Why I Write a PI Series
I wasn’t going to write the latest Dakota Stevens mystery.
Back in June of last year, at a reading I gave from my then-new pastoral novel One Hundred Miles from Manhattan, an audience member asked me whether I would be writing another Dakota Stevens novel.
I had written the first draft of what became A Truth Stranger Than Fiction (released today), but I wasn’t sure I was going to finish it (rewrite it seven times) and publish it. So, to the audience member’s question I replied, “Probably not. I mean, does the world really need another detective novel?”
Obviously the answer to that question is, “No, it doesn’t. There are already thousands of detective novels.”
Yes, there are thousands of detective novels out there, but there aren’t a lot of novels about a detective, which is what I’m trying to write. (My role model in this is the great Raymond Chandler.)
From the beginning, I’ve striven to write books that are good, well-written novels in and of themselves, where the mystery/detective stuff is a bonus.
A number of artists, from G.K. Chesterton to Picasso, have advocated the idea that “Art is limitation”—that is, by limiting the parameters of your artistic work, you can give the remaining aspects deeper dimension. Put another way, you force yourself to be more creative.
This is why I enjoy writing a PI series. I like the limitations that the mystery/PI genre imposes on me. Because I know that each story is going to have a mystery and be written from a single point of view (Dakota’s), I’m then able to channel my creative energies into other facets of the craft: voice, character, dialogue, humor, metaphors, sentences and noir atmosphere.
With all three of the Dakota mysteries, I set out to write books with memorable, quotable lines; fun turns of phrase. But I have to say, I think that, of the three, A Truth Stranger Than Fiction contains the most of these lines. As a friend remarked to me this morning (said friend having read the book within six hours of it arriving on his Kindle), “I don’t drink, but I assume this is what the finest bourbon tastes like.”
I wrote back, “If by ‘finest bourbon’ you mean, clean, smooth, a little smoky and mysterious, and sexy with a bite, then, yes, it is like fine bourbon. :)”
(Actually, I’m a single-malt Scotch whisky and Stella Artois man myself, but I’ll take “finest bourbon.”)
I sincerely hope that every reader of A Truth Stranger Than Fiction enjoys it as much as my friend.
Photo Credits: The photo “New York Midtown Skyline at Night” (the original is in color) is by David Iliff and is shown here under a Creative Commons license: CC-BY-SA 3.0. This is a link to the original photo: http://goo.gl/n7FMVq. The photo “Guns and Ammo 1” is by a photographer named Ken on Flickr. The original photo was in color, and here is the link: http://goo.gl/L8glx5.