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Guest Blog by Ben H. Winters - And His Little Dog, Too - July 17, 2014


Please welcome Ben H. Winters back to The Qwillery. World of Trouble, the 3rd and final novel in the The Last Policeman Trilogy, was published on July 15, 2014.  This is a fabulous series and you should rush out and get all 3 books today! No waiting to find out what happens. You can find the other stops on the World of Trouble Blog Tour here.







AND HIS LITTLE DOG, TOO

So I have to make a confession here, and it’s one I feel kind of bad about, considering how many readers of The Last Policeman and its sequels have told me how much they love Hank’s dog, Houdini.

I never really wanted Hank to have a dog. When I imagined the character I always imagined him on his own, just the determined man and his gun, and a cute little white doggie trotting along beside him never fit that picture.

But best-laid plans, like homework, sometimes get eaten by dogs. (Is that an expression? It should be.)

What happened was, I wrote a scene, about halfway through the first book, with this little dirty scared dog in it—and the only reason was to illuminate the nature of the dog’s owner, a burly thug named JT Toussaint. I thought it would be both funny and interesting for Toussaint to have a small furry creature bouncing around in his dingy ramshackle house.

But then I wrote this speech for Toussaint, part of his long (and successful) effort to intimidate Detective Palace:

“I’m gonna have to shoot this dog,” Toussaint says, suddenly,
absently, matter-of-fact, and stands up. “At the end, I mean.”

“What?”

“He’s a little scaredy cat, this one.” Toussaint is looking down at
the dog, his head tilted, as if evaluating, trying to imagine how it’s
going to feel. “Can’t think of him dying like that, fire or cold or
drowning. Probably I’m gonna go ahead and shoot him.”


After that, it only seemed right, once Toussaint was out of the picture, for Palace—a born protector, and himself a bit of a scaredy cat—to grudgingly adopt the thing.

But then I had to write the damn dog for two more books!

I did some research. I called my brother-in-law, Mike, and asked him all about his old dog, Wiley, and it turned out that Wiley was a Bichon Frisé, and so that’s what Houdini turned out to be. I found myself plotting out the arc of their relationship, Detective Palace and his little dog, so that by the time I started World of Trouble I knew that the first line (prologue excepted) was going to be: “I’m worried about my dog.”

Well, you know how the rest of this goes: I fell in love with the thing. Just like Palace did! I ended up appreciating the authorial challenge of it, figuring out how to register the actions and attitude of an animal in text, how to portray this character who is just bursting with complicated emotions and motivations, but who can’t express them in words. (Unless it’s a dog in Animal Farm or The Phantom Tollbooth, but this isn’t that kind of book).

Here’s the dog, in one of his very last appearances in the Last Policeman trilogy.:

Houdini ducks in and out of my footsteps, snorfeling at the dirt, and I bend and scratch the white fur behind his head, and he growls low and contented.

I’m gonna miss Detective Palace, and a lot of these other characters I’ve been hanging out with for three years now. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to miss that little dog the most.





The Last Policeman Trilogy

World of Trouble
The Last Policeman Trilogy 3
Quirk Books, July 15, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Critically acclaimed author Ben H. Winters delivers this explosive final installment in the Edgar Award winning Last Policeman series. With the doomsday asteroid looming, Detective Hank Palace has found sanctuary in the woods of New England, secure in a well-stocked safe house with other onetime members of the Concord police force.

But with time ticking away before the asteroid makes landfall, Hank’s safety is only relative, and his only relative—his sister Nico—isn’t safe. Soon, it’s clear that there’s more than one earth-shattering revelation on the horizon, and it’s up to Hank to solve the puzzle before time runs out . . . for everyone.



Countdown City
The Last Policeman Trilogy 2
Quirk Books, July 16, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

The Last Policeman received the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original--along with plenty of glowing reviews.

Now Detective Hank Palace returns in Countdown City, the second volume of the Last Policeman trilogy. There are just 77 days before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank's days of solving crimes are over...until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband.

Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone. With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees.

Countdown City presents another fascinating mystery set on brink of an apocalypse--and once again, Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond "whodunit." What do we as human beings owe to one another? And what does it mean to be civilized when civilization is collapsing all around you?



The Last Policeman
The Last Policeman Trilogy 1
Quirk Books, May 13, 2013 (new cover)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
(originally published on July 10, 2012)

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? Detective Hank Palace has asked this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. Several kilometers wide, it’s on a collision course with planet Earth, with just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. Industry is grinding to a halt. Most people have abandoned their jobs. But not Hank Palace. As our story opens, he’s investigating the latest suicide in a city that’s full of suicides—only this one feels wrong. This one feels like homicide. And Palace is the only one who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die?

The Last Policeman offers a story we’ve never read before: A police procedural set on the brink of an apocalypse. What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?








