Hi folks welcome to the first official post of the New Year.
Harry Shannon, author, film executive and Emmy Award Wining song writer has kindly agreed to submit to an interview.
Harry’s can be found at his website www.harryshannon.com, and The Top Suspense Group.
You can get your paws on his books from Amazon, Smashwords, and direct from The Top Suspense Group
I Highly recommend trying him out, they are damn fine reads
Hi Harry, how are things with you?
Howdy from California, Jim. We’re doing pretty well, just grumpy about getting old and creaky. Happy New Year to you & yours.
And a Happy New Year to you. How did you celebrate the New Year?
We didn’t do much of anything, actually. Spent the evening with family and drove home early, well before the drunks hit the road. I used to play bars on New Years Eve, many years ago, and to this day it is my least favorite holiday. Kind of like to get it over with, you know?
You have had an extremely varied career in the entertainment industry, can you give us a rundown of what you have done?
Oh, man. What haven’t I done at this point? I was an actor, a singer, a songwriter, a music publisher, a screenwriting, a film studio executive at Carolco Pictures, and a novelist. I’m now a shrink, though also still writing.
What would you say were the high points of your career?
I’ve been a very lucky guy. The first thing that comes to mind was hearing a song I wrote on the radio for the very first time, way back in 1974. Opening the first box filled with copies for one of my novels. Having a song enter the Billboard charts in 1976. Of course, nothing holds a candle to becoming a father.
Did you get one of those presentation discs?
I had the B side to a big seller, Top Ten, by an act called The DeFranco Family, the hit was a remake of “Save the Last Dance for Me.” My song, co-written with Tom Bahler, was called “Because We Both Are Young.” For some reason I never collected my gold record, have no idea why.
So what draws you to horror / action?
I’ve always loved the dark stuff, started out reading Saki and Ambrose Bierce and Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury, then those Gold Medal crime paperbacks, spy thrillers, horror early and then again when Stephen King broke big. I like the tension, and the intensity generated by facing the unknown or even the impossible.
You seem to be regarded as a horror author, but I would say you have written more thrillers. Why do you think the horror association has stuck?
I’m not sure, really. I enjoy writing horror, it’s kind of like decorating the yard for Halloween, but as you pointed out, I’ve also written a number of mysteries and thrillers than were well received in hardcover. Perhaps my horror material just “pops out” more. Those readers who enjoy my material in that genre have certainly been the most loyal over the years.
Which are you more comfortable writing?
To be honest, it depends entirely on my mood. I think my best novel may be The Pressure of Darkness, which can be read either way, as a very dark thriller or a scary as hell horror novel with Special Ops overtones. In my mind it was the perfect mix, something I’d love to read. I tried that formula with Daemon as well.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading both Pressure of Darkness and Daemon, both very good reads.
Thanks, I’m very proud of both, and it tickles me no end to hear someone enjoyed the work.
Great pair of books, even the Mrs enjoyed them. She’s not really a fan of horror, but enjoys the action thriller market to no end
Which one of your stories would you recommend as a starting point to your work?
If you’re a mystery fan, probably Memorial Day. If you’re a horror fan, Dead and Gone has been a cult hit of sorts. If you love thrillers and don’t mind gore, get The Pressure of Darkness.
Does being a psychologist aid your development of the characters in your novels?
I’d like to think so, at least in the sense that I can relate to all kinds of people with all kinds of urges and impulses and conflicts. I know it has helped me create characters like Mick Callahan from the mystery series, or Jack Burke from The Pressure of Darkness, both very complex action characters.
What is the most important factor in your opinion that makes a good read? Personally I like books that bring out a big childish grin on my face.
Yeah, it needs to be fun, right? Action, an intellectual puzzle, some humor, a brisk pace. When the writing is going well, it’s very similar to reading someone else’s work as it sings. A lighter than air feeling that makes you smile.
If you could invite five fictional characters to dinner, one of which has to be one of yours, who would they be and why?
