The Blog of Author Robert K. Lewis

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So Much Catch Up!

Well, here we go… the thing that writers always look forward to: author copies.

The third Mark Mallen novel is here, Innocent Damage.

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And with their arrival, the journey begins again. Things are ramping up pretty fast:

-I’ve been featured in a very cool blog hub that leads to other very cool blogs. I seriously advise you to put these blogs in your bookmarks. You can’t go wrong.

-In June, I’ll be signing books at the American Library Association conference in San Francisco. Probably June 28th, at the Midnight Ink booth. More to come on that. When I know for sure, I’ll post it here.

-I did a short essay in the April Midnight Ink email publicity update. It’s all about what inspired me to write Mark Mallen (I can’t link to it directly, so here it is):

I was asked the other day what inspired me to write Mark Mallen. I can draw that inspiration all the way back to my mid-twenties when I discovered the pulp detective novels of Frank Kane, Henry Kane, Mickey Spillane and many others. Those author’s detectives were men who, even if it meant great sacrifice, would do whatever they had to do to solve a case. Those books were the ingredients that helped me to shape a detective that would harken back to that time, a detective that would be, as Raymond Chandler wrote in his legendary essay, “The Simple Art of Murder”: He must be a complete man and to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without a thought of it, and certainly without saying it.”

I wanted Mallen to fit that description, a character possessing a strong sense of honor and morality. Mallen is my white knight walking the dark streets, a part of his environment but yet still apart, a quality that enables him to make those hard, moral choices. He’s a character that will stick to his guns, no matter how hard the situation. This man, this detective, will always follow his moral compass, providing an example for others of how difficult it can be to do so.

But beyond that, I was inspired to create a character that I could admire for his integrity, his strength of will and his toughness.

And that character turned out to be Mark Mallen.

* * * * *

That’s it for now, but I will be back as there is a lot of other news brewing.

 

RkL

 

 

Back From the Dead (One More Time).

Finally finished this first draft, and this one nearly killed my liver. It’s a mess of a book, but just about all first drafts are messes. They’re supposed to be. The book is made in the editing phase. Now I go (after a couple days of rest) and break it down by chapter, tracking what happens where, what characters fall out of the book, etc…

… the fun part.

It’s a friggin’ joy to show you this, as it reinforces in my mind that the first draft is actually, finally done:

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And in other news, that Suspense Magazine radio interview is quickly approaching, mid-April. April 18th, I believe.

I’ve also been invited to blog here, which is like a hub for a couple other awesome blogs. This will also happen in April.

And in other exciting news, I’ll have a blog post on a new crime fiction fan site. I can’t tell you which one yet, as it hasn’t gone live, but will in April. This post will show up in early May.

Also in May, May 5th actually, I’ll be giving a reading of Innocent Damage at the new Books, Inc. in Berkeley. On upper Shattuck, just a few doors up from Saul’s restaurant. (They’re moving from their old spot on 4th street in April)

And of course, Innocent Damage is only three weeks away.

See ya.

RkL

Small Update. Three is a Beautiful Number.

Photo on 1-16-15 at 5.59 PM #2

INNOCENT DAMAGE, the third Mallen book, is out April 8th of this year is the date. I had to get the new card. I couldn’t help myself.

My Bouchercon 2014 Experience

Just had to update ya’ll on my trip to Bouchercon down in Long Beach! Almost went to the hospital very early that morning (like 2am) with some sort of back problem that had me crawling around on the floor like a dog, hyperventilating like a sick calf, but it went away in time to shoo off the paramedics and get a couple hours sleep.

Other than that? It was awesome.

Bouchercon rocks. Seriously rocks. The panel I was on, The Different Shades of Noir, was standing room only. I was pretty much delirious by that time, having been up for like fourteen hours, which at my age is like twenty-four. It went VERY well, thanks to the other participants, like Chris Holm and Jon Bassoff, (both writers you should get to know) and the great moderator, Chantelle Aimée Osman.

The other panels were fantastic, and I met a shitload of interesting and amazing people. Even received an offer to teach a class at some sort of writer’s retreat in the southwest. Nice offer, will see if it happens.

I of course made friends with the head bartender, natch, and reaped many rewards.

Oh, and a LOT of room service. Hell, I felt that if I was going to do this, then I was going to go all out.

