Saturday, October 3, 2015


In a brief break from the wonders of grad school, I bring you an interview with my own mentor, Paul Bishop, retired LAPD detective and hard-working author.
I met Paul a few years ago when some mutual friends invited me to join the writing group he runs once a month. While he’s as tough as his portrait shows, he’s got a generous heart. Through Paul’s mentorship and the encouragement of the writing group, I discovered my best voice as a writer, and gained the courage to present my novel, The True Bride and the Shoemaker to the public.
So, without further ado, here’s the chance to get to know Paul Bishop and his latest novel, Lie Catchers.
When did you decide to become a writer?
When I was in elementary school, instead of just using each of my homework vocabulary words in a separate, unconnected sentence, I would put all of them into  a complete story – much to the delight of my teachers and the ridicule of my less creative peers.
Then, somewhere in my late teens, I remember reading a novel and thinking I could write something better. I sat down, rolled a sheet of paper into my typewriter and then sat staring at the blank page. I quickly realized writing might not be as easy as I’d thought. However, I stuck with it and started writing all kinds of derivative crap as I slowly learned my craft.
I became a pro in my mid-twenties when I actually started getting paid for writing freelance magazine articles. I then sold a couple of short stories to one of the last of the pulps (Mike Shayne’s Mystery Magazine), and, a year later, my first novel.
You spend a lot of time mentoring novice writers. What traits and/or skills do you find helps novice writers grow the most?
As you know, in our writers group, we spend a lot of time reading each other’s work aloud. When somebody else reads your work aloud all of the flaws you didn’t hear in your head when you read it yourself become cringingly obvious.
I think it is important for a mentor not to try and turn out clones of his own writing style or genre. As a result, a mentor has to have a wide knowledge of genres outside his own in order to understand what a novice is trying to achieve.
It is also necessary to understand every novice is at a different stage in their development as a writer. Some are clearly a hair’s breadth away from publication and need just a polish and some confidence to move forward. Others can be so new, they don’t even know what they are doing wrong. It’s easy to mentor the former, but the latter are the ones who need the most guidance, patience, and encouragement. There is a homily about the hardest person to love is the one who needs your love the most. The same can be said of being a mentor…the most difficult writer to work with is the one who needs your help the most. The question is, how will they respond to your help?

ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER: Laura Palmer has spent many years traveling fictional worlds and building tales of grand, epic adventures. When she was in the midst of a grand battle between two ogres and a stegosaurus, she stumbled upon the world of Pippington. Dreams of wizard duels and clashing armies gave way to motorcars bumping down old city lanes and fairy godmothers disguised as high-society gossips. Here, she found a new literary home.
In between exploring the hidden lives and magic of Pippington, she lives among the mountains of Utah and attends graduate school at Brigham Young University. She developed her imagination and adventure skills through growing up in Girl Scouts, working for ten years at resident summer camps, teaching high school English, attending and working at the University of California Santa Barbara, and reading great books of fantasy and magic. The True Bride and the Shoemaker is just the beginning of many tales to come.


Thursday, October 1, 2015


I get captured by *C.O.B.R.A.S. agent David Foster and interrogated in his villain's lair located in a hollowed out volcano down under...
"Do you expect me to die, Foster?"

"No, Mr. Bishop, I expect you to talk..."

*C.O.B.R.A.S. ~ Coalition Of Bloggers wRiting About Spies...
Recently, I had a chance to throw a few tough questions at my friend and mentor, Paul Bishop, about his latest novel, Lie Catchers, which has just been released by Pro Se Productions. From my hollowed out volcano, I grilled him on the story, and his writing career.
David Foster: Firstly, Paul, welcome to P2K, and congratulations on the publication of Lie Catchers. It’s a sensational story, and readers are in for a real treat. Before we talk about your book, I thought we should begin with your influences. Who are the authors that inspired you to become a novelist?
Paul Bishop: Dick Francis taught me about plot and pace. At one point early in my writing career, I tore all the pages out of a Dick Francis paperback, laid them out on the floor of my office, and painstakingly charted the development and resolution of his plot.
