from a Q/A in Jean Henry Mead's blog: http://mysteriouspeople.blogspot.com

 

     Steve Haberman earned a B.A. degree from the University of Texas, majoring in political science and minoring in history. He then worked for a time for a brokeage firm. Upon receiving his legal assistant cerfication form UCLA, he worked at a law firm in Los Angeles. Successful stock market investments  made foreign travel possible and he has since traveled abroad many tiems. He enjoys the cosmopolitan bustle, sidewalk cafes, museums of Berlin, Milan, London and Paris. He's also drawn to historical sites such as The Waterlook Battlefild in Belfuim, the D-Day invasion beaches in Normandy and World Warl I locales on the Somme of France. When nt traveling, he spends hi time in San Deigo, pl;anning  new novels and planning and additional foreign trips.

Steve, why did you decide to base your novels in Paris?

The setting for my first novel, “Murder Without Pity,” occurs entirely in that city.  My second one,“The Killing Ploy,” a spy thriller, occurs partly in it.  The same for my third one I’m working on,“Darkness and Blood.”  It too occurs only partly.  Now I chose the City of Light as a major setting because I must work with what plays on the imagination, not what’s hot.  Sooner or later in your writing, you’ll encounter some writing problem. Or you’ll get snide comments from someone in a poorly run Read/Critique Group, from a thoughtless friend or relative. I believe what gets you back to the writing desk is the story itself, maybe the plot or the setting, not because of money, which you might not make, or any applause from readers, which is transitory.  So for me, it’s the story and its parts that count and nothing else.
Setting is, of course, one of those parts.  If I chose some small town as a major locale, I’d have to work at creating that locale to bring it to the reader’s imagination.  Not so with Paris.  Even those who’ve never visited it have images of that city…the Eiffel Tower, Avenue Champs-Elysees, Notre Dame, the Louvre, etc.  So I don’t have to work that hard to fashion the images. The City of Light is already on the map. In addition, things happen in Paris, and these events furnish writing material.  Lady Diana dies; crowds gather at the scene of the crash. History is made. A crazed gunman murders a high ranking French Nazi collaborator, living out his days in peaceful obscurity, old wounds are burned open, the media is filled for days about this collabo’s crimes.  Survivors recount. History comes alive.

There are three other practical reasons.  Since Paris is so compact, it’s easy to get around.  It’s  eminently walkable and has an excellent metro. Also while doing research there, I learn interesting things about a world class city and learn some French, as well.
Tell us about your latest novel.

Pablo de Silva is the protagonist in “The Killing Ploy.” He’s the son of a Swiss hotelier and American tennis champ.  The hotel goes bankrupt. The father suffers a heart attack because of that and dies. The mother dies from losing her husband.  Undecided about what to do, de Silva uses his ability to speak several languages and knowledge of Europe to enlist in the CIA.   All goes well till Berlin.  There on a mission, he fails to save a fellow agent, also his lover. Tormented, held now in low regard by colleagues, he gets transferred to recuperate till his former boss recalls him with a new mission. Liaise with the San Diego FBI and see why two Defense Department military contractors, headquartered in that city, were murdered in Paris.  If terrorists are behind it inform his boss, and his men will take over. 
The task seems simple to de Silva.  Off to San Diego and beyond he goes, not realizing he’s again slipped into a dangerous world.  Should he watch his back as well as his front?  Not until the climax one dismal morning does he get his answer.  And not until that morning do his allies discover Pablo de Silva is much more than he seems.

Are you writing a series with a continuing protagonist? If so, tell us about him.

State criminal investigator Stanislas Cassel is the protagonist in “Murder Without Pity,” the murder mystery set entirely in Paris.  He’s a middle aged crime investigator, haunted by his grandfather’s murderous past.  He deals with that family infamy by ignoring it, but he’s able to ignore it only for awhile. He might or might not appear in another story; I haven’t yet decided.  As for “The Killing Ploy,” there is a sequel, but for authorial reasons I won’t go beyond that comment.

