Interview Transcripts

Dolph LeMoult, Crime and YA Writer 7/28/05

Event start time:

Thu Jul 28 18:47:21 2005

Event end time:

Thu Jul 28 21:03:02 2005



Legend:
Questions from the Audience are presented in red.
Answers by the Speaker are in black.
The Moderator's comments are in blue.

Mary Rosenblum

Hello all.

 

Welcome to our regular Professional Connection live interview.

 

Tonight we're visiting with Dolph LeMoult, artist and writer.

 

Dolph LeMoult's series of police novels, co-authored with NYPD Detective Bill Kelly, has attracted an avid, loyal, readership. His Rock Solid, a Book-of-the-Month Club selection, won critical acclaim.

 

You can find his new book, Running Horsemen online.

 

He is also a Long Ridge instructor, by the way. J

 

Dolph, welcome. Thanks for taking the time to be with us tonight!

Dolph LeMoult

Happy to be here.

Mary Rosenblum

So how did you get started writing? Where did this long career path begin?

Dolph LeMoult

First of all, thanks for having me on the site. As far as where this all began, I guess I always wanted to write. As a small child I'd read stories and draw the characters in the margins..

Mary Rosenblum

I bet the librarian LOVED you! :-)

Dolph LeMoult

I'm not sure. I never stuck around long enough to find out

Mary Rosenblum

When did you actually begin writing and submitting? How did you get there from those stories and illustrations?

Dolph LeMoult

I began writing long before I started submitting. My first book submission was STREET DANCE, a crime novel I co-wrote with Bill Kelly in the early eighties. It sold right away.

Mary Rosenblum

Wow, you really did start off with a bang. That's the same series that Rock Solid is part of?

Dolph LeMoult

No. ROCK SOLID was a nonfiction book. The story of two hero narcotics cops. Actually it was their title. I was hired to do the writing.

Mary Rosenblum

Ah, I was confused there. But you wrote several books with Bill Kelly, yes?

Dolph LeMoult

Seven actually - we sold six

gskearney

OK, writer, artist, instructor. How do you keep all the balls in the air? I keep finding that my photography or my digital art work tries to expand and take up all my writing time.

Dolph LeMoult

I can only concentrate on one thing at a time. I write every morning, but that's the only thing that's routine. The rest of the world just happens.

randi-lee

Are all your books crime novels? Do you write any other types?

Dolph LeMoult

My latest novel is a coming of age story - about as far away from a crime novel as you can get. It's titled, RUNNING HORSEMEN

Mary Rosenblum

Dolph, I am curious. Did you intend this to be YA book? It's called that in the reviews I read, but to me it seemed to be no more YA than Catcher in the Rye is.

Dolph LeMoult

Thanks for putting me in the same sentence with J.D. Salinger. Actually, I wrote RUNNING HORSEMEN as an adult book, but my publisher, Nancy Hammerslough decided to release it as a YA title as well. Turns out teens love it, as do adults

Mary Rosenblum

Well, I read Catcher when I was about fourteen... :-)

 

I really like the book and I certainly recommend it.

Dolph LeMoult

You can't be a lot older than that now.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, you are soooo sweet, Dolph. J

speckledorf

The character Father Troy in Running Horsemen isn't your typical priest. Have you gotten any negative feedback from that?

Mary Rosenblum

He caught my eye, too. I liked him. :-)

Dolph LeMoult

I'm glad you liked RUNNING HORSEMEN. It's been getting some pretty great reviews.

 

I don't think any of the characters in the book are typical. Troy Blaze is patterned after a priest I knew growing up, as are almost all of the characters. So far nobody's objected.

nancy h

The scene with the priest is great! It's one of my favorites.

Dolph LeMoult

Thanks, Nancy H. That scene is one of my favorites too.

tory

Is it common for publishers to shift audience like that?

Dolph LeMoult

I can't say it's common. I do know that crossover books (teen and adult) are gaining in popularity in the publishing world.

