Marcus Sakey is the award-winning author of five crime novels, three of which have been optioned as films. That leaves two titles still available, if you act quickly and outbid the hordes of Hollywood people who are surely planning to snap them up. His newest book, The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes, is set to be released on June 9th. (Our review will be posted early next week.) Sakey lives in Chicago, where he will be celebrating his book release at Printers Row Lit Fest on Saturday, June 4th, and at The Hidden Shamrock on Sunday, June 12th. He was kind enough to spend some time with us to talk about his new book, his forthcoming TV show, and more.
[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?
[Marcus Sakey]: Because my mother will publicly shame you otherwise?
Although that’s true, I owe you a better reason, or at least one that doesn’t require Mom to travel so much. To me, a good book manages to do two things — first, entertain, and second, leave you thinking. Now, I’m not sure I accomplished those things, but they were at least my goal.
Also, the novel has no f@#&ing vampires in it. In this day that should be worth something, right?
[BwoB]: What part of THE TWO DEATHS OF DANIEL HAYES was the most fun to write? What part was the most difficult?
[MS]: I had a blast writing the portions in screenplay format. It’s not a gimmick; there are real thematic reasons for it, I promise. But they also were great fun. I also loved some of the satirical elements, spoofing on the tabloids and the like. A book is 400 or so pages, so anything different tends to be a pleasure.
The hardest part about writing this one was that I started out writing a different one. I’d finished a good chunk before I realized I was telling a story that would make people want to fling themselves out their windows. Which is not generally a path to repeat success.
[BwoB]: You periodically use Facebook and Twitter as research tools for your books, culling information or opinions from your readers. Has access to social networking transformed your writing process significantly?
[MS]: It hasn’t changed the writing process, but holy mother has it made research easier. I’ve been able to find experts I would never have known about. I can post a question like, “Hey, I need to learn more about chemical weapons — anyone know anything?” and the next morning I’m talking to a research chemist. It’s terrific.
[BwoB]: You recently announced that you will be writing and hosting a TV show called Hidden City to air on Travel Channel later this year. Can you tell us a bit more about what we can expect to see on the show? What inspired you to develop this idea for TV, rather than another medium?
[MS]: I’m really excited about the show. It’s sort of a cross between Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations and Castle; I travel to different cities and explore the crimes that shaped them. But this isn’t your typical boring crime recreation show. The whole point is that I’m trying to understand it as a storyteller, which means I do everything from hang out with gang cops to get pepper sprayed on camera.
By the way, getting pepper sprayed hurts. It is, however, evidently hilarious to watch. Or so my friends say.
[BwoB]: If you could choose one superpower to help you save the book industry, what would it be?
[MS]: It’s not my job to save the book industry. It’s my job to write the very best novels I can, to dig deep and live with this shit for a year or more, to polish every page until I can’t see a way to make it better.
If you’re passing out superpowers, I’ll take flying. The book industry is going to have to work things out itself.
[BwoB]: Thanks again!
[MS]: Thank you!