by Marilyn Meredith
Marilyn Meredith interviews mystery/noir author Ed Lynskey, and reviews his latest book Lake Charles. At the end of this post is a chance to win an e-book copy of Lake Charles.
Marilyn: Lake Charles is the first of your books that I’ve read. You have a most distinctive voice and anyone who doesn’t understand what that means ought to read this book. Would you share something about your background with the KRL readers?
Ed: I’ve been writing fiction for about ten years now, but my first book didn’t appear until 2007. That makes for a lengthy apprenticeship. But that’s okay. I read or heard somewhere that writers should write their first million words before they ever publish a book. Lake Charles is my eighth book, including the two short story collections. Mundania Press has brought out my Private Investigator Frank Johnson titles, and Point Blank/Wildside Press has published two. The Zinc Zoo and After the Big Noise, my next Frank Johnson books, are due out from Mundania. I’ve also published a small town mystery titled Quiet Anchorage featuring a nosy pair of septuagenarian sisters. It’s sold better than my other books. H’mm.
Marilyn: What inspired the writing of this particular book?
Ed: I’m going on memory here, but I believe Lake Charles started out as a short story I published ten or so years ago. Since then, Lake Charles has undergone a series of revisions until the finished product has now been published. That’s a long maturation period for a novel, especially given the speed novels are brought to market as direct-to-Kindle releases. My main criterion was to write a novel set in a time period without cell phones, GPS, or the other technical marvels. That’s why I set Lake Charles in 1979. I was also attracted to the vivid Great Smoky Mountains where I’d hiked 150 miles on the Appalachian Trail in the early 1970s. Reviews have called Lake Charles “redneck noir” and “hillbilly noir” which is fine, but it doesn’t slight or disrespect the region or its people.
Marilyn: I don’t think that readers realize how much research fiction writers have to do. I liked the fact that you listed reference materials that you used for this particular book. Was there anything else you need to do to make this book sound so authentic?
Ed: I agree that a ton of research and spadework often takes place before a novel draft actually gets written. For Lake Charles, I relied on my memories to sketch in the landscape of laurel hells and grassy balds. I probably did some online research, giving credit where it was due.
Marilyn: Is Lake Charles and its surroundings a real place?
Ed: Lake Charles, Tennessee, is a total fiction as is the town Umpire though I set them near the real town of Gatlinburg. There have been dams erected by the TVA to create man made lakes such as Lake Charles that wiped out the established villages and communities. All done in the name of progress and the greater good, I’m sure was the rationalization.
Marilyn: How much of yourself is reflected in your hero, Brendan?
Ed: LOL. Good question! It’s been so many years since I was Brendan’s age (19-21) that I can’t really see much of myself in him. He’s basically a good guy who gets in over his head with some troubles. I’d be like him in not knowing what to do next. He muddles through with a lot of help from his friends. Friends are important.
Marilyn: You do a wonderful job describing the settings. Again, how much of what you wrote about is real—or is it mostly from your imagination?
Ed: I have to admit it’s mostly based on my imagination. The dirt dam at Lake Charles is probably based on the one my late step-dad had built to create a lake. I remember the wild boars rooting up everything from my hike in the Smokies. The wild boars made a nice segue into the Circe myth and creating the femme fatale Ashleigh Sizemore.
Marilyn: What’s up next for you?
Ed: I’m tackling the second title in the older sisters cozy mystery which I hope will go on and become a series. The Taylor sisters make for a nice change of pace from my writing hardboiled and noir stuff. I’ve caught a little flak for being a hardboiled writer and trying to write cozies, but the Taylor sisters also have their champions. I wrote and sold stories to the TRUE Dorchester magazine line for years before the economy went bust. I don’t know if they’re still around or not.
Marilyn: Any advice for aspiring writers who might read this?
Ed: I’m not sure if I can offer new or aspiring writers any helpful advice. “Do no harm” is the motto the doctors like to follow. I feel the same way. I like to congratulate the successes of other writers and wish them the best of luck.
Marilyn: Anything else you’d like to share?
Ed: Just to thank you and Kings River Life for the opportunity to say a few words about my new book and appear in your online venue. It’s been fun!
Learn more about Ed on his Good Reads author profile.
Lake Charles by Ed Lynskey
Lake Charles is what is called noir fiction. One thing I noticed as soon as I started reading was the strong and different voice of the author. Brendan Fishback is out on bail for the murder of a sexy bed partner—he didn’t do it, but he can’t remember anything about it for his defense. His lawyer isn’t the best.
Brendan and his twin sister, Edna, set out for a fishing trip to Lake Charles—not one of the most beautiful bodies of water. The men find a good spot to fish and Edna rides off on her jet ski—and disappears.
Efforts to locate Edna fail and night falls. The search for Brendan’s sister continues, bringing about stays in disgusting motels, too much booze, murder, wild chases, wonderful odd ball characters, good and bad, hidden marijuana farms, drug agents joining in the fray, and Brendan’s ongoing dreams of the night his lover was murdered.
Lynskey does a great job pulling the reader along through a multi-layered plot that keeps the curiosity level high while following one twist after another to an unexpected ending.
This is a powerful book and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a book that takes the reader along on a bumpy ride to unusual happenings and places.
To enter to win am e-book copy of Lake Charles, simply email KRL at email@example.com with the subject line “Lake”, or comment on this article. U.S. residents only please. A winner will be chosen August 27, 2011.
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Mystery Conference in Sacramento, March 29-April 1, 2012.Registration through 12/31/2011 is only $210 (it goes up to $225 after that). Registration information can be found at the conventionwebsite, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.