Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Q&A with Grant Bywaters

The world's largest mystery convention is in New Orleans starting this Thursday, and to prepare we're interviewing Greg Bywaters, who's book Red Storm is set there. You can find Grant at Bouchercon. 

Your book the Red Storm is set in 1930s New Orleans. What inspired you to write a historical novel set in New Orleans? Why is time and place important to the story?

I was getting my private investigation license while also taking a class in college on African American history. So it got me thinking how difficult it would be to do investigation work if you were black and had Jim Crow Laws and other segregation and racial issues to deal with. 

I choose New Orleans because it is a city I have always enjoyed.  It is unlike any city I’ve ever been to. Also, and most importantly, New Orleans was more lax as far as enforcing segregation than other Southern cities. This had a lot to do with the racial mixing that had been going on for years in Louisiana. 

How did you go about doing your research for the novel? 
Research is something I have always enjoyed doing. It is part of the reason why investigation work always appealed to me.  My research has ranged from online searches to the more old school approach of getting physical copies of old street maps, books and news written during the time period, talking with people who grew up in the 1930s, phone calls, etc. 

How is your protagonist like you? How is he different? 

I’d say we both have a very strong determination. Also, we are both not natives to New Orleans, but strangers in a strange land. 

As far as differences, Fletcher has to face a lot more obstacles being an African American man in the 1930s. He simply can’t go about doing his job the way most people in his line of work can because of segregation laws. He has to constantly find ways around it to survive and make a living. 

What is the best thing that has happened to you as a result of your writing?
There’s just so many things. Winning the First Private Eye Contest and seeing my novel in print has been surreal. Also interacting with bloggers and fellow writers has been a very enjoyable experience. 

You’re going to be at Bouchercon in New Orleans this year. What is the one thing no one should miss when in New Orleans?
Avoid tourist trap areas. You must have a Po’ Boy sandwich and the best I found is a place called Killer Po-Boy that is in the back of the Erin Rose Bar on 811 Conti St.

You also have to go to Vaughn’s Lounge on 4229 Dauphine St. Great atmosphere and it’s where trumpet player Kermit Ruffins use to play every Thursday. 

Where can we find you at Bouchercon?
I will be part of the New Author Breakfast Panel and book signing in Bissonet Room, third floor of the Marriot, on Friday from 7:30-9:00am. I will always be doing the Continuous Conversation panel on Saturday from 9:00-9:30am.

Panels I will definitely be seeing include Reed Farrel Coleman, Ingrid Thoft, and Erica Wright’s. It’s going to be a fun convention. 

Check out our other Bouchercon coverage:

  • Q&A with Greg Herren
  • Drinks with Reads with Jeffrey Siger 

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