You write in so many genres--western, mystery, horror--do you have a favorite? If so, why?
I've enjoyed writing in every genre, and I'd hate to pick a favorite. I've been most successful in the mystery and crime field, but a lot of the popular fiction writers I admire most have written in several fields. There's a lot of crossover between mysteries and westerns, for example, with writers like Elmore Leonard, Harry Whittington, Bill Pronzini, Bob Randisi, James Reasoner, and on and on. So I'm just following their lead.
Is there a common thread to your writing?Most of my writing is set in small towns in Texas and, though I've ventured far afield on more than one occasion, you could say that Texas and Texans figure in most of my work. I like to write about the changes in life and society I see going on around me and how the changes affect the characters in my books, so that's another thread that runs through them.
You're considered an expert on pulp fiction and the old Gold Medal paperbacks. Lee Goldberg & William Rabkin say they were influenced by their love of those books when they created The Dead Man series. Where do you think The Dead Man fits in with, and deviates from, books of that era?
The Gold Medal paperbacks were short, punchy novels full of action and color. They moved fast, and they featured ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I see The Dead Man as being solidly in that tradition, with some elements of the fantastic added for color. There's also a connection to the kind of adventure books that I wrote with Steve Mertz more than 20 years ago in series like The M.I.A. Hunter and The Tunnel Rats. And of course Nick Carter.
How did you approach your Dead Man book, Carnival of Death? What were the challenges? What did you enjoy most?
The challenges included writing an action-oriented story that also developed the character and history of Matthew Cahill a bit without violating the rules of his world and what had happened in other installments of the series. An even bigger challenge was to write a book that was up to the high standards of the ones that preceded it, all of which were topnotch stories by writers whose work I admire. The most enjoyment came from getting back to writing the kind of series action story like the Gold Medal paperbacks. It's always great fun to do that kind of thing.
What's next for you?
I'm working on a book in the Rancho Diablo series that I write with Mel Odom and James Reasoner. It's a western with horror elements called Gabby Darbins and the Slide-Rock Bolter. Should be fun.