Former newsman Jack Getze is Fiction Editor for Anthony nominated Spinetingler Magazine, one of the internet's oldest websites for noir, crime, and horror short stories. His Austin Carr Mysteries BIG NUMBERS, BIG MONEY, BIG MOJO and BIG MOUTH (a short story) were published by Down and Out Books in 2013 and 2014, with another novel BIG SHOES scheduled for 2015. His short fiction has appeared in A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, The Big Adios and the 2014 anthology, Down, Out and Dead.
Once upon a time, author Getze let the character Austin Carr interview him.
Austin: I understand a character like myself wasn't really born, omniscient one, but where exactly did I come from? And why stick me with a silly name like Austin Carr?
TFA: You are a product of my distaste for a certain environment - telephone sales as experienced inside a third-rate investment company on the Jersey Shore. The people were nice, the primary product municipal bonds a decent investment, but this joint was as far from Wall Street as the University of California at Berkeley. I wanted a slightly shady character who succeeded with his mouth and his charm, not his fists, and I created him from a room full of guys on the telephone, pleading and begging for a sale.
A: I'm shady?
T: You break rules and regulations for that rich pretty redhead, remember?
A: What about the name?
T: Your name is a fluke. I thought I made it up, but turns out Austin Carr is a famous basketball player from the 1970s and 80s. All-American for Notre Dame. First overall draft pick. Still has a radio show about basketball in the Midwest. I would never say this in front him -- a six-foot-ten athlete -- but I was looking for something a little silly, and my brain must have regurgitated Austin Carr from the old basketball headlines. Luckily, names are like titles when it comes to books.
A: Do you make a lot of mistakes?
T: At least one bad error a day. Agreeing to let you ask me questions was obviously today's.
A: And which day was the mistake made about me being a stockbroker? After the market crashes of 2001, and 2008-09, the Wall Street-led surge in joblessness, how on earth did you imagine a series with a broker protagonist might work?
T: Pretty dumb, huh? Refusing to read my manuscript, I've heard editors actually laugh at the idea. One said in an email she'd be fired if she bought any manuscript with a stockbroker protagonist. The thing is, Austin, telephone securities sales was something this writer knew well - and more than that, something I wanted to write about. Working on 100% commission is a terrible way to give financial advice, but funny in application because of the people involved, and symbolic of our system's worst parts. Also, of course, I wanted to cause you the most suffering.
A: Suffering? Gee, what a nice guy. Do you mistreat animals?
T: I love animals. I have a dog named Maddy, a cat named Miss Kitty, and I carry spiders outside on a sheet of paper. But you, sir, are a fictional character, and good fiction is about conflict. My job as a writer is to work you over, scare you, test you by putting you in difficult situations, all the while entertaining our readers. Don't worry, you handle everything -- everything except that giant bluefin at the climax.
A: Did you tell Dru BIG NUMBERS is not exactly a cozy?
T. I sent her a copy.
A. That's not the same thing. Maybe you'd better describe the parts of BIG NUMBERS that stick out a little from that cozy mold. Ha ha.
T. The three sex scenes are played for laughs - and short, like my real life. People actually die on the page, but the violence is minimal and not gory. There are a handful of four-letter words scattered throughout because I refuse to have a low-life criminal say, "Oh, fudge." It's almost a cozy.
A. Almost a cozy? Are you kidding me? Your new book description on Amazon says, "Root for divorced dad Austin Carr, a lovable, oversexed scamp who'll use anything and everything to get his kids back. Think Bugs Bunny with guns and a penis."
T. That's been changed now. Jeez. I'm so glad I agreed to this interview. You're killing me, Austin. Killing me! But honestly, you're the one who's always thinking about sex, making suggestive remarks, falling in love with every redhead you meet. Why can't you grow up?
A. Me? You're the one who writes this stuff. I'm a fictional character!
T. OK, that's it. I'm out of here.