Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Interview with Mystery Writer David H. Fears

I'd like to introduce David H. Fears, author of the "Dark" series of hardboiled mysteries, set in Chicago in the early 1960s, historically accurate; lots of seduction and love triangles; sleuthing; complex plots and an interesting, likable hero. 

Thanks for answering some questions about writing a series of novels that combines hardboiled mystery with a historical setting, David. 

So when did you start writing? What was it you first wrote?

David:  The first grade. "Girl" was my first written word. The rest is history. Seriously, I came to fiction writing late in life, in my early 50's. I had to flush my academese style and learn the craft one item at a time. I did haunt some online crit circles, but am mostly self-taught.

What period do you write about and why? 

David: The early 1960s. I think because it is so rich in social change, reform, corruption, and also a simpler time for many Americans, if a stressful time for the nation. Also, I came of age in the late 50s, early 60s and know the time well.

What is your theory or belief on how historically accurate you need to be? How does that affect your story? For alternative history writers: how did you decide to change history? How do you reconcile it with “real” history?

Davd: My approach (not necessarily a "theory") is to utilize real events, places & people, then weave my fictional story & characters around historical accuracy. I don't make up events beyond that. In the 6 novels I've done I have used each subsequent year, beginning in 1960. I've included the following real events/people: Trenton Prison Riots of the 1950s, 60s. Purple Gang of Detroit; Mayor Daley's corrupt Chicago administration; police reformer O.W. Wilson; French Bonnot Gang; Portland corruption of the 50s, 60s, Big Jim Elroy, Stanley Terry rackeeters, Police chief, Mayor Schrunk, etc. I don't change history to fit the fiction of the novel, but adapt the fiction to fit history. Some names are fictional beyond the main characters.

Tell us about your main character, real or fictional and why? 

David: Mike Angel is a young man (30; fictional) who came out of Korea to join the police force with his father in NYC; like his father he refused to be on the take but also couldn't stand the administrative BS and control. He quit the force after his father retired and had just completed his first case as a PI. Mike then took up the torch to follow in his father's footsteps, but had misgivings all along if that was his true calling.  He struggles with a conflict about commitment and fidelity throughout the novels about women and one particular woman, Molly Bennett. His weakness is women in trouble who find him in each episode. Over 6 novels to 1965 he evolves somewhat, settling in as a fist-first but good investigator and slowly commits to Molly.

What is the most surprising thing in the period you write about? Do you run into common misperceptions? How do you deal with them in your fiction?

David: I was somewhat shocked at the level of crime, corruption, dirty cops, illegal gambling, prostitution, etc., especially in my hometown of Portland, where the last novel, Dark Moon, takes place. I deal with these by using real exposes, names, events, etc., and by immersing Mike into complex plots that make solving cases difficult.  

Who would you most like to meet from one of your novels? Tell us about them.

David: Ah, well, I suppose in some ways I've met each of my main characters, since I've lifted pieces here and there from folks I've known. Since I share Mike's sarcastic and smartass sense of humor, especially as he relates to his late father's retired NYPD detective Rick Anthony, I'd like most to meet Mike. I've met Molly already!

What is your next project? 

David: I'm continuing the last volume of a 4 vol reference work on Mark Twain, Mark Twain Day By Day. This is pure history using all available primary sources and much secondary work.  I have 4 more trips to make to UC Berkeley and the Mark Twain Project to read some 3,000 incoming letters to Twain. I have had small stirrings for a 7th Mike Angel novel but am letting that pearl choke on the irritation for a few months.

Do you use a pen name and why?

David: David H Fears (I use Mike Angel on the KB writers cafe, my protagonist's name. Much of the time HE comes out in my posts there--am I a split personality? Well, with my personality some split might help. I have written over 100 short stories and had a couple dozen published in print & ezine under the name DH Henry. I used it because many of my tales involved tail-chasing, and I suppose I wanted to see how they'd go over first. I self-published a print collection of them in 2001 from which I made a small amount after a 500 book run. I've also uploaded 44 of the best shorts on Amazon using the old DH Henry name. I now write only under my own name.

Thanks for vising, David. I really appreciate your time and the interesting answers.

Want a good mystery? Want more action for the buck? Try getting into Mike Angel's "Dark" Series: 

Dark Quarry is FREE until Christmas at Smashwords or available on Amazon

That is just one of this great series along with Dark Idol, Dark Lake, Dark Blonde, Dark Poison, and, just released, Dark Moon.

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