with Robert Fate- author of Baby Shark series
All comments, as can be found by
the color of the font, are strictly the thoughts of the
interviewer. And since she got to add to the interview after he answered the
questions, she got the last word in!
Are you flattered
Gwen Freeman thought enough of you to name one of her characters in
Kills Five after you?
I think you mean
Brant Randall’s book Blood Harvest. In a courtroom scene in that
book, there is a naughty boy named Bobby Fate. Gwen Freeman claims that
not used my name in either of her hilarious Fifi Cutter novels. And she
pretty snippy about letting me know that, too.
I feel confused and idiotic! Sorry Ms Freeman and Mr Randall!) Let's
see if this inteview improves as we go...)
On the subject of the
name Fate—my middle name as well as my penname—the Melville biographer,
Parker, and I have in common uncles named Fate. A fact that led
knows his history, to explain that it was Lafayette’s mid-nineteenth
tour of the American south that popularized the name Fate. There’s a
sliver of trivia
Will you have a
cameo in the Baby Shark movie?
A cameo, huh?
Well, that will be up to Brad Wyman, the producer of the film. But if
happen, I think one of the background guys in a pool hall scene would
or someone having lunch at Wilma’s. But definitely background—no need
frighten the children with any close ups of me.
What is the
strongest influence on your writing?
There are several
writers of crime I admire for different reasons. Joe Lansdale’s
nailing it with a glance, Elmore Leonard’s ability to leave out the
one reads, and Mickey Spillane’s skill at keeping it simple have been
influential. But scenes of violence in crime and action films have
done the most for helping me set the tone in my series. One has only to
the slow motion final scene in The Wild
Bunch, any of the Kurosawa/Mifune samurai classics, or the early
Woo/Yun-Fat gangster bloodlettings to
understand the power and romance of violence.
Then there is the
influence of women in my life. Because, after everything is said and
done, I am
writing a story of a woman’s search for family and belonging on one
her soul on another. That she has chosen to confront the tragedy that
suffered by carrying a gun and using it makes her who she is. And,
makes her an interesting protagonist. She’s a handful, isn’t she?
Have you studied
the craft of writing formally?
No. I read, watch
movies, listen to my critics, and write.
When do you
expect Baby Shark’s Jugglers at the Border to be published?
I hope March
2009. But my publisher will have the last word on that.
It is hard to
find a publisher, especially one that seems like a perfect match. How
hook up with Capital Crime Press?
Tell me about how
hard it is. Gully Jimson said that love didn’t grow on trees like
Eden. He said it was something you had to make, and you had to use your
imagination to make it, too. It was just like anything else, it was all
work, work. Well, finding agents and publishers is like that, too. It’s
work, work, work. I’m not sure there is any right way to do it, but
first hurdle—others follow. So, if that one stops you, keep your day
Oh, yeah, your question.
I was fortunate after many (squared) rejections to actually meet the
editor at Capital Crime Press. He was kind enough to read Baby Shark.
it. We got together on terms. And in September 2006 Baby Shark was
had most of Beaumont written by that time, so, in March of 2007 Baby
Beaumont Blues was published. And in May of 2008 Baby Shark’s High
Redemption came out. Serendipity played the initial role, but honest
take has made it work. I am happy to say that my publisher is reliable
You are one of
the hardest working authors out there. Describe your marketing campaign.
As I understand
it, the purpose of marketing is to put books in the hands of readers.
can’t make readers like books; it can only call their attention to
Marketing, as you know, is not writing. Writing is fun. Marketing is
You need motivation to do marketing.
With a sidelong
glance at our daughter studying at the kitchen table, I decided to sell
books as I could. There. You see. I gave myself motivation. I decided
to get my
book into the hands of mystery readers in the most direct way possible
the heat. You know, just jump right in.
Were serious mystery
readers going to like the book, hate the book, use the book as fire
needed dedicated mystery readers to tell me to continue writing or go
not bother folks anymore. This felt like the right first step in my
This need to know if
I was doing the right thing led to the discovery of DorothyL and 4MA.
dumb bunny in the bunch. They knew I had been around twenty minutes.
they are anything, these mystery readers of legend, they are fearless.
read Baby Shark. Some shook their heads. Some liked. Some didn’t like,
all showed the proper curiosity about where a protagonist such as
Dijk might go next. Voila. A series was born.
That’s my marketing
story and I’m sticking with it.
When I am not marketing, I write. What kind of look is that? Okay.
