It’s my pleasure to welcome ‘new-to-me’ author Ed Lynskey to Thoughts in Progress as the special guest blogger today as he makes a stop on his virtual blog tour.
Wildside Press will bring out Ed’s stand alone Appalachian (TN) noir, LAKE CHARLES, in late June. Here’s a brief synopsis of it: Brendan Fishback coming home from a rock concert ends up the next morning in bed with a corpse, his dead girlfriend Jodi Sizemore. He has no idea how she died. But the local sheriff closing in targets Brendan as the prime suspect for Jodi’s murder. Times is running tight.Going on a Lake Charles outing with his twin sister Edna and best pal Cobb Kuzawa, Brendan mulls things over. That night when Edna turns up missing, Brendan and Cobb take off to find her. Events heat up after they stumble on a well-guarded pot farm. Blood spills in the violent clash. Staying one jump ahead of the local authorities and an enraged drug cartel, Brendan picks up unexpected aid.
Cobb’s dad Jeremiah is a decorated Korean War vet and ex-CIA operative who applies his own rough ideas of justice. Veera Grant, a tough lady DEA agent working under cover, also joins in Cobb’s quest for the truth. Told in a stylish, taut prose, LAKE CHARLES set in the vibrant Great Smoky Mountains tells how a young man when pushed to the extreme defends himself against overwhelming forces on both sides of the law -- and wins, but on his own terms.
Ed was kind enough to answer some questions about his current release, as well as his writing in general.
Mason - What inspired you to write this book?
Ed - LAKE CHARLES was borne out of some desperation more than eight years ago. I’d written several hardboiled male detective books in the P.I. Frank Johnson mystery series. Frankly, I’d almost—not entirely, but almost—OD’d on Frank. He’s always going to be my main most man, and I’ll probably always be tied to him when thought of as a writer since there are now seven books starring him. But I needed a break from him and vice versa also held true. Today I went back and looked in my records. “Lake Charles” was first a short story published in an ezine called DEAD MULE in April 2001. The story became essentially the first chapter to LAKE CHARLES novel. So, LAKE CHARLES took me ten years to write.
I wanted to set LAKE CHARLES in the same time period when I was a young man. So, 1979 was the right year. My protagonist is Brendan Fishback. He’s from the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee where I’d fond memories from my travels there. He’s a little different, as the reviewers have noted. He experiences dreams where he converses with his dead girlfriend while he powers through a self-detox from pot. The dreams may or may not be supernatural. The reader can decide on that part. But as I just said, I sought to write something different than what I’d been doing up until LAKE CHARLES.
Mason - Do you have a writing schedule, a favorite place to write or a favorite time to write?
Ed - For some reason, the early morning—up at 4 a.m.—suits me the best. I shoo the cat off my chair seat after I’ve started to perk the coffee. I like to have 300 new words down before I hear the plop of the newspaper—Washington Post—hitting the foot of our driveway from the carrier making his appointed rounds. The freelance work is sandwiched in the middle of the day, but not before I fit in my two-mile walk. That’s it. If I listen to music, it’s usually jazz. Miles Davis is my current favorite. Right now I’m promoting two books—a small town cozy titled QUIET ANCHORAGE and LAKE CHARLES, my Appalachian noir. I hope soon to get back to my regular schedule of writing. That’s when I’m the happiest of all.
Mason - What type of research did you do for the book? Is research a process you enjoy or just something that is necessary?
Ed - I’m not sure what scope of research I did for Lake Charles since I wrote the first draft eight years ago. No doubt I consulted a regional map, though the immediate area where the novel takes place is fictitious. No Lake Charles exists in Tennessee. No town of Umpire is there. The pressmen’s strike did occur. I see there’s a bibliography of reference works in LAKE CHARLES, including about the pressmen’s strike, so I must’ve consulted them. I had contact with people from the Kingsport area where the pressmen’s strike occurred so that provided me with the background. Years ago, Kingsport did much of the printing for books. You can see their stamp in the back of old books if you look for it. The strike turned bitter and vengeful. The scabs and union people fought each other. Families didn’t speak to each other. Anyway, the strike plays a significant part in the back-story to Lake Charles.
Mason - What was the best and worst thing about writing?
Ed - The best thing about writing, for me, is the creation of a novel’s first draft from scratch. I don’t know if I can cite any worst thing. There are aspects that don’t appeal to me as much. I feel lucky and thankful to have my health and the time to write fiction. The most gratifying thrill to me is when readers finish my books and tell me they enjoyed the experience.
Mason - What message would you like readers to take away from your book, if any?
Ed - I don’t write my fiction with any hidden agenda or political slant that I’m aware of putting there. I like for there to be some development in the main character. He or she has changed or learned something important about life after the story is completed. I can’t believe they can go through a major crisis or traumatic event in their lives and not be affected by it in some way. Of course, the men in LAKE CHARLES, including Brendan, are a stoic, watchful, and standoffish mountain clan. They aren’t like today’s sensitive males given to crying and spilling their troubles. They came from a different time. Mr. Kuzawa is a decorated vet from the Korean War. Think of the Mike Hammer generation. That’s just how the men acted back then. I don’t know. Maybe you had to know and talk to such men in order to understand and portray them.
Mason - What can readers expect next from you?
Ed - Frank Johnson will return in two more installments: THE ZINC ZOO and AFTER THE BIG NOISE. A pulpy science fiction titled THE QUETZAL MOTEL should be hitting the streets. I’ve written and published a number of speculative fiction short stories so QUETZAL isn’t too out there for me. A few other projects are making the usual rounds, so I won’t mention them until they find a good home.
I’d like to say before I close out my discussion how I appreciate the opportunity to speak on your weblog about my writing and books. Thank you for your interest and for keeping the written word alive and a part of the cyber mainstream.
Ed, thanks so much for guest blogging. I’m always delighted to feature authors and their work here at Thoughts in Progress. I‘m sorry that I won‘t be able to drop back in today, but I hope you enjoy your visit and please come again. It’s always interesting and fun to learn about the background of how a book (and character) comes to life.
Now for a bit of background on Ed. He is the author of the P.I. Frank Johnson mystery series (including THE ZINC ZOO out in 2011) as well as a small town cozy mystery, QUIET ANCHORAGE, also now out for sale. Ed can be found on Twitter @edlynskey and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/692283.Ed_Lynskey/blog and at http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/692283.Ed_Lynskey
You can also read the first chapter of LAKE CHARLES to learn more about the book and Ed at http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/254944-lake-charles
LAKE CHARLES is up for pre-order sales at Amazon:
As a reader, do you enjoy stories with a little different plot line? If you’re a writer, have you ever gone back to a storyline you started years ago?
**Just a quick and huge THANK YOU for all the prayers and positive thoughts concerning my mother-in-law. We came home from the hospital late Friday and have been doing fairly well so for. We had decided against surgery for her since she will soon be 90 years old and we thought that might be too much for her. The surgeon was in agreement. It will be a long and sometimes difficult road, but so far she is doing well and has a positive attitude. I’ll be away from blogdom a bit more until I can get internet set up at my in-law’s home . I do have several authors guest blogging this week, so I hope you’ll come back and visit with them. Again, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.