Mary Rosenblum

That's certainly true in SF and mystery.

tami74

I've only read the excerpt on website so far...can't wait to read the rest....reminded me of my all time fave--Where Red Fern Grows...maybe just in style.

Mary Rosenblum

I have to say I was pleased at the excerpts your publisher put up...strong scene!

Dolph LeMoult

Strong book, I think.

Mary Rosenblum

I agree... They're quite representative.

nancy h

You mentioned illustrating your stories. Do you do that any more?

Dolph LeMoult

I don't do as much of it as I used to. But if you look at the illustration of Chance Bailey on the cover of RUNNING HORSEMEN, you'll see it's mine. Writers don't get to do that very often. Thanks, Nancy Hammerslough.

Mary Rosenblum

I didn't realize you did the cover art, Dolph. That is indeed a rarity these days! Nice picture.

Dolph LeMoult

I think it looks just like Chance. Don't you?

Mary Rosenblum

It does. It fit the character nicely, which cover art does not always do! :-)

randi-lee

Does your writing influence your art or vice versa? I find that many of my photographs inspire stories.

Dolph LeMoult

I think that both are a part of the creative process. I'm very lucky in that I can practice both, but I really can't judge whether one influences the other. I think the most important thing is the challenge.

Mary Rosenblum

How did your collaboration with Bill Kelly come about? How did you first meet?

Dolph LeMoult

I'd written a few books that had never been submitted; I really didn't know what type of writing interested or suited me. Then I walked into a card shop in New York and met the owner, who just happened to be Bill Kelly, a NYPD Homicide Detective. I asked him immediately if he wanted to write a book, and the rest is as they say...

Mary Rosenblum

How cool! So how did this collaboration actually work? Did you do the writing and he supplied the realism...or did you both write?

Dolph LeMoult

I did all the writing. Bill and I would leave the 47th precinct in the Bronx and travel half the night answering calls and scouting locations. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about how police operate.

Mary Rosenblum

Sounds like a lot of fun, actually. :-)

Dolph LeMoult

It was. Some of it was actually dangerous - gave me a new respect for what cops do.

Mary Rosenblum

Having read enough thrillers, crime, and mystery stories lacking in police realism, I can see why the series worked well.

Dolph LeMoult

The books were more police procedurals that thrillers. Some of our biggest fans were on the police force.

Mary Rosenblum

I bet. I have a retired cop friend who vetted my mysteries for realism and he LOVED it when a writer 'got it right' about the police.

Dolph LeMoult

Publishers are a bit more assiduous about that than they used to be.

Mary Rosenblum

They are indeed!

megger

Did you find it frustrating at all collaborating with someone else?

Dolph LeMoult

Not really. A collaborator can add a lot to a project. But writing a single title has its own charm. It's a bit more liberating to have all the creative input.

wolf122

How easy/difficult is it to work with another writer? How do you divide the work?

Mary Rosenblum

How much creative input did Mr. Kelly add?

 

He wasn't writing it, of course.

Dolph LeMoult

In the Vince Crowley series (Bill Kelly) Bill and I would meet once a week and go over what I'd written. He would edit the work for accuracy, sometimes suggesting other approaches. We had no trouble working this way. Bill never wanted to be the creative guy and I never wanted to be the cop

Mary Rosenblum

Perfect partnership, seems like.

Dolph LeMoult

It was. The series ended when we kinda ran out of ideas

Mary Rosenblum

Ah, too bad. Do you ever think about restarting it?

Dolph LeMoult

It's out in Hollywood now, making the rounds. Who knows?

Mary Rosenblum

Wooo, good luck!

Dolph LeMoult

It's always a long shot, Mary

Mary Rosenblum

I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

Dolph LeMoult

Thanks

speckledorf

In general, how much research do you do for a book and how long does it take?

Dolph LeMoult

That depends on the book. The Vince Crowley series was written as we went along. Research was On The Job Training. For my new Book, RUNNING HORSEMEN, the plot was already in place when I started - based on a family history. But I had to research the period and present it accurately; otherwise the book's authenticity and integrity would have suffered. I believe that research is a creative tool.

