Monday, 14 November 2016

Interview with Ed Duncan

My guest today is Author, Ed Duncan. Ed graduated from Oberlin College with Honors in Romance Languages and from Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years and retired in 2012 to write and travel. In 2008 he wrote a legal text entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage, for which he provided annual updates through 2012.

Ed is a native of Gary, Indiana and currently lives outside of Cleveland. He is single and has three adult children.

Readers can connect with Ed on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Hi Ed, welcome to Just Books.

You could kick off by telling us what gets your creative juices flowing?
I'm inspired to write when I read great writing or hear it as spoken dialogue in films.  I've often said that The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett was the novel that first inspired me the write crime fiction.  The dialogue in that novel is simply superb in its realism and authenticity.  There are actually three movie versions of the novel, but the third starring Humphrey Bogart is the best of the three and the most well-known, in large part I believe because much of the dialogue is taken directly from the novel.

So when did you start writing for publication? What made you decide to put your work out there to be read by others?
Pigeon-Blood Red is the first work of fiction I've published.  The idea for the novel came to me in the mid-1990's while I was attending a legal conference in Honolulu.  I worked on it, off and on, in my spare time over the years but never had enough time to develop it fully.  I retired with the specific objective of doing that.  Writing a dry legal text gave me the confidence that I could write something completely different. 

What do you think the best thing about being an author is?
I haven't been an author of fiction long enough to say definitely, but in the short time since publishing my novel I can say that the best thing has been simply seeing my name in print and knowing that others will have an opportunity to appreciate what I've written. 
The best thing about writing my legal text was to read cases in which it was cited by judges.  That validated my work.

Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?
I do.  Paul Elliott  in my novel is a highly idealized (and greatly exaggerated) version of me.  Some of the things that happen to him actually happened to me.  Of course, others were completely fictional or exaggerated to some extent to make a better story.  Also, many of the places in Chicago and Honolulu that are described in the novel are places I've actually visited, and where possible I've attempted to describe them accurately.

Who is your favourite character from your book?
Rico is my favorite because he is the most dramatic and the most complex.  I intended to write Paul as the center of attention since he is my alter ego, but Rico fought me at every turn and eventually won me over.  As I think about him in retrospect, he is a composite of the heroes in three of my favorite movies:  Shane, starring Alan Ladd, Hombre, starring Paul Newman, and Bullitt, starring Steve McQueen.  (Interestingly two of these, Shane and Hombre, were based on novels, the latter of which was written by the great Elmore Leonard.)  All of these characters are essentially loners with a code of their own.  The main difference between them and Rico is that they are all on the right side of the law and he is not.  Otherwise, they are really quite similar.

...and how about your least favourite character?
Robert, the lying, conniving, unfaithful, failed businessman is my least favorite because he embodies all of the qualities that are antithetical to a good person.  That said, he was fun to write!

In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
Denzel Washington or Will Smith as Paul, John Hamm as Rico, Halle Berry, Zoe Saldana, Thandie Newton, or Gugu Mbatha -Raw as Evelyn, Terrence Howard as Robert, Gabrielle Union or Nia Long as Rachel, Scarlett Johansson or Charlize Theron as Jean, and Paul Giamatti as Litvak.

Can you tell us anything about any of your current work(s)-in-progress?
I am hard at work on the sequel to Pigeon-Blood Red.  It is untitled but is the second in the trilogy that began with Pigeon-Blood Red.  In it Paul and Rico form an uneasy alliance against a common foe who has a long-simmering grudge against Rico and who is also trying to silence Paul's teenage goddaughter who was a witness to a carjacking gone bad.

What advice would you give to your younger self?
Get started earlier and stick to it no matter how demanding your full time job is!

Do you listen to music while you write?
I generally don't listen to music while I write.  Occasionally if I'm writing late at night and can find a station playing jazz, I can write while listening to that, but that is the exception rather than the rule.

How do you spend your free time?
Since I'm retired, literally all my time is free beyond what I devote to writing.  I spend a lot of time reading both fiction and nonfiction, watching C-Span, and traveling as often as I can.  I try to make one trip per year to the Caribbean or Mexico and one to some far-flung place on the globe.  I'll be traveling to South Africa this Fall and to Hawaii in the Spring.  I hope to make it to China and Japan next Fall.  I also spend more time than I should watching programs/movies on HBO, Showtime, etc., and Netflix.

What books are you reading now?
Retribution by Max Hastings, Blue Heaven by C.J. Box, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Snake Walkers by J. Everett Prewitt, Burned by Valerie Plame, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, and Nothing to Lose by Lee Child.

What is the hardest thing you've ever done?
By far the hardest thing I've ever had to do was to be the one to break the news to someone for whom I cared deeply that a biopsy had come back positive for a very aggressive form of cancer.

If you had to move from Cleveland, where would you go and what would you miss the most about Cleveland?
I would move to the Hawaiian Islands and spend part of the year on each of them.  I just learned that Kauai is the setting for one of my all time favorite movie scenes.  It's the final shot of Katherine Turner lying on a lounge chair waiting to be served a tropical drink, with scenic mountains in the background and the tranquil, blue ocean below.

I would miss the change of seasons and my extended family who I'm sure couldn't visit often enough, but I can't imagine ever wanting to leave except for occasional visits to family and to jazz clubs and plays in New York City.

Who is your favourite actor of your own gender?
I have to cheat and give you three:  Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, and Denzel Washington.

Are you an early riser or a night owl?
I'm definitely a night owl.  I'm generally up until three or four o'clock at night, and I often do my best writing late at night.

And finally... what would constitute a "perfect day" for you?

A perfect day for me would be spent on holiday in New York City.  The day would begin with an early lunch followed by sight-seeing and wandering around any number of the city's iconic neighborhoods or parks, and then an early dinner followed by a play and then live music at one of the many jazz clubs in the city.

I will cheat again and say another perfect day for me would be spent sitting on my patio with a glass of ice tea or lemonade and a good book or magazine.

Thank you for joining us, Ed. Have a great day!

Pigeon-Blood Red
 is a fast-paced and suspenseful crime thriller by Ed Duncan. 


For underworld enforcer Richard "Rico" Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss's priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.

As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?

Praise for Pigeon-Blood Red

“Pigeon Blood Red has a dramatic and satisfying conclusion, leaving the reader nodding his head with approval." -Readers' Favorite

“In a novel with as much action as love, it is sure to be a story that will fulfill the desires of readers of all ages, genders, and areas of interest.” -Red City Review

"This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans...refreshingly old-school pulp, inhabited by a familiar cast of gamblers, con men and hustlers found in Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard novels” -Best Thrillers

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