About Ben

Ben H. Winters is the author of eight novels, including most recently World of Trouble (Quirk). Countdown City (Quirk), an NPR Best Book of 2013 and the winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, is the sequel to The Last Policeman, which was the recipient of the 2012 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America; it was also named one of the Best Books of 2012 by Amazon.com and Slate.

Ben’s other books Literally Disturbed (Price Stern Sloan), a book of scary poems for kids; the New York Times bestselling parody novel Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (Quirk); and a novel for young readers, The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman (HarperCollins), which was a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of 2011 as well as an Edgar Nominee in the juvenile category.

Ben has also written extensively for the theater, and was a 2009-2010 Fellow of the Dramatists Guild; his plays for young audiences include The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, A (Tooth) Fairy Tale and Uncle Pirate and his plays for not-young audiences include the 2008 Off-Broadway musical Slut and the “jukebox musical” Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, which is produced frequently across the country and around the world. Ben’s journalism has appeared in The Chicago Reader, The Nation, In These Times, USA Today, the Huffington Post, and lots of other places.

Ben grew up in suburban Maryland, went to college at Washington University in St. Louis, and has subsequently lived in six different cities—seven if you count Brooklyn twice for two different times. Presently he lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife Diana, a law professor, and their three children.

Website  ~  Twitter @BenHWinters  ~  Facebook  ~  The Last Policeman on Facebook



2013 Philip K. Dick Award - Winner

The Philip K. Dick Award  award is sponsored by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society. The ceremony is sponsored by the Northwest Science Fiction Society.

The nominees for the 2013 Philip K. Dick Award::


The winner was announced on April 18th at Norwescon:

Countdown City
Ben H. Winters
The Last Policeman 2
Quirk Books, July 16, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 320 pages


2013 Philip K. Dick Award - Winner
The Last Policeman received the 2013 Edgar Award for Best Paperback Original--along with plenty of glowing reviews.

Now Detective Hank Palace returns in Countdown City, the second volume of the Last Policeman trilogy. There are just 77 days before a deadly asteroid collides with Earth, and Detective Palace is out of a job. With the Concord police force operating under the auspices of the U.S. Justice Department, Hank's days of solving crimes are over...until a woman from his past begs for help finding her missing husband.

Brett Cavatone disappeared without a trace—an easy feat in a world with no phones, no cars, and no way to tell whether someone’s gone “bucket list” or just gone. With society falling to shambles, Hank pieces together what few clues he can, on a search that leads him from a college-campus-turned-anarchist-encampment to a crumbling coastal landscape where anti-immigrant militia fend off “impact zone” refugees.

Countdown City presents another fascinating mystery set on brink of an apocalypse--and once again, Hank Palace confronts questions way beyond "whodunit." What do we as human beings owe to one another? And what does it mean to be civilized when civilization is collapsing all around you?



Interview with Ben H. Winters - July 23, 2012

Please welcome Ben H. Winters to The Qwillery. Ben's most recent novel is The Last Policeman, a police procedural set 6 months prior to the end of the world. The Last Policeman is the first in a trilogy.




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery!

Ben:  Hey, well, thanks for having me.


TQ:  Writing quirks! What are some of yours?

Ben:  For many years I made my living as a transcriptionist, so I type very quickly. This doesn’t mean I write very quickly, necessarily, but I do tend to bang out the words onto the page at a very rapid rate. I have at various times shared a writing space, and I always wondered if other people thought I was showing off, because it sounds like tappa-tappa-tappa-tappa, ninety miles an hour. Trust me, a huge amount of those words are nonsense, but they do come out fast.


TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers?

Ben:  The all-time favorite is Charles Dickens, the current favorite is Patricia Highsmith. But I could answer this question forever; PD James, Ruth Rendell, George Elliot, JD Salinger, David Foster Wallace, Ira Levin. What writer doesn’t have a thousand favorite writers? Gerard Manley Hopkins, Philip Larkin, Tom Waits. The list goes on.


TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Ben:  I don’t care what writer you’re talking to, the answer to this question has to be “some mixture of the two”; the only real question is as to proportion. As I’ve grown as a writer, my level of advance plotting has risen, as I’ve learned that A) knowing your own intentions in advance is more useful than waiting for some abstract force of divination to discover them for you, and B) having an outline does not force you to abide by it.

So what I do is, I have a very strong outline as I begin, and then, where the process of writing reveals interesting information—as it does in that magical way from time to time—I revise the outline.


TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Ben:  Finishing. Ideas, frankly, are the easy part. You find ideas in the newspaper, walking down the street, eavesdropping on conversations at the food court. The hard part is once you’ve got that idea, taking it and living with it until you see whether there’s a real story there—and then building it out, adding characters, figuring out the structure, and sticking with it till it’s done.


