I understand your short story, “Jesus Out To Sea,” received enormous response after it was published in Esquire. What was that like?
The short story "Jesus Out to Sea" appeared in Esquire and was received with such enthusiasm by the readership that the editors have decided to return to the regular publication of fiction in their magazine. This obviously makes one feel very proud. But I also need to add that the editors at Esquire have been a fine group to work with and they do a fine job with both editing and formatting a story.
What do you think is the appeal of mystery stories?
I think all good narration contains an element of mystery and suspense. If it didn't, if the storyline were predictable, we would have no interest in reading it. I think the "crime novel" has replaced the sociological novel of the 1930s. I think the progenitor of that tradition is James M. Cain, who in my view is the most neglected writer in American literature.
What's the best part and worst part about being a best-selling writer?
The actor Ben Johnson once said, "What's the worst thing about getting old? Getting old." The best thing about being a best-selling writer is being a best-selling writer. More seriously, today I can write full time and pay the bills. But I learned long ago that success, like fashion, is a fickle companion and can leave one in the wink of an eye.
Thanks again to Mr. Burke for his help and kindness. The second part of this interview will be published in the next few weeks after I finish the two new books.