I’m always intrigued by my guests’ bios and backgrounds because I know how experience influences what we write. Michael’s fascinating background could be an Amazon Prime series. Welcome, Michael.
How has writing this book changed you?
I don’t think that this book changed me. At least, that’s what I’d like to think. For me, writing is a release of pressure. Or maybe it clears my head. At any rate, I always feel better after I’ve written. Murder at Whitefish Point, my most recent book, was one of those projects that felt best when it was finished.
Was there a scene that was more difficult than others? One that you pondered whether or not to include it? Talk about that.
This book was a challenge for me. As is always the case, I write the conclusion first, and then figure out where all the curves in the road are, and who should traverse them with me. Once I’ve done that, I have a clear path to the end. This project was a little more difficult for me than previous books have been. The reason I found it challenging is because so much of it is written as a stream of consciousness. I’ve never done that before. But, in this case, I felt it was the best way to tell the story. Of course, I might be wrong about that. Other writers might have taken a different route. I wanted to drill deep into the head of my character, and that felt like the best way to do it.
How do your characters influence your writing? Do you have disagreements with them?
I try to be true to the character, and to the story. I’m not sure why I should ever have a disagreement with a character. I don’t feel it’s necessary for me to agree with any of them. They are going to behave as they behave—and that’s that. I don’t have to approve. I think that if I ever tried to make one of them perform outside of his/her set of mores or values, I would have a problem. But the problem would be with me. My main character in the series is Jack Handler. In many ways we share a system of values. But he is his own person. And when he chooses to behave in a fashion I find offensive, that’s his prerogative. But when I go to bed at night I sleep well. And when I don’t, I get up and write some more.
What is your research process like? Do you enjoy it?
I have read about writers who abhor using the Internet for research. I’m not one of them. I constantly move from Word to Chrome to gather up details, and to check facts and sources. The Internet, for me, is an important tool. But, when it comes to geography, in almost every case I walk it out. Too much is missed when we rely on maps or some other person’s viewpoint. If I possibly can, I visit and walk. When I wrote about Strangmoor Bog, I walked much of it out.
Another aspect to writing hardboiled thrillers that does not lend itself to standard research is the way characters think and react. For that, I believe life experience is invaluable.
What books have influenced you as a writer?
I think a very good book for new authors (particularly Indie writers) is APE (by Guy Kawasaki). It stands for Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur. Guy was the guru behind Apple marketing during the early years. The title is self-explanatory.
Regarding people who have influenced my writing habits: In my experience, no one has influenced me more strongly than has Stephen King. But, not because of his writing style. He inspires me with his work ethic. Every time I start to get lazy, I think about King. It’s that 99% perspiration thing, I guess. Thank you, Stephen King. As far as writers who have influenced my writing, I would like to think there are none. … Unless it would be Dostoevsky. I tend to take Hemingway’s advice and avoid authors who are still alive. They fight back, you know.
About the Author
Michael Carrier never had a doubt that he would become a writer of fiction. When, as a journalism student in college, his professor required him to write his own obituary, he wrote that when he turned fifty years of age he would begin writing fiction. The professor was not pleased that Michael wanted to delay his career, and so challenged the rationale. Michael simply told him that he would not start writing novels until he had accumulated an appropriate inventory of life experiences.
However, his professor, who happened to be the editor of a national weekly magazine, gave Michael a job writing for him. For two years (while still in college) Michael wrote or edited sometimes up to three articles a week.
Later he edited the Student Association Newsletter at the Graduate School of Hebrew and Cognate Learning (University of Pennsylvania).
From 1993 until 1998 Michael wrote an opinion column that appeared in a few small magazines.
In 1998 he founded “Goodschools.Com,” arguably the first real blog on the Internet. On his site he published articles regarding various aspects of education, and provided a forum for his readers to comment. He maintained that blog until 2006. It was at that point he decided to begin writing fiction. And because the blog was such a lightning rod of controversy, he decided to pull it off of the web.
Since that time he has published eleven books of fiction, all centered on his main character, Jack Handler, a retired Chicago homicide detective. He is currently working on the twelfth: “Round Two.”
Regarding his comment to his journalism professor that he would not begin writing fiction until he had built up an adequate inventory of life experiences—he has definitely honored that commitment.
Michael has at different times in his life driven truck throughout the US, hustled pool and gambled poker from Texas to Montana, traveled the country hitchhiking, spent five years in Greenwich Village’s East Side, delivered diamonds in New York’s diamond district (disguised as a down-and-outer), tended bar at a New York nightclub, climbed dozens of water towers throughout the US, panned gold, skydived, and worked for over two decades in private security. Oh, and yes, it is true—Mike and his wife did drop in on the Woodstock concert. It was, however, totally by accident. They had been backpacking in the mountains nearby and wondered about all the commotion.
Michael holds a Master of Arts degree from NYU, and has done an additional two years of postgraduate work at the Dropsie College of Hebrew and Cognate Learning in Philadelphia.
One of his favorite hobbies is creating intricate puzzles. Since 1992 he has periodically assumed the persona of “Mountain Mike.” As this character, he hides a treasure (which is a ten dollar bill) somewhere around Grand Rapids, Michigan. He then every week publishes puzzles, which contain clues as to the location of the treasure.
To date I have written eleven hard-boiled thrillers. In all cases, my principal character is Jack Handler, a retired Chicago homicide detective who now resides on Northern Michigan’s Sugar Island. He currently works as a private contractor.
Jack and the New York Death Mask (This is the only book in the series not set in Michigan)
Murder on Sugar Island
Wealthy Street Murders
Sugar Island Girl Missing in Paris
Murder in Strangmoor Bog
Ghosts of Cherry Street
Assault on Sugar Island—Suicide by Jihad
Murder at Whitefish Point
I am currently working on Round Two. It is also a Jack Handler thriller.
All books are available on Amazon, and at a number of bookstores in the Upper Peninsula. Island Books and Crafts (Sault Ste. Marie, MI) always carries a nice selection of my books, as does Falling Rock Books in Munising. I list on my website the various locations where I can be found throughout the year (greenwichvillageink.com).