by Julie, warm and cozy in Somerville
Gabriel Valjan is a wonderful member of the crime writing community, constantly supporting and promoting other writers. He’s also a terrific writer. I’m delighted to help him celebrate his most current release, Hush Hush, which was released this week.
The Cockroach Left A Note
There’s the old chestnut that every story has been told, and that everything is a variation on a theme. Good riddance, because Shakespeare died at 52, and he damn near broke the language. Will added 1700 words to the lexicon, and then there’s the breadth and depth of humanity throughout his works. Writing anything of substance after him seems daunting.
Which leaves us then with the matter of style, that distinctive quality without a name.
I write mysteries.
Crime fiction is a harrowed acre, the subject as old as Cain and Abel. There are only so many ways to commit homicide, and motivations are as basic and complex as the human psyche. I’ve concluded that in the effort to distinguish him or herself in the endeavor before the blank page, the writer is a cockroach.
Allow me to explain.
I believe that what will come to mind to most of you is the image of Kafka’s iconic character, but there is another cockroach that describes the writer who wants to make their mark. His name is Archy, or when he’s writing, archy, in lowercase. Like most writers, archy tries his best to tell a story. He pounds on the keys all through the night and tries to communicate his vision of imagination, which he leaves inside the typewriter for his friend in the morning. Archy, however, has one unique problem that writers and musicians understand. Archy is unable to hit the sweet note, incapable of capitalization, until one day he lands on the shift lock key. Archy’s friend and coconspirator is a cat named Mehitabel. As humans, we writers don’t share archy’s difficulty with dexterity, but the metaphor is the same.
We each strive to be unique, different on the page.
I write the Shane Cleary mysteries, set in 1970s Boston. Corruption and murder are my trade. What makes my mysteries different is that I lace them with humor. It’s not the ha-ha brand of wit, or the banter popular in film noir. I can’t describe it, but it’s there. I use humor to defuse tension and to expose a wry view of the world. If I didn’t do that, the world would devour Shane Cleary like Goya’s painting of Saturn Devouring His Son. In my latest episode in the series, HUSH HUSH, Shane confronts issues that remain relevant today: racism, social injustice, and moral bankruptcy.
All is not dark, though not cozy either. Shane’s conscience is Delilah. He almost always listens to her, though he sometimes misunderstands her.
Delilah is a cat. Shane, like most writers, hammers away at the keyboard.
She, like Archy’s friend the cat, helps him strike the right key.
CAPITALS AT LAST.
Writers, what do you do to make your writing unique? Do you use humor, and how? Readers, do you enjoy humor in your mysteries? I’ll give away a copy of Hush Hush to a commenter.
About the Book
Shane Cleary is living a comfortable life. He has money. He has a girl.
But a visit from a friend shakes up his status quo. Chess may be the metaphor, but the case is one that lifts the lid on problems nobody in Boston wants to talk about.
Murder. Race. Class. It’s all Hush Hush.
Neither the crime nor the verdict is simple, and yet it is Black and White.
Shane will need more than a suit of armor if he wants to play knight. Can Justice be found? And at what cost?
About the Author
Gabriel Valjan lives in Boston’s South End. He is the author of the Roma Series and The Company Files (Winter Goose Publishing) and Shane Cleary Mysteries series (Level Best Books). His second Company File novel, The Naming Game, was a finalist for the Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery and the Anthony Award for Best Paperback Original in 2020.
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/38FvxSn