The book tour kicked off officially with a stop at Murder on the Beach in Delray Beach, Florida. A wonderful mystery store just off the main thoroughfare in Delray. The town itself has been booming in the past few years. A wonderful array of restaurants, boutiques, art shops and cool sidewalk ambiance. Like South Beach for baby boomers. A little more restrained, but hip.
Had a good turnout, including James O. Born and Wallace Stroby, two fine writers and friends who took the time from very busy schedules to show their support. Nice guys.
And the book goddesses at the store were wonderful, serving wine and snacks. Signed a lot of books for their online orders and then did my talk and answered questions. Some good questions from the audience. One in particular: who were my influences?
Here's what I said:
I was influenced in the beginning by a set of writers, all inspiring me in different ways.
John D. MacDonald
His love of Florida and his defense of the state against the assault of developers and scam artists. Though oddly for one who loved Florida so deeply, his ability to capture the feel of the place itself was pretty limited.
James Lee Burke
Burke's poetic and lyrical creation of Louisiana, the climate, the flora and fauna, and the landscape in general was at the beginning and is now a major influence.
Lew Archer, his series sleuth, almost always solved crimes that were rooted in the past. Frequently 20 years is the time frame. Something bad happened twenty years ago and it's still reverberating into a current crime. That format was the basis for my first novel and remains one of the elements I use a lot.
His books sound like talk, not writing. They are so natural, so seemingly effortless in the their movement forward, and so "cool" in their tone that they challenge me to write with less ornament, less artificiality in the prose. Finding the balance between Leonard and Burke stylistically is a real challenge.
Early and late Parker is full of snappy, great dialog that drives much of the experience. I love the way Spenser talks, and though Leonard's dialog is also powerful, it is Parker's I ty to emulate.
So it was a good evening. And there was also cake! Brought by Ken Van Durand who drove all the way down from Orlando to deliver it. Here is Ken standing next to me with the cake in hand.
If you weren't able to attend and want a signed copy of DEAD LAST, I'm sure Joanne and the book goddesses of Murder on the Beach will be happy to send you one.
Here's their home on the web.
And here's Ken Van Durand's site, with his own view of the evening.