So, what you pushing right now?
August 15th marks the release of Beware the Shill, the third novella in my trilogy beginning with The Shill and continuing with Kill the Shill.
What’s the hook?
On the mean streets of Los Angeles we find Jane Innes a broke, down-on-her-luck actress. She falls for a con man and agrees to help him in his scheme--impersonating a rich and carefree heiress. But Jane grew up poor so pulling off the role is a challenge. Cooper must school her. This echoes themes from Pygmalion or My Fair Lady--it’s all about deception.
Things go from bad to worse and she finds herself fighting for her life. The books are part capers, part mysteries, and all thrillers weaving through Los Angeles, New York, Florida, the Caribbean, and finally California’s Central Coast.
This is the book trailer for the series: https://vimeo.com/176814496
And why’s that floating your boat?
I’m drawn to embracing flawed protagonists. I have directed a handful of TV movies over the years and Jane Innes is a hybrid of actresses I’ve known and worked with driven by blind ambition. She’s not really an anti-hero but rather a character on the wrong path. Ultimately she must pull off the performance of her life in order to survive.
When did you turn to crime?
As a kid I was drawn by reruns of 70s crime television such as Dragnet, Hawaii Five-O, and The Streets of San Francisco. As a filmmaker my first film was Teenage Bonnie and Klepto Clyde.
I started writing short fiction as a creative outlet and was honored to be published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. I hit the jackpot when my debut story was first nominated and then won the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America. The second short story in that series was nominated for the Anthony. They also feature deception, which is a theme in most of my fiction.
Hardboiled or Noir, classic or contemporary
Contemporary noir. I like to brush in a bit of historical that tends to mirror what’s going on in the present. Kill the Shill ties in the treacherous female pirate Anne Bonny. Beware the Shill features nefarious characters from the California Gold Rush.
And, what’s blown you away lately?
Beachhead by Jeffery Hess, a fantastic debut, and The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton. As an audiobook I recommend the gritty NYC cop novel Precinct; Siberia by Tom Philbin-- a revival of sorts. This is true 80s pulp, a Gold Medal/Fawcett paperback published at the end of the dime-store paperback era. It captures New York City in the 1980s. The audiobook was just released by Blackstone Audio.
See any books as movies waiting to happen?
Mainstream or indie - paper or digital?
Indie publisher Down & Out Books is my publisher and the books available in both digital and in paperback. I’m honored to be included among Down & Out’s stable of authors.
Shout us a website worth visiting …
Amazon.com because book #1 in the series, The Shill, is available for FREE. Dip your toe in the water. Check it out.
Finally, tell us any old shit about yourself …
When not writing crime fiction I produce television promos for TVG, America’s horseracing network. Someday soon I want to make it to the Theakson Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. It’s on my bucket list and I just need a reason.
Thanks to CWA Dagger and Not the Booker shortlisted author and huge crime writing talent Tony Black for generously allowing the shelf space.
:: Visit John's website at: http://johnshepphird.com