Episode 101: When Good Characters Make Bad Choices – Interview with Steve Hamilton

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there Word Nerds!

I’m so glad you’ve stopped by because today I’ve got a great interview to share with you. In this episode, I talk to thriller author Steve Hamilton about his new book: The Second Life of Nick Mason. This book is a fascinating study on what happens when a fundamentally decent character makes some very bad choices.

In this episode Steve and I discuss:

  • Significant experiences for writers that inform your fiction
  • Building stories around situations versus characters
  • Projecting characters’ arcs through a series

Plus, Steve’s #1 tip for writers.

About the Author

SteveHamiltonSteve Hamilton is the two-time Edgar Award-winning author of the New York Times bestselling Alex McKnight series and two standalone novels. His debut, novel  A Cold Day in Paradise, won both an Edgar and a Shamus Award for Best First Novel, and his standalone novel The Lock Artist won an Edgar for Best Novel of the Year, a CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller, and an Alex Award, given out by the American Library Association to those books that successfully cross over to the Young Adult market. He has either won or been nominated for every other major crime fiction award in America and the UK, and his books are now translated into twenty languages.

His new book The Second Life of Nick Mason (affiliate link) is the first in a new series and it’s out now.

To learn more about Steve Hamilton, visit his website or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

The Second Life of Nick Mason

SecondLifeofNickMasonA career criminal from Chicago’s South Side, Nick Mason got his start stealing cars and quickly graduated to safe cracking and armed robbery. But he left that life behind when he got married and settled down with his wife and their young daughter–until an old friend offered him a job he couldn’t refuse. That fateful night at the harbor landed him in prison with a 25-to-life sentence and little hope of seeing his wife or daughter ever again. When Nick is offered a deal securing his release twenty years early, he takes it without hesitation and without fully realizing the consequences.

Once outside, Nick steps into a glamorous life with a five-million-dollar condo, a new car, ten grand in cash every month, and a beautiful roommate. But while he’s returned to society, he’s still a prisoner bound to the promise he made behind bars: whenever his cell phone rings, day or night, nick must answer it and follow whatever order he is given. It’s the deal he made with Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind serving a double-life term who still runs an empire from his prison cell. Whatever Darius Cole needs him to be–a problem solver, bodyguard, thief, or assassin– Nick Mason must be that man.

Forced to commit increasingly more dangerous crimes and relentlessly hunted by the detective who brought him to justice in the past, Nick finds himself in a secret war between Cole and an elite force of Chicago’s dirty cops. Desperate to go straight and rebuild his life with his daughter and ex-wire, Nick will ultimately have to risk everything–his family, his sanity, and even his life–to finally break free.

The Second Life of Nick Mason is out now and if you’re a fan of thrillers and mystery, I definitely recommend it as a great example of a deeply flawed, yet relatable character. As with many of the books that we recommend on this site, the above are Amazon affiliate links where DIY MFA gets a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

More Resources:

Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules for Good Writing

Check out the original article from Elmore Leonard in the New York Times. The last rule (after #10) is what inspired Steve Hamilton’s writing tip.

Link to Episode 101

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome.



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