Robert Parker showed me a lot about character and dialogue. He taught me to strip down my writing to the skeleton and then to add back on just what is needed.
However, when I joined the LAPD in 1977, Joseph Wambaugh was my writing idol. He was and continues to be the gold standard against which all other police writers are judged. Wambaugh’s early novels, including The New Centurions, The Onion Field, and The Blue Knight, influenced both my writing and my police career. Wambaugh is a great storyteller. He also tells stories in a complex, layered, provoking manner which elevates his prose into the stratosphere of literature. Wambaugh knows cops at a primal level. He also knows how to capture them on the page in all their flawed glory. I was already on track from an early age to pursue both of my chosen professions, LAPD detective and writer, but Wambaugh’s books were the light in the window guiding me home.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Recently, I had a blast appearing on an episode of Crime Fiction FM, one of the best fiction podcasts on the web...You can listen to the episode from the link in the sidebar or CLICK HERE to listen on the Crime Fiction FM website...
Author and former LAPD Top Cop Paul Bishop joins us in this episode of CrimeFiction.FM to discuss his new book, LIE CATCHERS.
Paul shares the story behind the two lead characters in LIE CATCHERS, Robbery-Homicide detective“Calamity” Jane Randall and Detective Ray Pagan.  One of his goals with this duo was to avoid the cliches that are so easy to slip into with two strong characters in a story.
Police procedural novels need a hook, and Paul has found an interesting one with this series, taking readers into an area of police work that is rarely explored.
Interrogation plays a significant role in this book. Paul has a deep history as an interrogator for the Los Angeles Police Department, and even now conducts interrogation seminars for law enforcement, military, and arson investigators.
Paul shares some thoughts on his 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, and the different ways he and his team used interrogation as a tool to convict criminals.
Paul and Mel Odom launched the FIGHT CARD series a few years ago, with a desire to bring back a form of writing they felt had disappeared from popular fiction.  The series currently stands at 45 novels and continues to grow.


ABOUT HOST STEPHEN R. CAMPBELL: Born and raised in Ohio, Stephen decided  after two blizzards in a single winter decided he'd had enough and moved to Florida to pursue his dream of becoming Travis McGee. While failing miserably at living the life of a boat bum doing favors for friends, he did manage to graduate from the University of South Florida and stumble into the software business, where he spent several years as an entrepreneur. Along with the CRIME FICTION FM podcast, he is also the host of the AUTHOR BIZ podcast. His novelette, GONE TOMORROW, introduces slueths Jack and Jessica Stillwell with a full novel soon to follow.


I have always enjoyed the company of people who are funny, intelligent, and a bit perverted. My favorite whack-job writer, Nikki Nelson-Hicks, is a rock star in all three of those demographics. Described as the unholy lovechild of Flannery O'Connor and H.P. Lovecraft, she claims be burdened with the reputation as a damn good shag – although you would have to ask her husband, Brain Hicks, for verification.
Sherlockian chronicler (Sherlock Holmes and the Shrieking Pits), creator of the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective series, and a distracted writer with an attention deficit muse, Nikki is an acerbic, sarcastic, hair-exploding, dart throwing contrarian – all of which shines through in the maniacal humor and power of her writing. In her day job as a cubical goddess, she plays with plastic dinosaurs on her desk while thwarting customer service terrorists. She is the mother to Girl and Boy, both of whom seem to have inherited her love for the bizarre and stinging one-liners.
I’m not sure how serious she is about her recently announced scheme to create a Writers I’d Like To F@ck Calendar, but I do know she’s been overwhelmed with authors volunteering to pose, and inundated with photos of man-bits since announcing the venture. She can be stalked on TWITTER or FACEBOOK – where she constantly creates chaos – or you can get more insights into her unfolding neurosis on her BLOG.
With Nikki a little overexcited to be in handcuffs and kicking back in the interrogation room, it’s time to cue the bright lights, cue the sound effects of a sap hitting flesh – and action!
When did you first discover Sherlock Holmes and the legacy of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos? How have those inspirations influenced your writing?
