Monthly Archives: April 2013

Boots on the Ground

One of the coolest parts of my gig is: I get to go places and do research. I’m a journalist by training, so that’s kid-in-a-candyshop time for a guy like me.

Milan-CathedralThere’s a big scene in ICE COLD KILL that takes place at the grand cathedral in Milan, Italy. Last year, Katy King and I went and walked the scene, “blocking” it in a theatrical term. We entered as my protagonist did; as my antagonists did. I took notes and Katy took photos. Then I returned home and completely rewrote the scene, having seen, heard, felt, smelled, tasted the cathedral and its sprawling piazza.

What an opportunity. What a cool gig.


Whodunnits Done Well

A good friend was reminding me recently of “Murder 1,” the terrific Steven Bochco TV series from 1995 starring a brilliantly multi-layered Daniel Benzali and a deliciously vile Stanley Tucci.

Stanley TucciWow. Great whodunit series. The first story arc was great, although I remember the quality dipped in the second season.

Which got me thinking: What other dimly remembered TV mystery series of the past would readers recommend to their friends?  I’m looking for well-written and well-cast but maybe just a bit obscure (not “West Wing,” in other words; something we’re sorry we missed, not something we’re missing).


Annie: Get Your Book


logoGot a signing and speaking gig set up at Annie Bloom’s Books, 7834 S.W. Capitol Highway, in Portland’s Multnomah Village!

I lived in The Village (no, Patrick McGoohan fans, not THAT one) for about four years, so Annie Bloom’s was my neighborhood bookstore. During that time, the indie shop was so incredibly loyal. Not just to me, but to all Northwest writers of all genres. It’s one of the reasons every wordsmith I know is madly, deeply, passionately in love with our local book seller.

My gig is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, May 30.

See you there?


That Was No Lady, That Was My Protagonist

I’m still shocked – shocked, I tell you! – by the incredibly inaccurate review we received from Pamela Kramer at

This completely wrong review describes Daria as, “master spy, ex-Israeli agent, FBI mole, karate expert, ace marksperson, femme fatale – and I do mean fatale, and passionate sexual partner of everyone of all sizes, shapes, ages, political persuasions, nations of origin and genders. She beds her friends, her enemies, and everyone she meets from most neutral countries. And then she usually kills them, or tries to. Or they try to kill her.”

Naturally, I’m demanding a retraction. Why?

Daria doesn’t know karate.

Casting Call?

So one of the more interesting subsets of fan mail I receive focuses on casting Daria Gibron in a movie or TV show.

Casting for Daria? Note: Summer Glau helps illustrate my point here, but she was never in my mind when I wrote the book. But then again...

Casting for Daria? Note: Summer Glau helps illustrate my point here, but she was never in my mind when I wrote the book. But then again…

I won’t lie to you: I think about it all the time. In fact, in the mystery writing class I occasionally write, I highly recommend it. “Casting” a major character, as you write the early drafts, can be a very useful trick for finding the right voice. The pitch and tone of your dialog can be greatly enhanced if you “hear” someone — and why not an actor or actress — reciting your lines. Even if it’s in your head.

CRASHERS and BREAKING POINT were ensemble books: More than 15 major characters in each, and each had to have his or her own individual voice. The goal is to be able to remove all of the “he said” and “she said” bramble from a scene, and make sure that the reader still could figure out who’s talking.

So casting, and mentally “hearing” your words, is a great schtick.

But once your book is out, like ICE COLD KILL, then it’s simply a fun mind game. Who do I see as the major protagonists and antagonists? You might be surprised. Then again, you might not.

Readers: Who would you like to see play the roles of Daria, John Broom,  Belhadj, or others, should Hollywood ever come a’callin’?

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