Sunday, May 08, 2011

Sunday Guest Blogger: Chuck Hogan

Chuck Hogan is the international and New York Times bestselling author of The Standoff, The Blood Artists, The Killing Moon, and The Town (originally published as Prince of Thieves). You might know that title better as The Town, which spawned last year’s acclaimed major motion picture. With film director Guillermo del Toro, Chuck is coauthor of the New York Times bestselling Strain trilogy. I met Chuck years ago at a Bouchercon conference. I was sitting on a bench when another young guy sat beside me. We got talking, found out we were both born and bred New Englanders. The next night, Chuck won the Hammett Prize for excellence in crime writing, given by the International Thriller Writers of America, for his novel Price of Thieves, and we had a celebratory beer. He took time to weigh in on some topics other Sunday guests have addressed.

TYPE M: How did you come to writing? Could you talk about your start?

CH: I always wanted to tell stories, I just didn't know if I had any talent or not. I started seriously my last semester at college, missed graduation with the chicken pox, and plotted my first real (unpublished) novel in a feverish state.

TYPE M: What do you read and how do those authors influence your work?
CH: Early influences were John Gardner (Art of Fiction) and Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Also James Ellroy. I still read more older crime fiction than new. I would say I am influenced by the same things, frankly. Wish I had more time for reading these days.

TYPE M: Talk about your books. The characters? The concepts? What you hope readers take from them?
CH: I'm drawn to good guys who are bad, or bad guys who are good. Crime exists in everyone's heart. All they need is the right push at the right time.

TYPE M: Could you talk about the details of your writing process?
CH: I'm a brooder, so it takes me a long time. I start work early and go pretty much all day - not all of it writing words on paper, of course, but brooding, always brooding.

TYPE M: How much research do you do? Any interesting research stories?
CH: Research has given me some of the most interesting character and plot turns. The best thing I can find out is some small, telling detail that implies much deeper knowledge. It is vital to establish authority at the beginning of a novel, and you do that through vivid details.

TYPE M: How did you get your current agent?
CH: My current agent was my original agent's assistant. We've been working together for more than a decade now.

TYPE M: What is your relationship with your editor like?
CH: I have two editors currently, at two different houses for two different kinds of books. Both are exemplary. I've been incredibly fortunate in that respect. The secret, for an author, is to get the manuscript in as close to finished form as possible before submitting it. Make the editor's job easy.

TYPE: M: What has your experience been with film? How did the book-to-film come to be?
CH: THE TOWN was great. I was involved as a screenwriter with an earlier director, and the experience was amazing. It has led to other opportunities, which I am currently exploring. Not all movies come out well, despite the filmmaker's best efforts, so I feel very lucky.

TYPE M: How is script writing similar to/different from writing the novel?
CH: Scriptwriting is close to puzzle solving. You have a fixed amount of pages and you have to make a dramatic story work within those confines. Novel writing is more freeing, and more daunting.

TYPE M: Where do you see publishing headed? E-books? Do you own an electronic reading device?
CH: I haven't a clue! Love my Kindle though. Whatever keeps people reading is fine by me.

TYPE M: Any advice for new writers?
CH: It's a vocation. You have to be called to it. If you find yourself sacrificing other things for your writing, you are probably on the right track.

1 comment:

Hannah Dennison said...

Hi Chuck - a belated welcome to Type M from the west coast. I always enjoy reading about other writer's experiences -- especially one who had a book turned into a screenplay. I think your experience really was a rare one! I finally got a Kindle ... and I have to admit I love it!