Please welcome D.P. Lyle, author of the Jake Longly series and numerous other works.
Q: What’s your idea of a perfect day?
A: One perfect day would be a nice cup of strong coffee, a walk around the harbor in Dana Point, a round of golf where I shot par, and completing 3000 words of my latest book. That would be nice. But I can think of one better – any Saturday in the fall watching the Alabama Crimson Tide beat the hell out of their opponent.
Q: Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase/expression, or meal?
A: Interesting question. I’m not sure I have a signature accessory but I do have a fountain pen on my desk at all times. I collect them and I love to write with them. He goes back to my childhood – – my father was an accountant and kept his ledgers with a fountain pen and the smell of the ink brings back great memories. My favorite color is blue and my favorite fragrance would be my mom’s pecan pie cooking in the oven. My signature expression is – – whatever is, is. It basically means that you can believe whatever you want and you have the constitutional right to be wrong because whatever is, is. As for favorite meal, that’s easy. From the time I was a child my father and I always made barbecued ribs, coleslaw, and cornbread for New Year’s Day to watch football. I do that every year. It’s actually my favorite day of the year.
Q: Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?
A: Obviously, there are many, but two are essential to me. I’ve read everything that James Lee Burke and Elmore Leonard ever wrote. I learned more from these two wonderful writers than from anyone else. Their styles are totally different and yet they both write gritty crime fiction. James Lee Burke is poetry in motion and writes such beautiful and lyrical prose that it is sometimes breathtaking. Elmore Leonard on the other hand writes in a clean and concise manner that every writer can learn from. And if you want to write dialogue, you must read Elmore.
Q: Do you listen to music when you write?
A: I actually can’t write in a quiet room. If it is too quiet, my mind goes elsewhere. I was the same way in medical school. I couldn’t study in a quiet room. I always had music on. It’s as if the background noise forced greater concentration. That’s still the case today. I mostly listen to blues and blues-based rock.
Q: If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
A: That’s a funny question. I would say milk chocolate for smoothness and throw in some nuts – – likely pecans being a southern boy – – for insanity. And my latest book is crazy and fun and wild and set on the Gulf Coast.
Q: What made you interested in writing this particular story?
A: I’ve always enjoyed the work of Carl Hiaasen and love his humorous take on crime fiction. I specially like most of his earlier work. I’ve always wanted to write a comedic thriller since I love both comedy and thrilling stories. In my latest book, Deep Six, that’s what I attempted to accomplish and I think it worked out well. I’m very pleased with the result.
Q: What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
A: I don’t ever think about themes but if I had to put a theme on all of my fiction it would simply be good versus evil. That’s common and a cliché, but that’s pretty much what most crime fiction comes down to I think. I’m not big on writing or reading stories that make glowing social commentary because there’s enough of that on the news. I’m bored with it. For me, a story needs to be fun and interesting and move along quickly and I try to do that with my writing.
Q: Tell us about your main character.
A: The protagonist of Deep Six is Jake Longly. Jake is an ex major league baseball pitcher and now owns a bar/restaurant on the Gulf Coast. His father, Ray, is an ex military type who is no nonsense and runs a private investigation firm in the same area. Ray and Jake don’t often see eye to eye. Ray wants Jake to work for him and doesn’t understand why Jake would think owning a bar and chasing bikinis was a good career choice. Such a career was fine with Jake. But as fate would have it Ray convinces Jake to at least do a stake out for him and, as I’m sure you expect, things didn’t work out well. That’s how the story starts and it goes completely sideways from there. So you would say Jake is a reluctant PI.
Q: Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
A: That’s not an easy question to answer and I’m not sure I’ve ever really thought about it. But I would suspect that Jake would be a combination of Nolan Ryan, Raylan Givens, and Lewis Grizzard – – the latter being a Southern humorist if you’re not familiar with.
Q: If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
A: That’s a fairly easy one. Of course, James Lee Burke and Elmore Leonard. I would also invite Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck as each of these had a great influence on my reading early on. Lastly, Leonardo da Vinci simply because he’s one of the most interesting and brilliant humans that has ever lived and dabbled in so many arenas. I particularly would like to talk to Leonardo about his scientific and anatomical work.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: Since the second edition of Forensics For Dummies came out in April and Deep Six was just released, I’m involved in promoting those two titles but right now I’m working on the next Jake book as well as outlining another book in an entirely new series. Of course, the radio show that I do with Jan Burke, Crime and Science Radio, is ongoing and always keeps us busy. Also, for ITW, I run Thriller School, CraftFest, and Master CraftFest, and each of these is time-consuming.