Saturday, February 10, 2018

Author Interview: Max McBride: Author of Mink Eyes


Max McBride is a lawyer, novelist, playwright, and poet. He writes. He reads. He works. The bulk of his time is spent at the office.  He will never read all the books by his bed or watch all the shows saved on his DVR. Max enjoys art, design, college basketball, ballet, modern dance, and sacred music. Bob Dylan, Shakespeare, Rumi, and Yeats are just a few of the greats who have had an impact on him.  His book Mink Eyes, a novel he calls “white noir,” and Tenebrae, a collection of poetry centered around the death of his wife (but also including several snapshots of growing up Irish in America) are both available for purchase in print and digital form from Amazon, B&N, and bookstores nationwide, as well as directly from the author. McBride is also a social commentator of sorts, and his occasional observations about culture, travel, and—when he can’t hold it in any longer—politics can be found on his website: www.Max2theMax.com.

Mink Eyes 
October 1986—the tarnished heart of the “Greed Is Good” decade. Private detective Peter O’Keefe is a physically scarred and emotionally battered Vietnam vet. Hired by his childhood best friend, ace attorney Mike Harrigan, O’Keefe investigates what appears to be merely a rinky-dink mink farm Ponzi scheme in the Missouri Ozarks. Instead, O’Keefe finds himself snared in a vicious web of money laundering, cocaine smuggling, and murder—woven by a mysterious mobster known as “Mr. Canada.” Also caught in Mr. Canada’s web is the exquisite Tag Parker, who might be the girl of O’Keefe’s dreams—or his nightmares. Mink Eyes weaves murder, addiction, obsession, sex, and redemption into a fast-paced, compelling detective novel that also brings in themes of duty, fatherhood, friendship and love. Peter O’Keefe is a reluctant hero who struggles every day to choose in favor of life over death.

Who are your influences?
I am able to say who my “inspirations” or “admirations” are, but I am reluctant to call them “influences” because they all wrote so differently, and so much better, than I do.  In poetry and drama (and everything else), Shakespeare above all.  In poetry, Wordsworth and especially Yeats.  In prose, Dickens, Turgenev, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Salinger, Donleavy, Joyce Cary, Simone Weil, Joseph Campbell, Robert Stone, E.L. Doctorow.  In detective fiction, Chandler and the MacDonalds (Ross and John D) showed me how good it could be, and Elmore Leonard showed me not only how good but how funny it could be and how ordinary people could be its heroes.   
When did you begin writing?
Since high school I have felt the strong and persistent “call” to “write.”  But, due to an unfortunate combination of not knowing how and where to enter and not having enough confidence in my abilities to take the risk of plunging into it as a full-time vocation, I instead pursued a career in academia and then in law, both of which involved a lot of writing, creative in its own way but not of the imaginative variety.  Yet I have periodically managed to find enough time to actually finish a creative writing project.  I have written several plays, one of which received a staged reading at a theatre in NYC, but it didn’t go anywhere from there.  I have written a few short stories that I have just kept in a drawer, an occasional poem, and two other plays.
Finally, the “call” was just too strong to resist any longer, and, while continuing a very busy legal practice, I wrote and have now published, a novel called Mink Eyes and a book of poetry called Tenebrae.
How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
The milieu of Mink Eyes—lawyers and courts and bankers and financial manipulations, both legal and otherwise–is one I have worked in all my life, but the plot itself is pretty much pure imagination (although I did get involved with a failed mink farm once, although it was far less exciting than the events portrayed in the novel), which I worked out very deliberately, knowing how I wanted it to end but working hard to figure out the best way to achieve that end and asking myself at every step—is this realistic, could it really happen in the real world?  It’s easy enough to have a message but so much harder to embody it in believable characters, situations, and outcomes.  I am not sure where the names of my characters come from; they often change and more than once, as the writing proceeds.  The main characters are in my mind from the start although some good ones “pop up” as the plot moves along, and characters have their own way of evolving as the book evolves.  As for POV, although it can be very tricky, I like the omniscient with fairly frequent changes in POV.
Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
That’s a really hard one, and I am afraid to give too much away, but three stand out in my mind as I answer this—the Halloween scene, the interview with Ullman, and the last chapter of the book.
Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
Make it interesting, with main characters that people will care about; make it worthwhile in terms of themes and message; and make it real—believable in every way--believable characters with believable reactions, thinking and saying believable things, in believable situations with believable outcomes.
Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
A screenplay of Mink Eyes.  I have written several plays, in fact my original efforts were all plays, one of which has enjoyed a staged reading in New York, and several of which I still hope to get produced.  Also a few short stories, no publications. 
I have also recently published a book of poetry, Tenebrae.  The lead poem in the collection, Tenebrae: A Memoir of Love & Death, is an interlocking chain of 15 verse and prose poems that amount to a single narrative of my wife’s final sickness, her life under a death sentence, and her death itself, a hero’s journey (heroine’s in this case) if there ever was one and one that we all are fated to take.  My effort in poetry is to be as clear and direct as possible, but to use poetic techniques of concision, rhythm (and even rhyme occasionally, violating the contemporary notion that rhyme is puerile), and relatively simple, but hopefully exalted, language to reach as personal and as deep an emotional level as I can. As in Mink Eyes, I try to convey the way that the foundation literature of the West—myths and fairy tales—are still with us and how the grand rituals of Western religion, even emptied of their original theological content, still can connect us with the sacred in our everyday lives.
Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
Writing itself is pretty uninteresting really.  Often painful too.  Best I can come up with is this bit of irony:  One of my specialties as a lawyer is business bankruptcy.  Mink Eyes was accepted by a publisher that was unable to complete the publication because it had to file bankruptcy.  The world can give with one hand and take away with the other.

