Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Interview with David Putnam

Today we're interviewing David Putnam, former police detective and current author of The Replacements and The Disposables. You may have seen David's fabulous Drinks with Reads post last month

Where did you get the idea for this book? How did you know that was the book you wanted to write?

I have been writing for 22 years and the first Bruno Johnson book was manuscript number 34. I was on number 38 when Oceanview called and said they wanted the book. The Disposables (originally titled The Other Side of Forever) is about a detective who used to work on a violent crimes team. I took stories from my past and melded them together to get the novel.

What is the best thing that has happened to you as a result of your novels?

The best thing that has happened since I sold the book was that I sold the book. I’d been trying for 22 years. I’ve written 45 manuscripts, had four agents and have had upwards of 150 rejections. However, the best thing would have to be the validation moment. I woke up one morning and found a personal email from Michael Connelly who wrote that he truly loved the book and it had kept him up all night. 

What was the last mystery novel you read, other than your own, that you LOVED? Why did you love it?

I really loved I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes. I liked it because of the writing craft, and the character and the overall story, very well done. I really enjoyed David Baldacci’s Memory Man, and Tom Cooper’s Marauders

If your protagonist were actually a real person, would you be friends with them? Why or why not?

Yes, I would. Bruno Johnson is an amalgamation of several cops I’ve met and worked with throughout my career. And since Bruno does things in these stories that I wished could really be done, I think we could be not only friends but great friends. I don’t think I could write a protagonist the right way without having a desire to be friends.

If you could meet any author alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I hate to fall into that old cliché’ but I’d like to meet Raymond Chandler. His story and characterization to date is unequaled. Early James Lee Burke came close and Burke is another one I’d love to sit down and talk with. Also Cormac McCarthy.

Do you share any traits with your protagonist? Which traits?

Bruno Johnson used to work on a violent crimes team. I did to. I fashioned the books after incidents I was actually involved in. Bruno as a cop pushed the line of legality as an excop and excon he doesn’t have any lines he just does what’s right no matter what the cost. When I worked as an investigator I’d also push the edge a little. Throughout my career, I was sued 13 times, once for forty million punitive, which means if I lost it came out of my pocket.

If you could be any character in a book, who would you be and why?

No question Bruno because he does things I would have loved to do.

How long did it take you to get your first draft done of this book? How much time do you spend in revisions?

I write a thousand words a day no matter what and if a writer sticks to that discipline the book can actually be completed in three months. I get up every morning at 330 and start off by reviewing and revising the last 20 pages before I move on to write the day’s four pages. In this way I revise or rewrite everything at least four times. With this method I don’t do second drafts. I do however continually throughout the process put the book out to beta readers and I read the manuscript to my read and critique group that meets every Thursday at our house. The group has been invaluable with ideas and corrections.

What did you do to research the book?

I don’t do any research at all and take the streets, the places, the characters right out of my past. I do however use Google on occasion to double check a definition or a law or procedure that has gone fuzzy in my now elderly brain.

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