By John Raab
Reed Coleman is back with his latest novel GUN CHURCH. Reed is best known for his Moe Prager series, but Reed steps out with a new stand alone book introducing a new character, Kip Weiler. Reed is a three-time Shamus Award winning author for his Moe Prager series, along with being a two time nominee for the Edgar Award and former executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America. GUN CHURCH deals with a real subject matter that seems to be in the news almost every day. Kip is a creative writing teacher at a community college and is thrown into a situation when a gunman starts to shoot up the school. Reed takes a little different approach with the story and his main character. In the 1980’s Kip was at the top of his writing game. However falling on hard times and twenty years removed since his last novel, when Kip is able to save his class from the gunman, it ignites that fire inside and brings Kip back to the paper to write again. What Kip doesn’t realize is that his writing could actually be dangerous for a cult-like group that is obsessed with handguns.
Reed has a packed appearance schedule, starting with Bouchercon in Cleveland, October 4-7, going through December 5th at the Sachem Public Library in Holbrook, NY. We were able to ask Reed a couple of interview questions to get to know the man beyond the pages. Want to know what Reed is saving on his DVR, look below the answer might surprise you.
Is GUN CHURCH based off of any true events?
Naturally, the events at Columbine and Virginia Tech influenced my writing, but only as a means to begin the wheels of the book churning. This is in no way an exploration of those tragic events. I don’t write “message” books. This book is about putting a character in a series of unique situations and seeing how he deals with them. As the reader, I hope people drawn to the book question themselves about how they would react given the same circumstances. The only part of my reality that creeps into the book are those that deal with some of my bad/funny/ironic experiences in the publishing world. And sometimes I get frustrated as a writing teacher, but generally the book is an exercise in imagination.
Your main character Kip Weiler is put through an emotional roller coaster, do you ever feel bad for him?
Poor Kip. Actually, I don’t feel sorry for him. More importantly, I don’t think he feels sorry for himself. That’s what makes him appealing. He realizes how terribly he’s screwed up his life, his marriage, his gift. And he knows he’s to blame. The fact that he has come to accept responsibility is what makes his rebirth as a writer, as a lover, and as a person possible. It is also what makes the book have emotional resonance. If all Kip was was a screw-up, who would care? But that he has now made something of himself again, the reader can care.
Can you give us some behind the scenes information on GUN CHURCH?
Sure. The idea for the book happened in an instant. I was at a weapons demo at a mystery conference—the first Thriller Fest—and during the Q & A someone in the audience asked about how fast pellets in a buckshot shell spread after being fired from a shotgun. The person giving the demo said something like, only a total gun nut would know the answer to that. The words gun nut kept going round and round in my head. And in about thirty seconds the entire plot for the novel that is GUN CHURCH appeared in my head. Insight? Hmmmm. When you pick up the book, think WONDER BOYS meets FIGHT CLUB with guns.
For readers that are just finding out about you, besides GUN CHURCH, what book would tell them to start reading first?
That’s a tough question. I’d say one of the last two Moe Prager novels: HURT MACHINE or INNOCENT MONSTER. I also have something completely different coming out on Hyperion soon. I’ve just co-written a novel called BRONX REQUIEM. My writing partner, Detective John Roe, is currently the longest serving active duty officer on the NYPD. Over forty years! It’s e-book only and is a story that harkens back to the bad old 70s but takes place in more recent times.
What is on your DVR right now?
DVR? I still use VHS. Seriously, I think I have an episode of INSPECTOR LEWIS recorded.
What is the best advice you ever received about your writing?
My poetry professor in college was David Lehman. He told us that if we wanted to be writers, we had to think of ourselves as writers. That no matter what we did to earn money, we had to be writers. In fact, he made us raise our right hands and take a pledge to that effect. From that day forward I have never thought of myself as anything but a writer.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
As I said, I have BRONX REQUIEM coming out as a Hyperion e-book in October or November of 2012. Also sometime this year I have a novella coming out from a Canadian publisher—Orca Books, Rapid Reads—featuring a PI named Gulliver Dowd. Dowd is what some—certainly not Gulliver himself—would describe as a little person. He rejects that label and all others. In the wake of his sister’s murder he becomes a PI in order to help get to the bottom of the case. And next spring the next to last Moe Prager mystery, ONION STREET, will be out with Tyrus Books.
We would like to thank Reed for taking some time out of his busy schedule to share with you some inside information. To find out more information about Reed Coleman, simply visit his website.
Called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan and the “noir poet laureate” in the HUFFINGTON POST, Reed has published fifteen novels. He is a three-time recipient of the Shamus Award and a two-time Edgar Award nominee. He has also won the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He is an adjunct professor of English at Hofstra University and a founding member of MWA University. He lives with his family on Long Island.