Hey all, here’s part of an interview I did about Tessa Goes Down for the UK website Crime Fiction Lover. You can see the entire interview in its original form at CrimeFictionLover. The writer of the interview, Garrick Webster, posed some incisive questions about the book, my love of pulp fiction, and my inspirations. This is my first interview for Tessa Goes Down.
First up, what are crime fiction lovers going to love about Tessa Goes Down?
The pace and the perspectives! They feed into each other. I’ve been experimenting with point of view for several books now, and my ultimate goal with POV is to intertwine perspective in such a way as to increase empathy, to entice the reader to care deeply about each character’s particular viewpoint in real time, as the crime story unfurls. I have an absolute blast stepping in and out of characters’ heads to show the reader how a certain event is perceived by various personalities. Combine that approach with the classic noir tropes, and the experience is ripe for reader investment.
Tell us about Floyd Tillman Weathers – what’s his angle?
My first image of Tessa Goes Down was a good ol’ boy squatting at the border with a bag full of money and a big secret. But rather than some enigmatic cowboy type, I imagined him introspective and troubled. A poet, at heart. I wanted to mess with some archetypes there, play him against type. Part of this impulse is the hope that at least some people living in the deep south hold thoughtful, progressive, inclusive attitudes about the world.
And what about Tessa Rae Jayne?
Once I had Floyd established, I asked myself what might finally rock Floyd out of his careful, criminal routine? That turned out to be the carnal, confident embodiment of the GenZ female, Tessa Rae Jayne, who’s got her own secrets. She’s an urban Chicago girl, black and proud of it, gorgeous but under-advantaged. Her arrival into Floyd’s universe is like a meteorite impact. Tessa is my vision of Floyd’s exact opposite, and yet they perfectly fill each other’s gaps (in more ways than one).
What makes them work as an on-the-run duo?
Floyd and Tessa complement each other in an opposites-attract kind of way. Think of Tessa Goes Down as a two-hander, the snappy chapters alternating point of view so that you get a he-said/she-said approach to their shared story, moment by moment. What stood out to me in the writing, in particular, was the strength of Tessa’s character, the way she stands toe-to-toe with Floyd throughout their challenges and troubles, saving herself more often than he saves her. I definitely wanted to subvert the damsel-in-distress trope that’s so common in noir. Tessa is badass, and that’s what Floyd digs about her.
It’s more than a Bonnie and Clyde thing, isn’t it? Tell us about the GenZ perspective you’re aiming for.
Coming off Loser Baby, my ultimate neo-noir statement on GenZ – inspired by my daughters’ generation – I wanted to go a bit older in Tessa Goes Down. Floyd is 27 and Tessa is 22, but they’re definitely youthful. And like most youngsters, they have a certain hopeful longing for the future. I wanted to explore how that innate optimism works for them in a world increasingly characterised by hatred and fear and pessimism. Not to mention the fact that it all happens in the wake of a dispiriting global pandemic. These are tough times, ripe for noir but also for introspection.
Read the rest at CrimeFictionLover.