Q: What makes David Pain different from other hardboiled characters?
David Pain is a fish out of water. He doesn't have a law enforcement background. He wasn't in the military. David is a bit of a geek with an Information Technology background. He lost everything, including his wife and job, during the Great Recession. A middle aged man, all that he has left is the guts to find a new purpose in his life. Those past failings fuel his cynicism and bad attitude. It's crazy, but David is a hardboiled detective who doesn't carry a gun. I've fleshed out a five book story arc for Cases of Pain. As the series progresses, David will make use of an interesting weapon to punish the human monsters in his rundown Ohio town. He doesn't quite realize it yet, but those monsters are transforming him into a full-blown vigilante. David Pain gets to a point where he isn't sure if he's any better than the bad guys. Classic noir for modern times.
Q: How did you come up with the character?
David Pain came to me during a rough period of my life. I lived in a fleabag motel for a time. That's when I started to get the idea for a hardboiled detective fiction series. I found myself living as a dead end character in a real life noir story. And let me tell you. Fiction is a much better place than the reality of starring in your own downward spiral. You can put down that Chandler book and go to sleep in your own comfortable bed. You can turn off the television after you watch Out of the Past for the 18th glorious time. Damn. When you have no hope. When you are at the end of your rope. That's brutal. David Pain was a coping mechanism for me. Fortunately, I prevailed. I got my act together. I tried to bring Cases of Pain to life at various times over the years. And I failed. Yet, that didn't stop me from believing in the character and the series. I sat on the manuscript for Schemes of the Slippery Garlic Fiend for nearly a decade. Last year, I worked like a writing fiend to update the manuscript to make it more contemporary. In Schemes, David Pain is getting his life back together. Like me, he's a survivor. As the old saying goes, write what you know.
Q: What are your thoughts on the whole eBook revolution?
The eBook revolution is chaotic. Isn't it? Anybody with access to a computer has the means to tell their story. No more gatekeepers. Anything goes. That's beautiful. Let people tell their stories. Ultimately, the market will decide what sticks. Take blogging for example. A lot of people got on the bandwagon when blogging was the next big thing. Eventually, most of those bloggers faded away due to lack of readers, waning interest or lack of time. I think we'll see the same thing with the eBook revolution, particularly with independents like myself. Some independents will flourish. Most will not. Writing is the fun part. As I've come to learn, editing, designing and marketing are grueling chores. It takes some thick skin to make it in the book business.
Q: What's next for you and David?
I'm working on the first draft for book two of the series. In the second installment, David Pain will be pitted against a sadistic serial killer who has a bizarre fetish. This case will take David on another step in his journey towards a dark place. Book one, Schemes of the Slippery Garlic Fiend, introduced some key supporting characters. Anessa, who is much younger than David, is manipulating him into finding out the truth about her missing parents. While she seems innocent on the surface, Anessa is destined to become the femme fatale of the series. Another character, Paddy, is David's cagey old mentor. Both of them will figure into a subplot of the second book. Book two also introduces a love interest named Daemon for Anessa. Yes, Damon with an e. I'm brewing up a hell storm. This is only the beginning. Expect a violent love triangle between Anessa, David and Daemon. The weather forecast calls for jealousy, betrayal, beatings and vengeance. Don't leave home without your body bag.
Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
There's more to life than working and writing? I don't seem to get enough rest these days! At this moment, I'm doing this interview on a commuter train. I try to get outdoors to enjoy nature, but I haven't been doing enough of that lately. Cycling is another one of my non-writing pursuits. I also like to travel to new places. Last summer, I finally made it to Europe. I'd like to go back. I enjoyed the chance to get in touch with my family roots. I'm also a long-time comic book fan. I know it doesn't sound cool, but I liked DC Comics more than Marvel. I'd like to get back into comics. I just need to find some free time.
Q: How do you promote your work?
I'm knocking on virtual doors. I've been pitching Schemes of the Slippery Garlic Fiend to book review blogs. The reality is that most book reviewers have a huge backlog of books to review. Interviews and guest posts seem like a more viable option to get the word out. I'm probably going to test some online advertising campaigns as well. I also have a Tumblr blog. It's an interesting social media platform.
Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I'm a big fan of the kind of gritty realism of writers like Hubert Selby, Jr. Selby managed to distill the essence of human suffering. It's like he had a pipeline into the misery of the human condition. His writing is provocative, shocking, sickening, powerful and sad. Add to the list stuff like Affliction by Thomas Banks and Crazy Heart by Thomas Cobb. That kind of writing really moves me on an emotional level. Obviously, I gravitate towards stories about doomed individuals. The genre isn't important. It explains why I write a series called Cases of Pain.
Q: What's your idea about the psychotic sidekick in PI novels like Hawk and Joe Pike?
Why should those guys have all of the fun? David Pain works alone. He is the moral compass in the Cases of Pain universe. Yet, he will get plenty of opportunities to get his hands dirty. In Schemes of the Slippery Garlic Fiend, David has a prescient encounter with a violent mercenary named Augustine Struthers. Struthers is a vulture-like bad ass who does dirty jobs for the highest bidder. Period. His ethics went by the wayside a long time ago. As he tells David after a beat down, every last man who got into the detective racket had the noblest of intentions. Every one of those men thought he was one of the good guys. And look at the outcome. Struthers has become totally corrupted. That's how it should be. Pure noir. I think it's more interesting to have my protagonist take on some of the bad ass elements of those sidekicks, and wrestle with his actions on a moral level.
Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will?influence the coming generation?
Definitely writers like Reed Farrel Coleman and Ken Bruen. In coming years, I think we'll see the emergence of new talent from gutsy publishers such as New Pulp Press.
Q: Why do you write in this genre?
The hardboiled genre gets my blood pumping. Part of it goes back to my childhood. I'm a middle aged American. Well, that's assuming that I'll live to be around hundred. Anyway, I was brought up in a household where old time radio shows, film noir and mystery books were the norm. I loved comic books. My older relatives immigrated to the states from Eastern Europe. I'm talking some hard-scrabble, no-nonsense, ethnic miscreants right out of hardboiled central casting. As a grown man, I've gone through my share of rough life experiences. I view life as a long struggle. Happy moments are rare treasures. The sum of my childhood influences and life experiences make the hardboiled genre a perfect fit for me. I like how I can take a character like David Pain and pit him against some of the most vile and obscene monsters out there. This average man relies on his attitude, smarts and guts make a go of it as a private detective. David has flaws. He works alone. He will make mistakes. He will get beaten down. Yet, there is no quit in this man. He is a good man who is sometimes forced to take actions against his own moral code for the greater good. That's what it's all about. That's why I love this genre.