A while ago Beth asked me if I’d like to take part in a blog book tour and I said what the hell, sign me up. I’ve been reading Beth’s site for a while and I was pretty certain she wouldn’t foist something on me like 503 Ways for Mommies to Be Better Mommies Through the Careful Daily Application of One-Size-Fits-All Intense Mommying Solutions, which seems to be the sort of book I normally get pitched.

She mentioned that the book was by an author named Marshall Karp, someone she does some work for and who’s also become a family friend. Marshall was kind enough to email me and I could tell right away that he seemed like a good egg. He wrote, in part:

“When I started putting together this Blog Tour (a subject I know nothing about) I was looking for bloggers who wrote about mystery and hopefully had read the first one or two books in the Lomax and Biggs franchise.  And then Beth mentioned you.  I went to your site, and rethought my specs.

I love how you think, how you write, and how you put the thoughts into words and treat the whole deal with a sense of irreverence, as if you’re just ladling up so much blog fodder, which makes me realize that it’s so much more than that.”

Obviously the man is a genius with impeccable taste, right? Also, now I kind of had a crush on him. Bring it on, book tour!

Then the book arrived and I was like, uh oh. It’s a mystery. I mean, I technically knew it was going to be a mystery but uhhhh, it’s a MYSTERY. Dag.

I am not a big mystery fan, although I couldn’t really tell you why. After all, I enjoy novels that contain dead bodies—as many as possible, please!—I like grim situations, and I like to get engrossed with the story and wonder where in hell it’s going. It seems like I’d be the perfect fan, and yet it’s been a genre I tend to avoid.

Maybe there’s a part of my mouthbreathing lizard-brain that thinks I’m too stupid for mysteries, or at least pointlessly annoyed by the idea that while I’m reading along, clueless as to whodunit, there is this invisible army of jerkheads who would have totally figured it out by now. You know how some people are all, oh, I identified the killer by chapter two and la la la I’m a fucking MENSA god? Well, suck it, Sherlock. No one’s giving you a gold star.

Uh. I probably just have issues. Anyway, so I was a little worried about whether I was going to enjoy the book and if I’d finish it in time to take part in the tour (my reading habits have thoroughly changed in the last few years, in that I used to read all the time and now I mostly get a few pages in while I’m lying in bed at the end of the day fighting off the impending coma long enough to finish this one chapter JESUS DAMN IS THAT THE BABY CRYING?), but: surprise! Flipping Out is 100% enjoyable.

Or, well, I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise, since Beth told me about it and promised it would be a good read, but then again I remember how Beth once said she crawled in her kid’s crib to help him get to sleep so clearly she is both incredibly flexible and at least partially deranged.

Anyway. I really, really liked Flipping Out: the characters are great, the police procedure storyline is fascinating, and it’s funny.There’s enough gritty stuff to please anyone looking for suspense in a crime novel, but with lots of hilarious banter and colorful, unforgettable characters. It’s a fun read, and if you’re looking for, say, a beach book, this feels a lot more satisfying than anything with a pair of heels on the cover.

(Unless the heels are dripping in blood. Then, let’s talk.)

I asked Marshall if he wouldn’t mind indulging in a little author Q&A, then belatedly realized I have no idea what kinds of questions to ask a successful author. Luckily, he put up with me and actually took the time to write some fantastic answers:

I don’t normally read mysteries, but I thoroughly enjoyed Flipping Out. So OBVIOUSLY I need to get on the stick and read your other books, and I’m thinking there may be, like, a whole genre out there I’ve been stupidly avoiding. What mystery books would you recommend as All-Time Must Reads, even for supposed non-mystery-fans? 

Being a girl, you might want to start with Nancy Drew. 

Okay, it’s always smart to get the first lame joke out of the way to lower your readers’ expectations.   
  


That’s not an easy question. Mainly because I have no idea what is was about Flipping Out that resonated with you. The three dimensional characters?  The page turning drama?  The pants wetting humor?  The buzz killing sex?  The absence of zombies? 
  


Let me fess up to the fact that on the Fraud to Expert Continuum, I’m not the best guy to answer your question.  I’m not nearly as well versed in the genre as most of my readers.  So I Googled “best mysteries of all time” and guess what? Tons of opinions, and nobody agrees on anything. 
  


My all time favorite is The Day of the Jackal by Frederick Forsyth. I read it for the first time in 1982, and it’s still selling briskly today. 
  


I’m not big into paranormal, and yet I just read — and loved — Vampyres of Hollywood by Adrienne Barbeau and Michael Scott. (And yes, they spell Vampyres the good old-fashioned way, just like my Hungarian great-great-grandmother spelled it.)  It’s hardly an all-time-must-read, but knowing your penchant for demons of the evening, I’d probably recommend it to you. 
  


Beyond that, the best I can do is give you some authors I’ve enjoyed over the years:  Donald Westlake, Robert B. Parker, James Patterson, Jeffery Deaver, Jeffrey Archer, and Michael Connelly come to mind. 

I’d say you stumped me on the very first question, but give me some credit for how I weaseled out of it. 

I love the main characters in Flipping Out, LAPD detectives Lomax and Biggs. Are they inspired from any real-life people you know, or did they spring Athena-like from the confines of your skull? 

Let’s see: Mike Lomax — warm, lovable, sensitive, pays more attention to the little voice in his head than he should, intelligent, intuitive, protective, good in bed — nope, nobody comes to mind.   

Terry Biggs — master of the quick comeback, goes for the laugh every chance he gets, loyal adoring husband, devoted father, workaholic, driven by the challenge of starting a new career and rising to the top — nope, I’m drawing a blank on him too. 

I guess I just made those guys up. 
 
I also made up Big Jim Lomax, Mike’s well meaning, totally meddling father.  Really — he’s completely fictional.  Just ask my kids.
 
An Amazon reviewer wrote that as a gift she read the beginning of Flipping Out to her husband while he “lazed in bed”. Do you find this 1) titillating, 2) flattering, or 3) disturbing? 

I was cool with it until you brought it up.  I mean “lazed in bed” sounds innocuous.  But once you mentioned it, I got to wondering — is there subtext here? 

Then on Sunday I had a book signing at the Chester County Book and Music Company in West Chester, PA.  The store is a fantastic 34,000 square foot monument to books, music, and film for people of all ages and every imaginable persuasion.  It’s a destination — like Disney World, only with a better restaurant. 

Anyway, guess who showed up at my book signing?  The “lazed in bed” couple.  They are very sweet.  I think they just enjoy lying down and having someone read to them.  Which, of course, I graciously did. 

You and I have chatted a bit about zombies. In the upcoming apocalypse of the undead, what do you think your personal chances of survival might be? 

I don’t know much about Zombie Criteria.  I don’t have a handle on whom they like or don’t like.  (If I really cared I’m sure I could look it up on Match.com.)  But based on the fact that my brand of non-threatening humor cuts across all races, religions, and life forms, I would imagine I’d fit right in with the undead.  At least I hope so, because I’ll bet they’d give me some really ungodly stuff to blog about. 

What’s next on your writing plate? Will we be seeing more of Lomax and Biggs? 

I am three weeks and a dozen chapters away from finishing the first draft of the next Lomax and Biggs.  It won’t be released till May 2010, and I can’t even tell you the working title, so I’m not trying to pimp it here, but I have to say I love it.  I love it in a way where I can barely take any credit for it.  The characters are now writing the books, and they have gotten so good at it, that if they could type, I’d wind up as a greeter at Wal-Mart.  I plan to keep working with those guys for as many books as they’ll keep me on. 

But there is one other thing on my plate.  Non-fiction.  It is based on what happened to me when I was 40 years old.  I was a high-paid creative director of a big New York ad agency.  Top of the ladder.  Top of the food chain.  Top of my game.  And one day (one night, actually — because I distinctly remember it was after cocktails), I looked in the mirror and said those infamous five words that sooner or later, every single one of us will say to some mirror somewhere: 

Is this all there is? 

I felt the same way the morning after.  And so I began looking for an answer to a few basic questions.  How did my 40-year-old self get to where he is?   What did I think would make my 60-year-old self so deliriously happy with his life that he had no regrets? 

The answers didn’t come fast.  But eventually I realized that everything about my life at 40 happened because some 18-year-old kid thought it would be cool for me to be in advertising.  Eighteen-year-old Marshall was long gone, but here I was, decades later, still living that dumbass kid’s dream. 
Was the 40-year-old Marshall going to follow that kid’s plan for the next 20 or 30 years?  I decided that he wouldn’t.  The working title for my book is Confronting the Teenager Who Screwed Up Your Life.   

This will not be a dry self-help book.  It will be hilariously real, because the official formula for being funny is Pain Plus Time Equals Comedy.  My own mid-life crises (yes, plural) were painful.  But enough time has passed so that I can turn it into belly laughs.  I think it’s a book that a lot of people over 39 are going to want.  

And I lived it, so I know I can write it.

Douchey question I have to ask: if you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?  

Douchey answer I have to give: don’t ask for advice on how to be an author. 
 
However, I can give you some advice on how to be a writer.  Put your ass in a chair and write.  Write what you know, what you feel, what you want.  Don’t ask for permission, and if you must get feedback, trust and rely on a very small cadre of people.  Preferably those who know and love you, have some kind of qualifications for giving you constructive feedback, and have nothing to gain if you write the next DaVinci Code. 

Let me sum it up: There are a lot of people who can prevent you from becoming an author, but only one person who can stop you from being a writer. 

And if you so much as dare to ask me who that one person is, when I come back in the upcoming apocalypse of the undead, I will go directly to your village and haunt your every moment.

:::

So there you have it, if I wasn’t already a fan of his writing I think that interview alone would send me on my one-clicking way to Amazon.

I can definitely recommend Flipping Out, and I’ve been authorized to give away a free, signed copy of the book to one of you lucky blog readers. Just leave me a comment, include your email address, and I’ll randomly pick a winner — oh, let’s say by Monday, May 4.

As for comment fodder, tell me, do you have a favorite book genre? Or one you avoid altogether? For me, my favorites are memoirs and what I guess you’d call general fiction; I tend to avoid mysteries (until now!), romances, and Westerns. How about you?

** Update: comments are now closed, and I’ll be picking the winners soon! **

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Ang
Ang
13 years ago

Oooooh, pick me, pick me! Um, just a little giddy at free book.

I like mysteries, murders, and general fiction. Favorite author I just discovered – David Hewson!

Eric's Mommy
13 years ago

I like…..ummmm….books about dragons. I am such a geek.

Mim
Mim
13 years ago

Do I get extra points for mentioning that May 1 is tomorrow (Friday) and Monday is May 4? This book sounds fabulous, and I already love the author based on your incisive interview questions and his stellar answers. I read mysteries and thrillers and literary fiction, also love young adult books, and I generally avoid science fiction and vampire stuff, except when I don’t.

Cyndi
Cyndi
13 years ago

1) Mysteries; 2) Romances; 3) Westerns I’m sorry! I grew up reading my dad’s Louis L’Amour westerns and sneaking Harlequins into the house.

Emma
Emma
13 years ago

I don’t want to seem bitchy but May 1 is tomorrow.

By the way I have never commented but I LOOOOOVE your writing. I look forward to every post.

molly
molly
13 years ago

I have been on a major memoir kick (Miriam’s Kitchen was a fave) but I like to peruse the Borders 3 for 2 table and just pick whatever strikes my fancy. I used to read A LOT more words IN A ROW than I do now with a 3 yr old and 1 yr old (usually the few pages before the letters go all blurry and my eyes shut and I’m gratefully asleep at night).

Pick me and it will make you feel better to know that it takes me months to read a book a few pages at a time with my little reading lamp so as not to bother my husband who was formerly a bat since he needs total darkness to sleep.

Cyndi
Cyndi
13 years ago

Oh, and I switched to mysteries so I wouldn’t be embarrassed at airports.

Kristin
13 years ago

Ohhh, I’ve heard about this book and I really want to read it. Pick me! I used to strenuously avoid mysteries too, mainly because my mother (a librarian) was so obsessed with them that it was the only genre she read. But then I got into them and yes, for awhile it was the only genre I read too. They are good books when you have a baby and limited time to focus.

However, I am trying really hard to get back into contemporary and classic fiction (must make brain work) and I’m holding myself accountable by writing a little book review as one of my blog posts every month. But I would love to read another mystery too!

Andrea
Andrea
13 years ago

that fellow has a great knack with words.

personally i love character novels (carol shields, margaret atwood), young adult, and historical fiction and try not to get too close to anything “new age” or douglas coupland-y.

Carrie
13 years ago

I’m all about the Young Adult fiction. Even though I’m fourty. I don’t know. I think it’s because that is what I was reading when I fell in love with reading, kind of like you always remember the music from high school?

LJ
LJ
13 years ago

I love mysteries, any mystery – funny mysteries, great whodunnits. I’ll have to check out his books. And yes, please, please pick me…..

Jenn
13 years ago

I totally read Nancy Drew when I was little! I’m currently a big fan of Jennifer Weiner, Stuart Woods (easy read political thrillers) and after watching the Sopranos I was compelled to buy this monster anthology of all activites mafia-realted. Still working on that one, but it’s very interesting so far.

justmouse
13 years ago

hrm…horror & historical romances. not sure how the two even get grouped together, but they do. i also like some science fictiony type stuff too, but mostly of the vampire/witch/werewolf kind.

also um..sundry..honey….when are we going to see YOUR book for sale??? hmmmmm???

stephanie parnell
13 years ago

Hi! Leaving a comment!
stephanie.parnell@gmail.com

Until I’m out of school, my reading content is strictly class related…there’s no time for anything else unfortunately.

Andrea
Andrea
13 years ago

I love all types of books! One of my favorite authors is Christopher Moore. He writes about supernatural things and is so funny he makes me pee a little.

Claudia
13 years ago

I would love to win a book. I love mysteries and can HIGHLY recommend Donald Westlake who doesn’t really write mysteries, per se, rather they’re “comic capers”. Hilarious, is what they are. Pick up Hot Rock or any of the Dortmunder books. You won’t be sorry. I also love P.D. James, Ruth Rendell, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, etc.

What do I not like? Vampire genre (god, is it a genre now?), fantasy/sci fi (real life is bizarre enough), romance and westerns.

Please let me win! myfreshhell AT hotmail DOT com.

Hawkeyegirl
13 years ago

I’m a true blue fantasy nerd, but I’ll read just about anything. Except romance, which I avoid like the plague.

May 4th is my birthday, so that automatically means I win right? Right? I’ll share the giant red velvet cake being coated in icing as we speak…

Judy
Judy
13 years ago

I love funny books…ANY book as long as it’s funny. You were the one who recommended “Lamb” and that is the last book that I read. Lomax and Biggs are right up my alley.

Stephanie
Stephanie
13 years ago

Well, since I’m expecting baby #4, I mostly stick to picture books, board books and the occasional chapter book for my older daughter. My own reading consists of instructions, recipes, and, when I’m lucky, a few blog posts (yours, obvs). I could use a good, new book all of my own. Pretty please?

ChrisC.
13 years ago

Ooh, thanks for the giveaway! I don’t normally read mysteries, but this one sounds really good. And since your interview with the author was so flippin’ funny, I’m eager to check out his books! As for what I usually read, mostly a lot of high brow fiction (I’m a English PhD drop-out, what can I say) and poetry. Not big on any “genre” lit — romance, western, scifi, etc.

jennifer
jennifer
13 years ago

Historical fiction, hands down!

Shana
Shana
13 years ago

Cereal boxes. Just kidding, sort of. I can read anything and everything, and find myself pulled to reading all day long. Anything that comes into my line of sight is my genre of the moment. I do love non-fiction, but I love fiction just as much. I can say I’ve read romances and westerns, and while there are probably some great ones out there (Gone With The Wind, for example), I don’t rush to those sections in the bookstore.

Now I have to read this book.

Ronna
Ronna
13 years ago

I am a big fan of mystery, suspense, and true crime novels. I have a rather extensive collection of Ann Rule books. Oooh, and Steven King!

I would love to try a book by Marshall Karp. Pick me, pick me!!!

erin
13 years ago

I LOVE mysteries, but as long as they’re action-packed thrillers. I usually seek out James Patterson and some others whose names have flown out of my head at the moment, but I also have read Stephen King. He’s sometimes too scary, even for me. But I’m definitely checking out Flipping Out. Sounds like it’s my kinda read.

jen
jen
13 years ago

I’ll read a pretty wide variety of fiction but my favorite author of all time is Diana Gabaldon. If you haven’t read her ‘Outlander’ series I highly recommend it! Fantasy/mystery/romance/history, based in Scotland & pre-revolution America.
So sign me up for the giveaway, but even if I don’t win I’ll add “Flipping Out” to my library list!

Barbara
Barbara
13 years ago

I’m such a book whore. I’ll read anything and always have. That being said, I have a special fondness for science fiction, fantasy, horror, mysteries, and anything that’s particularly well-written.

anonymous
anonymous
13 years ago

Here’s why you should totally give it to ME.
I absolutely love to read but I am so not a mystery reader. But this guy intrigues me.
So if I read it and love it, who is better to advertise it than me???????

Cassie
Cassie
13 years ago

Once the semester ends I will be able to go back to pleasure reading. Oh Playgirl how I have missed you…It’s the articles… really.

Seriously, not a huge reader, but love Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum series. I am almost to the 14th book. Mystery, sex, and humor. Can’t go wrong with that. I think I will have to pick up Marshall’s book!

Brooke
13 years ago

Will it hurt my chances if I tell you I have a crush on Chris Cactus?

I’d love to win the book. Email is shoppinshensation@mac.com

danielle
danielle
13 years ago

Me! Me! Me!

Honestly, I hope it’s not me. I’m kinda hoping to use my get-something-free Karma coupon for something like winning the lottery or a big screen tv.

But I’m entering myself just in case this is my winning destiny. I’d hate to pass it up just because I think I’m too good for a free book (which I’m not…it sounds great, by the way).

As for reading, I’m not picky about the genre (except for romance novels, which I don’t like). Anything that will not be a waste of my precious reading minutes is what makes me happy!

Laura
13 years ago

I love to read your blog, fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, and thrillers =).

EmmaT
EmmaT
13 years ago

What a fantastic interview. And he gets bonus points from me for mentioning Robert B.Parker…love, love, love! Try Robert Crais and Carl Hiasen too. My dad writes for a living and he says exactly the same thing when asked for advice by aspiring authors…just sit down and write. I don’t think you need any advice though, your writing is amazing and you will be published.

Christy
Christy
13 years ago

WANT FREE BOOK! :o)

I avoid Harlequins & westerns like the plague. Though I’m sure they have their merits, they are not my cup of tea.

Check out Lee Child – Jack Reacher (his main character) is hott.

Reagan
13 years ago

Oh, my mom would love this book.

And right now, I’m definitely addicted to memoirs of, well, addicts– alcoholics, people with eating disorders, etc.- fascinating stuff.

Danell
Danell
13 years ago

Reading? I don’t read no books-it would be cuttin’ in on all my TV watchin’ time.

Actually, if I had a favorite book right now it would be “100 Foolproof Ways to Lovingly Get Your Baby to Sleep for Six Straight Hours (Or More!)”

…possibly with bonus chapters on “Reducing Spit-Up in Your Baby to Fewer than Four Quarts a Day”

Nichole
13 years ago

I’d love a copy of the new Marshall Karp book! I read the first one after reading the Rude Cactus review.

So pick me! Pick me!

I don’t read romance or horror.

el-e-e
13 years ago

Free stuff, woooo! I would totally like to read that book, from THE VERY genre that I, too, avoid. Even though my mother’s read every mystery author known to man and I typically trust her opinion.

Excellent interview. I love that he said, “Douchey” right back at you. That makes him awesome.

Dawn
13 years ago

“Confronting the Teenager Who Screwed Up Your Life” is the best book title ever, I think. Thanks so much for the interview – it was great, and Flipping Out is totally going in the queue of Things I Need to Read.

Renee
Renee
13 years ago

dude sounds pretty cool, I’ll enter to win his book!

My favorite genre has always been science fiction, but I can appreciate a good mystery novel every now and then. Cop dramas are good too!

Kristina
Kristina
13 years ago

I LOVE funny mysteries (Carl Hiaasen), true crime (the gorier the better) and memoirs. kmcguire39@yahoo.com

Krissa
Krissa
13 years ago

Generally my book-buying criteria is
1)Is it interesting?
2)that’s it.
I’ve never gotten into romance novels or chick lit, though I’ve read a handful of both. General Fiction is as good a “genre” as anything. I don’t read very much non-fiction, but when I do I love when it reads like a made up story. I’m a read-to-escape kinda gal.

Vanessa
13 years ago

I LOVE mysteries and actually have a copy of his Rabbit Factory sitting on my dining room table right now calling to me. I read the author recommendation from Beth’s site and am DYING to get started. Here’s to hoping I can get a copy of Flipping Out. Cheers!

amelia
13 years ago

I love really BAD memoirs & autobiographies from people who aren’t fit to be writers.
So bad, in fact, that even the ghost writers couldn’t salvage it.
some examples:
No Lifegaurd on Duty (Janice Dickenson!)
ScarTissue (Anthony Kiedis – he repeats the same stories over and over again, and his editor lets it slide, his descriptions of his girlfriends are beyond entertainment)
It’s Always Something (Gilda Radner- she outs herself as a total neurotic. And the story, unbeknownst to her, obvi has a sad ending)

I sound like an asshole.

MRW
MRW
13 years ago

I love sci fi and fantasy, almost anything post-apocalyptic, science-light type non-fiction (like Freakonomics or Blink), horror, some true crime, and funny books (anything by Bill Bryson etc). The only genres I really avoid are romance, Oprah book-club type books, and most mysteries (although I read nearly every Nancy Drew mystery available when I was a kid).

natalie
13 years ago

Mystery Mystery Mystery! And historical fiction and autobiographies. Also… seems like you might really enjoy a little Dave Barry and/or Nick Hornby. Hilarious!

Emblita
13 years ago

Can I play? Even though I’m a furriner?
In any case- I’ll read just about anything (except for romance novels and westerns *shudder*)
But I love fantasy, historical novels, mysteries, horror yup- just about anything

Annie
13 years ago

I’m In!

Cari
Cari
13 years ago

I am a mystery fan. I like ones with anatomy in them – Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs – Anything with murder. I’m also a “general fiction” fan; oh, and memoirs, too. I guess I’ll read anything, really.

And I love free stuff.

Thanks for the giveaway.

maggie
13 years ago

Okay, I want to read this book based solely on the interview.

AND I LOVE NANCY DREW. LOOOOOOVE.

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