Sunday, April 21, 2013

L.A. Times Festival of Books - Crime Fiction: City of Angels

This fascinating Southern California-themed panel of was comprised of moderator Paula Woods (Charlotte Justice novels), Marcia Clark (yes that Marcia Clark, and the Rachel Knight series) , Denise Hamilton (Damage Control, L.A. Times Magazine) and T. Jefferson Parker (the Charlie Hood series).  Easily the highlight of this year's FOB for me.

Marcia Clark:
  • "Rachel Knight was an avatar" based on Clark's own experience in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, but way cooler.  For example, Clark has Rachel reside at the glamorous and historic Biltmore Hotel in Downtown L.A.
  • Based on her experience, homicide detectives are the funniest people she knows (particularly in terms of black humor).  She cited a sign in the LAPD homicide bullpen that reads, "Our day begins when your day ends".
  • Her latest novel explores what it's like to be in the middle of a media circus, something Clark, as a major player in the O.J. Simpson trial, knows all too well.
  • Noted that "we live longer lives" and so have time for more than one career.
  • She has a deal with TNT to develop her books as a 1-hour drama series.

Denise Hamilton:
  • With sex scandals all over the news, she wondered what it would be like if you were one of the people involved and had a deep, dark secret that would destroy you if it was revealed.  
  • As part of her research she asked a friend who works in Public Relations if they had ever turned down a client.  The answer: Kim Jong Il, although they were impressed that he'd heard of them.  Hamilton also asked if they had to believe that a client is innocent.  The answer was no, but they still have to be able to maintain their firm's professional rep.  This was the reason they also turned down Michael Jackson - it would have hurt their credibility with clients.
  • Considers her work "surf noir" that explores the dark side of Southern California's beach culture.

T. Jefferson Parker:
  • Many people in law enforcement want to write because they have such great stories.  His connection to this was a neighbor who was the Forensics Director of the ATF's Orange County office.
  • His latest Charlie Hood novel is his last with that character.  He wants to start a new series, although he hasn't figured out yet what it will be.  Admitted that ending a seires was "a little scary", but the fun part of writing is finding out what happens next.
  • When he writes, he feels like he's along for the ride, rather than in charge.
  • Has 17 million books in print.

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