Tag Archive for 'serial killer’s daughter'

Nights And Weekends Review by Margret Marr


College senior Peter Vogel is on the fast track to literary success—that is, until he becomes involved with Hannah Seeley. He’s fantasized about her almost non-stop since he first saw her. Then she offers him sex if he’ll ghostwrite her papers, which leads to a twisted entwining of their fates.


Peter discovers that Hannah is the daughter of convicted serial killer Arnold Seeley—the Robbinsgate Killer, who terrorized a small California town and killed eleven people. Now he’s on death row, and someone is relentlessly pursuing Hannah, planning to make her pay for her father’s sins.


Scared and not knowing which way to turn, Hannah seeks out Peter again. They head out on the road, running from assassins and hoping to find answers to difficult questions—all the while trying to stay alive long enough to discover who’s behind the attempts on Hannah’s life.


The Serial Killer’s Daughter is a simple little tale of misplaced judgment, spiced up with a pulse-pounding chase across the map. Author Heywood Gould does an excellent job of showing how certain minds can justify wrongdoing to appease their anger and guilt, even when they can’t strike back at the real target of their anger.


I was never a part of the whole college party scene, so it was a little hard for me to relate to Peter and Hannah. Peter comes across as a bit too impulsive and hotheaded for my liking. At times, I wanted to scream at him and tell him to slow down and think before acting. Hannah, on the other hand, seems to go with the flow, which tends to knock her for a tumble—almost as if she were absentminded. But that’s not to say that their personality traits make Peter or Hannah bad characters. In fact, they are, more times than not, entertaining in their faults.


Fast-paced, somewhat hilarious, and a little bit bizarre, The Serial Killer’s Daughter will keep you amused for hours. With its quirky, off-the-wall plot, it might not win any literary awards, but it’s most certainly an entertaining and hard to put down read that made me smile in spite of its dark subject matter.

Interview with Steve Hockensmith


More Talk, Less Hock #2: Heywood Gould


A funny thing happened after I launched the new “More Talk, Less Hock” writer spotlight on my blog a few weeks back. Someone took me seriously. To be honest, I really didn’t think there was going to be a “More Talk, Less Talk #2.” #1 was going to pimp my buddy Russel D McLean, and that would be that. But then I got an e-mail from a publisher pitching an interview with another writer — a non-buddy, someone I’d never met — and I thought, “Why the hell not?” So I said yes.


 I’m glad I did. Heywood Gould is one interesting dude. I mean, how many writers have you met who’ve not only met Michael Keaton, they’ve directed Michael Keaton movies? The guy wrote Cocktail, for chrissakes — the movie and the book! (Yeah, I didn’t know it was a book, either.) Heywood’s newest novel is the wild chase-thriller The Serial Killer’s Daughter. Here’s what he and I had to say to one another.


Me: Back in the day, you wrote the screenplays for some pretty memorable movies. The Boys from Brazil. Fort Apache, the Bronx. Cocktail. So when I hear you’ve got a new thriller out, I get the sneaking suspicion it began life as a screenplay. How far am I off the mark?


[Aside: Quite a bit, it turns out.]


Serial Heywood: Writing a spec screenplay is like shoveling manure for three months and getting paid with a lottery ticket. I’ll never do it. The book was inspired by a story I read about how a suspected serial killer was caught by matching the victims’ DNA with his daughter’s Pap test. I had always wondered what happened to the families of these monsters. How did they live in a town where Dad had wreaked havoc? There was never any follow-up on the families of the victims. How were they dealing with this sudden intrusion of evil into their lives? Also, a la Hitchcock, I wanted to take an ordinary guy, in this case a nerdy movie buff, who lands the one girl he never thought he could get, and then has to run for his life.


Me: Whoa. Seeing as I was so incredibly off with my first guess, there’s only one thing to do — make another one. Is it safe to assume you can relate to “nerdy movie buff” types? You had quite a run in Hollywood as a writer/director. I can only assume you had the gumption it takes to make that happen because of a deep love of film.


