Between the lines with Duane Swierczynski (‘Revolver’)

Today, I’m resurrecting my “between the lines” Q&A—you remember that one, don’t you?—with the indulgent, and ridiculously talented, Duane Swierczynski.

Duane is the author, most recently, of Revolver (Mulholland Books). An Edgar Award nominee, he previously wrote nine novels including Canary, Severance Package, and the Shamus Award-winning Charlie Hardie series (Fun and Games, Hell and Gone, Point and Shoot). Duane has also written more than 250 comics for Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Valiant and IDW—including The Black Hood, the first comic for Archie’s new Dark Circle imprint. Additionally, he has also collaborated with CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker on the bestselling Level 26 series. Duane makes his home in Burbank with his wife and children.

Photo credit: Evelyn Taylor

Praise for Revolver:

“Swierczynski just gets better and better . . . [A] bleak, powerful tale of corruption and the lasting effects of crime . . . Swierczynski’s riskiest move yet [is] a resounding success, with each story line featuring full-blooded characters and intrigue that works both in its own right and in the larger context.”―Booklist (starred review)

“[A] complex whodunit… Well-defined characters and a clever mystery… Swierczynski skillfully juggles three interrelated plot lines.”―Publishers’ Weekly

“Ambitious… This novel is dotted with fine details.”―Kirkus Reviews

From the publisher:

Three generations torn apart–by bullets fired fifty years ago.

Philadelphia, 1965: Two street cops–one black, one white–are gunned down in a corner bar. One of the fallen officers, Stan Walczak, leaves behind a 12-year-old boy, Jimmy.

Philadelphia, 1995: Homicide detective Jim Walczak learns that his father’s alleged killer, Terrill Lee Stanton, has been sprung from prison. Jim stalks the ex-con, hoping to finally learn the truth.

Philadelphia, 2015: Jim’s daughter Audrey, a forensic science student, re-opens her grandfather’s murder for a research paper. But as Audrey digs deeper, she comes to realize that Stanton probably didn’t pull the trigger–and her father may have made a horrible mistake…


Now, Duane Swierczynski reveals a few pages from the book of his life …

John Valeri: As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?

Duane Swierczynski: Everyone knew I was a raging booknerd. I had my face in a book whenever I had the chance. I probably learned this from my father, who was always reading, too — even during family parties. Which didn’t amuse my mother very much, but I thought it was something to aspire to.

JV: What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?

DS: From the time I was 13 and throughout college I was a huge horror fan — specifically, the “splatterpunk” guys like David J. Schow, Joe Lansdale, Clive Barker, John Skipp & Craig Spector, etc. I couldn’t get enough of it, and spent a lot of time writing horror stories when I was supposed to be doing something else (such as paying attention in Algebra II).

JV: What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?

DS: Just picked up a copy of the late (great) Carolyn See’s GOLDEN DAYS yesterday at Skylight Books in Los Feliz. Only 30 pages in, but loving every word of it.

JV: What one book do you always recommend when asked?

DS: It depends who’s asking, and my answer does change over the years. But right now I’ve been evangelizing for William Goldman’s MARATHON MAN. I saw the movie years ago (everyone has, right?), but last summer a friend told me it was his favorite book of all time, so I tracked down a copy and was promptly blown away. It’s amazing.

JV: Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?

DS: Again, it really depends on who’s asking. Adrenaline junkies might like THE WHEELMAN or SEVERANCE PACKAGE, while younger/YA readers might dig CANARY. I’m probably the worst person to ask about my own novels.

JV: Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?

DS: THE NECRONOMICON. (Though it does get a little repetitive in the middle.)

JV: Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?

Clive Barker. I was lucky enough to interview him when I was a junior in college, and he couldn’t have been nicer. I’m surprised I was able to form coherent sentences in his presence.

JV: Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?

DS: When I signed my first contract for a crime novel, in the summer of 2004. Suddenly, I felt “legit.”

JV: What is your greatest literary ambition?

DS: This has never changed: I want to entertain the hell out of people. I’ll do pretty much anything to keep you turning pages.


With thanks to Duane Swierczynski for indulging my curiosities and to Alyssa Persons, Publicity Assistant at Little, Brown and Company, for putting us in touch.

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