I read my first Sherlock Holmes story for a high school book report. I picked it because I thought the Hound of the Baskervilles was a ghost story. I was very disappointed there wasn’t a killer ghost dog wandering the Moors. Hell, there wasn’t much Sherlock Holmes in it, really. I don’t think I even finished reading the stupid thing. When my turn came to give my oral report, I did a quick shuffle dance and faked it. I learned very early on if you make people laugh, they don’t listen too deeply to what you are saying. I earned a lot of A’s in high school using this tactic.
It wasn’t until the ‘80s when I discovered Jeremy Brett’s, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, that I truly became infatuated with the character. How can you not love Brett’s Holmes? He’s just so cool and badass. He doesn’t need a gun; he cuts people down with just an arch of an eyebrow. There was something about his portrayal of Holmes that appealed to me.
I later learned Brett suffered from bipolar disorder. He used his experience with the disease and blended that pathos into his characterization of Holmes, to examine his highs and lows. Something about that rang so very true to me. I’m a depressive and I understand how hard it is some days just to keep the Smiling Mask on straight. For me, his Holmes typified the struggle of the Creative mind to keep churning in a world that is so determined to make one mundane. I think Sherlock Holmes would agree even if my wording is a touch romantic.
Why do I love Sherlock Holmes? To put it in plainer words, I love Sherlock Holmes because he is an eternal nine year old, full of curiosity and wonder, looking for adventure and are frustrated people don’t see all the fascinating things all around us. It appeals to my own eternal nine year old, that nut brown little girl who spent her summers playing in creeks, wearing bed sheets for a cape, climbing trees, investigating abandoned graveyards and stealing horses – Actually, it was only one horse. My mother came back from a beer run to find a horse tied up in the garage. After informing me that, “Goddammit, Nikki, they hang horse thieves!” I took it back to the field I found it in I work hard to keep that girl alive.
As for Lovecraft, well, that goes back to my years of playing Call of Cthulhu with my RPG friends. That is where I was introduced to the stories of Lovecraft. To be frank, I’m not so much a fan of his stories (ugh, the writing is so old fashioned and…ugh…long winded) as I am of the ideas behind his stories. Lovecraft blended the philosophies of Existentialism, Nihilism and Absurdism into a big, gooey ball of tentacular madness. It’s horror for the thinking nerd.
How have those two very different styles influenced me as a writer? Sherlock: Plotting, keeping track of the knots in the rope so the story makes sense in the end. Lovecraft: The rope is stretched across a yawning void that wants nothing more than to suck you inside.

What pushed you to go beyond being a cubical goddess and into the unreliable world of writing?
I’ve always wanted to be a Writer (capital W intended). Unfortunately, I labored under the idea being a Writer was some kind of magical calling. I believed I needed to complete a series of tasks, educational and spiritual, in order to appease the Literary Gods and get granted the title of Writer.
Such. Bullshit.
I wasted so much goddamn time. I have a 30 year list of shit jobs where I’ve sat in small back rooms, watching the clock. Jobs where being called a bitch was a normal thing. Jobs where the boss’ cokehead son would regularly trash the office. Jobs where I had to use the toilet at the McDonald’s down the street. Jobs where coming back after lunch and finding my boss passed out on my desk was a normal Friday. Jobs where I had coworkers I only knew by tag names: The Doctor (not the Timelord – this one sold drugs out of the warehouse), Big Bird, and Toad. I have spent the majority of my life in dead end, mind raping, mana sucking jobs waiting for the Time to be Right – Except once when I was the assistant to the Governor’s legal counsel. In that job, I got to research murders, flip my dainty fingers through death penalty execution files and deal with stupid, stupid criminals. It. Was. Awesome. What is better than having a boss say, “Hey, Nik. Pull out the King’s Lane Murder file, read it and tell me what you think.” HEAVEN. It only lasted 6 weeks but...HEAVEN. So much fodder. So much tragedy.
