MLC: Do you remember the first mystery you ever read? If so, what was it, and what pulled you into it?
AUTHOR: (Very little scratching of the head here) Conan Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia. I remember taking it out of my elementary school library. If you’ve ever read the story, in the first couple of sentences Watson uses the word sex. Some clown who took this book out before I did had to draw a line to that word and write in the column “is great."
MLC: When did you first decide you wanted to write a mystery, and what led you to that decision?
AUTHOR: Was going through a funk of only reading books by deceased mystery authors. Thought it might be a sign to do something with myself.
MLC: Do you write in any other genres? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: I write lots of police reports! For the last 20 years that is.
MLC: Which comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
AUTHOR: I’m a character person. As much as I read and reread Nero Wolfe mysteries, there are some that are not as good as others, but there are always great character moments. My characters grow, unlike any young adult crime solvers before them.
MLC: When you are all wrapped up in the story, do you feel like you could solve the crime, or maybe even solve all the world’s mysteries?
AUTHOR: Why not? I’ve solved some mysteries before, professionally, and mind you, it's nothing like on television.
MLC: Do you write every day, or what kind of a schedule do you have? Do you write fulltime, or do you have a “day job”?
AUTHOR: I’m a full time Detective in the NYPD. I’m a second grade Detective currently in my 20th year of service. Work demands make it very difficult to write, so I find I write on the run.
MLC: Other than your writing, what do you enjoy doing? What is the most important thing to you in your day-to-day life?
MLC: Who are your favorite mystery authors? Do you try to emulate them in your own writing?
AUTHOR: My favorites are clear, cut, and concise. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rex Stout, Gregory MacDonald, and Ian Rankin. My characters take on certain elements from Doyle, Stout, and MacDonald. The science of deduction used by my Matthew Livingston character is similar to Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. The isolation and curtness of Matthew Livingston is similar to Stout’s Nero Wolfe. The narration of the stories is similar to both the Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe mysteries. The wise ass nature of my narrator Dennis Sommers I liken to MacDonald’s Fletch who taught me you can get away with things like that. If my characters were old enough to drink, I’m sure they might take on Ian Rankin’s Rebus traits. (Kidding)
MLC: In your present book, is this part of a series, or is it a standalone book?
AUTHOR: Series, totally! This is for readers to enjoy the growth of these characters and to reflect on previous mysteries.
MLC: If you are doing a series, do you see an end to it sometime, or do you plan to go on for several years with it?
AUTHOR: I definitely have outlined four books and a serious change in the world of my characters after that. Don’t know where the ending would be. Hopefully not the cemetery.
MLC: Do your characters ever drive you a bit crazy by going off in their own direction? If so, how do you rein them in, or do you just let them run off on their own?
AUTHOR: I let them run and try to follow.
MLC: Do you pattern your sleuths after yourself or someone you know? If so, do you let that person know they were your “pattern”?
AUTHOR: The intolerance for lack of common sense displayed by Matthew Livingston is me. Some details in the mysteries are ideas pulled from some of my actual investigations.
MLC: How long did it take you to get published? How many rejections did you have to suffer through first? Were you ever tempted to give up? What do you think made the difference when it was accepted?
AUTHOR: Matthew Livingston and the Prison of Souls was accepted on my first group of submissions.
MLC: Do you ever attend any conferences? If so, which ones?
MLC: Do you have to promote your own work, or does your publisher do that for you?
AUTHOR: The publisher does do some promotion work, mostly online. I do a tremendous amount of legwork on the promotion online and not online.
MLC: If you have to do marketing, what methods have worked the best for you?
AUTHOR: For the young adult stuff, reaching out to schools, libraries, and other supporters of getting young people interested in reading.
MLC: Do you have any idea how your book is selling?
AUTHOR: Every couple of months I get an indication.
MLC: What has been the best review you have gotten, and why?
AUTHOR: I’ve had a few and honestly can’t think which one I liked best. I had someone once claim that all I created was a young Sherlock Holmes. I wonder what the critic thinks of the author who writes the young Sherlock Holmes, or the Young James Bond books and didn’t have to create any new character.
MLC: Have you won any awards, either as an author or for your books? Please tell us about them.
AUTHOR: No awards; I haven’t won the Edgar yet.
MLC: Is there any one certain thing that a reader has written to you that made you just want to jump up and shout “Yes!!!!”?
AUTHOR: Sure. A youngster informed me that he had no interest in reading at all and after being assigned Matthew Livingston and the Prison of Souls in school he is now an avid reader.
MLC: What is your next project, and when will it be out?
AUTHOR: Matthew Livingston and the Politics of Death, March 2010
MLC: If you could write anything at all, ignoring what editors and publishers say they want, what would it be?
AUTHOR: Adult mystery based on some real characters from my work in the NYPD.
MLC: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring mystery authors?
AUTHOR: Be original.
MLC: Do you have any teasers for your readers and fans about the next book?
AUTHOR: Dennis Sommers, junior editor of his school newspaper gets assigned to report on the campaign speech of a candidate for Senator. The Senator is shot in mid speech. The usually reluctant Matthew Livingston takes a big interest in finding the shooter and something else as well.
MLC: If a genie suddenly appeared and said they would grant you just one wish for your books, what would you wish for?
AUTHOR: Never mind the books, I’ll take a bottle of Opus 1.
MMLC: Please give us your Web site url and your e-mail address where people can contact you.
MLC: Thank you so much for giving us a little glimpse into your books and your life. We look forward to a lot more books from you.