Please welcome mystery writer Sean Chercover back for a second Author Answers column here. Chercover's new book Trigger City hits shelves today.
Word Nerd: Set the stage for "Trigger City." What's it about?
Chercover: In TRIGGER CITY, a grieving father hires Chicago PI Ray Dudgeon to bring him the truth about the daughter he never really knew. The woman had been murdered by a mentally-ill coworker, in a clear murder-suicide. But Ray learns that the dead woman had been leading a double life and he soon finds himself square in the sights of one of the world's most powerful military contracting companies. It's the kind of case that you walk away from, fast. But to walk away would be to abandon a young widow and her daughter; two innocent witnesses whose lives are now in danger.
WN: Was it harder or easier to write the second novel? Why?
Chercover: It was both. Easier, because the second book is a sequel to the first, so I already knew my protagonist and many of the supporting characters; I wasn't starting from scratch. But also harder, because of the pressures that come with expectations. Writing the first book, I didn't even know if it was going to be published, so there was no real pressure at all. But writing the second, there was a contract with a publisher ... and I'd gotten a lot of positive feedback on the first, so I felt a good deal of pressure and the critical voices in my head were even louder than usual.
WN: When you first created Ray Dudgeon, were you expecting to write a series or not? What went through your mind as you moved him into a second story?
Chercover: Can't say I was expecting a series, but I definitely had a series in mind from the beginning. Moving into Trigger City was a bit surprising, because I found that Ray had been changed by the events of the first book. I always wanted to write a series where the protagonist grows and changes, rather than a series with a static character having different adventures without being changed by his experiences. So the fact of his change didn't surprise me, but the depth of that change did. He really went through hell in Big City Bad Blood, and I found that those experiences had a lasting impact on him.
WN: "Big City Bad Blood" has been nominated for several awards. What's your reaction to that?
Chercover: I am, as they say, totally gob-smacked. It's hard to believe, and sometimes I wonder when I'm going to wake up and realize I was just dreaming all this. But I'm thrilled that the book has resonated with people, and I'm very grateful.
WN: Last time you were on the Word Nerd blog, you said your favorite word is "egregious." What's your least favorite word?
Chercover: Postmodern. And I try to never use it in conversation.
WN: What have you been reading lately that other readers shouldn't miss?
Chercover: I just got an advance copy of Ken Bruen's upcoming, ONCE WERE COPS. It rocks, and shouldn't be missed. Same with Anthony Neil Smith's YELLOW MEDICINE, which is out now.
Bonus for Indy-area readers: Chercover with be at the Mystery Company in Carmel at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23 with fellow crime writer Marcus Sakey.