From all the
books you have written, do you have a
I think the
second book, WINTER OF THE WOLF MOON, is my "secret" favorite
book. It proved to me that the first book wasn't a fluke, and
that I might stick around for a while.
At what point in time did you
realize that writing was "the thing for you"?
really came when I was a little kid. If you go back in a time
machine and ask the eight-year-old me what he wants to be when he
grows up, he'd say a mystery writer. Either that or an NFL
What advice would you give to someone interested in
becoming a writer?
best advice I ever got was to never put words in your characters'
mouths. Instead, just listen to them and write down what they
say. (You have to think about that one…)
What is the name of your favorite
other authors do you enjoy reading?
There are so many great mystery authors right now,
including Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, Harlan Coben, Michael
Connelly, James Crumley, Laura Lippman, James W. Hall, Elmore
Leonard, Loren Estleman, Denise Mina, Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Val
McDermid, Robert Crais, T. Jefferson Parker… That's off the
top of my head. I could keep going, believe me. Outside
of the mystery field, I read Cormac McCarthy, Martin Amis, Don
Delillo… (I'm gonna do it again. Better stop me.)
normally do a lot of research when writing a
No, not up
front. For me, it would be another way to avoid
starting. So I just write the story and then when I'm done, I
go find out what I need to make sure it's right.
What other types of jobs have you
When I graduated from
the University of Michigan, I went right to work at IBM.
Nineteen years later, I'm still there, doing some technical writing,
some Web work, a bunch of other stuff. The group I work with
has been so great about everything, giving me all the support and
flexibility I need - they haven't made me make that tough choice yet
Do you attend conventions and
I go to every
Bouchercon, and usually a couple of the other conventions every
year. And when a new book comes out, I spend the next two
months doing events all over the country. (See what I mean
about IBM being flexible?) I also got to go London last
summer, and this summer it was Germany.
Is there anyone, in particular,
who influenced you?
up loving Alfred Hitchcock movies, and reading those paperbacks they
collected together from his magazines. I loved all of Agatha
Christie's Hercule Poirot books, too, and then later I found the
great American hardboiled writers. Like every other writer I
know, at heart I'm a reader first.
What led you to write
Really, it was
a matter of being led BACK to mysteries. When I was in college
writing what I thought was grown-up "literary" fiction, I won a
Hopwood Award and thought, this is it. This is what I'm going
to do. When I graduated and started working for IBM, a few
years passed and I hadn't kept that promise to myself. Then I
joined a writers' group, and that was what got me back into
writing. When it was time to write a novel again, I saw this
thing called the St. Martin's Press/Private Eye Writers of America
Best First Private Eye Novel Contest (longest contest title ever),
and I thought, why not try it? The result was A COLD DAY IN
Do you read reviews of your books?
I honestly try not to. But I end up
reading them maybe about half the time.
How would you like to be
As a great
father and husband, and as a great friend - who also wrote some
pretty good books.
What do you believe is the highlight of your writing
career so far?
Edgar Award for Best First Novel. Now my goal is to make sure
that doesn't stay the highlight forever.
Do you write on a fixed schedule
or do you wait until thoughts come to you?
Well, I have to wait for the "spark" to come
to me initially, and then I try to work every night, after my wife
and kids have gone to bed.
How did you get started in
eight-year-old me I was talking about before, fast forward about
three years, and now I'm sending my first short story to Ellery
Queen Mystery Magazine. I think it was about some guy who
hates his boss so he electrocutes him in the company shower. I
got the standard "thanks but no thanks" card. (Last year, I
finally had my first story published in that same magazine!)
do you come up with plots?
That's the hardest part. William Kent Krueger
apparently sits in a coffee shop in Minnesota, looks out the window,
and the plots for entire books instantly appear before his
eyes. If he wasn't such a nice guy, I'd want to kill
him. Me, I have to take some kind of interesting situation as
a starting point, and just go like mad and hope I don't get
lost. I never have an outline, or any real idea of where I'm
going at all. I've heard someone call this kind of writing as
driving in a fog - you never see more than a few yards ahead of
Did you take any classes on how to
I took plenty of
English classes in college, and some creative writing classes - but
those were the classes where you just showed up once a week and
turned in a story. It was having the deadline that helped me
get it done. I never took a class where they said to me,
here's how you do it.
Do you ever get writer's
Writer's block is
an arbitrary label you put on a period of time when you're not
writing. For me, it's not about being "blocked" at all.
It means that I'm not ready to take the next step yet. On some
level, I know that I'm supposed to wait a little while. So I
accept it and it doesn't bother me. (There, how's that for an
excuse to be lazy and take the night off?)
your hobbies and interests?
What are those? Between my family, who always come
first, my job at IBM, and one book a year, I don't have time for
much else. (But no complaints! I'm doing what I always
wanted to do!)
How do you spend your free time?
(I'm going to pretend this question didn't
Do you have a message you would like to give to all the
readers out there?
so obvious, but it has to be said… THANK YOU! Like I
said before, I'm a reader myself, first and foremost. The fact
that I can stay up too late and write these stories, and that people
will actually read them, is literally a dream come