TQ:  What inspired you to write The Last Policeman?

Ben:  I’ve always loved mysteries set in surprising times and places, or speculative universes, like Isaac Asimov’s robot mysteries, or Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. All great mystery stories set up a devilish puzzle and then present a series of challenges to keep the hero from solving the puzzle. If nothing else, the impending end of the world creates some serious challenges for Detective Palace.


TQ:  Tell us something about The Last Policeman that is not in the book description.

Ben:  In the book, because of infrastructure failure and mass retirements, cellular and digital technology are starting to become unreliable, and will soon disappear entirely. If this scenario were really taking place, this would be, for me, a silver living. I am, personally, deeply ambivalent about our total reliance and obsession with our machines, and it’s fun for me to imagine a world without them.


TQ:  What is the oddest bit of information that you came across in your research for The Last Policeman?

Ben:  I learned a lot of fascinating tidbits about forensic pathology, some of which turns up in the book and some of which does not. Forensic pathologists are incredible. They can tell if someone was murdered or committed suicide based on the angle of the neck bruise; they can tell what drugs someone took, and when, by analyzing a single strand of hair.


TQ:  In The Last Policeman who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Ben:  The easiest was the hero, Detective Henry Palace, once I figured out—after many months of not figuring it out—that I wanted this to be in the first person. Then I really got a handle on his voice and style, and could see and write the world from his POV. The hardest character might have been JT Toussaint, the burly quarryman who was the victim’s childhood friend; I wanted him to be roughhewn and working class, without being a stereotype of those things.


TQThe Last Policeman is set 6 months prior to asteroid 2011GV1 (Maia) smashing into earth in an extinction level event. While you give glimpses into what is going on worldwide, you chose to set the novel in small-ish town New Hampshire. Why did you choose to set the novel primarily in New Hampshire rather than a large metropolitan area?

Ben:  The fancy-author reason is that my narrative conceit required a small-but-not-too-small setting, so I could show how the impending doom affects an “average American city”, its economy and sociology. Plus I wanted this to be neither a big-city crime novel nor a small-town sheriff kind of crime novel.

The real reason is that my brother lives in Concord and this gave me an excuse to see him a bunch of times.


TQ:  Which character in The Last Policeman has surprised you the most?

Ben:  Probably Nico Palace, Hank’s sister. She kept evolving as I was writing, becoming less and less of a zany-screwup type and more and more of a complex human being.


TQ:  Without giving anything away what is/are your favorite scene(s) in the novel?

Ben:  I love the two scenes featuring the Coffee Doctor, a completely ancillary character. Just as Detective Palace is determined to stay on the job until the end, solving crimes, the Coffee Doctor is determined to run his espresso kiosk in Harvard Square until doomsday. If there was any way to write a spinoff of this novel, where people just come in and the Coffee Doctor offers them sage-but-eccentric advice, I would totally do it.


TQ:  What's next?

Ben:  Right now I’m working on two things—the first sequel to The Last Policeman, as-yet-unnamed, and a book of scary poems for kids, called Literally Disturbed. Both of these things are due out in summer 2013, so I better get back to work on them.


TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Ben:  My pleasure. Thanks so much for your questions!



The Last Policeman

The Last Policeman
Quirk Books, July 10, 2012
Trade Paperback and eBook, 288 pages

What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die? Detective Hank Palace has asked this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. Several kilometers wide, it’s on a collision course with planet Earth, with just six precious months until impact.

The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. Industry is grinding to a halt. Most people have abandoned their jobs. But not Hank Palace. As our story opens, he’s investigating the latest suicide in a city that’s full of suicides—only this one feels wrong. This one feels like homicide. And Palace is the only one who cares. What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die?

The Last Policeman offers a story we’ve never read before: A police procedural set on the brink of an apocalypse. What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?







About Ben

Ben H. Winters is the author of five novels, including the New York Times bestseller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and the middle-grade novel The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman, an Edgar Award nominee and a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of 2011. Winters’ other books include the science-fiction Tolstoy parody Android Karenina, the Finkleman sequel The Mystery of the Missing Everything, and the supernatural thriller Bedbugs.

Winters also wrote the book and lyrics for three musicals for young audiences: The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, A (Tooth) Fairy Tale, and Uncle Pirate, based on the award-winning children’s book by Douglas Rees.

Ben’s new novel, The Last Policeman, is forthcoming from Quirk Books in July of 2012; he is at work on a book of scary poems for kids, to be published by Price Stern Sloan in spring, 2013.




Guest Blog by Ben H. Winters - And His Little Dog, Too - July 17, 20142013 Philip K. Dick Award - WinnerInterview with Ben H. Winters, author of The Last Policeman and Countdown City - July 12, 2013Interview with Ben H. Winters - July 23, 2012

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