I was just asked to post a blog somewhere else, answering the following questions. Since I went to all the trouble, I repost them here in case anyone is interested.
1. What is the working title of your next book?
My next Milan Jacovich novel will be “Dead Money.” A major setting is the harness racing industry, and the expression dead money refers to a horse in the race that doesn’t have the slimmest of chances to win, or to run in the money (win, place or show).
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
Dan S. Kennedy is a marketing guru who also owns and drives trotters and pacers at harness racing tracks. He came to me with the idea and the setting, has given me a foot-high stack of research on both the sport and the people involved in it, and every hundred pages or so I sent the manuscript off to him so he can correct whatever mistakes I’ve made about the sport and the setting. He’s doing so much work that he will receve co-author credit when the book is published, i.e. “By Les Roberts with Dan S. Kennedy.”
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Hardboiled private eye—as usual (for me).
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
For Milan Jacovich? Robert Mitchum, of course—but he’s dead. And were he alive he’d be about 94 years old. As far as a movie rendition is concerned: from your lips to God’s ear.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Milan Jacovich and his temperamental assistant, Kevin O’Bannion, become involved when a millionaire ex-client and a power in harness racing is murdered and his son fears that his birthright, i.e. what might be in the victim’s will, could be threatened.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My book will be published by Gray and Company, Cleveland, and represented by Dominick Abel Literary Agency. Dominick has been my agent since 1987.
7. How long did it take you to write a first draft of the manuscript?
My novels are usually written in six months, providing I’m left alone. This one is taking longer to write for several reasons: the success of this year’s “Whiskey Island,” my being one of the guests of honor in October at Bouchercon 2012 (the largest mystery and suspense convention in the world), and the premiere of the play (written by Eric Coble) based on my novella, “A Carol for Cleveland—and the world premiere at the Cleveland Play House is TONIGHT (December 5th). At the moment I’m approximately eighty five per cent finished writing the book.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Comparisons are odious. My book might be better than anything Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler ever put on paper, OR it is more mediocre than the scrawlings of a junior high schooler who wants to write mystery novels instead of doing his hnomework each night. That is for each of YOU to decide.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Take a look at question 2. The PI writers who led me to a career of 28 books and counting are John D. MacDonald, Ross McDonald, Mickey Spillane (you have no ideas how incredibly GOOD he was), Hammett, Chandler, and a host of others. Thank you, authors, wherever you are.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Both Jacovich and O’Bannion are in love with amazing women: Milan with Detective Sergeant Tobe Blaine of the Cleveland P.D. and K.O. with the adorable Carli Wysocki. I’m a bit in love with both these fictional women myself.
Many of the characters in “Dead Money” are inspired by people working at the local race track, as suggested brilliantly by Dan Kennedy. They are far more interesting people (in real life) than in any juiced-up rip-off of “Peyton Place.”
K.O. is surprised to find himself turning into a damn good detective. Three years in juvenile facility and three army tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have made him a very angry man; his sometimes head-butting clashes with Milan, and love for the first time in his life (with Carli) makes him a guy who is finally finding a mission—and passion.