Heywood: Busted! I am the original nerdy film buff. Movies were a rainy Saturday diversion until I was 15 and discovered a little theater in my Brooklyn neighborhood whose crotchety owner showed old comedies (Keaton, Chaplin, Fields, Marx Bros., Stooges, etc.) and Warner Bros. antiques (Cagney, Bogie, Edward G.) I was hooked. Still am. I can see the same movies over and over. It’s like reading the Bible — you always find something new. Manhattan in the ’60s had at least 10 theaters that showed old Hollywood or foreign films. It was the era of Fellini, Antonioni, De Sica, Bergman, Godard, Truffaut, Chabrol, Reed, the Boulting Bros., Kurosawa, etc. Every week brought another revelation. The Apollo in Times Square showed triple features. We’d get meatball sandwiches and spend the night. You could see great films, wash your socks and score a little cheap weed. The balcony smelled of garlic, dirty feet and stale tobacco. Suggestive moans and groans came from the last seats. We kept our eyes on the screen. I read Film Quarterly, Sight and Sound, Andrew Sarris in the Village Voice. It all seemed so far away and glamorous that I never thought I could ever be a part of it. I wanted to be a cynical reporter like Ben Hecht or a suffering novelist like Fitzgerald. Tragic artist was my pimp. I thought a little alcoholism plus a touch of T.B. a la Orwell was just the ticket for getting the girls. Boy, was I wrong.


Me: So how’d you go from being a Brooklyn film nerd to a published author and a Hollywood writer/director?


Heywood: That’s War and Peace.


1947: A blizzard in Brooklyn. I’m 5. It’s warm in the kitchen. My mom does freelance typing at the table. She leaves a page in the typewriter and gets up to make lunch. I move into her seat and start to bang on the keys. It’s the first piece of clean commercial work I destroy.


1951: I’m 8 1/2. A big, fat 10-year-old slob is bullying me, taking me into the stairwell of our building and putting me in a choke hold until I promise to bring him a dime, which I steal from my mom’s purse. Promises to kill me if I tell, and I believe him. I write a story about a machine that magically appears and helps a boxer win a big match. I disguise the characters so my parents won’t recognize the bully.


1956: I’m graduating from Public School 154. I write an essay about what the future holds for our class. Make a few jokes about my friends getting arrested, me getting drunk and falling off the Ferris Wheel in Coney Island. All my friends think this is uproarious. The teachers don’t agree. I don’t win the English medal.


1959: The high school literary magazine snubs me because I’m on the basketball team. I win a fountain pen in a citywide contest for writing an essay about They Came To Cordura and Northwest Passage, both of which became pretty good movies. I get the pen, but no respect. My English teacher asks me one day, “Are your parents immigrants?” When I ask why, he says, “All immigrants use too many adjectives.” He advises me to forget writing as a career. “The prize was an aberration,” he says.


1960: The college literary magazine rejects me. “I don’t have the time or the inclination to tell you all the ways that this is inferior,” says the editor. I have violent sex dreams about her. Still do.


1962: A newspaper strike lasts for seven months. When it’s over, the New York Post has no copyboys. I write a letter to the managing editor. I have just spent nine months in France trying to be Fitzgerald. I mention that I speak French. His wife is French. He has the personnel manager call me for an interview. “We’ll put you on a tryout basis.” My first day the managing editor yells at me across the tundra-like city room: “Apportez-moi un cafe et un bagelle avec fromage de creme.” [Translation: "Get me a bagel with cream cheese."] Ever the wiseguy, I answer, “C’est une bagelle.” [Translation: He corrected the managing editor's French.]  Thank God they like wise guys in the newspaper business. He laughs and I’m hired.


1963: Kennedy is assassinated. I work the whole weekend in the wire room. It’s a national tragedy, the country will never be the same. I’m thrilled to be working on the biggest story of the year.


