Author Interview

SHANE GERICKE

by Julia Buckley


Julia: Hi, Shane! We meet again. How are things going with your sequel, Cut to the Bone?

Shane: Terrific, Julia, thanks so much for asking. I greatly appreciate the chance to talk to the Spinetingler folks through you.

Cut to the Bone is doing great. The reviews have been extremely positive—I’m so grateful for that—and reader reaction a knockout. You never know how a book will do until it’s actually in people’s hands, and I’m delighted with the response.

Julia: What about your first book, Blown Away? Is it still selling like hotcakes?

Shane: It would … if there were copies to buy. The first press run sold out, and Kensington debated whether to reprint. With Cut to the Bone hitting the market so close on its heels, we decided to let Cut have its day in the sun instead. It’s a great problem to have, selling out a run, trust me. But it does mean folks who want to read it now that they’ve seen Cut, will have to try the library or used-book forums. Or, if the demand is heavy enough from Cut sales, perhaps Blown will happen after all.

Julia: We should all have such problems. I love your new website www.shanegericke.com. In the picture you look sort of stunned. Is that because you had just figured out how you would resolve your next mystery?

Shane: I always look stunned—ask my wife.

No, actually, I wanted dark and ominous on the opening page of the site, to match the feel of Cut to the Bone. And provide a nice visual accompaniment to the terrifically generous praise I received from superstars Lee Child, Douglas Preston, John J. Nance, Gayle Lynds and others. (The biggest names in the business are also the most giving people you can imagine. At least to me.) I asked my photographer at the local photo studio to give me dark and moody, and she did a great job.

Julia: Are you working on a new mystery? Will it complete a trilogy?

Shane: I’m sweating up the keyboard putting together the third Emily Thomson crime thriller, and have a dandy idea for the fourth. Can’t tell you more right now, but let’s just say they’re tasty enough to serve with fava beans and a nice glass of Chianti …

I plan to write about Emily until nobody likes her any more, and Kensington has been most gracious in letting me do that.



Julia: Publishers Weekly says you have potential to be “a first-rate cops and psychos novelist.” Did you have aspirations to be a cops and psychos novelist?

Shane: Oh, yeah. Great psychos, and the cops who hunt them, are the best characters in literature. The titanic clash of violence, lust, greed, fear, love and I’m-hungry-what’s-for-supper (hey, my heroes love to eat!) is enormous fun for me to explore. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Writing crime thrillers also lets me make machinegun sounds—you know, budda-budda-budda—when I write. Can’t beat that.

Julia: No, sir. You seem to have had a whirlwind year. What was the best thing about it?

Shane: The single best thing was actually becoming published. As you know from your own books, seeing your first baby on a bookstore shelf is a high you can’t get from any drug. And discovering that people besides mom, dad and grandma actually spent their money to buy it, and liked it enough to tell you so? Priceless.

The next best thing was Romantic Times Book Club naming Blown Away the year’s best debut mystery. That honor is especially sweet because you don’t apply for it—RT’s review staff decides which book is the best in its category, period. That mine was picked still makes me smile. If I weren’t so manly and tough, I might admit to squealing when the publisher of RT told me.

Third best thing was making a pack of new friends. I love talking to people anyway, and the mystery/thriller business is chockfull of warm, smart, friendly people. Take yourself, for instance—I met you at a book fair, and the next thing you know, you asked to interview me for your blog. That’s the kind of warmth and helping hand that makes the writing business such a pleasure.

Julia: I agree, pal. Is there a downside to your mystery writing career?

Shane: Yes. It takes an incredible amount of time. Unlike jobs where you turn off your brain at the end of the day, mystery writing is a 24/7 commitment. While publishers handle printing and distribution of the books, writers are responsible for promotion and marketing. That means, in addition to actually researching and writing the books, we spend a googleplex (I always wanted to use that in a sentence!) of hours visiting book clubs, doing signings at stores, attending conferences, doing volunteer work with writer organizations, keeping our websites and blogs hip and up to date, designing business cards, bookmarks and other reader faves, placing ads, all that. That’s the business end of writing. I’m fortunate in that I enjoy it just as much as the wordsmithing. Writers who don’t want to do anything but sit at the computer and write … this is a tough, tough business for them.



The other downside is financial. It takes years for your royalty statements to become big enough to not giggle at. Luckily, I spent 25 years making real money as a Chicago newspaper editor. Between those savings and my hard-working wife with the great day job and passion for me to succeed, I can pursue this dream full-time. Others have to “triple-shift”—day job, writing, and The Rest of Life—to share their thoughts with the world. I only “double-shift,” as writing is my day job. And night and weekends.

