“We All Fall Down” is a police procedural, a crime novel set in a fading New Jersey town. The heroine, Karen McCarthy, is the town’s first woman cop. When the police chief and his wife are murdered in their home, Karen bungles the capture of the prime suspect. Her efforts to run him down, and to prove she has the mettle to be a cop, brings her face to face with the dug-in corruption within the force.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
During my years as a newspaper reporter and editor, I sometimes encountered women cops and found them to be nothing like their counterparts in film and television. In one of my towns, the government of a pretty well-off and forward-looking community had to settle with a woman cop who had been viciously harassed by the male officers on the force.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
I don’t know about “myself.” Certainly bits of my experiences and my observations turn up in all the characters.
Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite?
Karen McCarthy is more than a bit of a misfit, an unattractive woman of the sort men tend to ignore — except she has a job that makes her impossible to ignore. She has a lot of buried rage to deal with, and a moral code.
Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?
To be involved in a long-term creative project, to bring it to completion and see that you have willed something into existence using nothing but your own talent and determination, carries enormous personal benefits regardless of what happens next.
How has your background influenced your writing?
I go for realism in my writing, and my newspaper background has aided me immeasurably in seeing how the world works.
What’s your writing schedule like?
I’m a morning man. I aim for a page a day at minimum.
Do you have any rituals that you follow before sitting down to write?
Getting vertical, mostly. And coffee. Oh yes — coffee.
Do your characters ever take on a life of their own?
I know what you’re getting at, but I wouldn’t exactly put it that way. It’s more like everything goes stale and dead if I’ve established a character’s personality and motivation, then try to make that character do something out of step with those qualities. That’s when I try to shake up the plot and see how things develop.
Have you written any other books?
Yes. I have a nonfiction book out called “The Last Three Miles: Politics, Murder, and the Construction of America’s First Superhighway.”
How do you deal with exposition give readers the background information they need?
Do it on the run whenever possible. Your character’s actions and reactions should do as much of the heavy lifting as possible.
Do you keep a pen and notepad on your bedside table?
No. I don’t keep a journal, either. It’s a cool idea, but it’s not how I roll.
Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
P.D. James, a late bloomer as a writer, explained in a “60 Minutes” profile that she became a serious writer when she realized that nothing was going to happen unless she made it happen, and that she would have to change things in her life to accomplish that. It could be as simple as getting up an hour earlier in order to have uncluttered creative time. But it’s all on you.
What one word describes how you feel when you write?
Where can people learn more about your books?
Come visit my blog stevenhartsite.wordpress.com or my Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Steven-Hart/e/B001JP2JGI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1