Welcome to Day 3 of the WordCrafter Northtown Angelus Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day 3 of the WordCrafter Northtown Angelus Book Blog Tour

Welcome to Day 3 of the WordCrafter Northtown Angelus Book Blog Tour

WordCrafter Book Blog Tour Banner featuring the cover of Northtown Angelus by Robert White against a crime scene with yellow police tape.

Giveaway

Each stop where you leave a a comment,

you get another chance to win one of five digital copies,

and one signed print copy of Northtown Angelus.

Welcome to Day 3 of the WordCrafter Northtown Angelus Book Blog Tour here in Patty’s Worlds. Today we will be meeting Robert White, author of Northtown Angelus: Book 3 in the Raimi Jarvi Investigates series, as he shares a more personal side of himself.

Meet Author Robert White

I’m a 74-year-old retiree from college teaching since 2015, residing in Ashtabula, Ohio, where I was born and raised, fled from, returned, and am resigned to the fact that this will be my boot hill. (I did get to China once for two weeks—a glorious experience.)

My wife of fifty-four years is the most special person in my life, always has been. We were married when I was 20, poor as a shithouse mouse, and she was still a teen, albeit only seven months younger. We were college students; she was pregnant with my son (whose downstairs watching television as I type). I have a daughter in Austen, Texas with two grandchildren I’ve rarely seen, although we chat frequently via Skype and phone. I’m an awkward social lout so I thank my wife for keeping us connected via the devices. My other daughter lives in town here with her husband and daughter so my wife and I have been blessed to enjoy a close relationship with her. Because my daughter’s husband works and she has a full-time job as well as a choreographer and ballet teacher at community center, she’s very busy, my wife gets up early to go over to her house, helps dress our granddaughter, makes breakfast for her, and then picks her up in the afternoons after kindergarten. I’m the lucky grandparent who gets to play dolls and watch cartoons with her.

We’ve had dogs and cats over the years. In recent times, we’ve settled for cats. Right now, my black cat Athena is our only pet. Sid Vicious and Beaubien, brother and sister from a litter of a stray, died a couple years back. I’ve had family members die and felt nothing like the grief I feel for an animal you live with, care for, and love. Any time I hear some moron state “I like dogs but hate cats,” I feel a red mist descend over my eyes. Cruelty to an animal ought to merit the death penalty. Harsh, I know, but that’s me.

As far as what keeps me going, nothing “keeps” me going. I understand the purport of the question and am not being facetious. But many years ago, long before I retired, I realized I wasn’t going to die young. That pleases me every time I think of it. At this great age, a number my six-year-old granddaughter—who’s been reading since she was four—doesn’t fully comprehend juxtaposition. How could she? I don’t run full-bore into my days like some people my age who brag and post endlessly on their social platforms. I tiptoe gently day by day, always situationally aware of how fragile life is and how much luck one needs to stay upright in the world. The Grim Reaper is never far away; if you listen, you can hear his scythe swishing through the air. Yesterday I discovered my best friend Paul from Youngstown (fifty miles south of here) died “after a short illness.” I hadn’t seen or spoken to him in twenty years. But the way life goes with aging—and why does that clock seem to speed up no matter what the day brings?—I counted on him being around the same way I assumed I’ll be around. I guess nature blunts self-awareness in aging as well as monkeying with our physical bodies. I don’t think I’m different in “believing” that, although we all die, there’s still one exception to that rule.

As far as my work goes, I’d define writing as a delightful hobby. For my literary heroes of the past (Camus, Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Faulkner), writing was work. They were cursed by their gifts. I, on the other hand, am a happy dilettante in the game of writing. As Thomas Mann said once, and I’m sure I’m misquoting, “Anyone can pluck a leaf from the laurel tee of art without paying for it with his life.” When my genre writing (crime, horror, sci-fi—on rare occasions, mainstream) goes well, it’s exhilarating. I don’t mind the negative criticisms on Amazon or Goodreads. In fact, I’m always a little surprised by some reviewers who praise my novels or stories lavishly. I suppose that when I first began writing in the nineties as a result of being able to pinch off a few free hours here and there from the marathon descents into the essay-grading abyss (I taught English composition mainly), I was bothered by the rancor of some reviewers and readers as easily as I basked in the sunshine of positive reviews, deserved or not. It’s all evened out nowadays, and I rarely do more than smirk at some one-star review by an unsatisfied customer. (Perhaps, if I’m honest, I’ll revel a tad too long in a positive review.)

