Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Author Interview: Alex Segura

Alex Segura is a novelist and comic book writer. He is the author of the Miami crime novels featuring Pete Fernandez, SILENT CITY and DOWN THE DARKEST STREET, and DANGEROUS ENDS, via Polis Books.

He has also written a number of comic books, including the best-selling and critically acclaimed ARCHIE MEETS KISS storyline, the “Occupy Riverdale” story, ARCHIE MEETS RAMONES and the upcoming THE ARCHIES one-shot.

He lives in New York with his wife and son. He is a Miami native.

 Where do you get your ideas? 

It’s hard to pin it down to one place. I feel like, as writers, we have to be “open” to receiving ideas or inspiration whenever they appear. I get a lot of material from reading true crime book or keeping up with local NY or Miami crime news. In terms of characters, I just try to pay attention to people and how they respond to certain things or behave, and that feeds into my work. Research is invaluable, too. For my latest Pete Fernandez Mystery, DANGEROUS ENDS, I read a ton of books on Cuba and the relationship between Miami and Cuba, and that gave me plenty of material to draw from. The crime in the book is also partially inspired by the Jeffrey MacDonald murder case from 1970, and the idea for the novel sprung from me reading one of the true crime books analyzing the case. While reading I just thought “Well, what if this happened instead?” And then I was on my way,

What is your writing process like?

I wish I had a set time, but with a young child, full-time job and the usual curveballs life throws at you, I have to scrounge for time when it appears. I have to credit the great horror writer Paul Tremblay for summarizing my process perfectly (he was actually talking about his own, but I follow that method) - he called it “found time,” and basically, it means I write when I can, whether it’s a brief 10-minute jag, a few hours after the kid is asleep or on a random travel day. I’d rather write than mainline a season of a new TV show or listen to a podcast, even though I love those things and try to make time for entertainment when I can. Books count as work, thankfully, so I never minimize my reading time!

What are the upsides and downsides to being an author?

The upsides outweigh any downsides by a mile. You get to tell stories. You get to connect with readers. You get to create worlds, characters and conflicts. You get to add a few books to the shelf that includes so many great works. You get to get those ideas out of your head. I feel like the downsides are very first world - oh, I didn’t get enough Amazon reviews or my books didn’t arrive for an event. Very in-the-moment gripes, whereas the upside is infinite.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

Pretty early on. I was always making stuff up. I remember telling my teacher in elementary school a detailed story about the ducks that lived on the lake by my house stealing my homework. She very politely humored me. I was really into comics as a kid, and I’d read them a few times over. Once I was done, while I waited for the next trip to the pharmacy or newsstand to get more, I’d make up my own. I can’t remember a time where I didn’t tell stories or want to tell stories. 

Tell me about your book Dangerous Ends

Dangerous Ends is the third Pete Fernandez Mystery series set in my hometown of Miami. We meet Pete in Silent City, the first novel in the series, and he’s not in good shape. His father has just died, his fiancee has left him and he’s just returned to Miami after a stint doing sports reporting in New Jersey. He’s working a job he hates and drinking himself into oblivion. Since those dark beginnings, Pete’s gotten his life together and started working as a private investigator. At the beginning of the book, we see him taking on some of the more mundane parts of the job. He’s happy to  have found some peace after the events of Silent City and Down the Darkest Street. That all goes out the window when his partner, Kathy Bentley, asks him to help her investigate the case of Gaspar Varela - an ex-Miami police officer spending life in prison for the grisly murder of his wife. Varela’s daughter, Maya, has hired Kathy and Pete to find a sliver of evidence that might help her dad get a new trial. Pete, unsure of Varela’s innocence but intrigued by the project, dives in. But as they get to work, Pete and Kathy find themselves in the crosshairs of a deadly, pro-Fidel Castro street gang known as Los Enfermos, and Pete realizes that his current case may tie into his family’s own past. It’s a hardboiled tale set in the tropical paradise of Miami, showcasing parts of the city most people don’t get to see.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

It’s a Shakespeare quote! “Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends.”