Then, I got this gig. It’s just like the other gigs. I sit in a beige cube farm where the hierarchy is determined by the height of your stall wall. But this time I came in with a different mindset. “Okay, girl, here’s the deal. You’re 40 years old now and you’ve landed yourself into another stupid shit job. So, here’s the fucking deal: you can sit there, whining and bitching and falling deeper into the what if death spiral OR you can got off your ever flattening bony ass and get some fucking work done!
My inner voice sounds like a cleaned up, female, R. Lee Ermey.
And that’s what I’ve done. I’ve had this incredibly stupid job for 10 years. Seriously, I don’t know what the fuck I’m supposed to be doing here. I could be replaced with a wire basket. Yet, in that time, I’ve written novels, short stories and started the Jake Istenhegyi series.
In my spare time I like to torture my coworkers by telling them their Fitbit bands are actually sending data to the Reptilian Alien Overlords who have bases on the moon so they know who will be fit to eat first when they reclaim the Earth. It amuses me.
Beyond Holmes and Lovecraft, who are your other influences and what do you draw from them?
So many but here are a few in a nutshell…
Flannery O’Connor: When I first read, A Good Man is Hard to Find, I threw the book across the room. I felt dirty and wanted to scrub my skin with a pumice stone. Then I went back and read it with a writer’s eye. She was able to convey all of that without using any words above a 6th grade level. She wrote about horrible things with a very simple touch. I liked that. It shows you can do so much damage with very little things.
Terry Pratchett: His cutting wit. His Discworld series are beautiful pieces of biting satire on politics, religion and social mores. My favorite book is Good Omens, a lovely book he wrote with Neil Gaiman about the Apocalypse and how the world is saved by the most unlikely hero. Broke my heart when Pratchett died earlier this year. I respect his decision to end his life but, still…Goddamnit.
Stephen King, but only his older stuff, nothing written after he blew his mind out with cocaine. The Stand, The Shining, Salem’s Lot. Wonderful stuff. I think Salem’s Lot is an excellent example of setting as character. Absolutely beautiful.
Hunter S. Thompson: When I read his stuff, my heart bleeds for the poor fuck who had to edit it. His writing is so stream of consciousness, just a mainlining of ink to the page. Some of it is absolute drivel, but I still love the fire in his words. I only discovered him a year before he committed suicide. Such a waste.
David Foster Wallace: I admit, I can’t read his novels – too much navel gazing MFA writing for my taste. I’m simply not smart enough to enjoy those types of stories. What I love are his magazine articles, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, A Ticket to the Fair. Razor sharp wit and such an in depth eye for detail. Brilliant son of a bitch. He also committed suicide. Not that I’m sensing a pattern…
Neil Gaiman for his use of myth and twisting old ideas into fresh stories. Even if he broke my heart when he made fun of my t-shirt. For the full story CLICK HERE … For the follow up story CLICK HERE
Harlan Ellison, but only when I want to get really, really angry for no damn good reason.
Right now some of my favorite new authors are Jessica McHugh, Max Booth III, and Todd Keisling. So fresh, young and….so damn young. Seriously, I am tempted to break their fingers.
What were the challenges involved in writing Sherlock Holmes and the Shrieking Pits? Specifically, how did you try to stay true to the Holmes canon and what different aspects did you bring to your tale?
I have to give credit to my editor, Dave Brzeski, for keeping me on target. He is British, cantankerous and knows the canon. He gave this very modern, very profane, very American Yank many, many kicks to the arse whenever I strayed from the path.
It’s not easy writing something that is based on a beloved literary icon. You run the risk of cartoonish parody and losing several body parts to bloody thirsty fans. And Holmes has thousands of them! I went to a Sherlock Holmes convention and was amazed at the number of academics there who would go on and on about Holmes to the point I wanted to raise my hand and ask, “Ya’ll know he isn’t real, right?” but I was afraid they’d start pointing and screeching at me like Donald Sutherland in the end of Body Snatchers. As a result, you have to write it with a light touch. Not too mawkish so it is boring to modern readers and not too off track to seem blasphemous.