Mary Rosenblum

I'm curious...is Running Horsemen a bit autobiographical by any chance?

Dolph LeMoult

Thanks for asking. In fact much of the story is based on experiences my mother related to me about her childhood growing up on a farm in Kansas. I've used the real names of my grandfather and grandmother, and Chance Bailey's trip to Manhattan is based on reality. What happens when he gets there is mostly fiction, though.

Mary Rosenblum

So I'm curious...did the reality of parts of this story make it more difficult for you to write or easier?

Dolph LeMoult

Much easier. As they say, truth is often stranger than fiction, and the events in RUNNING HORSEMEN were inspired by some pretty strange happenings in real life. I felt liberated writing it.

Mary Rosenblum

That's interesting. It sounds as if you made a strong personal connection here that didn't limit you at all.

Dolph LeMoult

That's right. I think any writer would rather be intimately familiar with his or her subject than start off from scratch

Mary Rosenblum

That leads me to another question...how much of your writing is based in inspiration and how much is simply sitting down with the intent to write a story?

Dolph LeMoult

I tell my writing students that if they wait to be inspired they'll probably never get anything down on paper. I'm not knocking inspiration, I wish I had more of it, but most successful writers I know don't depend on it. When an idea surfaces it’s more a result of absorption than inspiration. I think that's true for most creative enterprises.

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, I agree. :-) Plus, in the real world of bills, when someone asks you to create a story for an anthology, you DO it. :-)

 

Inspiration or no inspiration.

Dolph LeMoult

Ask me - I'll do it

randi-lee

I have read fiction novels where the story was good but obviously the writer did no research. I would never pick up another book of theirs. I consider it a crime not to do research. I know you consider it a creative process but do you also consider not doing research a crime?

Dolph LeMoult

I consider it stupid.

Mary Rosenblum

In my experience, it kicks the reader out of your story and they never really trust you again.

iron_will

I haven’t read your book yet...why the title Running Horsemen

Dolph LeMoult

I agree. Writing a book or story off the top of one's head is the ultimate vanity. Most publishers can spot it in an instant.

Dolph LeMoult

Iron Will - I like it. RUNNING HORSEMEN is excerpted from a passage in the book. It has meaning in context but you'll have to read the book to get it.

Mary Rosenblum

Motivation. :-)

nancy h

You mentioned challenges earlier. What's the most challenging book you've written?

Dolph LeMoult

All books are challenging. Certainly RUNNING HORSEMEN was a challenge because it is a departure for me. ROCK SOLID was a challenge because I was a hired gun and I had to produce. I love the challenge of writing. It's what makes it work for me.

nancy h

What do you do when you finish a book? Do you celebrate? Just start another book? Or both?

Dolph LeMoult

I probably shouldn't admit this, but I cry. I just crack up with emotion at having completed the book. Don't ask me why.

Mary Rosenblum

Huh, that sounds sort of familiar, Dolph. I call it my 'post partum depression'. :-)

Dolph LeMoult

Maybe it's more common that I'd thought.

Mary Rosenblum

I have several writer friends who 'crash' when they finish.

Dolph LeMoult

They've earned it

Mary Rosenblum

I agree.

cosmos

How do you plot your novels? Do you outline or fill in some kind of chart so you can see all the subplots and story arcs?

Dolph LeMoult

It's really different with every book. Sometimes I've done a rough outline, but my experience has been that the book wanders far from the outline. What works best for me is getting something down on paper - a title, a sentence or two, a page. Then I live with the idea; it’s always there in the back of my head, just behind the garbage to be taken out and the car to be washed. That's what I meant by absorption

Mary Rosenblum

Do you find that you need until that idea has really evolved for you before you begin? Or do you evolve it as you write?

