Please welcome Ben Solomon, author of The Hard-Boiled Detective I.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Waking up after enough sleep. A lot of coffee, a little writing. Warm sun in a blue sky, sitting out with my girlfriend, espresso in hand, watching the people go by.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Coffee and ankara e-juice. (I think Poe would be vaping if he was alive today.)
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
James Cagney. An amazing actor. Amazingly overlooked.
Raymond Chandler. Refined the PI genre. His writes with such simplicity and strength.
Picasso. He said it took him a lifetime to learn to paint like a child. I never tire of cubism.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Silence is the best music, but good tunes are a great speed alternative. I dig Pandora regularly for Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Bix Beiderbecke, Django Reinhardt and Sing Sing Sing.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
Dark as noir.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I grew up watching the Warner Brothers tough guys. I fell in love with the characters and their stories, the simple, forceful narratives, the style, the patter. All of it. Could I translate that spirit onto the page? That’s the shot I wanted to take.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Right and wrong, good versus evil. Sounds pat when you set it down. But we’re a gray species struggling to find black and white in constantly shifting, blended hues. The PI hero in my stories fits the tradition of the western hero and goes all the way back to knights rough-housing with dragons. My gumshoe’s got his code of ethics and professional standards, and his clients continually squeeze his ability to live by them.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Can I sidestep this one, kind of turn it inside-out? The Hard-Boiled Detective I is the first collection from my throwback PI series of short stories. I purposely crafted the adventures as stand-alones. No back story. No ongoing subplots. No “to be continued.” The PI never ages and his wrecked car is always repaired in the next yarn. The form’s a valentine to old comics and serials and early Hollywood. Even the PI hasn’t got a name.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Call him Bogie-Marlowe-Goodwin. Hard-nosed. Cynical. Smart ass. His own man and a lone man whose head can’t be turned by a good set of gams or a stack of lettuce. He tries to keep his nose clean, fights for truth and justice, and tries to make a living…but it ain’t easy.
If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
That’s a trip to consider. How about Poe, Twain, Thomas Mann, Chandler, Hammett and Spillane? That could be a lively crowd once they got going, but I don’t know if I could afford the bar bill.
What’s next for you?
The next three stories in the monthly series are always due, so there’s that. And I’ve already got enough material for another three books right now. I’m thinking of pulling together the next collection for a late winter or spring release.
Ben Solomon grew up with Picasso, Cagney and Beethoven. Classical arts training, comic books and Hollywood’s golden age rounded out his education and provided inspiration for a lifetime. He’s worked across many disciplines, attempting to capture the heart and soul of music onto canvas, translate oils and celluloid into words. Solomon’s passion for the tough guy world of early gangster and PI flicks led to the creation of “The Hard-Boiled Detective,” a short story series starring a nameless gumshoe in a throwback era seeking truth, justice, and sometimes a living. He launched the ongoing series online in February 2013, offering three yarns a month to subscribers. His sleuth has appeared in e-zines across the web as well as the 2014 anthology The Shamus Sampler II. Another adventure is scheduled to appear in an upcoming anthology published by Fox Spirit Books. He published the first collection from the series, The Hard-Boiled Detective I, in August 2014.