Wednesday, April 17, 2019

More Willie Black

My eighth Willie Black mystery, and 18th novel overall, "Evergreen," comes out in late July. In this one, Willie is asked to take over the maintenance of his late father's grave, in an abandoned cemetery on Richmond's East End. Willie didn't even know where his father was buried, but when he starts digging, so to speak, he finds out that there was a lot more he didn't know about Artie Lee.

I've been doing the Willie Black series for about a decade now. A ninth installment is coming; I'm finishing up the first draft. I find that there is no dearth of settings around Richmond for Willie's adventures and misadventures and hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I've enjoyed writing them. I'm sure that I will occasionally step back and write something non-Willie, like the well-received "Annie's Bones." However, I can't stay away from Willie and his large population of friends, family, enemies and frenemies for very long. It occurred to me early on, as I was writing the short story, "The Thirteenth Floor," that gave birth to Willie Black, that a hard-ridden night cops reporter in the waning days of print newspapers was a gold mine for anyone trying to write noir.

Evergreen Cemetery is on the far east end of Richmond. It is an African-American cemetery that was abandoned after it was built out and is now a ghost land of tombstones overtaken by kudzu and greenbriers, overshadowed by full-grown trees and only recently the focus of a major reclamation project. All in all, not a bad place to set a mystery.