Jim Fusilli's new novel is Billboard Man. From his Q & A with J. Kinston Pierce at The Rap Sheet:
J. Kingston Pierce: Between 2001 and 2004, you published a quartet of novels featuring New York writer-turned-private eye Terry Orr, beginning with Closing Time and concluding with Hard, Hard City. But then you conceded in an interview that the P.I.-fiction field wasn’t necessarily the best place for your writing. What is it about the Sam Jellico/Donnie Bliss books [Road to Nowhere and Billboard Man] that fits better with your desires and expectations as a novelist?--Marshal Zeringue
Jim Fusilli: I feel I outgrew the first-person narrative style that I used in the first four novels. Or at least I was eager to experiment with craft. I thought I’d put myself in a box and I wanted to do more. I was getting better simply because of the demands of having to do a novel a year. I was watching what Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and Michael Connelly were doing, writers I had a chance to got to know a bit, and I saw they were writers who wrote crime stories, not “crime writers.” I wanted to reposition myself to be a writer first, regardless of genre and even if I loved genre-writing best of all.
Also, as you can imagine, I’m influenced deeply by musicians and the ones I admire the most always seem to want to stretch and to challenge themselves. I wanted to hold myself to the same standards I was demanding of musicians I was writing about for the Journal.
In the Sam series, the canvas is much broader: the entire U.S. vs. New York City. The stories are populated with people from a variety of backgrounds and geographic locations. Also, I’m using techniques that are popular in high-end TV these days, where I think we’re seeing great writing: fast-cutting from one plot point to another; many characters who contribute to advancing the arc of the story; threads that seem unrelated, yet come together slowly; and...[read on]