For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.
As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?
Hey everyone! I hope y’all are having a wonderful weekend. I have a Q & A with Ed Duncan to share today, enjoy!
Q & A
1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.
Since I’m retired, I really don’t have a typical writing day. I just came back from a writing conference, and one of the key note speakers, Lisa Scottoline, said that she writes, I believe, 2 to 3,000 words a day without fail. I’ve heard a number of other writers say they spend a certain number of hours per day in front of the keyboard or that they write a minimum number of words per day, and sometimes I feel guilty about not having a set routine that I follow day in and day out. However, that would make writing feel like too much of a job (and Lisa and the other writers referred to above do indeed treat writing as a job — which they enjoy), and having retired after 37 years of practicing law, often under highly pressurized circumstances, having another “job,” even one more relaxing than my last one, is the last thing I need.
In short, I only write when the muse arrives, and that can be any time except bright and early in the morning since I’m an insomniac and don’t go to bed until the wee hours of the morning. When I was practicing law, I had to force myself to get up in the morning. Now I stay up until I’m sleepy. When the muse does arrive, the perfect writing environment for me is the upstairs room where I write, surrounded by silence, save for the sounds of me typing on the keyboard of the computer.
2. How did you get started writing? Was it something you’ve always loved?
I’ve enjoyed writing since English composition days in high school. My teachers often complimented me on my writing, and one of them wrote on a term paper of mine that my writing was seldom, if ever, equaled among her students. I considered that to be the ultimate compliment, and it caused me to think that I might have the talent to become a writer some day. Alas, I became a lawyer instead and I did a great deal of writing in that career. For instance, in 2008 I wrote a legal treatise for lawyers and judges called Ohio Insurance Coverage and updated it annually through 2012. But what I really wanted to do was write fiction and I retired to do just that (and also to travel.)
3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?
Some of my favorite writers in my genre (crime) are Dashiell Hammett, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Walter Moseley, and Scott Turow. Other favorites are Ernest Hemingway, James Jones, Somerset Maugham, Richard Wright, Ken Follett, Theodore Dreiser, Bruce Catton, and Michael Shaara. They are a diverse group but, of course, what they all have in common is their command of the English language.
4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?
Pigeon-Blood Red is the first installment in a trilogy. I just finished the second, which will be called The Last Straw. It reunites the main characters from the first book. Here is the log line: “When a teen-age girl witnesses a carjacking gone bad, she is marked for death by a crime boss with no apparent motive. A black lawyer and a white enforcer with an unlikely history join forces to protect her from a hit man with an agenda of his own.” The third book in the trilogy is tentatively entitled Rico Stays.
5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.
The two main characters in my trilogy — Paul, a lawyer, and Rico, an enforcer/hit man — come from different sides of the tracks. Consequently, their paths would not normally intersect. Therefore, I had to dream up realistic fact patterns that would bring them together in the context of a crime that impacted both of them. So that required a fair amount of brainstorming. I have come up with the ingredients for each book in the trilogy and after I finish the third, I may decide whether to add one or more books.
6. Favorite character from Pigeon-Blood Red?
Rico is my favorite character. I suspect he will be readers’ favorite as well. A “killer with a conscience,” he is filled with contradictions, which makes for a complex character. He has no qualms about killing men but he never kills children and he kills women only reluctantly and when they richly deserve it. He justifies killing at all on grounds that his victims all “had it coming,” but he knows he cannot always be certain of that. He is loyal to a fault and if you do him a favor, he’ll never forget it, even if you want him to. His girlfriend is a prostitute but that doesn’t bother him because her job doesn’t define her. He is a man of few words and he can be distant and brooding, but he also has a quick, dark sense of humor. In sum, you may question how he makes his living, but if you are in trouble, you want him on your side.
7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?
Readers can check out my author page on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/edduncan), and they can visit my web page (www.eduncan.net). I’m also on Facebook (www.fb.com/ed.duncan 1210), Twitter ((@pigeonbloodred), and Pinterest.
8. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?
That’s difficult to answer because I don’t maintain a strict writing schedule. So it depends on how much time I happen to be writing per day when I’m writing at all. I worked on Pigeon-Blood Red for years because I wrote only at night after work and on weekends, and sometimes I set it aside for months on end. By contrast, I think I was able to finish The Last Straw in about 9 months.
9. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?
I relate to Paul the most. He is a greatly exaggerated version of my younger self, only he is taller, smarter, better looking, more resourceful, etc. In fact, Paul was meant to be the main focus of the novel, but Rico fought me at every turn and ultimately took over the narrative by dent of his strong personality.
10. If writing wasn’t your career, what would you be doing?
I would be traveling to every corner of the world. Actually, I’m doing quite a bit of that now. I’ll be leaving for China, Hong Kong, and Japan in late September, and I visited South Africa and Cuba last year. Assuming I had to earn a living, though, I would probably still be a lawyer.
11. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?
I’ll quote it:
“Duncan is definitely an author to keep an eye on. He can do humour and he can do heartbreak. This was more than just a crime thriller [sic] it was also about love, marriage and second chances. Pigeon-Blood Red is a superb crime thriller debut and I’m looking forward to the next book in this trilogy.”
That was high praise indeed and I hope every novel in the trilogy lives up to it.
Huge thanks to Ed for joining me today and to Kelsey at Book Publicity Services for arranging this!