How have your diverse studies and employment background contributed to your writings?
I’m not aware that my employment background’s contributed to my writing with two exceptions.  In one job, I briefly had a woman supervisor with a stout, bullying presence.  I used her as the model for Claire Johnson, the executive secretary in “The Killing Ploy.” In another job, I had a man so focused on his work he struck me as a quiet fanatic.  I used him too in “The Killing Ploy.” But mostly my European travels to cities like London, Paris, Berlin, and other cosmopolitan centers playing on my imagination, have influenced me. Their histories, their museums and art, the atmosphere.

Are you writing fulltime or do you still have a “day job.”If so, how do you manage to schedule your writing time?

Though I’ve somewhat retired, I don’t write and market full time.  Writing isn’t my life.  It’s only a part of my life.  But I do devote about four/five hours daily to it.  That’s about all my back, rear end, and eyes can take.
Where and how do you research your novels?

I do my rough drafts in San Diego and use the internet as much as possible for my researching.  Then when I travel to Europe, I’ll fill in the detailed information I can’t find on the net.  For instance, in “The Killing Ploy,” there are many scenes that call for detailed, precise rendering.  That necessitated my being there.  The internet can only go so far.  It’s pretty sterile, and nothing, but nothing beats actually being there.  Walking the streets.  Feeling the bustle.  Smelling the aromas.  Letting lose the imagination. How do you promote and market your books?
I have, of course, a website---www.parismurdermysteries.com. I’ve also done some tweeting and paid to have parismurdermysteries.com on some site, such as “Januarymagazine.com”and “BookReview.com.”  In addition, I regularly send out book review requests and have had some responses, including a Kindle reviewer.  Finally, there’s that Murder Must Advertise online group, a godsend of publicizing tips that I look at daily.
Why did you decide to indie publish?
The main reason I decided to go indie was to be my own man. Here’s a fear I have. It’s, mid Friday afternoon. I feel a bit exhausted from writing throughout the week.  I’m about to shut down for the weekend, when my agent calls.  He insists I have on his desk by Monday either (a) a five page detailed outline of my latest novel and/or (b) ten new pages of the story itself. For imaginary scenario A, I explain the story is in my head and on scraps of paper, that I don’t have an outline.  For imaginary scenario B, I explain in no way can I hustle up ten new pages in two days. I can’t write on command. Agent retorts since he sent me an advance, I’d better damn well have that outline/ten pages on his desk by Monday.
But since I’m an indie, accountable to only me, the above situations can’t arise.  When I shut down, I shut down.  That’s how I give my mind a rest…by letting it know it’s truly, fundamentally free.

There’s another reason why I’m an indie.  I’m not into (gasp) branding myself.  I’m not trying to portray myself as a tough guy as writer or intellectual as writer or provocateur as writer.  I’m simply someone who spends a few hours a day at the writing desk, then moves on to other non-writing activities.

Advice for fledgling authors?
Three bits of advice.  First of all, write what interests you, not what’s hot since today’s trends are forgotten quickly.  And not for the money, which you may never make.  Write what moves you.  That will see you through all the hard times you’ll experience. 
Secondly, when you’re close to finishing your story, when you know the characters and the synopsis, start contacting book reviewers.  As you can imagine, they are swamped with requests.  The sooner you find out their status, whether they are accepting your genre or not, the better.
Thirdly, be careful about any Read/Critique group you join.  Some can be helpful; others can be destructive. Remember this: These days with the internet, they are a dime a dozen.  Use Google and ask friends for recommendations.  Are there groups that specialize in your genre?  What level of writing experience do the participants have? And what about the moderator? Does he/she show respect toward the participants?  Also how credible is he/she? Use Google to research the moderator and the books he/she has written.  What do the reviewers say?  How many copies has this supposed expert sold?
Your social media links?

I have done some tweeting, but that’s about it so far.  I’m not sure that’s the way I want to go.  For a mega company with deep pockets, able to employ specialists who do nothing but work the social media scene day after day, it might work.  Or for a recognized person, it might work. But for someone like me, I remain skeptical. I’ll be vying for viewers’attention, along with thousands of other writers.  The amount earned, if any, versus the amount of time spent on the social media circuit might not be worth the effort.  If someone can document a connection between an unknown using some social media venue and the bottom line, not hits, but a respectable sum of money made as a result of that publicizing, that might make me believe its usefulness. 

Thanks, Steve. You can learn more about Steve Haberman at his websites: stevehaberman@parismurdermysteries.com and www.parismurdermysteries.com

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