Monday, February 7, 2011

Mike McIntyre Interview

A Southern California self-storage unit filled with medieval instruments of torture…

A modern-day Torquemada hell-bent on updating the Spanish Inquisition…

An investigative reporter racing to connect the lurid dots…

Deadline has a whole new meaning.

Tyler West, suspended Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from the San Diego Sun, is desperate for a scoop that will save his career. Defying a spiteful publisher and a vindictive homicide detective, he investigates the baffling deaths of several of San Diego's powerful, rich and famous. Police call the murders unrelated, but Ty uncovers a common link: torture devices last used during the Dark Ages, including the Iron Maiden, the Pear of Anguish, and the most sinister of all—the Scavenger's Daughter. Ty is plunged into a mysterious world of medieval torture scholars, antiquities collectors, museum curators, and sadomasochists. Aided by photojournalist Melina "Mel" Koric, a former Bosnian War refugee, Ty must break the brilliantly conceived series of slayings that has cast a dark shadow over a city better known for its sun, sand and surf. The elusive killer goes by the name Friar Tom, in tribute to his hero, Tomás de Torquemada, the first Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition. As Ty scrambles to unmask the monstrous zealot, he must juggle his investigation with his personal life: He pursues his lost love, Jordan Sinclair, an assistant district attorney, and continues to mentor inner-city kids at his youth golf clinics. With the city caught in an escalating nightmare of medieval mayhem, Ty is drawn into a lethal game of cat and mouse that could cost him everything.

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

I'm a morning guy. I get up between 4 and 5, fire up the Bialetti stovetop espresso maker, read the papers, ride my exercise bike, then head for my backyard office. I write until noon, then read or work on my golf game.

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I'm afraid to face the computer without handwritten notes. For "The Scavenger's Daughter," I had a mountain of notepads, Post-its, napkins and beer coasters I had jotted ideas on as the novel was percolating in my head. I wrote my first book in longhand before typing it on a computer. Even when I was working as a daily journalist on deadline, I first had to sketch out an outline. A blank computer screen is a scary thing to gaze at.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

My new serial killer thriller was inspired by a museum exhibit of medieval instruments of torture, many from the Spanish Inquisition. I travel a lot, and I kept bumping into the same exhibit in places like San Gimignano, Italy, and Carcassonne, France. The exhibit—"Inquisition: Torture and Intolerance"—came to my town and became the most popular show in the 100-year history of the San Diego Museum of Man. One day while staring at such cruel contraptions as the Iron Maiden, the Judas Cradle and the Pear of Anguish, I imagined a latter-day Torquemada trying to update the Inquisition.

4: Do you set goals for yourself when you sit down to write such as word count?

When I get rolling on something, I write seven days a week, holidays included, until lunch.

5: Are you a published or a self-published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

My first book, "The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America," an account of my coast-to-coast journey with no money, was published by Berkley. They sent me on a book tour. I got to do Oprah, Bill O'Reilly, CNN, ABC, CBS, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and about 70 other TV, print and radio interviews. I didn't have to lift a finger. This time around, with a self-published eBook, I'm struggling to school myself on the ins and outs of indie promotion. I'm not complaining. It's the new reality. The old publishing model is dying, and I'm grateful that something is taking its place. This eReader revolution is exciting.
The publisher handled every aspect of the cover for my first book. For my new eBook, a friend designed the cover, with my input, on Photoshop. I should have put more thought into it. After it was up on Amazon for a month, I realized it was a mistake, so I recently hired a professional to re-do it. I love the new cover.

6: What drives you to choose the career of being a writer?

I've been wondering that for 25 years. I can't be certain, but I don't think I'd find anything else as interesting—that I was any good at, anyway.

7: Do you own an ebook reading device?

Yes, a Kindle. I recently took it on vacation to Japan. My carry-on baggage, usually filled with books, was a lot lighter.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?

My favorite author is the late short story writer and poet Raymond Carver. Like many, I enjoy reading Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner and Steinbeck. More recent authors include Ken Kesey, John Irving and Thomas McGuane. As for genre writers, I was absolutely floored by Dennis Lehane's "Shutter Island." I like Michael Connelly's stand-alone works. The crime writer I most identify with is James Patterson, particularly his Alex Cross novels. Right now I'm reading "Double Cross," as well as "Hitch-22," a memoir by the British pundit Christopher Hitchens.

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

No plans for one. The idea of book trailers reminds me of the famous quote: "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture."

10: How did you come up with the title of your latest book?

The Scavenger's Daughter, the image depicted on the book cover, was a medieval torture device.

11: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

The next Tyler West mystery.

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