Monday, July 24, 2017

Happy Pub Day, Glen Erik Hamilton!

INGRID THOFT

I'm thrilled to welcome Glen Erik Hamilton to Jungle Reds. The third book in his critically acclaimed Van Shaw series, EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND, is out today.  Glen's debut, PAST CRIMES, won the Anthony, Macavity, and Strand Magazine Critics awards for Best First Novel and was also nominated for the Edgar, Barry, and Nero awards.  The follow-up in the series, HARD COLD WINTER, was published to rave reviews in 2016.  Glen is a native of Seattle, but currently resides in LA with his family, where we recently met up at a tiki bar for great conversation and strong zombie cocktails!  I'm so glad he's spending his pub day with us!

INGRID THOFT: Your new release EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND is out today, and it’s fantastic. Can you tell us about it?


GLEN ERIK HAMILTON: Thank you! EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND is the third in the Van Shaw series.  Van was raised by his grandfather, a professional thief, and escaped the criminal life in his late teens to serve in the Army Rangers.  At the start of EDAG (as the publisher and I affectionately call it), Van has been out of the military for a few months.  He’s trying, with some difficulty, to rebuild his life and home after the events of the last book.  An old partner of his grandfather’s approaches Van with the offer of a safe cracking job.  Van would normally refuse any criminal work, but he convinces himself that this score is at least semi-legal and on the side of the angels.  As is often the case in crime thrillers, the job does not go as planned.

I had a lot of fun writing EDAG:  Van is forced to contend with some wild characters, villains at both the apex and bottom rungs of the smuggling world, and no less dangerous for being at either end.  His personal relationships are also rocky.  Van has the bad habit of neglecting his emotional life for his more active one, even when he needs the people around him more than ever. He’s a family guy without a normal family. Part of EDAG is him wrestling with those friendships and those responsibilities. 


IPT: You grew up on a boat, which is a very unique setting in which to live.  Has that experience influenced your writing?

GEH: Tremendously.  Some of those inspirations are easy to spot: I have major characters living aboard and many scenes set on or around the waterways that almost completely surround Seattle. Seattle is also our largest western seaport north of Los Angeles, so the shipping business is a tremendous opportunity for crime stories.

But beyond that, people who live aboard boats make the deliberate choice to be a little removed from mainstream society. There’s an outsider mentality, which includes a distrust, if not outright rejection of the norm (whether that’s a positive or a negative, I leave for the observer).  I have at least some of that outlook, and there’s no question that Van, with his skewed upbringing, does as well.


IPT:  If writing is your dream job, what would your second dream job be?

GEH:  This is a tough one.  I love acting on stage.  Before writing, theater was my primary creative outlet; I have a degree in it and it’s how my wife and I met. I fully intend to continue acting for the fun of it when life allows. I also enjoy reading history, and teaching, and can easily imagine an alternate life path that could have lead me to becoming the world’s foremost expert on post-WWI North African territorial wars, for example, and the impoverished academic career that might result.

IPT: Ha!  I had no idea that you have an interest in post-WWI North African territorial wars!  What are you working on now, and is there a book you’re dying to write? Romance?  Sci-fi?

GEH:  I’m working on a standalone novel, more of a direct thriller than the mystery-thrillers of the Van Shaw series. What I’m most eager to try next, time allowing, are short stories. The interstitial chapters of the Van books show our hero at different ages.  I approach those as if they were independent stories, and I have a lot of fun with the flexibility and the challenge.  Seeing one of my short stories appear in "The Strand" or "Ellery Queen" someday would be a huge milestone.


IPT:  Okay, you know I have to ask: How do you come up with character names?

GEH:  [For the reader:  Ingrid is asking this because one of the major characters in EDAG is also named Ingrid.  She’s a bad bad person.  The character, that is…]

Anytime I hear a name that strikes me as unusual and evocative, I note it down in a running list.  The best names have a particular tone, a musicality.  For example, Ostrander is a town in Washington State. The name always struck me as chilly, removed, and monied. I used Ostrander for the name of a well-heeled attorney and personal fixer for a billionaire in my second book, HARD COLD WINTER.

Van Shaw has a fun genesis – Van is short for Donovan; I wanted he and his grandfather to share the name.  In the Irish way, the granddad is Dono, so the younger Donovan is Van.  Shaw comes from two places: my favorite playwright George Bernard Shaw, and the late actor Robert Shaw, who would have made a wonderful Dono. The name Shaw also has an appropriate music to it, like a sword being unsheathed.


