Interview with crime thriller author Ed Duncan

Kicking off a holiday week
with an interview with Ed Duncan about his
crime thriller Pigeon-Blood Red.
Ed Duncan is a graduate of
Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a
national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside
of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy.
Welcome, Ed. Please tell us about your current
in Chicago and Honolulu, Pigeon-Blood Red
tells the story of an underworld enforcer’s pursuit of a man who stole a
“pigeon-blood red” ruby necklace worth millions, and it
describes the effect the chase ultimately has on the enforcer and on
a couple of innocent bystanders who accidentally become embroiled in the
crime. The hardened hitman is faced with a dilemma when he develops a
grudging respect for the couple, the thief’s estranged wife who is oblivious to
his crime, and an old flame who comes to her rescue. His dilemma? He is ordered to kill the couple and if he does not, he will endanger the
life of the woman he loves.
What inspired you to write this book?
had been a practicing lawyer at a national law firm for about twenty years
when the idea of the novel first came to me. I was attending a legal
seminar in Honolulu. One evening after dinner I sat on a bench outside to
admire the lush grounds of the hotel, and the kernel of an idea sprang to
mind. What if a lawyer on holiday in Honolulu, or attending a seminar, as
I was, had a chance encounter with a mysterious woman who was both attractive
and vulnerable? And what if the woman was running for her
life from some unknown danger? And, finally, what if the lawyer,
against great odds, managed to save her?
my novel the lawyer, Paul Elliott, became the old flame and the mysterious
woman, Evelyn Rogers, became the estranged wife. The underworld enforcer
became Rico, a killer with a conscience. And, of course, the unknown danger
was that Evelyn’s husband had stolen the priceless ruby necklace,
thereby unwittingly marking her and Paul for death. The odd
thing was, though, that Rico’s character is so interesting that it was a
struggle to keep him from becoming the central focus of a story whose main
character I had meant to be Paul, the lawyer and my alter ego. I think I
was successful in reining him in somewhat, but you’ll have to read the novel to
see whether you agree.
What exciting story are you working on next?
Right now, the sequel to Pigeon-Blood Red (no title yet), which was always meant to be
the first in a trilogy. The third installment is an unproduced screenplay
(also untitled) I wrote that I’ll convert to a novel.
How did the third installment start out as a
While I was waiting to get Pigeon-Blood Red published, I converted that novel and the
next installment in the trilogy into screenplays. Then, rather than beginning
with a novel that I would turn into a script, I thought it would be interesting
to start with the script, so that’s what I did with the third installment in
the trilogy. Maybe one day one of the three novels will generate interest
in one of the screenplays or vice versa — at least that’s the plan.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
In the last years of my legal practice, I wrote
a text for lawyers and judges called “Ohio Insurance Coverage”
and I supplied annual updates for five years. I suppose I could have considered
myself a writer at that point. However, it was only upon publication of Pigeon-Blood Red in February of this
year that I actually thought of myself as a writer. Writing the legal
text was part of my job as a lawyer. Writing my novel was my
vocation as an author.
I retired from my law firm in 2012 to write and
travel. Since then I’ve traveled outside the U.S. at least once a year
and sometimes twice. Next up is South Africa this fall and Hawaii the
following spring. I hope to dream up some new ideas for novels
during one or both trips. In the meantime, I’ve already written a draft
of the sequel to Pigeon-Blood Red.
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
Since I’m retired, I don’t force myself into a
regular writing schedule. I write when I feel like it and it’s much
easier to do when it’s raining in the summertime or anytime in the
winter. After my trilogy is complete, I’ll probably shoehorn myself into
a schedule of sorts but right now I don’t feel the need to do so.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
not sure you would call it a quirk, but I write sections of my novels (of
varying length depending on my mood) out in long hand, and then I do
multiple revisions of each section before transferring it to my
computer. I have the impression (perhaps mistaken) that most writers today
have abandoned long hand as their starting point. By the time I’ve
finished with the revisions, no one can read my draft except me and sometimes
even I have trouble following all of the inserts and deletions.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was a child I think the first thing I wanted to be when I grew up was a
cowboy. My father and mother and all of my brothers were big western
fans, and we watched westerns on television — both regular series and movies
— religiously. My favorite series were “Have Gun Will
Travel” and “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and my favorite movie was
“Shane.” I’m certain some of the traits of the heroes and
villains in those TV shows and movies have found their way into the Paul and
Rico characters in my novel.
Anything additional you want to share with the
One of my biggest influences as a writer is film
noir and the novels on which many of the best of those films are
based. Perhaps the novel and film of the same name that has
influenced me the most is “The Maltese Falcon.” The movie took
much of the dialogue directly from Dashiell Hammett’s novel, which is
one of the reasons the movie is so good. If I ever even approached
Hammett’s masterful use of dialogue, I would be one happy camper.
Thanks for being here today, Ed! All the best with
your writing.

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