1963: I’m given a three-month tryout as a reporter. I cover Mafia hits, civil rights, cool burglaries, gory murders. I’m sent to a Spanish class for police officers. Thirty red-faced Irish cops squirm angrily while a nice Puerto Rican lady teaches them rudimentary phrases so “you can communicate with the community.” All the six papers and three networks are covering this love fest. But I’ve been around cops for two years now. I know this is too good to be true. David Halberstam of the New York Times, back from being expelled from Vietnam by the U.S. Army, is covering, complete with clipboard and assistant. When he decides there is no story he leaves and is followed by the entire press corps. I make myself small in the back of the room. The cops reach critical mass. “Why do we have to learn Spanish? Why can’t they learn English?” “These people are animals. See the way they throw their garbage on the street?” “When some junkie pulls a knife on you, you don’t have time to pull out your dictionary.” I take it all down. Next day I scoop the city. I’m hired.


1963-65: I’m a 20-year-old with a press card that gets him in anywhere in New York City. I cover MLK’s “I Have a Dream Speech” in D.C. Also the rise of Malcom X and the Nation of Islam. The anti-war movement, demos and sabotage. Harlem erupts in riots. Then Newark and Elizabeth and Paterson, N.J., explode. Break a story about rats infesting a Harlem housing project. Ride with civil rights activists trying to stall cars on New York’s highways to prevent the opening of the World’s Fair of ’64. Great idea, but nobody shows up and the fair is a big success. A California surfer breaks through the skylight of the Museum of Natural History, going under and around the electric eyes, and steals the Star of India, a huge sapphire, providing the inspiration for Topkapi. An epidemic of fat dentists drugging and raping their patients. Seems they have a club and a newsletter. A spoiled Park Avenue scion kills his girlfriend and rides around for days with her body in a blanket in the back seat of his ’56 Jaguar convertible. Mafia Don Frank Costello arrested for vagrancy. Flashes a wad of hundreds and the judge laughs as he dismisses the case. Occasionally on the 4 to 12 shift I’m a leg man, picking up quotes and items for Earl Wilson, a syndicated gossip columnist (604 papers around the world). I sit at the press table in the Copa, drink Chivas, smoke Camels and hear Sinatra, Nat “KIng” Cole, Vic Damone, Joe E. Lewis, Sammy Davis Jr. The Latin Quarter, another famous nightclub, has ten “leggy chorines,” 6 feet and taller. I’m tall, trim and 20, look good in my suit and have a fund of witty (at least to me) repartee. Plus, I’m making $95 a week. But they go for the short, fat and 50 guys, pinky rings and big cigars, look exactly like they do in every movie. Hard to tell who’s imitating whom.


More stories. The South Bronx is a war zone. Drugs, street crime, grinding poverty. An occasional short, fat 50 guy is found in the back seat of a Caddy with a bloody hole in his head, cigar between his fingers. A Chinese crew mutinies on a docked Greek freighter. I sneak on board pretending to be a doctor. I will go anywhere, do or say anything to get a story. There are six newspapers in the city and I want to scoop them all. I live in a sub-basement on Barrow Street in Greenwich Village. Fifty-three dollars a month. I eat myself into a stupor in Chinatown for three dollars. (If you don’t believe me ask someone who was there.) It’s too good to last.


February 1966: I’m drafted.


1966-68: A roaring darkness descends over the world. I discover the “control class,” people whose only skill is to acquire power over others. I will spend the rest of my life scuttling out from under their hobnailed boots.


1968-69: I surface from a weird dream to discover I have a wife and a baby son. Somehow I convince IBM that I’m the head of a cutting-edge media company. (See Corporation Freak.) I play basketball on LSD and dominate. One of my teammates is the story editor of a TV show called N.Y.P.D. I tell him some of the stories I covered as a reporter. He brings me to David Susskind, the biggest TV producer in New York. Susskind is eating a corned beef sandwich and working three phone lines. “Sure, give him a script,” he says. I’m so green I put quotation marks around the dialogue. Nobody cares. I get loaded at  the Xmas party and puke all over Susskind’s desk. Next day, I slink in to apologize. “That was some party, huh?” he says. “Were you around when that hooker chased Jack [Warden, the star] around his trailer?” Ah, the good old days.


