The second book in Glen’s Van Shaw series, Hard Cold Winter (after Past Crimes) is out, and Glen kindly answered a few of my questions about it, and more!
What can Van Shaw fans look forward to in Hard Cold Winter?
One of the delights of writing a series is shifting the focus to different supporting players in each book. In Hard Cold Winter, we learn much more about Willard, the massive former accomplice of Van’s grandfather. We also delve deeper into Van’s larcenous exploits when he was a teenager. And action scenes, of course. I always try to deliver at least a couple of sequences that make readers skip a meal or a few hours of sleep, just to find out if Van escapes with his skin intact.
How do you think Van has changed the most since Past Crimes?
The most obvious change is that he’s out of the Army. As a civilian for the first time as an adult, Van is facing a future he never expected to have. It’s not an easy evolution. He struggles to adjust from the short-term, tactical way of thinking that kept him and his men alive to the challenges of finding a new purpose. My preparation for Hard Cold Winter included interviewing veterans, in part about their own transitions. Their own stories helped me find the beating heart of the novel. I’m hugely grateful.
What have you enjoyed most about writing the Van Shaw books?
There’s a lot of joy involved, but the best part might be that the characters, especially Van himself, continue to surprise me. I often don’t know what his arc will be, or the themes of the book, until I have that first draft done and I’m reading the manuscript in preparation for rewrites. The little subconscious gnomes seem to take care of that while I’m busy pasting words together.
What do you like to see in a good story? Is there anything that would make you put a book down, unfinished?
If I’ve made it as far as fifty pages, I will usually lower my head and bull my way to the end of a book just to find out what happens. Two literary sins are surefire ways to make me skim to the end. First, when the author is pontificating. Most readers can spot very quickly and accurately when the writer is just putting words into the mouths of their characters to make a political or social point. It doesn’t even matter if I agree with the statement; it’s an obnoxious thing to do. Second, when the plot is just doing donuts in the parking lot until it hits Act Three, when it’s allowed to race to the end. That usually happens when the writer has a novella worth of ideas but has to hit a certain page count to be a novel.
Have you read any good books lately?
Loads. I’m making more of an effort to reserve time for pleasure reading while working on deadline — it’s a critical mental rest. I’m reading my fellow Edgar nominees for Best First Novel, just so I’ll have something smart to say to them in New York. I’m in very good company; their novels are excellent. THE LONG AND FARAWAY GONE by Lou Berney, also an Edgar nom. THE FIFTH HOUSE OF THE HEART by Ben Tripp, for something out of the mystery vein (that’s a cheap joke; it’s a unique take on vampire legends). MONDAY’S LIE by Jamie Mason, a domestic thriller with an espionage twist. And James W. Ziskin’s Ellie Stone series, which is like Mad Men with murders.
Hitting my due date for Van Shaw Book Three in a few months is the first priority! The Edgars, of course. ThrillerFest in July, where I’m proud to say I’m chairing the committee for the debut class this year. It’s a great bunch of new talent. And there will be a fourth book, I’m very happy to say. Maybe even a standalone. The sky’s the limit.
About Hard Cold Winter:
Former Army Ranger and thief Van Shaw is thrust into danger as lethal and unpredictable as the war he left behind in this emotionally powerful and gritty follow up to the acclaimed Past Crimes.
When an old crony of Van Shaw’s late grandfather calls in a favor, the recently-discharged Ranger embarks on a dangerous journey to the Olympic Mountains, in search of a missing girl tied to Van’s own criminal past. What he finds instead is a brutal murder scene, including a victim from one of Seattle’s most influential families.
But the dead bodies are only the start of Van’s troubles. A fellow Ranger from Afghanistan turns up at Van’s doorstep, seeking support from his former sergeant even as Van wrestles with his own reemerging symptoms of PTSD. The murder investigation leads to heavy pressure, with a billionaire businessman on one side and vicious gangsters on the other, each willing to play dirty to get what they want.
The price of his survival may be too high, demanding moral compromises that could destroy Van’s relationship with his iron-willed girlfriend, Luce. And when a trusted friend’s betrayal pushes him to the edge, Van has to enlist help from some unexpected places—including someone he believed was lost forever.
The Ranger will need every ally he can get. A powerful, unseen player is about to unleash a firestorm on Seattle that will burn Van and his people to ashes—and it will take a miracle to stop it.
About the author:
Glen Erik Hamilton’s debut PAST CRIMES has been nominated for Best First Novel at the 2016 Edgar Awards, and for the Barry Award for Best First Novel. PAST CRIMES was given starred reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal, and called “an exciting heir to the classic detective novel” by Kirkus. The second book in the Van Shaw series, HARD COLD WINTER, was published in March by William Morrow (US) and Faber & Faber (UK). A native of Seattle, Glen now lives in California but frequently returns to his hometown to soak up the rain. Follow his wet footprints on Facebook and on Twitter @GlenErikH. glenerikhamilton.com