Up Close with Daniel Polansky

I just found out that Daniel Polansky’s second book is coming out in October.

Tomorrow, the Killing
Low Town #2
By Daniel Polansky
Buy it here: UK

Once he was a hero of the Great War, and then a member of the dreaded Black House. Now he is the criminal linchpin of Low Town.

His name is Warden.

He thought he had left the war behind him, but a summons from up above brings the past sharply, uncomfortably, back into focus. General Montgomery’s daughter is missing somewhere in Low Town, searching for clues about her brother’s murder. The General wants her found, before the stinking streets can lay claim to her, too.

Dark, violent, and shot through with corruption, TOMORROW, THE KILLING is a fantastic successor to one of the most heralded fantasy debuts of recent times.

His debut novel, The Straight Razor Cure (aka Low Town) came out last year around August and I conducted an interview with him for the blog of the store I worked for. I’m reposting it here because The Straight Razor Cure is one of those books I was enjoying but got side-tracked from – now I have to go finish it and get up-to-date! 


1. What started you writing, and is it the same thing that still inspires you today?

I started writing seriously because I felt unfulfilled by what I was doing at that point in my life. I guess as I’ve been writing more, I’ve become inspired by sheer love for the craft, and a desire to get better.

2. How many novels did you write before you got published?

Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure is my first novel. It’s actually the first work of fiction I’ve ever written, or at least as far back as I can remember.

3. What was the first thing you did when you found out a publisher wanted to print your work? 

I was on my lunch break, at the time. I pretty much just walked around in a happy daze for forty-five minutes.

4. What books, or authors, would you say have most influenced you in the type of writer you’ve become?

I would say that my intellectual debt regarding The Straight Razor Cure is owed to Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, first and foremost.

5. Your debut is The Straight Razor Cure, can you tell us a bit about the story and how you came up with it?

The Straight Razor Cure is classic noir set in a dystopian fantasy setting. It primarily concerns the misadventures of The Warden, a small time drug lord whose iniquities are interrupted upon discovering the body of a murdered child. In a bout of ill-considered self-righteousness, he decides to hunt down the killer. Trouble ensues.

6. Do you consciously chose themes to explore in your work or does it ‘just happen’?

A bit of both, I suppose.

7. What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

For me, personally, the revising process can grow pretty exhausting. After about the tenth time I edited The Straight Razor Cure, I began to have elaborate fantasies abut tossing the manuscript into the fire, or its 21st century equivalent, wiping my hard drive.

8. Do you use an outline when you write, or are you more of a discovery writer?

The Straight Razor Cure was my first novel, as I mentioned, and I just kind of struck off in a general direction narratively speaking. With subsequent works I’ve wised up some, and hammer out an outline before I get moving on the text itself.

9. How much research do you do, and is it before or during the writing process? 

It depends on how you look at it. I read history pretty compulsively, and a lot of that ultimately makes its way into what I’m writing. I try and keep my eyes open all the time for things I might later fit into a book, so it’s sort of an abstract form of research.

10. Do you ever base your characters on people you know or have known?

Some of them, yeah. It’s a lot of fun when you can steal things from the real world.

11. What is your work schedule like when you’re in writers mode?

It really depends. I move around a lot, so I don’t really have a set schedule. When I’m in full on writing mode I tend to just make time to get out what’s in my head.

12. What do you do to relax, when you’re not in ‘writer’s mode? (are you ever not in writer’s mode?)

I travel, I listen to music, I read, I play chess.

13. How do you balance what you’re reading against what you’re writing?

I sort of feel like half my job is to be constantly reading things, and my selection is pretty varied. One thing you sometimes have to be careful of is making sure that whatever you’ve picked up doesn’t bleed too much into your work. A curious example — while working on the sequel to The Straight Razor Cure I was reading Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust, which is this extraordinarily written, unimaginably long navel gazing sort of novel. At some point I went back and looked at what I had been writing and realized I had unintentionally (and without great success) started copying Proust’s style, which is about as far from the clipped, fast-paced prose style of classic noir as you could imagine. Needless to say, rewrites were in order.

14. And finally, what future novels/ideas do you have in the works? What can your readers expect next?

At the moment I am working on the sequel to The Straight Razor Cure, which doesn’t have a name yet, because names are hard as hell. It should be winging its way toward you guys sometime in 2012, and I highly recommend you purchase it in great quantities.

Visit my website, DanielPolansky.com, and leave a comment using the Facebook plugin on the lower left of the page so I know who you are. The first 7 chapters are on the website, along with two book trailers, a contest…all kinds of fun stuff. I’m on Facebook, Twitter (@DanielPolansky), Google+ (+DanielPolansky), and GoodReads, so there are lots of ways to connect!

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