Friday, May 21, 2021

Wallace Stroby

Wallace Stroby is an award-winning journalist and crime novelist.

His new novel is Heaven's a Lie.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I look at it as an invitation. It sets tone and mood, if nothing else. I always have a lot of titles on hand, but it’s never easy to find the right one for a particular project. Usually the best titles come to you immediately, as opposed to the ones you have to think over. As far as how much the title relates to the book, I don’t think that’s important. Readers will always make a connection on their own as to what it means, maybe not one you ever even imagined. They always bring something to it themselves.

Heaven’s A Lie was a title I borrowed from a song called “The World Ender,” by the band Lord Huron. There was some resistance to that title at first from the publisher, and they dummied up a cover with an alternate title, but I kept coming back to Heaven’s A Lie because I thought it was unique and had some energy to it. Whether or not the title ultimately has anything to do with the book is up to the reader to decide.

How surprised would your teenage reader self be by your new novel?

He would be disappointed that I haven’t written more frequently. I’ve only published nine novels in 18 years.

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

Neither of them are especially hard. What’s hard is the halfway/three-quarter mark. I don’t start a book until I know what the first scene is, so that generally never changes. As the writing goes on, I usually have an idea for the ending. The details may change, but there are certain things that need to happen for dramatic purposes. For example, when the three guys in Jaws go hunting for the shark, they have to find it, or the story doesn’t work. How they do it and who survives are almost secondary. You have to get from Point A to Point B, but there are different ways of doing that. I always like to quote director Sam Peckinpah on the three basics of storytelling – Introduce, develop, resolve.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Movies, of course. For me growing up, movies were like church. I saw a lot of classic 1970s films on first-run. That period also focused on character-driven crime films, as opposed to the action and special effects showcases prevalent today. That probably helped shape my own sensibility when I started to write novels myself decades later. In 1974 alone, Chinatown, The Conversation, Godfather II, Death Wish, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia, The Gambler, Sugarland Express and a dozen other notable crime dramas all came out within weeks of each other. It really was a golden age for crime films.
Learn more about the author and his novels at the official Wallace Stroby website and The Heartbreak Blog.

The Page 69 Test: Gone 'til November.

The Page 69 Test: Cold Shot to the Heart.

The Page 69 Test: Kings of Midnight.

The Page 69 Test: The Devil's Share.

The Page 69 Test: Heaven's a Lie.

--Marshal Zeringue