vertigowomanonly Bookmark and Share
AddThis Feed Button

The Sirens of Suspense




Matt Coyle knew as a child he wanted to be a crime writer when his dad gave him THE SIMPLE ART OF MURDER by Raymond Chandler. He achieved his goal in four short decades. Matt is the author of the Rick Cahill crime series. His books have won the Anthony, Ben Franklin Silver, and San Diego Book Awards, and have accrued nominations for the Macavity, Anthony, Shamus, and Lefty Awards. He lives in San Diego with his yellow Lab, Angus, where he is writing the fifth Rick Cahill novel.


Find him online: Twitter and Facebook

item1 A Writing Life Delayed item1

I didn’t start writing until I was 43. My first book, YESTERDAY’S ECHO, was published when I was 54. Eleven years of a lot of rejections and revisions. Over the last fifteen years, I’ve often lamented that I didn’t get off my rear end and start writing earlier. Where would my career be if I’d only started earlier? BLOOD TRUTH, which comes out Dec. 5, is the fourth Rick Cahill crime novel. Four novels in five years is okay, but how many more would there be if I’d started that decade plus of rejection a decade plus ago?

I knew I wanted to be a writer way back when I was a teenager. I even wrote some awful poetry in high school. But crime was where my heart was. I read Chandler, Macdonald, and Lawrence Sanders. Novels about crime, but more focused on character. Those were the kind of books I wanted to write. So why didn’t I start then? Because there was school and sports and family and girls. Plus, I was lazy and didn’t have anything to say.

Writing in college was out of the question. There was school and girls and drugs and alcohol. Plus, I was lazy and didn’t have anything to say.

Why not my 20’s? That was the sweet spot. I worked in a restaurant, mostly at night with my days free. I had plenty of time to handwrite on a legal pad or hunt and peck on a typewriter stories about hardboiled detectives and gats and dames. But there were women, drugs, and alcohol. Lots of drugs and alcohol. Not very many women. Plus, I was lazy and didn’t have anything to say. Oh I started a couple angsty stories about lost love, but they didn’t last long because they were about puppy love. Plus, I was lazy and didn’t really have anything to say.

What about my thirties? I’d stopped drinking and drugs. Not enough women, but a few broken romances. I was now managing the restaurant and seeing all facets and personalities of the business. Usable stuff to build a crime story around. I had less free time, but still enough to start writing. The creative gene started to itch. And I scratched it…by writing a snarky annual Christmas poem for the restaurant Christmas party. Creative itch scratched and sated just enough not to start on anything else. Plus, I was lazy and didn’t have enough to say.

Mid-thirties the restaurant closed and I had to get an office job, five days a week. Days, the time I’d always never used to write. Now, I’d never have time to not write. I was a part of corporate America…sort of. I left for work at 6:00 am and didn’t get home until 5:30 pm. Long commute up and back. Brain drain day job. I was tired when I got home, then I had to walk the dog and cook dinner and watch TV. Plus, I was lazy and didn’t know what I had to say.

Then my forties. My forties! I’d lived four decades. I hadn’t been a cop or a soldier or a doctor or a lawyer, but I’d lived four decades. I had some life experience. I’d suffered the loss of loved ones. I’d found love and lost it. If not now, when? How much time did I have left? But I didn’t start writing because I was lazy and didn’t know how to say what I needed to say.

Then, at 43, one of the most important events in my life occurred. The fourth golf company I’d worked for in ten years went out of business. The bump, the nudge, the push. This was it. Make the dream real or let it die. I had a bit of money saved to live on and I had time. Eighteen waking hours of it staring me in the face every day. So, I bought a used IBM Thinkpad with a floppy disk drive and sat at my kitchen table every day…and wrote. Badly at first, but I didn’t know any better, and I found a way to say those things I hadn’t known how to say. The love, the loss, the life I’d lived started to come out in a crime story. Real emotion in a fictional story.

I’d probably be a better writer if I hadn’t been lazy and started writing in my twenties. But I don’t think I’d lived enough yet to have a story to tell. My life and my writing were delayed, but now they feel right on time.

I’m still lazy and sometimes don’t have anything to say or know how to say what I need to say. When that happens, I write.




HAVE YOU CHANGED CAREER MIDLIFE? TELL US or leave a comment on the blog below or on our Facebook page and you’ll be entered to win a copy of BLOOD TRUTH (US entrants only, please.)



Blogs - Reviews - Interviews - Giveaways