My favorite film is the 1982 noir classic Body Heat with William Hurt and Kathleen Turner. If I stretch my neck a bit, I can see the movie poster behind me. I would guestimate I’ve watched it twenty-five times by now, and as Beetlejuice’s Michael Keaton’s character said of rewatching The Exorcist, “It just gets better every time!” I don’t know what it is. Clearly, the film is dated, and I’ve watched it so often, I can detect the minute flaws in the film while my neocortex is reciting the dialogue along with Hurt’s Ned Racine and his treacherous paramour played by Turner. There’s something about the good-natured, hapless Ned that strongly appeals to my sense of justice. He deserved everything that happened to him; after all, he’s a murderer who gets played by Matty Walker owing to his love/lust for her. Solving the puzzle of what put him in prison at the end is as fitting as the final shot of Turner on an exotic beach beside a new lover (?), who translates his comment about the “heat” of the day. Like the “perfect murder” that failed for Ned, she’s caught in that ambivalent moment of reflection that makes the viewer wonder whether she did really love him despite the cunning subterfuge and her meticulous planning to end up rich in a warm place. Being trapped by our darker emotions is, for me, the quintessence of great noir.

Of books, I speak with my own kind of ambivalence. Let me name the runners-up first: there’s Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, a novel I used to read annually around Christmas break to recharge my batteries worn down my teaching, mindless repletion, stupid committee work and meetings, and the pressures of writing for tenure. Followed by Camus’ The Stranger and Dostoevsky’s The Possessed to round out my short list. (Passing up Crime and Punishment, which I’ve read five or six times, isn’t easy.) Let me throw in a sentimental favorite: Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! only because I stayed up through the night to finish it.

I say “ambivalence” because I’ve neglected serious reading for a decade. Let me qualify that some more. I do read great literature; it just happens to be in the genre I favor most: crime fiction. I finished re-reading Martin Cruz Smith’s Havana Bay, an Arkady Renko novel. It must be acknowledged as my favorite novel even though I’ve re-read it fewer times than a few of his other Renko novels. Obviously, after a third or fourth reading, there’s nothing in the plot that will surprise; everything is known. That’s when you (the reader) can filter out the gold: his style. There isn’t a page that doesn’t yield something wonderful, even magnificent, in style that you can’t savor if you appreciate how words are put together to form sentences and sentences to form those concepts that burst in the mind like a miniature fireworks display. How this writer came to be what he is from those first few mediocre novels is nothing short of miraculous. I hope he lives to be 115 years old and never stops writing. I was saddened by the recent revelation he has Parkinson’s. He is a gift to the world—that part of it that cares about beauty in language.

I would also mention a couple others in the mystery/crime genre that I read and re-read constantly for the embellishments of style. Namely, Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter novels. (His Black Sunday is a brilliant forerunner to these.) David Lindsey, especially his psychothriller Mercy. He, too, has that rare gift of a compelling style that goes beyond suspense and the other paraphernalia of writing good mysteries. When I frequent the libraries in my small town and county, I deplore the shelves packed with popular writers. Some of these “bestsellers” have ground out twenty-five to fifty books, more than a couple do two a year. Like the boys’ adventure novels of Clive Cussler (I never read one), they’ll have a cannon that will require whole libraries stuffed with their hardbacks. Their admirers can pack them with excelsior when they die and pace them in the windows to be admired by passersby and fans. I predict teams of ghostwriters have already been assigned to some of the elderly ones. Courtesy forbids me to name names—that and hypocrisy. My measly production of novels and short-story collections doesn’t compete with their vast output, but had I had the luxury of writing much earlier in life, who knows?

Of my strengths and weaknesses in writing, some disgruntled Amazon reviewer might have said it best about a novel he didn’t care for: “too much pros[e] [sic].” One of my favorite people in indie publishing is Chris Black, general editor of Fahrenheit Press in the U.K. I was so fortunate to be picked up by him. More than anyone, he helped guide my writing toward a leaner prose style. I have a long way to go. He saw something in my fiction that a literary agent didn’t. She told me to cut down on the “violence” in my fiction and gave as the reason that most of the acquisition editors and publishers in the Big Five (or Six) houses in New York City were women educated at private schools and had an in-built bias against the kind of writing and characters I did. She never looked at the manuscript of When You Run with Wolves when I sent it to her. Chris picked it up for his initial press and later republished it when he became the managing editor at Fahrenheit. It’s had its share of readers via Amazon and many good and bad reviews there, to be sure. “Readers either love you or hate you,” he said to me after one of the Raimo Jarvi novels.

I need to learn to shut off the valve sooner; fewer words is best. Too much and you insult the reader’s intelligence rather than help him or her find the way to the right image or “clue” desired. My strength in writing is hard for me to say, not that there are dozens of options to choose from. I don’t think there’s any one aspect of writing fiction I do better than peers in the indie writing world. A crime-fiction blogger praised a recent novel featuring a female FBI agent I published a couple years back. He wrote that what grabbed him most was my female protagonist’s “journey” in chasing the bad guys and girls down both “thrilling and deeply personal.” I’d loved to know what I did to make that happen.

