Noir crime fiction has been around forever, and yet it’s beginning a renaissance in genre fiction. The wheel never gets invented the same way twice, however. Duane Swierczynski’s latest release, THE BLONDE, is a good example of the fresh spin novelists are bringing to an old classic. The novel’s pacing is bullet-fast, the characters weird and compelling, and the prose tight. We are pleased to bring you part two of WU’s interview with Duane Swierczynski.
Q: Last week you mentioned that you’d turned one of your screenplays into a novel. Do you think writing screenplays helps when it comes to writing novels?
DS: To a certain degree. Screenplays are essentially action and dialogue, and those are a fun set of limitations to play around with. I think some beginning novelists forget that a story has to move, that every word has to count, and writing screenplays can help you learn that. But then again, novels can do a lot of things screenplays and movies can’t, which makes it exciting. Special effects are dirt cheap with a novel. No CGI required!
Q: The namesake protagonist in THE BLONDE literally possesses the kiss of death and leaves a trail of bodies to prove it. A secondary protagonist is a hit man working for the Department of Homeland Security, and he’s engaged in his own private vendetta. Both are potentially unsympathetic characters, yet the reader ends up rooting for them. Are you drawn to anti-heroes as a rule, and why? Can you share any tips for making an unlikable character likable?
DS: I love anti-heroes. In fact, I find it hard to write about the ordinary schlubs–even though, in real life, I am one. It’s probably geek wish-fulfillment.
One way to make an unsavory character someone you want to spend some quality time with is to give them really good motivation. Somebody who dressed up in black rubber and beats the hell out of people would be considered a violent deviant; but throw in a pair of dead parents, a pearl necklace and a botched robbery, and you’ve got Batman. We know why he’s doing it. And we love it.