It is getting rather warm down here! So welcome to Day Three of Hell Week. Today I’d like to welcome Jack William Finley and his character Frank Nitti.
How did you end up writing for Heroes in Hell? I’ve known Mike Williamson who wrote for Lawyers in Hell for more than twenty years. He recommended me to Janet.
How do you deal with writing in a shared universe? I don’t think I’ve ever really put much thought into that part of it. I think with any story you need to be familiar with the environment/setting your story is in. That could mean the real world, a fantasy or historical world whatever beyond that you tell a good story like always. The only difference here is that some of the environment is created by other writers. Be respectful of what they are doing in the same way you’re respectful of reality or artificial rules you yourself would create for some fantasy world. It’s just a matter of situational awareness, which you should always practice.
Why did you choose the characters you are using? Ness and Nitti just seem to offer endless possibilities for good story telling drama. Dorothy Parker just seemed a reasonably good icon to hang this stories hat on. As always use the elements that best serve to tell the tale.
Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born and raised for about twenty years in Logansport, Indiana and have spent the better part of the last twenty-six in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I started doing Twilight Zone sort of stories and now I think they are primarily character driven, hopefully thought provoking pieces that leave the readers with something to chew on mentally. I’ve written in almost every possible genre except possibly westerns.
Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. I suppose the thing that drives me as much as anything is a story by someone else that could have/should have been good or even great if only that hadn’t swerved off the path at some point and gone in what I feel like it a totally wrong direction. A lot of what I do is about screaming in written words and those writers-What were you thinking? You should have done it this way.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I do not. I hope I’m equally passionate about any fictional person I create. (Or did you mean someone else’s? Terry Moore’s Francine Peters and Katina choovanski might qualify if that was the question.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Oh my own? No. I think that’s very dangerous ground when you let yourself dislike a character rather than their actions you loose touch with them. You need to be sympathetic to all the fictional people you make in order to keep them rationally motivated and believable, especially the villainous ones. (Of others? Yes, far too many to list.)
Are your characters based on real people? Some especially in my “Hell” stories are based on historical figures. Mostly I base things more on is this the way people I’ve known and know of act in a real life setting and extrapolate from there.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? So far I’ve only done that with people I like.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I think building a proper setting can be very valuable, but it’s easy to get lost in it. I’ve had that happen too many times, spent so much time making a world I lost sight of the story. As for resources…I’m a book guy. The internet is great for pointing you in the right direction but nothing beats a book unless you can talk to a real human expert who knows the subject you’re researching.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? I think most writers want people to be passionate about their work and that’s hard to do without a theme that really says something about the world and or the human condition, but you can never forget that the first duty of fiction is to entertain and it’s poison to let that take a backseat to any kind of message.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…).As a rule I don’t like thinking of any one element as more or less important, but if you must look at it that way I think, Characters-if people don’t care about the characters it’s much harder to get them to care what they do. Plot-Even the best characters can become boring if their actions are not meaningful, if nothing is at stake. The setting can add a lot or can hurt a lot if handled badly but it very rare indeed for a setting to be able to carry a story that doesn’t have have compelling characters engaged in meaningful actions and you can kill a piece with bad writing but no matter how well you tell bad story, good, even the very best technique can’t save a bad, boring story.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? So far that’s the “Heroes in Hell” books which are available as E books and in print.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I never, never, ever try to be sole editor of fiction I write I think it is one of the most catastrophic mistakes any writer can make. I think a second set of eyes and more if possible are essential to…even decent, let alone good writing.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think the publishing world has changed and is changing and no one really knows where it’s going or where it’ll end up. I think there is a lot of social politics between Indie/Self published writers and traditional writers. I avoid that sort of plague as much as I can.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Any interaction with readers can be tricky business. It can be constructive or a waste of energy and a distraction. I suppose it depends on what the author is looking to gain by it. I know people who have. I kid you not, fan bases for their arguments with their enemies. Different things work for different people. It’s about knowing what you want to accomplish and knowing knowing if that is a good and useful way to accomplish a meaningful goal. Sometimes it works but it’s a risk, so if you do it tread carefully.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Mostly if I don’t know the writer I look at what people complain about. I look to see if they seem to have valid complaints and surprisingly few of them actually do in my experience.
What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I’m a firm believer in-do what works for you. I have trouble switching from nit picky editor and finding the good things to say about a lot of what I read, but I have done a handful of reviews if I thing I can help a writers who’s worth it get more positive attention.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? A book will, I think always give your imagination far more room to personalize a story. Book for that reason I think, can be far more intimate. Books are also as a rule, better at conveying stories that care more characters/thought driven. You could conceivably-although I wouldn’t recommend-do a story solely on characters thinking about a situation, where as visual media must, by their nature be more kinetic to keep the audiences attention. In a book you’re freer to flow back and forth between the characters inner thoughts and feelings and their physical actions.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Write as much as you can.
Read as much as you can and remember you can learn as much or more from the bad stuff you read as you do the best stuff.
Don’t let a desire to be better hobble you. Write the best you can at the time you’re writing then move on to the next thing and do that a little better than the last thing.
What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Marketing is not my strong suit. I think the best thing you can do is be who you are and figure out what does and doesn’t work for you not what works for somebody else. The worst thing you can do is try to force yourself to be what you thing other people want you to be.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? Just Finished Grunt Life by Weston Ochse which I liked very much and some stuff by Michael McCarty and Mark McLaughlin that was also very good.
Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? ...no, not really.
