Thursday, November 5, 2009

Derek Nikitas

Derek Nikitas teaches creative writing at Eastern Kentucky University. Pyres, his first novel, was an Edgar nominee. His new novel is The Long Division.

From his 2008 interview with New Mystery magazine:

Given your academic pedigree (the MFA, published stories in Ontario Review), what drew you to crime fiction?

I got psyched about crime fiction while at UNCW. I took a crime fiction class and a saw a lot of film noir, so there was never any razor-wire fence between my academic and my aesthetic stomping grounds.

Yeah, there's some truth to the divide between academic "literary" fiction and beach "commercial crime" fiction, since nobody would accuse James Patterson or the Kellermans of being "literary," and nobody would call Dom DeLillo or Lorrie Moore "commercial." But my heroes shred that line: Vladimir Nabokov, Joyce Carol Oates, James Ellroy, Michael Chabon, Denis Johnson, Tom Franklin. These folks tell page-turning tales of crime and mayhem, but they've got deep character, rich language, and rebel story structures. So I'm looking to these guys for my inspiration, generally.

Still, I was surprised when an actual police detective entered Pyres. I'd written a hundred pages before I realized I'd be tossing around that particular convention. I resisted some, but Investigator Hurd is tougher than I am.

But do you think there's still a bias in academia to exile genre fiction to some kind of literary ghetto?

I can’t speak for all of academia, but...[read on]
Read an excerpt from The Long Division, and learn more about the book and author at the official Derek Nikitas website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Long Division.

--Marshal Zeringue