You want more. Here’s the deal. I work all the time. My wife sees me
a chair staring out the window and she says, “Are you working?” See.
it. You work all the time. Sometimes you sit at the computer and
used to call it typing, but my daughter told me to get a life, it’s
keyboarding. See. You listen and learn things, but mostly you work.
our exit,” my wife says. “I was working,” I tell her. Henry, in the
series, gets it. He says, “Get wood. Work. Work. Pretty soon you have
It’s like that. As you suggest in your question, it’s a process. Write.
out, Add, Change. Write. Pretty soon you have book. I think all writers
differently—same tools, really, but different processes. I try to “see”
story, or sometimes “hear” it. Or, even “smell” it, as with Virginia’s
Evening in Paris. The main thing for
me is that everything be real. No kidding around. This ain’t no disco.
If it is
not real, I’m not interested. Pushing the limits is okay. Leading the
okay. But real. I think it’s essential to wonder what’s next and then
surprised anyway. Isn’t that just like life? Who wudda thought that wudda happened? But, the truth is,
nothing happens unless you write. That’s the important part of the
Why is your turtle named Pharrell?
When my wife asks me why I am in love with Barb Radmore—as
often does—I say, “Take a look at the questions she asks,” and rest my
(Notice how he
smoothly avoided the question!)
You actively pursue a
wide variety of
reviews from all spheres of
the business – web sites, other authors, blogs, and readers. How do the
affect your writing? Feelings?
I am delighted when reviews of the BShark series show up in
unlikely places. I have a dear friend, Jill Diamond, who is active at
highest level in women’s world boxing, who from time to time includes
about Baby Shark in her newsletters that go to an impressive number of
subscribers in 160 some odd countries around the world. Now, I ask you,
a bad thing from a marketing point of view? Women’s world boxing! You
believe those subscribers like a
strong female protagonist.
Let’s see—the question. Affect my writing, my feelings? Yes, on
counts. I take seriously the things that are said by readers and/or
As new as I am to this industry, I feel obligated to pay attention to
everything that is said. I have a sincere belief that I will still be
when I am at the end of my writing career. I am fortunate in that most
reviews for the Baby Shark titles have been supportive. But I am
those reviewers and/or readers who have expressed their concerns about
or moral issues. Without exception, they have been polite and sincere
expressing their concerns and I must believe they represent a larger
readers who have not chosen to speak up. “It’s just fiction,” a friend
me in reference to worried readers. “I strive for realism,” I replied.
wuss out when my stories seem real to people.” If I may repeat myself—I
seriously the comments that are made by readers and reviewers.
What is your current favorite book
(besides yours)? TV show? Movie?
I am presently reading “14” by J.T. Ellison and am enjoying it very
much. I enjoy Colin Cotterill’s books—wonderful characters. I have On
The Original Scroll on my to-be-read stack. I think that will be fun,
but fun. TV shows? Saving Grace and The Closer keep me interested.
Movies? Small, indie films mostly. Although, because of my work
usually end up watching films as DVDs on my computer. That makes my
Colin Cotterill? One
of my favorites! Actually got my Mystery Book Club to read
33 Teeth. Good taste, Mr. Fate)
Name your five favorite living
writers. Oh – come on – don’t say,
“I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings! Spill it!
I love it when you take charge, but the question is too tough. Five
wouldn’t get near the number of living writers I enjoy reading.
Lansdale is always right there. I caught myself reading some Hemingway
other day in a bookstore that had some of his first editions. That
memories of sitting in a bibliothèque at Place de l’Odeon and
reading one after
another every title they had of his. That was the winter of 1959-60. I
think he’s fashionable now, and I know for sure he is no longer living.
you can do stream of consciousness questions, fair’s fair with my
(Drat- foiled again!)
Why don’t you have Baby Shark t-shirts? Coffee mugs? Shot glasses?
The “artiste” in me should be disturbed by that question, I
suppose. But you knew I was way too practical to not take you
Jenny’s medical school costs staring me in the face, the thought of
Baby Shark is just too “American” not to have crossed my mind. So, yes,
chatting with Penn Jillette a day or so ago about a t-shirt that would
Baby Shark on it, and also a quote from him. So, I don’t know. Is that
right direction? Well, I suppose it could be, but I’m not planning on
with any alacrity, or speed, either, for that matter. Maybe closer to
being made, the optimist said.
(There goes my
Okay, Barb. Are you ever going to post a review of High Plains
Redemption? Just asking. The prism through which you see things is
little different, so I’m curious. That’s all.
(I did post the
review last week...hmmm..he is not reading Front Street Reviews every
night before bed? I thought we had a deal?)
Thanks for the questions, Barb. It is
always a pleasure talking with