Monday, March 4, 2013

Janice Steinberg

Janice Steinberg is an award-winning arts journalist who has published more than four hundred articles in The San Diego Union-Tribune, Dance Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere. She is also the author of five mystery novels, including the Shamus Award–nominated Death in a City of Mystics. She has taught novel writing at the University of California, San Diego extension, and dance criticism at San Diego State University.

Her latest novel is The Tin Horse.

From a Q & A at Steinberg's website:

Please tell us how you came to write the story of THE TIN HORSE.

I recently came across the terrific idea of “watershed books”–books that get you through a rough time. My watersheds were the noir mystery novels of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, which I read and reread during a time when I felt a need to hang out with protagonists who were tough and fearless. Alas, reading noir fiction did not make me tough. In those stories of hard-boiled men and fast women, there was just one extremely marginal character with whom I felt a real kinship: an unnamed woman in Chandler’s The Big Sleep. Philip Marlowe, the detective, wants information about a sleazy Hollywood bookseller. He enters a legitimate bookstore and flashes a badge at the woman working there, and she and Marlowe engage in crisp intellectual parrying in which she gives as good as she gets.

The woman is reading a law book, intriguing in itself since The Big Sleep was published in 1939; how many women went to law school then? But what really grabbed me was the way Chandler introduced her: “She had the fine-drawn face of an intelligent Jewess.” That word, Jewess, suggests such a profound otherness, as if–although she and Marlowe walked down some of the same streets–she lived in a very different Los Angeles. And the brief scene made me hungry to know more about this nameless woman. Who was she? What was her story? What was her Los Angeles?

Like many novelists, I love...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Janice Steinberg's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Tin Horse.

--Marshal Zeringue