The day before my book release (which is Tuesday, May 14 at Skylight Books in LA), the Los Angeles Review of Books reviewed my new novel, Dead Extra. It’s a very thoughtful, professional review. To answer all the questions that my wife asked me about the review: No, I didn’t write it myself. No, I don’t know the author. We have never met. Again, no, I promise that “Glenn Harper” is a real reviewer for LARB and not my pen name.
Also, I was interviewed for Speaking of Mysteries a few weeks back, and the interview went live today. You can listen to it here. Or you can get it through iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever else you get podcasts.
And I want to add two serendipitous things about the review and interview.
- I’m currently reading Denise Mina’s The Long Drop. I picked it up because I saw it in a bookstore recently, and I remembered reading a great review about it a couple of years ago. The guy who just reviewed Dead Extra wrote that review. So I’m reading a book recommended by the reviewer who is now recommending my book. I know that doesn’t put me in a class with Denise Mina, but maybe someday.
- I used a landline for the Speaking of Mysteries interview with Nancie Clare. The only landline I have access to is in my office at the university, which is on the former grounds of the Camarillo State Mental Hospital. So I was sitting on the grounds of the old hospital when Nancy was interviewing me about it. It was so weird to sit there, thinking about the horrors from the old hospital days, talking about them, and looking out over the student union where the flowers were in bloom and students were doing college things.
Unincorporated Carswell, West Virginia.
Originally, the term “redneck” referred to striking coal miners. In 1920, coal operators raised a private army to attack the miners. The miners fought back. They raised an army ten thousand strong and wore red bandannas around their necks so they could identify each other. Out-of-state journalists started calling them “rednecks.” About a third of the original rednecks were immigrants. Another third of the original rednecks were African American.
The original rednecks were part of the largest armed conflict in the US since the Civil War, an incident known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. I’m fascinated with this part of American history. I went to West Virginia this past summer to research the Battle of Blair Mountain and the general labor tensions. Hopefully, this research will develop into a book project.
Another writer who was fascinated by this stuff is James M. Cain. Before Cain became one of the greatest crime writers of all time, he was a journalist for the Baltimore Sun. He covered the West Virginia Mine Wars.
If you want to learn more about all this, skip Wikipedia and check out my article “James M. Cain and the West Virginia Mine Wars” on Los Angeles Review of Books.
Steph Cha recently interviewed me for the Los Angeles Review of Books. It was refreshing to work with Steph. Almost everyone else wanted to talk about the ukulele aspect of my books, which makes sense. The work “ukulele” is in the title. I talk about ukuleles a lot. I even have a picture of a uke on this post. Still, the books isn’t really about ukuleles. It’s about writers. Steph picked up on that and wanted to talk about the writers and the stories behind the stories. I think it came out really well.
You can read the interview here.
While I’m at it, I’ll point out that Steph Cha is a pretty badass noir writer herself. Check out her Juniper Song series, starting with Follow Her Home.