Mike McCrary is a kindred spirit. His books have been described using some of the very same adjectives used to describe mine. Sick humor, violent action, great dialogue. A compliment to us both, and a reason for me to check out his work.
Well, now there's more to check out. HIs second book, Remo Went Rogue is just out and already it's getting much of the same praise including hat tips from two of my favorites, John Rector and Peter Farris. Whoever says blurbs don't work - when those two cats say I should read a book, I will read that book.
So Mike has joined me for the reboot of Writers With Day Jobs. Read this, then go read Remo Went Rogue and his debut novella, Getting Ugly.
First off, tell us about your new book, Remo Went Rogue.
MM: Remo is a fun little yarn about a high-level attorney who's personal life is a complete disaster. After a crisis of conscience he decides to do the right thing for once in his sorry life. Unfortunately for Remo, the right thing to him means double-crossing his whacked out clients, throwing a case and stealing their money. This does not go well.
What is your day job?
MM: I work in investments/finance and all that crap.
Some would say that is the antitheses of a creative job. Is it more creative than we think, or is that why you need writing in the off hours to stimulate a different par of your brain?
MM: The work I have done is not all that creative. Well, maybe it was years ago, but now it's pretty much a routine. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to able to earn a living and write when I can. I've been on the wrong side of layoffs and bad times. Not fun, not fun at all. So yeah, writing does allow me an outlet to let loose another part of my broken brain. I enjoy the process of writing, creating characters and worlds. Sometimes beating your head against a wall trying to yank words out of your head after working a job is painful, but the end result is worth it. At least that's what I tell myself after crying in the bathtub… Don't judge me.
When do you find time to write?
MM: Mostly nights and weekends.
Do your coworkers know you write?
You seem to be a lot like me in that you write pretty dark, sickly humorous crime novels. What do people who know you say when they read it? Do they think you're sick and hiding something very dark? (not that it ever happens to me . . .)
MM: I usually have to be working somewhere long enough for people to "get" my personality before I tell them. Once they know me and my sense of humor, they aren't all that shocked by what I write. Not sure what that says about me, but… fuck it.
Be honest, if you wrote full time do you think you'd be disciplined about it?
MM: I think so. I only say that because I have, at times, written full time. I think once you've written on a part time basis you understand a lot more about time management and you know yourself better as a writer. You know what it's like to sit down and say "okay I've got approximately 15 mins to work with here" and then know how to use that time best. If you don't use it wisely, it's gone and you're not getting it back. Writing with a gun to your head can be a useful skill to learn.
What's been your best (non-writing) job? Your worst?
MM: My best non-writing job was actually one that didn't pay me. I was an unpaid intern for a production company in Hollywood. I learned so much about writers, writing, the business of writing along with how to pick up dry cleaning and coffee. There was no money, but the experience was invaluable. The worst? If I had to pick one, it would be customer service phone rep… fuckin' awful man. I'm getting a little sick thinking about it actually.
Would your profession make a good subject for a crime novel?
MM: Maybe, perhaps, not really, no.
Have you read Cold Caller by Jason Starr? He makes great noir out of telemarketing, a little similar to phone customer service rep. And come on, finance? These days? Surely there are crime stories to be told among those scumbags. Present company excluded, of course. *ahem*
MM: Well, if you're gonna throw Starr in my face. I'll have to check that one out, Starr is pretty damn good and always an interesting read. Strike my answer from the record. I think I am just terrified of worlds colliding and mixing up my writing life with my whore-like existence on the other side.
What would it take for you to scrap it all and become a full time writer?
MM: Aside from the obvious answer… an ass-load of money. Well I guess there isn't another answer, is there? Yeah, a large some of money where I didn't have to worry about food shelter and could focus with a clear mind about writing. It's hard to write decent shit when you're worried about keeping the lights on and your family is down the street hunting squirrels for dinner.
What are some of your favorite recent reads?
MM: I've been reading Ray Banks and Richard Stark lately (I know, I'm late on these guys.) I really dug Skinner by Charlie Huston, Out of the Black by John Rector and Donny-Brook by Frank Bill as well. All good really good shit.
I recently went on a tear through the Parker books on tape during a job with a long commute. I, too, was late to the party but I really enjoyed those. I listened to the first five in the series. Great stuff that I really enjoyed more than, say, the Lew Archer books I’d also been going through. Guess I like vengeful tough guys more than P.I.’s.
Are you a fan of traditional P.I. mysteries? Do you like to unravel a whodunit?
MM: I liked the P.I. stuff at one time in my life, but I think the endless wave of Law and Order and CSI shows killed those things. For me at least. Now I like a well put together whodunit now and then, but those can be anything I guess. Not necessarily a P.I. type thing. Gone Girl was a whodunit of sorts and I loved that book.. Along with the rest of the universe. I'm with you, vengeful tough guys are always a good time.
Are you satisfied writing part time, or is the goal to be a full time novelist swimming in cash?
MM: Swimming in cash as a writer I think is the goal for most of us, right? Even full time writers I know aren't exactly swimming in it. I think I could be satisfied writing part time if I could write what I want and worked a full time gig that paid the bills and I somewhat, vaguely enjoyed. Dare to dream people.
Do you think people resect writing as a "real job" or do they think of it as a hobby?
MM: I think people see it as a "real job" if you make a good living doing it. I guess that goes with everything, doesn't it? Speed hot dog eating is a hobby unless you make a living doing it. I don't think anybody says Stephen King doesn't have a real job. Maybe they do. A lot of idiots out there.
What's next for you? Do you keep multiple projects going or are you spent after a new book?
MM: I've got a couple of things. I'm working on a screenplay, thinking about starting up a new book and also toying with the idea of a short story compilation. In addition to those things I pretty much keep my eyes and ears open for other things that might look interesting, fun or just really fucking cool.
If you were to describe your books with, "If you like X, you'll like my books" who would X be?"
MM: Wow you can really go off the rails pretentious with this one. "If you like the perfect mix of Hemingway, JR Tolkien and the Bible, you'll like my books." At the risk of sounding like a grain-fed fuck-head, I'll go with "If you like fun reads with loose morals and a few yucks, you'll like my books." All I've ever tried to do is write something that entertains me and that I think others will enjoy. Fair enough?