And, of course, writing about a time and place I have never experienced is also a challenge. Thank you, Great Divine Google. Praise be to your infinite database of antique photographs, demographics, and maps – Google even told me a penny-farthing was a type of bicycle after Editor Dave nearly bust a gut laughing at me when I thought it was a coin.
Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective has just made his third appearance (Boo Daddies, Bogs, and a Dead Man's Booty) in a volume which also includes his first two cases (A Chick, A Dick and a Witch Walk Into a Barn / Golems, Goons and Cold Stone Bitches). How did Jake come to jump onto the page for you and what’s with his last name and the excellent alliterative titles?
In 1997, my husband was deployed to Budapest, Hungary as the Detachment Commander for the Marines at the American Embassy and we went with him. The street the school my kids attended was called Istenhegyi Ute. Brian and I thought, “Huh. Wouldn’t that be a great name for a private eye? Jake Istenhegyi, Private Dick.”
It was our joke for years and years and I filed it away for the future. The name, Istenhegyi, is a Magyar word which means “God’s hill” or “God of the hill”. And it is pronounced, ISH-ten-hedge-ee. Simple, really.
In 2013 or so, I was approached by Tommy Hancock to write a story for Poultry Pulp, an anthology where all the stories involved chickens. I said, “Challenge accepted.” And I told my husband, “Hey, I think I’m going to finally put Jake Istenhegyi to the test.”
And, voila! The first Jake story, A Chick, A Dick and A Witch Walked into a Barn was born. However, the anthology never really hatched (Ha!) so Tommy asked if I wanted to make it into a series and I said, “Okay. Sure, what the hell. Could be fun.” I get myself in more trouble with that sort of attitude.
As for the titles, they are a joint effort. The first one was conjured while drinking wine and playing a lively game of poker. My husband and I were talking and hashing over title ideas and the phrase why did the chicken cross the road became our pivotal point. Somewhere, during all the brain storming and the wine flowing, we finally came up with the title, A Chick, A Dick and a Witch Walked Into a Barn.
For the second one, I wanted to keep the joke rolling, so out popped the cards and booze. After much discussion and drinking, we came up with Golems, Goons and Stone Cold Broads but, in the end, I opted for Golems, Goons and Cold Stone Bitches because reasons. *spoilers*
The third one was a real family effort. I already had Boodaddies and Bogs, but I needed the Boom Boom Boom for a good finish. I wanted it to be about pirates or pirate treasure, but was stymied. Brian and I sat down, started hashing out ideas and my daughter, Brenna, popped her head out of her room and shouted, “Hey! What about A Dead Man’s Booty?” Boom! Done!
How did you write your way into the Pro Se Productions pulpverse?
Backward. The way I’ve done most things. In 2004, I was one of the founding members of the Nashville Writers’ Group. Through them, I met Alan Lewis. Through Alan, I met Tommy Hancock. I finally met Tommy in person and, after much vetting, he – thankfully – decided to give me a chance.
You always have a number of schemes spinning around in your head. What would be your dream project?
Once, I was on a panel and we were asked what social obligations we felt our stories owed to readers. The other writer gave a very long, pithy explanation on how he wanted his stories to bridge the gap between mainstream religions and his own faith. He had high lofty aspirations for his stories.
I was flummoxed. What the fuck did people expect from a story about monster zombie chickens? So, when it came time for me to answer, I simply said I had no agenda. I had no philosophical or political aspirations for my stories. I write fun, simple stories meant to distract you while you are sitting on the bus, in the doctor’s waiting room or passing time on the toilet. That’s it. I’m not a messiah. I’m a rodeo clown trying to save your ass from the raging bull of boredom.
I won’t lie. I’d love to write something that would light the world on fire, start revolutions, and create a new form of thought that would shine as a beacon for the rest of humanity’s existence. But I know I don’t have it in me. I’m not that smart. And, frankly, it sounds like a lot of hard fucking work.
However, if a magic glowing eggplant showed up in my refrigerator and granted me one Literary Wish, I know exactly what I’d want. I have a cast of fantastic characters I created a decade ago. I’ve written a few short stories, and people who’ve read the Travis Dare stories tell me they are anxious for more. And, God knows, I’ve got tons of fodder and ideas. I have two banker boxes and a plastic tote box full of journals, files and notes for future ideas for stories.
