An Interview with Jason Pinter, Author of the Henry Parker Novels
(Jason Pinter is one of those smart guy authors. You know the type: intelligent, has an IQ, has opinions and isn’t actually afraid to discuss them. It is hard to believe how rare that is these days, especially with the publishing world in such flux. Most authors are terrified to talk about what’s happening in their industry and to offer a point of view. But that’s just what Jason does. It’s a bonus that he also writes riveting mystery novels featuring journalist Henry Parker.)
DaRK PaRTY: You've been writing about Henry Parker through a series of three books now. Who is Henry Parker? Can you give us a composite?
Jason: Henry Parker is an ambitious young journalist in New York City. While trying to help clean the stain left on the industry by other, young publicity-hungry reporters, Henry, through his tenacity and remarkable ability to be in the wrong place at the wrong (or is it right?) time, has managed to break several major stories, and in the process become somewhat of a celebrity himself. Despite this, he stays grounded, trying to navigate the sordid underbelly of New York while maintaining a relationship with his girlfriend Amanda, who has saved his life both figuratively and literally.
DP: What is it about the mystery genre that so attracts you?
Jason: I think mysteries tend to be as much about time and place as any sort of writing, and most crimes written about in genre novels tend to be emblematic of what is going on in society at that time. It also allows for writers to push their characters to their limits: from the depths of despair to the heights of victory, the best mystery novels can work on a grand scale while keeping the human emotions very real.
DP: On your blog "The Man in Black," you've been exploring the problems of the publishing industry. Is book publishing broken? How?
Jason: I don't know that publishing is 'broken' per se, but I think like a lot of industries these days it had built up some bad habits that are now being cleansed. Unfortunately a lot of people have lost their jobs, many of whom I knew personally, and it is sad to see so many people who were passionate about books now out of the industry.
I do think publishing needs to do a better job of embracing technology, getting ahead of the curve rather than being forced to constantly play catch up. Because marketing and publicity dollars are limited, authors have become incredibly adept at maximizing their exposure while using as little capital as possible. Publishers could learn a lot from authors in that regard, especially when it comes to outside-the-box thinking rather than traditional "print galleys, buy one or two expensive ads, hope for the best" campaigns.
DP: What are some of the solutions to fixing book publishing?
Jason: Man, that's a question I'm not sure I'm totally qualified to answer, but I don't think publishing is 'broken'. I think devices like the Kindle can hopefully expand reading to newer, more technologically adept audiences, but I do think e-books will have trouble replacing printed books the way digital music seems to be replacing CDs. Music is an art that is just better formatted for digital consumption, and can be segmentedin the form of individual tracks the way books cannot.
Personally, I would love to see authors and publishers do a better job of luring younger readers in, as they're really the future of the business.
DP: Regular DaRK PaRTY contributor, Crime Writer Dave Zeltserman, thinks self-publishing is a form of literary suicide. What are your thoughts on the explosion of self-published eBooks?
Jason: Self publishing, to me, is always the last resort. If you want a career as an author, you're far better off honing your craft and suffering through one or two unpublished manuscripts in order to find the right one that can sell (I know I did, and so did most professional authors).
If you're simply looking for a printed book that you can give to friends and family as a memento, self-publishing is probably the way to go. But if you're looking for an actual career, if you're looking to perhaps make a living or even make any sort of income and have any real distribution, you're better off simply working and writing until you succeed. Self-publishing is easy. My three-month-old cousin can technically self publish. Mastering the craft of writing is hard, and unfortunately a lot of people choose that route.
Bonus Question: The fourth Henry Parker novel "The Fury" is coming in the spring. Can you give us a sneak peek?
Jason: Absolutely. Through three books Henry Parker has uncovered some of the greatest stories never told, but in “The Fury” (in stores October 2009) he uncovers the most devastating secret of all - his own. In “The Fury,” we learn much more about Henry's past, including one massive skeleton in his closet that threatens everything he cares about. Plus, “The Fury” is the first book in a two-part Parker epic that will conclude with “The Darkness” which will be out in December 2009.
Buy Jason's books at Amazon.com
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Labels: 5 Questions, interview, Jason Pinter, mysteries