Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A Conversation with Mystery Author Max Everhart

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Max Everhart
with Max Everhart

We are delighted to welcome author Max Everhart to Omnimystery News today.

Max's debut mystery is Go Go Gato (Camel Press; July 2014 trade paperback and ebook formats) introducing private investigator Eli Sharpe.

We recently had a chance to talk with Max a little more about the character and his book.

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

Max Everhart
Photo provided courtesy of
Max Everhart

Max Everhart: Eli Sharpe is the ex-baseball player turned private investigator featured in my mystery series. Sharpe has many of the same qualities and flaws as some of my favorite hard-boiled detectives. Exhibit A: he's a smartass, yet he has a strong moral compass, both of which, I hope, come through in his words and his deeds. Exhibit B: he has a fascinating (and highly unusual) backstory. Born in the parking lot of Red Rocks Amphitheater during a fifty-minute version of "Truckin'" by the Grateful Dead, he spent the first thirteen years of his life homeless. His parents — both hippie potheads and petty criminals — taught him how to take a punch and break into cars and homes. Too, he has five (yes, five) ex fiancées, many of which help him with cases. Exhibit C: he's quirky. Obsessions with Richard Nixon and seersucker jackets are but two examples.

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

ME: I'd categorize my novels as hard-boiled PI mysteries with a generous helping of humor thrown in the mix. Of course, I was inspired by the works of Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, and James Crumley, and to a certain extent, my books are an homage to the Golden Age of noir. But I also really enjoy the Spenser books by Robert Parker (and now Ace Atkins) and the Myron Bolitar series by Harlan Coben. In Go Go Gato, I wanted to write a fast-paced, somewhat convoluted plot with memorable characters and snappy dialogue. My only real goal when writing is to pen a book that I myself would like to read, and I pulled it off. Maybe some readers will agree. Would be nice if they did.

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

ME: Originally, the character's name wasn't Eli Sharpe. It was Max Suits — as in he either "suits" you, or he don't. One of my favorite books of all time is The Last Good Kiss by James Crumley, and his detective's name is C.W. Sughrue — as in, "Sugar, you'll rue the day you met me." I dug that, the way the name was both pleasing to say and was kind of an inside joke. My publisher, to her credit, asked me to change it. She was right, by the way.

OMN: Describe your writing process for us.

ME: I write detailed character bios and a scene-by-scene outline on poster board. And here's why: I suffer from OCD. All that prep work is a symptom of my disorder, and it just so happens to be vital to my writing process. But, of course, once I start writing, I rarely even look at the character bios. They're just taped to the wall above my desk, wondering why I'm completely ignoring them. And changing 75% of how they look, act, dress, and speak. Sorry guys.

OMN: And where might we find you most often writing?

ME: Monastic is how I would describe my work space. Nothing on the walls except my aforementioned bios and outline. Nothing on the desk but my computer and a cup of coffee or Earl Grey tea. No music. No living things within a hundred yards of me. No cell phone. When I was in graduate school, I lived in a 400-square foot studio apartment. The place had a tiny closet, and I shoved (literally) a little desk in there, and that's where I wrote. It was delightfully claustrophobic, and I got a lot of work done. Even took it a step further and removed all programs and applications from my laptop. No Internet. No games. Just Microsoft Word. Doing that helped keep me focused. Guess the habit stuck with me. I have a one-track mind though. And I think "multi-tasking" is a myth, but I don't want to get off on a rant.

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

ME: The harshest criticism came from my dear wife, and it happened to be the most valuable to me. I'd written my first novel, and she read it and said: "It stinks. Write another one." Which I did. After I pouted for two weeks, all the while giving her the silent treatment. I figured out recently that before Go Go Gato was accepted for publication I'd written two books and dozens of short stories and personal essays. Rough calculation, that amounted to around 300,000 words, or eight years of writing. During that time, I don't even know how many times I was rejected by agents, publishers, and magazine editors, and you know what? They were right to reject me. I wasn't good enough. Yet. But I kept writing. I kept reading and writing … every day. No matter what. So my advice to aspiring writers, which is what I consider myself by the way, is simple: persevere.

OMN: Suppose Go Go Gato were to be adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing Eli Sharpe?

ME: I see Joseph Gordon Levitt playing Eli Sharpe. Levitt plays a detective in one of my absolute favorite noir movies called Brick. But if I could bring back the dead, I also wouldn't mind having James Garner circa 1978 play my protagonist. I love The Rockford Files.

OMN: What's next for you?

ME: The second Eli Sharpe book tentatively titled Split to Splinters is due out April 1, 2015, and I'm currently writing the third in the series. A few months back, I wrote a pulpy dime store type noir called A Sunday in Alphabet Land that I really like. I'm trying to get an agent for that one, so if you know any, I'm waiting by the phone/computer. On the personal side, I'm trying to teach my sixteen-month old son named Harry Huck not to hit me when he doesn't get his way. Let's just say the boy spends a good bit of time in the Timeout Chair.

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Max Everhart has a master's degree in creative writing from the University of Alabama, Birmingham. His short story "The Man Who Wore No Pants" was selected by Michael Knight for Best of the Net 2010 and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Dzanc Books' Best of the Web Anthology. Currently, he teaches English and Creative Writing at Northeastern Technical College and Coker College.

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

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Go Go Gato by Max Everhart

Go Go Gato
Max Everhart
An Eli Sharpe Mystery

When "Go Go" Gato, a young Cuban baseball player, goes missing mid-season, his agent hires PI Eli Sharpe to investigate. Eli, an ex-player himself, delves into Go Go's secret life, which includes a drug problem, a rich society girlfriend, and a druggie single-mom fiancée.

Eli is determined to locate the young man before one of the nasty people in his life — or his own bad habits — do him in. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)  iTunes iBook Format  Kobo eBook Format


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