Jun 21, 2016

Spotlight: The Four Night Run by William Lashner

Welcome William Lashner to the Irish Banana Review! We're so excited to have you here to talk about your new book, THE FOUR NIGHT RUN!

1: Outside of crime-related fiction, what’s your favorite genre to read?
I read everything, history, biography, old moldy stuff, and a lot of science fiction, which was what I mainly read when I was a boy.  I’ve been really enjoying the work of Paolo Bacigalupi, especially his short stories.  A couple books that I’ve recently admired are BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates and LIFE AND FATE by Vasily Grossman, which is simply one of the best novels I’ve ever read.

2: Did you always want to write?
Yes, from early on.  But I also always wanted to play baseball in the big leagues or lead guitar in a punk rock band and neither of those was going to happen.  The question was whether I could make living writing novels, and that’s been a rather shocking surprise.

3: How much of your experience as a prosecutor do you incorporate into your writing?

The same impulse that made me want to prosecute infuses all my writing.  Fiction has been described as a justice dealing machine, which I accept, and the great goal of the prosecutor is not to win but to do justice.  In everything I write, there is the pursuit of justice juxtaposed against everything that frustrates that same pursuit, which usually comes down to sex, money, and power.  As individuals, we all want justice, but we all want sex, money, and power more.  Right there is the conflict that exists in all my novels.

4: Do you have a particular method when you write (a time, a place, a pre-writing routine)?
Generally I just sit in my office and work and don’t show anything to anybody until the book is finished, but I did something different for THE FOUR-NIGHT RUN.  I wrote it in sections and sent the sections out to a few trusted friends as I finished them.  The only thing I asked my readers was not to give me any feedback or advice – I didn’t want comments, I just wanted to know what the process would feel like with someone looking over my shoulder as I worked.  What I discovered was that I was much more conscious about pacing, about keeping the scenes taut and the story moving, and especially about heightening the suspense.  With every word I wanted to delight my friends.  The little experiment, I think, made me a better writer and the book, I hope, is the proof.

5: How do you come up with new ideas for what to write?
I get tons of ideas – once you start looking for them they come in waves.  The question is always whether the idea is worth a year of thinking about and another year of writing.  I have a notebook of just new ideas that I’m working on, trying to map out a structure and build the right protagonist and antagonist for the story, which is harder to come up with than the idea itself.  I have one great idea that I’ve been working on for years, but I just can’t figure out the right bad guy and so it just sits there, moldering.  Too bad, because it could be really special if I could just nail that part of it.

6. Your protagonist's name is J.D. Scrbacek. Is his name significant to you?
The name is a take on one of my favorite old TV characters, Banacek, who in my estimation is right up there in the pantheon with Mannix.  That sounds like a law firm, doesn’t it?  Mannix and Banacek.  I fiddled with the name a bit and came up with Scrbacek, which I think looks really good on the page.  That seems to matter to me.  And the initials, well, this is very much a legal thriller, with a whole section about law school, and so J.D., which is the degree that lawyers get, seemed quite natural. 

7: Scrbacek is a really complex character. Did you find him difficult to develop?
Often, there is something surprising that comes out in the writing that gets me to the heart of a character.  For Scrbacek it was his smirk.  As soon as I gave it to him in the first chapter I wanted to wipe that smirk off his face and I spent the rest of the book doing just that.  But I also had a more personal connection to the character.  There was an old rabble rousing criminal lawyer I met in Chicago who was very much a model for Deloatch, the law professor, and I found his view of the law and the world quite seductive, even though he had done some shady things.  I almost succumbed to the old man’s charms, Scrbacek did, and when he did he started smirking.   

The Four-Night Run description:
"J.D. Scrbacek has just won the biggest trial of his career, but even as he crows to the press, his entire life blows sky-high. Was the bomb meant for him, or for his mobster client? In this seaside casino town where the tables run hot and the tensions run high, the odds say the attorney is a marked man.
Alone and on the run, Scrbacek flees into the city’s forgotten underbelly, a ruined corridor called Crapstown, where he is forced to confront the ghosts of his past, his present, and his future. Somewhere in the sordid stream of his own existence lie the answers he needs. But in order to emerge from the depths of Crapstown, Scrbacek must argue for his life before a jury of the forgotten and the damned. Is he lawyer enough to save his own skin?
From the bestselling author of The Barkeep comes a raucous tale of reckoning, racketeering, and revenge."

Lashner's bio:
William Lashner is the New York Times Bestselling creator of Victor Carl, who has been called by Booklist one of the mystery novel's "most compelling, most morally ambiguous characters." The Victor Carl novels, which have been translated into more than a dozen foreign languages and have been sold all across the globe, include BAGMEN, KILLER'S KISS, FALLS THE SHADOW, FATAL FLAW, and HOSTILE WITNESS. He is also the author of BLOOD AND BONE, THE ACCOUNTING, and, most recently, THE BARKEEP, which was a Digital Book World Number One Bestselling Ebook.

Lashner was a criminal prosecutor with the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. before quitting the law to write fulltime. A graduate of the New York University School of Law, as well as the Iowa Writers' Workshop, he lives with his wife and three children outside Philadelphia.


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