Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Charles Ardai

At The Rap Sheet’s spin-off blog, Killer Covers, J. Kingston Pierce interviewed author and Hard Case Crime publisher Charles Ardai "on the subjects of paperback design, how he works with cover artists old and new, the origins of his popular paperback imprint, how idiosyncratic American tastes affect its jackets, and the future of both HCC and its newer sister line, The Adventures of Gabriel Hunt."

Part of their dialogue:

JKP: Late last year, you celebrated the issuing of your line’s 50th book, which you’d written: Fifty-to-One. That screwball-noir novel used all of the preceding HCC book titles as chapter headings, and its plot concerned crimes associated with a small book-publishing company in mid-20th-century Manhattan, coincidentally called Hard Case Crime. How did that project come into being?

CA: I wasn’t sure what to do to commemorate the 50th book, but I wanted to do something special, and one of my notions was to get all of our living writers to write a short story, and the twist would be that each writer would tell a new story based on the title of another writer’s book. So, for instance, I sent Stephen King a note suggesting some plots that might go with the title Lemons Never Lie (it could be about a used-car salesman!), and I wrote to Don Westlake with some ideas about what he could do with the title The Colorado Kid (it could be about a boxer!). And basically no one liked this idea ... except me. I had such a blast coming up with new meanings for all our titles that I decided I’d just write the whole book myself and use all 50 titles, and use them in order, too. I love ridiculous challenges like that.

JKP: You wrote Fifty-to-One under your own name. But your two earlier books--Little Girl Lost (2004) and Songs of Innocence--both carried the byline “Richard Aleas.” Why did you adopt that pseudonym, and are you still glad you did?

CA: I did it originally for two reasons: a...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Little Girl Lost.

My Book, The Movie: Little Girl Lost.

--Marshal Zeringue