Thursday, December 03, 2015

A Conversation with Crime Novelist S.W. Lauden

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with S.W. Lauden

We are delighted to welcome author S.W. Lauden to Omnimystery News today.

S.W.'s new crime novel Bad Citizen Corporation (Rare Bird Books; October 2015 trade paperback and ebook formats) introduces East Los Angeles police officer Greg Salem and we recently had the opportunity to catch up with him to talk more about the character and the book.

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Omnimystery News: Tell us a little more about Greg Salem.

S.W. Lauden
Photo provided courtesy of
S.W. Lauden

S.W. Lauden: Greg Salem is the lead character in my debut mystery novel, Bad Citizen Corporation. He's a disgraced East Los Angeles police officer by day and a beach cities punk rock legend by night. His two worlds violently collide when his best friend gets murdered and he's forced to chase down the killer in his hometown.

I knew I wanted to write a novel set on the SoCal beaches where I grew up, but didn't feel inspired to actually do it until I hit on the concept of a "punk rock cop." There's just something about the contrast between Greg's misspent youth and his authoritarian career that piqued my interest. I've been a lifelong musician myself and know firsthand the tough choices many artists have to make once they get out of their twenties and start feeling the pressure to "settle down" and "grow up." I guess some of us become cops, and some of us go on to write mystery novels.

OMN: Bad Citizen Corporation is the first in a series. How do you see Greg developing in subsequent books?

SWL: I'm about half way through writing the second Greg Salem book now and this is actually something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. I can't imagine that this character would be interesting to read — or write — if he just stayed static. Greg goes through the wringer in BCC and I want to explore how that has transformed him as a person, but I also have to push the narrative forward. That means figuring out how to balance what has happened with what is about to happen. It's an interesting challenge, but after spending five years with Greg he has pretty much taken on a life of his own. If I put him in a situation that rings false, or if I try to have him react to something in the wrong way, he'll let me know — usually in the form of writer's block.

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

SWL: I already mentioned my personal connection with music and the location, but there is one more: bars. Much of the action in BCC takes place in a local dive that has punk shows on the weekend. I've spent a lot of time in bars over the years — as a customer and as a bartender — and I think there's a lot to learn from people in those settings. Alcohol is often described as a "social lubricant," but it's also an accelerant. In the case of BCC, it's both.

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

SWL: I conduct weekly author Q&As on my blog, and often ask a very similar question. The best advice I have gotten was probably something very simple that west coast crime writer Josh Stallings said in one of those interviews: "Write your ass off. Be fearlessly honest."

Some of the harshest criticism I got was from my beta readers, but that's what I asked them for, to be brutally honest so I could make the book better.

Advice for other authors? Well, from one newbie to another — don't wait. Just write. And write and write and write. Short stories are a good place to cut your teeth, or at least they were for me.

OMN: How did your book come to be titled?

SWL: Bad Citizen Corporation is the name of the fictional punk band. Greg Salem is the former lead vocalist of that band, which he formed with his brother Tim in high school. They were more infamous than famous, and Greg has spent a lot of time trying to compartmentalize that part of his life — even if he secretly enjoys his minor notoriety.

OMN: Readers often imagine who might be cast in the roles of the characters if a book were to be adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing the lead?

SWL: I totally agree that part of the fun of reading is casting the book in your head, so I'll leave that to the readers. Instead, I'll mention a couple of directors on my holiday wish list for the imaginary film adaptation of BCC.

The obvious choice is Penelope Spheeris. She made the definitive LA punk rock documentary The Decline of Western Civilization. That thing is perfect in every way, even 35 years later, and there are two follow up films in the series as well. She's also directed some pretty amazing mainstream and Indie feature films, so — like I said — obvious choice.

My second choice, James Gunn, might be less obvious. Guardians of the Galaxy was ridiculously great, but I think BCC would do well with the quirky/Indie vibe of his earlier films Super or Slither. I can only imagine what he would do with the soundtrack and the casting.

Wow, that was fun. Thanks for letting me dream all over your blog.

OMN: Have any specific authors influenced how and what you write today?

SWL: I'm an avid reader, like so many writers are, so the list is really long.

Kurt Vonnegut was really important to me early on and I still go back and read his books pretty regularly. Hard not to mention Raymond Chandler here. Neal Stephenson blew my mind with Cryptonomicon. So have newer books like Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, and Contenders by Erika Krouse. I'm also a big fan of Jo Nesbø and Arnaldur Indriðason. And you really can't go wrong with Kem Nunn and Don Winslow, especially when you're writing about surfing, SoCal beach life and murder.

OMN: What's next for you?

SWL: SWL: My novella, Crosswise, will be published by Down & Out Books in March 2016. That one is also set along the beach, but on the panhandle of Florida this time around. The story is about a disgraced, ex-NYPD cop who chases his drug addict girlfriend to her hometown. She leaves him for her ex-husband right after he gets a job as Head of Security for a sprawling retirement community. Things go from bad to worse when the murders start happening.

And I will have short stories coming out in a few crime anthologies next year, including a collection from Gutter Books based on the music of one of my all time favorite bands, The Replacements. Also aiming to publish the second Greg Salem book in late 2016.

In the immediate future, I'll be at Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego this Saturday, December 5th, for their annual Holiday Party. And I'll be a guest on "The Crime Scene" radio show with host Eryk Pruitt and special guests David Terrenoire and Mel Melton December 14th at 10 AM EST. We'll be discussing "Music In Crime Fiction" live at, podcast at or on iTunes.

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

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Bad Citizen Corporation by S.W. Lauden

Bad Citizen Corporation by S.W. Lauden

A Greg Salem Crime Novel

Publisher: Rare Bird Books Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)iTunes iBook FormatKobo eBook Format

An East Los Angeles police officer by day and a beach cities punk rock legend by night, Salem is forced into action when his two worlds violently collide. The search for his friend's murderer takes him on a treacherous journey through the murky waters of his hometown, forcing him to explore the dark corners of his sun-soaked world.

Without a badge to hide behind any longer, he enlists the help of his drug-addict drummer Marco to help him solve the crime. Over the course of ten days, they survive vicious beatings, car chases, love triangles, kidnapping, and betrayal on Salem's road to self-discovery.

Bad Citizen Corporation by S.W. Lauden

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I had a blast!


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