Monday, November 24, 2014

A Conversation with Mystery Author Les Roberts

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Les Roberts
with Les Roberts

We are delighted to welcome author Les Roberts to Omnimystery News today.

In September we featured an excerpt from Les's second Dominick Candiotti mystery, Wet Work (Gray & Company; August 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats), and we recently had the opportunity to catch up with the busy author to talk with a little more about his work.

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Omnimystery News: Introduce us to Dominick Candiotti. What is it about him that appeals to you as a writer?

Les Roberts
Photo provided courtesy of
Les Roberts

Les Roberts: Dominick Candiotti first appeared in The Strange Death of Father Candy in 2011 (set in 1985) and is back (in 1990 or so) for Wet Work. Now, all protagonists in mysteries and thrillers are more or less tough — who wants to read a series about a wimp? — but Dominick grew up in the toughest neighborhood of Youngstown, spent time in Vietnam as a military assassin, and has returned to America to find that he has few talents for any other job. In Wet Work he is assigned wet work (i.e. assassination) by a super-secret government organization.

What appeals to me about Dominick? I know dozens of cops, many mob guys, a few out-and-out criminals — but none of them is nearly as fearsome to certain people as Dominick, and I truly enjoy writing about him, bearing in mind that the last time I even hit anyone in anger, I was eleven years old!

OMN: So has Dominick changed between the books?

LR: I invariably try to allow him to grow — and age — as I myself grow and age.

OMN: Into which mystery genre would you place your series?

LR: My private eye novels featuring Cleveland P.I. Milan Jacovich are more or less hard-boiled, while the Dominick Candiotti books are thrillers. Having said this, I particularly loathe "categorizing" on books or just about anything else. The publishing business and the press have created those silly categories, however, and all of us writers are stuck with them.

OMN: Tell us something about Wet Work that isn't mentioned in the publisher's synopsis.

LR: From Midwest Book Review: "An action-packed thriller; tense suspense" and from best-selling author Sara Paretsky: "A lovely tale in the tradition of the late great Ross Thomas. The writing is crisp, the action well-paced, and the whole story is great fun."

OMN: How much of your own personal or professional experience have you included in your books?

LR: Most of my characters are based on people I know, or have met, or have seen somewhere. Sometimes the situations are based on real events, or at least suggested by them. As for my own personal experience, I only know one murderer personally, and have not seen this person (who was never guilty of anything until middle age) for several years before the killing, which completely surprised me.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

LR: I don't outline my books; instead I write perhaps two paragraphs guiding me into the plot — then I put that piece of paper in a drawer and never look at it again. Same with "bios." I don't go into detailed biographies of my characters before I start to work. The only description I use ahead of time is "John Jones — banker — 50 years old." I always know before I begin who gets killed, whodunnit, and why … but the story develops at my keyboard and in my head as I work. And my characters do expand or contract as I work, finding that I'm much more (or less) interested in the characters than I thought I would be.

OMN: Where do you most often find yourself writing?

LR: My "office" is 24 feet from my bed. I've been known to work in places like Starbucks and Panera's, but for the most part I'm in my own home, trying away and relentlessly ignoring the telephone until after three in the afternoon.

OMN: Where are your series set?

LR: In Wet Work, Dominick Candiotii finds himself in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Muncie IN, Chicago, Mexico, near Asheville NC, New Orleans, Denver, the east coast of Florida, Costa Rica and Saigon (which is what Ho Chi Minh city was called when Dominick was in the Army in Vietnam). However, my Milan Jacovich novels are all set in or around Cleveland and Northeast Ohio.

OMN: What is the best advice — and harshest criticism — you've received as an author? And what might you say to aspiring writers?

LR: Tell the truth! What is the harshest criticism? What have you learned, or can others learn, from either? What advice might you give to aspiring authors? Shut up and write!

OMN: What kinds of feedback have you received from readers? Anything you particularly don't like to hear?

