So let's move this party. You're probably wondering, "What's with the Latin in the post title?" Well, it goes along with my guest here today at Out in WriteField: Kelli Stanley. She is the author of Nox Dormienda, a historical mystery set in Rome but with a noir feel. So please join me in welcoming Kelli Stanley to Out in WriteField.
RJ: NOX DORMIENDA. Can you give us the pitch?
KS: Well, first let me thank you, RJ, for the invite! It’s great to be here to help celebrate your 100th.
As for NOX … it’s a mystery-thriller and the first Roman Noir. A combination of ancient historical setting (first century Roman Britain) and the style of hardboiled fiction made famous by Hammett,
And of course there’s a woman involved. Isn’t there always? ;)
RJ: I've read that you're both a Classicist and a huge fan of noir. What made you decide to combine the two?
KS: An epiphany while attending Eddie Muller’s
RJ: NOX DORMIENDA has been described by you and others such as author James Rollins, The Library Journal and Becky Lejeune, of Bookbitch.com, as "Roman Noir." What exactly is Roman Noir?
KS: Well, Roman Noir is a pun on “roman noir”, the French literary term for a detective novel. I thought it would be a good way to distinguish NOX from other historical mysteries on the market, and let people know that it’s something completely new. I’m very proud of the fact that the city and
Thanks to Jim Rollins, Becky Lejeune, and other reviewers, I’ve been able to get the word out about Roman Noir. Thanks to the support of readers, I have a good chance at expanding the series to the second, third and fourth novels. We’re trying to move to a larger publisher, so we’ll see.
RJ: I understand that you're also working on another series set in
KS: I just finished it, actually. Right before Bouchercon (a large annual mystery convention). Not Roman, but definitely noir … and a much darker version than Roman.
RJ: Any possibility for a little insight into the series?
KS: Without giving too much away, the protagonist is a female PI, who gets involved in a case dealing with racial tensions between the Chinese-American and Japanese-American communities in the wake of
RJ: Just for fun, what are some of your favorite noir films and books?
KS: My favorite noir films include Nightmare Alley, Gilda, Out of the Past, Double Indemnity and Touch of Evil … and of course the minute I say that, I think of Night and the City, In a Lonely Place, Sudden Fear, Woman on the Run, Thieves’ Highway … it’s virtually impossible to rank them!
As for books, I consider
RJ: Who were some of the biggest influences on you as a writer?
KS: All of the above, plus Hemingway, Steinbeck, Thomas Hardy, Jane Austen, the Brontes, Poe and a whole lot of other people. Lots of poetry. Shakespeare. Virgil, Catullus, Euripides in terms of classical literature.
RJ: You say that you're also a comic book buff. Name some of your favorites.
KS: I used to own a comic book store with my family, and have collected since I was a kid. Batman and Detective are my two main titles … I have every issue of Detective from about 1959 to 1989. Batman is, for me, the ultimate noir super-hero. I’ve always been a DC fan (and am one of those unfortunate souls who can name all the members of the Legion of Super-Pets).
My collection has ground to a halt since publication, but I collect Silver and Golden Age DC, Fawcett and Quality. I’ve always loved Plastic Man (Jack Cole), Will Eisner’s The Spirit (what a wonderful man Eisner was!) … and I’m partial to a few other heroes in the DC pantheon, including Green Arrow, Dr. Fate and the Specter. I adore Catwoman. I was never much of a Wonder Woman fan, though as an academic I published an article on how she reflects American cultural trends toward women.
RJ: Did any of them influence your writing as well?
KS: Great question! I’m sure comic books have influenced me … they’re like reading storyboards, and before I turned to novels, I wrote screenplays … gave it up because unless you’re in LA and are willing to knock on doors it’s too frustrating a business. Batman certainly influenced me … made me understand (and from a young age) the pain of loss and the anger at not being able to prevent it. And the desire for revenge … psychologically he’s a very complex figure.
RJ: What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing?
KS: Movies—I’m looking forward to Quantum of Solace. Usually I’m catching up on something from 1948 on DVD. J I love visiting historic places, watching ships come in under the
RJ: So, what's next for Arcturus and company?
KS: The sequel is called MALEDICTUS (Cursed). Set a few months after NOX, in the town of
RJ: Thanks so much for taking the time to chat today.
KS: My pleasure, RJ, thanks for asking me!! And here’s to the 200th post!
----There you have it fols, your intro to Roman Noir and a great writer. So be sure to get your copy of Nox Dormienda. And in honor of Kelli Stanley stopping by, you can check out the first three chapters of Nox Dormienda in the chap book that I'll be giving away to a randomly selected commenter.
Kelli Stanley likes fog, which is a good thing because she lives in San Francisco. In addition to writing Roman noir, she holds a Master’s Degree in Classics. As a scholar, she writes and lectures internationally on a variety of subjects from Sallust to Superman, and her published work can be found in academic books and journals.
Her favorite film is Casablanca—she always gets choked up over the “Marseillaise” scenes.
She is currently working on her third Arcturus novel, and is researching a second series set in San Francisco in 1939.