1970: N.Y.P.D. canceled. All the writers go to L.A. I stay in New York because I’m going to write The Great American Novel. I write for Stag, a men’s magazine. Make up news stories like “Diving for Nazi Gold Off the Florida Coast,” “Rabbi Officiates At Lesbian Wedding.” The editor-in-chief is Mario Puzo. I write porno novels, five bucks a page. Ghost write books on Swedish massage and college basketball. Write a biography of Sir Christopher Wren. A medical book called Headaches and Health. Anything that pays. I play poker to make the rent. Finally have a losing night and have to borrow from a shylock who lurks around the edges of the game like a jackal around the campfire. Can’t pay him back and the vig is mounting. He knows if he breaks my legs nobody will borrow from him so he gets me a job as a bartender in the Hotel Diplomat in Times Square. I discover cognac and ditch all the other drugs.


Fortapache 1970-73: Short stories rejected, novels rejected. I’m divorced. Hack work and bartending pay the child support. An agent needs a writer for a movie about two cops who work the 41st, or “Fort Apache,” in the South Bronx. The cops keep putting his candidates through an ordeal by fear and alcohol and they all quit. I go to the Bronx. “You took the subway?” they ask in amazement. We go to a mob bar. They try to get me drunk, but I’m in training. After a few hours they’re so loaded that I dump my drinks on the floor and they don’t see. They drive me to the Bronx Zoo. Hookers patrol the perimeter. They get the biggest, fattest hooker into the back seat with me. This time my experience as a reporter pays off. I know how cheap cops are. “Is this on you guys?” I ask. They throw her out. I get the job.


1973: I write the first draft of Fort Apache, the Bronx for $1,250. The producers can’t sell it. Susskind reads it and says, “I’m going to make this movie.” I file the script and forget about it.


1973-75: Rejections and general dissipation.


1976: I finally learn how to write fiction well enough to get a novel published. I think the screenwriting taught me how to structure a story.


Rolling thunder 1976-78: An agent circulates Fort Apache in L.A. I get jobs on Baretta and Kojak but fight with the producers and Robert Blake and never finish the scripts. I write a pilot for John Houseman, which later becomes The Paper Chase. Bill Devane prevails on Larry Gordon to hire me to rewrite Rolling Thunder. I spend six riotous weeks in San Antonio. The laws of God and man are suspended on a movie location. The producer of Fort Apache hires me to adapt Ira Levin’s The Boys from Brazil. Six more great weeks, traveling super-first class in Lisbon, London and Vienna with Peck and Olivier. Susskind sells his company and gets financing for three movies. He calls me. “I’m going to do Fort Apache,” he says. I finally think it’s safe to quit my bar job.


The rest is war stories.


Me: Wow — what a saga! So tell me what life looks like now.


Heywood: Life is trying to turn out as much coherent work as I can before they put me in the Old Hack’s Home.


Me: I’ve got a question about how you’re putting out that work these days. Lately, all writers seem to be able to talk about is e-publishing. Yet it looks like The Serial Killer’s Daughter isn’t available as an e-book. Is that a temporary situation, or are you making a bold one-man stand against the Kindle and its ilk?


Heywood: It’s part of my agreement with the publisher. I maintain e-book rights and I promise not to put the book on Kindle until it goes into remainder. Kindle has been a boon for me. It’s revived a lot of my books that were out of print. I sell between 20 and 30 a month, and the number is inching up. I’m publishing all my books and have started a company, Tolmitch Press, to put up other worthy, forgotten titles. So far we have five new titles and are acquiring more. There’s no real money in it, but it’s great to give good books a new life.


Me: Obviously, publishing has changed a lot since you got your start. What do you think of the state of the industry? Are you in the “We’re the orchestra on the Titanic” camp or are you more hopeful?


Heywood: It’s always been a struggle for me to get a book published, so that hasn’t changed. The publishers that were content to give writers like me a small advance, take a share of the paperback and foreign sales and make an incrementally increasing profit as I took the 10 years to build up an audience are now non-performing divisions of industrial conglomerates. Their structure is no longer geared to the modest earner. They need a mega-hit to cover their overhead and justify their existence as the poor relation. They publish best-selling authors only and insist that they replicate their previous success by writing essentially the same book every time out. Marketers don’t innovate; they repeat a formula until it no longer works. Thus, the same tired heroes labor through 20 or 30 iterations of the same story until even their fans cry for mercy.


