Author Ed Duncan joins me this week to discuss his newest release, Rico Stays. Released this past spring, this final book of the Pigeon-Blood Red Trilogy will be available for kindle download for $0.99 from Amazon.com July 7-11.
I hope you enjoy learning about this fascinating novel and perhaps it will become part of your TBR list.
SJJ: What genre does this book fall under?
ED: The genre of the novel is crime fiction.
SJJ: Is this a genre you normally write in.
ED: This is the only genre I write in.
SJJ: Who is your target audience?
ED: My target audience is anyone who enjoys a good story and is not put off by violence.
SJJ: When was your newest book released?
ED: It was released this Spring.
SJJ: Please tell us a little about your new book.
ED: After enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders stepped in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’ hot-headed nephew, all hell broke loose.
When the smoke cleared, the nephew had vanished and three goons lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico was alive but gravely wounded.
Out of the hospital but not fully recovered, he needed a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found. A place like the cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once.
Trouble was, Paul’s girlfriend hadn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history – or Paul’s fascination with him. Vengeful killers would soon be coming for him.
The only question was whether he would be ready to face them.
SJJ: If not mentioned in the above question, where does the story take place?
ED: The story takes place in present day Chicago.
SJJ: What inspired you to write this story?
ED: Rico Stays is the third novel in The Pigeon-Blood Red Trilogy, and The Last Straw is the second. The germ of an idea for the first novel, Pigeon-Blood Red, came to me many years ago when I was still practicing law. I was attending a legal seminar and was taking an evening stroll when in my mind’s eye I saw a beautiful woman traveling alone and carrying something valuable that bad people – dangerous people – wanted to get their hands on. And I saw a lawyer coming to her rescue – or trying to. Over the months and years that followed I filled in details, many of which changed as a result of the multiple drafts and re-drafts. The “something” the woman was carrying became a “pigeon-blood red” ruby necklace.
SJJ: What kind of research did you have to do?
ED: I knew that I wanted what Alfred Hitchcock called the “MacGuffin” – the object that is necessary to the plot – to be something exotic. I settled on a piece of jewelry and stumbled upon the phrase “pigeon-blood red” as a description for the most desirable ruby in the world. I researched the origin of the term and found that it was coined centuries ago by Indian gem dealers. It describes the color of the rarest and most valuable rubies in the world, the same color as the first few drops of blood that trickle from the nostrils of a freshly killed pigeon. I learned that most such rubies originate in Myanmar and that many are smuggled out of that country. I wrote, based on my research, that the highest recorded price paid for a pigeon-blood red ruby was almost a half million dollars per carat. Then, just before the book was published, I learned from a newspaper article that that amount had more than doubled to over a million dollars. Fortunately, I was able to make the change before the book was published.
Not being a gun enthusiast, I also had to research the .45 Sig Sauer 226, the weapon of choice of Rico, my anti-hero. Known in some circles as the Rolls-Royce of pistols, it had been used for years by the Navy Seals (the only part of U.S. Armed Forces that did so) despite its high cost, which permitted me to write, “That was good enough for Rico.” Ironically, the Navy Seals have replaced the Sig Sauer with the Glock 19. Also, the Sig Sauer 226 has been updated, but Rico continues to use his trusty 226.
SJJ: Was any part of this book particularly difficult to write?
ED: No particular part was especially hard to write, but most of the exposition was more difficult to write than the dialogue. That has always been true for me. Dialogue is simply easier for me to write.
SJJ: How did you come up with the title?
ED: I took “Rico Stays” from a line in an old Barbara Stanwyk movie called Baby Face. At one point in the movie a lover of the main character, played by Stanwyk, strongly suggests that she get rid of her maid/friend, who was named “Chico.’ Stanwyk’s defiant reply was “Chico stays!” I liked the line, so just changed “Chico” to “Rico.”
SJJ: Who designed the cover? Did you have much input in the design?
ED: The cover artist is Jacob Arden McClure. Voyage Media in Los Angeles (whom I’m working with to try to convert my novels to a movie or a series) made the arrangements. Jacob has done all of my covers for the trilogy. I outline the stories for him and he gives me three covers (front and back) from which to choose.
SJJ: What is one of your favorite lines or quotes from the book?
ED: “She was a mouth-wateringly gorgeous woman and his mouth watered.”
SJJ: Did you enjoy writing any particular scene?
ED: I especially enjoyed writing the opening scene where Rico is listening intently to a baseball game on the car radio while on his way to a grocery store – soon to be the scene of a bloody shootout – when he becomes so entranced by a baseball game being played on a sandlot by two teams of adolescent boys that he totally tunes out the game on the radio. Later, watching the same game, Rico witnesses one of the boys as he chases a fly ball and collides with a man carrying a bag filled with liquor bottles. That collision starts a chain of events that give rise to the events that form the story in Rico Stays.
SJJ: Does your book have any message or is it purely entertainment?
ED: It is purely entertainment but it does have one message: loyalty is everything.
SJJ: How long did it take you to write? To edit?
ED: It took about a year to write during which there were long periods of inactivity while I awaited the arrival of the muse. My editor (Karen Krombie) did an excellent job. She suggested a schedule which she managed to stick to fairly closely (despite the intervention of Covid-19). I believe the whole process took about one month and three weeks.
SJJ: During editing, did you have to delete a scene you liked but because it didn’t move the book forward, it had to be removed?
ED: Fortunately, I did not encounter this problem.
SJJ: Who is your favorite character? Your least favorite character?
ED: I identify most with Paul who I always intended to be the main character, as he and I are both African American lawyers who were the first minority lawyers to be hired by, and to make partner in, our respective large majority law firms. In short, he is a highly idealized version of myself. However, beginning with the first novel and continuing through Rico Stays, the more I developed Rico’s character, the more he fought to become the central focus of the narrative, because his character is so compelling. Paul also fought hard to hold on to his status as the main character. Alas, while he fought valiantly (and had a subconscious assist from the author), Rico clearly won. Therefore, I suppose I must concede that he became my favorite character.
As to who is my least favorite character, there is no contest. Larry Cosgrove, the hot-headed nephew referenced in the blurb on the back of the book, wins hands down. Lest I spoil the novel, readers will have to read the novel to find out why.
SJJ: Just for fun! If this book became a movie, who would you like to see play the main character and if there’s a villain, who would play that role?
ED: Despite being almost too old (although that never stopped the various incarnations of James Bond), I can see Jon Hamm playing Rico. Unfortunately, no one readily comes to mind to play the villain, Larry Cosgrove. Nor can I think of anyone to play Paul since Denzel Washington aged out of the role several years ago. But I’m working on it!
SJJ: What are the names of the other published works in the series?
ED: As previously mentioned, the other works in the series are Pigeon-Blood Red and The Last Straw.
SJJ: Where can your new book be purchased?
Ed is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years. He is the original author of a highly regarded legal treatise entitled Ohio Insurance Coverage, for which he provided annual supplements from 2008 through 2012. Ed, originally from Gary, Indiana, lives outside Cleveland.
Readers can visit my web page https://www.eduncan.net
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/edduncan
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