Saturday, June 17, 2017
Interview with J. L. Abramo, Author of Coney Island Avenue
J. L. Abramo was born in the seaside paradise of Brooklyn, New York on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo earned a BA in Sociology at the City College of New York and a Masters Degree in Social Psychology at the University of Cincinnati.
Abramo is a long-time educator, arts journalist, film and stage actor and theatre director. Abramo is a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America, International Thriller Writers and the Screen Actors Guild.
Abramo is the author of Catching Water in a Net, winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America Award for Best First Private Eye Novel; and the subsequent Jake Diamond private eye mysteries Clutching at Straws, Counting to Infinity and Circling the Runway, winner of the Shamus Award.
Gravesend, the acclaimed stand-alone crime thriller from Down&Out Books, was released in September 2012. Chasing Charlie Chan, a prequel to the Jake Diamond private eye series, was released in 2013.
Brooklyn Justice, a novel in stories was released in 2016. Coney Island Avenue, the follow-up to Gravesend was released in 2017.
Visit J. L. Abramo at www.jlabramo.com
Did you like mysteries and thrillers growing up?
I recall always being partial to the Classics—and many of the great works of literature contained elements of mystery, crime, and thrills which stimulated my imagination—from Hugo to Dumas to Dickens to Dostoyevsky. It was the films of the forties and fifties that led me to reading Conan Doyle, Chandler, Cain and Hammett—more specifically crime and detective fiction writers.
What is the first story in that genre you wrote, whether it is published or unpublished?
I co-wrote a small book for the Denver Art Museum called Jack Masters and the Masterpiece Mystery in the late-eighties. The book was given to school children visiting the museum and they would be instructed to find clues in a number of exhibited paintings to solve the mystery.
What is your favorite part of writing in this genre?
There is a great deal of range that can be used in developing characters—both the good guys and the bad guys—in crime and mystery fiction. The lone wolf, like Nick Ventura in Brooklyn Justice; the private eye who needs a lot of help from his friends, like Jake Diamond in Catching Water in a Net, Clutching at Straws, Counting to Infinity and Circling the Runway; and those who work as a team, like Samson, Murphy and the other 61st Precinct detectives in Gravesend and the latest novel, Coney Island Avenue. And the villains can range anywhere between the truly evil to the sadly misguided. It is also exciting to be surprised by your characters and the events which unfold—and cling to the assumption that if you surprise yourself in the writing, you will surprise the reader as well.
Is there an author in this genre you most admire?
There are many, for different reasons. I enjoy Dennis Lehane for his strong sense of place, Boston, something I try to embrace in my novels set in Brooklyn. I have always appreciated the smart and often humorous analogies in Raymond Chandler’s narratives and—particularly in the Jake Diamond books—it is evident in my style. Although not specifically a crime writer, the films of David Mamet, including House of Games, Homicide and Heist, are exceptional for their dialogue—and similarly my writing is very dialogue driven.
What is up next for you?
I am working on putting together a collection of short fiction—some previously published and some new, unpublished short stories. I am also working on an epic novel about two families—resembling an Italian-American Hatfields and McCoys—a century long blood feud that begins in Sicily in the late 1800s, moves to America around the time of the First World War, and climaxes in the early years of this century.
Do you have anything to add?
That is a dangerous question since I could go on for quite some time on a wide number of subjects. I will let my fiction do that talking and instead take this opportunity to thank Down & Out Books for their faith in and support of my work.