Again, Max's website is www.Max2theMax.com

Friday, January 12, 2018

January Promo

Hey, gang, it's time again for Renée Pawlish's monthly thriller and mystery promo. This month, all of the titles are 99¢. My short story collection, 8 Tales of Noir, is featured; so if you haven't picked up a copy yet, this is the perfect opportunity.

Renée is considering giving up her hosting gig, and there definitely won't be a give away in February, so this go 'round is possibly your last chance at some of these titles at this low price. Also, I am currently in the process of recording and editing the audio book for 8 Tales, and I could really use some honest reviews on the ebook version before I release the audio.

For your copy and to check out the other titles, visit ReneePawlish.com/Promo


Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Xmas!

Announcing a sale for the holiday! 

Twice Told, a Lupa Schwartz Box Set, gathers all of the Lupa Schwartz novels and novellas which have been released since the first. The series tells the story of Cattleya Hoskin, journalist for Gamut Magazine who moves from Ohio to Pittsburgh to chronicle the investigative cases of Lupa Schwartz, the outspoken PI with a love for women, classic cars, comedy movies, and good meat; and a strong disdain for religion, bad parking, and wasted time.
This box set contains all of the Lupa Schwartz novels and novellas which have been released since the first. The entire series; Extreme Unction, Common Sense, Fair Play, Shared Disbelief, and Five Secrets; tells the story of Cattleya Hoskin, journalist for Gamut Magazine who moves from Cleveland to Pittsburgh to chronicle the investigative caseload of Lupa Schwartz, the outspoken PI with a love for women, classic cars, comedy movies, and good meat; and a strong disdain for religion, bad parking, and wasted time. Book one, Extreme Unction, is available to read for free, so this set, which brings books two through five together in one place, makes owning the entire series easier than ever before.
This sale is only available through Smashwords, but all eBook formats are available. Get you copy by visiting this link! You'll have to download the first book, Extreme Unction, separately, but it's FREE.

Use the code  SEY75  at checkout for 75% off during the Smashwords site-wide promotion!



Thursday, November 23, 2017

Black Friday eBook Sale

Author Alexa Kang is hosting a fantastic Black Friday Sale featuring romance titles, holiday themed stories, and yes, mysteries and thrillers. You'll find all of the details on her site at alexakang.com/holiday99cbooksale/

FYI, my latest book, On the Side of the Angel, is also included in this sale. The sale continues through November 28th.


Friday, November 10, 2017

99 Cent eBooks!

I don't have a book in this one, but Renée Pawlish's monthly promo featuring 99¢ mystery and thriller eBooks is this weekend. Visit this link for nearly 40 titles each available for less than $1.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Guest Post - Beyond Words by A.B. Plum

AB Plum grew up in Southern Missouri. She has lived in Mexico, Bolivia, and Argentina. After grad school, she taught adolescent boys, created public library programs, and honed her fiction-writing skills developing high-tech marketing materials.

A six-month leave of absence to write fiction that entertains turned into a full-time career. PRINCE OF FROGS and QUEEN of the UNIVERSE, romantic comedies, were her first published novels. Two romantic suspense novels followed: PRESUMED GUILTY and UNRAVELED.
She now writes her passion—psychological suspense. Three novellas and three novels comprise her first series, THE MISfIT. Ever wonder about the twisted childhood of Hannibal Lector? Read the novellas and meet Michael Romanov—different, destructively different from birth.
Ever wonder about the pernicious influence of a grown-up misfit? Read the novels and follow the consequences of Michael Romanov’s conviction of his uniqueness.

AB lives just off the fast-lane in Silicon Valley with her husband. Reading, hiking, aerobic dancing, and participating in debates about hot-button topics propel her imagination toward murder.
She loves hearing from readers and getting their input. Contact her at ab@abplum.com.
From time to time, she makes special offers to fans (FREE books or a reader-author interview or an unpublished story or a behind-the-scenes clip). Learn more here.

The Misfit: The Reckless Year (book 4) 
A psychopath goes after what he wants and deserves…
Against all reason, ruthless Silicon Valley tycoon Michael Romanov, becomes infatuated with a totally unsuitable, but bewitching woman. Will he stop at murder to sweep her off her feet?