Oh, and the character Ingrid?  “Ingrid Ekby” had a great sound, both Nordic and subtly mechanical. Ekby, by the way, is a shelf unit from IKEA

IPT:  Now it’s Glen’s turn to shoot a question to the readers of Jungle Red!
GEH:  What’s your favorite character name, the one that best sounds like the fictional person’s personality?

I’m going to make this a little harder and say: No Harry Potter characters allowed.  J.K. Rowling is just too good at that game.  Comment, and you'll be entered to win a copy of EDAG!



EVERY DAY ABOVE GROUND
It sounds like a thief's dream to Van Shaw: A terminally-ill ex-con tells him of a fortune in gold, abandoned and nearly forgotten after the original owner died in prison. To rebuild his destroyed house and to help the dying man leave a legacy for his pre-teen daughter, Van agrees to the job. But the safe holding the fortune is a trap and Van must figure out who the hunters are really after—while being hunted himself.


Glen Erik Hamilton's debut Past Crimes won the Anthony, Macavity, and Strand Magazine Critics awards for Best First Novel, and was also nominated for the Edgar, Barry, and Nero awards. Publishers Weekly and Library Journal gave Past Crimes starred reviews, and Kirkus called the book "an exciting heir to the classic detective novel". The follow-up in the Van Shaw series, Hard Cold Winter, was published to rave reviews in March 2016 by William Morrow (US) and Faber & Faber (UK).
A native of Seattle, Glen grew up aboard a sailboat, finding trouble around the islands and marinas and commercial docks of the Pacific Northwest. He now lives in California with his family but frequently returns to his hometown to soak up the rain.

Website: www.glenerikhamilton.com

Facebook: @glenerikhamilton
Twitter: @glenerikh





68 comments:

  1. Happy Book Birthday, Glen . . . I’ve enjoyed the earlier books in this series and now I’m anxious to see how Van’s latest adventure turns out.

    Favorite character name? Wow . . . there are so many good ones that it’s difficult to pick just one. But Boo Radley [“To Kill a Mockingbird”] comes immediately to mind [as does Atticus Finch] . . . .

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    1. Boo Radley is a terrific choice! (and having played Atticus waaaay back in high school, I have a deep and abiding love for that book!)

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  2. Ashamed to admit that, while I bought the first in the series when you were at the Santa Clarita Library event last year, it still sits on my TBR pile. I do intend to get to it at some point.

    Congrats on the publication of your third!

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    1. Hi Mark! Believe me, there's no need to apologize about an overloaded TBR bookshelf. With half my friends being writers producing one book a year, I think I'm mired somewhere in 2010...

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    2. It's a good problem to have, but I'll never be "caught up"!

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  3. When I see the name Ostrander, I think of John Ostrander who was the driving force behind the Suicide Squad comic book in the 80's.

    I always loved Fflewddur Fflam from the Lloyd Alexander fantasy series The Chronicles of Prydain. The name just fits the character once you read about him.

    Happy Pub Day GEH!

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    1. Good choice, Jay! I adored Fflewddur Fflam growing up. He was a big reason I took up playing the harp.

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    2. Gigi, it is not often I find someone that remembers The Chronicles of Prydain, so you get major coolness points from me today!

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    3. I can't beat Fflewddur Fflam. I can't even *pronounce* Fluffernutter Phlegm...

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    4. Easy there, buddy. Don't ruin my fluffernutters by pairing them with phlegm!

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    5. Ingrid, considering fluffernutters make me gag, pairing it with phlegm sounds perfectly logical. :D

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  4. Welcome to JRW, Glen. Any book set in Seattle immediately goes on my to be read list. I love Jasper Fforde's characters from The Eyre Affair, especially Thursday Next, Filbert Snood, and obviously Braxton Hicks.

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    1. It's great fun reading about a city you know!

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    2. Filbert Snood! That's positively Dickensian.

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  5. Great post - I look forward to tracking down EDAG, Glen.

    In my first Joe Gale mystery - Quick Pivot - a somewhat oily undertaker is named Hector Finagle. I was delighted when it popped into my head.

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    1. Ha! Quick Pivot might *also* make a good name...

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  6. Congratulations and welcome, Glen. I'm not familiar with your books, so thanks to Ingrid for the introduction.