Just a wonderful time. Also, we had a 15th floor room with an incredible view of the Queen Mary and the harbor. I’m still whacked-out tired, but haven’t had that much fun since Thrillerfest. SUCH a great experience. To spend that much time with other writers and fans? Incredible.

Would recommend this convention to anyone.

I’ll be at Bouchercon, in Long Beach, November 13th through the 17th.

And I’ll be on a panel! My first one, and I’m very excited.

In case you’re wondering what Bouchercon is, it’s a huge conference for fans and writers of crime fiction. You can learn more about it here.

The panel I’ll be on, 4pm on the 13th, is called “Noir Comes in Many Flavors“. The other participants, Moderators Chantelle Aimee Osman and Craig Foustus, along with panelists Steph Cha, Chris Holm, and Fuminori Nakamura, are

either incredible mystery/thriller writers or editors, and you would be doing yourself a favor to check them out.

Here’s the photographic proof:

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Hope to see you there! If you miss the panel, then at least look for me in the bar.

 

RkL

Cover Reveal! Innocent Damage, the 3rd Mark Mallen Book.

Coming April 2015 to your neighborhood internet and bookstores!

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#HowIWrite Blog Hop

The wonderful Barbara Sissel “tagged” me on one of those conga line things where you answer four questions, then find another writer and have them answer the questions, and then they, etc.

You get the idea.

I don’t usually do these anymore, however, Barbara is so nice, and I really liked the questions. So, without further ado, here we go:

What am I writing?

I’m currently working on a standalone novel thriller revolving around a secret research project. This one is as far from Mallen as I can get. In order to grow as a writer, I feel you have to keep pushing yourself harder and harder, getting better with each book.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The co-protagonists involved are very singular, imo. And I can’t say more, or my agent would roast certain of my body parts over an open flame.

Why do I write what I do?

Ah! The Million Dollar Question! I write what I write because I grew up in a violent and jaded age. An age filled with cynicism (Watergate, the Vietnam War, Altamont, etc). I grew up watching (at a VERY young age) very violent TV shows and movies. Movies like Death WishThe Warriors, Magnum ForceThe Seven Ups, etc. I was also exposed to the violent world of pornography at about age 8 (my father and uncle owned a chain of adult bookstores). All these items, once dumped into my head and combined, helped to create a perception that we’re almost nothing but violence. However, on the other side of that is the part of me that believes in having a strong moral compass. It’s more and more a necessity than ever before. Mark Mallen, the protagonist of my “Damage” novels (Untold Damage, Critical Damage, and Innocent Damage in April 2015) possesses such a moral compass. He’s the proverbial white knight, walking the mean and dark streets of murder and mayhem. Sometimes the right answer isn’t the best answer. I love writing characters who can make that hard choice, because really… I hope I could if I were in their shoes.

How does my writing process work?

My process has been growing and changing with every book. I remember, way back when, that I would edit as I went. Now I just rip through the first draft knowing that book only emerges during the subsequent drafts. The process has also changed in that as my stories get more and more complex, I’ve needed to map things out. That’s what I’m doing here:

Cards

I’m plotting out the story, color coding each character and their storyline. As you can see, as the story moves forward it begins to expand. It helps me keep track of where subplots might be lagging too far behind the main storyline. Once I’ve done the initial draft of the book, then I do this:

book

I take the book apart chapter by chapter. I then write a synopsis for that chapter and attach it with a paperclip. I’ve color coded the story again in the same manner as the cards. Again, I’m very visual and so this really helps me “see the whole playing field”. After this stage, I’ll go back and do another draft, then hopefully I’m at the polishing stage, where I shine each sentence and make sure all my metaphors are in order and that the climax is the best it can possibly be.

So, that’s it.

And please do not forget to check out Barbara Taylor Sissel. Here’s all about her: Barbara Taylor Sissel once lived on the grounds of a prison facility in Kentucky, which might explain the nature of her writing, especially her latest: Safe Keeping and Evidence of Life. Driven by the compelling reality that at the heart of every crime, there’s a family, her novels are issue-oriented, threaded with elements of suspense and defined by their particular emphasis on how crime affects families of both victim and perpetrator. She now lives and writes from her bucolic Story House near Austin, Texas. Find Barbara on Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads.

RkL