   STOP: Memoirists, playwrights, scriptwriters, poets, biographers, lyricists, journalists, academics, and all other non-novelists need read no further. The audience for these ramblings is fiction writers—real writers.
   Why? Why real writers?
   Because all those other writers (legitimate every one) can use photos, sets, actors, charts, music, figures and other devices rarely used in adult fiction. Novelists rely on one tool—words.
   Words, some biologists and most people, believe separate us from all other animals. Yes, animals may emit whistles (whales) or yodels (coyotes) or meows (cats) or quacks (ducks) or buzzing (bees) or growls (bears, big cats, and badgers) or screeches (bats and some birds) or “songs” (birds). They may vocalize with their kind quite effectively. But … words. Words are reserved for us humans.
   Most homo sapiens begin making recognizable words from early childhood. Babies’ first utterances
usually generate verbal expressions from parents of surprise, gratitude, and pride. It’s as if no one in the universe has ever accomplished such a deed. At the other end of life’s spectrum, words often escape the dying. Maybe by then we’ve used up all our words. Maybe we’re tired. Maybe we’re in pain. Maybe we just damned well don’t want to yammer about facing the Great Unknown.
   Many a novel has been writ on this subject.
   We writers capture feelings and paint people, places, and things with the only concrete tool in our toolbox. We grab the reader’s imagination, opening up contradictory and complementary views of life.
   We invent new worlds or resurrect old realms with a few well-placed syllables. We embroider fact and produce fiction.
   We fabricate characters with originality and verve. We entertain, hoping no reader ever skims the precious words we’ve set down on the page. We elicit laughs and mine for tears. A few simple words in a well-developed story with unforgettable characters in a tough situation can transport and transform readers.
   Storytelling lets us explore, extoll, and expand big questions with gusto or quiet restraint:
   Why does a character commit murder? (Crime/Mystery/Suspense/Thriller)
   How likely is “happiness ever after” between two humans? (Romance/Inspirational/Comedy)
   How do we survive the death of a loved one? (Tragedy/Melodrama)
   How can humans communicate with vampires/werewolves/zombies after the Apocalypse?
(Paranormal/Urban Fiction)
   How will humans react meeting an ET in outer space? (SciFi)
   How can guys who ride horses ever transition into modern society? (Westerns)
   How can women look at their lives and families and find fulfillment? (Women’s Fiction)
   Words are the common denominator. Sometimes they come with ease and fluency. Sometimes they elude us like fairy dust. Sometimes the words are fine, but we have to change the syntax. Too many sentences run together in dialogue (or narrative) reduce the power of the utterance and the eloquence of the written word. We can mangle grammar, but the result may confuse and lose the reader.
   Confession: I am an unabashed logophile. Reading gets the credit. My parents weren’t educated—though my mother read and encouraged my reading—neither ever encouraged vocabulary building. Since I always read beyond my age level, I learned early to use the dictionary. Discovering a word I’d run across originated in Greek or Roman set my imagination on fire. Lavatory, for example, stemmed from lavare—which sounded so much more exotic than to wash. To this day, I love taking vocabulary quizzes and feeling smug when I tally my score. I often chase after the meaning of [un]common sayings like going to hell in a handbasket for fun. (Spectator sports rarely claim my attention).
   Now having made my argument for words, I’m going to play devil’s advocate.
   If allowed ten books during exile on a desert island, I would choose nine children’s picture books.
   Not because of the words (usually few).
   Because of the illustrations. They usually go beyond words on the page. The best ones are as powerful as words. The best ones speak volumes (an apt cliché, IMO) in a few pages. The best ones can make reading the story redundant. Notice the caveat “best.” Best makes the difference and often costs enough to reflect the quality that has gone into the illustrations. The picture books I’m talking about are works of art. They need no words. The drawings or paintings or mixed media speak.
   I’ve recently discovered two children’s illustrated books to add to my collection of over a hundred titles.
   Duck, Death and The Tulip by Wolf Erlbruch, an award-winning illustrator. In this case, he is also the author. He is well-known for collaborating on humorous picture books like The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business. The pictures tell you the story.
   Cry Heart, But Never Break written by Glenn Ringtved and illustrated by Charlotte Pardi received the ALA 2017 Mildred L. Batchelder Award after its original Danish publication in 2002. The illustrations will etch Death into your imagination forever.
   These two picture books have become go-to sources for reflection and inspiration in my own writing.
   The MisFit Series follows the dark journey of a child psychopath. The words portray a bleak life, and sometimes I need a break. A variety of illustrations give me that break and the will to keep writing.
   So, from one logophile to another, I highly recommend investing in a couple of quality picture books to go beyond the words you write. As Nicole Krauss says in The History of Love, "I’ve learned “… there isn’t a word for everything.”

Friday, October 13, 2017

Time for FREE Thrills

October is always a good time for a good thrill, and Renée Pawlish has your back. This month, her site is featuring twenty mystery and thriller eBook titles which you can snag for free. Whether you prefer cozies, shoot-em-ups, psychological thrillers, procedurals, or something in between, you're sure to find something you'll like to chill your bones this season. Check out the promo this weekend only at reneepawlish.com/promo.


PS, on a personal note, I am the featured interview this week on author JD Byrne's website. Check it out here, and enjoy!