Interview with crime fiction novelist Douglas Corleone

Today we get to chat with crime fiction author Douglas Corleone about his newest Kevin Corvelli book.

Douglas Corleone is the author of the Kevin Corvelli crime series set in Hawaii, and published by St. Martin’s Minotaur. His debut novel One Man’s Paradise won the 2009 Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel Award. A former New York City criminal defense attorney, Douglas Corleone now lives in Hawaii, where he writes full-time. Night on Fire is his second novel.

Welcome, Doug. Please tell us about your newest book.
In Night on Fire, hotshot Honolulu defense attorney Kevin Corvelli, who was first introduced to readers in One Man’s Paradise, narrowly escapes a deadly fire at a popular Hawaiian beach resort, only to land the prime suspect as a client. The client, Erin Simms, is a stunning but troubled young woman charged with murdering her husband on their wedding night. Although Kevin tries to distance himself from Erin on a personal level, he feels himself being pulled in. And it may ultimately lead to his undoing. You can view the trailer for Night on Fire on YouTube.

What inspired you to write this book?
The imagery of fire is very powerful, and the crime of arson is, to me, incredibly intriguing. I wanted to explore a world I wasn’t terribly familiar with. Though as a defense attorney, I’d represented clients charged with murder, I’d never represented anyone charged with arson. So this was a first for both me and the book’s protagonist, Kevin Corvelli. I found the research fascinating, particularly the research on arson investigation. It was exciting to learn how investigators determine the fire’s point of origin, what types of materials are used as accelerants, and how they go about identifying a suspect.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The third Kevin Corvelli novel is currently in the works. In Choice of Evils, the governor of Hawaii is suspected by the FBI of hiring an international assassin known as The Pharmacist to murder his pregnant mistress. Defense attorney Kevin Corvelli is retained, not only to conduct an independent investigation, but to handle the national media and ensure that the FBI’s suspicions do not interfere with the governor’s bid for reelection. Meanwhile, Kevin’s most loyal client, Turi Ahina, is accused of gunning down an off-duty cop on a dark street in Pearl City days after he agrees to provide the DEA information on the ruthless drug kingpin Orlando Masonet. Did Turi actually shoot and kill the cop in self-defense? To find out, Kevin must plumb the depths of police corruption and ultimately unearth some of the city’s deepest, darkest, and dirtiest secrets.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer the day I stopped considering myself a lawyer. It’s difficult to pinpoint when that was, because whenever the writing wasn’t going well, I’d think more and more about returning to the practice of law. It wasn’t until last year that I finally officially retired from the law by informing the state of New York. Symbolically, that was a very important step for me. Coincidentally, the state of New York acknowledged my retirement by a letter dated April 27, 2010, the same day my debut novel One Man’s Paradise was released.

Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write full-time, 7 days a week. I try to stick to a routine: wake at 8, eat breakfast, read emails, begin writing right up until lunch. If the morning goes well, I’ll take the afternoon to do research and read. I try to end the working day by 4. Of course, if someone were to observe my day, it would probably look nothing at all like this.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I’ll have a month where I turn out 60,000 words of final draft material, then follow it with a month in which I can barely write my own name.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer, but I was always told it was a hobby, not a career choice. So, almost by default, I became a lawyer. When I was in high school, the legal thriller genre was just taking off, thanks to the likes of John Grisham, Steve Martini, and Scott Turow. So I figured the next best thing to writing about lawyers was to become one. Unfortunately, it didn’t compare.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just that the writers and readers of mystery and crime fiction are a tight-knit bunch. Take advantage of technology and get to know us, tell us what you like and dislike about our books. Most writers enjoy hearing from readers. I’m certainly no exception. I encourage readers to contact me through my website.

Thank you for sharing a bit about your writing today, Doug. I hope those days where you can barely write your name are few and far between.

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