Michael Koryta: no age jokes here
Excerpt from the interview by Gary Warren Niebuhr in the June/July 2007 issue of Mystery News
In 2003 it was announced by St. Martin's Minotaur and the Private Eye Writers of America that their Best First PI Novel Contest winner was a twenty-year-old writer named Michael Koryta. Michael worked as a newspaper reporter and for a private eye while still in high school and was now an Indiana University student. The next year, at age twenty-one, his book hit the streets
The burning question then becomes: does this guy have chops? Thankfully, the answer is yes.
But before we deal with that I had a chance to talk to the author about being the youngest gunslinger. "I'm going to have a mid-life crisis at 29, I think," joked Michael. "One of these years I'll walk into the bar at Bouchercon and nobody will make an age joke, and I won't be able to handle that, will feel lost and forgotten. Really, I've never minded the age thing, and I always hope that people are able to judge the books by their merit, rather than by my age, whether that helps or hurts. It is a double-edged sword, giving me a marketing hook but also threatening to keep people from taking the work as seriously , but there's nothing I can do about that."
I asked if that marketing still makes Michael feel like the new kid on the block. "Honestly, I don't. I've had three books published now, and I've written five, so as a writer I feel I have some seasoning. The rest of the world might disagree, and I understand that, but I think the real key to evolving as a writer is to keep taking novels from beginning to end, because that's how you learn and grow. I've done that for a while now, regardless of age."
Part of marketing Michael has to be his great titles. I asked how a title suggests itself to him. "In each of the first three books, I had the title long before I had the story. I get hung up on a phrase that has (to me, at least) some touch of mystery and power and resonance. Sorrow's Anthem came to me when I was working as a police beat reporter and came to the scene of a fatal accident. I listened to that blend of sirens, heard how deeply haunting it was, and tried to come up with a phrase that captured it."
So, what is Michael doing with his life right now? "School is done, finally, so I write and work part-time as an investigator for the same agency that agreed to train me when I was coming out of high school. Quit the newspaper job about a year ago." And what is next for Michael? "I'm working on a standalone right now, which may or may not be the next thing the readers see. It's third-person, multiple point of view, which is all new for me, and though it is a crime novel there's not a PI or detective in the book. Right now, I love it. Check in with me next week, and that might have changed."
Read the complete interview in the June/July 2007 issue of Mystery News