I can feel the characters, pacing back and forth, getting more and more impatient while I spent time on new characters, like first borns staring at younger siblings wondering why those assholes are getting more ink than they are. I just can’t find the right story for them. I’m stymied. They are a great cast, but without a play. It’s frustrating as hell. That is my dream project, my great wish – If I could find the best story to plant Travis Dare and his crew so they can finally blossom and tell their stories, I’d be on the moon.
What do you look for in a book? What excites you when you read something new?
Show me something old in a new way. Make think. Make me feel. Make the words burn like drops of fire inside my brain. I want to taste them when I read them aloud. I’m an old reader – I know magic when I read it. I can feel if there is soul in the words. Don’t try to lie to a liar. Don’t fucking bore me. No pressure.
Will Jake or Sherlock be back in the Nikkiverse or is something new on the drawing board?
I have a white melamine board next to my desk. It is where I list all the projects I should be working on instead of Facebooking, watching porn, or researching stuff on YouTube. First on the list is Jake #4. The working title is Fish Eyed Men, Fedoras and Steel Toed Pumps. (# 5 is going to be Debutantes, Dybbuks and Something, Something, Something…still working on it). #4 is going to be a short number, 15k, and I’m going to delve more into the mysterious owners of The Odyssey Shop, who they are, what they are, and what the hell are they really doing in the Back Room, Mama Effie’s time in Storyville, and there’s a dame causing trouble. Where there’s trouble, there’s always a dame.
Next is a new Sherlock Holmes story. The working title for that one is Sherlock Holmes and the English Rose. It’s going to have a darker tone than Shrieking Pits. The burning question in that story is, what do you do with a murderer no one wants to believe is guilty? Holmes has blind social mores working against him as he tries to pin down a murderer and free an innocent pawn. It’s going to be very tense and cool, if I play it right.
On the backburner but never far from my thoughts: I’m working on a horror anthology of my own stories called Stone Baby and Other Strange Tales. A Mycroft Holmes story, Murder in the Strangers’ Room. A short Sherlock Holmes story, Not Quite a Murder. And a humour anthology called, It was funnier when I was drunker. I am hoping to publish all those under Third Crow Press, a publishing house I gave to myself as a 50th birthday gift.
Oh! And I will be writing a story for Cryptid Clash. The current working title for that is Mongolian Death Worm versus Mole Men or something like that. Fuck. I dunno. It’s due in 2016. That’s a long time away. I could be dead by then. But, if I’m not dead, it’s going to be a cool story. The premise is an oil refinery out in the Mongolian Desert (just roll with me on this) goes radio silent. Corporate sends out a crew to find out what happened. Insert shenanigans.
As disappointing as it may be, it’s time for Nikki to give me back my handcuffs and return to cubicle land, plastic dinosaur humor, and plotting her way onto the bestseller list. Thx, Nikki for hanging out, and yes, you have to give the handcuffs back – really. Hey, come back! Those things are expensive – especially with the fur covered ratchets…
Remember, Nikki can be stalked on TWITTER or FACEBOOK – where she constantly creates chaos – or you can get more insights into her unfolding neurosis on her BLOG.

Monday, September 28, 2015


To badly paraphrase and twist an observation from W. Somerset Maugham – There are three rules for successful book promotion. Unfortunately, nobody knows what they are… Many of us have figured out what doesn’t work as we search for an approach to successful literary promotion without being so obnoxious as to get people to block us or unsubscribe from our life.
Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot about tribes. It appears to be a new buzzword all the hipsters and cool kids are slipping into conversation so they can sound hip and cool. Back when National Geographic was relevant (before hip and cool), the term most often appeared under pictures of tall indigenous women with bare breasts surrounded by naked smiling children, who would all grow up to become marathon runners. However, if I remember correctly (and it really doesn’t matter to my point if I remember correctly or not, so no nastygrams), it was the rough and nasty British soccer hooligans who first violently hijacked the term tribes as a self-identifying label. 
