If you like reading novels that are packed with an exhilarating sense of action, adventure and intrigue, then you might already have heard of Steve Hamilton. Steve is a hugely respected and genuinely talented author who has six books behind him, with all six books being part of a long-running series that follow the fortunes of a semi-retired private investigator called Alex McKnight.
All the books are set around a small place called Paradise, in Michigan: a cold and bleak place where potential
trouble always seems to be festering.
Well, it does wherever and whenever Steve Hamilton's McKnight character is concerned.
Here follows an exclusive interview with the author Steve Hamilton, conducted via e-mail from his home in
the United States.
Many thanks to Steve for offering to so succinctly answer my questions.
And for all those people who like the sound of his work, rest assured that his books can be
found in all good bookstores or via his fabulously designed website at
www.authorstevehamilton.com - a site which is well worth checking out for a multitude of engrossing reasons.
If you are anything like me, once you start reading his work you'll never want to stop!...
You are an author of action-thriller novels which are set in the snowy upper reaches of Michigan and which follow a former private investigator called Alex McKnight . What on earth was your original inspiration for such a series of exhilarating novels?
I wanted to try writing a hardboiled novel set not in one of the familiar urban settings,
but in a place that for me seemed more hardboiled than any city.
To me, hardboiled means lonely and it means cold. The Upper Peninsula is the coldest, loneliest place I know well enough to write about.
Is your Alex McKnight character actually based on anybody in particular?
No, not at all. He was just sort of there, if you know what I mean. He's the kind of guy who would actually live up there. He goes up to sell off his father's cabins and stays. It's why he stays, why the place feels like home to him, that made me start hearing his voice in my head. This is someone who's been through a lot in his life, and the place itself seems to match the way he feels.
When you first sat down to write your debut novel, A Cold Day In Paradise, did you ever think that you would still be following Alex's adventures a further five books down the line?
I had only the most abstract idea that somebody might read that first book and maybe like it
enough to consider publishing it.
Everything else after that, especially the Edgar Award, has been beyond my wildest dreams.
Of the six Alex McKnight books that you have so far penned, which are you the most proud of - and why is that?
In a way, it's the second book, Winter of the Wolf Moon.
If your first book does reasonably well, you have to prove to yourself that you can do it again,
that the first one wasn't just a fluke. Winter was colder and darker than the first book, and it had my favourite scene, too (The ice shanty).
Do you find it easy to come up with storylines or do you really have to work hard at it?
It feels like hard work, and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. I never have the full story in my head when I start, not even close. I just think of an interesting beginning and go. And I hope I don't get lost.
You were brought up in Michigan. Is the area around the settlement of paradise really as harsh as it sounds when it snows up there?
I was up there this summer and they were reminiscing about a winter storm in 1995. In 24 hours they got six feet of snow. I think that sums it up pretty well.
You now live in New York City and as well as writing you work for IBM? How do you ever find the time to balance so much in your life?
I'm lucky for a couple different reasons. The people I work with at IBM have been really fantastic about everything, totally supportive and proud of what I've been able to do. And at home, my wife Julia has been so great. She was able to quit her job, so that's made it easier. It's crazy sometimes, but it helps that I get to do the one thing that I've always wanted to do.
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