Friday, July 5, 2013

Interview with July featured author Ben H. Winters who talks about his novels and where the idea came from–". I thought, OK, how can I take the old trope of the “detective who cares when no one else does” and push it as far as possible. Hence, the end of civilization. "

I hope you all enjoyed your 4th of July Holiday, and you're all ready to sit down with an explosive fantasy read.

Congratulations to Elaine who won both of Ben's novels The Last Policeman and his upcoming Countdown City sponsored by Ben's publisher Quirk Books.

I hope you enjoy Ben's interview and come back bright and early Monday morning when we begin the discussion.


Winner of the 2013 Edgar® Award Winner for Best Paperback Original!
What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?
 Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.

“The best genre fiction holds a mirror up to society while also providing edge-of-the-seat excitement, and The Last Policeman did that and more.”—Las Vegas City Life
“...a heck of a lot of fun.”—Locus
“Winters constructs a sturdy, functional, entertaining page-turner.”—Greg Cook,
“I'm eager to read the other books, and expect that they’ll keep me as enthralled as the first one did.”—Mark Frauenfedler, Boing Boing
“...darkly intriguing...”—Discover magazine
“Full of compelling twists, likable characters, and a sad beauty, The Last Policeman is a gem.”—San Francisco Book Review
“...resonant and powerful.”—Locus
“This is a book that asks big questions about civilization, community, desperation and hope.”—io9
“ entertaining and well-plotted tale.”—'s GeekDad
“I'm in the middle of it and can't put the dang thing down.”—USA Today's Pop Candy
“, funny, and deeply wise.”—


The Last Policeman has been nominated for a Macavity Award in the category
Best Mystery First Novel
Congrats again Ben!!!!!

Click the LINK for more information and other nominees


Ben Hi! Welcome to my blog and thank you for graciously agreeing to be a part of the July featured read of your Edgar Winning novel The Last Policeman.
YAY  Ben and Congratulations!!!
Thanks so much for having me as a “guest”.

Ben the week after we start the read the second novel in your pre-apocalyptic trilogy CountdownCity will be out.
What was the inspiration for the novels?

The inspiration for Policeman came from my love of detective fiction, and my desire to do something in that world, but in as interesting a way as possible. I tend to love mysteries where the psychology of the investigator is as much a part of the story as the nature of the crime or the trail of clues. I thought, OK, how can I take the old trope of the “detective who cares when no one else does” and push it as far as possible. Hence, the end of civilization. 

When you started writing The Last Policeman did you know it would be a trilogy right away or did you learn during the process that the story was bigger than one book?
When I thought of the idea, it was for one book. I pitched it to Jason Rekulak, my editor at Quirk, and he felt it had the scope of a trilogy. I said yup—what am I going to say, no?—and began thinking of how to develop these ideas over the course of the books. The answer, by the way, was that each novel would center around one crime, while the bigger picture stuff—in terms of societal breakdown, and in terms of Hank’s relationship with his sister, with his past—plays out over the arc of the trilogy. 

Ben these novels are both character and event driven.
Was it easy to balance those two driving forces?
Really this book is about one huge event—the destruction of the world—which hasn’t happened yet but is soon going to happen, and how the brute fact of it shapes the actions of all the characters. There is this one amazingly unlikely event that is occurring, but hopefully everything else  that occurs feels logical and organic, a natural result of the kinds of things that the kinds of people I’ve created—hard-working cops, world-weary medical examiners, drug addicts, poets—would do in this situation.

Okay so you’re sitting in the audience at the Edgar Awards and they call your name.
What was your first thought?
Well, I was pretty surprised. I read all the other books that were nominated, and all were extraordinary, so I rated my chances pretty low. You can bleep it out for your website, but I think my first thought was “holy ------- ----.” 

Ben receiving his Edgar
Could you please share your “becoming an author” story with us?
There are so many times I became an author. I became an author when I was nine and wrote a series of humorous vignettes about a pig named Piggy-Wiggy, and everybody loved them and I thought, “Huh. Cool.” I became an author when I wrote a humor column in the student newspaper in college, and I made fun of the fraternity system and got physically threatened over it—and I thought “Huh. Cool.” Most recently I became an author when (after many years of doing journalism, doing standup, writing plays) I happened to meet the folks from Quirk Books, and they hired me to write some humorous nonfiction. Then, a couple years after that , I really became an author, when they had an unexpected hit with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and hired me to write the followup. So my first published novel was Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.  

Ben I see a trend in your work.
Have you always been fascinated by fantasy/science fiction?
Not always, but early on and intermittently thereafter. As a kid I loved Piers Anthony, Philip Jose Farmer, Orson Scott Card. I was very into D&D, very into comic books, all that good nerd stuff. I didn’t grow up into a super fan, though; I never went to conventions or dressed up as characters, and I stopped reading sci-fi more or less, and fantasy entirely. As an adult I’m much more prone to pick up a detective novel or a work of “literary fiction,” whatever that means. But having said all that, you’re right—my work definitely bears the marks of those kinds of books, which is more than fine with me. And I do cite at least one sci-fi author as a direct influence, and that’s Philip K. Dick, and in particular The Man in the High Castle, which was an important book for me writing The Last Policeman ; along with Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union,  Russel Hoban’s Riddley Walker, and of course Nevil Shute, On the Beach. 

I’ve heard other authors say that much suffers when they’re in their “writing zone.”
Is it this way for you too?
Not especially. I work very hard, and very diligently, when I am at my desk. I also try, when I am not at my desk—and in particular, when I am with my kids and my wife, or with friends—to not sit there chewing over my work in progress.  I find I get more and better work done when I am disciplined and efficient with my working hours, and allow myself the joy of not working when it’s not time to work. 

Who are some of your favorite authors?
George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Richard Price, PD James, Philip K. Dick, Edith Wharton, Robert Caro, Ira Levin. Oh, and Patricia Highsmith—The Talented Mr. Ripley is one of my all-time favorites, as is Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby. This question, of course, I could answer forever. Ask me again later in the month, I’ll tell you some more. 

Thanks Ben for letting us get to know you a little better. I’m really excited to begin the discussion.
Thank you! I look forward to chatting with you and your readers. 

Visit Ben's website here 

Here is the reading schedule one more time

Reading Schedule is as follows-

Week one July 8th-14th- Part One
Week two July 15th - 21st- Part Two
Week three July 22nd - 28th- Parts three, four and epilogue


  1. Deb,
    Another great choice for a read.!!!
    To qualify my comment, I have been married to a state cop from a western state, where they still sit tall in the saddle anx think they are John Wayne, for 35 years. That said, -----both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed your book. You got the synicism of law enforcement down so well. Uncfortunately, we don, t have the astroid to blame, just the state of the world.
    Obviously I enjoyed the book enough to read it again and to participate with Deb in this forum....I may even get the hubby to throw in his two cents. Lookjng forward to visiting with you through out the month.

    1. Thanks Karen, eager to get started on this one
      See you on Monday

  2. Looking forward to the reading and the discussions! Thanks again Debbie for the opportunity to be introduced to another great author!

    1. Eadie, as always it's my pleasure :)
      I just found out that Ben will be in my town during the month but I'm afraid it's on a day that I can't make it to see him. I'm still trying to move things but it's not looking good.
      See you Monday am