Paul MacDonald is the author of Smile Now, Cry Later; here is a link to his website:
Q: What is Smile Now, Cry Later about?
A: It’s the first book in a new mystery series that follows a sardonic HR exec who moonlights as a private detective. It’s a fresh take on the classic genre. This first installment has the hero, Chuck Restic, venturing outside the confines of his corporate skyscraper in search of a missing colleague. The trail leads him to the Armenian mob and billionaire land developers. It’s very much an LA story.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
A: I have worked in Corporate America for over 20 years and the series is a way for me to channel the frustrations of someone that comes out of that. Like Chuck, I had a need for finding a purpose.
Q: What makes Chuck Restic different than other detectives?
A: He’s not your typical detective as his is more a passive-aggressive approach over the old-fashioned fisticuffs kind! But HR translates nicely into the detective world — interviewing skills, investigations into foul play, etc.
Q: What make makes Los Angeles a good place for a murder mystery?
A: Many would argue but to me, Los Angeles is the ideal setting for murder mysteries. Clearly, others believe that when you look at how many books are set in LA. There is something loathsome but also special about this town. The seediness is the same as any other big city, it’s just this one is set in perpetually 75 and sunny days. That contrast is what makes it work.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it affect your writing?
A: I am very much like the character in the series — a 9-5 guy at a corporate office. I work in HR and channel all of the inanity and pointlessness of that role into the series.
Q: What are the elements of a good mystery?
A: Unexpected but logical. If you can accomplish that with each plot twist leading up to the reveal of the killer, you are in for a good story. If you can’t, then everyone feels cheated.
Q: Who are some of your writing influences?
A: I tend to stick with the classics of the LA detective genre — Ross MacDonald and Raymond Chandler. Some lesser known guys are Raoul Whitfield and Paul Cain. I also like Ken Bruen, who is very much NOT from LA.
Q: What trends in fiction annoy you?
A: There’s a cliche in current detective fiction that drives me nuts. It’s usually the guy with the beat up (but cool) convertible whose ex-wife and kids still adore him despite his being a horrible husband and father, who feels the need to describe what he’s wearing because he thinks the jeans and faded t-shirt sounds cool, whose charm disarms every female TV reporter, assistant DA, museum curator, andclothing store owner they come across. Guys, stop writing about the guy you wish you were!
Q: What can we expect from the rest of the series?
A: I have the second book coming out in a month and then hope to have one book a year from then on. We’ll see if I can keep that pace going!
Q: If a famous detective could make a guest appearance in one of your novels, who would it be and why?
A: I guess it would be Lew Archer. I just love his relentless pursuit of justice (truth?) but done in a way that’s sort of quiet but determined. He just seemed very “real” and someone I would want on my side.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)