Monday, December 06, 2010

December Signings

This month is so full, I hardly have time to get home at the end of the day before I'm turning around and jetting off to somewhere new. This week, I'll be at the Barnes & Noble in Torrance, followed by the Barnes in Manhattan Beach. They're good neighbors, and both fabulous bookstores with fascinating readers and wonderful staff. Mike and Penny, the respective community relations managers of each, are two of the best in the business. It's always great to work with them.

The biggest reason I look forward to signing events is the wide variety of readers I meet wherever I go. Last time I was at the store in Torrance, I met enough characters to populate the next Jimmy O'Brien novel. This past week while I was signing in Montclair, a woman walked into the store, took one look at the cover of Detour to Murder, and said, "That's Tom!" Tom Neal, the lead actor in the film Detour, lived for some years out in Palm Springs. The man is not forgotten, and his brief appearance on the cover of my novel has garnered yet another Jimmy O'Brien reader.

I've talked with a good deal of writers, too, from self-published entrepreneurs to such big names as Tim Powers, two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award. And December's just begun! There's no saying who I'll come across in the next few weeks. Perhaps it'll be you!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

More to Come

It has been a fascinating opportunity to join with other ITW authors on their new roundtable discussions these past few weeks. Anyone can add their two cents, which makes the process all the more interesting. The questions are great, the responses from authors, readers, and everyone in between have been phenomenal. The thriller community is a big one, but forums like this make it possible to communicate with the openness and immediacy of a small one. If you haven't visited their site, hop on over and join the conversation. I'm especially looking forward to next week's roundtable, as it will feature the author of the Advocate series - and a good friend of mine - Teresa Burrell.

Meanwhile, this Thanksgiving will be a welcome rest from the back-to-back signing events I've got lined up from the beginning of December till Christmas. I can hardly keep track of it myself! Check booktour for details on where I'll be and when. And have a happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joining the Thrill

This month, ITW is beginning an online author/reader roundtable over at their website. Throughout this week and the next, I'll be joining a host of other thriller lovers discussing the nature of a thriller and the thriller writers who've inspired us. It's a conversation that anyone can join, so feel free to put in your two cents on the subjects as they come up. You'll be joining some highly notable authors as well as some of the most avid readers of the genre. It's well worth a look, especially as the roundtable will be continuing well into the coming year. Perhaps a permanent fixture for the thriller organization - and certainly a welcome one!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Suspense Radio

The talk has all been about the election today, of course, but anyone who wanted to get away from all that for about an hour was listening to the interview I gave on Suspense Radio. The station is also the source for Suspense Magazine, a monthly print and online journal that provides cutting edge perspectives on suspense, mystery, horror, and thriller fiction from a variety of well known authors. (Example: R. L. Stine, Brad Thor, and David Morrell, among others, contributed to the November issue.)

Of course, if in all the political buzz you happened to have missed it, you can still catch up on the interview over at I come on right after Alan Dershowitz discussing his most recent novel, The Trials of Zion. His book is a remarkable diversion from my own, Detour to Murder, but that's quite a testament to the breadth and diversity of the suspense genre. Especially when you consider that both are, technically speaking, politically relevant legal thrillers.

The polls are closed, so feel free to get comfortable and listen in. An author always enjoys feedback on his interviews, so drop a line on my facebook page if you have any comments, or add your questions to the queue by joining in on the Thriller Roundtable next week over at ITW.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bouchercon and Back Again

Bouchercon was last week, and what a weekend! It was the first of many opportunities to show Detour to Murder around, and I enjoyed every minute of it. There were so many eager readers at the event sharing their passion for mystery and suspense. The panels were fabulous, and the cast of characters was impressive. I was able to make it to Teresa Burrell's Saturday morning panel appearance on "The Continuous Conversation," which was great. It's always good to see authors and friends in their element. Be sure to check the Bouchercon website for pictures from the event, and keep an eye on the calendar for next year. If you didn't make it to this one, you'll want to join the crowd in 2011!

Back in Southern California, the calendar is filling up with events. If you're in town, I'm at the Barnes & Noble in Torrance all weekend. Yesterday was my first official day of signing Detour to Murder, and it's been a blast. Stop on by!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bouchercon 2010

The calendar is filling up with events for Detour to Murder, but there's one in particular that fills all my anticipation. It's one of the premier events for mystery writers and readers in the country: Bouchercon. This year, the conference is being held up in San Francisco, which gives me an opportunity to visit with family during the four-day action-packed weekend.

