I had the opportunity to sit down with Spencer Quinn to discuss his latest book “Heart Of Barkness: A Chet & Bernie Mystery” which was released 7/2 by Forge Books. Below is a summary of that conversation along with a quick biography.
About the Author:
Peter Abrahams is the Edgar Award–winning author of 37 novels and the Echo Falls series for younger readers. Under his pen name, Spencer Quinn, he writes the bestselling Chet and Bernie series. He lives on Cape Cod with his dog, Audrey. He is currently working on the next Chet and Bernie novel. https://www.peterabrahams.com/bio/
About The Book:
Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in all of crime fiction” (Boston Globe) and P.I. Bernie encounter heartache and much worse in the world of country music. They’re both music lovers, so when Lotty Pilgrim, a country singer from long ago, turns up at a local bar, they drive out to catch her act. Bernie’s surprised to see someone who was once so big performing in such a dive, and drops a C-note the Little Detective Agency can’t afford to part with into the tip jar. The C-note is stolen right from under their noses – even from under Chet’s, the nose that misses nothing – and before the night is over, it’s stolen again.
Soon they’re working the most puzzling case of their career, a case that takes them back in time in search of old border-town secrets, and into present-day danger where powerful people want those secrets to stay hidden. Chet and Bernie find themselves sucked into a real-life murder ballad where there is n o one to trust but each other.
Q & A:
Q. Regarding the title “Heart of Barkness” which is similar in name to the famous book “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad which became the inspiration for the movie “Apocalypse Now”. Does your story share any themes or parallels to the Conrad story?
A. All the titles in the Chet & Bernie series are meant to be puns. The series is noirish while blending the essence of a dog’s journey with his owner. It doesn’t end like that of the Conrad story.
Q. As I read this book, it made me think about my own dog’s mannerisms. To write in a dog’s voice dog, what research did you do? Also, is Chet similar to the dogs that you own?
A. I have never done research about dogs. The writing is thru osmososis and Chet’s voice is in my head ready to be written. Having two dogs helps with the process.
Q. Where do the ideas for your stories come from ?
A.The ideas come from out of the blue and this book is about a country singer, as I am a fan of country music. I wanted to mix in the life of a frustrated artist behind a murder ballad.
Q. You have more than one series in progress right now (Queenie & Arthur, Chet & Bernie). Do you work on them randomly as you get inspiration or do you commit to finishing one at a time?
A. Each series or book is written one at a time. My mother was a big influence in me becoming a writer as she was one. She taught me my approac,h with pushing further with my writing.
Q. You are one person writing under two names ( Peter Abrahams, Spencer Quinn), how did that happen?
A. With the Chet & Bernie series it was suggested to use a different pen name for the brand.
More on this answer can be found in the publisher weekly article on the author https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/columns-and-blogs/soapbox/article/80170-what-s-to-be-done-with-an-author-s-pen-name.html
Q. Before writing your book, do you outline or is it more freeform?
A. I used to outline in my earlier novels, but now my writing is freeform. I do however have an idea of the scene and the landscape of the novel in my mind.
Q.Why do you think readers are drawn to the Chet and Bernie series?
A. Chet brings insights into dog behavior which readers enjoy. The series has elements of mystery and humor as well.
Q. From your experience, what are the best parts of publishing a book?
A. I enjoy meeting the readers of my books at author events.
Q. Of the books that you have written, do you have a favorite?
A. I have no favorite book but it tends to be the book that was last written.
Q. What authors do you read ?
A. When I am writing my current novel I do not read crime fiction since it is a familiar genre to my stories. I will read non- fiction, and just read The End by Ian Kershaw.
🐶 I enjoyed this book, and you will too!