Sunday, March 26, 2006

Pro-File: Bob Randisi

Bob Randisi is one of the movers and shakers of the mystery field.  Not only is he an accomplished novelist, he founded the Private Eye Writers of America and co-founded Mystery Scene magazine.  It’s a real pleasure to have him here.

1.  Tell us about your current novel.

I’m excited about two books, one coming in October, and the other February 2007.  In October Everybody Kills Somebody Some Time will be published by St. Martins.  It features the Rat Pack – Sinatra, Dino, Sammy & Co. – in Vegas in 1960 during the filming of OCEAN’S 11.  The main character is a pit boss at the Sands who is asked by Frank to help out when Dean is threatened.  I’ll be doing at least one more Rat Pack book after this, called Luck Be a Lady, Don’t Die.

The book coming out in Feb. 2007 is one I’m actually just finishing.  The Picasso Flop combines crime with the current Texas Hold ’Em poker craze.  It takes place in Vegas, at the Bellagio casino, and is set at a World Poker Tour (WPT) event.  My co-author is Vince Van Patten, who is a commentator on the WPT for all its events.  We’ve worked closely together on this book and will be doing at least one other, both published by Warner/Mysterious Press.  We share cover credit, and Warner will be promoting the hell out of it – supposedly – largely using Vince and his celebrity.

2.  Can you give us a sense of what you’re working on now?

Oops.  See above.  I’m also working on a new western series called The Gamblers, so right now I’m writing about poker and gambling in the 1880’s, the 1960’s and the present.

3.  What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

Making a living at it.  I also still get a big kick out of receiving the carton containing my author’s copies of each book.  It’s like Christmas to me.

4.  The greatest DIS-pleasure?

Working with numbers crunchers instead of book people.  Also, the dirth of real editors in the business – I mean that all-around editor who bought the book, championed it, worked on it, was there every step of the way.  The people I work with now are good at what they do, but those kinds of editors don’t exist, anymore.

5.  If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

Give the books, and the authors, more of a chance to build.  Too many publishers are dropping writers after one or two books.  They want INSTANT success stories.  Those are few and far between.  I do believe that a publisher can MAKE a best seller by getting behind it, but you have to be that lucky one they decide to get behind.

6.  Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you’d like to see in print again?

Thomas B. Dewey, Ralph Dennis, and I’d like to see somebody reprint Henry and Frank Kane.

7.  Tell us about selling your first novel.  Most writers never forget that moment.

I used to tend bar at MWA cocktail parties when I first joined because I was painfully shy.  It was there I met my first editor, Michael Seidman.  We talked quite a bit, became friends, and he wanted to buy a four book P.I. series from me, but as happens in publishing his company froze his ability to buy, so we had to wait.   Eventually, he bought the first book, The Disappearance of Penny, but we were never able to continue the series.  We both went on to other things.  I do have him to thank, though, for my Gunsmith series, which is now 16 years old.

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