Paul, you've been kicking around the writing biz for quite some time. You've written a bunch of novels, short stories, screenplays and were the co-creator of a new pulp line (FIGHT CARD), what makes LIE CATCHERS different from your previous work?
Lie Catchers is my most intimate book on two levels. First, it really delves into my personal experiences as an interrogator. This was something I’ve been wanting to do for several years now. Interrogation is an intimate dance between the interrogator and a subject all in pursuit of an elusive concept of truth. We all have our personal space, which can vary depending on the situation we are in – public, social, intimate. The intimate zone (0’–1.5’) is reserved for those individuals to whom we are closest, who we trust. A great interrogator lives in the intimate zone.
When I am in an interrogation, I have no barriers between myself and the suspect. We are knee to knee, and sometimes closer. I sit on the edge of my chair alert to anything the suspect does I can interpret as a sign of deception. If a suspect’s behavior changes when I ask anxiety raising questions from what it was when I was asking non-anxiety questions (usually personal history stuff so I can get a behavioral base line) then I know I caused that deceptive behavior to happen. Often my first clue is when the suspect’s carotid artery begins to pulse in their neck. This is visible, but you have to be in the suspect’s intimate zone to see it.
BUY LIE CATCHERS HEREAs a sex crimes detective, think about what I am asking of a suspect. I’m asking them to tell me their deepest, darkest secrets – secrets that will get them sent to prison for long stretches of time. The only way to do that effectively is to developed an intimate relationship between the interrogator and the suspect. Using my personality, my empathy, and a complete lack of judgment, I have to draw a suspect into a world where there is nothing outside of our mental engagement. I know this works because I’ve done it time and time again. And like Ray Pagan in Lie Catchers, I’ve been able to pass that skill on to others.
The book is also intimate because it is told in the first person voice of Calamity Jane Randall – an experienced detective who is about to have her world turned inside out by Ray Pagan. My connection to Jane and her personality felt very real to me. As I wrote, it was as if she was right there, in my intimate zone, whispering in my ear.
We became blog buddies back in 2007 when I started my first blog NOTES FROM HEMINGWAY'S LOUNGE. It seemed we both gravitated towards nostalgia and all things retro. LIE CATCHERS is set in the present. Was there a concerted effort to keep your new characters in the here and now?
I think so. My prior two novels, Felony Fists and Swamp Walloper, were boxing noirs set in the 1950s. I’d also spent a lot of time in the past as I edited each of the 40+ books in the Fight Card series. In returning to my cop/writer roots, it just felt organic to set the book in the current world. There are still some nostalgic hat tips in Lie Catchers, but the mood is more Breaking Bad than Mad Men.
Your successful Fey Croaker series features a grizzled female L.A. homicide detective. What did you find exciting about writing this complex female character that you wouldn't have normally found in writing a burnt-out male?
All of my long term partners over my 35 years with the LAPD have been great detectives who just happened to be female. In working with them, I quickly realized there was a whole other level of aggravation with which female officers and detectives are forced to confront. As a writer, I wanted to capture the essence of that conflict in Fey Croaker and the complex cases I threw her way.
What has been interesting is finding the differences between Fey Croaker and Lie Catcher’s Jane Randall. Not only do they work in radically different LAPD environments a generation apart, but their personalities are very different. Jane is a touch more tentative, a little less self-aware. She is no less of a detective, but her approach is much softer. Fey reacts, charging into situations until she crushed them. Jane can take physical action, but it’s not her go to mode. Jane quickly assesses situations and responds in whatever way achieves her goal with a minimum of shattered glass. This was the biggest difference between the two characters – and that difference is what gives Jane the ability to be an effective interrogator. She also has a fascinating secret you’ll have to read Lie Catchers to learn about.
Most fans of your work will know that you're an accomplished (albeit retired) law enforcement man and have even been named as LAPD's Detective of the Year on two occasions. What can you tell us about the two heroes in LIE CATCHERS? Are you basing them on yourself or anyone from real life?
A writer’s characters will always have a certain amount of their creator in them. But as the story grows, so do the characters – they change as they adapt to the elements of fiction. While the interrogation techniques wielded by Pagan and Randall are all very real, the characters are their own creation.
What's the one kind of book you'd like to tackle that you haven't yet?
I’d love to write a high adventure novel – a genre sadly no longer with us having morphed into the doorstop-sized, bloated, non-thrilling, thriller genre. As I was growing up, I spent hours in the worlds of high adventure created by the likes of Alistair MacLean, Desmond Bagley, and Hammond Innes, among others – pitting man against not only overwhelming odds, but also against the many furies of Mother Nature. I’d like to single-handedly resurrect the genre and return it to its proper place in the fiction pantheon.
This question is for some of the budding scribes out there... Prior to LIE CATCHERS, your latter work has been almost exclusively independently published. Currently, the book is being released through new pulp publisher Pro Se. Why go with an established publisher now at for this work?
Actually almost all my work before the Fight Card series was published by the big six legacy publishers in both hardback and paperback. However, I found dealing with them an exercise in frustration. The contempt traditional publishing shows to mid-list writers (those who sell, but are not bestsellers) has been well documented elsewhere, but it was one of the reasons I moved away from novels and into television and film work.
When the e-book revolution turned the publishing world on its head, I was drawn back to the challenges and perks of self-publishing with the Fight Card series. Having so much more control over my work was refreshing and I felt I would never even think about submitting to a legacy publisher again. And I still feel mostly the same way.
However, Pro Se Productions is a boutique publisher with a large output and a very successful track record. I’ve known Pro Se editor-in-chief Tommy Hancock for a number of years now. I both admire and respect his work ethic and his desire to work closely with his writers and do everything he can for them.
Lie Catchers was originally slated to be published by another independent entity, which crashed and burned around everyone’s ears. Tommy Hancock was there to pick up my pieces and made me believe Pro Se could provide a larger, stronger publishing platform for Lie Catchers. It has been a great choice.
What's next for Paul Bishop?
I’m cranking away on the sequel to Lie Catchers (tentatively titled Lie Killers). I also have a glimmer of an idea for the third book in the series. I have some short story commitments for various anthologies, and I have been doing some freelance magazine work. All of this while I continue to teach week-long interrogation classes to a wide variety of law enforcement agencies. And, oh, yeah, I’ve also made the rash statement about single-handedly resurrecting the high adventure genre – what was I thinking?
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