Mick Callahan and I would get along like brothers, I’m sure. As for the others, James Lee Burke’s Dave Robichioux, John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee, Robert Crais’ character Elvis Cole and maybe Patrick Kensey from Lehane’s Gone, Baby Gone and Moonlight Mile.
It’s an interesting time in the publishing world. How do you feel about the situation?
It’s scary, frustrating but also exciting in a Wild West sort of way. I love that new writers can reach the marketplace so easily, but a host of problems come along with that. This is the environment that virtually ruined the recording industry.
Do you think that the rise of the eBook runs the risk of strangling the market with dross?
There are no gatekeepers any more. Say what you want about the old publishing system, and it was fraught with problems there was a weird kind of quality control as well. Now there is no filter, and the situation you describe seems very possible. We may end up with a lot of crap out there, heavily promoted, clogging up Kindles and Nooks for years to come. I’m afraid many people who have downloaded .99 books will end up a bit turned off to indie writers once they start really wading through their black library of titles and find unproofed and badly edited files. We’ll have to wait and see. The market will work itself out sooner or later.
Noir author Dave Zeltserman and I were emailing about that exact situation, and Dave came up with the idea of creating a group of experienced authors working together to promote one another, and create the branding a good publisher used to offer. We approached Vicki Hendricks, Ed Gorman, Bill Crider and Max Allen Collins, and started Top Suspense Group a couple of months ago. Hopefully combining forces will pay off. Again, we’ll have to see. We’re not saying we’re above everyone else, but we are all experienced, award winning and previously published authors, which is saying something.
So who are the mom and pop of the group, and who is the unruly teenager?
Ah, my lips are sealed. Vicki is the Mom at this point, but only by default. We’ve approached some other women, but so far she’s the only one who has come on board. Maybe Dave and I are co-Daddy’s, but I ain’t saying a word about unruly teens. Not in public, anyway.
So how do you decide which books are released on the site?
Each of us chooses six of our novels a month to be posted, and the book of the day rotates every day from one author to another, so it ends up equal. The blog is open to all comers, and members post whenever they have something to say.
Is there any chance of all of you collaborating on a novel?
We did a round-robin story, it has been posted on our blog page, 250 words each with no editing or rewriting. It was kind of fun, but can’t imagine us doing an entire novel that way. Personally, I enjoy collaborating, but have never done so past 5,000 words. Might be fun some day. Joe McKinney (“Dead City”) and I have kicked around a zombie novel concept, but we’ve both been too busy to get it off the ground.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on the 4th Mick Callahan novel “Running Cold,” which will likely premiere as an ebook in the Spring. Also a sequel to Dead and Gone, tentatively entitled Dead and Gone 2: Deader and Goner. As you can see, it’s not intended to be taken that seriously. The movie was so much fun to write, and the novel has done so well, it just seems to deserve a sequel.
Really glad there is a 4th Mick Callahan novel on the way. Can you give anything away about it?
“Running Cold” is a gambler’s terms for being on a down, having a streak of really bad luck. Mick and another character named Wes McCann don’t know one another, but are on a collision course. These two men are very depressed, angry and out for blood. Various events point them in the same direction. They keep picking up speed, heating for the same intersection. Eventually, they crash into each other with very dramatic results.
Are there any current writers out there that you admire?
That is an impossibly long list. Just to mention a few, James Lee Burke, Michael Connolly, John Connelly, Stephen King, Tom Piccirilli is remarkably versatile, T. Jefferson Parker, Gregg Hurwitz and his Tim Rackley novels, UK crime author Mo Hayder, Jonathan Maberry’s YA novel “Rot and Ruin” is pretty amazing, Suzanne Collins and her Hunger Games, and there is a new Irish crime author named Stuart Neville whose novel “Collusion” knocked my socks off. And of course Dan Simmons. I loved The Terror. My colleagues at Top Suspense are all solid professionals. If you haven’t read Vicky Hendricks or Dave Zeltserman, for example, you are in for a treat.
Many, many thanks for the opportunity to do this interview Harry. It has been an honour to speaking to one of the genre heavyweights.
The honour is mine, thanks very much for the opportunity to reach across the pond a bit, and talk to some UK fans.