Austin S. Camacho is the author of eight novels about Washington DC-based private eye Hannibal Jones, five in the Stark and O’Brien international adventure-thriller series, and the detective novel Beyond Blue. His short stories have been featured in several anthologies, and he is featured in the Edgar nominated African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey. He is a past president of the Maryland Writers Association, past Vice President of the Virginia Writers Club, and one of the directors of the Creatures, Crimes & Creativity literary conference – now in its 10th year.
Subtle Felonies – Is retired basketball star Xander Brown missing or kidnapped? His crazy family and dangerous friends draw DC detective Hannibal Jones into a deadly chase to find – or rescue – a complex man. In public, Xander is a husband, father, partner, and friend, but who is he in private? Which role took him away?
Do you write in more than one genre? Yes. My primary work is detective fiction – The Hannibal Jones mystery series. I love writing about a private eye’s adventures. My mysteries have complex plots and tend to be deep character studies. But writing about a PI walking the mean streets of Washington, DC, I’ve noticed the stories getting darker and grittier because I strive for realism. But I also write straight-up thrillers. The Stark & O’Brien novels feature a mercenary soldier and a jewel thief who have formed a personal protection company and do odd jobs for the CIA. It’s great fun and not as dark as the noir style of my mysteries. I’m told the action in my thrillers feels more like the Indiana Jones movies.
Who’s your favorite author? There are too many to name, but if I have to choose one, it would be Raymond Chandler. His prose is near poetry, and let’s face it, Phillip Marlowe is the detective we all chase in our writing. But Ross McDonald wrote the best plots of any mystery writer I’ve read. And Elmore Leonard created the best characters, bar none.
Do you base any of your characters on real people? I have never based a character on a real person. However, some of my characters are an amalgam of people I’ve known or read about. Some real life people are almost archetypes – Rupert Murdoch and Elon Musk are examples. Oddly, several people I know personally have accused me of using them as the model for one of my characters. I guess my fictional people are real enough that they see themselves in them.
Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I have to outline and don’t understand how anyone can write otherwise. In order to build a puzzle that is a good mystery, I have to plant clues at the right times, and pacing is important in mystery AND thriller fiction. And I have to know where the story is going in order to cut unnecessary stuff. How do you do that without an outline? Of course, during the writing, things change, and the story will veer away from the original outline, but I always know where I’m going, so I never get lost in the story and never feel writer’s block.
Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? As soon as I finish a Hannibal Jones novel, ideas appear for another. But I’m also starting a new series about a Black female professional assassin named Skye. It is being so much fun to write.
Do you have any advice for new writers? Stick with the basics. Write every day. Write to the end of your story before you begin to rewrite. Accept that your first draft is just piling sand into your sandbox. You build your castle in the rewrites, and you can expect to do that three or four times. And join a strong critique group. Others will always see things in your writing that you miss.
I am an active member of:
Mystery Writers of America (Mid-Atlantic Chapter),
International Thriller Writers,
Sisters in Crime,
Virginia Writers Club,
Maryland Writers Association.
Public Safety Writers Association
Buy my latest, Subtle Felonies, at https://www.amazon.com/Subtle-Felonies-Hannibal-Jones-Mystery/dp/B0CBWN5V1X/
Or see all my novels at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Austin+S.+Camacho&i=stripbooks&s=review-count-rank&crid=27N759Y4XYN1R&qid=1653645317&sprefix=austin+s.+camacho%2Cstripbooks%2C70&ref=sr_st_review-count-rank