Thursday, May 10, 2012

Meet Steve Ulfelder, author of THE WHOLE LIE

I met Steve Ulfelder in the slush pile. He queried me about a novel featuring an ex-race car driver, now auto mechanic, trying to be a better man than he thought he was capable of. I fell in love with Conway Sax on page one, and knew within pages that Steve Ulfelder was a very talented writer.

Flash forward several years, many good stories, and a lot of ups and downs later, Steve's second novel THE WHOLE LIE (after PURGATORY CHASM  -- honored with a Best First Novel nomination for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America and chosen Best First Mystery by the readers of Romantic Times)  was published this week.

I bet you'll like Steve, and Conway!,  as much as I do.

1. Tell us what THE WHOLE LIE is about
Savannah Kane, a former flame of protagonist Conway Sax, returns to Massachusetts after a long (and unexplained) absence with a dirty secret that could swing the gubernatorial election, which is just a week away. Blackmail is in the air. People start dying.

2. How long did it take to write?

Same as all my books – about nine months, more if you include revisions.

3. Do you outline, or just write by the seat of your britches?

I’m a confirmed pantser. But before I start any book, I know its final scene, line of dialog, or image. So it’s just a matter of filling in 80,000 words to get there.

4. What did you learn when you wrote it?
I learned (again – slow learner) that the things I bury deepest about my own damn self are often the things that make for powerful scenes.

5. When you're stuck while writing, what do you do?
I write anyway. Which is what everybody should do when they’re stuck.

6. Do you have a favorite book about the craft of writing?
I guess Elmore Leonard’s is okay, but I knew most of that stuff in high school.

7. If you could save the life of any one fictional character who would it be and why?
Josh Deets, from Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. Boy, I wish he hadn’t died. The scene where Woodrow Call takes a day to carve him a headstone may be my favorite bit of fiction ever.

8. Is there a book that makes you think "if I could write something like this, I'd die happy?"
Don DeLillo’s White Noise hit me that way. So did Shelby Foote’s Civil War history, for its sweep and grace.

9. Care to confess to any guilty pleasures?
Oh God, you’re cracking the Blackmail File, eh? Tru TV’s “World’s Dumbest … ” show. I watch it constantly, cackling like a sixth-grader the whole time.

10. What's your ringtone?
The one that sounds like the old-school phones I grew up with! Problem is, everybody else my age uses it too. And our hearing is going, so when that ring sounds in a public place, a half-dozen people of my vintage scramble.

11. How does your dog or cat make you laugh?

My cat Milkshake does something we call “fake eating” – he sticks his nose in his bowl and pretends to eat while you pet him. As for my dog, Bonnie, she cracks me up a dozen times a day. She thinks I’m pretty great. So we get along fine.

Bonnie Ulfelder

12. Will the world end in fire or ice and why do you think so?
Surely the world will end with the thump of a bureaucrat’s rubber stamp.


Patty Blount said...

Great blog!

I fell in love with Conway Sax, too -- I am three chapters into the Whole Lie and already wanna smack Savvy around a little. (Bitch.)

I loved the questions you asked, Janet. "What character would you save?" Brilliant.

Janet Reid said...

I can't take any credit for that great question Patty. That came from a FeakySnucker at the Liz Norris Pay It Forward Debut novel contest when we solicited questions to ask the finalists.

The BOCO Review Blog said...

Through the Shark's blog and being lucky enough to win Steve's books in a flash fiction contest (which he autographed for me), I've gotten to know Steve a bit and he is the awesome. Just as nice and funny as he is in this interview.

What will surprise you is that he manages to make Savvy Kane into a very sympathetic character. You still want to smack her, but for different reasons.

Can't wait for book 3!


Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Sounds intriguing, especially the Massachusetts setting! Thanks for the heads up. Going to do some more recon on the novel and author.

Janet Reid said...

Terri, I'm eagerly awaiting Book 3 as well! Steve is chained to his typing chair as we speak. There MIGHT be an audio feed in his ear "Type Grasshopper type!"

The BOCO Review Blog said...

Janet, I think we need to play this on a continuous feed to Steve until he delivers the goods . . .

Bonus points if you can get Sean Ferrell, Dan Krokos, and Jeff Somers to do their own version.


Joyce Tremel said...

I was introduced to Steve's books way back before Purgatory Chasm was released when Meredith asked if Steve could do a guest blog on Working Stiffs. I became a fan on page one.

Write faster, Steve!

Anonymous said...

Tough crowd. I'm writing as fast as I can, urged on by the sharkly glare I can feel even up here in Massachusetts!

Jen Chatfield said...

Oh I love that he has a greyhound! I've never read any of his books but I surely will now.