Our guest this week on BOOKCHAT is prolific author of mysteries and westerns and SWFWW regular Steven Havill. Steven lives in Albuquerque, taught high school for twenty-five years, has an AAS degree in gunsmithing, and is the proud owner of a 1930 Ford AA farm truck.
When were you happiest?
I suppose when the editor at Doubleday in New York wrote (via old-fashioned U.S. Mail!) to offer a contract for my first novel, back in 1981. Now, after 31 titles, the process is still fun, but doesn’t compare with that first time.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
I don’t have any pleasures I’m guilty about. That is SUCH a waste of time.
What’s the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Lack of self-discipline. I love to play both the piano and the flute, but I can’t seem to push myself to really excel.
What’s the trait you most deplore in others?
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Ignore rumor mongers.
What book(s) are you reading now?
Grann’s The Lost City of Z and Herriot’s It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet.
What books might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
The House at Pooh Corner. Wind in the Willows. Fundamentals of Criminal Investigation.
Which writers working today do you admire most? Why?
I like CJ Box, for his use of setting to advance the story. I read James Patterson because he tells such a good, simple story. I used to like the late Clive Cussler until he got silly with plots. Lisa Scottoline is neat, some of Jodi Piccoult’s work is terrific. Joe Badal is rapidly growing as a writer. And of course, John Sandford, especially his Virgil Flowers books. What a hoot.
Which genres do you read? Which do you avoid? Why?
I read just about anything that doesn’t bore me with silly plots or pointless stream of consciousness dribble. Life is too short to spend time with psycho-babble. I love most fiction, most non-fiction. Just read, read, read.
What book(s) “should” you have read but haven’t, or what “classic” couldn’t you finish?
I don’t think like that. If a book bores me, whether it’s Dickens, or Plato, or Stephen King, I don’t bother with it. If it doesn’t grab me in ten pages or less, I’m gone. My 100-year-old father-in-law wanted to read Joyce’s Ulysses. So I found him a copy. Having never read it, I tried. Oh, good grief, James. What undisciplined drivel. I gave it to my father-in-law, and after a couple of weeks, he said, “Why is this book considered so famous? It’s unreadable.” I think it’s an ego thing, to claim that you’ve read it, and worse, enjoyed it.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
I would never do that. I mean, what are you going to ask them? “Where do you get your ideas?” Or that zinger I hear all the time, “So…are you working on another book?” When I reply, “Well, that’s what I do,” the conversation slows to a stop.
Tell us about your latest book in no more than 50 words.
Miles Waddell has spent a quarter billion dollars developing his Nightzone astronomical site south of Posadas. When a developer buys land adjoining Nightzone, all kinds of rumors fly. More than rumors fly when the developer is found murdered. And bullets fly when a couple of young hot-heads try to solve life’s daily problems with gunfire.
Where can we find this book?
You can buy Less Than a Moment at your friendly neighborhood bookstore, or Amazon, or directly from Sourcebooks Poisoned Pen Division.