I could not follow my career chronology if I were a young writer today. The hundreds of magazines and scores of paperback publishers who kept so many of us alive no longer exist. It’s almost impossible to break into the movie business the way I did. Studios don’t make the kind of movies I was hired to write. Success was always based on luck colliding with talent. Now success is just a happy accident.


For me the future is with the small independents. Everybody wants to make money, but these people are in publishing because they love books. I sold my last two books by e-mail. Never met the publisher of Leading Lady [a thriller put out by Five Star in 2008] and just met the publisher of Serial Killer at the book launch. If I were a young writer today I might never be able to quit my bar job. But I’d keep writing anyway.


Read more from Steve Hockensmith at


International Thriller Writer’s Interview

 Off on a book tour—signings, interviews, panels, car washes, eating contests, targeted assassinations, but you have to order at least twenty books—for the next few weeks. Will post a few of the interviews along the way….Best, Heywood

 International Thriller Writer’s Interview 

by George Ebey

Heywood Gould, former reporter for the NY Post, and author of thirteen books and nine screenplays including Cocktail, Rolling Thunder, and Boys from Brazil, brings us his newest thriller, The Serial Killer’s Daughter.

Peter Vogel has just made a deal with a wacko chick in his American Lit class.  If he ghostwrites her papers, she’ll sleep with him.  Seeing as how Peter has had his eye on this girl for quite some time, the deal seems like a good idea.  She stays around just long enough to make him fall crazy in love then disappears.  Six months later, she shows back up like nothing happened.  Then things start to get weird.  Peter’s apartment is invaded.  Bodies are found in a dumpster.  Thugs try to run him off the road.  One night, the girl confesses: she’s the daughter of a notorious serial killer, doing life in super max for eleven murders.  Someone is trying to kill her and Peter is the only one who can protect her.  But now they’re stalking him, too.  On the road, in hotels, everywhere.  The cops don’t believe them.  They think the two are mules being hunted by the cartels.  In order to survive, Peter and this beautiful, yet mysterious girl have just one chance: to figure out who’s after them and strike first.  And the only person who can help them is an insane, vindictive mass murderer – the girl’s dad.

Your book’s title is certainly an attention grabber.  Did it come to you early on in the writing process or did it have to percolate for a while?

The title came before the book. I had always wondered what it would like to be related to a serial killer. What happened to the families. How they continued with their lives. How their community reacted. Hence the title and the book.

When we think of serial killers, most of us believe that we have a standard idea of who these people are: Jeffery Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy.  What makes the killer of your title stand out from the rest?

The killer in this book is morally oblique. He actually believes that he is the victim in a world of hypocrites and manipulators. He has found a way to completely exonerate himself for what he’s done. He is maddening because he will not repent.

Your story features a protagonist who falls for the daughter of a killer.  What interested you in approaching a serial killer story through this unique perspective?

Our daily routine is like a narrow path through a jungle full of ravening beasts waiting to pounce. The slightest misstep can send us into a world of horror. One cell grows into a malignant tumor. A drunken driver veers down a street we’re crossing. A homicidal weirdo opens fire in a bank or a restaurant. A serial killer stalks us for months without our knowledge. I wanted to show what happens to normal people who are suddenly plunged into the alternate universe of insanity that is all around us.

Your last book, Leading Lady, won the Independent Publishing Award bronze medal, was a finalist for the Hammett Prize, and was the Forward Magazine Mystery/Thriller of the Year.  Would you care to tell us a little about it?

Leading Lady has a similar theme: a normal woman suddenly forced to survive in a threatening world.

What advice would you give to any bright young college seniors (like Peter) who find themselves propositioned by that one cute co-ed they’ve had their eye on?

Go for it. One way or another it’ll change your life. 

