In Point and Shoot: A Charlie Hardie Novel, Duane Swierczynski wraps up a manic action trilogy featuring Charlie Hardie, an unlikely hero.
Where did the Hardie character come from?
I’m a huge fan of action movies—specifically, ‘80s action movies—with lone tough guys facing im-possible odds. And if these tough guys have one “super power”, it is this: they can’t be killed, no matter what you throw at them. So I thought it would be fun to take one of these loners—in the case of Charlie Hardie, an alcoholic house sitter—and throw him into the worst situations possible. He has no specialized training to fall back on; he just has a knack for *not* getting killed.
And his adversaries, the Accident People?
I admit to being a little fascinated by celebrity deaths—especially because they’re often strange, and for some reason, happen in threes. So I thought: What if there was an organization that orchestrated these things? Of course, just a few months after I turned in the first draft of Fun & Games, the first Hardie novel, Randy Quaid appeared on the news talking about Hollywood “star whackers”, leaving me to think: Whoah. Maybe I’m onto something here...
Did your editor ever suggest that certain plot developments were too over the top?
In Point & Shoot, our poor hero is trapped in a low-orbiting satellite. Believe it or not, my editor had an even more outlandish idea for a predicament, one that had me shaking my head in disbelief. I could reveal it here, but who knows. Maybe I’ll use it for a fourth installment.
In what way has your writing of comic books improved your prose fiction?
Comic scripts are basically letters to your artist, so you have to be able to clearly communicate what’s playing on the movie screen inside your head. So I’ve found myself thinking more visually when writing my novels. Plus, some of my protagonists have started wearing spandex, for some weird reason.
What about the influence of your time as a journalist?
I’m proud to be part of a tradition of journalists-turned-novelists—Cain, Dexter, Michael Connelly, Laura Lippman, just to name a few—and having an editor assault a page of your text with a red pen is the best training in the world. Reporting teaches you to keep your eyes and ears open, something that all novelists should do, too. My first job in journalism was fact-checker, which was a little like learning how to become a doctor by performing endless autopsies. That impulse is still in me. I’ll find myself confirming little factual details in a book where the central premise is... well, sort of absurd.