1. Where did you get the idea for Rosarito Beach? The idea started when a TV producer who likes the Emma character in my DeMarco novels asked me to work on a made for TV movie with a strong female protagonist, ala Emma. Instead, I ended up writing Rosarito Beach and, unlike the DeMarco novels, which are usually inspired by some real life event, Rosarito Beach, for better or worse, was solely a product of my imagination.
2 . How do you like your new protagonist, Kay Hamilton? Kind of a strange question. I obviously like her since I created her. I like that's she doesn't particularly play well with others. I like that she's flawed; sometimes she's apologetic about those flaws and other times, not so much. I like that she's driven and fearless. I like that she has a sense of humor (like DeMarco), that she has .. well, let's say, a rather flexible moral code (like DeMarco), but unlike DeMarco actually likes a fight. Anyway, I like the character and enjoyed writing her. I should also add, since this is all about self-promotion, that at least a couple other people liked the character too since Rosarito Beach has been optioned for television.
3 Was she easier to write than Joe DeMarco? Kay wasn't easier to write than DeMarco because DeMarco is basically me: my thought process, my way of reacting to situations. Writing Kay Hamilton was more like writing from Emma's perspective in the DeMarco books: an strong independent female with a mind and agenda of her own. The hardest character to write in Rosarito Beach was the fifteen year old girl - I don't want to say more about this character as that would tend to give away the plot - but that character was really tough for me to write as I don't have daughter and rarely encounter fifteen year old girls. A lot of rewrites went into trying to convey the girl's perspective and attitude.
4. Was there a strategy behind being listed as M.A. Lawson, vs. Mike Lawson, as the author of this book? Or is it simply to differentiate between these two series? We actually started out thinking about using a pseudonym - by we, I mean myself, my agent, and my editor. We finally settled on M.A. Lawson for the reason you said - to distinguish Rosarito Beach from the DeMarco books yet at the same time allowing me, hopefully, to retain those readers who like DeMarco. I sometimes think that maybe I should have gone with a pseudonym. It's been my experience that when some readers really like an author's original series they sometimes tend to react negatively to a book outside the series just because they were basically expecting the same book as the ones in the original series. If that makes sense.
5. What does the A. stand for? The A stands for Anthony - the name of my minor mafioso Sicilian grandfather. I'll have to tell you about my grandfather one of these days, the time he put on his fedora, pulled out a revolver, and … True story, for another time.
6. When receiving feedback on your books, do you prefer compliments or critiques? By "critiques", I assume you mean negative criticism. Well, since I receive the critiques - and most often in some public forum - after I've published the book and when it's too late to change the book, I'm not usually delighted as they might hurt sales. I do read the critiques and sometimes - though frankly not very often - I learn something that I might change for a future book. In general, however, I'd naturally rather hear people tell me how much they love my books as opposed to not loving them, and fortunately most the feedback I get is positive.
7. What project are you working on now? The second Kay Hamilton book and the tenth DeMarco book. The ninth DeMarco, House Reckoning, will be out in July 2014. I'm not sure when the next Kay Hamilton book will be released as I'm waiting for comments from my editor.
8. Is there any topic or plot you refuse to write about? The only one I can think of, off the top of my head, is books involving harm to children. Child abuse dismays and depresses me so much, I could't stand writing about that subject. The only other thing I could never imagine myself writing is a romance novel - because, as my wife has frequently told me, I shouldn't write about things I don't understand, i.e., romance.
9. Do you have a favorite fictional character? In your books, or in someone else’s books. In my books, I suppose my favorite fictional character is Mahoney. In other people's books I like the Arkady Renko character in Martin Cruz Smith's books (I'm reading Tatiana right now). I like Lucas Davenport in John Sandford's books. I like Mallory in Carol O'Connell's books. As you guys know, as I buy books at SMB, I like many authors - particularly the one's recommended by the staff at SMB - and I never say anything disparaging about another author (at least not in public, and when I do so privately, it's usually because I'm jealous of his or her success).
10 Any final words? Only Merry Christmas, thanks for having me in the store, and keep up the good fight of the independent book seller.