John McFetridge is author of the acclaimed Toronto series of novels, including Dirty Sweet, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Let It Ride (aka Swap), and Tumblin’ Dice. His next book, Black Rock, follws Constable Eddie Dougherty as he helps to investigate a possible serial killer against the background of the separatist terrorism in 1970s Montreal.
John’s books have been compared to Elmore Leonard's, with Linda Richards of January Magazine noting McFetridge's voice is "colder and starker" than Leonard's: "McFetridge is one of a new breed of Canadian crime fictionists, building neo-noir that seems touched by both the humor and self-consciousness of life north of the 48th.” Quill & Quire reviewer Gary Butler agreed with the Leonard comparison, writing that “both writers seamlessly mix the police procedural with perp procedural to underscore the parallel lives of members of the opposing teams. But where Leonard tends to favour Hollywood-homicide banter, McFetridge keep the quips to a minimum, preferring punch to panache.”
One Bite at a Time: What made you decide to come to Albany?
John McFetridge: This was my fourth Bouchercon and by now my main reason for going is to see friends. And find new writers whose work I might like. And it was close enough to drive.
OBAAT: What’s the most important aspect of Bouchercon for you? (This year, or any year?)
JM: The friendships. And also the new discoveries. I’m more interested in books that are a little less mainstream and those books don’t always get as much press and as much promo as I need to be able to find them.
OBAAT: Were you on any panels?
JM: Yes, I was on a panel about villains.
OBAAT: To you, what makes a good panel, from a panelist’s perspective?
JM: I think it’s really a combination of preparation and spontaneity. I’ve found it’s good when the moderator has some questions prepared - and shares them with the panelists ahead of time - but it’s also good when the discussion takes off on its own. I liked the idea this year of every panelist being asked what pre-1995 book most influenced them, although we never got to that on my panel (I would have plugged, “Books to Die For,” and my contribution about Trevanian’s, “The Main”).
OBAAT: What do you look for when deciding which panels to attend?
JM: The moderator, the panelists and then the topic. This year I decided to be a panel-room volunteer, sort of as a way to make sure I got to the panels I wanted to attend. That worked out well and I think I’ll do it again. I saw panels moderated by Ali Karim, Peter Rozovsky and Jon McGoran and they were all very good. I got held up at the border crossing in Buffalo for a couple of hours on Thursday and missed Peter’s panel on WWII crime fiction, I would have liked to have seen that one, too.
OBAAT: What makes a panel good for you when you’re in the audience?
JM: The best is when I get to know a writer well enough to want to read his/her books. Usually that happens when a writer is engaging and interesting, not when they plug their books too much. And sometimes panels can be a lot of laughs. A lot.
OBAAT: Would you like to see more or fewer questions from the audience?
JM: I think I’d like to see more questions from the audience, but often the questions are just for one of the panelists so it may not be the best venue for that.
OBAAT: What’s your favorite Bouchercon story, from this year or any past years?
JM: A road trip from Toronto to Baltimore with Declan Burke. I turned into an unfinished meta-fiction which I often think of finishing but haven’t managed to yet.
The first three books of the Toronto series (Dirty Sweet, Everybody Knows This is Nowhere, Swap) are now available is a bundle from Amazon; Tumblin’ Dice is also available. All are highly recommended, though it would kill John to say so himself.
Bouchercon Interviews Schedule
November 8 – John McFetridge (author)
November 15 – Tim O’Mara (author)
November 22 – Ali Karim (firmware)
November 27 – Zoe Sharp (author)
December 6 – Jack Getze (author)
December 13 – Walter Colby (reader)
December 20 – Michelle Turlock Isler (reader)