@’s by DANGEROUS ENDS Writer
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So tell me about your new book, DANGEROUS ENDS - A PETE FERNANDEZ MYSTERY?
ALEX SEGURA (AS): First off, thanks for having me. It’s always fun to catch up with you.
DANGEROUS ENDS is the third Pete Fernandez Mystery, set in Miami. The book finds our hero finally settling into the role of private eye - he’s trying to get his life in order and has carved out a career as an investigator after the traumatic events of the last two books. He’s also found that being a detective isn’t all about mob hitmen and serial killers. There are mundane moments, too. But just as he begins to fall into a relaxed pace, his partner Kathy Bentley approaches him with a case they can’t turn down: that of Gaspar Varela, an ex-Miami cop spending life in prison for the brutal murder of his wife. A case that’s received Serial-like attention over the last decade, many are on opposing sides in regards to Varela’s guilt. That said, he’s worn out his appeals. The only way he can hope to have another trial and another shot at freedom is with new evidence. That’s where Pete and Kathy come in, at the behest of Varela’s daughter, Maya. but as Pete and Kathy dig deeper into the crime, they find themselves being targeted by Los Enfermos, a deadly, pro-Castro gang hellbent on stopping them. Can Pete and Kathy avoid the band of murderers long enough to solve the case? What does it have to do with Pete’s own past, namely, the mysterious death of his grandfather Diego and his ties to Cuba? Well…it’s all in the book!
BUG: This is the third book with this character. How has the lead changed since last time we saw him in book one and compared to when we first met him in the first book?
AS: I’d like to think he’s changed a lot. I’m most interest in book series that feature an evolving and human protagonist. I don’t want Pete to ever feel evergreen or static. When we meet him in SILENT CITY, he’s passed out and hungover in his apartment and has no desire to be a PI. By the end of DANGEROUS ENDS, things are totally different. Each book is a new chapter for him, no pun intended, and the books are as much about Pete’s story as the overarching mystery he and Kathy are trying to solve.
BUG: Most people know you from your comics work at DC and Archie. Why did you choose prose as your medium instead of funny books?
AS: I’ve always liked crime fiction - parallel to my love of comics. The idea for Pete and setting it in Miami was a byproduct of reading some great, location-heavy books like George Pelecanos’s A FIRING OFFENSE, Laura Lippman’s BALTIMORE BLUES and Dennis Lehane’s A DRINK BEFORE THE WAR, to name a few, so it was the only war it worked for me. I’ve always wanted to write prose, so it was something I dove into without thinking about it much in terms of what it meant for my other career.
BUG: Would you ever be interested in adapting these stories into comics, film or TV?
AS: Definitely film and TV. There’s been some interest, so I’m curious to see where that goes. As for comics, if I found an artist that was really passionate about the material, definitely. I wouldn’t want to force it.
BUG: In what way has working in comics helped or hindered your writing of these books? Do you miss the collaborative effort of a comic compared to the solitary act of writing a book?
AS: I like alternating. Comics are, like you said, collaborative - your script gets interpreted and changed, whereas with prose, it’s all you. I really savor the control from writing prose, but also get a kick out of jamming with other people to make a fun comic. Comic book writing makes me think more visually in my prose and I think writing prose really helps me plot out comics, because you have to think so far ahead.
BUG: There seems to be a lot of old school detective tropes you are using here. Are you a fan of the hard-boiled detective stories of old? What are your favorite ones?
AS: Oh yes, love the classics. Like most, I’m a fan of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. I also love Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer books, the work of Margaret Millar and Patricia Highsmith, Lawrence Block’s Matt Scudder series and anything by Jim Thompson or James Crumley, to name just a few. I think, if you ever aspire to be a writer, you have to be a voracious reader.
BUG: DANGEROUS ENDS goes into a lot of stuff about Castro and seedy happenings about the Cuban government. What kind of research did you do to write this one?
AS: I talked to a lot of people in my family - my parents, aunt and friends. I read a lot of history books about Cuba and the Castro revolution, particularly the relationship between the exile community in Miami and the Castro regime. It’s a complicated issue full of gray areas, so I wanted to make sure my take was honest but also not flat - Pete has an opinion, the other characters, too. They feel strongly about things and it should be reflected in how they talk and behave. But I also felt like I needed to go beyond just my memories as a kid, growing up Cuban-American in Miami.
BUG: This book is set in Miami. Why did you choose that locale? Are you familiar with the city?
AS: Yup! I was born and raised there. I’ve lived in New York for about a decade, but pop back down to Miami quite often. The city is an important part of the series, almost as important as Pete.
BUG: If Pete gets out of this one in one piece, will there be more adventures with the character?
AS: Definitely. I have a few more books planned and just released a short story, SHALLOW GRAVE, that pairs Pete with another famous PI character, Jackson Donne, from Dave White’s series of novels.
BUG: Do you see the Pete Fernandez books to be a finite series? Do you have a definite end in mind?
AS: It has an ending. I know what it’ll be, but it’s very murky and down the road. I don’t envision it being a 20+ book series, though.
BUG: What else do you have going on at the moment?
AS: THE ARCHIES, a one-shot co-written by me ant Matt Rosenberg with art by Joe Eisma is out on May 24 from Archie Comics and the aforementioned SHALLOW GRAVE just came out, for free!
BUG: Where can people pick up DANGEROUS ENDS?
AS: You can get DANGEROUS ENDS, or any of the Pete books, wherever books are sold, either online or at your favorite bookstore.
BUG: Last chance, why should folks check out DANGEROUS ENDS?
AS: If you’re looking for a gritty, readable and engaging mystery that touches on more than a typical PI book, this is for you. Also, it’s cheaper than a trip to Miami and you’ll probably get to see more of the city!
BUG: Thanks, Alex! Best of luck with DANGEROUS ENDS! Here’s a link to both Amazon and Books & Books to pick up Alex’s books if this interview tickled your interest!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G