Posted on May 20, 2019 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we’re interviewing Lawrence De Maria, who became an award-winning crime and financial reporter following a tour of duty in the U.S. Marines and who was a Pulitzer Prize finalist at the New York Times.
His fiction writing, grounded in real-life experience, is strongly influenced by Ian Fleming, Robert B. Parker, Ed McBain, and John D. MacDonald.
De Maria’s nineteen thrillers and mysteries feature two private investigators, Jake Scarne and Alton Rhode, and a CIA agent, Cole Sudden.
All three series have been praised for their grit and humor. Recurring characters and strong love stories are hallmarks of the author's work.
Many of the novels have an international flavor, and some delve into financial schemes, high-technology, and science.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
LAWRENCE: When I got out of the Marines, I met (in a bar, of course) a girl with whom I’d corresponded. She worked for the Staten Island Advance, our local newspaper.
I lamented that I basically had no clue what to do with the rest of my life. She told me that if I could write as well as I did in the letters I sent to her and her girlfriends, I was a natural for the newspaper business.
I suspected she meant that I had a talent for bull!
But she got me an interview, and I was hired. My first story made Page 1 and I was hooked.
And when I finally got to the New York Times, I became one of their most prolific reporters, once having four bylines on the same day — still a record, I believe.
SADYE: What advice, as relates to your writing career, would you give your younger self?
LAWRENCE: Oscar Wilde said it best: Be yourself; everyone else is taken.
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
LAWRENCE: When writing for the New York Times, I discovered that “business journalism” was often an oxymoron.
In many cases, business writers became cheerleaders for the people they covered.
At one meeting, senior editors asked me to write profiles of some darlings of Wall Street, who were then more successful than everyone else.
Sure, I said, the profiles might come in handy when the “geniuses” were indicted! Needless to say, I was not asked to write the profiles. (And the men in question were soon jailed!)
Later, during a brief foray in the private sector, my now-sensitive BS antenna, as I called it, quickly discovered that the CEO running my company was also running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
My revelations helped send him to prison for 113 years. I fictionalized my experiences in my first novel, The Sound of Blood, and have been an author ever since.
SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to become romantically involved with?
LAWRENCE: The same woman!
In The Sound of Blood, the brilliant Alana Loeb is the quintessential amoral femme fatale and pulls the strings in a criminal financial empire.
So damaged by her past, she uses and discards men, vowing never to fall in love. But she does, with tragic results.
I think of her all the time. And she doesn’t really exist!
SADYE: Which of your characters would you most and least like to trade places with?
LAWRENCE: Again, some of the same folks!
I believe I write “good villains”. By this I mean that many of my characters are unsavory but have some redeeming characteristics.
In Gunner, there is a patriotic hitman who takes revenge on his employers because they killed a war hero.
In Madman’s Revenge, a European assassin who creates havoc in the U.S. turns on an employer who is a child killer.
In several books, there are mobsters (Russian and Italian) who wind up on the side of the angels when their personal codes are affronted.
I like all these killers, but I wouldn’t want to be them!
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Categories: Author Interview