What’s the deal with Andy Hayes?? (3 questions from Lori Rader-Day…)

I got to meet Lori Rader-Day at Magna Cum Murder mystery writers conference last fall, which was exciting enough. Even more thrilling, I’ll be appearing with her on April 19 at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Cincinnati as she promotes her wonderful new book, The Day I Died. Please mark your calendars for what should be a great event. (To quote Lori, “We are going to have some fun, promise.”) In the meantime, here’s a Q&A I did with her (reproduced below) about private eye Andy Hayes and The Hunt, which arrives in stores and e-book readers this month from Ohio University Press. And as long as you’re taking Sharpie to calendar, remember that the Ohioana Book Festival is this Saturday, April 8, in downtown Columbus. In addition, I’ll be talking mystery writing and signing books at Main Street Books in Mansfield on April 14…

My interview with Lori:

Andrew’s new book is The Hunt, featuring private investigator Andy Hayes. It’s out April 15, just in time for that refund from Uncle Sam. Here’s what Booklist had to say about The Hunt: “The author has crafted a fine procedural based on human trafficking, and it’s a pleasure to watch his PI, Columbus, Ohio–based Andy Hayes, go to work. …Welsh-Huggins has a way with language…[He] is an Associated Press reporter, and the urge to bring the news is an unkillable one.”

Not too shabby, Andrew.

Tell us a bit about The Hunt and how Andy has grown or changed over the series so far.

The Hunt opens with a man hiring Andy to find his sister, a prostitute who’s missing just as a serial killer is stalking human trafficking victims on the streets of Columbus, Ohio. Andy soon realizes he’s not the only one looking for the woman, and the search becomes a race against time as he tries to unravel why so many people have taken an interest in finding her, not to mention doing her harm.

Andy has changed as I’ve gotten to know more about him and added to his back story. I’ve previously established that he’s an ex-Ohio State quarterback with a lot of baggage, which happens when you blow your team’s shot at a national championship by going to jail the week before the Michigan game. Now we’re seeing more of his relationship with his parents and his two sons by two different ex-wives, as well as his ongoing efforts to have positive romantic encounters given a history of not treating women very well.

What do you and Columbus private investigator Andy Hayes have in common?

Hopefully not our approach to relationships! Andy has had a string of women in his life, whereas I’ve been married to my college sweetheart for almost 33 years. That said, he is my alter ego in many ways. We’re both skeptical (but not cynical), we both want answers to the questions we’re posing, we both have a snarky sense of humor, we both like to read nonfiction and work out, and we both have an aversion to guns. I would never recommend naming a series character after yourself, but in this case, probably because we do think alike at times, he just had to be an Andy. Fittingly, I suppose, that’s a nickname I never go by, just as he never goes by Andrew—unless his mom is really mad at him.

How did you come to crime fiction and who are your influences today?

 The short answer is three series of books I read as a child: Encyclopedia Brown by Donald Sobol, the Happy Hollister mysteries by Andrew Svenson (published by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, which also published the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy series), and my mom’s Erle Stanley Gardner Perry Mason books, which I snuck off the top shelf beginning when I was about eight. Those books inspired a lifelong love of mysteries that continued through high school, college, and beyond. These days, I try never to miss new books from Michael Connelly, Ian Rankin and Laura Lippman as well as J.K. Rowling in her new guise as private eye novelist, to mention a very few. Going back in time, I was heavily influenced by Rex Stout (the Nero Wolfe mysteries), Robert B. Parker and Spenser, several of Stuart Kaminsky’s series and Ohio’s own Les Roberts, with his Milan Jacovich books set in Cleveland. If I had to describe where Andy Hayes comes from, I’d say he’s a combination of Nero Wolfe’s sidekick, Archie Goodwin (who, at least fictionally, was from Ohio), and Spenser, with a dollop of John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, though, I have to credit my mom, Mary Anne, and my late father, Richard, for raising me in a house full of books where reading was encouraged, and for always championing my dream of being a writer.

Thank God It’s Monday! #mysteries #crimewriting #travismcgee

All that remains for the McGee is an ironic Knighthood, a spavined steed, second class armor, a dubious horse, a bent broadsword, and the chance, now and again, to lift into a galumphing charge against capital E Evil, his brave battle oaths marred by an occasional hysterical giggle…”

That’s John D. MacDonald, writing in A Deadly Shade of Gold, and it’s both today’s get-the-week-started quote and a special one-day-late nod to the centennial of MacDonald’s birth on July 24, 1916. Thank God It’s Monday!

Private eyes on the ball… #superbowl #mysteries #andyhayes

Fictional private eyes share in common with real-life football players a penchant for landing face down after taking a hard hit from someone trying to impede their progress. It’s happened to my character, ex-Ohio State quarterback Andy Hayes, more times than he cares to remember. He’s not alone in this dilemma, coming from a long line of ex-gridiron gumshoes. In honor of Super Bowl Sunday, a short and likely incomplete list (nominations for the ones I’ve missed most welcome):

__ John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee. A self-proclaimed “salvage consultant” rather than private investigator, McGee was a college star who says in one book, A Deadly Shade of Gold, that a knee injury kept him from the pros. But in The Turquoise Lament we learn he did play professional football until a tackle by a Detroit Lions player laid him low for good.

__Ace Atkins’ Nick Travers, is an ex-New Orleans Saint turned part-time detective and full-time Tulane University blues historian.

__Robert Irvine’s Moroni Traveler, subject of eight mysteries, is a non-Mormon ex-pro football player and private eye in Salt Lake City, Utah.

__William Campbell Gault’s Brock (The Rock) Callahan, a former pro with the Los Angeles Rams turned upscale private investigator in L.A. Mystery historians note he was one of the first fictional private eyes to have a steady girlfriend, giving my character a bit of comfort.

__John Gardner’s Peter Mickelsson. This one’s for sentimental purposes only since Gardner wasn’t a crime writer. But his last novel, Mickelsson’s Ghost, a sort of psychological and supernatural puzzler, is one of my favorites and features a former football player turned philosophy professor.

Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without two movies my character is tired of hearing about: Point Break (1991) in which Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Utah, an ex-Ohio State quarterback turned undercover FBI agent infiltrating a bank-robbing gang of surfers; and The Replacements (2000), in which Reeves plays Shane Falco, also an ex-Ohio State quarterback, recruited to play pro football during a fictional players’ strike.

Best books read in 2015, all the way up to 11

A listing of the best (most interesting, most compelling, funniest, mind-blowing, etc.) books I read this past year, in chronological order, but with no attention paid to genre or year of publication, and which of course goes all the way up to eleven. Anyone else have any entries?

  • “The Android’s Dream,” John Scalzi.
  • “The Thirteenth Turn: A History of the Noose,” John Shuler.
  • “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” Michelle Alexander.
  • “The Rosie Project,” Graeme Simsion.
  • “The Quick Red Fox,” John D. MacDonald.
  • “The Art of Racing in the Rain,” Garth Stein.
  • “James A. Rhodes, Ohio Colossus,” Lee Leonard, Tom Diemer and Richard Zimmerman.
  • “The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance),” Jeff VanderMeer.
  • “Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry: Travels in the Footsteps of the Commodore Who Saved America,” Craig Heimbuch.
  • “Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America,” Wil Haygood.
  • “The Barrytown Trilogy (The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van),” Roddy Doyle.
%d bloggers like this: