It goes without saying, but tastes in literature run the gamut. As a writer I have to take this into account. It informs my writing, not in the sense that I am writing for a specific audience but that I have to decide what I am comfortable with in terms of current appetites. I am aware that zombies, vampires and other representatives of the un-dead are high on the list of what attracts an audience. Combine them with myriad explosions and conflagrations, against an apocalyptic landscape and you are on the road to a sure fire winner. This is fertile ground for many writers. I am not in their number. This on my part is probably not a wise commercial decision. As long as I am going down this road I might as well also state that I am not a huge fan of the anti-hero as the protagonist. Again I am well aware that there are many who relish this as either writers or readers. When I read I am looking for someone to root for, someone who has a spark of what is best in a human being. I am not looking for perfection. They can be heavily flawed. These characters intrigue me as a reader and more so as a writer. For the most part I like to like the characters that people my stories. In my latest effort after I sent it to my editor he called after reading the first couple of chapters. “You didn’t kill Jimmy did you? He is my favorite character.” It is good to have favorites in novels because it means that on some level a connection has been made with the reader. Sometimes the positive is hard to find. I remember years ago seeing a movie called “White Heat” with a friend. It starred Jimmy Cagney as a sociopathic killer. The body count was high, his psychopathic behavior off the charts, but throughout the film he and his mother were always close. The movie ends with him standing on top of a huge gas tank totally engulfed in flame. His last words as the world blows up underneath him are, “Look Ma, I’m on top of the world.” – pretty hard to find the positive in his character. But when the movie ended, my friend turned to me and said, “Well, at least he loved his mother.” He had found the positive in a madman. I hope it is not as difficult for my readers to find the positive in the characters in “Death on the High Lonesome.”
DEATH ON THE HIGH LONESOME by Frank Hayes, trade paperback, 304 pages, Oct. 15, Berkley Prime Crime, $15.00.
Frank Hayes is a high school teacher who has started a new career as a novelist. He lives and writes in New York’s mid-Hudson River Valley. He is the author of the first Sheriff Virgil Dalton Mystery, Death at the Black Bull.