Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Doug M. Cummings

Doug M. Cummings, author of Deader By the Lake and Every Secret Crime, was interrogated by Julia Buckley at her Mysterious Musings blog.

Two questions from the interview:

Would you cite any particular author(s) as an influence on your mystery writing style?

I’ve always tried (and failed) to write description like John D. He could draw us into scene just by telling us how someone looked or wore their clothes. James Lee Burke is another writer who creates an incredible sense of place and character. Burke, Ross MacDonald, (and Chandler and Hammett) all have helped me understand that the hero of a crime novel, while somewhat larger than life, should nevertheless be a real person with flaws and emotional burdens. Asa Baber, the delightful and iconoclastic author and Playboy columnist, was also a significant influence. I took a short-story writing class from him a few years before his death. After reading a piece I’d written where the hero was ever so gallant and the bad guy disgustingly villainous, he made one comment: “Consider the true nature of evil.” It’s something I’ve tried to do in everything I’ve written since.

Wow! Great story, Doug. And a thought-provoking comment.

David Morrell says that you write about “Suburbia’s dark underside.” Just how dark is our underside? :)

Covering crime, you see a lot of darkness in the ‘burbs. Well-to-do families that seem happy and together on the outside until the son kills the father because he doesn’t like the way he plays the piano, or a mom who poisons and then smothers her three kids because her M.D. husband is divorcing her. Even more than that, you see the way communities, mostly wealthy communities, try to cover up the bad things and how they encourage their cops to stonewall the media. Although I have to say, I’m grateful for those experiences because they led me to write Every Secret Crime.
Read the full Q & A.

Visit Doug M. Cummings website.

--Marshal Zeringue