From time to time, we relish the chance to introduce you to mystery writers you might not have already discovered. This week, it’s Al Lamanda, formerly of New York City and now nestled along Little Sebago Lake. If you haven’t read this Edgar-nominated crime writer, you’re in for a treat. And check out his book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1id2qHjVDk&feature=youtu.be
1. Tell us about your most recent release.
Sunrise is my most recent release. It is the sequel to my 2012 Edgar Award nominated mystery novel Sunset. It picks up where Sunset left off, with former cop, now PI John Bekker trying to put his life back together after a decade of drinking, and repair relationships with his daughter and old friends all the while tackling the new and deadly challenge of trying to stop a serial killer.
2. What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
An agent once told me that I didn’t have the talent necessary to make it in today’s market. He said I wasn’t fresh and new. A year or so later, after Sunset was nominated for the Edgar Award, this same agent who didn’t remember me called and asked if I needed an agent.
3. Are the names of the characters in your novels important?
Yes, very important. Readers make connections with characters and their names. If a name is too long or confusing a great character can be forgotten or overlooked. That is the reason in an action movie the names of characters all tend to be short and memorable like James Bond or Rambo.
4. What about the titles of your novels?
I write all my novels without a title. The title comes to me as I write. A chapter or scene will jump out at me and whisper the title in my ear.
5. Ever dispatched someone and then regretted it?
Yes. The mobster in Sunset. It would have been fun to have him stick around a while longer, at least one or two more books.
6. What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Dedication to your craft. Write every day if possible. Grow a thick skin when it comes to rejection, but also be willing and open-minded when it comes to constructive criticism as many times you can learn a great deal from criticism geared toward making you a better writer and your story a better story. Learn your market. Nothing will drive a writer more insane than sending a hundred query letters and receiving a hundred rejections because you sent them to the wrong agents. By wrong I mean an agent seeking YA and you sent them your mystery/thriller. Doing your research will definitely help to keep you sane. So will having an outlet to vent stress. For me it’s a trip to the gym four times a week where I work up a sweat and clear my mind. Whatever works for you as a stress release should be practiced regularly.
7. What is the single most powerful challenge when it comes to writing novel?
Finishing it. I know at least a dozen writers that have been working on the same novel for years and years and never seem to finish it. I believe this is because they don’t trust their ability and talent to tell a story. They constantly change chapters and plot twists over and over again, always second guessing themselves. Learn to trust yourself and your talent and then finish what you’ve started.
8. Are you jealous of other writers?
No, never. I know how difficult it is to get published. In most cases it takes years and years of hard work, dedication and hundreds of rejection notices. How could I ever be jealous of someone who achieved success knowing what it took for them to get there?
9. Is there anyone who inspired you and made you who you are today?
Elmore Leonard, the greatest crime writer ever. I first read him forty-five years ago when he wrote westerns and I thought he had the greatest ear for dialog I had ever read. That gift for dialog carried over to his crime novels. Reading him inspired me to get myself in gear and go for it.
10. What’s the thing you’re most satisfied with?
I’m never satisfied. I don’t think any artist is, be it actor, director, musician, writer, painter. For me there is always that feeling of I can do better. I believe that is what drives me to keep writing, that belief that I can do better. I think the day that I actually am satisfied is the day that I stop.
And a question we always like to ask our authors: Tell us about a special Maine place that our readers might not know about.
Al: We travel the state a great deal and visit many out of the way places, but one place most people in Maine probably never heard of is Jockey Cap in Fryeburg. Most people know of the Fryeburg Fair in the fall, but few know of Jockey Cap. It’s a mountain trail in Fryeburg off Route 302 on the way into Fryeburg that is an easy climb and has the most spectacular views anywhere, especially in the fall.
Welcome Al. Hope you decide to become a regular. I really agree with #7. If I hadn’t boxed myself into a really promising corner recently, i would still be avoiding ending my science fiction novel.
Al, you are so right about finishing what you’ve started. I’ve been struggling with my sequel to “Shedding Light on Murder” for far too long. You’ve reminded me that I need to have faith in myself and get the job done.
Congratulations on your success.
I spent many summers as a kid at Sebago Lake at a place called Goodwins Lodge. It’s pretty much gone now, but what wonderful times we had there. Lucky you!
Welcome to Maine Crime Writers, Al! I agree with you, as well. A lot of writing is having the courage to make decisions. (And sometimes to unmake them, and remake them, but you have to make them in the first place.)