We received an advance review copy of the book, and found it an unforgettable, harrowing read by a masterful author. To say the book is "gritty" does not go far enough: it's Tarentino-esque. Some scenes are hard to read and will stay with you. Throughout it, though, the main characters - a husband-and-wife hit team - are loveable and it's easy to identify with them. A fast-paced, engaging story... lovers of thrillers and dark noir are in good hands under the writing pen of this author.
There's a blog tour underway where you can read more interviews with Edward and reviews of his books - check that out here.
Read our conversation with Edward Lorn!
Congratulations on your new novel. In a few words, how would you describe your book to someone who hasn't heard about it?
Hope for the Wicked is a gritty thriller about a married couple who are retired contract killers. After a job gone wrong, Larry and Maureen (Mo) Laughlin decide to open a private investigation firm so they may seek a life of normalcy. Thing aren't going well, and money’s tight, so when their handler, Tommy Kirsch, offers them a job working for Jacob and Bernice Trudeau, the two PIs jump into action. But the job's a little more complicated than they first expected. The Trudeau's daughter Amy has been kidnapped. Amy's mother wants her daughter found, but she also wants the men responsible for Amy's disappearance dead. Jacob offers Larry and Mo two million for their services, a fee the Laughlins can't refuse. What the wayward couple finds in Mexico will change them forever.
Larry and Mo are interesting, realistic, and well-developed characters. And likeable, even as they go about their nefarious projects and unspeakable acts. Please tell us they aren't based on any real persons!
Aside from the killing, they are based on my wife and me—the interactions we have and our undying love for one another. We're a goofy pair, but my wife is a bit more professional than I am. She likes to get to the heart of the matter, whereas I just tend to be along for the ride. I instilled in Larry my own sarcastic humor, but Mo got my wife's No-BS attitude. In the end, though, Larry and Mo are their own people.
Can you comment as to how you as an author developed the two main characters, and created likeability in the midst of their outrageous actions?
That's a good question and one I'm not a hundred percent sure I can answer. Aside from their foundations—being built off my wife and I—Larry and Mo grew into their own personas. I don't do character outlines, biographies, or anything else like that. I just sit back and write. The couple were going to turn out one of two ways: Either you'd appreciate their passion for trying to make the world a better place, or you'd loathe them for committing the acts of violence they dispatch on their prey. To me, it's rather hard to feel bad for the type of people Larry and Mo go after. As a parent, I don't think I could hold back physical violence toward someone who touched my child in a sexual way. And even though the Laughlins are not parents, their pasts come into play. They don't want to see any child suffer what they went through, so with that in mind, I believe that justifies their actions, and to an extent, even makes them likeable.
Your book has graphic scenes of torture - well-written and creating some "can't-look-but-can't-turn-away" moments for the reader. Elements of the book remind us of a combination of Quentin Tarentino and dark noir. Can you cite some of your writing influences?
Tarentino, huh? Interesting. I never thought about him while writing Hope for the Wicked, but I can see the connection, especially with his movie Pulp Fiction. I'm a fan of Tarentino's work, so I'll take that as a compliment. Thank you. As far as influences I know about, I come from the school of Richard Laymon. Get in, get dirty, and get out. I don't want to tarry too long on the graphic stuff. I give the reader just enough information so that they can build the scenes in their own heads. I'm a very visual writer, but not in the sense that I'm verbose in my descriptions. What I mean is, my books play out in my head as if they were movies. During tense or graphic scenes, I'm on the outside looking in, watching everything as it goes down, but I have control over the camera's zoom function. If I zoom in too close, I see more than I want to, the kind of nasty I choose not to dwell on, so I try and be quick with my panoramas. I know what scene you're talking about, and it was no fun to write. I simply wanted it out of my head. I definitely get that from reading Richard Laymon novels.
The story is told by Larry in the first person. Can you comment on your writing decision to use that viewpoint, and any special challenges it created during the writing process?
The biggest challenge when writing anything in the first person is not being able to play with the other characters as much. James Patterson is known for doing the whole first person/third person bouncing around, but I'm not a fan of it. I always want to know how in the world the narrator knew what was happening in the third person sections. That's just me, though.
There's a simple, and rather boring, explanation for why I choose to write in either first or third person. I write by the seat of my pants, meaning I sit down without any outlines or plotting having previously been done, and just write. Whoever starts telling the story, I stick with them. Other than my short stories, the only thing I've ever published in third person was my sophomore effort, Dastardly Bastard, and that was only because everyone in the book seemed to have a story to tell. I feel most comfortable in first person, though. I can achieve the conversational tone I've become known for much easier in a first-person narrative. I enjoy telling stories, always have, and stepping into the narrator's head and getting intimate with their thoughts works best for me.
