof of the White House to save the president.

Dev is involved more or less in day to day sorts of situations. He’s not saving the world from terrorists or stopping an international banking scandal. All my books are based on the sorts of people we all know. Maybe that slightly different kid you knew in grade school, you haven’t see in thirty years and you wonder what ever happened to them. You also don’t want to get too close, but you’re still curious. Often there is a history of bad decisions, or they were just plain lucky, but believe they’re suddenly smarter than the rest of us.

Plus, no matter what’s going on in your world, you read Dev and well, you figure, you don’t look so bad after all.

3  CA: Dev seems to date a different woman in every book! If you were his wingman, how would you introduce him in a bar?

MF: Carefully. He would be the perfect gentleman, or try to be, but in the end things always go the wrong way. He’s basically a nice guy. He’d help with a project, maybe paint a room, be kind to a child, bring you flowers or chocolate, maybe take you out to dinner where some crazy thing would no doubt happen, but in the end, he’s Dev Haskell. It’s just not going to work.

He has a ‘friend with benefits’ relationship with Heidi Bauer, but she regularly can’t see him because she’s with another guy or she’s still mad at him for whatever stupid thing he recently did. After a while women seem to wisely decide that, you know, this just isn’t working for me and they move on.

I had a scene where Dev’s cooking breakfast for a woman who spent the night after a romantic dinner and the toaster suddenly starts smoking. Turns out a mouse had been in the toaster and at that point, she’s getting dressed and hurrying out to her car never to set foot in his place again. That pretty much sums it up. That also really happened to a pal of mine, the mouse in the toaster, but that’s another story.

4  CA: How do you use setting to create and build suspense?

MF: Setting is really important, but I’ve always taken the advice of Elmore Leonard which basically said, keep it short. A line or two, not paragraphs, and don’t dwell on the weather. If you describe a smell and a weeks worth of advertising circulars and past due bills on the coffee table that sets the scene. Or, if it’s a tense situation and the individual can hear their heart pounding, it’s late at night and the stair creaks, that conveys quite a bit. I use the KISS adage, Keep It Simple Stupid.

5  CA: You can invite any author, living or dead, to dinner at your home. What are you serving and what will the conversation be about?

Mike FaricyMF: Elmore Leonard is the guest and I’d probably be serving a crock pot meal with ciabatta bread and plenty of wine. Something like white chicken chili or a stew, only because I wouldn’t want to be distracted in the kitchen. We’d have hors d’oeuvres, beverages and a wine with dinner. And a dessert, I love desserts along with a small plate of nice chocolates.

We’d talk about plot, characters, general information and also our failures. A highly successful author once told me that we all have a work that we keep under the bed. Something we slaved over and at the end, it just didn’t work. It’s always inspiring to learn how much everyone stumbles, and falls. Then, the successful people get up, dust themselves off and keep moving forward.

6  CA: Can you leave us with a quote, a place, or a concept from a book that inspired you?

MF: Here’s a quote that fits me perfectly. “Well, you give me too much credit for foresight and planning. I haven’t got a clue what the hell I’m doing.”  Robert B. Parker

Thank you so much for the opportunity, wishing you and everyone out there, all the very best.

Thank you!

More about Mike: Mike Faricy lives in St. Paul, Minnesota and Dublin, Ireland. He writes crime fiction, the Dev Haskell series and the Hotshots series are written under his name, the Corridor Man series under the pen name Nick James, and the Jack Dillon series under the pen name Patrick Emmett. His latest work of genius is the first in the Hotshots series, Reduced Ransom!.

Email: mikefaricyauthor@gmail.com  Website: http://www.mikefaricybooks.com

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CARMEN AMATO

Mystery and thriller author. Retired Central Intelligence Agency intel officer. Dog mom to Hazel and Dutch. Recovering Italian handbag addict.

 

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