Welcome back to Secret Library after a short summer break. We’ve got some exciting writers lined up to reveal their choices over the coming weeks, and we start by welcoming (and kicking off) the Debt to Pay blog tour. Reed Farrel Coleman’s website tells us that he has been called a ‘hard-boiled poet’ by Maureen Corrigan on NPR, and Huffington Post has called him the ‘noir poet laureate’. He is a three-time Edgar Award nominee, and has won the Audie, Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He lives in Suffolk County on Long Island.
Normally, our prospective ‘librarians’ get a little blurb about what Secret Library is all about. I explain I want to avoid the classics: I’m not looking for yet another article where a writer tells us they once read an Agatha Christie. Sometimes there is a bit of back and forth over email about who to include. This week, though, we have something a bit different. Reed explains:
‘I never read crime fiction growing up. For me, crime fiction meant those cheesy novels with the lurid covers on my Dad’s nightstand. Sorry, not interested. I was a sci fi reader, a poetry reader, and the type of kid who read the novels they assigned in school before they were assigned. In fact, I studied poetry at Brooklyn College and thought I would publish poetry and have a ‘normal’ career. So it went.
‘When I got out of school, I went to work in the freight forwarding business and published several poems written when I could find the time. Bored with my job, I went back to Brooklyn College for a night class. The only class that fit my schedule was America Detective Fiction. The first three books assigned were, in order, The Continental Op by Hammett, Farewell, My Lovely by Chandler, and The Maltese Falcon by Hammett. After finishing the third novel, I went to my wife and told here I was going to quit my job and write detective novels. That was thirty years and twenty-seven novels ago. So although you weren’t asking for classics, these novels were classics to me. They literally changed my life.’
Wow. Great story and by the way just a reminder of the doors that are opened by adult education classes. You can of course get the three books concerned and see what happens…
If you’re interested to see the result of this huge career change, check out Debt to Pay (you can pre-order it here) – and follow the rest of the blog tour. Secret Library will be back next Thursday.