This week’s edition of A Perfect 10 features author Ed Duncan. He does a great job of handling the usual 10 questions.
If you want to check out past interviews, you can find them in the following links:
A.C. Flory, Steve Boseley, Kayla Matt, Mae Clair, Jill Sammut, Deanna Kahler, Dawn Reno Langley, John Howell, Elaine Cougler, Jan Sikes, Nancy Bell, Nick Davis, Kathleen Lopez, Susan Thatcher, Charles Yallowitz, Armand Rosamilia, Tracey Pagana, Anna Dobritt, Karen Oberlaender, Deby Fredericks, Teri Polen, Darlene Foster
Also, if you are an author and you want to be part of this feature, I still have a few slots open for 2017. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
It depends. Sometimes when I’m writing a scene or even a whole chapter, the words just flow in a torrent like water rushing out of a fire hydrant. There’s no rhyme or reason as to why. It’s like a basketball player with a hot hand. He just can’t seem to miss. I do a fair amount of writing late at night, and when the words are pouring out like that, I can’t sleep until I’ve finished. So I’m obviously energized when that happens. At other times, though, writing does exhaust me. That typically happens when I can’t seem to find the words to describe what I want to say in the way I want to say it. Again, there’s no rhyme or reason as to why this happens or when. It just does and when it does, writing — or the attempt to write — is exhausting.
Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?
I’ve never written under a pseudonym and nor have I ever considered it. I write crime fiction. I’ve only published the first in a trilogy, but I think if I wrote under another name, I might run the risk of fracturing my audience. They might like reading crime novels more that they like reading me. On the other hand, if I were fortunate enough to become well-known for novels in the crime genre, I might consider using a pseudonym for a novel in another genre. That might avoid confusing my audience and might even increase it.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
A big ego is certainly not necessary and I think it may hurt more than it helps, since it implies a reluctance to accept constructive criticism or, indeed, to grow as a writer. A big ego might also cause a writer to resist doing the number of drafts necessary to produce a polished product. A writer should, however, have a healthy amount of self-confidence, which is, of course, different from having an inflated ego.
What is the best money you’ve ever spent on your writing?
The best money I ever spent as a writer was hiring a publicist. I needed help promoting my work because I was published by a small publisher (no longer in business) that had no money for promotion. Some writers can write well and also do a good job publicizing their work. I suspect that most can’t. If you can’t do both well, you should hire someone to promote your work — unless, of course, your publisher is doing a great job or you’re lucky enough not to need publicity.
What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
Writing success for me would be finishing the trilogy that began with Pigeon-Blood Red by 2018 and generating a respectable audience for the three novels. I can’t say how many sales are needed to equal a “respectable” number, but I think I’ll know the number if I achieve it. And, obviously, I want all three novels to be well-written and positively reviewed.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
The Internet has changed everything and has made research much easier. For instance, for someone who writes crime fiction, my knowledge of firearms is very rudimentary. And my knowledge of pigeon-blood red rubies, the subject of my first novel, was non-existent. Almost everything I now know about both subjects was gleaned from research on the internet. That said, I like to visit (or to have visited) cities and neighborhoods that appear in my novels. This I think adds an air of authenticity. Pigeon-Blood Red takes place in Chicago and Honolulu. I went to law school in Chicago and the idea for the novel occurred to me while I was attending a seminar in Honolulu. The foregoing notwithstanding, my subject matter, crime, is familiar to me from popular culture, so extensive research is not generally necessary. Also, much of the novel revolves around relationships between the characters, with the criminal activities of some of them serving as the backdrop.
How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
I used my high school year book to come up with the names of a few of the black characters and the phone book (incidentally, no longer being produced) for some of the white characters. Other names simply came to me and sounded right for a particular character. “Rico,” one of the two main characters, is one such name. Another name (“Litvak”) is a derivation of the last name of a man (“Rybak”) I worked with in a steel mill during a summer vacation while I was in college. So far, I’ve not regretted choosing any names, although I’ve changed a few before the final draft.
What is the hardest type of scene to write?
I find descriptions of place and atmosphere to be most challenging. As a result, I spend comparatively more time on dialogue and action sequences and sometimes shortchange setting.
If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
- William Shakespeare. I’d want to ask him whether in fact he wrote all the plays attributed to him. I’d also want to know which play was his favorite and which was hardest to write. Finally, I’d like to ask him where his inspiration came from.
- Abraham Lincoln. I’d want to ask him how he was able to cope with the stress and strain of the Civil War while at the same time having to endure the turmoil caused by a well-meaning but emotional and temperamental wife. I’d also like to ask him what he would have done differently with regard to Reconstruction. Finally, I’d like to ask him how he learned to write so beautifully, given his limited formal education.
- Albert Einstein. I’d want to ask him when he first recognized his own brilliance. I’d also like to ask him how he would address today’s climate change. Finally, I’d like to ask him what advice he has for scientists contemplating colonization of Mars.
- Barack Obama. I’d want to ask him how he was able to cope with the weight of being the nation’s first African American President during the worst recession since the Depression. I’d like to ask him what he would like to have accomplished if he had no political opposition. Finally, I like to ask him who his favorite authors are.
What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your book?
It is a little difficult to say but my strong suspicion is that no one thing stands out among all the others and that a combination of factors has contributed. For instance, positive reviews and interviews like this one are excellent tools, but they have the potential of being effective only if they are seen, or if they are linked to, on social media sites such as Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Linked In. I will say, however, that appearances at bookstore signings so far have not generated as much interest as I would have liked.
About Ed’s Book:
Pigeon-Blood Red is a fast-paced and suspenseful crime thriller by Ed Duncan.
Duncan says, “It’s always been said that you should write what you know. I am a lawyer – as is a pivotal character in the novel who is being pursued by a hit man – and I’m excited to be able to use my legal training creatively as well as professionally.”
For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.
As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?
Praise for Pigeon-Blood Red
“Pigeon Blood Red has a dramatic and satisfying conclusion, leaving the reader nodding his head with approval.” – Readers’ Favorite
“In a novel with as much action as love, it is sure to be a story that will fulfill the desires of readers of all ages, genders, and areas of interest.” – Red City Review
“This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans…refreshingly old-school pulp, inhabited by a familiar cast of gamblers, con men and hustlers found in Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard novels” – Best Thrillers
About Ed Duncan:
Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/
Connect with Ed: