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! **

Comments

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Lauren
13 years ago

Wow, I’m sold – PICK MEEEEEE!!!

I’d love to read Flipping Out since I generally avoid mysteries too (maybe because I think they take themselves too seriously? I dunno, maybe I just have issues too…) Since Marshall seems funny, I think I’d like his version of a mystery much better than my previous experiences.

I tend to like general fiction too – humor is always good (especially cheesy girl humor), but I have to admit to a tendency to get sucked in to the “book club” type books filled with drama and tears.

Not a fan of romance novels or westerns. Not even a little bit.

Elaine
Elaine
13 years ago

Ooh, pick me, I love reading! I can’t say that I have a favorite genre. My book tastes are pretty eclectic. I just finished re-reading “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” which is admittedly a children’s story with some heavy grown-up themes. I love Dean Koontz, and if you’ve never read him before I highly recommend you start with “The Watchers.” It’s sort of a mild sci-fi book that I consider realistic fiction. He writes a lot about paranormal type events. I also loved the Twilight books and Memoirs of a Geisha.

kristin
kristin
13 years ago

Sounds awesome! I want it so gimme!

Tammy
13 years ago

Love mysteries and you should really try James Patterson if you are interested in trying on the genre. “The Quickie” is a good read … Dean Koontz is another and you would probably love John Saul. Also like sci-fi but am too picky about it and tend to only read books by David Eddings, which would probably be sci-fi/fantasy.

Cheri
Cheri
13 years ago

I like coming of age type books and, like you, general fiction. I loved “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and also “Good in Bed” so I’m not sure if any of this fits a specific category??

may
may
13 years ago

He sounds good! I’d like to give him a shot.

I enjoy humor (like P.G. Wodehouse – a god among men), some chick lit, although I hate calling it that, and the classics, like Austen. I read a bit of everything except sci-fi (unless it’s Douglas Adams), fantasy, horror/thrillers, and westerns. Yuck.

Jamie
13 years ago

I love me a good mystery…. dead bodies, police and suspects. Love.

Dawn
Dawn
13 years ago

I think his books sound awesome.

I usually read crime/law dramas and popular fiction and cannot stand romances and westerns.

Becky
13 years ago

I’d love to win a copy! I’m very intrigued and will be checking out this author. I read almost any kind of fiction – but especially murder, medical, and legal mysteries. The only genre I don’t care for is harlequin romance-type books. I do like historical romance, however – like the Diana Gabaldon series.

Sheryl
Sheryl
13 years ago

Pick me!

I love the humorous/mystery genre.

You should check out the Stephanie Plum mysteries by Janet Evanovich (not her other stuff–just the mystery series that has a number in each title). Super-fast, easy read that make me LMAO.

Carley
Carley
13 years ago

What a great interview! I’m definitely intrigued now and hope I win this! I would say I generally read what you called the general fiction genre. I do enjoy a good memoir though.

mary baginski
mary baginski
13 years ago

i need a book! packed them up to sell the house. Berenstain Bears remain on the shelf!i read mostly fiction…recommendations and book sale finds and classics i missed. Nicholson Baker is very entertaining

Kellylynn
Kellylynn
13 years ago

Hi my name is Kelly and I have a book problem. Everywhere we go I buy more books. My 5 year old has even pointed out my problem to me. And I read just about anything, well – I have never read a Western, so I can’t say much about that one.

Lately I have been hooked on Steve Berry and James Patterson and either memoirs or true crime.

Kathy
Kathy
13 years ago

Second his suggestion of Robert Parker, great dialog!

wn
wn
13 years ago

Awesome review and interview! Read about Marshall on Chris’ site initially and am now even MORE interested. Seriously great post.

One genre which I have grown to LOVE are travelogues. Anything by Guy Deslisle is great also I recommend Asiaddict: A Cartoon Travelogue by Mats!?

have a good weekend!

Deb
Deb
13 years ago

I love mysteries and romances! And romantic mysteries! And today is my birthday! (Hello 38, I don’t like you, but since you are one of the dwindling numbers between me and the number 40, I’ll take you.) So Pick Me!

I never liked romances until I found Jayne Ann Krentz. Give her a try – Sharp Edges was the first one I read, and is still a favorite. Her female characters are strong and smart – my favorite kind of woman.

melissa
13 years ago

no no, pick me. I’d never amazon one-click this, knowing its a mystery..but i still want it :) I like fantasy – along Tolkien lines and anything remotely like it really.

Shawna
Shawna
13 years ago

I went through a bunch of phases – dragon-heavy sci-fi/fantasy, the trashiest of romances I could get my hands on, mysteries, Harry Potter, etc. but I don’t really buy anything but reference books on architecture/residential design, writing, and photography these days.

Kristin
Kristin
13 years ago

I’m intrigued! Think it would be fabulous to win the book (especialy given that my brain doesn’t function as well these days, and although I have every intention of running to the store & buying it, I will most likely have forgotten before I can get my keys together!!) ktjenn@bellsouth.net

And BTW, I agree with him about YOUR writing – I’m so hooked – you’re great!!!

Nicole
13 years ago

Oooh! Please toss my name in the hat! If you are into the mystery genre, check out authors Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child – Especially the “Pendergast” novels… Chuck full of awesomeness!

MB
MB
13 years ago

Ooh! I love mysteries. Diane Mott Davidson has a new one coming out that looks good. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of paranormal romance. Can I admit that without feeling like I stepped on the, “Are you a sparkly vampire?” train? True Blood has me reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels.

Junni
Junni
13 years ago

Damn, blog readers like free stuff:
junniper.j@gmail.com

Excellent interview — not just his answers, but your questions are great too. I don’t do mystery too often either but I’d check it out based on this entry.

Nikki
Nikki
13 years ago

I picked up his first two books from the library based on Beth’s recommendation… I, too, am not a big mystery fan per se, but I really enjoyed Karp’s books. I blasted through them, looked for the third at the library and was unable to find it. It was also not at my local bookstore… so… if you could, y’know, GIVE IT TO MEEEEE, that would be great! Thanks! :)

Patty Grimm
Patty Grimm
13 years ago

Mysteries are probably my favorite kind of books right now. They didn’t used to be, but as I get older, I’m just more fascinated with serial killers, etc. Good times! When I was in my 20’s is was all about Danielle Steele until I realized, after reading seventy-gillion of her books, that they were all the same! Hopefully I’ve gotten smarter as I age. I loved his responses to your questions as well. He recommended authors I read so I am adding him to my book journal and heading off to the library. (I like to read them, not buy and keep them…) Love your blog and following you on Twitter. You are not feeling anything as a mom of a son that I felt as well, you just express it better than I ever could. My son graduates from high school in two weeks, and yes, even teenagers can be great! Enjoy the ride.

Enid Grabiner
Enid Grabiner
13 years ago

I love, love, love mysteries and this one seems to be right up my alley as I am already FLIPPING OUT!!!

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

I love Patricia Cornwell novels – Forensic Pathology + mystery = lurve!

Bumbling
13 years ago

I am too lazy to go out and play the lotto but I jump at the chance for a free book. Doesn’t it endear me to your hear? No? Well….

I love fiction, memoirs and anything that has Zombies/Plages/Magic/King Arthur/Heroic Dog in it. In fact, I am going to sit down and attempt to write a book that includes all of those subjects. Wish me luck.

Beth
13 years ago

Holy jesus you got a lot of action on this post. You sell him and then he sells him! Would love to read his stuff now, thanks for sharing.

Shelly T.
Shelly T.
13 years ago

My first comment on your blog, which I read every day. Many thanks for the post on Marshall, I’ll totally check him out. Would like to now Officially Enter The Book Giveaway.

Jenine
13 years ago

I love mysteries. I started reading them when I was in jr. high and I still love them. But not gimmick mysteries (quilts, recipes, dogs) — those things wrote themselves and it shows. Have you read Devil in the Details: Scenes from an Obsessive Girlhood by Jennifer Traig? Sounds impossible but it’s her lighthearted memoir of growing up with undiagnosed OCD. Much funnier than I expected.
Thanks for your writing.

Angella
13 years ago

After reading this interview, I’d buy the book if I don ‘t win in.

Favorite genre? Do baby board books count?

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

Love to read, don’t do it as much since kids. One new author is a kids author, Daniel Pinkwater. My boys love his books about Irving & Muktuk, and I really like his Big Orange Splot. For me, I like the Kay Scarpetta mysteries by Patricia Cromwell and for shits and giggles, I like Lawrence Sanders’ McNally series. I would love to read Flipping Out, hint, hint, wink, wink, grovling if necessary!!!!!

aimee
13 years ago

I’m generally anti mystery, too. BUT, after reading what you, Chris and Beth have had to say about this book, I’d love to give it a try!

Sarah
13 years ago

I think *I* have a crush on Marshall Karp now! What a great interview.

I avoid political nonfiction (and really any nonfiction) like the plague. See also romance novels and scary stuff. I tend to gravitate toward science fiction and regular old novels but have found that I really enjoy first novels with a strong narrative. Just try telling that to the poor person working at Barnes & Noble and they’ll roll their eyes at you for being such a pretentious prick. Works much better at small bookstores. :)

Sharon
13 years ago

I think you need to write the book you’ve been thinking of writing. I’d buy it I promise! As for recommendations I liked Dance of The Dissadents Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd. It’s a partial autobiography about finding the feminine side of religion. Normally I don’t go in for that stuff but I liked it.

perl
perl
13 years ago

I don’t like paranormal/vampire stuff either but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Christopher Moore – fricken hilarious and thoroughly enjoyable!

