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Author Archive: "Scott Sparling"

Heavy Music

With my previous four posts, I hope I've cemented your impression of me as a serious literary heavyweight. If so, please hold tight to that image. Because now it is time to speak of Seger. And yes, I mean Bob.

Those of you with quick Google reflexes already know that in addition to writing Wire to Wire, I also write The Seger File — the web's largest, oldest, and most complete Bob Seger site.

That explains why Kirkus reviews calls Wire to Wire "a worthy combination of Bob Seger nostalgia and dope-fueled noir," although that's a bit of an overstatement — there are some Seger references in the book, true, but the characters also listen to Iggy, Alice Cooper, and the MC5. It's set in Michigan, after all.

Indeed, I listened to all those bands in the early '70s when I lived in Ann Arbor. In those days, Seger frequently played the bars and clubs down the street, and whenever we had the $3 cover, my roommates and I would go hear him. One ...

Saying Thanks

They say I've spent 20 years writing Wire to Wire. Really? That long? I guess it's possible — I lose track of time and get distracted easily. What I do know is that there's little, maybe nothing, that I've worked at harder in my life. Along the way, many people helped. Here are four you should meet .

Beginnings. When I walked into Jack Cady's classroom in Seattle on the evening of my 30th birthday, I had no idea that the next two decades of my life would be defined by what he was about to say. Jack was a writer and teacher, known now for The Night We Buried Road Dog and, most recently, The Rules of '48. He was also a force of nature.

That night, he paced at the head of the class, holding us in his sway like the auctioneer he once was, giving us the gospel of fiction. Some things he said: That the chief characteristic of a successful writer is tenacity. ...

Burning Down the House

While working on Wire to Wire, I noticed a problem. Not with the manuscript — though there were plenty of those also — but with water. Through the miracle of plumbing, water is normally routed very carefully through our house, just like yours. Properly channeled, it provides valuable services in the kitchen and bath. But suddenly, whenever anyone took a shower, water was leaping the channel. It was running around loose.

The water in question was supposed to come out of a pipe, make itself useful for showering purposes, and go back down another pipe. Instead it found an unknown passage out of the shower area, under the flooring, through the floorboards, and into the basement, where it celebrated its freedom like the rabid fans of a newly crowned championship team. By destroying things.

This required action. Untreated, the problem would eventually cause the entire bathroom to collapse, or so I imagined, perhaps taking part of the bedroom with it. Facing this situation, I did what any writer would do: I put a bucket under the leak ...

Crime and Lowlifes

A friend regrets to inform me that she won't be reading Wire to Wire. Crime novels aren't her thing, it seems. And she's not too keen on reading about lowlifes, either.

I was a little thrown by this. Wait a minute, I wanted to reply. There's been a misunderstanding here. I never expected you to read my novel. I merely expected you to buy it.

After all, W2W is handsomely designed. It would look great on your bookshelf — and having it there would be good insurance against being included in my next novel. (Or being ridiculed on a blog. Too late for that, I guess.)

I didn't actually say any of those things, of course. Still, there has been a misunderstanding. First of all, Wire to Wire isn't really a crime novel. If anything, it's an homage to the crime novel. Basically, it takes pieces of the genre and puts them together in what I hope are unexpected ways. (Which is the same way I built the tree house where I wrote much ...

Book on the Tracks

Is it dangerous?

That's the question people ask when they find out I spent a large part of my youth hopping freight trains and traveling in boxcars across the Midwest, through the western U.S., and across Canada.

The answer, for the record, is yes. Dangerous and illegal. You shouldn't do it. You should also abstain from the other bad behavior described in Wire to Wire. Throwing knives. Sniffing glue. Selling drugs. Falling in love. All can be fatal.

Now that we've got that out of the way, the real answer is that it rarely felt dangerous. Mainly because we were good at it — we being Jesse and me. We had rules, and unlike the characters of Wire to Wire, we followed them. We took no chances.

I had another advantage. It was Jesse who knew freights, who intuitively understood their world. He was better at it, mostly, but I had the edge in balance and I could climb anything. (Hence my road name, Spider Rider. What can I say — ...

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