For this question regarding my favorite quotation, I needn’t turn my head because it’s right in front of me tacked to the wall. I can barely recognize my own handwriting now; it’s so old. It’s from Flaubert: “Be regular and ordinary in your life like a bourgeoisie so that you may be violent and original in your art.”

I still hope that, someday before the Reaper’s scythe swings too close, I can fulfill that glorious promise in my own writing life. That’s my dream for the future, by the way, but it’ll take second place to the important things and people in my life. Frankly, I worry about the direction this country is taking and why we have the leaders we do. It feels every day that Rome is falling and we’re witnessing it in real time.

My thanks to you and to your readers for the forbearance that allowed me to wax at length on my life, peeves, and problems in my chosen hobby.

About the Author

Robert White's author picture. He has white hair and a beard and is wearing a white shirt.

Robert T. White writes from Northeastern Ohio. He has published several crime, noir, hardboiled novels and genre stories in various magazines and anthologies. He’s been nominated for a Derringer. “Inside Man,” a crime story, was selected for Best American Mystery Stories 2019. His second hardboiled p.i. series (after the Thomas Haftmann mysteries begun in 2011 with Haftmann’s Rules) features Raimo Jarvi in Northtown Eclipse (Fahrenheit Press, 2018) and Northtown Blitz (2020). British website Murder, Mayhem & More cited When You Run with Wolves (rpt. 2018) as a finalist for Top Ten Crime Books of 2018 and Perfect Killer in 2019. “If I Let You Get Me” was selected for the Bouchercon 2019 anthology and The Russian Heist (Moonshine Cove, 2019), another crime thriller, was selected by Thriller Magazine as winner of its Best Novel category. “Out of Breath” and Other Stories is a mixed collection of mainstream and noir fiction (Red Giant Press, 2013).

About Northtown Angelus

Book cover for Northtown Angelus by Robert White, Volume Three: Raimo Jarvi Investigates. The cover depicts a dark haired man in a heavy jacket facing a building. The background is a small harbor.

Johnny Dillon took his life. His wife Cora wants to know why. The Northtown cops don’t care; they closed the case as a suicide. The M.E. hasn’t got any answers for the discrepancies Ray Jarvi discovered in the autopsy report and from what Johnny’s wife told him about the days leading up to his decision to take his life.

This is the beginning of an investigation for private investigator Ray Jarvi, who follows a twisting path of corruption and vice in his rust-belt town on the shores of Lake Erie to help her find some resolution to the worst day in her life. Like a medieval play between warring devils and angels battling for a soul, he must deal with a variety of Northtowners who play one part or the other on his journey to find those answers. Getting past one obstacle only leads to another—and another. Before long, Jarvi does not know whom to trust. He realizes nothing in his town is what it appears to be and that there are some dangerous people who like it that way.

WordCrafter Book Blog Tour Banner featuring the cover of Northtown Angelus by Robert White against a crime scene with yellow police tape.

That wraps up today’s stop on the WordCrafter Northtown Angelus Book Blog Tour. Many thanks to Robert for visiting with us today. Join us tomorrow when we wrap up the tour with a double stop with a lovely guest post from the author on Undawnted and a review of the book by Kaye Lynne Booth on Writing to be Read. If you missed a stop, I’ve posted the tour schedule below. Don’t forget to leave a comment at each stop for more chances in the giveaway. We hope to see you tomorrow.

Tour Schedule

Day 1: Writing to be Read – Interview

Day 2: Roberta Writes/Robbie’s Inspiration – Guest Post

Day 3: Patty’s Worlds – Interview/Guest Post

Day 4: Undawnted – Guest Post/ Writing to be Read – Book review

8 Comments

  1. robbiesinspiration Reply
    March 13, 2024

    Hi Patty, thank you for hosting Robb today. Robb, this is a great post. I enjoyed learning so much about you. I also see red when people abuse animals.

    1. Hi, Robbie.
      I’m grateful for your visit and comment. Thus far you’re the only one.
      Have a super day. I loved Robert’s Essay here. He used the questionnaire I sent and did it in this style. So great.
      Yes, when people abuse animals I start thinking up ways to rid the Earth of them.

      1. Robbie Cheadle Reply
        March 14, 2024

        Me too, I hate any kind of abuse

        1. I think people who abuse animals, children, elderly or anyone who cannot defend themselves should be beheaded.

  2. Very much appreciate the kind words from both of you.

    1. Kind comments deserved.
      🙂

  3. Patty,
    Thank you for allowing me to showcase my humble wares on your site today. All best to you and your viewers.
    Robb

    1. Hi Rob. It is I who should thank you. That was a magnificent essay. Thanks for doing it.
      Your work sounds wonderful and I love that sort of thing.
      It’s in my Wish list.

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