Dolph LeMoult

The work can take on a life of its own. Characters develop personalities on their own; I'm often forced to let them behave in ways that are illogical for them

Mary Rosenblum

So the characters sort of take over? :-)

Dolph LeMoult

They can. Writing a scene that is beyond a character's ability or untrue to a character's personality will always be thin. Characters should have integrity, as should writers

cosmos

So you allow the story to take you where it wants to go, like Stephen King writes about in ON WRITING.

Dolph LeMoult

I think all serious writers have to do that.

writeaway

Do you work on more than one book at a time or do you prefer doing one from start to finish before moving on?

Dolph LeMoult

Of course I'd prefer to work on one project at a time, but that doesn't always work out. I'm currently working on three.

writeaway

What kind of writing schedule do you set for yourself?

Mary Rosenblum

Yes, how do you handle three projects at the same time?

Dolph LeMoult

I put aside three or four hours every day for writing - usually first thing in the morning. What comes out is not always good but I need that discipline. Some mornings are spent just deleting and editing what I've written the morning before

Dolph LeMoult

In answer to Mary: Gingerly

Mary Rosenblum

Do you try to work on all three every day, or work on one until it feels cold and the switch to another project?

Dolph LeMoult

Some are more important than others. I can only concentrate on one story at a time. When I hit a wall, I'll move onto something else until an answer presents itself

brownish

Everyone seems to say publishing a book is different now from the way it was a few years ago. Do you think so?

Dolph LeMoult

Yup! I suppose there was a time when Camelot reigned in the publishing business, when publishers developed new talents and were loyal to their writers (and vice-versa) Now it's pretty much bottom line - a lot more cutthroat

Mary Rosenblum

Well, all those small, independent publishers who loved their readers and their authors are now nothing more than imprints of the very few huge publishers.

 

Isn't Brown Barn a small, independent publisher?

Dolph LeMoult

Very true for most. I'm fortunate to have found Brown Barn Books, an independent publisher with a heart

Mary Rosenblum

There are still a few of those around. :-) How did the experience compare to working with Putnam, for example? (One of the big NY houses).

Dolph LeMoult

Putnam was a lot different when they published the first three Vince Crowley novels than they are today. They were huge, but the writers were given a chance to work closely with a single editor for the length of a book. They answered phone calls. Not so in many cases today.

Mary Rosenblum

Did you and your editor do a lot of work together on Running Horsemen?

Dolph LeMoult

 RUNNING HORSEMEN needed some editing for content to make it a crossover book. We worked closely together on that aspect of it - speaking on the phone several times a day.

Mary Rosenblum

Nice.

brownish

It seems to me there are pros and cons to both large and small publishers. Easier to get reviews with big publisher, easier to get t.l.c. from a little one.

Mary Rosenblum

I agree.

writeaway

Do you feel it is easier or more difficult for new writers to get published now, compared to a few years ago?

Dolph LeMoult

Good observation. I've found that just getting published is a pretty big deal. It's never gotten easier, so I'll take all the publicity and tlc I can get

Dolph LeMoult

I really don't have any statistics, but I think it's probably harder. There are more niche publishers though, so a writer probably has a greater range to work with.

writeaway

Has computerization made for a faster publishing process?

Dolph LeMoult

Definitely. It's also made writing books a lot easier. I thing the computer actually made me a better writer.

Mary Rosenblum

I'm chuckling, Dolph. I remember when we all started trying computers...and how many people predicted that they would 'take the soul out of writing'.

Dolph LeMoult

I suppose some said that. I know I started out writing longhand because I heard that was the way Hemmingway did it.

Mary Rosenblum

Ha, I know writers who STILL do a first draft longhand. Me, I get writers cramp. :-)

randi-lee

The computer has made me a worse speller, everything looks wrong on here. Do you find that to be true with you at all?

Dolph LeMoult

Years ago I'd type a page, look at it, find something that could be written better, and let it go because it was too much of a hassle to rewrite the page. Now the computer lets me make those changes instantly.

 

My computer bawls me out when I misspell a word.

Mary Rosenblum

I have to say, I do love spellcheck. :-)

 

So, Dolph, before we run out of time, I wanted to ask you about future projects....you have three! What can we expect to see?

