Guest Blogger Jochem Van der Steen on What It Takes to Write Hardboiled Fiction

When I  invited fellow crime writer Jochem Van der Steen to guest-blog here, I told him to write whatever he wanted. I didn’t expect he would end up writing partly about me.

But I do like what he has to say about being a fan of hardboiled crime fiction before you try to write it. I’m always telling wannabees that they shouldn’t even contemplate writing a crime novel until they’ve read several hundred of them.

Jochem is a Dutch writer who runs a great website, Sons of Spade, that is devoted to crime fiction. He is the founder of the Hardboiled Collective, a group of like-minded hardboiled crime writers, including Timothy Hallinan, Bill Crider and me, who support one another’s work. And he is the author of crime fiction featuring security specialist Noah Milano and vigilante Mike Dalmas.

It’s great week for Jochem and for Noah Milano. The character appears in Thrills, Kills ‘n’ Chills with a new short story, War Crimes , Tough As Leather is reviewed at Murderous Musings AND the Noah Milano Novelette The Alabaster-Skinned Mule is available.

So here’s what Jochem has to say today:

I am honored to be at Bruce’s blog. I’d like to use this opportunity to tell you what I think makes Bruce such a great writer. It’s because he’s also a fan of the genre.

Genre fiction is a tricky little thing. Some writers try to write hardboiled crme but get so bogged up in cliches the story ends up as a pastiche. Some writers think hardboiled crime ended with Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler and stay so true to that style and time period that they write historical fiction, even if the stories are set in current time. Some writers think hardboiled crime is beneath them and try to offer a literary masterwork, masked as a crime novel. Usually it ends up as a boring and depressing read.

Bruce DeSilva does what every really good hardboiled writer does. He takes all the elements he enjoys as a fan of hardboiled crime, mixes it up with his own personal style and improvements, and offers up one of the most perfect hardboiled novels of the year with Rogue Island.

His protagonist, hardnosed reporter Liam Mulligan, is as tough as Spenser, as human as Alex Delaware, as funny as Elvis Cole, and as smart as Nero Wolf. He may be a reporter, but he acts like a private eye most of the novel. His relationship with his ex-wife is as unique a relationship as I’ve ever seen in crime fiction, adding both laughs and drama to the investigative tale that is the basis of the novel.

So how did Bruce end up creating such a wonderful hero and such a great hardboiled crime story? He’s been studying and writing about the genre for years. He knows what works and what doesn’t. But especially, he knows what you, the fans of hardboiled fiction, want. Because, guess what, he’s a fan as well.

I’ve been writing about hardboiled crime on my blog, Sons of Spade, for four years now and I’ve been a fan since I was fifteen years old. I hope that shows in my work, just as it does in Bruce’s. I hope that in my protagonists, Noah Milano and Mike Dalmas, you see the love I have for the genre. I hope Noah Milano (ex-mob fixer turned security specialist looking for redemption) and Mike Dalmas (husband, father, vigilante) are everything you’re looking for in a hardboiled hero. I hope Bruce and I will inspire your own writings as other writers have inspired us.


 

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About Bruce DeSilva

Crime Novelist
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