This new label was meant to show how fearsome and uncivilized they were as they followed their chosen soccer team from venue to venue – or their national team from country to country – as long as beer was nearby. Tribes of soccer hooligans openly went to war with other tribes of soccer hooligans, who all turned on that other English tribe identified by their blue uniforms and silly hats. All of this would have been fine – survival of the fittest and all that – if they hadn’t terrorized and beaten the average ticket buying punter, most of whom were from a large unnamed, unarmed, disorganized, clueless tribe of pudgy, pale, men who just wanted to watch a soccer game and cheer for their team – as long as beer was nearby (so, perhaps, not so different).
Today, however, the term tribes has been co-opted to apply to any like-minded group of individuals with specific interests or goals. I’m not sure if that makes intelligent, funny, slightly perverted people a tribe, but if it does, then I wear the same war paint.
With the idea of maximizing the publicity impact for my latest novel, LIE CATCHERS, I began to think about all of the tribes with which I am associated. There’s a bunch of them, and they all had one thing in common – they didn’t overlap. 
If you were part of  a tribe featured in National Geographic, there wasn’t a lot of wiggle room. You were born into a tribe and it was the tribe you stayed in for life. There was no participating in the rituals of another tribe unless they were roasting you on a spit. Romeo and Juliet cross tribe romances could only lead to bad things – undoubtedly, Shakespeare agreed. Under the current usage of tribes, however, all of us belong to a number of different tribes – family, work, church, etc. The common denominator being your participation in the traditions, practices, and interests of each tribe. 
When I started adding them up, I could see I was a card carrying member of more tribes than I had first imagined – cops (unquestionably a tribe), mystery writers and pulp writers (and never the twain will meet), church affiliates, LA Galaxy and Barcelona soccer fans (non-hooligan-style, but still fanatical), comic book readers (not the DC or Marvel fans whose lips get tired when they read, but the edgy cool stuff from independent publishers), lounge music aficionados, jazz club frequenters (non-hipster version), film noir fanatics, library geeks, used bookstore scavengers, audio book forums, Elvis fans (bless them everyone), boxing fans, left-handed serial killers, and on and on.
Clearly, if none of these tribes overlapped, trying to reach them all with one big publicity effort was destined to fail without reaching any of them. My efforts to get the word out about LIE CATCHERS had to be personalized and specific to each tribe. Even an email list blast – the current golden child of promotion until a new golden child comes along – needed to be tailored to each specific tribe. 
How did I find this out? Trial and error. I sent out the same email newsletter to everyone in my various tribes whose email addresses reside in one big Mail Chimp list. The response was tepid – under 50% opens, under 5% click through on the book link, and let’s not even talk about the percentage of actual books sold as a result of the response.
Once I rethought the process and sent separate, only slightly different, but specifically tailored email blasts to each of my tribes, the response was significantly stronger. Not champagne results, but definitely beer results. Lesson learned – targeting your tribes specifically and separately gets much better results than a one-size-fits-all approach.
Once this epiphany penetrated my Neanderthal brain, I began brainstorming specific ways to further individualizing my promotional approaches to each of my tribes. I knew there were a large number of individuals in each tribe who would be willing to shell out three buck for an e-book written by me just because they like me (yes, there are people who like me, so back off). Some of them might even stump up the fifteen bucks for the trade paperback (mostly relatives who feel obligated). But these things would never happen if I wasn’t able to get them up to speed with news of the publication.
I also realized there was another factor in the publicity equation. I had to tell the members of each tribe specifically what was in it for them to part with the cost of one to three Starbucks visits. This isn’t selfish on their part, it’s simply predictable human behavior – a commodity, I am intimately familiar with when wrapped in the dark cloak of my day job as an interrogator (another tribe – who can’t lie to each other).
