Short, Sharp interview: Lynn Kostoff

Words to Die For FINAL 101-a copyPDB: What’s going on?

My novel, Words to Die For, will be released April 15, 2015 from New Pulp Press. It felt like Nathanael West was looking over my shoulder while I wrote this one.

I’m also working on a draft of a new novel entitled The Head Start. Its protagonist is a female probation officer whose professional and personal life become dangerously tangled.

PDB: How did you research Words to Die For?

I did quite a bit of research for Words to Die For because of the intersection of the subjects in the plot line: autism, public relation agencies, food poisoning outbreaks, the self-help movement, poultry processing, and the Iran Contra scandal. Research was a mix of online sources, print, and interviews.

PDB: Which of your publications are you most proud of?

That’s kind of like asking which of your children you love the best. I like each novel for a different reason: A Choice of Nightmares for its protagonist; The Long Fall for style; Late Rain for the intersection of setting and character; Words to Die For for its cultural scope and range.

PDB: What’s your favourite film/ book/ song/ television programme?

Music: Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, The Cramps, Replacements, REM, Johnny Cash, Mazzy Star, Van Morrison, Patsy Cline, Patti Smith, Warren Zevon, Billie Holiday, and early Stones and Beatles.

Films: Chinatown; Cutter’s Way; True Confessions; Night Moves; Killing of a Chinese Bookie; Fargo; Repo Man; Mean Streets, Wild Bunch, Hud, Bad Lieutenant; Out of the Past; Ace in the Hole; Get Carter (the original with Michael Caine).

Books: Heart of Darkness; The Great Gatsby; Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts and Day of the Locust; Oedipus; Death of a Salesman; The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George V. Higgins; Robert Stone’s Dog Soldiers.

PDB: Is location important to your writing?

I see setting as important as and often functioning as a character in itself. I’ve set novels in Miami, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, a fictional coastal boom town in South Carolina, and a fictional Midwestern rust belt city.

PDB: How often do you check your Amazon rankings?

Once a year on my birthday.

PDB: What’s next?

I’m researching, outlining, and sketching characters and scenes for a novel entitled The Length of Days. I see it using multiple points of view and ensemble protagonists. If I can make it work, I’d like to take Arnold’s “Dover Beach” and the Book of Ecclesiastes and use them as a basis for a crime novel.

Lynn KostoffBio: Lynn Kostoff is a Professor of English and the Nellie Cooke Sparrow Writer-in-Residence at Francis Marion University in Florence, SC. His other highly praised crime novels include A Choice of Nightmares (available from New Pulp Press), The Long Fall, and Late Rain. He has also taught at the University of Alabama, Indiana State University, and Bowling Green State University in Ohio where he received his MFA in fiction. His website is at www.lynnkostoff.com

Words to Die For by Lynn Kostoff

The Story: The year is 1986 and fall is declining into winter in a small Midwest city where ten-year-old Tina Brackett languishes in a coma caused by tainted fast food chicken produced by the Happy Farms Co.  Raymond Locke, operative for the high-flying public relations firm that represents Happy Farms, is damage control central.  But tragedy begets opportunity, and everyone is angling for a game-changing piece of the action surrounding Tina’s impending death.  Among the players in this Darwinian battle for survival are the District Attorney looking at a possible murder charge, a reporter working on the story of his career, a high-minded crusader against corporate greed and malfeasance, and Tina’s enigmatic single parent, Ken Brackett.  Pitted against these sordid foes, Raymond Locke is trying to save his job and his marriage, crumbling beneath the weight of caring for an autistic son.  A noir journey into the heartland of America and the American psyche, Words to Die For evokes a shadowy, Mad Men-like world were the truth is less important than the spin.