Why a novel about a private detective?
I’ve always loved mysteries, starting when I read the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books as a kid. As I got older, I enjoyed Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels, and eventually I also got hooked on the characters of Spenser, Elvis Cole and Myron Bolitar, among others. When I decided to write my first full-length novel, there was no doubt in my mind that my protagonist would be a private detective.
How would you describe Jeremy Barnes, Bob?
There’s an old line about people you wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley. Well, if you did end up in that dark alley with one of those people, JB’s the person you’d want covering your back. He’s a tough guy with a soft spot in his heart for life’s underdogs, and while he’d much rather diffuse a tense situation with his sense of humor, if push comes to shove, he’s more than capable of handling himself that way, too.
Is JB based on anyone in particular?
There’s a little bit of several people I’ve known in JB, but mostly he’s a product of my fertile imagination. Actually, other than the fact that he’s bigger, stronger, younger, smarter and better-looking than I am, we’re remarkably similar
How do you come up with the plots for your books?
It’s a combination of finding subjects I’m knowledgeable about and things I have an interest in. For example, in Leaving the LAW, JB attempts to help a young man who’s involved with gangs at the school where JB used to teach. In the early 90s, I was teaching at a Pittsburgh high school that the local cops called Gang Central, so I had some personal experience with that whole scene.
Why first person narrative?
I can’t imagine writing about JB in any other way. When I write my Jeremy Barnes novels, I’m right there inside his head. At those moments, we’re one and the same. He’s definitely my alter ego.
You’ve said you can’t see yourself ever writing a character interview with Jeremy. Why is that?
Jeremy exists in the world I created for him, and I’m very comfortable writing about him in that world. But bringing him into this world just doesn’t work for me. It would be sort of like the literary equivalent of breaking the fourth wall in a stage production. I’m sure some authors can pull that off, but I’m not one of them.
Do you have a reading group?
Yes, and the group’s name is Cynthia. As soon as I finish writing a chapter, I give it to my wife. Cynthia knows my characters as well as I do, so I almost always end up using her comments/suggestions.
How important was it for you that Jeremy would have a love interest in the character of Laura Fleming?
I knew from the start that Jeremy would have a woman in his life, a soul mate. The scenes with JB and Laura are my favorite to write, whether they’re discussing one of his cases, talking about her kindergarten kids or just sharing a candlelight dinner at one of Pittsburgh’s hilltop restaurants.
Okay, Bob, last question. Are there other Jeremy Barnes mysteries on the horizon?
I’ve actually written three other books about Jeremy: Small Bytes, Speak Softly and the aforementioned Leaving the LAW. If there’s a demand, I will definitely publish them, too.
ABOUT ROBERT GERMAUX:
Both my parents were readers. I’m talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it’s no surprise that at an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places.
Although I’ve always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn’t fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia’s idea was a good one.
Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes. I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write Small Talk and The Backup Husband. Now I’m back and I just released my first Jeremy Barnes novel, Hard Court, on April 11.
In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), going to live theater productions, watching reruns of favorite TV shows such as “Sports Night” and “Gilmore Girls,” and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we’ve been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific and share a romantic dinner in Paris.
I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my characters and stories. Please feel free to contact me via my website.