So, which tribe does this column specifically target? My writer tribes are going to read this because it pertains to what all writers want to know about – successful publicity. I can also be funny, sarcastic, and irreverent with this tribe because it’s part of our DNA. Members of my writer tribe might read this and then go over to check out LIE CATCHERS on Amazon (because most of us will jump at any excuse to procrastinate – it’s part of what puts us in the writer tribe). They might pick up a copy (hint…hint) and maybe even leave a review after reading (another hint…hint). All writers know what they appreciate – book sales and positive reviews – and they understand karma like no other tribe (except for maybe my cop peeps). 
Specifically targeting your promotional efforts to your individual tribes may not result in driving your book onto the bestseller lists, but it will move you further toward those sirens of publishing than treating all your tribes the same. We are, after all, in the age of everyone being told they are a unique snowflake. Be sure you don’t address those unique snowflakes as dirty snow banks with yellow stains.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Novelist, screenwriter, and television personality, Paul Bishop spent 35 years with the Los Angeles Police Department where he was twice honored as Detective of the Year.  He continues to work privately as a deception and interrogation expert. His fifteen novels include five in his LAPD Homicide Detective Fey Croaker series. His latest novel, Lie Catchers, begins a new series featuring top LAPD interrogators Ray Pagan and Calamity Jane Randall.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


In the 1967 British television drama A Magnum for Schneider, the terse talking, totally ruthless secret agent David Callan became an instant touchstone of British spy fiction. A hugely successful television series quickly followed – running from 1967 to 1972 – along with films, five novels and at least forty short stories syndicated in newspapers around the world. 
Created by author James Mitchell, and portrayed with callous world-weariness by actor Edward Woodward, Callan became an iconic anti-Bond – a man doing a blue collar job he often regrets, but keeps doing because he is so very good at it. Executioner, bodyguard, stone killer, Callan is a blunt instrument wielded by Hunter – his eventually despised agency control – and aided by the malodorous thief known only as Lonely.
The short stories – featuring Callan, Lonely, and the regular members of The Section – were originally published in Britain’s Sunday Express and syndicated in newspapers in Singapore and Australia. A Sunday Express advertisement heralding the start of the Callan stories publication clearly describes Callan’s world…
Three years ago a cold, hard, enigmatic character in a rumpled raincoat made his first appearance on Britain’s television screens.
He was a special agent. He could if necessary be a killer.
He had no pretty girls to decorate his activities.
He did not go on his assignments in fast, expensive cars.
He had no gimmicks. But he had authority and credibility.
He quickly shot up in the viewing charts – and stayed there.
His name is Callan.
Now the cynical, lonely Callan, brilliantly acted on television by Edward Woodward, is to appear in a new medium. 
His creator, author James Mitchell, has written a series of Callan adventures for the Sunday Express.
Like the Callan stories which have gripped television viewers, they are packed with action and suspense – and have an unexpected twist at the end.
The Sunday Express Callan series is a must for all Callan’s TV viewers.
It is a must for all who enjoy a tensely, tersely told story of suspense and mystery. 
Watch for Callan next week in the Sunday Express.
In 2014, editor Mike Ripley gathered over twenty of James Mitchell’s never before collected short Callan stories – all of them originally appearing in the Sunday Express over forty years earlier. Published as Callan Uncovered, the stories – along with an early treatment for an episode of Callan the television series, the screenplay for an un-filmed episode, and an introduction by Peter Mitchell – were an unexpected prize for Callan fans.
Believing there was still more forgotten Callan stories, editor Mike Ripley and several other dedicated Callan fans continued sifting through microfilm and moldering newsprint. Eventually, they uncovered a total of forty short stories. They were also able to reconstruct James Mitchell’s scripts from two early television episodes (Goodness Burns Too Bright, 1967 and Blackmailers Should Be Discouraged, 1969) for which no known recordings exist.
All of this invariably led to the recent publication of Callan Uncovered 2 chronicling  the beginnings of the Sunday Express’ Callan short stories from 1970. Written while by Mitchell while he was still working on the TV series, the stories avoid being formulaic yet still deliver emotional punches every bit as bleak and brutal as the TV episodes. 
I had a great time with both of these collections and recommend them highly for both long time Callan devotes and new comers alike. British espionage fiction at its most clinical and brutal.