Monday, March 30, 2009

Q&A with Duane Swierczynski

In order to promote the recent translation of Duane Swierczynski's Keikkakuski/The Wheelman, I sent him a few questions about The Wheelman and his other work. Here are his answers; I'll post the Finnish translation later. (It's already been published in the Facebook group for the Arktinen Banaani's paperback series. Join now, if you haven't done that already!)

Q: The Wheelman wasn't your first novel. Could you tell us how your writing career led into The Wheelman?

The Wheelman was something I wrote for fun during breaks between semesters when I was teaching journalism. I'd a previous novel, but it had been languishing, unsold, on my hard drive for a few years, and I was just itching to tell a lean-and-mean crime story, with no expectation of publication. I just wanted to entertain myself.

Q: The Wheelman is an homage to the caper books of Richard Stark and Lionel White. Why are you fascinated in the caper genre?

I'm actually not a huge fan of capers -- the intellectual exercise of a perfectly-timed heist doesn't excite me as much as the aftermath of a heist gone wrong. Which is why THE WHEELMAN picks up a few seconds after the big heist has already happened.

Q: Do you see that there's a boom of hardboiled of noir writing nowadays? Where does it come from?

I have no idea. I'd say something in the water here in the USA, but there have been outbreaks in the UK and Finland as well, so... Honestly, I think readers have always had a thirst for these kinds of stories. The only things that change is what we label them every few years.

Q: Who are your favourite new writers in the genre?

A few months ago I was blown away by Josh Bazell's BEAT THE REAPER. Somehow he managed to combine two really different subgenres -- the gangland saga and the medical thriller -- into something weird, brutal and savagely funny. I still don't know how he did it.

Q: There's lots of action and violence in The Wheelman, but it always hurts. How would you draw the line between violence for vilence's sake and violence for drama's sake?

Whenever I write a violent scene I'm trying to reach out of the page and provoke a response from the reader. Sometimes I want them to cry. Sometimes, flinch. And sometimes, laugh, then feel guilty about laughing.

Q: We will have your novel The Blonde in Finnish translation in the Spring 2010. How would you describe the book?

THE BLONDE is my femme fatale novel -- you know, the kind of story where you meet the wrong kind of woman in a bar and your life promptly goes to hell? In this case, our hero Jack meets a woman who says that if she's left alone, even for 10 seconds, she'll die. And guess who's going to be forced to keep her company all night long?

Q: You've also been writing Cable and Iron Fist stories for Marvel. Are there same elements in your comics writing as in The Wheelman and your other novels?

Definitely -- I'm always fascinated by pushing characters to their limits, and watching how they respond. Superheroes like Cable and Iron Fist are no different. Sometimes I think that my version of plotting is nothing more than, "Torture main characters until they almost die."

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