Q&A With Wallace Stroby
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Q: Wallace, would you like to tell the readers and I about your recent release Heaven’s A Lie? Where did the concept of the novel come from?
A: I wanted to take a classic noir idea – average person finds bag of stolen cash, bad guy comes looking for it – but set it in my world, the working-class towns of the New Jersey Shore. And I deliberately set it in the winter, when a lot of those seaside towns empty out for the season. The Shore is a very different place once the tourists go home. I also wanted to write about a young widow who’d taken some hard blows in life, and is struggling to keep her head above water. Merging those two ideas was the genesis of Heaven’s A Lie.
Q: How did it feel when famous author Harlan Coben said Heaven’s A Lie was “A Pure Hit Of Adrenaline. It’s like a speeding bullet”on The Today Show?
A: It was very generous of him to single me out on the show. He’s a fellow New Jersey native, so we share some geography as well.
Q: What made you choose writing in the crime fiction genre? Is there any advice you give to those wanting to write in that genre?
A: I’ve always been a big crime fiction reader, from my early teenage years on. I think when it comes to writing, what you end up doing chooses you as much as you choose it. You gravitate toward writing what you enjoy reading.
But writing a novel is a long process, and the initial energy only gets you so far, so that’s where the discipline comes in. As far as advice, I can only quote Stephen King, who summed it up the best – Write a lot and read a lot. That’s the only advice that works. That’s how you find your voice.
Q: If Hollywood were to get their hands on your books if they haven’t yet, who would be your ideal cast to play the characters you created?
A: I never do that, because it might interfere with my own view of the characters. I also don’t like to describe characters too much on the page. Better those readers fill that in themselves. I can say that a few years back the Crissa Stone novels were under option, and some actresses’ names were being bandied about. My first choice back then was Charlize Theron, who’s very good with physical stuff, and also has some fierce acting chops. Nothing came of the option though.
Q: Would you say your career as a journalist helped you in any way with your career as an author?
A: Yes, I think most ex-newspaper people turned novelists (Michael Connelly, Laura Lippman, John Sanford, etc.) would say the same. Journalism teaches you how to organize your material, how to write under deadline pressure and how to deal with the editing process, among other things.
Q: How do you juggle being an author and a journalist? What’s your advice to anyone wanting to pursue a career in journalism? It all sounds so impressive!
A: The world of journalism that I knew – daily newspapers, distributed primarily through the medium of print – no longer exists. In 2008, I took a buyout from the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, where I’d been an editor for thirteen years. Prior to that, I’d spent ten years as a writer and editor at the Asbury Park Press, Bruce Springsteen’s hometown newspaper. The news business is now primarily web-driven, and papers across the country have slashed funding and staff, and continue to do so.
A: It’s another stand-alone thriller, and something of a companion piece to Heaven’s A Lie, but that’s all I can say about it right now.