Interview // Author R.G. Belsky, Author of The Last Scoop
With your background in journalism and media was novel writing a smooth transition for you?
My journalist/media background helped me in many ways to make the transition to writing mystery fiction novels. It gave me the ability to write clearly, write quickly, meet deadlines, research facts about a crime – and lots of other great things.
But there were some problems: the biggest one was I had to learn not to tell a story too fast. As a journalist, particularly a tabloid journalist, I’ve always been taught to put all the basic facts of a story – who, what, why, where, when – in the first paragraph. Great for a news story, not so good for a mystery novelist. If you put all the facts in the first graph or the first page or the first chapter, no one will keep reading. So I had to learn how to tell the story more slowly, revealing some facts but not all of them.
But overall, I believe that my background as a journalist has been tremendously helpful to me as a mystery novelist. Hey, Michael Connelly started out as a newspaper reporter too. That’s a pretty good recommendation for an aspiring novelist to learn journalism first.
Had you always wanted to write based within a sleuth/mystery world or did you have interests in other genres?
My first attempt at writing a novel was actually a Vietnam war novel, based on my experiences in that war during the late 60s. I tried some short stories with other topics too like romance, science fiction, etc. But once I started reading mystery novels, I fell in love with the genre. And I thought it fit in too with my journalistic background covering real-life crime stories. Making up crime stories sure seemed like a lot of fun – and I’ve been doing it ever since!
What is your biggest writing pet peeve?
Probably people who say they want to write a mystery novel too and then ask my advice on how to do it. I always tell these people the same thing: “Just sit down and write it.” It’s really that simple. At least that has to be your starting point. But later these same people will come back to me again telling me about the novel they’re “going to write” – and they haven’t done any writing at all. Lots and lots of people talk about writing novels, but authors write.
What was your most satisfying moment while writing the latest release in The Clare Carlson Mystery series, The Last Scoop?
Writing “The End.” No, just kidding. Actually, I really enjoy the writing process, and Clare is a lot of fun to write about. The most satisfying moment for me in any novel is the moment where it all sort of comes together – and you hit your groove and try to make some writing magic, as they say. In The Last Scoop, I started out with the idea of Clare getting a final news tip from her longtime journalist mentor before he dies – then breaking the story herself. But I wasn’t exactly sure what that story – or stories – would be. When I figured that out and put Clare on the trail of a terrifying serial killer…well, that was damn satisfying!
Did you find The Clare Carlson Mystery series stayed along your chosen path or developed into a completely different series with your latest release?
Clare always surprises me. And I’m not sure what she’s going to do until I get well into the writing of the book. Which is a good thing, I believe. In the first book, Clare was not even going to be a series character. It was just meant to be a onetime stand-alone thriller about a TV newswoman chasing the biggest story of her life. But, because people liked Clare, I’ve continued writing her. The trickiest thing is figuring why a news director like Clare – who normally would be reading budget reports and ratings charts – is out reporting a big story herself. So far, I’ve managed to do that.
How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for writing?
Jeez, that’s never been a problem for me. Enthusiasm for writing is something I have plenty of at all times. That’s why I write these books – because I love to do it. So no burn out for me. I get up in the morning and look forward to hanging out with Clare and all my other characters for several hours.
If you only had one sentence to capture a new reader for your books, what would it be?
I’ll use the opening line of The Last Scoop. “I am a woman who deals in lies for a living.” I think that sums up Clare, the story, the book, and what you’ll be getting if you read it. It’s all about lies and the people who tell them – and the ones like Clare who are determined to keep digging for the truth.
What one book do you recommend that every mystery genre lover read (not including your books)?
The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler.
Can you tell us your favorite book and why?
Same as above. The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler. It is the classic mystery I love the most. I’ve re-read it numerous times. I’d also add Eight Million Ways to Die by Lawrence Block, which is the quintessential New York City murder mystery (and also features a lot of tabloid newspaper headlines). And at least one of Michael Connelly’s great mystery novels – there are so many but my favorite might be The Last Coyote. Having said all this, I realize I’ve left out many of my favorite books. There is a lot of great mystery reading out there.
What author has inspired you the most in your writing?
Raymond Chandler. I know some people feel Dashiell Hammett was the originator of the hard-boiled detective novel. But for me, it all started with Raymond Chandler. A long time ago, I picked up a copy of The Last Sleep, read it, and was hooked on mystery reading (and later writing) forever. All the great ones who followed: Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly, and the rest owe a huge debt to Chandler. And I’m sure they would agree. For me, I probably wouldn’t be writing mystery novels today if I hadn’t discovered Chandler and The Big Sleep that day.
Of course, we have to know, what is in-store next – books, events, etc.?
The next book will be called Beyond The Headlines, and it’s the fourth book in the Clare Carlson series. It will be out in the spring of 2021. It’s about a celebrity superstar who’s accused of murdering her billionaire husband. As Clare investigates the story, she uncovers a baffling mystery with long-buried secrets stretching back nearly half a century to the time of the Vietnam war. Meanwhile, I’m concentrating now on the release of THE LAST SCOOP which I’m very excited about getting to readers. I’m scheduled to appear at all the major mystery conferences and a number of bookstores (hopefully that will be possible by then). For more details, please check out my website at www.rgbelsky.com
Thank you so much R.G. for stopping by and sharing great insight into you, your reading, and most of all your writing! We wish you, and Clare, much success!
Now that you’ve read the interview, jump over to book 2 in the Clare Carlson series, Below the Fold, and read an excerpt.
This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for R.G. Belsky. There will be Two (2) winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on May 1, 2020, and runs through June 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.a Rafflecopter giveaway
R. G. Belsky is an author of crime fiction and a journalist in New York City. His newest mystery, Below The Fold, was published in May 2019 by Oceanview. It is the second in a series featuring Clare Carlson, the news director for a New York City TV station. The first Clare Carlson book, YESTERDAY’S NEWS, came out in 2018. It won the David Award at Deadly Ink for Best Mystery of 2018. Belsky previously wrote the Gil Malloy series – THE KENNEDY CONNECTION, SHOOTING FOR THE STARS AND BLONDE ICE – about a newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News. Belsky himself is a former managing editor at the Daily News and writes about the media from an extensive background in newspapers, magazines and TV/digital news. He has also been a top editor at the New York Post, Star magazine and NBC News. Belsky won the Claymore Award at Killer Nashville in 2016. He has finished several times as a Finalist for both the Silver Falchion and David Awards. YESTERDAY’S NEWS, was also named Outstanding Crime/News Based Novel by Just Reviews in 2018 and was a Finalist for Best Mystery of 2018 in the Foreword INDIES Awards. His previous suspense/thriller novels include LOVERBOY and PLAYING DEAD. Belsky lives in New York City.
Click here to view The Last Scoop by R.G. Belsky Participants.