Short, Sharp Interview: Dana King

dana kingPDB: Can you tell us about your latest publication?

DK: Yes. (Long pause.) Oh, you want more? I figured one word was as short and sharp as it got.

A Small Sacrifice is the story of a private investigator called in well after the fact to re-investigate that year’s Crime of the Century. Very loosely based on the Jon Benet Ramsey story, it deals with the dead child’s grandmother’s efforts to get her son’s and daughter-in-law’s names cleared. She essentially asks the detective to prove a negative. He plans to poke around and give her something palatable until he learns someone else is taking the whole thing a lot more seriously than he is.

PDB: Why a PI novel?

DK: The first “adult” stories I remember reading were Sherlock Holmes. As a teen, I found an old copy of Mickey Spillane’s The Twisted Thing in the basement during a cleaning and I was hooked. Raymond Chandler, Robert B. Parker, Robert Crais, Dennis Lehane, and others have proven to me the PI story, when done right, is the highest form of crime fiction. Private investigators are in the perfect position to look at issues in ways no one else can, or will. Cops don’t have the time, and civilians rarely have the expertise, at least not enough to pass a feasibility test.

If you really want an argument in favor of PI stories, ask Declan Hughes. Not only is his Ed Loy series as good as anything going right now, Declan is a passionate and articulate advocate for the form. I wish I had a transcript of the speech he gave at Bouchercon in 2008. Made me proud to write PI stories.

PDB: Which other books have you had published?

DK: Wild Bill is the story of a federal investigation into the Chicago mafia that goes wrong when a war breaks out after the boss dies of natural causes. Worst Enemies is the first of series set in a small Pennsylvania town, a working class twist on Strangers On a Train. Both were self-pubbed as e-books and are available for Kindle and Nook.

My first traditionally published, physical book is titled Grind Joint, and will be released by Stark House in the States on November 21. It’s the second in the series begun by Worst Enemies, and described what happens when a casino is sold to the town as a panacea for their financial troubles.

PDB: To blog or not to blog?

DK: To, definitely. I can’t count the number of writers I read and enjoyed because I either read their blogs first, or found about them from someone else’s blog. Blogs are a great way to give potential readers insight into how a writer views his craft and subject material, as well as provide the writer a place to work things out in his own mind. They can also become time sinks, so each writer has to keep the distraction potential under control.

PDB: What TV/ music/ films have floated your boat lately?A Small Sacrifice Cover

DK: The Beloved Spouse and I are re-watching The Wire for the third or fourth time. (I’ve lost count.) We keep up with Longmire, as well as Copper on BBC America. Castle  has become a guilty pleasure; we’re up through Season 4 on Netflix.

In the past month we’re also been lucky to catch Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Gary Oldman, along with The Recruit with Colin Farrell and Al Pacino. The movie that has stuck with me most over the past few months is In Bruges, with Farrell (again), Brendan Gleeson, and Ralph Fiennes.

Musically, Mahler’s Sixth Symphony has forced its way into my CD player once or twice a week for a month now. Not sure what’s up with that.

PDB: Where can people find out more about your writing?

DK: The best place is probably my blog, One Bite at a Time. I’ve been better about posting there lately, and try to get something up two or three times a week