    Favorite character name? I wasn't reading carefully I guess, so I've been thinking about what I'd name a character if I could write something besides checks. Now I have to start all over and think some more.

    My first notion was Flippy Odegard, which was a screen name of an old friend. Doesn't that have an unusual ring to it? Maybe I could use it for the name of the next cat in my life.

    I eliminate from the running all the characters from all the books ever written by all the Reds, because how to choose?

    I hereby nominate Old Filth, christened Edward Feathers, the protagonist of Jane Gardam's OLD FILTH,THE MAN IN THE WOODEN HAT, and LAST FRIENDS. If you've not read these books, you should.

    Happy cold wet rainy Tuesday on the tundra.

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    1. I haven't heard of those books, Ann, but obviously, they need to go on my TBR list!

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    2. Nice! I'm not familiar with Jane G.'s work, but a quick glance at Wikipedia makes me think I should find her children's books for our daughter.

      If I were christened Edward Feathers I might choose to go by Old Filth too. Much more evocative.

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    3. Filth means "Failed in London, to Hong Kong." If you like Kate Atkinson, you'll like Jane Gardam.

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  7. Congratulations, Glen! Looking forward to reading the new book.

    Question: How did you get GLEN with one N?
    Coralee, I was going to say the character names from The Eyre Affair, too! And of course from Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, Precious Ramotswe. And Rhys's Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie.

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    1. Hi Hallie! My parents were strict Methodists, not given to such sinful extravagances as extra consonants...

      No, honestly, I think it was more that Glen-with-one-N is more common for Scots names, and it balances nicely with four letters in the middle name and eight in the last.

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    2. Are you always having to correct people?

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  8. Congrats on ##, Glen--I'll be looking for it as soon as I crawl out from under my collapsed TBR pile. Like your characterization of the 'boat people'--definitely lends itself to story possibilities.

    Coralee nailed it with Jasper Fforde's character names, but some of my favorites are among the cast of minor characters in Anne Perry's William Monk series--Crow, Scuff, and Worm, for example.

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    1. Cheers, Flora! Scuff would also be a great name for our next cat...

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  9. One of my favorite names is Maisie Dobbs. There is another author who often have interesting character names and that is P.G. Wodehouse. He has character names like Stilton Cheese?

    GEH, welcome to Jungle Reds.

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  10. Maisie Dobbs is a character created by Jacqueline Winspear. Another character name I love is Maggie Hope created by Susan Elia MacNeal.

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    1. Stilton Cheesewright! I'm a major Wodehouse fan; between Stiffy Byng and Boko Fittleworth, you can't go wrong.

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    2. yes! Stilton Cheesewright is the name. Thank you.

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  11. Congratulations, Glen! So great to see you here! Names are so -well,either fabulous or frustrating. In my new book (copy edits due tomorrow!)I had a DA named Royal Wiggins, which I loved. But then Wiggins is a bear to make possessive--Wiggins's? I couldn't stand it.SO I changed it to Wiggin. Which is silly. Then Wiggen? Wiggan? Sounds like witches. Ah... Plus the defense attorney is McMorran, so Wiggan is too similar.
    So I just blew up the whole thing and changed it to Royal Fayerweather. Just out of pique.This morning I think it will become Royal Newville. Newcomb? Nope. Newsome? Nope. Gage? I need a new last name. Best if it begins with W or F.
    My favorite name ever? Scout Finch.

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    1. Royal Fetchit easier to type than Ann's contribution

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    2. Hi Hank! It's great to be back on JRW!

      I had the same possessives challenge in my second book, with a major character named Haymes. I never changed it, and fear that the audio narrator hates my guts, with how many times he had to say Haymes, Haymes', and Haymes's.

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    3. Yeah--yeesh. WHY didn't we think of it?

      Wilcox? Whitlow?

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  12. Welcome, Glen! (New books for me to read! When will I find the time?!)

    I agree about the names from Jasper Fforde's books! I also love the character names from Anthony Trollope's books, particularly Mr Slope.

    DebRo

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    1. Anthony Trollope itself is a name made for a character.

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  13. Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany's and Frodo and Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit. Congratulations on the release of your book!

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    1. Thanks, Celia! Yes, Golightly is a fantastic name. I need to reread that soon...

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    2. Holly Golightly is a great one, she says, as she hangs her head in shame, never having read the book...

