Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Stefanie Pintoff

Stefanie Pintoff is the author of a historical mystery series where early criminal science meets the dark side of old New York. Her debut novel, In the Shadow of Gotham, won the Edgar® Award for Best First Novel and the St. Martin’s Press / Mystery Writers of America Best First Crime Novel Award, while also earning nominations for the Agatha and RT Reviewer’s Choice Awards. Her second in the series, A Curtain Falls, released in May 2010.

Pintoff's new novel Secret of the White Rose releases later this month.

From her Q & A with Ayo Onatade at Shots:

For those of us who don’t know much about you would you mind giving us a bit of background information?

I got the chance of a lifetime when my first manuscript won a writing contest. It was the annual unpublished mystery contest that Minotaur Books sponsors with Mystery Writers of America. And the prize was what every would-be writer desires most a publishing contract. That manuscript was In the Shadow of Gotham. And a year later, it was on bookstore shelves everywhere.

Have you always wanted to write?

Yes – as is probably natural for anyone who loves reading stories as much as I do. And like most fiction writers, I’ve always written extensively – even when I was doing other things.

What were you looking for in a novel that made historical crime fiction so attractive?

I became fascinated by early criminal science and how it was being used to solve crime at the turn of the last century. By 1905, more innovative criminal scientists were beginning to challenge the prevailing opinion that criminal behavior resulted from a flaw of nature – a view popularized by Lombroso’s theory of the “born criminal.” Scientists like my Alistair Sinclair sought to disprove these notions by interviewing and learning from a variety of violent offenders. This practice was not uncommon, but it was highly controversial people worried that if we came to understand the criminal too well, and then we might excuse (and not punish) his or her behavior.

Can you tell us a bit about the characters that you created? Are they based on people that you know?

I came up with a pair of heroes who are flawed and unlikely partners. My criminologist, Alistair Sinclair, is loosely based on one of my law professors at Columbia – someone who was as academically brilliant as he was enamored of the high life in NYC. I conceived of the down-to-earth Simon Ziele to be his perfect foil. Simon’s character is loosely drawn from the best traits of certain people I’ve known. Alistair’s academic learning complements Simon’s street-sense.

What makes a character real for you? Must you work out everything about them before hand or do you just let it flow?

Definitely the...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: In the Shadow of Gotham.

The Page 69 Test: A Curtain Falls.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Stefanie Pintoff & Ginger.

--Marshal Zeringue