Jim Winter is a man of many talents. He’s been a standup comedian, a pizza delivery driver, salesman and a factory worker, and currently is a software expert for a large medical company in Cleveland, Ohio. But during all these career phases, actually from his childhood, Jim has always known he was a writer. It’s a good thing for us, because we love his short “Bad History” that is a part of West Coast Crime Wave, and we think you will too.
Jim took some time to interview me a month or so ago about our plans here at BSTSLLR at his popular blog, Edged in Blue, which you can read here (but only after you read my interview with Jim).
Tell us about yourself.
I have been writing seriously for about 10 years, with occasional breaks for the odd career change, education, and divorce. I’ve always wanted to write since I was a kid. For a while, when I had no idea I was doing, I played in someone else’s sandbox while I figured out what kind of writer I grew up. When I decided to write about crime, I started with the web zines and published a story in 2000 called “A Walk in the Rain” in the original Plots With Guns. I published a novel set in Cleveland in 2005 called Northcoast Shakedown.
I currently live in Cincinnati with my wife and stepson and earn my living as one of the Evil Code Monkeys in the back room of a medical billing company.
Tell us what makes your city/location a unique and interesting setting for crime fiction.
Well, I’m not a native or resident of California, but after visiting the Bay Area in 2007 on business, I fell in love with San Francisco. It is such a beautiful city and reminds me a lot of New York and Chicago, only without the traffic problems. (If you can handle Lombard Street at rush hour, you’re in good shape.) But the place changed around every corner. The Bay Area is a microcosm of why people love California, only without LA’s smog and cult of celebrity. In my brief time as a single man a few years ago, I seriously considered relocating there to start over. The Bay has a hold over me that won’t easily be broken.
Tell us a little bit about the story’s main character.
Tony Bolin, aka Brian Selkirk, is an ex-con from back east trying to make a new start in the Bay Area. In an earlier story, he receives a visit from a former cell mate who entangles him in a bank robbery while driving down the 101 to LA. Selkirk solves his dilemma by killing the cellmate and using the death to fake his own. So when our story begins, he’s Tony Bolin, restauranteur. Things are good. He’s got a hot girlfriend, is helping the brother of a biker who took him under his wing build a chain of biker-themed sports bars, and seems to have buried his criminal past. In reality, the facade he’s built is pretty thin. That puts him in the crosshairs of a bitter former prison guard from San Quentin who wants the money from a heist up north. The major themes of both stories with Tony Bolin/Brian Selkirk are his struggle to go straight. In “Highway 101,” he’s doing it legitimately only to have someone from his past destroy everything out of greed. In “Bad History,” he’s rebuilt on a carefully crafted identity only to have someone else’s corruption step in his path. The thing is that Tony doesn’t have an undeserved sense of entitlement. He just wants to make his second chance work. It’s other people who think the world owes them that create chaos in his life.
This anthology is an e-book from a new publisher. In general, how do you as an author see the opportunities in publishing changing with the growth of e-books?
At this point in time, the publisher’s role is undefined because of ebooks. With a new technology, there are no really entrenched rules of the trade to go by, so both writer and publisher (quite often one and the same without the taint of self-publishing’s past) are free to make things up as they go along. As before, there is no guarantee of success, but it’s an exciting, freewheeling time to be a writer.
Tell us what’s in store for you over the next 6 to 12 months.
I am bringing back Northcoast Shakedown in December as an ebook. After that, I plan to release the next two completed Nick Kepler novels, one of which was edited while the other was about halfway through the process. Currently, I have another novel, Road Rules, out as an ebook. In the meantime, I plan to write something for print that I’ve been working on off and on for about three years.
If you want to read Jim’s short “Bad History”, you can find it and 17 other great crime fiction shorts in West Coast Crime Wave. You can find West Coast Crime Wave at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble today.
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