Courtney Kramer
Courtney Kramer
13 years ago

I generally try to stick to history books and biographies, but I venture out into good old fashioned smut paperbacks when I’m on the dock at the lake. I really need to strech my reading boundaries. I’m going to Vegas next week, and FLIPPING OUT sounds like a lovely read while poolside at the MGM. Plus, with a dresserful of books in the garage, and overflowing bookshelves in our condo, why wouldn’t I need another book!!! Please?

Amy
Amy
13 years ago

Oooh, that book sounds great. Well, actually the author sounds great and maybe I’ll give the old mystery genre a try since he sort of undid a bunch of stereotypes I had by being so damn witty. Yeah, I’m like you. I really don’t get into mysteries. I’m more of the historical fiction, memoirs and general fiction type. I do have the guilty pleasure of those books with the high heels on the front now that I’m breastfeeding and can sit and read trashy fiction in the rocker while the baby nurses.

Anyway, you caught my interest with this interview. I might have to give the book a go.

elaine
elaine
13 years ago

Hrm, I LOVE mysteries… but I also read a ton of other stuff. Lately, I’ve been stuck in a young adult fantasy/fiction loop though – _Flipping Out_ seems like it would be a great title to break out of it.

Colleen
13 years ago

I love epic fantasies (like George RR Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series) as well as general fiction, historical fictuion and some biographies (about interesting people at least).

And… May 4th just happens to be my birthday… so good day!!! (pick me!)

Kelley O.
Kelley O.
13 years ago

Ooooh!! Pick me pick me! :)

Linda N.
Linda N.
13 years ago

I like reading! I like fantasy and general fiction but I’ll read anything.

Amy Pollak
Amy Pollak
13 years ago

Good timing for me to see what others are reading. I’m nursing my second child right now and read while I nurse – which is ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously, I’ve been through 3 books this week. I need to expand my horizons and now have a whole list of authors to check out – and of course Marshall Karp, which I’d love to win! Thanks!

TwoWishes
13 years ago

I don’t often comment on popular blogs (how’s THAT for a backhanded comment?! — but I figure with scores of comments, no one cares what I have to add), but today I asked for book suggestions on my own blog so couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help with the one category I know. In fact, I go a little crazy if I go too long without a good serial killer!! (Yes, I fear that’s very, very twisted….)

I tend to divide mysteries into three categories: (1) classic, (2) melancholy, and (3) page-turner. Classic (think anything set before the 20th century, and most anything British) tends to dominate the “best of” lists, but it’s not my thing. My favorites are what I think of as “modern melancholy” — think detectives with a bit of flaw to them finding ways to deal with the darkness of their work. My holy trinity of writers covers this category — Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, and T. Jefferson Parker. Modern snappy is similar, but more page-turning — there are dozens of popular choices, but my favorites are Harlan Coben, Jonathan Kellerman, Lisa Gardner, and Tess Gerritsen.

Sounds like Flipping Out is a good one too; look forward to checking it out!

Erin
13 years ago

Please, please, pretty please pick me!! It sounds like a great book and I don’t have any spare cash to go buy it!!

akofaolain
akofaolain
13 years ago

I’ve read mysteries since I was a kid, even though I never figure out whodunit…and now that I’ve heard so much about the Lomax and Biggs books in one week (thanks to Chris, then Beth and now You), I can’t wait to read them!

Sam
Sam
13 years ago

I always avoid sci-fi, it’s just not my thing. I was deathly afraid of “scary” things like ghosts and vampires until I started watching things like Ghost Hunters and reading the Twilight books. I love memoirs, too – I just checked TWO out of the library.

Jessica Contreras
13 years ago

Don’t usually like mysteries. Tried to read the #1 Ladies Detective Agency and didn’t get past page five. Though, this author sounds kick ass. I’d love to peruse his book, just to read more of his smart ass remarks.

kim
kim
13 years ago

When I was a kid I would grab any book at the library – no real criteria (well, always went for fiction) – sometimes a cool sounding author name, or cool title or that it was next to an author I already liked…

But as an adult my reading tends to follow the same pattern as my eating – I like the familiar. What won’t give me a headache or make me sick – (eating, not books) (altho I guess books could induce both) – I’m the person who would go to Italy and look for Applebees or McDonalds.

That said (you’re already tuning me out, I can tell) – I like to read what I know I’ll enjoy. Maybe it’s because I don’t have much time to read and don’t want to waste is on something I’d hate. I know I often miss out on a lot I would enjoy (this Marshall Karp sounds like someone who writes books I will love…I can already tell)…I love Dick Francis, Sue Grafton and well, of course the Harry Potter books. I tend to stick with mysteries even if I don’t qualify for MENSA.
I don’t like them if they are too graphic/too violent (I know…murders are violent – but you know I prefer the Matlock/Monk level of violence where it never gets too icky).

As far as the advice to write what you know…I’d also say write what you don’t know. Let’s hope Marshall does if his books include murder. :)

kim