Serial Killer’s Daughter – Midwest Book Review

 Off on a book tour—signings, interviews, panels, car washes, eating contests, targeted assassinations, but you have to order at least twenty books—for the next few weeks. Will post a few of the interviews along the way….Best, Heywood



Thursday, May 5th  6:30 – 8:00

Mysterious Bookshop

58 Warren Street

New York, NY 10007


Friday, February 18, 2011

The Serial Killer’s Daughter-Heywood Gould

The Serial Killer’s Daughter

Heywood Gould

Nightbird Publishing, Apr 2011


ISBN: 9780981951258


College senior Peter Vogel is majoring in English. He is an intellectual nerd with no friends; the loner finds women ignore him like he has a disease so he fantasizes about females with his vivid imagination. Thus he is shocked when student Hannah Seeley asks him to write her papers so she can graduate as women never talk to him even for a favor. Since she has no money to pay him, Hannah offers him sex. He accepts her deal and writes a paper in which she receives an “A”. After the promised tryst, she vanishes from his life without even a good-bye


Peter goes to Houston to earn his Masters. Hannah reenters his life insisting people are after her. A policeman investigates her claim and tells Peter Hannah is the daughter of Anoly Sweeney known as the Robbingate Killer who murdered eleven times, but now is in prison in the Pacific Northwest. The townsfolk of Robbingate are angry at Hannah because she the sole person her father loved. Many of the townsfolk have the means to hire a professional killer to murder her. Though she hurt him, Peter decides to protect her from a town without pity and dicover who is really trying to kill her.


Heywood Gould has written an exciting crime thriller that looks deeply into the various masks people wear and change to hide their peculiarities and what they consider a fault. Peter is the only person who is guileless so that what you see is what you get. Peter obviously cares about Hannah as he tries to help her in spite of her hurting him though that means he needs to relook his values. Readers will understand that even serial killers have families who are victims of their insanity too as Mr. Gould allows fans to see up close how the Serial killer’s Daughter survives the whisperers about her heritage.


Harriet Klausner, Midwest Book Review

Serial Killer’s Daughter – Booklist Review

Please join us for a Launch Party and Book Signing

Saturday April 30, 2011    6:30 pm
Eagle Eye Bookshop, 2076 N. Decatur Road, Decatur, GA 30033

Sunday, May 1, 2011  4:00pm
Peerless Bookstore, 8465 Holcomb Bridge Road, Alpharetta, GA

Issue: May 1, 2011
The Serial Killer’s Daughter.
Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Gould, Heywood (Author) May 2011. 258 p. Nightbird, hardcover, $20.00. (9780981957258).

       Gould is a movie guy (screenwriter for Boys of Brazil, among other writing and directing credits), and it shows in the big-screen style he brings to this novel. no essayish exposition, just snappy dialogue and narrative set forth in sentences bursting with energy. Peter Vogel, English major and uber-nerd, is approached by the beautiful Hannah for help with term papers. He happens to be there the night a jock slips her a roofie. He rescues her, and in the days to come, he realizes he has to keep rescuing her. After a few fights and chases, he learns she’s the daughter of a convicted serial killer. Someone could be punishing her for her father’s sins. Or just maybe the serial killer is a victim, too. Revelations come in layers as the violence escalates, accompanied by conversations about guilt and atonement that explain the action while advancing it—like a movie. As Peter learns to handle himself in this world, Hannah, like Lady Macbeth, grows alarmed at what she’s created. The reader gets to “watch” a fine thriller unfold.

— Don Crinklaw


Nightbird Publishers interviews Heywood Gould about his new book SERIAL KILLER’S DAUGHTER and about his life as a writer 


What actors do you envision playing the leads, Peter Vogel and Hannah Seeley, in the movie version, should there be one?

I’d like Montgomery Clift and Donna Reed, but don’t think they’re available.

Do you write every day? What does a typical writing day look like for you?

I try to write five days during the week and a half day on Sunday if there are no good football games.

Of your overall writing time, what percentage is new writing and what percentage is rewriting and editing?

I start the day by rereading what I wrote the day before. Sometimes I hate the stuff. It’s either incoherent or glib, clumsy or cheaply facile. A repeated word or a grammatical mistake can throw me into a panic. A flaw in logic or a key omission makes me Google “Symptoms of Dementia,” all of which I discover I’ve had since childhood.  Then I begin to rewrite—what choice do I have?  That can sometimes take a whole day and can affect the new stuff I had planned so I go back even further to clip off any loose ends. A different story begins to emerge. The story that was meant to be.

