My good friend Reed Coleman has two new books coming out soon, so I invited him over here to tell you all about them and talk a little bit about how he ended up an award-winning writer.
How Did I Get Here?
Someone pointed out to me recently that my first novel Life Goes Sleeping (Permanent Press, 1991) was published twenty years ago. Amazing! Now, as my 13th and 14th novels (Hurt Machine (Tyrus Books) and Gun Church (Audible.com)) are about to be released, I’ve taken pause at recollecting just how I got from there to here and how I got involved in mystery fiction at all. First, a little something about the new books:
Hurt Machine is the 7th book in my Moe Prager Mystery series. Moe is in his mid-sixties and his daughter Sarah is two weeks away from her wedding. Within days of receiving grave news about his health, Moe’s ex-wife Carmella Melendez reappears after nine years. She needs Moe’s help to track down the killer of her estranged sister. Seems no one in NYC is very interested in finding the murderer. Why? That’s the question, isn’t it?
Gun Church is my second stand-alone novel and is an exclusive on Audible.com. Kip Weiler is a former literary wunderkind who’s fallen on hard times. He teaches creative writing at a rural community college and saves his class from a gun-toting student. He gets a second fifteen minutes of fame and something much more important: the urge to write again. Only things don’t go so well for Kip when he realizes he isn’t quite as in control of his life as he thinks he is.
Now that the promo stuff is done, let’s get back to the business at hand. The only formal writing classes I ever took were in poetry at Brooklyn College from David Lehman. I’d been writing poetry since I was thirteen and had hoped a college education would advance my poetry writing. Well, it did, but it also showed me I didn’t have the chops or the desire to be great at it. I figured I would find a job when I got out of school and I would continue to write poetry and publish occasionally. That’s pretty much what happened. I fell into the air freight business and wrote poetry on the side.
After about five or six years in air freight, I was getting pretty bored. Early on, I had taken a night poetry class at the New School—where I met my wife,by the way—but it seemed I would be shipping cargo for the rest of my adult life. A few years later, my work schedule called for me to go into Manhattan once a week from my office at JFK airport. There were a few hours of down time between leaving the airport and my weekly meeting, so I decided to take another evening class—this time at Brooklyn College—to fill up those unused hours. Only one class fit my schedule, a class on American detective fiction. I was never much of a crime fiction reader up to that point. My focus had been more literary, non-fiction, and sci fi. Talk about getting gobsmacked. The first two things we read in that class were Hammett’s The Continental Op and Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely.
By the time we were halfway through the term, I knew writing crime fiction was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. A few months later I went to my wife and asked her if she was willing to make the sacrifices she would have to make in order for me to follow my dream. And for the second time since we’d met, she said yes. Both of those yeses have had a profound impact on our lives. As I have often joked, it’s a good thing that class wasn’t on poetry of the French Renaissance.
Reed Farrel Coleman has been called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan. He has published fourteen novels. He is a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best Detective Novel of the Year and has been twice nominated for the Edgar Award. Reed has also won the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He is an adjunct professor of English at Hofstra University and he lives with his family on Long Island. Visit Reed at www.reedcoleman.com. You can also find him on Facebook and he Twitters at Twitter@ReedFColeman.