Please welcome Rob Hart, author of the Ash McKenna novels. Take it away, Rob!
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I’m constantly swamped with work stuff, so any day where I feel like I made some headway is pretty good. Alternately, any day where I get to spend time with my wife and daughter and then realize I haven’t checked my phone in a while–that’s pretty nice, too.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?
Accessory: Swiss army knife.
Fragrance: Hell no.
Phrase/Expression: Swear words mostly.
Meal: I make a mean chili.
Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?
This is such a hard question because I could do this for days. I would say the book that stuck with me most from when I was a kid was Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The book that made me want to be a writer was Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk. The book I most often give as a gift is The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel. And my favorite book is In the City of Shy Hunters by Tom Spanbauer.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Music without words–ambient or electronic or classical. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Dan Romer. He’s an old pal who does film scores. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of his most recognizable. His score for Tomorrow We Disappear is incredible. Dan makes really good writing music.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
This is a really interesting question because I have no idea how to answer it. I’ll say a really fancypants milk chocolate, but I’m biased because I’m not a big fan of dark chocolate. Anything that’s fun to eat without being so light it feels cheap.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
A few years ago I visited Prague and within ten minutes of being there, I knew I wanted to set a book there. It’s an incredible city, and being able to revisit it, even through a novel, was a ton of fun.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Given the series is very much about a character finding his moral compass, I tend to gravitate toward violence, the consequences of it, moral right versus legal right. Mostly, pain, and the ramifications. Humans are the only species that cope with pain by trying to put it on other people.
Tell us about your main character.
Ash McKenna is an amateur private investigator. He’s a good kid who means well but sometimes makes a mess of things. In each book, he grows. And whereas the first three Ash books are very internal–there’s a lot of him struggling with the decisions he’d made–The Woman from Prague is very external. More him just trying to survive a bad situation. It was a lot of fun to write a book where I could turn him loose.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Henry Thompson (from the series by Charlie Huston)
Jack Taylor (from Ken Bruen’s books)
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
I’m going with all dead folks, because I might learn something I wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to learn. So: Charles Williams, Donald Westlake, Dorothy Hughes, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Cornell Woolrich.
What’s next for you?
Working on the fifth and final Ash McKenna book. The working title is Potter’s Field and it’s due sometime in 2018, probably summertime. After that, I’ve got some ideas…
Rob Hart is the author of New Yorked, nominated for an Anthony Award for Best First Novel, as well as City of Rose, South Village, and coming in July, The Woman from Prague. He is also the publisher at MysteriousPress.com and the class director at LitReactor. His short stories have appeared in publications like Thuglit, Needle, Joyland, and Helix Literary Magazine. Non-fiction has appeared at The Daily Beast, Salon, The Literary Hub, and Electric Literature. Scott Free, a novella he co-wrote will James Patterson, will be available in 2017. You can find him online at @robwhart and http://www.robwhart.com.