For the next month or more, I’ll be running guest interviews with the authors, editor, and publisher of Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime fiction Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s. Twenty-two authors, some well established in the short story world and others newly emerging, took very different paths to crafting a compelling crime story. We’ll chat with each one.
Meet Jack Bates
Today’s interview is with Patrick Bates, who writes under the pen name Jack Bates. He’s a three-time finalist for the Derringer Award from the Short Fiction Mystery Society for short crime fiction and winner of the Filmmatic Short Screenplay Award.
Let’s see what Jack has to say about his story, “The Preacher’s Daughter,” and writing in general.
CAM: “The Preacher’s Daughter,” was inspired by the The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Voodoo in My Basement.” It’s not the type of song I’d imagine from them. What in that song spoke to you so directly?
JB: I had actually never heard of it. I went looking for an obscure song hoping no one else would think to use it. As soon as I heard it, I remembered this trip to a county park where my family had planned to have a birthday party for my grandmother. The park was overrun with people having a spiritual awakening. It was post-Woodstock coming to southeastern Michigan. I remember my mother panicking about finding my grandmother in the crowd.
CAM: That sounds like an incredible memory. I can see how your mind took you to this story that blended the music festival aura with a dangerous situation involving a family member.
CAM: Did you play the song, and/or others, while writing?
JB: Several times.
CAM: You write novels, short stories, and screenplays. Three shorts were nominated for the Derringer Award. Do you prefer any one length over the others?
JB: Each can be equally rewarding when not being frustrating. I think what frustrates me is that moment where I’m off to a good start and I begin questioning whether it’s better as a short, could be a novel, or is best used as a screenplay. I’ll abandon one format to try it as another and find it worked better as originally conceived.
CAM: That does sound frustrating. Is your writing process different for short stories versus novels or screenplays? What works for you? What doesn’t?
JB: Short stories sometimes fall into place; I can see/hear the story as soon as I get the idea. Sometimes it works that way with chapters. When it doesn’t…misery!
CAM: That’s so true. Sometimes you get stuck when things don’t fall into place. Any tips or techniques that help you get unstuck?
I walk away. Draw (actually doodle). I keep little notebooks nearby to fill with random images. I’ve included one.
CAM: What is your greatest challenge as an author?
CAM: Exactly. Why is it that everything else sometimes seem so much more important than getting that story written?
CAM: You write in the romance genre, too. How is that different from crime/mystery?
JB: Well, you’re going from noir to happily-ever-after. The trajectory could follow similar paths to different endings.
CAM: If you could go somewhere to just write, for about a week, where would it be? What would you need to take with you?
JB: A cabin in the woods, a laptop, and my dog.
CAM: I imagine a working internet connection would be helpful but perhaps not essential. Getting the story written is most important. The research can come later.
CAM: What’s next for you? What new stories or books are in the pipeline?
JB: Working on potential cozy. Answering anthology calls. The usual.
CAM: Thanks for spending time with our readers and giving them a peek into your writing world.
BIO: In addition to what he told us about the inspiration for his story, Jack’s become somewhat proficient at self-publishing, blending several collections of earlier work with new tales. His alter ego, J.P. Beast, writes romance.
Peace, Love, and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of the ’60s is available from Untreed Reads or your favorite retailer in paperback or as ebook.
Our next Interview
Join us next Friday for another author interview. Until then, you can pick up your copy at your favorite retailer and start reading.