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Lou Berney's books often appear effortless. They are never showy, but always entertaining ans engaging us. He hooks us with characters we care about. His latest is Hardy "Hardly" Reed a likable slacker who feels the need to rescue two children for one bad dad. Lou took some time to take sme question about the book and his writing.

SCOTT MONTGOMERY.: Which came first, the character of Hardly or the situation you put him in?

LOU BERNEY: Hardly came first. I was really interested in writing about a character in over his head, out of his depth — the kind of guy who shouldn’t be the hero of a crime novel.

S.M.: I admire how you pulled off an often humorous lead with a very dark situation is he is in. How did you deal with that balance?

L.B.: I think a lot of it just comes naturally. I guess it’s the way I see life in general — light braided together with dark. And I think dark is always darker when paired with light, and vice versa.

S.M.: You often tell stories about people in a situation that forces them to climb out of the state they are in. What do you enjoy about that theme?

L.B.: That’s interesting. I’m not sure I ever would have picked that up myself, but it’s true. I guess the capacity to change, or not, is fascinating to me.

S.M.: No matter what these situations are, I always buy them. How do you ground your stories?

L.B.: Concrete details are really important to me. I have to feel and smell and taste a place before it comes alive to me. So I spend a lot of time finding just the right detail to make a scene pop. I don’t want to pile on a lot of mediocre details.

S.M.: Is there any influence in the back of your head, even when you're writing today?

L.B.: I have to say I’m hugely inspired by the state of crime fiction right now in general. There’s just some much great work being done, and such a crazy exciting variety. I love it.

S.M.: What other art form would you like to be as proficient in as writing?

L.B.: I’d love to be able to play the guitar without staring at my fingers and always fumbling the transition between chords.


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