Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Jungle Red Writers welcomes Chris Knopf
ROBERTA: Today JRW is happy to introduce Chris Knopf, author of the Sam Acquillo mystery series, most recently Hard Stop. Welcome Chris! For those readers not familiar with your series, please give us a heads-up on Sam Acquillo. And tell us what life is like in the Hamptons...
CHRIS: Sam is a middle-aged corporate burn-out, who has settled into his late parents' cottage on the edge of the Little Peconic Bay in Southampton, Long Island. He was once a professional boxer, in addition to his career as a trouble-shooter for a big engineering company. So he's not only a good problem solver, he's tough, and unafraid to tackle unsolvable crimes. Sam is also sarcastic, mordant, angry and more than slightly alcoholic, but somehow manages to nurture meaningful relationships with various colorful characters on the East End of Long Island. Sam's world, like mine, is more focused on the regular day-to-day life of the Hamptons than on the showy glitterati featured in the media. The world out here is much more complex and nuanced than our press would suggest, and this is where Sam lives and solves his various mysteries. Still, the Hamptons are an exceptional place, filled with interesting people from all social strata, and wildly beautiful, if you take the time to look around.
ROBERTA: Your series is published by a small press. Can you talk some about the pros and cons of that experience?
CHRIS: Marty and Judy Shepard of the Permanent Press have been very kind and supportive of me. Though a small press, they are nationally known as a quality publisher of exceptional literary fiction. The few mystery writers they've published have all won significant awards and gone on to meaningful careers (Reed Farrel Coleman is a good example.) As one of their authors, I've received a lot of attention from reviewers, which has been helpful in getting the series established. We don't have the distribution of a big publisher, but we're well received by the independents, who still sell a lot of books.
Meanwhile, I've been signed up by St. Martin's to do a spin off series starring a popular character in the Sam books, Jackie Swaitkowski. So I'll get to learn what it's like to be with both a big and small publisher.
ROBERTA: Congratulations on the new series! I don't know how you possibly have time to do all this, but your bio says that in addition to writing, you work full time as partner in a PR firm. First of all, how do you juggle all that? And second, have you used lessons learned in your job to promote your own books?
CHRIS: Our company, Mintz & Hoke, is a marketing communications agency, which means we do advertising, PR, design, branding and all manner of digital communications. I love my job as much as I love writing books, so it's not a big conflict for me to do both, though I do get tired sometimes. I've been able to apply some of what I know from my business to marketing my books, though publishing is so weirdly different from other industries that I usually feel like I have to unlearn my experience more than apply it.
That said, I think being an advertising and PR copywriter for all these years is a distinct advantage, since I have the discipline to write every day, a fluidity of discourse and a gift for bullshit useful when writing fiction.
ROBERTA: We're delighted to have you here today--and the floor is open for comments and questions.