Athol Dickson: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES
The back cover pretty well tells the story: Reeling from his wife's unsolved murder,
Malcolm Cutter is just going through the motions as a chauffeur and bodyguard
for Hollywood's rich and famous. Then a pair of Guatemalan tough guys offer
him a job. It's an open question whether they're patriotic revolutionaries or vicious
terrorists. Either way, Cutter doesn't much care until he gets a bomb through his
window, a gangland beating on the streets of L.A., and three bullets in the chest.
Now there's another murder on Cutter's Mind. His own.
January Justice is the first in a new series will follows Malcolm Cutter as he works
as a chauffeur/crime sleuth and looks for his wife’s murderer on the side.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I didn’t really make a decision to become a writer, so much as it just happened. I
was working as a partner in an architectural firm, and spending most of my days
dealing with handling business issues instead of having fun designing buildings,
which was not what I had in mind when I went into architecture. I wanted some
kind of creative release, and I’ve always loved to read murder mysteries, so I
decided to try my hand at writing one. A couple of years later, I met a newspaper
editor who had good connections in the publishing world. He volunteered to read
my novel, and to my surprise, he thought it was pretty good. He gave me my first
professional editorial advice, and after I made the changes he suggested, he sent
the manuscript to some friends of his. The next thing I knew, I had an offer from a
It was all sort of accidental, so I never really thought of writing as anything more
than a hobby. But I enjoyed it, and I had a publisher, so I kept writing. Then one
of my novels won an award and I flew to Denver to receive it. When they stood
me up on stage and praised the book and gave me a round of applause, I remember
thinking that somehow, I had become a writer. That was the first time it sank in.
Do you have specific habits when you write?
I write toward a specific goal every day. Sometimes it’s a certain number of words,
and sometimes it’s the completion of a scene, but one way or the other I give
myself that goal and I keep writing until I get there.
Are you an early bird or night owl?
I’m a morning person, usually up by five or five thirty, and working no later than
If you could have coffee with any character of any book, who would it be and
Sherlock Holmes would be near the top of the list. I’d like to try to stump him. Also,
I think it would be fun to have tea, not coffee, with Miss Marple. I’d love to hear her
call me “dear.” And Sam Spade, for the witty banter.
What do you do, besides writing?
Boats and boating are a passion, and have been since I was very young. One of the
earliest photos of me was taken while I was “steering” a boat on a lake. (Actually,
I think it was my uncle doing the driving while I sat on his lap, but I didn’t seem to
realize that at the time.) A few years later, I built a boat from Styrofoam packing
material one time and floated down a creek and into an underground drainage
culvert, which didn’t open up again for about three city blocks. That was a big
adventure. And just a few years ago my wife and I sold our house and cars and
moved aboard a boat and cruised on it for a year, along the Gulf of Mexico’s
northern coast, and up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States.
Is there something you want the readers to know about you?
I’m humble but lovable, and if you don’t believe it, just ask me.
Best reward as a writer?
When I finish a scene, and I know it’s good, that’s a fantastic feeling.
How do you react to a bad review?
Over the years I’ve had very few really bad reviews, and the few I’ve had, I ignore.
There have been maybe three or four from individual readers on Amazon, and none
from professional reviewers in print. So I figure the best thing is to go on pleasing
the majority instead of worrying about the opinion of a small minority.
Do you have a good relationship with your fans?
Of course! How could I not love a fan?