            As all other Gods have failed I’ve gotten mystical about the writing process. I no longer see myself as a creator, bringing something new into the world, but as an explorer on a voyage of discovery. Rewriting is a course correction to get to my El Dorado. It’s out there fully formed shimmering in the sun, —the perfect noir best seller with a huge movie sale.

The face of publishing appears to be changing. Where do you see it going over the next 5-10 years?

E-books obviously. But I think younger readers will discover the joy of the printed book; I see more people reading on the NYC subway than ever. The big houses will follow the big movie studios and aim for the mass audience. Small publishers who can operate on low overhead will become more influential. I think you’ll see most of the NBA, Pulitzer, Edgar, Hugo, etc. winners coming from the independent publishers.

How do you build strong characters in a novel, and which is your favorite character that you created? Any characters of your creation that upset you and made them difficult to keep writing about?

The fun of writing is when you start to “read” your characters. When they acquire a life of their own and you become a stenographer taking down their stories.  I’ve found most of my characters—even the bad guys—interesting and fun to write. But I was appalled by Arnold Seeley, the murderer in Serial Killer’s Daughter. He’s the first totally evil character I’ve ever written and I wondered in what depths of my brain he had been lurking. His scenes were the most difficult I’ve ever written. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein: why was I dredging this monster up?  But, in the same book I found two innocent young lovers who create an Eden in the back seat of a Volkswagen Bug traveling up and down the 101 Freeway. I finished the book with a darker view of humanity. But, paradoxically, with a greater appreciation of the redemptive power of love.

What do you like to read?

I read to become a better writer. To quote Norman Mailer: “To see how the other guys pull their jobs.” I read the Bible every day before writing as a constant lesson in how to tell a vivid story in simple language. Also, the Bible is uncanny in the way a name mentioned in Genesis, pops up in later books; how a story in one book lays the groundwork for an event in another. Some people would say that God, the author, used divine logic. I’d rather think that some human redactor (with God-given talent, of course) went through all the writings, paying off characters, resolving stories and tying up loose ends. I try to read writers who are better than me; you can easily pick up bad habits from the hacks. The great novelists can teach you how to tell a story. The great noir writers—Chandler, Simenon, Hammett and a few lesser known masters like Kenneth Fearing, Jonathan Latimer, Steve Fisher and many others to teach how to create atmosphere and suspense.   History and biography show how lives seem to meander, but are really driven by the logic of events. To make the coincidental and the unlikely seem inevitable is the great challenge of fiction writing.

Many of your novels are noir and depict the seedy underbelly of society. How did you decide to write this genre?

I grew up a few blocks away from the mother of famed bank robber and perpetual prison escapee Willie Sutton. She was a trembly old lady prowling the streets with a market basket, but she walked in an aura all her own. People pointed her out, told stories about her, but left her alone. I was eleven and consumed with curiosity. One day in the butcher store I asked her: “Are you Willy Sutton’s mother?” She smiled. “That’s me.” She seemed to want to talk, but when I got outside the butcher came after me in his blood spattered white coat and gave me a hard shove with his cold, beefy hand. “You bother that lady again, you’ll get a smack.” That was my first inkling that there was a secret world in my neighborhood that the butcher and Willy Sutton’s mom were part of and I was not.  From then on I’ve been fascinated with life in the alternate universe of crime.

What new projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a thriller about a poetry-writing, pot-smoking detective in Santa Monica. Also, a musical version of a movie I wrote called “Cocktail.”

What do you like the best about writing, and what do you like the least?

I hate writing. Oh yeah and I guess I love it, too.  I love finishing something, but I hate reading it over and seeing how far it has strayed from the original conception. I love getting paid for what I’ve written, even if it’s only a few dollars. But I hate the nagging feeling that the publishers and producers are ripping me off. I love the elation when I get off a good line,  but hate the deflation at a cliché that has somehow gotten into print. I was once haggling with a producer about a screenplay fee. “I’m doin’ you a favor payin’ you at all, “he said. “You’d do this thing for nothing and you know it…” That about sums it up.

