So, this morning I was sitting around trying to think of what to post for this week's blog. How do you follow three wonderful weeks of author interviews?

Then someone knocks on my door and when I answer, there stands a man weaing a hat that shadows his face. He hands me a large envelope and states that inside is a free book and an interview with Lawrence Block who discusses a new anthology. I laugh and reply, "Right, tell me another joke." He asks me to look at them and walks away.

I open the envelope after the guy. He, however, has disappeared.

Who was he? A publicist? An agent? Or...oh my! Did I just meet THE Lawrence Block? And then laugh at him? Who knows? I hope I'm forgiven for my levity.

Anyway, this week I have the honor of turning over the blog to another inteviewer and a very special guest. (Oh, I also read the book and you should, too.)

Today, Our Man in New York interviews Lawrence Block on his new anthology, Dark City Lights, to be published April 28 by Three Rooms Press…

OUR MAN: You’ve written over a hundred books, several of which have been filmed—most recently “A Walk Among the Tombstones,” starring Liam Neeson. Now you’ve edited an anthology of stories set in New York City.

LB: So?

Well, I was wondering why. Curiosity? You’d never edited an anthology before?

It’s comforting to see you’ve done your homework.

I beg your pardon?

This is the twelfth. The others are Death Cruise, Master’s Choice I and II, Opening Shots I and II, Speaking of Lust, Speaking of Greed, Blood on Their Hands, Gangsters Swindlers Killers and Thieves, and Manhattan Noir I and II.

Right. Well, as a veteran anthologist, perhaps you can say what drew you to this particular project.

An invitation from the publishers. I’d met Peter Carlaftes and Kat Georges a couple of times over the years, when they chose stories of mine to reprint in earlier collections. This time around, Peter and I sat down over coffee and he proposed my editing a volume of New York stories.

And you agreed because—

Well, it was strong coffee. I was probably a little hyper. Then I got home and had to find people to write stories for the book. They had to be good writers, capable of writing good stories, and they pretty much had to be friends of mine, or how could I talk them into writing for so little money?

And they had to be crime writers.

No, certainly not. Many of the stories in Dark City Lights are crime stories, but that was never a requirement. Robert Silverberg’s “Hannibal’s Elephants” is science fiction about an alien invasion of Central Park. Jerrold Mundis’s “Chloe” hovers somewhere between fantasy and mythology. Jonathan Santlofer’s “The Garmento and the Movie Star” is fictionalized memoir, a bridge between Hollywood glamor and the Seventh Avenue rag trade. Jill D. Block’s “The Lady Upstairs” could appear as easily in a literary quarterly, but for the ease and clarity with which it is written. Any new piece of fiction taking place within the five boroughs of New York was eligible.

So the writers are all New Yorkers. Um, you’re shaking your head.

And rolling my eyes. Warren Moore’s a professor at a college in South Carolina. Bill Bernico lives in Wisconsin. Elaine Kagan’s an actress and writer based in Los Angeles. Robert Silverberg, born in Brooklyn, has lived for years in Oakland.

Got it. Let’s see now. There are 23 stories in the book. How many people did you have to invite in order to get that many?

Well, two fine writers turned me down, with apologies. One was swamped with assignments and the other was behind deadling on a book.

So you invited 25, and—you’re shaking your head again.

I invited 20, and 18 accepted.

Where did the other five stories come from?

Well, I didn’t have to invite myself. My contribution is “Keller the Dogkiller,” one of the few Keller stories set in New York. And four writers invited themselves. Peter Carlaftes and Kat Georges saw how the book was shaping up, decided they wanted to be a part of it, and sent me a pair of terrific stories. An old friend heard about the project from another writer and sent in a story I’d have had to be nuts to turn down. Elaine Kagan showed her own entry to her daughter, Eve, who got inspired, wrote a story of her own, and wondered if I could find room for it. I could and did.

No matter how you got them, they’re great stories, and the variety is amazing. I wish there were a way to give the flavor of each and every one of them.

There is. Some resourceful person at Three Rooms Press pulled quotes from each of the stories, and set up a web page. Just click and see for yourself:

“While he sweated out a story she bled out a poem.” This is great stuff!

What did you expect? That line’s from S.J. Rozan, and it’s one of 23 great lines from 23 outstanding stories.

What more can I say? Click on the link and read the lines; then click on this link and order the book. And thank you, Lawrence Block, for your time and patience.

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