Today I would like to talk a bit about the importance of clipped nails when typing. When I… what’s that noise? Is that an armed woman on a grass-fed steer charging through my front door? Hey, that’s MY keyboard…
Stick ’em up. This is a hijacking. My name is Kari and I’m taking charge of this blog for the day. Don’t anybody make any funny moves, and don’t be trying to sneak out the back door. A Montana girl knows what to do with this here rifle.
I’ve commandeered Sean’s blog for the day because I figured it was a much better place to post my Pay it Forward interview with one of my Fine Print Literary Management stablemates, Steve Ulfelder. My own blog doesn’t have a real crime noir sort of vibe (but hey, you all should probably rush on over there to judge for yourself). Being a couple of writers who are damn tired of poking at keyboards and staring at blinking cursors, we decided to attempt a live interview. We would appreciate if you would refrain from jeering until you’re out of earshot.
Oh, I almost forgot. Could the last one to leave please let Sean out of the closet?
About Steve Ulfelder’s book, Purgatory Chasm
Tander Phigg is generally considered a Class A jerk. He’s also a member in good standing of an Alcoholics Anonymous group called the Barnburners, so when he calls on fellow Barnburner Conway Sax to rescue his classic car from a shady restoration shop, Conway sighs and complies.
And gets his head caved in for his trouble.
In the meantime, Tander has apparently hanged himself by his preppy necktie. Then Conway learns his father, a chronic drunk, has turned up in a local mental hospital.
Conway sets out to unravel Tander Phigg’s secret past and determine whether he really hanged himself – while trying to help his father stay sober and claw through the wreckage of their relationship.
There are drunken assholes, and there are assholes who are drunks.
Take a drunken asshole and stick him in AA five or ten years, maybe you come out with a decent guy.
Now take an asshole who’s a drunk. Put him in AA as long as you like. Send him to a thousand meetings a year, have him join the Peace Corps for good measure. What you come out with is a sober asshole.
Tander Phigg was a sober asshole.
I was thinking this while he bought me lunch at a diner in Rourke, New Hampshire, just across the Massachusetts border. From the outside, it looked like one of those small-town diners people wish were still around – plate glass window, ’50s-style brushed-aluminum letters that spelled DOT’S PLACE, turquoise tiles surrounding the door.
But once you got inside you stopped pining. It smelled and felt like fifty years’ worth of grease had coated the floor, the walls, the vinyl stools, even the black-and-white pictures of locals and the deer they’d killed.
The food was bad too. Sitting across from me in a booth, Tander Phigg gave me an eyeful of some of it while he chewed – an egg salad sandwich. He was pushing seventy-five and getting heavy. His belly pressed Formica through a yellow polo shirt with the collar flipped up. He had a red nose that twenty-plus years of sobriety couldn’t get rid of, snow-white hair that was too long for a man his age. He’d always worn it that way. You got the feeling somebody once told him he had a great head of hair, and he believed them.
There was something else. The hair was a little too greasy, and Phigg’s eyes had gone greedy when he looked at the menu, and there was a smell to him he hadn’t quite masked with Old Spice.
Tander Phigg was desperate.
Steve Ulfelder, in his own words:
In 2006, I dumped journalism to write novels and focus on Flatout Motorsports Inc., the company I co-founded. Headquartered in Bellingham, Massachusetts, Flatout builds, rents, sells and services race cars. I spend too many weekends with Team Flatout racing my Mazda RX-7 Honda S2000 in Sports Car Club of America competition. It’s a dirty job …
While I read everything, mystery has always been my genre of choice. Influences and faves include James Ellroy, Ed McBain, Robert B. Parker, Andrew Vachss, Donald Westlake/Richard Stark, John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Gregory McDonald, Robert Crais, Don Winslow, Ken Bruen, Ace Atkins, Lee Child, and probably a couple more McDonalds or MacDonalds.
I’ve written three hard-boiled mystery novels featuring Conway Sax, former NASCAR driver and AA hit man. In 2007 I signed with fantastic agent Janet Reid of Fineprint Literary Management, who recently sold the first of the series to St. Martin’s/Minotaur for publication in the May of 2011.