What do you think the toughest part of writing mystery/crime novels is? 

I like books about evolving, strong characters that feature vibrant locales, but also tell a good mystery - meaning, you’re surprised at the end. The toughest part is making sure that surprise is impactful but earned. Meaning, the reader won’t get to the end and feel short-changed because the killer is the window washer you met on page 3 and never saw again.

Do you put yourself in your books or characters at all?

I think every writer does. I definitely share experiences I’ve had or people I’ve met in some way. Pete and I are a lot alike, but not identical. He reminds me of people I used to hang out with in college.

What would you say your mission is as a writer?

To entertain readers. To shed light on things I think are important or interesting and to honor the writers that inspired and motivated me. 

Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?

If you’re a fan of hardboiled mystery series with flawed, compelling protagonists - like Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder books, Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series or the work of George Pelecanos and Dennis Lehane, then I think you’d dig the Pete books. Plus, it’s like a free, guided tour to Miami minus the cost of hotel and airfare. 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Twitter: @alex_segura
Book Links: (* American, UK, etc.)

Thank you so much, Alex Segura for letting us get to know you? 

Pete Fernandez has settled into an easy, if somewhat boring life as a P.I.. He takes pictures of cheating husbands. He tracks criminals who’ve skipped bail and he attends weekly AA meetings The days of chasing murderous killers are behind him. Or are they?
When his sometimes partner Kathy Bentley approaches him with a potential new client, Pete balks. Not because he doesn’t need the money, but because the case involves Gaspar Varela, a former Miami police officer serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife – one of the most infamous crimes in Miami history. The client? None other than Varela s daughter, Maya, who s doggedly supported her father s claims of innocence.
As Pete and Kathy wade into a case that no one wants, they also find themselves in the cross-hairs of Los Enfermos, a bloodthirsty gang of pro-Castro killers and drug dealers looking to wipe Pete off the Miami map. As if trying to exonerate Varela wasn’t enough, they find themselves entangled in something even older and more surprising–a bloody, political hit ordered by Fidel Castro himself, that left a still-healing scar on Peteand his dead father’s past.
Fast-paced, hardboiled and surprising, Dangerous Ends pushes Pete Fernandez into a battle with a deadlier, more complex threat, as he tries to shake off the demons haunting Miami s own, sordid past.

Pete Fernandez should be dead. His life — professional and personal — is in ruins. His best friend is dead. His newspaper career is past tense. His ex is staying with him as her own marriage crumbles. On top of that, the former journalist finds himself in the eye of a dangerous storm; investigating a missing girl with an unexpected partner and inching closer and closer to a vicious, calculating killer cutting a swath of blood across Miami — while at the same time battling his own personal demons that refuse to be silenced.
Down the Darkest Street, the hard-boiled sequel to Alex Segura’s acclaimed debut, Silent City, tells a tale of redemption, survival and the sordid backstreets of Miami — while asking the question that many are too scared to answer: When faced with pure darkness, would you fold or fight?

“The new George Pelecanos is here.” — Son of Spade
Pete Fernandez is a mess. He’s on the brink of being fired from his middle-management newspaper job. His fiancée has up and left him. Now, after the sudden death of his father, he’s back in his hometown of Miami, slowly drinking himself into oblivion. But when a co-worker he barely knows asks Pete to locate a missing daughter, Pete finds himself dragged into a tale of murder, drugs, double-crosses and memories bursting from the black heart of the Miami underworld – and, shockingly, his father’s past.
Making it up as he goes and stumbling as often as he succeeds, Pete’s surreptitious quest becomes the wake-up call he’s never wanted but has always needed – but one with deadly consequences. Welcome to Silent City, a story of redemption, broken friendships, lost loves and one man’s efforts to make peace with a long-buried past to save the lives of the few friends he has left. SILENT CITY is a gritty, heartfelt debut novel that harkens back to classic P.I. tales, but infused with the Miami that only Alex Segura knows.

No comments:

Post a Comment