Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Erased but not forgotten

Jeff Peirce at the Rap Sheet features an extensive interview with PI Thriller Writer Thomas Kaufman, an author who started his career behind the camera lens – and we’re sure you’ve seen some of his work. With his recently released eBook collection Erased and Other Stories , it’s time to sample his written work, with the Willis Gidney thrillers Drink the Tea and Steal the Show. Help support Shots by buying these remarkable PI thrillers from the links [above] from our online bookstore [in partnership with Amazon].

Here’s an extract from the interview –

AK: Tell us a little about you series lead, Willis Gidney. Where did he spring from? And why use Washington, D.C., as the stories’ backdrop?

TK: Let’s answer your question with a question: Are you troubled by unsightly back story? Do you wish those troubling details could all be erased?

That’s what I thought when I was creating Willis Gidney. Why bother with back story? Just invent a guy who doesn’t have one. So Willis Gidney is a product of an author’s laziness. I decided to make his early life forgotten. Since I’d worked on Promises to Keep, I thought it’d be a good idea for Willis to have grown up homeless. Traumatic childhood, memory gone. Problem solved, right?

Wrong. It turned out I had quite a bit of research to do, relating not only to homelessness, but also D.C.’s juvenile justice system. Of course, this was a good thing in the long run, but lots of heavy lifting. Hey, I got into this racket for the easy money and loose women. Still waiting for both, I’m afraid.

AK: I hear that George Pelecanos, another writer who uses the U.S. capital as a backdrop, enjoys your work.

TK: George has said nice things about what I’m doing. He’s one of the best writers in America, in my humble opinion. He’s also a neighbor, and over the years he’s offered solid suggestions and insights about what I’m writing. George’s D.C. is different from mine, but that’s because we’re different people. I love his work, and reading his descriptions of D.C. is like reading great reportage. The only other writer I've read who is as insightful about D.C. is Edward P. Jones (check out his Lost in the City).

AK: Recently, Scottish author Ian Rankin, when he was being interviewed by the BBC about the return of protagonist John Rebus [in Standing in Another Man’s Grave], said that he might not get on with Rebus if he actually met the man. Might that same thing be true if you encountered Willis Gidney in a bar?

TK: Willis has got some issues, but it would be hard not to like the guy. I often think of him as a nephew who doesn’t take advice terribly well. But I think we’d get along. We’re a lot alike. In fact, if I were taller, younger, better looking, and had faster reflexes, we could be twins.

Read the complete interview from The Rap Sheet here 

Photo (c) 2012 A Karim "Tom Kaufman at the PWA Shamus Awards held during Bouchercon Cleveland"

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