Interview with Paul MacDonald

Who are your favorite authors?
I have always been attracted to the classics of the detective genre -- Chandler, Hammett and Ross MacDonald. I also have some less known favorites that include Raoul Whitfield and James Crumley.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
The Chuck Restic Mystery Series follows an HR exec at a large corporation in Los Angeles. That's why I do in my "spare" time. It provides me with a bottomless well of jokes and inanity that all make it into the books.
What is your writing process?
Mysteries are difficult because they are so plot heavy. It is a dangerous game to just start writing and seeing where it takes you. In most cases it will lead you to a dead end! So diagramming the plot elements is critical. I usually use a blank piece of paper with my hero in a box at the center. I then draw lines from him to other boxes containing other characters and the relationship between them. It becomes a spider web of lines and that becomes the basis for the plot.
How do you approach cover design?
Leave it to professionals. Provide them with the story and some ideas on tone and then let them do what they do best. I don't like giving specific directions because I feel it stifles the creativity.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Long Goodbye - every sentence crackles
The World According to Garp - absolutely tragic
A River Runs Through It - the last few pages are pure grace
The Great Gatsby - the perfect novel
Fathers and Sons - a beautiful story
What do you read for pleasure?
Very little! I tend to stick to classic detective but then lean towards non-fiction, including Civil War and Russian history.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Old-fashioned email lists are the clear leader. Either mine own or a paid one, they get the most engagement. Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest are all sound no fury when it comes to sales.
Describe your desk
I write before work, which means 5am at a public table in the lobby of a skyscraper next to mine.
Published 2015-04-11.
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