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Posts Tagged ‘new york times’

Our next featured IBM Creative is Steve Hamilton, a New York Times bestselling author and two time Edgar award winner!  He’s one of only two authors in history (along with Ross Thomas) to win two major Edgar awards (Best First Novel, Best Novel), and he’s also either won or been nominated for every other major crime fiction award in America and the UK.  His books have been translated into fifteen languages.  Professionally speaking, Steve works as an IBM Information Developer in Poughkeepsie, NY supporting both z/VM and DFSMS, and you can read more about the intersection of his career with his writing pursuit in this Greater IBM Connection story here–> http://greateribm.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/greater-ibmer-steve-hamilton-is-a-ny-times-bestselling-author/

Steve started writing when he was a little kid, and has kept up with it ever since.  He says that he got interested in writing because he loved to read so much, and that’s probably true for most writers – that is, writers are all readers at heart.  He chose mysteries, or ‘crime fiction’ to be more general, as his genre because he’s always loved mysteries, and he feels that there is a lot of freedom with what you can do with the story.  Even though there may be some reader expectations with respect to the amount of plot and narrative drive, the best crime fiction is character-driven while still being gripping and surprising.  He thinks the whole genre has been elevated by some really great writers, from Agatha Christie to Ian Fleming to Raymond Chandler.

Steve got his first book published through a writing competition sponsored by St. Martin’s Press/ Minotaur books.  Interestingly, this publisher happens to publish more first novels than all the other major publishers combined, and their writing competitions really provide a kind of ‘side door’ into the business without having to jump through the usual hoops like getting an agent first.  For other potential writers out there, you may want to check it out as they run competitions pretty frequently–> http://us.macmillan.com/Content.aspx?publisher=minotaurbooks&id=4933

IBM Creatives asked Steve about all the awards he has won for his books, and he shared this with us:

“The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) gives out the Edgar Award every year – it’s the ‘Oscar’ of the crime fiction business.  I was lucky enough to win an Edgar for Best First Novel back in 1998 for A Cold Day in Paradise, and then again for Best Novel in 2010 for The Lock Artist.  But maybe the most fun of all was going to London to appear on the Specsavers Crime Thrillers Awards show and to receive the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the UK version of The Lock Artist.  We just don’t televise stuff like that in America!”

Steve also shared with us a little bit about his creative process, what inspires him, and what he tries to convey through his stories.  He starts with a spark – one thing that sounds like it may be the beginnings of a good story.  He never really knows where the story is going to go and doesn’t use an outline.  He just follows the thread and sees where it leads.  He basically tries to stay out of the way and let the voice of the main character come through.  He said, “as Elmore Leonard once said, ‘if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it'”.  Things that feel human are what inspire him.  What he means by that is that even if you are making up a whole world of professional thieves, gangsters, and safecrackers, none of it really works unless you can relate to the characters on a human level.  What Steve tries to convey through his stories is this….he really wants you to feel what the main character is feeling, whether it’s Alex (an ex-cop in his fifties trying to get through another hard winter) or Michael (a 17 year old criminal just trying to get back to the girl he loves).   He says, “If I can do that and make you stay up late because you have to keep reading, then I’m happy.”

In the future, Steve is always working on the next story, but he is also planning on working on a screenplay for The Lock Artist, which will be a whole new experience for him.

The advice that Steve would offer to any other IBMers who would like to do creative things is this:

“If you ever made a promise to yourself like I did, then it’s not too late to start.  You can do that today.  As soon as you get home from work.  I started writing A Cold Day in Paradise on January 6th, 1997.  it was an ordinary winter night and I could have done a thousand other things, but I sat down and wrote maybe 500 words.  The next night, I wrote 500 more.  It’s fifteen years later and a lot of amazing things have happened, but it all goes back to that one night.  It really can be that simple.”

Thanks for being a featured IBM Creative Steve!

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