Deep Black

On Sale Tuesday . . . and Wednesday, and Thursday . . .
On Charlie Dean

The next book in the Deep Black series, Deep Black: Conspiracy, is out next week. Here are some thoughts about Charlie Dean, the series' main character . . .

The difference between fact & fiction

So Fred calls and tells me his next book is featuring Jack Pilgrim, my character from Leopards Kill.
"You can't do that," I tell him.
"Why not?"
"For one thing, he's not your character."
"And for another thing, you write non-fiction."
There's a pause in the conversation. Then he says, "Wanna talk about the Mets?"
On the train

Stephan did something for Naval Intelligence, though what it was exactly none of us were ever sure. He came out of the Navy as an officer, in need of a job and looking after. Somebody, I think it was Paulie, got him a job on the railroad. So for a million years now he’s been a conductor, working late runs.

I saw him the other night, late coming out of Hoboken. He looked more like a ghost than he’s ever looked, which is saying something.

He took my ticket and didn’t acknowledge me. It wasn’t like the train was full of people or anything, but that’s Stephan.

Twenty minutes later he came back and sat down next to me.

“Train hit a deer last night,” he said, without any prelude. “Took the head right off. Still by the tracks. If you look carefully just after Mahwah, you’ll see it.”

“How you been, Stephan?” I asked.

“Mmmm,” he said, and got up.

I looked, but never saw the deer.

First Team interview outtakes. . .

The You Tube version. Different frame rate. Same big nose...
Just call me, Mole Man . . .

Cold blooded and impervious to pain.
From the AP . . .

As vulnerable as naked mole rats seem, researchers now find the hairless, bucktoothed rodents are invulnerable to the pain of acid and the sting of chili peppers. A better understanding of pain resistance in these sausage-like creatures could lead to new drugs for people with chronic pain, scientists added.

Naked mole rats
Wade Payne, AP

Despite their scary appearance, naked mole rats are sweet and gentle, according to one scientist who worked with the animals.

Naked mole rats live in cramped, oxygen-starved burrows some six feet underground in central East Africa. Unusually, they are cold-blooded — which, as far as anyone knows, is unique among mammals.

Horrible photos

So I needed a passport-type photo taken and went down to the local passport-photo taker, who stood me in front of a white wall and shot me in the worst possible light with a cracked lens and numbers across my chest.
I always try for the worst possible photo in those sorts of situations. Because let's face it: the only time they're really going to be useful is if some poor schmo is ID'ing you in the morgue, and you're not going to look your best there anyway . . .
Dogboy & bugs

Hadn't seen Dogboy in a while, so I went over the other day to help myself to some free beer.
"What's up?" I asked him between guzzles.
"Nutin'. Kinda slow around here lately."
We drank the next beer or two without saying anything. On the fourth or maybe fifth round, Dog came back to life.
"Swallowed a bug yesterday," he said.
"Really. Highlight of your day?"
"Hell yeah - got stuck in my throat and the only way I could get rid of it was to bend over and throw up."
"Uh . . ."
"Then I got thinking," continued Dogboy. "What if it was a bird? A big bird. A really big bird with scratchy feathers."
"You shouldn't think. It's hazardous to your health."
First Team

Is this thing on???

At least my nose is in focus . . .
Great sub book

And now, a shameless plug, but not for myself . . .

If you like submarine stories, nonfiction that reads like a Tom Clancy novel, or twisted tales of Cold War intrigue, this book's for you. Jerome's a friend of mine, but I'd recommend it anyway.

Here's an interview he did:

Among other things, the book reminds us all of how dangerous serving your country can be, even in a time of "peace."

This was in Publishers Marketplace today:

PW Cuts Reviewers Pay
The price of gold has risen sharply in commodities market, but the "gold standard" for book reviewers is headed in the other direction. The NBCC blog posts this letter received by a member from the Publishers Weekly reviews editor:

"Dear Reviewer,

We are under constraints to reduce our expenses and must reduce the fee we pay to reviewers. Any reviews assigned after June 15 will be billed at $25 per review. However, you will be credited as a contributor in issues where your reviews appear. Please know that we value the work you do for us. Your astute reading and writing are what make our magazine so valuable in the industry and we regret this necessary action. All of us here are also experiencing change but we expect that we will continue to be the gold standard in book reviewing."

I'll kick in another fifty on the reviews of my books . . . maybe even more . . .

First Team: Soul of the Assassin

So how do you buy the book, Jim?

Here's a link to the Amazon sale site:

And Barnes & Noble:

And Merritt Books, my local bookstore . . .

The 'real' Ferg, as if there were such a thing

One of the great things about Ferg – the real Ferg – was that he had a way of bending space entirely around him without making you mad at him.

Late one night he called me in Xxxxx, waking me up. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Ferg? WTF????
Ferg: Hey.
Me: Where are you?
Ferg: I’m in Yyyyy.
Me: You’re supposed to be in Zzzzz tomorrow.
Ferg: Yeah. Probably I won’t make it.
Me: Fug...
Ferg: I might be able to make it, if you picked me up at the train station in Aaaaa and drove me to Bbbbbb. I can catch a ride from there.
Me: What am I, your friggin’ taxi now?
Ferg: I was just saying . . .
I picked him up. The bottle he pulled from his coat only partly made up for it.

The editor/writer relationship . . .

I've had this meeting . . .