How long did it take you to write the novel? Can you give us some insights into your approach?
This question always makes me cringe, because when I answer it, my response always sounds like I'm bragging. Oh well, here we go. Three full days, consecutively. I don't spend long on my books. I have ADD, and if I put something off for too long, I lose the entire feel of the piece and end up trashing it. My characters want their stories told, and they want them told now! If I ignore them, they jaunt off to other locations, maybe even to other writers who can show them the attention they deserve. I like to think that's why we see so many writers tackling the same types of characters. They start a project, take too long, then their characters leave them for another author, but the original writer presses on and forces the rest of his story into completion. Yeah, that's the closest to conspiracy theorizing as I'll ever go. But you know I'm right. How many times have you read a book and thought, "I read another book with a character in it that was just like the character in this book." Some of us play it off as coincidence, while some of us swear up and down the second author plagiarized the first author's character construct. I'd like to think that the first author was just too slow and their character played runaway bride.
We found the pace of the story really engaging, from opening scene to final resolutions. The ending of each chapter compels one to continue reading. Can you describe your technique for creating the flow of the story?
If I could get away with it, I wouldn't have chapters in my work whatsoever. I understand the importance of them, but I don't like them. I don't want to give the reader a good place to stop. Seriously, why would I want anyone to ever put my book down? There is no good reason, not even a potty break. I want your full-on attention. If you can put my book down without regretting it, I've done something horribly wrong. The books I enjoy the most, the ones I remember vividly, are those that I take with me everywhere, chancing a stubbed toe or perhaps even tripping over the dog because I can't force my eyes away from the pages. I want people to do the same thing with my work. One of the big decisions I made about a quarter of the way into Hope for the Wicked was that I never wanted to let up. I wanted to keep the reader's mind working at a significant pace. I think I achieve this by not using filler material. I don't ruminate on weather patterns or wallpaper or even character descriptions too long. Move along, little doggie, we have places to go and people to do! Wait... I might have gotten that last line a wee bit mixed up.
What advice would you give to other writers or would-be writers?
Write everything that pops into your mind, be it fiction or your thoughts about everyday life. If you go into every piece expecting it to be publishable, you're doing yourself a great disservice. If you make no mistakes, you're not learning. As with film, not everything will make it into the big picture, nor will every completed project be salable work. For independent authors, when you finally find that piece you absolutely must show the world, hire an editor and listen to them. If you're going the traditional publishing route, have a friend read your book to you before submitting. If they stumble on a phrase, best believe other readers will as well.
Write because you want to, not for the money and fame, because if you force something out, your readers will know and will hold you accountable for their wasted time. Tell the truth, even in fiction. Write what you know, and all that jazz. Readers read as an escape, remember that above all else. If you wouldn't read what you've written, don't try to sell it to Joe Blow, thinking they'll buy your sick cow without knocking on your door a week later when Betsy's kicked the bucket on them. You owe it to your readers to provide them with only your best. All of we writers should consider ourselves to be in the customer service business. Without our customers, this writing gig is only a hobby.
Okay, let's get a bit more personal. Tell us five random things about you!
I'm the proud father of a beautiful seven-year-old girl, Autumn, and a ten-month-old boy, Chris, both of whom changed my life for the better.
My lovely wife, Michelle, is the glue that holds my fragmented world together. She is the light to my darkness.
I'm a dog person, though I love cats. For some reason, cats just don't like me.
I'm a nerd and proud of it. To all my fellow Whovians out there, Allons-y, Alonso!
Video games are a life-long passion of mine. If I ever got the invite, I would jump on writing a script for a video game in half a heartbeat.
Fans of horror and Tarentino will enjoy this well-written book. What's next in your writing plans?
The Laughlins will be back in Pennies for the Damned, but that will be much later this year. Before that, Red Adept Publishing will be releasing my next full-length novel, Life after Dane... maybe in the summer, but don't hold me to that. Then I have a zombie-ish style novel entitled Chucklers based on "He Who Laughs Last," a short story that's available in my collection, What the Dark Brings. And many, many more. I'll be a busy bee this year. Count on that.
Thanks for talking with us. We're pleased to feature your book on KindleBoards!
Thanks for having me!
Hope for the Wicked is available now to download to your Kindle!