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Denise Mina often looks at crime and corruption in her home of Glasgow, but she recently visited thirties L..A. with the famous P.I. Philip Marlowe as her guide in the highly entertaining The Second Murderer. Denise is one of my favorite writers to talk with and you'll see why in this discussion of the book and taking on Raymond Chandler's hard boiled hero.

SCOTT MONTGOMERY: I remember when someone at a book event asked you if you'd do something like Ian Rankin and you said "I don't try to be God." What gave you the fortitude to take on the most iconic P.I.?

DENISE MINA: Just a sheer reckless disregard for the opprobrium of purists, Scott.

S.M.: You also adapted Stieg Larson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo for comics. Do you learn from other authors when you're playing in their sandbox? If so, what did you pick up from Larson and Chandler?

D.M.: Very much so. Chandler does this great Brechtian trick of being utterly in the scene and making each scene stand on its own. He doesn't do bridging scenes, really, or explaining what is going on. He just has his characters there and plays out the scene. It takes a lot of faith in the reader to do that.

S.M.: What drew you to having Marlowe reunite with Anne Roirdan from Farewell My Lovely?

D.M.: I've always loved her, she's one of the few active female characters in the Marlowe books and she's a writer. She wanted to work with Marlowe but he wouldn't agree to it so I reckon she'd just go off and do it herself.

S.M.: I thought you did a wonderful job with the Chandleresque similes and metaphors. Some authors have stepped into unintentional parody with it. How did you have a way of avoiding that?

D.M.: Keep it short. One beat too long and it sounds sarcastic.

S.M.: How did you approach creating Chandler's L.A.?

D.M.: Obsessively watching film of LA at that time, maps, Chandler's own description, Perry Mason (wonderful show), reading reading reading.

S.M.: While I'm sure you put in a lot of work, I also got a great sense of joy from a writer who is a Chandler fan sharing with readers who are fans. What was the most fun about writing for Marlowe in his world?

D.M.: I rarely write about romantics and it seemed to me the essence of Marlowe. I loved digging into that aspect of his character.


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