I read an interesting interview with Chris Knopf the other day on Jungle Red. He has a series of mysteries out with a small publisher, the Permanent Press, and I'm currently enjoying meeting his lead character, Sam Acquillo, in the first book, The Last Refuge. But I learned the author's been signed up by St. Martin's to do a spin-off series, so soon he'll be ready to tell us how big and small publishers compare. It's neat to know that publishing small really can lead to publishing large, but I suspect it only works if you're a really good writer. Chris Knopf does seem to be that.
Sam Acquillo's not a particularly nice guy, not safe, not easygoing. But he already seems very real to me. I trust him and I like him. I watch for him to appear at the coffee shop. And I admire a writer who can make someone so very real that I'm reading the book with the same thoughts in mind as I would have if I were drinking my coffee. (Well, yeah, I might be drinking coffee at the same time as reading, but you know what I mean.)
So now I'm trying to work out how the author does it so well. He's certainly not telling me everything - when I first meet Sam he's kind of down-beat, kind of negative, and I'm wondering what does he do all day, why's he on his own, where does he get his money. He's kind, but he doesn't think of himself as kind. And he's sort of abrasive. So I'm full of questions and the book doesn't telescope any answers for me, but dribbles them over conversation and keeps me looking for more. It's like slowly getting to know someone as I see them more often, with the added bonus that I really do want to follow the investigation too; something just doesn't sound right.
If only I could write like that...