Saturday, May 14, 2011
Talking With the Tough Guys
When it comes to noir, a long-practiced form of fiction, both in book and film, how do modern-day authors put their stamp on it? That was part of a panel today at Mayhem at Bookhampton, an event at several of the bookseller's Hamptons stores. On the panel (and in photo above), from left: Reed Farrel Coleman, Justin Evans, Wallace Stroby, Ken Wishnia and Michael Atkinson (not pictured).
Coleman, who writes the popular Moe Prager series, said noir was fresh when Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett were writing, and that today's writers "work with the same themes, but we can't get away with writing those books...The themes remain the same, how they play out is different."
Atkinson, who has written two books starring author Ernest Hemingway, said the way to keep these books fresh is to focus on the characters. His Hemingway is not only the larger-than-life author, but a more nuanced character.
The authors themselves don't think of themselves as tough guys. Said Evans, who second book has just been released: "I am ever so not tough. My characters can't even change a tire." For most, being tough meant "getting through the day ... it's more like emotional toughness," said Wishnia, author of four books. For Coleman, who used to be a heating oil delivery man, "tough is when you have to go out in the freezing rain."
And tough is writing, they all agreed. There's no magic bullet, said Coleman. "This is our job. You can't just sit there," he said, making the gesture for twiddling your thumbs.