Monday, June 09, 2008

May Field Notes from Heidi Ruby Miller

I sent out the May issue of Field Notes and am happy to report that I've gained subscribers since launching the new format last month.

Here's an excerpt from the Research section:

After my husband and I got married in 1998, we had to decide if we would apply to the anthropology graduate program at the University of Pittsburgh or move to Orlando to work at Walt Disney World. We had an intense interest in Mayan archaeology, and the faculty at Pitt aligned with our interests. But in the end, "the mouse" won, and we enjoyed an extended honeymoon at the happiest place on Earth. However, we remain avid Mayaphiles and keep up with the current research in the field.

Our fascination with this culture has served us well and provided a backdrop for a novel a piece. Most recently, I have gone back through our collection of Mayan-related books to write a SAT passage about epigraphy, the science of translating ancient hieroglyphics. The artistry is breathtaking, but the complex form of writing is amazing...


If you would like to subscribe to Field Notes from Heidi Ruby Miller, please email me at heidirubymiller AT gmail DOT com.

~Heidi

Sunday, June 08, 2008

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Ed Lynskey

Ed Lynskey_Heidi's Pick SixEd Lynskey

HEIDI'S PICK SIX
1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
P.I Frank Johnson is the only protagonist I’ve yet to hustle into print. I guess he’s my favorite, if not by default. Does life imitate art? Is Frank like me? I don’t really know. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to offer a real physical description of him. The way I want for him to come across to readers is as a good guy, maybe a little rough around the edges, someone to sit down with and share a drink or conversation.

For my detective series, I cling to the old-fashioned notion that readers really want a fresh lead character they like and can root for over the three hundred pages to a novel. Critics have compared Frank to his counterparts in books by Loren Estleman, James Lee Burke, Daniel Woodrell, Walter Mosley, William Caunitz, Dennis Lehane, Bill Pronzini, and Robert Crais. So, I guess Frank stands in good company.


2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee, hands down.


4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
My last sojourn to the library resulted in checking out Money Gun a new Western by Robert J. Randisi because, corny or not, I’m a sucker for an oater, film or book. I took Adrian Hyland’s Moonlight Downs which, I believe, was a title recommended on the DorothyL list (where I find many new authors kindly suggested to try out). Penny Rudolph’s Lifeblood because the protagonist Rachel Chavez strikes me as a self-reliant, strong individual (based on my browsing the dustjacket copy) that might appeal to me. Finally, I selected James R. Benn’s The First Wave, a Billy Boyle World War II mystery, again getting good notices, plus I dig historical mysteries and that time period. I also do regular reviews for Publishers Weekly, mostly literary fiction reads.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Rather than cite a specific one, I can lump most of my violent, bloody scenes into this question, without a doubt. Over my four books in print, I’ve evolved to think that less is better. I read and review a lot of crime fiction, giving me a wide perspective of what’s old and what’s current. A fair amount of the violence I encounter on the printed page strikes me as cartoonish, clich├ęd, and clumsy. Violence, like sex scenes, in fiction seems to do little to propel the plot, develop the characters, and build the pace. The toughest thing for me, I believe, is finding the right balance of such a scene and understanding where it should fit in the narrative fabric.

I struggle with the idea of entering late and leaving early when I write violent scenes. How much goes in and how much ends up cut? Will what I do alienate my reader? Of course, we’re inundated with violence in the world-at-large but a novelist has to exert an artistic control and constraint over the product being created. I wrote my Master Thesis twenty-five years ago on the Southern Gothic novelist Harry Crews who was known at the time for his dark, gory literature. So, the violent scenes have been a part of American fiction for at least that long.


9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
We enjoy watching the Washington Nationals at their new baseball stadium or on TV. During their seasons, I follow the Washington Redskins football and Washington Wizards basketball. I don’t know if that qualifies me as a sports junkie or not. The most physical thing I ever do is mow the lawn or go on long day hikes.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?

13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Oh, sure. Simpsons, Flintstones, and King of the Hill.


Ed Lynskey has published three novels in the P.I. Frank Johnson series: The Dirt-Brown Derby, The Blue Cheer, and Pelham Fell Here, as well as a short fiction collection Out of Town a Few Days.

The Blue Cheer generated positive reviews in prominent print media like Pubishers Weekly and a starred review in Booklist.

Ed is a reviewer himself and has sold book reviews to the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Constitution, San Francisco Chronicle, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chicago Sun-Times, Baltimore Sun, and other prominent newspapers. He is also a regular paid contributor to Publishers Weekly, Mystery Scene, and Paste Magazine.

He has a strong "in-print" track record of short fiction in 250+ online/print journals, including Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine and The Atlantic Monthly. Reprints of his work are in anthologies from St. Martin's Press, The University of Virginia Press, and Storyline Press. He has also made multiple pro sales to the Dorchester Media/TRUE magazines. Ed's work rated an Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007 (Ellen Datlow, editor).

Ed has had full membership in Mystery Writers of America (MWA) since 2005 and is a past member of National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) and PWA.