I have a great idea for a story. Would you write it if I sent it to you?

Every writer gets this. And every writer’s answer is a resounding no. Also, with VERY few exceptions, I will not look at your unpublished novel/short story/grocery list. As I said, there are a few exceptions at this point, but even that opens a legal can of worms. Basically, I don’t want to be accused of plagiarism. With 50,000 books submitted for publication every year, it’s possible that you and I may write the same story. The exceptions are writers I already know personally, or anyone sending me something I happen to be editing. As of this writing, the list of writers I’ll read unpublished is exactly four, one of whom I sleep with. And no, sleeping with me will not get you on this list.

Chances are, if you have a really good idea for a book, you need to be writing it.

Is Mystery/Detective your only Genre or are you working on something else?

I’m a crime dog for now. We’ll see about other types of stories as things develop.

Who the hell are you, anyway?

I am a crime fiction writer and reviewer whose work has appeared in Plots With Guns, Hardluck Stories, and Shred of Evidence. By day, I’m a not-so-mild-mannered technian for a major insurance company in downtown Cincinnati. By night, I’m Mrs. Winter’s boy toy. For more information, check out my bio.

So what’s your real name, buddy?

Marshall N. Mathers, but my friends call me Slim Shady.

Is it true that Nick Kepler is loosely based on that astronomer from a long time ago?

The original Nick Kepler was supposed to be this egg-head grad student who, like Sherlock Holmes, could solve mysteries just by looking at the treadware on a perp’s Nikes. He was named for Nicholas Copernicus and Johanne Kepler. This didn’t work out because, quite frankly, I didn’t go to college until I was nearly 30, and I never knew enough about physics beyond “Gravity hurts from extreme height.” He then became the annoying partner of a burned-out New York cop (in an early story that also spawned Anne Ripley as a reformed hooker.) Trouble was, I’d never been to New York. (Buy my books when they come out, so I can afford to go.) Then he was a detective-turned-writer. At the time, I could neither write nor detect. Off to writing Star Trek knock-offs for ten years. He is now the bastard child of Matt Scudder and VI Warshawski. (An image that once gave Lawrence Block the squicks. That’s another story altogether that I hope he’s forgotten.)

(Side note: If Sara Paretsky is reading this, I meant Zen Moses.)

(Side note: If Elizabeth Cosin is reading this, I meant Susan Silverman.)

(Side note: If Robert Parker is reading this, have your agent email me at [email protected] I’ll agree to 15% if he’ll sign me.)

Would you mind terribly if I sent you buckets o’ cash to write a Star Trek screenplay for me?

No, Mr. Berman, not unless it was an even numbered film, and I could get Kevin Smith to play the new captain.

Cleveland? Why Cleveland? What’s wrong with New York City, for Pete’s sake?

I grew up near Cleveland. It’s my spiritual home. New York? 1.) It’s been done over and over again. 2.) Never been to New York, or more specifically, never lived there. That kind of helps when you write about a city.

Got a question for James? Email him at [email protected] We can’t promise an answer to every question, but Jim does read his email frequently. Too frequently, if you ask some people.