An Interview with Steve Hamilton

Are you a subscriber to Shelf Awareness? If not, you might have missed the excellent interview they ran with Steve Hamilton, author of The Lock Artist.

Book Brahmin: Steve Hamilton

Steve Hamilton's first novel, A Cold Day in Paradise, won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by an American Author; since then, he has either won or been nominated for every other major award in the mystery business. His ninth and newest novel, The Lock Artist, being published by Minotaur this month, is the story of a young man named Michael who was traumatized at the age of eight and who hasn't uttered a word since then. But he does have one special, unforgivable talent--a talent that will draw him into a world from which he may never escape.

On your nightstand now:

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I haven't gotten to the really bad stuff yet. I have a feeling this book is going to keep me up at night.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Any of the Hardy Boys mysteries. Or any book with Alfred Hitchcock on the cover. (The Three Detectives series or those paperback anthologies with stories from the magazine.) I just ate those up. Those books made me want to be a mystery writer when I grew up.

Your top five authors:

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cormac McCarthy, Raymond Chandler, Denis Johnson, Richard Russo. (I was a fan of Russo since his first book! I feel like somebody who was into an obscure rock group before they made it big.)

Book you've faked reading:

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I literally faked reading this for days at a time in junior high school. It was more about the horrible time I was having in that penitentiary of a school than the book itself. I should go back and actually read the damned thing.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene. More mind-blowing than any piece of fiction.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter Thompson. This was a long time ago, but I seriously didn't know anything about Thompson until I picked up that book. How can you resist that crazy Ralph Steadman drawing on the cover?

Book that changed your life:

I've got to mention two: Dancing Bear by James Crumley and When the Sacred Ginmill Closes by Lawrence Block. I can't overstate how much these two books made me want to write a hardboiled novel of my own. I'm just glad I got to thank both authors in person.

Favorite line from a book:

"Dear friend now in the dusty clockless hours of the town when the streets lie black and steaming in the wake of the watertrucks and now when the drunk and the homeless have washed up in the lee of walls in alleys or abandoned lots and cats go forth highshouldered and lean in the grim perimeters about, now in these sootblacked brick or cobbled corridors where lightwire shadows make a gothic harp of cellar doors no soul shall walk save you." --From Suttree by Cormac McCarthy.

(It's just my favorite line from this week, mind you. Next week, it will change again.)

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

A Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Imagine picking up that book and having no idea what you're about to experience.