Bouchercon by the Bay will feature some unique events, both due to its location and its special guests. Exclusive book room offers, feature film presentations, and sunset cruises out on the open bay are just some of the many remarkable opportunities the weekend affords. I'll be meeting up with friends like Teresa Burrell, author of the Advocate series, who flew up to the city just today, as well as superstar authors Lee Child, Laurie R. Kind, and Denise Mina.

Overall, it's an event not to be missed. I look forward to seeing you there! For other events I've got lined up, take a look at my calendar on BookTour. Or sign up to receive my monthly newsletter straight to your inbox. And be sure to check back on the blog for news and views from the Bouchercon extravaganza!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Feature Articles and Thrills

Today is the first of October, marking the start of an important month for Jimmy O'Brien fans - and for me. Detour to Murder will be released this month, and there's a whole line-up of events scheduled to celebrate it. From Bouchercon up north to local Barnes & Noble signings, the next few months will be busy. What better way to ring in this October than with a feature article from Thriller Writers' on the book, the movie, and how the two tie together? Read the full article here, and browse through the list of all the other wonderful October releases on their home page.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Less than a Month!!

Check out my publisher's post on the upcoming release of Detour to Murder over at the ZOVA Books blog. They reference my BookTour profile, which is a great way to keep on top of all the signings and events I've got coming up in the next few months. From the Southern California Writers' Conference in just over a week, to a few pre-release events, the first official book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Torrance on October 12th, and Bouchercon up north, the schedule's looking pretty full. They're all wonderful opportunities for me to catch up with my fellow readers and writers, my friends and my family. Hope to see you there - at any or all of them!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The New Home of Detour

Because every good book deserves a home on the world wide web, there's now a website exclusively devoted to my upcoming novel, Detour to Murder. With information on the book, the film, and the author (yes, me...), it's a one-stop shop. Literally, since you can buy the book there, too.

While we're talking about Detour to Murder, I thought I'd share the new cover with you. Take a look and let me know what you think! Personally, I'm more than a little jazzed about the new look of the title.

Darrell James's blurb is still featured at the top. If you can't quite see it in the image, it reads: "Like fingernails on a blackboard, Sherratt finds the raw nerve of a story and rakes it till it screams." Why thank you, Darrell. Same to you.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Southern California Writers' Conference - A Preview

Just a short month away is one of the biggest events for authors in the Southern California area. Naturally, I'll be there. The Southern California Writers' Conference is a must-attend opportunity for anyone trying to make their voice heard in the book industry. You may not be signing book deals as you walk out the door, but you'll have a unique opportunity to get your manuscript read by professional editors and authors - like me.

Of course, that's not the only reason to attend. From workshops to panels to one-on-one consultations, this conference is a wonderful way to learn how to fine-tune your craft, pitch a book to an agent or editor, and see the process right through to the end. The schedule is packed full with events, and the list of guest speakers is impressive. Take a look at their website, especially this page here, which not only introduces me, my work, and my publishers, but also reminds one and all of the upcoming deadlines for registration. Don't let them slip by without signing up! I'll see you there....

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

This review of Ellroy Penzler's The Best American Noir of the Century would feature the upcoming Detour to Murder... if I'd written it a year or two earlier. Ah well! That just means it'll be featured in The Best American Noir of the Next Century. Despite this most obvious of shortcomings, this still looks like an essential read for all noir-buffs. Keep it on the calendar of good October releases this 2010.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Looking for Links?

Detour is all over the internet. Granted, so are a lot of other things, but this film has earned a special place among Hollywood buffs and film aficionados across the world wide web. Check out some of the links below:

Row Three writes about anything Hollywood...except the blockbusters.

Noir of the Week recounts...well, a noir a week. Written by a veritable expert in the genre, it's a wonderful resource for all things related to the dark and moody Hollywood movement.

If you thought was the one stop for the minutia of movie info, check out Digitally Obsessed. From summary to history to trivia, this one will surprise you.

Roger Ebert always has something clever to say. Here's his take on Detour.

