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Interview with James Mullaney, author of Royal Flush

Royal Flush James Mullaney

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Tell us about Royal Flush. 
It’s the third book in my Crag Banyon Mystery series. Banyon is, at least on the surface, your typical down-and-out private investigator. He’s an ex-cop and a drinker. He’s got the doting secretary who divides her time between loving and hating him. He’s got the cop enemy on the force who can’t stand him and is desperate to take him down several dozen pegs. He’s got one of Santa’s elves doing some light filing and a little assistant P.I. legwork. And that’s where we probably start skipping around genres.

Oh how? What genre is it?
It’s hard to pin down. Folks are saying it’s urban fantasy, and I suppose it’s some of that. I’d say the Banyon books are essentially comedies. Every stupid joke I can think of finds its way in. They also function as mysteries. And my background is action-adventure, so there’s some of that tossed in as well.

Complete this sentence for us: If you like _________, then you’ll love Royal Flush.

Puppies, brownies and America.

We’ll try again; what kind of readers will the books appeal to?

Banyon should appeal to anyone on Earth with a sense of humor.  Humor is subjective so maybe what makes me laugh might help.  Monty Python, Blackadder, Green Acres, The Producers (the original, not that wretched musical), P.J. O’Rourke, A Confederacy of Dunces, South Park, Douglas Adams.  If any of those things ever made you laugh, you have a shot with Crag Banyon.

Should we start reading the Crag Banyon books from book 1 or can we dive in with Royal Flush?

By all means start with the first in the series, but only because I want to sell more books to support my M&M’s addiction.  Actually, the order doesn’t really matter.  A character from one book might show up in another, but there’s no continuing soap opera threads.  They’re written as standalones so, despite the fact that my mom says you should buy them all, they can pretty much be read in any order.

What are you most proud of with this book?
That I was able to write it. That’s not me being a smart aleck, it’s true. The first Banyon Mystery, One Horse Open Slay, was supposed to be a funny little one-off. But I loved the weird world I’d created and I thought I’d give it another shot with the second book, Devil May Care. I wasn’t sure if the idea could sustain for one book, let alone two. So #2 was a challenge to surpass #1 and I think I at least equalled the first book. The same thing happened with Royal Flush. Now that I’ve done three I’m pretty sure this is a world I can play around in for at least a little while longer. Banyon #4 is definitely on the way.

What have you been doing to market the book?
As for marketing, I’ve been keeping my powder mostly dry since I have a paperback coming out soon from a traditional publisher — Moonstone — which will be available in brick-and-mortar stores. I don’t want to step on their toes, so I’m hanging back on most promotional stuff and slowly building a backlist that’ll be ready when we begin promoting that book.

In that case, we’re honoured you agreed to speak with us. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an egomaniacal bore. Wait, you’re not going to print that, are you? Let’s see, I’ve been in this business for over twenty years. I’ve sold over a million books. I’ve written over two million words, although some of those are the same ones that I just doubled up on. That is just an insane amount of writing, so I don’t like to think about it. I’ve worked for a whole bunch of different publishers over the years, mostly as a ghostwriter. And if you ring my doorbell while I’m in the middle of working on a book don’t be surprised by the wreck in the shredded flannel shirt who answers the door.

Tell us about your other work. What’s your favourite? What has been favourite with the fans?

I worked for years on The Destroyer series, which was the basis for the movie Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins way back in the 1980s.  That’s always a fan favorite.
My Red Menace action series is about a spy from the 1950s who comes out of retirement in 1972 and finds the whole world completely changed while at the same time pretty much the same.  His name is Podge Becket, and he’s aided in his adventures by brilliant scientist and curmudgeon Dr. Thaddeus Wainwright, who is basically me with more time to think up the insults.  The two of them save the world at least twice a year.
I came to the decision while writing Royal Flush that Crag Banyon is my favorite of anything I’ve ever written.  As much as I enjoy The Red Menace and the character of Dr. Wainwright in particular, there’s just something special about Banyon’s insane world.  You have to love a P.I. universe populated by talking gorillas, moon men and mermaids where the protagonist’s big concern is still making the rent.

How much can you tell us about your ghostwriting? In what ways is the experience different from writing under your own name?

I wrote a ton of stuff as a ghostwriter and I’m proud of all of it, which is saying something.  There are guys in the business who slack off because, hey, it’s not my byline.  Baloney.  Do your best, always.  I did, and so I am still proud of what I wrote and amazed that I was able to turn out as much material as I did back then.
Writing under my own name isn’t any different, at least not for me.  Cover credit is nice, of course, but it’s still just me locked in the same room pulling words from my head.  At some point I’ll pull out the very last word and be done, but that won’t be today, and probably not tomorrow.  

We are big fans of Marvel comics; how much did you work with them?
I wrote a six-issue run on their Iron Fist comic.  It’s hard to step in with an established character and tell the boss what you want to do.  I wound up doing what I thought they wanted me to do rather than probably what I should have done.  The scripts were still good, but they could have been better by being different.  Still, the Marvel people were a pleasure to work for and most important their checks all cleared, so it was a good experience.

Have you got a website where readers can keep up with your work?

How can we follow you on Facebook and/or Twitter?
Twitter: @JamesMullaney

What’s next?
I am wrapping up the latest book in another series called The Red Menace, which is #4, A Red Letter Day. That should be done within the next couple of weeks and after a brief break I will be back in Crag Banyon’s crazy world. At some point after that I have two novels that I really should sit down and rewrite. They’ve been collecting dust on my shelf for quite some time and require some heavy rewriting. And I suppose I should at least think about that screenplay I’ve wanted to write for the past couple of years. There’s not enough time. When everybody else springs forward, I think I’m going to set my clock back a couple of hours.

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