LR: Of course I enjoy compliments! The feedback I enjoy least? Some readers are offended by my politics, which sometimes creep into the book I'm writing when I didn't plan it ahead of time. But weren't many of Shakespeare's plays political? Weren't the films of D.W. Griffith? Weren't many of the Renaissance paintings illustrating the political and spiritual beliefs of the artists? That's what we do, folks! Otherwise I can tell any story in approximately five pages.

OMN: Supose one or more of your series were to be adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing the key roles?

LR: At the moment, were I the casting director, Mark Wahlberg or Ryan Gosling would play Dominick Candiotti. Milan Jacovich? My first choice has always been Robert Mitchum — but he's dead — and were he alive he'd be approximately 96 years old.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read as a child?

LR: As a child I read all the great classics: Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, etc. As an early teen I moved into adult literature (there was no such thing as "Young Adult" back then). John Steinbeck, particularly The Grapes of Wrath, convinced me I wanted to become a writer. Ditto Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. As an adult, I don't care for Hemingway's subjects, but I care great deal about how brilliantly he wrote.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any topic.

LR: Top 5 favorite films; Chinatown, Casablanca, The Godfather, Singin' in the Rain, Cape Fear (the original one with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum) and approximately a gazillion others.

OMN: What's next for you?

LR: There is always a next book, as long as I'm able to sit up straight in front of my laptop. Like almost any good author, past or present, I am an addict … to writing! If I go more than three days without writing anything, I start to twitch.

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Les Roberts is the author of three mystery series as well as other books of fiction. The past president of both the Private Eye Writers of America and the American Crime Writer's League, he came to mystery writing after a 24-year career in Hollywood. He has been a professional actor, a singer, a jazz musician, and a teacher. In 2003 he received the Sherwood Anderson Literary Award. A native of Chicago, he now lives in Northeast Ohio and is a film and literary critic.

For more information about the author, please visit his website at LesRoberts.com and his author page on Goodreads, or find him on Facebook.

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Wet Work by Les Roberts

Wet Work
Les Roberts
A Dominick Candiotti Suspense Novel

Dominick Candiotti is a paid assassin employed by the shadowy Brownstone Agency. After one too many assignments, weary of the violence and a life of temporary identities, he wants to leave the profession. His anonymous boss, code-named "Og," isn't happy with the decision; he turns the tables on his employee and assigns fellow agents to eliminate him.

Now on the run, Candiotti fights for his life, trying to stay one step ahead of deadly pursuers while he tracks down his nemesis boss and uncovers secrets from his own past. It's a gripping tale about the struggle for power and a suspenseful game of cat-and-mouse that leads through several U.S. cities.

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)  BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format  Kobo eBook Format

Murder for a Rainy Day by Teresa Trent is Today's Fourth Featured Free MystereBook

Murder for a Rainy Day by Teresa Trent

Omnimystery News is pleased to feature …

Murder for a Rainy Day by Teresa Trent

A Pecan Bayou Mystery

Publisher: Teresa Trent

… as today's fourth free mystery ebook.

Murder for a Rainy Day by Teresa Trent, Amazon Kindle format

This title was listed for free as of November 24, 2014 at 7:30 AM ET. Prices are subject to change without notice. The price displayed on the vendor website at the time of the purchase will be the price paid for the book. Please confirm the price of the book before completing your transaction.

For a summary of all of today's featured titles, plus any that may have appeared before and are repeat freebies, visit our Free MystereBooks page. This page is updated daily, typically by 8 AM ET.

More on today's free book, below.

Animal rustling is alive and well in the sleepy little town of Pecan Bayou, Texas — but with a particularly peculiar spin. Only the fake livestock seem to be at risk. First, cowboy legend Charlie Loper's larger-than-life fiberglass horse disappears from the town square, but before the police can get any solid leads, the cow in front of the local steak house gets pinched.

