Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Ed Duncan 🙂
Ed is the self-published author of Pigeon-Blood Red.
For those who don’t know already, could you tell us about yourself and your book please?
I’m a recovering lawyer, having practiced for 37 years at a national law firm headquartered in Cleveland. My practice area was insurance coverage and I wrote a legal text on the subject entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage, which was published by Thomson Reuters. I wrote annual updates from 2009-2012 when I retired.
Pigeon-Blood Red is an interracial crime novel whose main characters are Rico, a white “killer with a conscience” and Paul Elliott, a black partner at a large law firm, who seemingly have nothing in common but who have more in common than either man realizes. Rico is sent by his gangland boss from Chicago to Honolulu to retrieve a stolen “pigeon-blood red” ruby necklace worth millions and to “send a message” to the thief. The chase, however, quickly goes sideways when Rico develops a grudging respect for Paul, who accidentally becomes embroiled in the crime when he comes to the aid of Evelyn, an old flame who happens to be the estranged wife of the thief. The hardened hit man must decide whether to follow orders and kill Paul and Evelyn or spare them and endanger the life of the woman he loves.
Where did your ideas come from?
The idea for Pigeon-Blood Red occurred to me out of the blue while I was attending a legal seminar in Honolulu in the mid-90’s, and I worked on it off and on for many years before I had time to work on it full time after I retired. As I pictured the novel, in my mind’s eye the only thing I saw was a beautiful, mysterious woman in danger and on the run. The rest of the details came into focus much later and changed many times before the novel was finalized. Its original title was Murder in Paradise.
Are any of your characters based (however loosely) on anyone you know?
Paul is based very, very loosely on me. He, however, is taller, smarter, more athletic, more attractive, and younger. We do have the same world view and sense of ethics, and we’re both African American lawyers who are/were partners in large law firms.
How do you pick your characters’ names?
Pigeon-Blood Red is my first novel. I tried to think of unusual names but ones that fit. I used my high school year book to come up with a couple of last names. “Paul” is the name of my best friend in elementary and high school, and “Elliott,” Paul’s last name, is the name of a biology teacher at my high school. I borrowed “Evelyn” from the tragic lead character in Chinatown, a movie I admire a lot. “Rico,” the name of the hit man just popped into my head. His boss’s last name, “Litvak,” is a variation of “Rybak,” the name of someone I worked with in the steel mill in the summers while I was in college. I also used the phone book as a source for names for some of the minor characters. Of course, there are fewer and fewer phone books in circulation these days.
Can you share your writing process with us, in a nutshell?
I’m more of a seat of the pants writer than I am an outliner. That said, before I sit down to write, I have a broad outline in mind of where the story is going. I commit this to paper and then I let the story take me where it wants within the constraints of the outline, which of course can change. In Pigeon-Blood Red, for instance, there is a surprise involving one of the characters that I didn’t plan and had never thought about until I wrote the scene. It wasn’t until that very moment that the idea came to me. Finally, I don’t keep a rigid writing schedule, so I don’t write every day and I don’t write at the same time of day or for the same length of time or until I write a specific number of pages.
Who are your top five favourite authors?
Dashiell Hammett, Theodore Dreiser, Richard Wright, Ernest Hemingway, and Lee Child.
If you could meet any author, who would it be and what would you ask them?
The author would be Dashiell Hammett and I would ask him how he developed such a great ear for dialogue.
Were you a big reader as a child?
No, I was not a big reader as a child. I was a late bloomer as a reader, just as I’m a later bloomer as a writer.
When did you start to write?
As a lawyer, I wrote an awful lot. That included letters to clients evaluating issues and legal briefs filed in court. And, of course, I wrote the legal treatise I mentioned, Ohio Insurance Coverage. However, while I have wanted to write fiction since high school, I never got around to it until I started Pigeon-Blood Red in fits and starts in the mid-90’s.
If you could re-write the ending of any book, what would it be and what would you change?
The ending in An American Tragedy is exquisite. Nevertheless, I think an equally tragic ending would have seen Clyde spared from the electric chair but forever separated from Sondra, who marries someone else. The pain of separation would have been almost as cruel as death.
Is there a book you wish you had written?
There are many! In my genre, Crime, I would say The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. In fiction in general I would say The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Both are almost universally praised.
If you could invite any fictional character for coffee, who would it be and where would you take them?
The character would be Jack Reacher and I’d take him to any diner, which is where he would probably prefer to go. He’s a big coffee drinker and he likes it black.
What are you working on right now?
I’m nearing completion of the sequel to Pigeon-Blood Red, the second in the trilogy. It’s tentatively entitled The Last Straw.
Do you have a new release due?
There is no due date for the release of my next novel. Regrettably, my small publisher ceased operations and the next novel probably will be self-published (as is Pigeon-Blood Red currently). I hope to have it finished in the next few months and in print this summer or fall at the latest.
What do you generally do to celebrate on publication day?
Since I’ve only had one novel published, I haven’t developed a specific routine. However, since I love to travel, I may start celebrating with a trip to some exotic locale.
How can readers keep in touch with you?
Readers can check out my author page on Amazon (www.amazon.com/author/edduncan) and they can visit my web page (www.eduncan.net). I’m also on Facebook (www.fb.com/ed.duncan1210), Twitter (@pigeonbloodred), and Pinterest.
Is there anything else you would like us to know?
As I mentioned, I love to travel. If readers have suggestions for great places to visit, please pass them on! Also, please watch out for my next novel which I’m pretty confident will be called The Last Straw. Thanks!
Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Ed.
Pigeon-Blood Red is a fast-paced and suspenseful crime thriller by Ed Duncan.
Duncan says, “It’s always been said that you should write what you know. I am a lawyer – as is a pivotal character in the novel who is being pursued by a hit man – and I’m excited to be able to use my legal training creatively as well as professionally.”
For underworld enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders, it seemed like an ordinary job. Retrieve his gangster boss’s priceless pigeon-blood red ruby necklace and teach the double-dealing cheat who stole it a lesson. A job like a hundred before it. But the chase quickly goes sideways and takes Rico from the mean streets of Chicago to sunny Honolulu, where the hardened hit man finds himself in uncharted territory when a couple of innocent bystanders are accidentally embroiled in the crime.
As Rico pursues his new targets, the hunter and his prey develop an unlikely respect for one another and Rico is faced with a momentous decision: follow his orders to kill the couple whose courage and character have won his admiration, or refuse and endanger the life of the woman he loves?
Praise for Pigeon-Blood Red
“In a novel with as much action as love, it is sure to be a story that will fulfill the desires of readers of all ages, genders, and areas of interest.” – 4 Stars, Red City Review
“Pigeon Blood Red at 238 pages, is not particularly long as books go, but Duncan packs a lot of story into those pages. Readers in search of a tight, well written, good guy versus bad guy, crime/action/adventure will find Pigeon Blood Red by Ed E. Duncan, an engrossing story that will keep them involved to the end. And like me, they will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next installment.” – Mike Siedschlag
“This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans…refreshingly old-school pulp, inhabited by a familiar cast of gamblers, con men and hustlers found in Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard novels” – 5 Stars, Best Thrillers
About Ed Duncan
Ed Duncan is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He currently lives outside of Cleveland, OH and is at work on the second installment in the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy. To learn more, go to http://eduncan.net/
Connect with Ed on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
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