The Discerning Reader extends a warm welcome to Austin Williams. Thank you for joining The Discerning Reader Austin.
Austin Williams is the author of The Rusty Diamond Series of crime thrillers published by Diversion Books. The second novel in the series, Blind Shuffle, will be released in October 2015.
Other books by Williams include the cult suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip.
He lives in Los Angeles.
To begin, can you tell us about yourself and your novel, BLIND SHUFFLE?
Blind Shuffle is the second of three planned novels featuring the character Rusty Diamond. A washed-up Vegas magician who reinvents himself as an amateur sleuth, Rusty uses the tools of his former trade to combat a broad range of criminal elements. This book sees him returning to New Orleans, the city where he first learned magic, and embarking on a desperate search for a missing woman. Each Rusty Diamond book is written as a stand-alone thriller that does not require any familiarity with the previous novels, through readers who take the books in order may notice certain instances of continuity that add to the larger narrative. With a third book now in the works, it remains to be seen if the series will stop there or continue onward. I’d certainly be willing to come back for a fourth, should the opportunity present itself. Prior to starting the Rusty Diamond series with Misdirection in 2014, I wrote several novels and one nonfictional book detailingthe live music scene on L.A.’s famed Sunset Strip.
Do you write an outline before every book you write?
Not always but for this series of books, yes. With mysteries and/or thrillers, the plotting is obviously crucial so I find it helpful to outline the story in advance before starting a fleshed-out first draft. With some other books I’ve written, a more improvisational style of writing has worked out just fine. The latter approach can actually be more fun, but it’s not always practical.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I don’t consciously insert a message or moral into my books, and as a reader I don’t respond well to anything that resembles preaching in a work of fiction. Certain themes are bound to arise in the development of any story, and they might manifest in the finished novel in ways I didn’t anticipate. It should always be up to the reader or the audience to decipher meaning in any story, regardless of the medium in which it’s told. Ultimately, the reader should play an active role in defining what a story is really about.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
There’s no one individual I would point to a mentor, but a number of fine writers possess certain attributes I’d like to emulate. For crisp, lifelife dialogue, Elmore Leonard is an obvious master. For tight plotting and sustained tension, Ira Levin makes it look easy even though it’s not. For sheer mastery of language, Martin Amis is pretty much unsurpassed. And for brutally honest humor about aspects of the human condition that many writers would choose not to dwell on, there’s no one like Bukowski.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Sloan Archer is a relatively new writer who has made a strong impression on me. She tends to work in the horror genre, and has a tremendous knack for bringing unexpected humor and emotion to her stories. A lot of horror writers focus solely on building a sense of dread and delivering lurid shocks without developing the kind of fully realized characters readers need to make an emotional investment in the tale. Archer achieves a level of humanism and depth, along with the scares, that puts her work on higher level than many of her contemporaries.
What are your current projects?
I’m currently writing the third book in the Rusty Diamond series, which will be published in late 2016 or early 2017. After that, I plan to finish off another trilogy that began with my first novel, Crimson Orgy, in 2008, and then continued with The Platinum Loop in 2011. The third book is entitled Gaslight Black and will bring the legend of the world’s most notorious underground movie to completion. I’m looking forward to starting that project and getting back in touch with some old characters I haven’t written about in a while.
Paperback, 266 pages
Expected publication: October 20th 2015 by Diversion Books
Far from the neon lights of Bourbon Street, heinous crimes are being committed against young women, and a street magician seeks to pull off his greatest trick by staying alive long enough to see justice done. The stage is set for a New Orleans noir perfect for fans of James Lee Burke and George Pelecanos.
Rusty Diamond abandoned the Crescent City years ago to pursue fame in Las Vegas, leaving Marceline Lavalle, the daughter of his mentor, with a broken heart. Now Rusty has come back to make amends with his former teacher and his first love―but Prosper Lavalle won’t face him, and no one has seen Marceline for days.
Five months pregnant, Marceline’s vanished without a trace. Her estranged boyfriend, a casino boss with criminal ties and a hair-trigger temper, claims no knowledge of her whereabouts. With the police not yet ready to declare foul play, Rusty launches his own investigation.
The search for Marceline will take Rusty into the darkest corners of New Orleans, where enormous profit can be made from human misery, where desperate people hunt on the fringes, and where not all magic is sleight of hand. It will force him to confront the mistakes of his past, and offer him a shot at redemption. And it will leave him―if he’s not careful―at the bottom of a bayou.