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Wednesday 21 September 2016

ℚ Among the Shadows: Detective Byron [1] - Bruce Robert Coffin

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with debut author to talk about Among the Shadows (, Witness Impulse, 400 pages), a Mystery Thrillers, book one of  the Detective Byron series.

“Compulsively readable, Among the Shadows is that rare cop novel that’s chock full of blood-and-guts detail while taking you on a ride of a lifetime. Detective John Byron is a great character, and the reader will be eager for the next installment of his story.” — Gayle Lynds, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassins

“Bruce Robert Coffin knows cops -- how they talk, how they act, how they think -- and he deploys that knowledge to devastating effect in Among the Shadows. A tense, twisty tale of greed, betrayal, and revenge, it heralds the arrival of a powerful new voice in crime fiction.”
— Chris Holm, author of The Killing Kind

“Among the Shadows is the best debut I’ve read in ages, filled with suspense, great writing, a perfectly realized setting in Portland, Maine, and an intriguing main character. Detective John Byron promises to become a breakout favorite among readers of crime fiction. He’s already one of mine.”
— Paul Doiron, author of Widowmaker

Synopsis | Teaser | Author Q&A | About the Author | Giveaway & Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Bruce Robert Coffin; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter!

What was the inspiration for Among the Shadows?

"That's a tough question. I guess the short answer is I wanted to tell a compelling story about a veteran police investigator who faces every cop’s worst nightmare, someone murdering fellow officers. My protagonist, Detective Sergeant John Byron, is a twenty year veteran of the police department in Portland, Maine. As Byron draws near to the twilight of his career, he finds himself separated from his wife, living out of moving boxes in a tiny in town apartment, and battling alcoholism. The one thing he's always been good at is investigating crime, but his personal life is in such disarray he's now jeopardizing his career."
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I think there is a lot of me in this book. Working nearly three decades in law enforcement changes you, makes you see the world and the people inhabiting it differently. John Byron sees the world differently, as do his detectives. I try an give an accurate portrayal of how police officers think at any given time. Usually, it's during the most trying moments that we reveal who we really are and what we’re capable of. Cops tend to develop a real edge. We have what has been dubbed gallows humor, a defense mechanism to the horrors of the job. Making light and thinking, or even saying, something inappropriate in an attempt to defuse a situation. John Byron displays an irreverent side which I like and identify with. A reviewer recently compared my writing style in this book to that of the late Robert B. Parker. And although it's certainly an honor to be compared with someone as accomplished as Mr. Parker, I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with nor deserving of the comparison. I will say that the protagonist in the Spenser series also displayed a lovable irreverence from time to time, especially when dealing with authority figures. John Byron is also adept at this."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Among the Shadows - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The book cover was designed by Guido Caroti for HarperCollins. I had no advance input into the design, figuring it made more sense for the designer to show me how he thought the cover should look. After all, the reader won't necessarily see the novel as I do. Caroti actually prepared two completely different covers for me to see. Although, I loved both of them, I think the one I chose better incapsulates the overall feel of the series. I also like that the artist included several well known Portland landmarks. Byron grew up on Portland’s Munjoy Hill and these landmarks are an important part of who he is."
Why should we read Among the Shadows and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"She now admits to having found two. Jeez, I hope I'm one of them. What sets this series apart is that it combines both realism and insight into the world of crime investigation that can only come from having worn the badge. While the stories are fictional, the characters and their daily struggles are convincingly real. If you like tightly woven mysteries and police procedurals, you'll want to read Among the Shadows and the Detective Byron Mystery Series."
Can you tell us something quirky about Among the Shadows, its story and characters?
"It's funny that you would ask this question. The protagonist is actually named after a friend of mine. The real John Byron is nothing like the fictional one but it's sort of a running joke when we get together. John always wants to know what I have planned for him in the next installment. I tell him him not to worry. I plan to make him famous."
Who would you recommend Among the Shadows to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"Among the Shadows is meant for anyone who enjoys reading murder/mystery novels and police procedurals. This is not a cozy mystery series. These books are gritty, realistic portrayals of the lives of many police investigators and their struggle to maintain a functional personal life while in dogged pursuit of murderers."
If you could / wished to turn Among the Shadows and the Detective Byron series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Well, at the risk of shattering my reader’s illusions, I'll tell you. When I began writing the character of John Byron I pictured British actor Daniel Craig. His roles have generally featured a man possessing ruggedly handsome features and a no nonsense attitude. I think he'd be a perfect fit for Byron. As for Diane Joyner, I have always pictured Jada Pinkett Smith because, well, she's Jada Pinkett Smith. As far as location is concerned, Hollywood always tries to capture Maine from other lookalike locations, but for my money, there's only one Portland, Maine.

My dream director? That's another tough one but I think I might like to see Martin McDonagh at the helm. McDonagh was the screenwriter and director for the 2008 movie In Bruges, which starred Brendan Gleeson and Colin Farrell. I thoroughly enjoyed McDonagh’s comic treatment of what was basically a very dark storyline. By the way, Brendan Gleeson would make an excellent Ray Humphrey."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"It depends entirely on the medium and my mood. Most of my short fiction has a Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock quality, probably because those stories were some of my favorites growing up. A great example of this is my short story Fool Proof which appears in 2016 Best American Mystery Stories.

I really enjoy writing the John Byron Mysteries. Now that I've created these characters, I want to keep writing them. There's still so much more to discover about each of them and how they'll tackle the next case.

As for what I read, everything from mysteries to adventure to horror. Stephen King remains one of my favorites."
What is your writing process?
"Many writers place themselves firmly in either the ‘plotter’ or ‘pantser’ category. I’m more of a hybrid. When I begin to write a novel I have a theme in mind and a rough idea of the direction I want to go but I resist the urge to map out the entire synopsis. Half the fun of writing a novel is waiting to see where it takes me. If I already know every bend in the road the process would quickly become tedious."
What is in store next?
"Let's just say that I've only begun to reveal John Byron. He is a complex character and I intend to put him through his paces. I am nearing completion of the second novel in the series and have already begun to write the third."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"Prior to trading my badge for a keyboard, I was a professional artist, painting everything from portraits to landscapes. Much of my work was commissioned, including this piece titled Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. I was hired to create this portrait to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Depicted in the painting is Special Agent Edwin C. Shanahan, the first agent ever killed in the line of duty. The portrait is currently on display in the Boston field office of the FBI."
Thank you for sharing this with us; it's wonderful to see multi-talented guests :-)
And what a wonderful tribute!

Among the Shadows
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

Fantastic interview. I read this title and could not put it down!! I loved the answer about the main character's namesake!!!!

Bruce Robert Coffin said...

Thanks so much!