Reed Farrel Coleman: no regrets
Excerpt from the interview by Chris Aldrich in the October/November 2006 issue of Mystery News
Although Reed Farrel Colemans been writing crime fiction and getting critical notice for more than fifteen years, his sixth novel (and the third to feature NYC cop-turned-wineseller/PI Moe Prager) The James Deans hit the award circuit big-time this year. With nominations for an Edgar, a Shamus, an Anthony, a Barry, a Macavity and a Gumshoe, you might think that Coleman might be resting on his laurels and living it up.
No way, no how! 2006 has been a year of much accomplishment for Reed Coleman. In January, he accepted the position of Executive Director of the Mystery Writers of America, where hes been working closely with MWA President Janet Evanovich to shake up and modernize the decades-old organization. In the first eight months of this year he also worked on a book with Ken Bruen, started collaborating with an illustrator friend on a graphic novel, wrote Soul Patch (the fourth Moe Prager book), wrote Gun Bunnies (the second Joe Serpe novel) and is working on another project with another author that he wont say any more about.
Hes got two books out this year the first, an anthology of short stories called Hardboiled Brooklyn...The second, Hose Monkey, which is due out this month, is the start of a new series. The protagonist is a disgraced former NYC cop named Joe Serpe whos lost his marriage, his self-respect, and, on September 11, 2001, his firefighter brother. Serpe now divides his time between driving a truck for a heating oil company and drinking, with some self-pity thrown in for good measure. When Serpes former helper, a mentally retarded young man named Cain Cohen who is the hose monkey of the title, gets beaten up and is left to die in an oil tank, Serpe feels compelled to investigate. Coleman himself drives an oil truck on Long Island some winters and he presents a completely credible picture of that world. Serpe gets help from a repentant former Internal Affairs detective and an attractive psychologist as he doggedly pursues justice for Cain Cohen. Along the way, he learns some hard truths about the past.
I wasnt going to write another Moe book until the contract situation was clarified. Moe was too good a character to just write a book that no one would ever publish. Id rather keep it in my head. So I had this other idea. You know, writing teachers are forever telling people write what you know about. I wrote a short story called Invisibility about this oil driver who was an ex-New York City cop and his story about being a cop is only alluded to through his delivering oil. So I read this story at a library at which SJ Rozan read and SJ came up to me afterward and said I want to know more about that guy theres a book there. So I came home and said Is there? This guy hes very un-Moe. Wouldnt it be great to take a break from Moe and write an un-Moe."
Dont look for Colemans name on the book. Its being published under the pseudonym of Tony Spinosa. Why a pseudonym? If Plume had picked up my contract, I would have kept it a secret. But they didnt, so theres no contractual thing about competing against myself."
Read the complete interview in the October/November 2006 issue of Mystery News