Betsy Livingston Fitzpatrick, local helpful hints columnist for the Pecan Bayou Gazette, is trying keep her mind off of being nine months pregnant in the blistering Texas summer heat. Troubled by haunting dreams, she pursues the odd animal thefts in a case that soon turns into murder. As Betsy closes in on the killer, a hurricane is headed straight for the Gulf Coast sending spin-off storms and tornadoes to the little town of Pecan Bayou.

Murder for a Rainy Day by Teresa Trent

Murder in Half Moon Bay by Nancy Jill Thames is Today's Third Featured Free MystereBook

Murder in Half Moon Bay by Nancy Jill Thames

Omnimystery News is pleased to feature …

Murder in Half Moon Bay by Nancy Jill Thames

A Jillian Bradley Mystery

Publisher: Nancy Jill Thames

… as today's third free mystery ebook.

Murder in Half Moon Bay by Nancy Jill Thames, Amazon Kindle format

This title was listed for free as of November 24, 2014 at 7:20 AM ET. Prices are subject to change without notice. The price displayed on the vendor website at the time of the purchase will be the price paid for the book. Please confirm the price of the book before completing your transaction.

For a summary of all of today's featured titles, plus any that may have appeared before and are repeat freebies, visit our Free MystereBooks page. This page is updated daily, typically by 8 AM ET.

More on today's free book, below.

All Jillian Bradley wants is to spend a quiet weekend by the ocean and enjoy her afternoon tea.

But a startling discovery draws Jillian and her garden club friends into solving a mystery that threatens her life and changes her future.

Murder in Half Moon Bay by Nancy Jill Thames

Without a Trace by Colleen Coble is Today's Second Featured Free MystereBook

Without a Trace by Colleen Coble

Omnimystery News is pleased to feature …

Without a Trace by Colleen Coble

A Rock Harbor Mystery

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

… as today's second free mystery ebook.

Without a Trace by Colleen Coble, Amazon Kindle format

This title was listed for free as of November 24, 2014 at 7:10 AM ET. Prices are subject to change without notice. The price displayed on the vendor website at the time of the purchase will be the price paid for the book. Please confirm the price of the book before completing your transaction.

For a summary of all of today's featured titles, plus any that may have appeared before and are repeat freebies, visit our Free MystereBooks page. This page is updated daily, typically by 8 AM ET.

More on today's free book, below.

When a plane carrying Bree Nicholls' husband and son disappears, her life changes forever. Her relentless determination to find them starts an investigation that links their disappearance to a violent crime threatening to tear the peaceful town of Rock Harbor apart.

Without a Trace by Colleen Coble

Hard Aground by James W. Hall is Today's Featured Free MystereBook

Hard Aground by James W. Hall

Omnimystery News is pleased to feature …

Hard Aground by James W. Hall

A Novel of Suspense

Publisher: James W. Hall

… as today's free mystery ebook.

Hard Aground by James W. Hall, Amazon Kindle format

This title was listed for free as of November 24, 2014 at 7:00 AM ET. Prices are subject to change without notice. The price displayed on the vendor website at the time of the purchase will be the price paid for the book. Please confirm the price of the book before completing your transaction.

For a summary of all of today's featured titles, plus any that may have appeared before and are repeat freebies, visit our Free MystereBooks page. This page is updated daily, typically by 8 AM ET.

More on today's free book, below.

Buried treasure. 450 years ago a treasure ship went down. In Miami, the heat hasn't let up yet …

Hap Tyler windsurfs on Biscayne bay, hears voices, seduces young women, and lives on the edge of history in his family's old-money mansion amid Miami's pastel glitz. But while Hap stumbles around in the shadow of his more successful older brother, Daniel, a tangled web of deception and greed is being spun around him — a web that leads Daniel to his death.

Trying to solve his brother's murder, Hap collides with a 450-year-old secret: the disappearance of $400 million in a sunken Spanish plunder. Daniel's upscale girlfriend is close to digging up the treasure, an avaricious senator has already tasted it, and a stone-cold killer will stop at nothing to bring it home. The century-old city of Miami is a town that murder built. One of its darkest secrets and greatest treasures is about to be exposed.

Hard Aground by James W. Hall