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  14. Welcome, Glen! I loved Past Crimes but have clearly gotten behind, since I missed the sequel.

    I agree with many of the names listed so far, especially Jasper Fforde's. But I have a special place in my heart for Lord Peter Whimsy, er, Wimsey.

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    1. Tough to spell that right on the first attempt, especially in these days of autocorrect... :)

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  15. Hi Glen!! So excited about the book--must go order now! You know I am a huge fan, and one of the many reasons is the great naming of characters. How could you not like a protagonist named Van Shaw? Isn't it interesting how some names seem instantly sympathetic and others do not?

    And if we're talking about great character names, you can't leave out Charles Dickens! Uriah Heep? Abel Magwitch? Fezziwig? And two of our sympathetic characters, of course, Oliver Twist and David Copperfield.

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    1. Thank you Deb! It's great to be back!

      Who wouldn't want to work for someone named Fezziwig? It sound *sounds* like a great time!

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  16. I love Lemony Snicket and Pippi Longstocking. Encyclopedia Brown is another winner!

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    1. We read all of the Pippi books with our daughter when she was younger, and agreed that everyone needs a monkey named Mr. Nilsson.

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  17. I loved PAST CRIMES and I think HARD COLD WINTER is on my TBR pile...somewhere. Now I need to add another. Between Jungle Reds and BOLO Books, it's a bad day for my TBR pile (or a good day, depending on your perspective).

    Charles Dickens had great character names that always seemed to evoke the character. Fagin, Scrooge, etc.

    Mary/Liz

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    1. Isn't that always our blessing/curse as readers? We just have to figure out how to live to be 300 years old, to catch up.

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    1. Hah! In all these months of typing it, I never thought of EGAD. Thanks, Libby!

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  19. Gosh. This is a hard one. Gail Carriger has dreamed up some wonderfully ridiculous names in her series. She must channel Dickens: the Duke of Snodgrove, Mrs Loontwill, Ivy Hisselpenny, Floote (the butler). On a different note I love the name Jimmy Perez from the Shetland mysteries. His surname makes him stand out immediately. Everyone calling him Jimmy shows how approachable he is.

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    1. Floote the Butler. That's brilliant. Steampunk books are growing popular in our house; I'll have to check out Gail C.'s work!

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    1. I was always fond of Tommy and Tuppence, too. Tuppence just sounds like someone fun who'd get excited about a mystery to solve.

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  21. It always bugs me when a character's name is difficult to pronounce. I find myself stumbling over it every time it appears on the page. Any one else suffer this frustration?

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    1. I do. I hate, hate, HATE it when a writer puts down an impossible-to-pronounce name and then gives zero clue as to how it's supposed to sound.

      I'll give a pass to the Welsh, though. I don't think there's any easy way to give the reader a clue, so I generally just skip those (or give them nicknames in my head).

      Mary/Liz

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    2. Like Mary/Liz, I give nicknames to characters whose names I can't pronounce.(And Mary/Liz: I had no idea that anyone else did the same!)

      DebRo

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    3. I do that, too! Otherwise, I'd never get through the book!

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    4. I confess in the new book I have a major character named O'Hasson, which I thought was a cool uncommon Irish name, but everyone now misreads as O'Hanson.

      And as for the Welsh names, I always go back to this line from humorist Dave Barry: "Wales: The Land Too Poor to Afford Vowels."

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  22. Don Quixote. Followed closely by Sancho Panza and Dulcinea.

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    1. Dulcinea is still one of the loveliest names I've ever heard. Plus there's Don Q's original name: Alonso Quixano.

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  23. If you really want to stretch the "rules" of this name game, how about the law firm of Dewey, Cheatham & Howe?

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  24. Some writers do such a tremendous job of conveying who their characters are in their names!

    Sharyn McCrumb's ballad novels feature a wonderful old mountain woman who's gifted (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with precognition- "the Sight". Her name is Nora Bonesteel and it has just such a haunting, deep Appalachian quality to it.

    And I like Russ Van Alstyne's name because it sounds so real, and so age appropriate. (Now? He'd have to be Jacob or Tristan.) And it's a "regular guy" name. There were a lot of Russes in the Viet Nam era age group, and Van Alstyne is a good Dutch-flavored surname for that part of New York. You just know his roots there are deep.

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    1. Nora Bonesteel? Okay, that's awesome. Works for mountain women and Conan the Barbarian characters alike.

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