Interview with mystery author Norman Green

My special guest today is mystery author Norman Green. We’re chatting about
his new detective novel, The Last Gig.

During his virtual book tour, Norman will be awarding
a digital copy of The Last Gig to 3 lucky
randomly drawn winners. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free
to visit his other tour stops and enter there, too!
Bio:
Norman
Green is the author of six crime novels, most recently Sick Like That. Born in
Massachusetts, he now lives in New Jersey with his wife.
Welcome, Norman. Please tell us a little bit about your current
release.
A teenage runaway from
the Brownsville projects, Alessandra Martillo lived with an indifferent aunt
who had taken her in when her mother killed herself, and later, after more than
a year on the streets, a caring uncle found her, took her in, and showed her
she had a chance. That was many years ago, and now Alessandra’s all grown up,
working for a sleazy P.I., repossessing cars, and trolling for waitstaff on the
take. The cases aren’t glamorous, or interesting, but the work pays the bills.
And she’s good at it—if there’s one thing she’s learned since leaving the
streets, it’s how to take care of herself around life’s shadier elements. 
When an Irish mobster
named Daniel “Mickey” Caughlan thinks someone on the inside of his shipping
operation is trying to set him up for a fall, it’s Al he wants on the job.
She’s to find the traitor and report back. But just a little digging shows it’s
more complicated than a simple turncoat inside the family; Al’s barely started
on the case when she runs into a few tough guys trying to warn her away. Fools.
As if a little confrontation wouldn’t make her even more determined.
What inspired you to
write this book? 
Brooklyn, really, and the people you meet on
the street.
Excerpt
from The Last Gig:
 “Your biggest problem is that you’re a girl.”
That was the first thing he’d said to her back when they started, that first
time she could remember him coming back home. Alessandra had been six years old
at the time, a bit tall for her age and naturally athletic, but impossibly
thin. He was back in Brooklyn after a tour of duty with the MPs on the Hong
Kong waterfront. Tall, dark, and forbidding, that’s how she remembered him;
quick to anger, sensitive to any disrespect, intolerant of any lack of
rectitude in matters of dress or speech or behavior.
She remembered standing in front of
him, trembling, glancing over at her mother for support. Like a lot of project
kids, Alessandra’s mother had been her rock, her bodyguard, her ever- present
protective shield, but right then her mother would not come past the kitchen
doorway. “Beektor,” her mother said, pleading, and her father reddened at the
mispronunciation. “Beektor, she’s so small. Are you sure . . .”
“How long do you want me to wait?”
he snapped. “She’s old enough. Go make dinner.” He did not look in his wife’s
direction to see whether or not he would be obeyed. “Okay, Alessandra,” he
said. “Now you listen to me. You’re a girl, and everyone is bigger than you.
They think they can make you do what they want, you hear me? You have to learn
to defend yourself. Do you understand me? You need to be able to stand up for
yourself. Now pretend I’m a strange man, I walk up to you on the street, and I
grab you. What do you do?” He approached her then, got down on one knee,
wrapped a thick arm around her in slow motion. “I’ve got you now. What do you
do?”
She had heard his voice on the phone
many times, but this was the first time she had been confronted with the
physical reality of the man. He was clearly in charge, and she was terrified of
disappointing him. “I would scream,” she said, after a minute. “I would scream
for a policeman.”
“That’s good,” he said, but he did
not release her. “You should scream. But what if there’s no policemen around?
What if they’re too far away to protect you? You need to be able to take care
of yourself.” She was afraid to look at him. “You have something to fight with.
Tell me what it is.”
She could smell the aftershave he
used, feel the smooth warm skin of his arm. She considered his question. “I
could hit you?”
“No, you can’t hit me, you’re too
small and you don’t know how yet. But you can poke my eye out.”
She
looked at her hand, resting on his arm. “Would that hurt?”
“Never mind that. I’m a strange man,
remember? I just grabbed you, and bad things are going to happen unless you can
make me let you go. Do you understand?”
She
did not, but she sensed that he wanted her to say yes. “Yes, Papi.”
“Good.
Now we’re going to try it. No, not like The Three
Stooges.” He released her then. He
held his hand out in front of her, fingers straight and stiff. “Make your hand
like this. No, hard, hard, feel mine. Just like that, hard. Now watch this.”
Still down on one knee, he pushed her back a half step. “Now you pretend you’re
the bad man, and you try to grab me.”
She
smiled at that, just slightly.
“No,” he said, “just pretend. I’m
the little girl, you’re the bad man. You’re way bigger than me, I can’t hurt
you. Try to grab me.” She inhaled, took a half step, her hands raised, and
quicker than anything she had ever seen, he jabbed at her face with his
stiffened fingers. “Boom!” he said. “Now tell me what just happened.”
“You
poked me.”
“I scratched your cornea. What that
really means is if you were a bad man and I was a little girl, the bad man is
hurting so much he can’t see the little girl anymore, and she’s running away.
Do you understand?”
She
did not. “Yes, Papi.”
“Good. Now we’re going to practice.
First in slow motion. I grab you with this hand, slow, like that, and I’m going
to hold up my other hand and you pretend it’s my face, and you jab at it, slow,
slow, hold your fingers stiff. Good. Now a little quicker.” He reached for her
again, holding up his other hand, and she poked at it. “No,” he told her, “keep
those fingers hard and stiff, and jab harder. As quick as you can. Ready? Okay,
go. That’s better. Let’s do it again. Okay, good. Again.”
That’s
how it started.
What
exciting story are you working on next? 
I’m doing a story about an addict/thief who’s trying to
figure out why he’s here.
When did you first consider yourself a
writer? 
The day
the guy who became my agent left a voice mail telling me we were going to be
working together.
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’m a
facilities engineer for a major retailer. I write evenings and weekends. I
don’t watch a lot of television, you’d be amazed how much time that frees up.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I love
dialects, accents, I love the endless ways people mangle the King’s English. I
think capturing the ways people talk can take you a long way.
As a child, what did you want to be when you
grew up? 
A garbage man or a cowboy.
Anything additional you want to share with
the readers? 
If you
have the itch to write, start with your own story, write about where you came
from. That’s how history is really written.
Thanks
for joining me today, Norman.

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