Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You Have the Right to Six Words - XV

So, I'm totally thrilled that I finally topped the number of Rocky sequels and people still like my series! ;) It's the first post of September! This week I have some real prize fighters to share with you. All four of my memoirists are duking it out each and every day in the ring of publishing, and at the bell they come out winners. Or maybe we come out the winners? O.k., maybe I'm not great with boxing metaphors and the folks over at Criminal Minds have just got me thinking boxing subliminally. Wait, come to think of it, not only are they over there talking about a boxing ring, but I'm also reading Tom Schreck's newest Duffy Dombrowski novel, OUT COLD...no wonder I'm trying to create boxing metaphors. I'm surrounded by boxing. ♪ ♫ It's the eye of the tiger...♪ ♫ Oh, sorry. Let's get started, before you actually hear me singing (yikes!).

My first memoirist today is actually one of those Criminal Minds folks. She's the Tuesday blogger for the 7 Criminal Minds blog. But when Rebecca Cantrell isn't entertaining us there, she's hard at work in Hawaii on her Hannah Vogal series about a newspaper reporter and crime trial sketch artist in 1930s Berlin. A TRACE OF SMOKE, Hannah Vogal's debut, emerged from Rebecca's imagination and significant research after Rebecca saw a faded pink triangle pasted to the wall of Dachau Concentration Camp; see Rebecca's post at 7 Criminal Minds here. She also spent time living in Berlin. Rebecca graduated from John F. Kennedy Schule and went on to college at both the Freie Universität in Berlin and the Georg August Universität in Göttingen. In addition to her mystery series, Rebecca will have a short story, "Coffee," published in February's publication MISSING. She has also dabbled in screenwriting. Next up for Hannah Vogal? A NIGHT OF LONG KNIVES due in May of 2010. And how does Rebecca sum up all this accomplishment?

Created life, books; cleaned up after.
This woman has an obsession with lofty goals, I think! But Lordy, she's sure attaining them.

My next author is a familiar face from his interview here. I held back his memoir from the interview since the series had been started, so I'm excited to have Simon Lewis back with us. Simon has worked as a travel writer in addition to a "barman, a shelf stacker, barrsita, life model, sandwich deliverer and an English teacher." All of this experience resulted in his writing BAD TRAFFIC, which was nominated for the 2009 L.A. Times Book Prize in the mystery/thriller category. His protagonist, Inspector Jian, befalls a similar fate to Simon's own. Simon was sent to China to write a travel book, but he didn't know the language. He had to muddle his way through. Then back in London he began to learn the Chinese language from illegal immigrants in return for teaching them English. Simon turned the experience in reverse and created a Chinese inspector who travels to England not knowing how to speak English. These days Simon splits time between London and Asia as he works on the follow-up to BAD TRAFFIC, which we all hope will make it's way across the pond! When asked what his greatest flaw was, his response was "modesty." Well, you kind of have to chuckle at that response. Simon's a funny fellow, but he is also modest. His memoir?

Just pleased to get this far.
I do believe Simon will be going much further, and we intend to keep track of his accomplishments here!

Theresa Schwegel developed a love affair with all things Hollywood while she was an intern with an independent commercial production company. Following graduation from Loyola University, Theresa left the Chicago she had always known and headed out to Southern California. While working on a film/screenwriting Masters at Chapman University, she co-founded a theater company, as well as wrote, produced and acted. But it was 2002 that brought about the turning point in Theresa's life as a crime fiction novelist. Taking up her thesis screenplay, she began to re-write it as a novel. Three years later, OFFICER DOWN was not only published but was selected as the Edgar-winning Best First Novel. In July of this year, after two more acclaimed, Chicago-based books and additional publications in England, Japan, France, Italy and the Netherlands, Theresa published her fourth crime fiction novel, LAST KNOWN ADDRESS. And for this memoir, all of her fans are eternally grateful:

Always curious, sometimes content, never
convinced.
That truly says it all!

We will wrap up this week with a man who could almost be considered a legend in his own time. I know that he ranks up among my all-time favorite writers, period. He doesn't really need to be introduced, and I'm sure I'm not going to tell you anything you don't already know about Dennis Lehane, but that would take all the fun out of the post for ME! So, let's start where Dennis started - at least where he started in crime fiction anyway. Dennis's first novel, A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR, was published in 1994 when his Patrick Kenzie/Angela Gennaro series began. This book also earned Dennis his first award for crime fiction: the Shamus Award for Best First P.I. Novel. From there he went on to write four more Kenzie/Gennaro novels and the fourth GONE BABY GONE was optioned for a movie and was ultimately Ben Afflack's first film as a producer. Following the Kenzie/Gennaro series that earned him great acclaim, Dennis wrote MYSTIC RIVER and collected an Anthony, a Barry, a Dilys and the Massachusettes Book Awards for his efforts. Hollywood thought this book would make a great movie as well and the film version walked away with one (oops, that should be two - see Michael's correction in the comments) Oscars and four other nominations. Also in Dennis' bibliography are the urban Gothic novel SHUTTER ISLAND, a collection of short works titled CORONADO, and most recently his historical epic, THE GIVEN DAY, centered around the Boston Police Strike of 1919.

Outside of the published novel, Dennis has also been involved in screenwriting, having written on several episodes of HBO's THE WIRE.

Dennis has accomplished much in his writing career. An element that may often be overlooked, however, is his generosity in giving back. He has been an active teacher at various colleges, workshops and conferences for aspiring writers.

He says the one job he regrets never having was bartender. He can chat with Simon and Theresa. They're both former bar tenders. But how does Dennis sum it all? With a very humble six words:

I owe it all to libraries.
Well golly, what more can you say? O.k., I'm still a little awe-struck by this week's guests, so let me just wrap this up and go try to get the stars out of my eyes from four amazingly talented crime fiction writers. I can't possibly thank them each enough for their time, for their fabulous memoirs, and more than anything their contributions to the crime fiction genre. I wish you all many more successes in your writing careers.

And thanks everyone for stopping by this week. We've had some pretty mammoth weeks of memoirs in the last three months, but we're not done! I'll see ya back here in seven days!

Happy Reading!


6 comments:

Lesa September 2, 2009 at 8:37 AM  

I'm just in awe of Dennis Lehane's memoir. Thanks for sharing that one, Jen.

Corey Wilde September 2, 2009 at 8:56 AM  

God bless Dennis Lehane!

Serena September 2, 2009 at 10:43 AM  

I especially love Rebecca Cantrell and Dennis Lehane's memoirs this round.

Tim Hallinan September 2, 2009 at 6:31 PM  

Jen, amazing, as always.

le0pard13 September 2, 2009 at 6:41 PM  

Another extraordinary set of memoirs in the series. You keep getting great ones, and great authors, Jen. Wonderful.

p.s., since it's one of my favorite films, I need to mention that it actually won 6 nominations and 2 Oscars (should have been more for each):

Best Picture
Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Marcia Gay Harden)
Best Director (Clint Eastwood)
Best Screenplay - Adapted (Brian Helgeland)

Won:

Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tim Robbins)

Thank so much, Jen.

♥Jen♥ September 2, 2009 at 7:26 PM  

Michael, thanks for catching my error. I forgot Tim Robbins' win.

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