Today is Craig McDonald's release day for his fourth Hector Lassiter novel, ONE TRUE SENTENCE. Regular readers know I'm a huge fan of this series. With last year's release of PRINT THE LEGEND, Craig graciously agreed to submit himself to an interview. You can see that here at Part I and Part II. Today he's been kind enough to take over the blog and he's posting today. I'm very excited about this because this post is incredible. If you haven't read Craig's work yet, here's a look at his style. So let me move out of the way and let Craig do what he does best!
The Woman Behind the ManA few years back, I was in New York City chatting with the person who casts voices and selects readers for Recorded Books’ unabridged audio treatments of novels and nonfiction titles.
By Craig McDonald
We’d finished touring the Recorded Books studios and offices and had settled in to discuss my recurring character, crime novelist Hector Lassiter, and how Hector and all those real, now-gone people who populate the Lassiter series of historical literary thrillers might best be transitioned to audio.
Tom Stechschulte was already a virtual lock to “be” Hector. But when I mentioned there would be shifts in point of view from book to book in the latter going — some presented in third-person, others narrated by Hector — it raised the issue of whether a second reader might be in order. Say…an actress.
“If Hector was to have a recurring love interest,” she said, “well, then…”
I assured the Recorded Books studio director that was not the case; that each novel would likely have a different female character playing against Hector.
That was true up to a point. But across eight novels in the series (four have now seen print), there are two women in Hector’s life who potentially hang in there for more than a single book or even two.
There was this one formidable woman, in particular, whom I had already committed to paper.
One True Sentence is the fourth novel about Hector Lassiter, a man variously known as “the man who lives what he writes and writes what he lives,” as well as, “the last man standing of the Lost Generation.” OTS is the fourth novel in publication sequence, but was actually conceived to be number three.
Pre-publication, but with several of the Lassiter books already written or in my head, I figured after just two previous installments, readers would likely form a fairly strong and fixed notion of Hector Lassiter, the man.
In this cycle of novels that has never taken the direct, chronological route that ninety-nine percent of other mystery series hew to, it seemed to me that around book three the time would be ripe for a major change up.
Through newspaper articles and magazine profiles excerpted in the first Lassiter novel, Head Games — through other characters asides and Hector’s own admissions — a kind of informal biography of Texas-born Hector Lassiter emerges through the first three published books.
But most of that biographical material is confined to the late 1920s and beyond.
We know little, if any, about Hector’s childhood. We haven’t been afforded a glimpse of how Hector became Hector.
One True Sentence is the first of two, back-to-back books that supply those answers.
While previous novels have sprawled across continents and decades, One True Sentence occurs across a single week in Paris, circa February 1924.
OTS introduces THE woman in Hector Lassiter’s crowded life, the fetching and bewitching mystery writer Brinke Devlin.
Brinke was name-checked in Print the Legend (Lassiter #3), but she’s always been lurking in the background. Hell, I’d fully written her story before my debut, Head Games, ever saw print.
It is Brinke, who, at base, “created” the Hector Lassiter his readers know. Brinke is a darkly creative woman who moves Hector from the path of a struggling, often-blocked literary writer to the pulp-frenzied, dark-end-of-the-street, crime fiction novelist Hector is fated to be.
Years before Hector is tagged with his designation as an author who writes what he lives and puts his turbulent life down on the page, slightly older and much more worldly Brinke is already pioneering the dark art of living one’s life to feed one’s fiction.
From conception, Brinke was formulated to be très formidable.
I put at least as much effort into shaping Brinke and her back-story as I did Hector’s. Though I never envisioned writing a series about her, I approached the task with the notion that I actually intended Brinke to stand as her own series character.
At the same time, One True Sentence also casts Brinke as a potential villainess — a complication that further kick-starts the evolution of Hector’s own eventual, shades-of-gray persona and sets him up for the rather controversial love affair(s) depicted in Toros & Torsos.
If, as the saying goes, the boy is father to the man, then equally true, I think, is the fact that a bewitching, dark muse arriving at the right wrong moment in that man’s life makes him the author he’s fated to be.
ONE TRUE SENTENCE is available today from St. Martin's Minotaur (ISBN: 978-0-312-55438-5). And since this is one of my must-read series, you can be assured you'll be hearing from me on ONE TRUE SENTENCE as well.