Give the Devil His Due, the third entry in the Tarot Mystery series by Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco, came out this month, and to celebrate we asked Steve to stop by the blog and share some thoughts on the book. As you’ll see, he had a lot to share about not having a lot to share.
I have nothing to say. Which is really saying something. Aren’t writers supposed to write because they’re burning with a feverish desire to share their most passionate feelings and important ideas?
Nope. That’s internet trolls. Oh, and some writers, too. But not me.
I do have passionate feelings. “Love Actually” is terrible! “The Big Lebowski” is wonderful! Wheat beer is an abomination! Stout is the stuff of life! See? But did I make the world a better place by sharing all that? Did I change your mind about anything? Did I get you to buy my latest book? I doubt it.
I have ideas, too, but I don’t presume that they have any importance. A lot of them are about books and stories I (or someone) should write, and that ain’t gonna change the world. My ideas about life and people and politics are important, I suppose, but they’re not original. Other people are saying the same thing — and getting shouted at by people who have different ideas about life and people and politics.
I don’t like being shouted at. If I were the renegade cop in a ‘70s movie — the one called in to see the precinct captain, who barks something like “You’ve really screwed the pooch this time, McCloskey! That was the mayor’s son you just shot!” — I’d whimper and turn in my badge and gun immediately. (Even before the later scene where the captain tells me to turn in my badge and gun because I just threw the mayor off a bridge.)
Yet we can’t help but say something sometimes, even when we don’t think we’re opening up our big yaps. Cozy mysteries get knocked because they’re supposedly disposable escapist fluff. Well, allow me to actually say something: Hurrah for supposedly disposable escapist fluff! And supposedly disposable escapist fluff can make a statement — even when it doesn’t have a point per se beyond entertainment — because it’s a reflection of its creator.
Or creators in the case of the tarot mystery books I do with Lisa Falco. Lisa, a knowledgeable and sincere tarot expert, came up with the general idea for the series: a tarot reader uses her skills with the cards to help her clients. Then I, a cynical writer, added my own spin: Why not make the protagonist a reformed con artist so we can show how the tarot can be abused? A lot of the people peddling prognostication are charlatans. Shouldn’t the books reflect that?
And they do…while simultaneously offering readers a “How to –” guide for using the tarot. So what is it that says? Maybe “The tarot is a cool tool for finding personal insights, but don’t forget it can be used to manipulate you, too.”
The books don’t hit you over the head with that message, though. Because at the end of the day, here’s the main thing I’m trying to say to our readers — the real point of all the writing I do:
Alanis McLachlan, reformed con artist turned tarot reader, gets paid for predicting the future—too bad she didn’t see all the trouble in hers. First a figure from her past tries to drag her back into the life of crime she thought she’d le behind. Then a new suitor tries to sweep Alanis off her feet, threatening her on-again, off-again romance with hunky teacher Victor Castellanos. And there’s the little matter of the ominous reading she gives to a new client, which could have deadly consequences. Danger is in the cards for Alanis, and she’ll need all her skills at reading both people and tarot if she’s going to survive.
Steve Hockensmith is the author of between fourteen and nineteen books (he’s lost count), including the first two entries in the Tarot Mystery series (The White Magic Five and Dime and Fool Me Once) and the Edgar finalists Holmes on the Range and Nick and Tesla’s Secret Agent Gadget Battle.
He can be found on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/steve.hockensmith.7
And on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/MrHockensmith
And his website is here: http://www.stevehockensmith.com
And this is a cat eating a banana: