Walter Marks - A Streetwise Detective, Homicides and Hate Crimes
Walter Marks is not only an author but also a songwriter.His best known his song “I’ve Gotta be Me”, recorded by Sammy Davis, Michael Jackson, Tony Bennett, and many others. He has also written songs recorded by Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, The Temptations, Della Reese, Liza Minelli, Little Anthony and the Imperials, and other artists. Walter Marks’ first novel ¬— “Dangerous Behavior”, a psychological thriller, was published in hardcover by Carroll & Graf. His second novel “Death Hampton”, introduces Detective Jericho. The series continues with” The Battle of Jericho”, “The Hated”, “A Man’s Partner”, and “Amazing Detective.” “Tumbling Down” was published in Fall 2018. All the Jericho books are written in a cinematic style, which could create possible interest as a television series or feature film. As our Author of the Day, Marks tells us all about his book, Tumbling Down.
Please give us a short introduction to what Tumbling Down is about.
"In this, Book 6. of the Detective Jericho series, The East Hampton detective has to investigate a murder in the nearby LGBTQ community of Sag Harbor.
Tough, street-wise NYPD detective Neil Jericho, burnt out after years working violent homicide and drug cases in East Harlem, transfers to the police department of peaceful, posh East Hampton. But Jericho quickly finds that beneath its serene surface, the East End of Long Island is rife with crime; homicide, gang wars, drug conflicts, sex trafficking, hate crimes — much like the big city. Jericho is a fish-out-of-water, but his NYPD skills serve him well as he takes on these complex, violence-filled investigations. He becomes a vital part of the community; so much so that the local newspaper, The East Hampton Star, salutes him as the Hampton’s own “Amazing Detective.”
What inspired you to write about a murder in the LGBTQ community of East Hampton?
"I attended an LGBTQ community meeting in Sag Harbor, and felt they brought up issues that I could tackle in a book."
When writing from these sorts of perspectives, did you feel you had to sidestep certain stereotypes?
Just by presenting LGBTQ people as the really are, there were no sidesteps I had to take.
How did you go from being a songwriter to writing novels?
I've always loved mysteries, and my wife convinced me to try to write one. I enjoyed the process very much, and the lucrative movie sale of my first novel DANGEROUS BEHAVIOR to Paramount, was a great incentive to continue.
Tell us more about Jericho's relationship with Rainbow. How does it influence his character?
Jericho always had the feeling he should have been a part of the '60's generation. Rainbow seemed to embody the spirituality and social responsibility of those times. Plus she was gorgeous.
Please give us three good to know things about you.
I love my life. I love my work. I love my wife.
Tumbling Down is a whodunit that initially seems straightforward, but it ends up quite the opposite. Why did you creat it this way?
I don't ever pre-plan the plot of my books; I just let the characters lead me. I had no idea when I started that the story would end up this way. So — writing is a real adventure for me.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
I'm still trying to understand basic human nature. So an underlying message about that is still beyond my capabilities.
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
Yes. Violeta Cabrera, Mrs. Sonnenschein's housekeeper, pulled me so far from where I was going that I had to rethink everything. She became so problematic that I had to continue with her and her issues in my next book "Shocking Confessions", which will be published this summer.
Among the wealth of characters in Tumbling Down who was the most difficult to create?
The marriage scenes between Vangie and her wife were difficult because as a straight man, it's hard to see into a gay marriage.
Do you suffer from writer’s block? And if so, what do you do to combat it?
I don't really get writer's block. Put me down in front of a computer, and I know in an hour — something will be written. (although it may be lousy)
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
About nine months.
What are you working on right now?
I'm just finishing Jericho Book 7. "Shocking Confessions". A concert version of my musical "LANGSTON IN HARLEM" is being booked for February 2020 at the Apollo. This is an award-winning theater piece with lyrics made from Langston's poetry set to my music. Also another musical "MY SHINING HOUR" is scheduled for 54 Below cabaret presentation. This is a show featuring lyrics by Johnny Mercer, who was my mentor back in the day.
My best-known song "I've Gotta be Me" was the title of an award-winning documentary film on the life and times of Sammy Davis.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Amazon Author Page. Facebook Walter Marks
New UK tv commercial using various versions of "I've Gotta be Me."