Richard Corliss and Richard Schickel of Time Magazine include Detour in their list of 100 most influential movies.

Apart from an awesome font choices and possibly one of the most awkward stills of Ann Savage, this blog post offers a little more than the usual summary. Looking for a more in depth take on the film? The best article on Detour I've found yet is by Gary Morris of Images. An intelligent, thorough look at the film, its history, and the director behind it all. And if you want a little more about Edgar Ulmer: Check out 'Magic on a Shoestring' by Geoffrey Macnab.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"If only I'd known what I was getting into that day in Arizona."

You'd think after writing a whole novel based around the 1945 film, Detour, that I'd be tired of watching it by now. But there are some great lines in this film that never get old. Here are a couple, just from the first 30 minutes or so:

"That tune! Why was there always that rotten tune, following me around, beating in my head, never letting up. Did you ever want to forget anything? Did you ever want to cut away a piece of your memory and blot it out? You can't, you know. No matter how hard you try. You can change the scenery, but sooner or later you'll get a whiff of perfume or somebody will say a certain phrase or maybe hum something. Then you're licked again!"

"You know Emily Post oughtta write a book about guys thumbing rides. Because as it is now, you never know what's right and what's wrong."

"It's amazing what a full belly can do to your imagination."

"So what else could I do but hide the body?"

That last line's a kicker. Come on, Al. You sure there are no other options? And as for the Emily Post book, we'll settle for a novel, shall we? And call it Detour to Murder.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Expectation, Chapter One

Here's a sneak peak at the exclusive ebook release, Expectation of Murder - available on Amazon and iBooks, and coming soon to Nook and Kobo. I'll give you more from the opening chapters in the coming week.

Chapter One

Dead clients are definitely a cause for concern. My windshield wipers beat back a torrent of rain as I rushed up the Santa Ana Freeway toward the Los Angeles County Jail. I wasn't rushing because I was late meeting my client, Buck Simpson. He wasn't going anywhere, but it was ten-thirty, and I told Sol I'd meet him for lunch back in Downey at noon. I figured I could get to the jail, spend a few minutes with Buck listening to his side of the story, and, if I hurried, be at the restaurant only ten or fifteen minutes late.

The parking lot at the jail was full, so I drove around and found a spot not far away on Bauchet Street. Holding my briefcase over my head, I trudged through the rain to the attorney's entrance. After wiping the excess water from my briefcase onto the back of my wet pant leg, I walked to the counter, shoes squishing with each step.

I quickly filled out the visitor request form and handed it, my bar card, and driver's license to the guard behind the wire mesh screen.

"Take a seat," she said.

"Could you put a rush on it? I'm in a hurry."

The guard, a heavy woman bulging out of her Los Angeles County deputy sheriff's uniform, give me a look and mumbled, "Tough tittie. Aren't we all?" She handed back my ID. "Take a seat," she said again.

What a charmer, I thought. I turned and glanced around. A wooden bench, bolted to the concrete wall across from me, ran the length of the room. I sat down, opened my briefcase on my lap, and took out the Simpson file.

Henry "Buck" Simpson, career criminal, received his nickname from the Buck Knife he carried when rolling drunks late at night outside of trendy nightspots scattered around Hollywood. Buck’s current stint in prison was the result of rolling the same guy twice in a row. The victim had no problem picking him out of a line-up. Buck was the guy with the crooked nose and a lumberjack beard.

I wasn't his lawyer when he was convicted five years ago. Last month, he had been released from San Quentin on conditional parole and assigned to a halfway house for rehabilitation.

But around midnight a few nights ago, Buck had been caught with a knife in his pocket lurking in the shadows outside of the Whiskey A Go-Go during a sold-out Johnny Rivers performance. Lurking with a weapon is a no-no for parolees, and the Adult Correction Authority was about to revoke his get-out-of-jail-free card. I was assigned by the court to represent him at the parole hearing set for later in the month. It was routine. I'd do what I could, and Buck would be sent back to prison to serve out the remainder of his term.

"O'Brien. Where's O'Brien?"

I stood and saw a deputy coming toward me. He was studying a visitor request form, presumably the one I had turned in before. "That's me."

"James O'Brien?"

"Yeah, call me Jimmy."