First Team, fiction & reality . . .

More on reality and fiction, and where you draw the line:

Most of Soul of the Assassin is set in Bologna, Italy. It takes place in the city center – and it really is the city center, though we had to fictionalize a few things, including some of the buildings where the action takes place. One interior in particular had to be changed around . . . well, it’s actually more or less the same, just re-purposed. And repainted.

It’s kind of cool to look at real buildings and imagine your characters moving through them. That’s one of the things that makes books different for writers than readers. There’s a scene in one of the Deep Black books where Charlie and Lia are in an elevator talking. Or not talking, which is a problem for them. It’s an emotional scene, and I’m sure readers focus on what’s going on between them.

But for me, the scene is all about that elevator, which I rode up and down in for a week while researching the book.

Damn thing made me so claustrophobic, I started taking the stairs.

Speaking Larry Bond . . .

I mentioned Larry Bond in my last post. Larry is the lead author on the First Team series, and a great, easy going guy, real easy to work with.

He once said something about collaboration – it’s the sort of art that succeeds when both people do eighty percent of the work.

I'm probably misquoting him, since he's more eloquent than that.

Anyway, I always say Larry does the eighty percent that's good . . . I put in everything else.

A bullshit tour de force . . .

Speaking of mixing fiction with fantasy . . .

(Margaret B. Jones was really Margaret Seltzer. Everything she says in this interview is completely made up, as was her “memoir.”)

Real life/real fiction

People sometimes ask how real the books are write are, meaning I guess whether the things that are described in them really happened. I usually have a lot of trouble answering because there are always many real things in the book, and it’s hard to explain exactly where the line is sometimes.

In the First Team books, for example, the lead character – Bob Ferguson – is based on a real person. Obviously, he finds himself in somewhat different situations, and this is a work of fiction, not reality. But when I’m working on the book, I see Ferg – the real Ferg – in my head.

My memory of the real Ferg pretty much guides what the character does. There are plot necessities and the like, but his attitude toward life and the rest are spot on.

Or at least I think they are.

I don’t know if that information is useful at all to the reader. Larry Bond and I once had a semi-long discussion on the relationship between real and not real characters. His take, if I’m remembering it right, was that he really didn’t want to know. He preferred to think it was all made up – it was almost as if that made the spell we fall under when we read a good yarn that much better.

And in a way, of course, the characters in novels are all made up, even Ferg. The real person is not the fictional character, no matter how close the resemblance. The novelist has to remain completely in control of the fiction, something that never happens in real life. (Especially where Ferg was concerned.) There are always differences, no matter how tightly drawn the character is, points where reality fades and fiction takes over.

The real Ferg, for example, didn’t have cancer. (That part of the character comes from someone else, actually.) And I don’t think the real Ferg could dance as well as the fictional character can, though I can't quite recall ever seeing him dance.

Same guy, though. Plop the real Ferg down in Bologna, have him target a sniper who’s actually targeting him – basically everything that happens in Soul of the Assassin would happen in real life.

Well . . . I suspect the real Ferg would have figured out what was going on by the second chapter, ending the book far too soon . . .

Larry's right - better to think of it as all made up.
Out next week:

First Team - Soul of the Assassin

. . . . except for some reason I keep hearing the title as "Sold the Assassin," which kind of puts a different spin on things.
Rock the Casbah...

Rachid Taha . . . is Algeria's coolest rocker.
The root of my problems

So I'm in the men's room, puking my guts out, and someone comes in and goes to the next stall.

"Your problem, DeFelice," says a voice I don't recognize, "is that you're writing literary work in a non-literary genre."

The toilet flushes, and I go on puking.
I told you not to play Feelings . . .

PORT CHESTER — A bride and groom arrested at their wedding reception after the bride trashed a set of conga drums in a spat with the band have pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.

The bride, 41-year-old Fabiana Reyes, was also accused of breaking a speaker in a dispute over the music at the April 5 reception. She has been sentenced in Village Court to the six days she already spent in jail. She also paid the band $1,500 for the damage.

Her 42-year-old husband, Elmo Fernandez, and their 21-year-old daughter, Helen Fernandez, were accused of interfering with Reyes’ arrest. They pleaded guilty Thursday and promised to stay out of trouble for a year. Both were stun-gunned by police during the fracas.

The daughter said the couple was legally married in 1986 but delayed their church wedding until last month.
High class literary talk

So I went to the Edgars* last night and learned all sorts of important things, like how to survive a three-way.

Damn, these literary discussions get serious a half-hour before the bar closes.

*Edgars = the annual awards dinner of the Mystery Writers of America. Thanks to my friends at Tor for sneaking me in.
Train talk

Overheard yesterday . . .

Guy 1: Yeah, he musta been there three or four days. Down in the basement, where he lived.
Guy2: Basement apartment?
G1: Yeah. With the dog.
G2: And it ate him?
G1: Just the soft parts, eyes, you know. Of course, three or four days like that, the body blows up a bit. Dog musta taken a few bites and said whoa. Kept on chewin' though. Hungry . . . Want another beer?
Changing your luck

So we're at the Yankee game last night with Money Guy, and it's 3-2, Detroit's favor.

"I'm gonna change their luck," says MG, and goes and gets a beer.

By the time he came back, it was 5-2.

Then I remembered he grew up a Boston fan.

Good beer, though.