It’s taken me three days to recover (and to get my voice back) from my fun-filled weekend at Bouchercon 2014, the world mystery convention, which was held in Long Beach, California. It was four-days of talking about mysteries, thrillers and writing with my fellow authors, crime novel fans, editors, agents, and booksellers. It was a great event. I met so many new readers and learned so much from my colleagues. I also talked up (before my voice went out) Brash Books, the new publishing company I launched on Sept 3rd with my buddy Joel Goldman, and our thirty new releases. And I signed lots of books, including THE JOB, my third Fox & O’Hare novel co-authored with Janet Evanovich. Here are some photos from the conference…
You can find more photos from Bouchercon in the photo gallery on my website.
So…. Imagine this. You invite your neighbor round for coffee. You don’t like them much, they’re kind of irritating, not really your type. But you start up a friendly conversation anyway. Nothing particularly revolutionary, elaborate or interesting. Just a pleasant, enjoyable chat.
So far, so dull.
While you’re chatting, you casually get a roll of duct tape out of the kitchen drawer. You know, the one you keep for fixing stuff around the house? You come back and tie your neighbor’s hands and feet against the chair. Then I want you to take out your .38 revolver from your closet– you know, the one you keep around the house for emergencies– release the cylinder, put one bullet in the gun. Just ONE. Then close it up.
Now I want you to put the gun against your neighbor’s head. Nothing should change. You will still have that pleasant, inconsequential conversation. Except for one thing. Once a minute, every minute, pull the trigger.
I guarantee you that conversation will be the most riveting, suspenseful conversation you and your neighbor will ever have.
Why? Because suspense isn’t so much what is happening, but what might happen. It’s a situation in which the outcome is in doubt. You’re asking questions not immediately answered. Posing posing a threat that isn’t being immediately resolved. Raising concerns that are not addressed. The longer you stretch those questions, the longer you delay, the longer you parcel out information without providing answers, the more suspense you generate.
I invited my friend, bestselling author Paul Levine, to write a guest blog about his new book, “State vs. Lassiter,” tenth in his acclaimed series about the former linebacker who became a night school Miami lawyer of dubious ethics. Professing to be too lazy to do a blog item, Paul instead interviewed his protagonist with predictably hilarious results.
Paul: You look like you’re still in shape to play for the Miami Dolphins. How do you do it?
Jake: Being fictional helps. By the way, you look like pelican crap.
Paul: You’re just peeved because I got you indicted for murder in the new book.
Jake: I don’t get “peeved.” I get pissed, and when I do, someone gets decked.
Paul: Let me ask you a tough question.
Jake: Take your best shot, scribbler.
Paul: You’ve been called many things. “Shyster.” “Mouthpiece.” “Shark.”
Jake: Careful, pal. They don’t call me a shark for my ability to swim.
Jake: I never stole from a client, bribed a judge, or threatened a witness, and until this bum rap, the only time I was arrested, it was a case of mistaken identity.
Paul: How’s that?
Jake: I didn’t know the guy I hit was a cop.
Paul: Okay, at the start of the book, you’re having an affair with a beautiful woman who also happens to be your banker.
Jake: So sue me. Women think I look like a young Harrison Ford.
Paul: One keystroke, I’ll turn you into an old Henry Ford. You and your lady are having a fancy dinner on Miami Beach. She threatens to turn you in for skimming client funds, and next thing we know, she’s dead…in your hotel suite at the Fontainebleau.
Jake: Is there a question in there, counselor?
Paul: What happened?
Jake: I take the Fifth. Every heard of it?
Paul: You go on trial for murder.
Jake: Hold your horses. No spoilers!
Paul: “Hold your horses?” What are you, an extra in “Gunsmoke?”
Jake: Sorry if I’m not hip enough for you, scribbler. You won’t find my mug on Facebook. I don’t have a life coach, an aroma therapist, or a yoga instructor, and I don’t do Pilates.
Paul: So you’re not trendy. You’re not a Yuppie.
Jake: I’m a carnivore among vegans, a brew and burger guy in a Chardonnay and paté world.
Paul: You’re a throwback, then?
Jake: If that’s what you call someone with old friends, old habits, and old values.
Paul: May I quote one of the five-star reviews on Amazon.com?
Jake: Do I have a choice?
Paul: “Blend the wit of Carl Hiaasen with the dialogue of Elmore Leonard and throw in John Grisham’s courtroom skills, and you have Jake Lassiter.”
Jake: Makes me wish one of those guys was writing me.