He looked at me, shaking his head. "I'm Officer Davis. I need to inform you that your client, one Henry Simpson, a.k.a. Buck Simpson, was found dead this morning in his cell. He hung himself."


"I need to inform you — "

"No, I mean, why would he kill himself?" I said.

"He didn't say."

The deputy wouldn't tell me any other details. Maybe there wasn't anything else to tell, but I doubted it. I talked to Simpson when they brought him in. He didn't seem depressed or even too concerned about going back to prison. He figured it would all work out, just routine. In fact, he was eager to get back to San Q. Buck played on one of the prison's baseball teams, the Junk Yard Dogs. As the “big dog” on the team, he told me he didn’t want to miss the big game coming up against the Mother Fs. He didn't want to miss the action.

It was hard for me to swallow the suicide yarn. As an ex-cop, I know how violent it is in the jail system. Murders happen on a regular basis, but suicide? Rarely. This whole thing sounded like a crock.

From a payphone on the wall, I called my office, and Mabel answered on the first ring. After hellos were exchanged, I said, "My new client killed himself. Least that's what they told me, but anyway, he's dead."

"Did you get the cash?" Mabel said.

"No, not Kangaroo Kelley. The other client," I said. Kelley was a guy who liked to write checks that kept bouncing around. "I'm at the jail. Came to see Simpson. The State is picking up the tab for this guy. At least they were, but now he's dead."

"Oh, the parole violator. Yeah, well, we still have to bill the State for your time."

"He's dead."

"Okay, then we'll bill them half your normal rate."

"Mabel, just give me the phone number for Delacorte. We'll talk about the money later." Steve Delacorte was the deputy D.A. who was prosecuting the Simpson case. I knew the so-called suicide wasn't any of my business, but I just couldn't let it go. "And, Mabel, call Sol."

"Already did. Told him you'd be late. He said, 'What's new about that?' Hang on I'll get the number."

Mabel ran the business affairs of my office so efficiently, it seemed like she could read my mind. If I needed a letter typed, it would be done before the words were out of my mouth, but she was always crabbing about collecting from my clients. What the hell. Somebody had to worry about the cash flow, and I didn't want it to be me.

"Here's the number." Mabel gave me Delacorte's direct line, then said, "Pretty hard to kill yourself in jail, I expect. Without a little help from the locals, I mean."

"Yeah, maybe so." I hung up and dropped another dime in the slot.

"Well, well, Jimmy O'Brien, friend of the downtrodden. What do you want now?" Delacorte said when he answered the phone.

"Steve, tell me about Simpson's supposed suicide."

He gave me his usual 'happens all the time' speech, so I pressed for more information. Delacorte said he'd look into the situation, and get back to me if he found anything that looked suspicious. The whole thing looked suspicious to me, but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for his call. The Sheriff's Department would sometimes cover up a murder when a prominent or notorious prisoner got nailed while locked up in their jail. It was terrible PR after all. But then again, maybe I was off base. Why would the sheriff's department cover up the murder of a nobody like Buck Simpson?

And We're Up... Again.

Anyone who's been following this blog till now will get a little start when they see this new post. It's been a while since I've used this thing as a forum for my writing life, but so it is. From now on, this will be the place to hear directly from me what I've been writing, where I've been signing, who I've been speaking with, and what projects are in store for the future. It's a whole new world for writers and readers, and I'm not about to deny the importance of representing yourself in the blogosphere. Especially when your craft is the written word.

I'm excited to share all the work that's in progress for the coming months. Anyone who's followed my website or facebook pages, the personal one or the fan page, knows that I've got a new Jimmy O'Brien novel coming out October 12. It's the start of a new series developed around film noir classics. All you cinema buffs beware!

In the meantime, I'm releasing an exclusive ebook edition of an earlier novel, completely rewritten, with a brand new title and streamlined narrative. It will be interesting to see how ebooks fare in this newly developing phenomenon of digital libraries and digital bookstores. If you haven't taken the plunge yourself, try it out on this new release. Expectation of Murder is available for the Kindle through Amazon. You'll also find it on iBooks for iPads, iPods, and other Apple devices. It is only a matter of time before it'll be available on the Barnes & Noble NOOK and Borders' Kobo. It's a perfect way to get yourself in the mood for the October release of my newest title, Detour to Murder.