Former Los Angeles Times reporter 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 screwball Austin Carr mysteries, Big Numbers and Big Money, are being reissued in 2013 by Down and Out Books, with the new Big Mojo set for 2014. (Big Money is coming soon. Hang in there; it’s worth it.) His short stories have appeared online at A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, and The Big Adios. Jack is an Active Member of Mystery Writers of America.
One Bite at a Time: What made you decide to come to Albany?
Jack Getze: The reissue of my Austin Carr series and the encouragement from Austin’s publisher, Down and Out Books. Also, my agent Paula Munier is shopping a thriller, so getting back into the writing/publishing world seemed like a smart idea. Like a lot of writers, I’d rather observe than participate, but that’s not the way to find new readers, contacts, and friends.
OBAAT: What’s the most important aspect of Bouchercon for you? (This year, or any year?)
JG: People. I started going to conventions thinking I’d sell books, but unless you’re Sue Grafton or Charlaine Harris, book sales don’t pay for anybody’s trip. You go to meet people – other writers who talk about our craft, industry insiders who can teach me about the business, new friends who share knowledge. This year was perhaps my best convention of all – I cemented some newer friendships, made new contacts already helping my progress, and had the most fun time.
OBAAT: Were you on any panels?
JG: Yes. Something about noir, moderated by my friend Les Edgerton. I can’t remember much because I spent a lot of time helping Les to the elevator and carrying his drinks. I must have sipped a few. I think Les said I was funny on the panel, but maybe he said he didn’t like my Bugs Bunny handle. It’s a long story.
OBAAT: To you, what makes a good panel, from a panelist’s perspective?
JG: Honestly, I suppose as a panelist I’d judge things by how well I thought I presented myself. Did I sound like a jerk or did I get a few laughs, maybe encourage an audience member or two to purchase my cheap, $2.99 eBook. Like anything, though, a little drama and conflict help make a panel more entertaining for everyone. Audience involvement, disagreement on the panel, a good moderator -- all improve a panel.
OBAAT: What do you look for when deciding which panels to attend?
JG: WHO is on the menu, and then WHEN plays a secondary role. The topic rarely matters. Big stars on big panels always grab me, but often disappoint. Reed Farrell Coleman’s group this year was a wonderful exception. Lots of stars, lots of laughter, lots of information.
OBAAT: What makes a panel good for you when you’re in the audience?
JG: A good moderator is number one, someone who keeps things moving, who senses when someone is talking too much. It’s not an easy role – you often have to step on a toe or two -- although many moderators let blab-a-thons slide, the bores sometimes taking over and putting the audience to sleep. I’ve jumped in on occasion and cut off my co-panelist. Good moderators understand the job -- no matter how low-key books and writers are, a panel is SHOWTIME. People are watching and listening. You have to work to keep their attention.
OBAAT: Would you like to see more or fewer questions from the audience?
JG: More – in advance. If the moderator had a stack of questions, the job becomes easier.
OBAAT: What’s your favorite Bouchercon story, from this year or any past years?
JG: After listening to a dozen or so writers read from their works, I walked up to a young author later, told him how much I liked his story, how the image of the coin his character talked about stuck in my head as he read. He looked at my name tag with puzzlement, so another of his fans at my shoulder said, “This is Jack Getze from Spinetingler Magazine. He knows what he’s talking about,” or some such. I smiled, the writer smiled, and we all walked away, me feeling a bit like I’d bestowed the kid some honor. Two days later, I look him up on Amazon. His latest novel is #464 in the paid Kindle store, he has five other books in the four and low-five digit sales numbers. The guy is practically a star! This is my life, Dana. Clueless. (Editor’s Note: If the kid’s so sharp, how come he had to be told who Jack Getze is?)
Many thanks to Jack Getze for taking the time to sit for this interview. It’s good to see Big Numbers and Big Money being resurrected. I read both, and they deserve more attention than they’ve received.
Bouchercon Interviews Schedule
December 6 – Jack Getze (author)
December 13 – Walter Colby (reader)
December 20 – Michelle Turlock Isler (reader)