Jochem Vandersteen was an early fan of Nick Kepler back in the day. Since then, he’s released his own Noah Milano series. I’ll let him tell you all about it. – Jim
Jim Winter asked me to introduce to you Noah Milano, the protagonist of most of my stories. That’s an honor of course. So let me tell you the origins of this character first.
I discovered the Spenser novels that I’d enjoyed being translated to my native Dutch were available in English through Amazon.com and picked up a few. I loved to write and started to think I might want to write a PI novel myself.
I wasn’t sure about my protagonist, though. I wanted a character like Spenser or his predecessor Philip Marlowe. I also wanted to introduce a character that felt new and fresh. But how was I going to do that with all these PI’s that came before. How to please their audience and still come out with something original?
Dennis Lehane showed me that with his novel Gone, Baby Gone. Here was a PI that wasn’t an ex-cop, didn’t listen to jazz and drove a freaking Porsche. That was the spark I’d been looking for. My own detective would be young and listen to metal, just like I did. He wasn’t going to be an ex-cop but something more original. Taking my inspiration from the intriguing Xena, Warrior Princess show of that time I decided like her, my character would be someone with a criminal past trying to make an honest living. Noah Milano was born.
He appeared in numerous short stories online (collected here) and a full novel before starring in regular Kindle novelettes and novellas. With this novelette format I felt I had found the ideal way to publish fast-paced mysteries that would appeal to old and new fans alike.
A lot of people think I got my inspiration from the early pulps. They’re partly wrong. I was especially inspired by the newer detectives I discovered through the Thrilling Detective site like Milan Jacovich, Tres Navarre, Amos Walker, Matt Scudder and of course Elvis Cole. Those heroes owe a lot to the early stuff, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and all the other Black Mask boys. That’s why I seem to be influenced by the early classics. You just can’t be writing the genre without being inspired by the source material that inspired us all.
I’m in pretty good company these days as a self-publishing PI writer. My blog, Sons of Spade offers a lot of review of (e-)books featuring writers that give their own little spin to the familiar archetype. I really enjoy discovering great PI’s that might have been hugely succesfull in the nineties when the genre seemed to be more popular but now have to self-publish their stories. That’s not because of the quality, mind you! People like MD Grayson, Nathan Gottlieb, Sean Dexter and many others write great mysteries that deserve to be read. I also enjoy paying attention to the characters that followed Jack Reacher, hardboiled investigators who are often soldier than detective, but like Philip Marlowe follow their own rules and bring justice to this world in a knight-errant role.
I should point out there’s a nice little supporting cast around as well. There’s Kane, Noah’s mentor and resident psychotic sidekick. There’s his drinking buddy and small-time crook Tony Hawaii. And of course there’s the character who might be the most popular with my readers… Minnie! She’s been Noah’s best friend since kindergarten. She’s beautiful, funny, intelligent and warm. She’s also an assistant Medical Examiner and the main reason Noah Milano’s investigates the death of a gossip columnist in the new novella THE DEATH BUSINESS.
If you want to get to know more about Noah and friends just go ahead and pick up THE DEATH BUSINESS.