What are your views on authors offering free books? Promoting your work is a very tricky complicated business. It works for some and is …maybe not disastrous but…it does seem to work better for some than others. (Shrug) If it works I don’t rule much of anything out, if I’ve reason to believe it will be beneficial in the long term.
Do you have a favourite movie? I have preferences far more than favourites.
Do you have any pets? Not at the moment.
Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? Maybe a day as telemarketer. It’s hard to imagine any of those few hours ever being of use to anyone.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? Yes. Yes I could do that.
As a writer of erotica have you encountered any prejudice? How have you dealt with it? Do you write under a pen name?I’ve done a lot of writing that would fall into that category somewhere I think. So far all of it’s pre-publication as of right now, but it’s been surprisingly well received by both Editors and readers who’ve seen it. Not much of a pen name sort of person. I see the reasons for it and wouldn’t rule it out, but I tend to be the sort who does put anything on paper I wouldn’t put my name on.
Where do you think the lines are drawn between romance, erotica and porn? I’m not sure that’s a writer’s question. I just write what the muse says write and let other people label it. I used to guess where certain lines are and I generally turn out to be wrong, so I stopped guessing how I just write and leave that sort of thing to others.
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Poets in Hell, The Kid With No Name by Jack William Finley, from Poets in Hell, copyright (c) 2014, Janet Morris.
“Why so glum, G-man?” Frank Nitti asked his partner.
Ness had stopped typing and was staring at the Cleveland Safety Director badge on his desk. “Nothing ever changes,” he mumbled, as much to himself as to Nitti. “Even in hell they cling to the same sins that brought them here. Vanity. Pride. Nothing ever changes, not even in hell.”
“You think too much,” Nitti chastised him.
“I’m not like you. I don’t know how to turn it off and just not care, not even now.”
Nitti shrugged, “You’re makin’ it easy for them. They want us miserable. You should at least make them work for it.”
Welcome to the Hell Interview Channel, brought to you infernally hour after hour.
Name (s) Frank Nitti
Age (before death and after you ended up in HSM’s domain). 57
Please tell us a little about yourself. There’s not much to tell. Bosses never like to get their soft precious hands dirty. Not there and not here. They need people like me to do the dirty work for them. To keep the rabble in line and I do it, because being useful to the bosses makes my damnation, such as it is, just that much easier and, it might not sound like much but it’s really all that’s left to us down here. The saps don’t get that. I do and that’s really all you need to know about me.
Who were you in life? I was a Boss in Chicago. I helped Capone run things.
How do you think you ended up in Hell? I killed myself. It’s a tough sin to ask forgiveness for.
Describe your appearance in 10 words or less. Like some tough guy actor-Michael Madsen. That amuses them.
Where do you live in Hell? Tell us about your residence and area. When not working I live in a in a Spartan room over a bar and brothel. It’s a re-invention of Chicago when Capone ran things. It amuses the powers that be for me to be around all the sights and sounds of the old world, to be reminded of all the pleasures I lived and died for and can never taste again. Shouldn’t surprise anyone that I work a lot.
Do you have a moral code? If so what is it? Is your moral code the same as it was in life?Morals? It’s just a word. An idea they use to control you. This world isn’t that much different than the other and I do pretty much what I did there. I figure out who’s in charge and a figure out how best to stay on their good side. The want us miserable and fighting the current just makes that easier. I’m not going to make it any easier that I have to. I make myself as useful as I can to the people who run things. Is that morals? A Code? I don’t know. Ask someone who reads a lot more than I do. Those people always think they know the answers to everything.
Would you kill for those you love? After all sending someone to the Undertaker is not very nice! Love is for saps. Love is just another way for them to punish you and twist the knife a little deeper. We’re stuck here and can’t do much about that but, love…no, that just makes you that much easier to torment. I do what I can to get by and expect everyone else will do the same.
Would you die for those you love? Die, being a relative term…. You seem like one of them wordy intellectual types, what do you think?
Do you have any phobias? Are you plagued by anything particular in Hell? Phobias? Sounds like one of those pointless words the intellectuals invent to make themselves sound smarter than the rest of use. What am I plagued by?
What do you think Satan’s most creative punishment is here? The worst punishment in this place or any other wasn’t created by HSM. It was created by Humanity. They just don’t know when to give up and quit. This is for keeps. This is the end. If they’d just give in and stop fighting, if you could surrender completely and just not care at all I think you could maybe beat this damned place. I’ve been trying to do it for …I don’t know, as long as I’ve been here I guess and I haven’t quite got it right yet. Hope, humanity, the need to struggle even in the face of impossibly unending damnation, that’s the worst poison in the universe and we can any of us seem to shake it. Damned fools, all of us.
Who are your friends here? Who are your enemies? I’m gonna answer two questions at once if that’s Ok. Friends and enemies? I don’t have any, not the way you mean. There are people who make it easier down here. I stick with those people. And people who make it harder for themselves and sometimes for the rest of us. Those people are the closest things to enemies I have but they can only make them tougher for you if you let them. I don’t.
If I recall relationships are… difficult, is this the side of humanity you miss the most?No. Relationships are weaknesses. We’re all puppets down here one way or another. The more strings you give them the more they control you. I miss pleasure a lot, but I miss control more. I don’t give the powers that be any more strings to control me than I have to.
Please give us an interesting and unusual fact about yourself. At the end, I shot myself in the head with a .32 caliber pistol. It took three tries to get it done. I’ve always wondered if the..one we don’t mention was trying to tell me something. I make it a point not to wonder what might have happened if I’d listened.
Book(s) in which this character appears plus links
Jack William Finley
Website/Blog/Author pages etc.