Dolph LeMoult

I'm currently writing a novel entitled THE ERGOT PROTOCOL, a kind of mystery-thriller with political overtones. Right now it's about the Patriot Act, but that may change.

Mary Rosenblum

I love the title! It does have a thriller feel to it.

Dolph LeMoult

Know what ergot is?

Mary Rosenblum

Yep, the grain-smut that LSD was originally derived from. :-)

Dolph LeMoult

You got it, are you a product of the 60s?

Mary Rosenblum

Yep...and have botany in my background. :-)

Dolph LeMoult

Love it!

brownish

Didn't ergot make people sort of insane? Like the Patriot Act?

Dolph LeMoult

So they say. My angle for the book has to do with agriterrorism.

Mary Rosenblum

OH, good for you, Dolph! I have been waiting for someone to pick up on that. I know quite a bit about the weaknesses in agribusiness, that's for sure.

Dolph LeMoult

It's an angle that hasn't really been explored by writers. Back to the farm!

Mary Rosenblum

It hasn't, and it's a great angle...quick, finish it!!!

Dolph LeMoult

Ergot introduced into the food supply. Everybody gets high, oh my!

Mary Rosenblum

LOL...you lived through the 60s too. I can tell.

Dolph LeMoult

Bob Dylan's still going strong.

Mary Rosenblum

Many musicians from that era are, have you noticed? :-)

 

So what about your other two projects?

Dolph LeMoult

My good friend, Larry Coryell is still on the road. I'll be seeing him at the Newport Jazz Festival next month

 

One is a story titled, THE USHERS AT THE METROPOLE about a summer in 1952 - another crossover. The other is just an outline now, about a restaurant that perished during the 9/11 attacks.

Mary Rosenblum

Interesting. I think we've enough distance from 9/11 now that there's a lot of potential there.

 

So where can people buy Running Horsemen, Dolph?

Dolph LeMoult

I have another completed novel that I'm currently trying to find a publisher for: EMBER DAYS. Wanna buy it?

Mary Rosenblum

Oh, cool. :-) I'd have to start a publishing house first, alas.

Dolph LeMoult

Back to RUNNING HORSEMEN: It can be ordered in any major bookstore, or online at Amazon.com, Borders, or Barnes and Noble.

Mary Rosenblum

And you can buy it on the Brown Barn Books website, right?

Dolph LeMoult

You bet. I urge all within cybershot to buy a copy

Mary Rosenblum

I ditto that. I enjoyed it. You create some very vivid and interesting characters. No stereotypes. :-)

Dolph LeMoult

Thanks, Mary. Coming from you that's a great compliment

cosmos

Thank you. I look forward to reading RUNNING HORSEMEN.

Dolph LeMoult

Thanks Cosmos. I hope you love it a lot. If you do tell your friends

Mary Rosenblum

So Dolph, you're a Long Ridge instructor, you see a lot of aspiring writers...what is the one piece of advice you'd offer these folk?

Dolph LeMoult

Write. Write when what you're writing seems terrible; you'll get through the rough spots and something worthwhile will come out of it. It's a great way to live. Good luck all.

Mary Rosenblum

Great advice, Dolph.

brownish

I've never been to one of these. It's great!

cosmos

I will recommend it. I enjoy recommending books. I've enjoyed your interview.

Mary Rosenblum

And I have, too.

 

I think we all have!

Dolph LeMoult

I've enjoyed chatting with you

Mary Rosenblum

Thank you so much for coming, and I hope you'll come back and visit with us again!

Dolph LeMoult

Any time, Mary. Thanks for having me.

writeaway

Thank you Dolph and Mary, for making this such an interesting interview.

Dolph LeMoult

It was really great. I loved it!

Mary Rosenblum

Thank you, Dolph, and well let you go rest your weary fingers!

Mary Rosenblum

Good night!

Dolph LeMoult

Good night.

Mary Rosenblum

Have a good evening all, and thanks for coming!

 

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