Sam Stone with friend and fellow writer Jackson Marshall:
J - Sam, your writing has clearly been influenced by writers like Elmore Leonard. What else influences the work?
S - I love cinematic crime like Hollywoodland and Confidence. Book-wise, I'm also a big fan of Erskine Caldwell. His characters are most often dirt poor and slaves to runaway libidos. So on some level it's still a bit like watching the traveling salesman being seduced into murder in Double Indemnity, they are all pretty well damned from the start.
J - So it's more about people with complicated lives?
S - Sometimes it's simply making poor choices and other times the characters are social misfits. I can't pass an idling car without thinking it would be fun to take a joyride but it isn't such an inviting lark that I'd do it. Some people don't have that brake and these are the characters that interest me, people who wander out on a limb.
J - While writing I've often found characters taking unexpected turns I hadn't planned on...
S - Yes, I think of a scene I wrote recently where a character started saying the exact opposite of what I needed him to say and then another character played off of this switch and righted the ship in a manner that was completely unexpected. Those are the fun moments.
J - So you aren't interested in crime fiction in the 'Columbo' sense - a murder to be solved?
S - My next project is a traditional mystery but the principal character is a free spirit and feels like she's cut from the noir fabric so I'm excited about what's developing there.