Do you have a personal favorite of the books you have written? How about a favorite Heywood Gould screenplay/movie?

There’s good and band in all of them. The good stuff seems like it was written by someone else. As if I went into a trance and it was dictated to me.  The bad stuff is all too recognizable as mine and mine alone.

What kind of research do you do for your crime novels? FORT APACHE, THE BRONX is especially gritty and real. Have you participated in ride-alongs with cops on their beats to get that sense of reality?

I covered police for the NY Post in the ‘60’s. With the anti-war demos, the drug busts, the Mob hits and the street crime there was enough action in one night for a hundred scripts. Ride-alongs were inconceivable. The cops didn’t want any reporter to see how they really did their jobs. Anyway, there’s something voyeuristic about Ride-alongs—like watching the animals from a Land Rover. And they’re unproductive. You get the official version, but people in the street won’t give you the straight story with two cops standing behind you. If you want to write about a neighborhood you shouldn’t be afraid to venture into it alone. Go to the scene, nose around. People are brimming with the great unarticulated drama of their lives. You’ll find somebody who wants to talk.

The Fort Apache characters were loosely based on two Bronx cops, who had a wealth of great stories and great humor about the job. They made writers undergo an initiation, taking them on a tour of the Bronx bars and if they were still conscious, dropping them in “hooker central” outside the Bronx Zoo. Two guys had washed out before me. But I was working as a bartender, drinking a quart of Martell a night. I was in training. We went shot for shot for hours.  When the cops started to fade I saw my chance. I bypassed my mouth and threw the last four rounds over my shoulder. They were too drunk to notice. When we pulled up outside the zoo and the hookers rushed the car, I asked: “Is this on you guys?” Cops are famously cheap. They sped away. I got the job.

Tell us about your early days as a writer. Was it difficult for you to get published? Do you have a few “trunk” or “apprenticeship” novels that never saw print?

I have scores of short stories and half-finished novels that were rejected. Several plays and at least twenty screenplays that will never be produced. It’s like being a baseball player: a .300 batting average is pretty good. My first published books were non-fiction and were like longer, more detailed versions of the stories I had done as a reporter. Fiction was harder to write. There was no template. Every story demanded its own kind of telling.  A dull reporter can write a competent story if the subject is interesting. A dull novelist will write a dull novel because in the end  subject of every novelist is him/herself.

Your memoir, CORPORATION FREAK, about your experiences workig as a consultant for IBM, is hilarious and insightful. The corporate mindset is a frightening  thing, right? Tell our readers about those days at Big Blue…the highs and the lows.

Random thoughts of an office worker staring out of the window of a suburban industrial park on a spring day. Economic life in the so-called “developed world” is based on the production of useless artifacts. All we really need to do is eat, sleep, stay warm and have sex, but a race of aliens have enslaved us to their vanity–the bosses. We have no share in the wealth we produce for them. They use faith, patriotism and fear to keep us in line. What if we tore everything down and gave everyone a plot of land? We could raise our own food, sing songs and stay out of the rain. Life would be simple. We would be happier. But the bosses wouldn’t. Those crummy bastards. This whole capitalist/corporate/consumer culture has been created to serve their urge to dominate their fellow human beings. You can see it in the parking lot. The gleaming SUV’s of the bosses, the modest, crumpled sedans of the drones. The big houses, the manicured lawns of the bosses, the crumbling bungalows and brown patches of the workers. What is jewelry? Why do I have to languish in a thankless job so some power-mad pervert can buy his wife a diamond necklace? I’m like a stoker, sweaty and grimy, shoveling madly to fuel the furnace of their greed. How come their kids are so sleek and talky when mine are sulky and always have running noses? Let’s rise up.  Overthrow the whole rotten system. Burn their cars, rip the diamonds off their wives’ necks, give their snotty kids a timeout. Let’s put ‘em against the wall, the dirty sonsabitches. Nobody’ll miss ‘em—not even their own families. …Oh, look at the time…It’s almost lunch…They day’s half over…And tomorrow’s casual Friday…

To Be Continued…Part 2 HOLLYWOOD