...Interview Alan Orloff

This is Alan.

And this is Alan's most recent book! Buy it at this link.

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One of the great things about living near Washington D.C. is that anything that happens inevitably goes through the nation's capitol. I don't mean gun violence or catastrophic  weather...I'm actually referring to shows and concerts. We're fortunate to have a lot of clubs, including a terrific downtown comedy club called The Improv that has hosted any comedian you can think of. I mean, probably. Don't test that theory. Seinfeld's been there, okay? That good enough for you?

D.C.-native (it's true, such a thing exists) Alan Orloff is the author of the LAST LAFF series, featuring club owner and comedian Channing Hayes. The books are set in the northern Virginia / D.C. area, and Alan's clear descriptions of northern Virginia will resonate with regional readers and paint an accurate picture for everyone else. His first novel, DIAMONDS FOR THE DEAD, was nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel, and he has also penned darker books under an alter-ego named Zak Allen. He's also super nice and happily agreed to let me interview him.


What's your favorite joke?

I have a bad memory for jokes; the only one I really remember, and I’m not sure I’d call it a joke, is, “Why did the golfer wear two pairs of pants? In case he got a hole in one.” As you can tell, I don’t tell many jokes. Certainly not funny ones.

(Ed. Note: Ha!)

It seems challenging to write a series in the mystery/thriller field that doesn't feature a professional crime solver. Is that an obstacle for you in the Last Laff series?

Well, having an amateur sleuth does present a specific problem, namely, why would your main character get involved with a criminal investigation? There are plenty of books where a donut baker/seamstress/gardener/stand-up comic risks life and limb to stick his/her nose into something that is better left for the authorities, but the trick is to come up with a good—believable—reason. Once you can get past that, things aren’t so difficult. In KILLER ROUTINE, Channing Hayes (the protagonist) is the only one who thinks anything is wrong. I set up a similar situation in DEADLY CAMPAIGN, where one of Channing’s friends asks him to look into a matter without involving the authorities.

(Ed. Note: I mentioned the Improv above, but I'd also like to note that the comedy club Channing Hayes co-owns is based on Jammin Java in Vienna, VA, another terrific venue.)

Given that you also publish under an alter-ego, do you work on more than one book at a time?

I usually work on a draft of one book at a time. After I’ve finished, and before I go back and revise it, I’ll sometimes tinker on something else. If I worked on too many things at once, I’m afraid I’d get really confused!

What's been your most successful marketing or promotional platform (Twitter, Facebook, author readings, etc.)?

Some wit once said that half of all marketing is effective, you just don’t know which half it is. I have to agree with that assessment. I’ve used all of those platforms/strategies, and dozens more, and it’s very hard to quantify the success of any specific avenue. I do believe in the cumulative effect of marketing; that is, the more you do, the more “sinks in” to your potential readers.

If you didn't write, is there a different art form you'd practice?

I am probably the least artistic person you will ever meet. I have trouble drawing stick figures. And music? Fuggedaboutit.

Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have done differently in your career?

I would have started ten years earlier.

Can you describe your best moment in publishing?

There have been lots of great moments—getting an agent, selling my first book, speaking on my first panel, getting an Agatha Award nomination, speaking at the Library of Congress, doing a live TV spot. But I’d have to say holding an actual copy of my first book was probably the coolest moment.

Thanks for the interview, Alan! You can read Alan's blog here, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And, hey, while you're at it, do the same for me.

See you in a week.


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