Julia: I get that. Your website shows a picture of you in a TV appearance on Fox TV in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Was this terrifying?

Shane: Nah. I totally loved it. It’s funny, Julia—I fully expected to have butterflies, even grown eagles, in my belly when I started doing appearances for Blown Away. That never happened. I was at ease from the first moment of my first engagement. Don’t know why that’s the case, but I count my blessings. Maybe because I’m writing stuff that makes people happy. Frightened and prone to nightmares, too, but in the end, very happy.



Julia: What are you reading now?

Shane: As we speak, Baby Shark: Beaumont Blues. It’s the next installment of Robert Fate’s terrific Baby Shark series. Bob’s an immensely talented writer with a great cast of characters, and his are among the few books I read at least twice, to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I’m also reading Thunderstruck by Erik Larson, a nonfiction tale of murder and wireless telegraphy that reads like a novel. I’m waiting breathlessly for John Sandford’s next Lucas Davenport tale, and, hey, don’t you have something coming out soon?

Julia: Yes, how nice of you to mention it. Madeline Mann comes out on August 1st. Will you have a break in the touring any time soon?

Shane: My books are categorized as page turners, so they come out around June, in time for the beach-and-vacation crowd. So summer is crammed with signings, readings, media interviews and conventions. It calms down after that. But since my next manuscript is always due, there’s not much time for slacking, even during winter. When it’s not Summer Road Tour Time, I race around the home office instead of hotels.

Julia: Assuming the mystery promotion let up, what would you spend your time doing?

Shane: Chat up cops and criminals. There’s always a new tale lurking somewhere, and talking to the movers-and-shakers of the real-thriller world keeps my thinking fresh and lively. I also like shooting, so I spend more time on the pistol range, testing new guns in my role as a writer and photographer for several international firearms magazines. My wife and I also love to travel—for real, not just for book work—so we do that in the fall and spring, when I’m not “booked” somewhere with something.

Julia: How many people, in your mystery travels, have mispronounced your name?

Shane: Too many to count :-) They get “Shane” right for the most part, with the occasional “Shawn” to keep me thinking, but “Gericke” is butchered all the time. It’s not their fault—“Gericke” is pronounced YER-key. I wouldn’t get it either. It was spelled “Guericke” in the old country of Germany, which provided the YER sound. Someone at Ellis Island dropped the U, to Americanize it. Sheesh.

Julia: How are your books selling overseas? Isn’t that an exciting prospect? Do you think they mispronounce your name?

Shane: They’re doing very well across both ponds, Julia. The American edition has sold thousands overseas, and there are four—count ’em!—four translations of Blown Away: Slovak and Turkish, which are out right now in those countries, and Chinese and Polish, which will be out later this year or early next. Who knew my little suburban police thriller would be so popular in languages I can’t read? I love it!

I’d hope the Germans would get my name right, but for everyone else, I’m doomed to be mispronounced in 149 countries. Hundred and fifty when they split the next Stan in half.

Julia: Again, we should all have such problems. What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Shane: Heading north later this year to hike the glorious Canadian Rockies. I did check Banff and Lake Louise for bookstores, but the only one they have sells only hiking and outdoors guides. Since Emily doesn’t like to camp, I guess that’s out. Heading to ThrillerFest in New York City at the end of July. I’m running the charity auctions, so I’d better show up! My folks are coming to visit from Phoenix. It’s still 117 there in September, so Chicago’s a good place to escape. Otherwise, barbecuing, meetings author friends for lunch, trying to stay in shape, and writing-writing-writing.

Julia: What do you want to have accomplished by 2010?

Shane: My books to hit No. 1 on the New York Times list; win a ten-million-dollar advance; establish my own writing-related foundation; and have all my hair grow back. If you’re gonna dream, might as well dream big, I say.

Julia: That’s great advice. Thanks for chatting, Shane!

Shane: A delight with you, as always.


ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER

Julia Buckley is a mystery writer who lives in the Chicago area. Her first mystery, The Dark Backward, was released in June of 2006; her next book, Madeline Mann (the first of the Madeline Mann mysteries) will come out in the summer of 2007. Julia is a member of Sisters in Crime, MWA, and RWA. She keeps a writer’s blog at www.juliabuckley.blogspot.com on which she interviews fellow mystery writers; her website is www.juliabuckley.com She has a husband and two children who put up with her hogging of the computer, but she doesn’t know how long that will last.


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