(If you’re a fan of crime fiction and haven’t read Ed Gorman – well shame on you. Ed has been penning some incredible fiction (crime noir, mysteries, and westerns) since the early 1980s – when skinny ties and parachute pants were in style (although we have a difficult time picturing Ed wearing either). His book “The Poker Club” (1990) has been made into a film – which should hit theaters in 2009. Ed, a former advertising executive, has written more than 40 books and writes a prolific blog on pulp fiction that is a must-read. Ed was kind enough to stop writing about murders, shoot-outs, and dead bodies in order to answer some questions for us.)
DaRK PaRTY: What have been the biggest changes in crime fiction since you first started publishing in the 1980s?
Ed: I'm no expert but I'd say that the Eighties and Nineties saw the long overdue recognition of female writers in all sub-genres from the private-eye as with Muller, Grafton, Paretsky and the more serious kind of cozy-traditional with Nancy Pickard and Carolyn Hart.
In this new century noir and hard-boiled, by men and women alike, have found new popularity and new respectability. This is seen across the board in popular culture.
To me this is the true Golden Age of crime fiction. There are so many good writers-and more coming along every week-that it is impossible to keep up. And that's a nice problem to have.
DP: What are the elements of a good crime story that most novice writers get wrong?
Ed: I'm not smart enough to answer that. What I look for in a good story of any kind is intelligent entertainment, as the late science fiction writer Algis Budrys used to say. To me this means a strong storyline and characters, whether they're good or bad, I can believe in. Style and theme matter of course, too, but if I don't buy the story or the characters I probably won't finish the book.
DP: You have featured many series characters in your fiction-- from Jack Dwyer to Robert Payne. Which one of your characters do you like the best and why? Which one did you struggle with the most?
Ed: My most difficult series character was my latest one, Dev Conrad, the political operative. I wrote several chapters before he sounded right to me. Then I pitched them and started over. To make “Sleeping Dogs” work he had to be cynical without being nihilistic. The corrupt political system is the only one we've got and it's unlikely it's going to change. So Dev has to be able to see the slime for what it is but work for his ideals anyway. I'm not much for protagonists who don't look at life realistically--or, on the other extreme, nihilism can get really boring. Even the darkest of writers such as the brilliant Derek Raymond forego absolute nihilism most of the time.
DP: What crime writers have been your biggest influences and why?
Ed: So many writers I couldn't possibly list them. I do tend to absorb the styles of other people but somehow most of the time my stories come out pretty much me. Probably my biggest single influence, and oddly enough more in his non-87th novels, is Evan Hunter-Ed McBain.
DP: What Ed Gorman novel would you recommend to a reader who has never read you before? And why would you recommend it?
Ed: I'd say “Blood Moon.” It's one of my more ambitious books. John D. MacDonald used to rank his books by per-centages-a novel of his was 80 percent successful or sixty per cent successful. That was the measure he used to see how close it came to doing what he'd set out to accomplish. “Blood Moon” is one of those books that almost never makes me wince when I thumb through it, which I had to do when it was optioned for a movie a few years back. There are some of my books of course that make me wish one of those alien spaceships would sweep down and take me to a galaxy far, far away.