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Ace Atkins interview. Photo by Bill Dabney.

Ace Atkins is a New York Times best-selling author and former crime beat reporter. In this episode, Atkins discusses his journey from journalism to fiction writing, emphasizing the importance of real-world experience and good writing skills. He talks about his extensive career, including his role in continuing Robert B. Parker’s iconic Spencer series and his own Quinn Coulson series. The conversation also touches on the changing landscape of journalism and the importance of local reporting. Atkins reveals that his deep Southern roots and personal experiences heavily influence his novels, which are often set in the South.

Atkins introduces his latest novel, “Don’t Let the Devil Ride,” a standalone book set in Memphis, which features a private detective named Porter Hayes and a woman named Addison McKellar whose husband has vanished without a trace.

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Show Notes & Transcript

  • Podcast Introduction: Alan Petersen introduces episode 203 of “Meet the Thriller Author,” featuring guest Ace Atkins, a New York Times best-selling author.
  • Guest Introduction: Ace Atkins, a former crime beat reporter, has written 30 books, including the Quinn Coulson series and novels continuing Robert B. Parker’s Spencer series.
  • Journalism Background: Atkins discusses his transition from a crime beat reporter to a crime novelist, emphasizing the importance of real-world experience and good writing skills.
  • Southern Influence: Atkins shares his deep southern roots and explains why most of his books are set in the South, highlighting the region’s complexity and inspiration.
  • Spencer Series: Atkins talks about being chosen to continue the Spencer series, describing his dedication to maintaining Robert B. Parker’s writing style and the process involved.
  • New Book: “Don’t Let the Devil Ride” is Atkins’ latest novel, inspired by a gospel song and set in Memphis, involving characters Addison McEller and Porter Hayes.
  • Writing Process: Atkins outlines his flexible writing process, which includes outlining and allowing characters to drive the story, emphasizing the importance of commitment.
  • Historical vs. Contemporary: Atkins enjoys writing both contemporary and historical novels, noting the challenges of marketing historical crime fiction.
  • Upcoming Works: Atkins is working on a spy novel for next year and considering continuing the Quinn Coulson series, mentioning his love for spy novels.
  • Advice for Writers: Atkins advises aspiring writers to be passionate about reading and writing, accept criticism, and commit to their craft, while promoting his presence on social media and book tours.
Transcript (Click here for transcript)

Note: This transcript was generated by machine and has been lightly edited by a human. As such, there may be some errors or typos in the text.

[00:00:01.140] – Alan Petersen
Welcome to episode 203 of Meet the Thriller Author, the podcast where we dive into the dark and suspensful world of thriller books, exploring the minds behind some of the most gripping tales on the shelves today. I’m your host, Alan Petersen, and today I’m thrilled to welcome to the podcast, Ace Atkins. Ace is a New York Times best-selling author, a former crime beat reporter from Florida, and an absolute master of the thriller genre. His latest novel, Don’t Let the Devil Ride, published on June 25th, marks his 30th publication. His previous novels include 11 books in the Quinn Coulson series and multiple true crime novels based on infamous crooks and killers. In 2010, he was chosen by Robert B. Parker’s family to continue the iconic Spencer series, adding 10 novels to the franchise. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family. Before we jump into our conversation with Ace, I’d like to remind everyone to please rate and subscribe to meet the Thriller author on your favorite podcast platform. This helps us grow and bring you more engaging content. Also, don’t forget to visit thrillingreads. Com/links to connect with me and join the Thrilling Reads newsletter for the latest updates and exclusive content. Now, without further ado, let’s welcome Ace Atkins to the show.

[00:01:19.730] – Alan Petersen
Hey, everybody. This is Alan with Meet the Thriller author. On the podcast today, I have Ace Atkins. Welcome, Ace.

[00:01:25.710] – Ace Atkins
Hey, thanks, Alan. Great to be here.

[00:01:27.450] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, thanks so much for coming on to to the show, to the podcast and doing this interview. I appreciate it. Looking at your background here, and you started out as a crime beat reporter. Was the master plan to become a fiction writer, or did that just develop as you were working as a reporter?

[00:01:44.300] – Ace Atkins
I think it was certainly part of the master plan. I knew, ultimately, I wanted to be a crime novelist, I knew the books that I wanted to write, but I was lacking two things, which were some really good writing skills and working with some really good editors, and at the same time, having some real-world experience. I was very fortunate to get into the last days of the old journalism business. I was in there in the late 1990s. We were still producing newspapers. There was the The website was an offshoot. But yeah, absolutely. It was a way of getting experience, working with great editors, other writers, to the point where I felt like I could make that job.

[00:02:26.720] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I think, sir, I’ve changed in journalism now. Even I’m reading an article now. Half the article is tweet embeds.

[00:02:34.140] – Ace Atkins
Or written by AI, I guess. Yeah, it’s a strange time. It’s not good for our country for sure. Particularly with the local journalism and knowing what’s happening in your community and really just even having reporters as a watchdog in your local government to make sure the graft isn’t massive. But I think we’re really entering probably a golden age of graft in this country as far as politicians working without any type of oversight.

[00:03:04.640] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, you started seeing the news when they do get caught. It’s been going on for 10, 15 years or something. It’s so cool. In your books, most of your books are set in the South, and I know you live in the South, you live in Mississippi. Is that the region that inspired you? Do you always want to set them there when you started to write these books?

[00:03:22.920] – Ace Atkins
Yeah, definitely. I’m originally from the South. I’m from Alabama. I’ve lived a lot of different places. I’ve worked Florida as a journalist. And growing up, I lived in other cities. But my family is deeply Southern, and I’ve got very deep Southern roots in Alabama and also Mississippi. And so I’ve been back in Mississippi for almost, God knows, 25 years now. And it is the place that I have written about other places, but it is the place that probably draws me most. And I think it’s the complexity of the South. It’s what I always talk about, the good, the bad, the ugly, about Southerners. It’s all those conflicting emotions that I think drives those stories. The last 10 books, 11 books I did with a character named Quinn Paulson, which was a series, was set in North Mississippi. And, of course, the new book, Don’t Let the Double Ride. While I think slightly less Southern is set in Memphis.

[00:04:19.100] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, and that’s something I noticed, too, because you’re pretty close to the Tennessee border, right? Where you’re at?

[00:04:25.190] – Ace Atkins
Yeah. I mean, in fact, the joke is when you look at North Mississippi is that, Memphis is the unofficial capital. So I can be in less than an hour. And that’s not only a place that I love to enjoy to hang out and have a lot of friends up there, but it’s also a place where you go to Target, Costco, things like that. So It’s really our big city, not too far away.

[00:04:48.080] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that’s great. It’s been great for your research. We’ll get into that. We’ll start talking about the De Lent to De Leride, but that’s easier to make the jaunt over for your research, huh?

[00:04:59.900] – Ace Atkins
Absolutely. It was great because I didn’t have to do any research. You lived in a place for almost 25 years. You can just sit down and write, and that’s a good situation to be in.

[00:05:11.790] – Alan Petersen
I wanted to ask you, too, because I thought it was so fascinating. I remember a few years ago, I read your books when you picked up the Spencer for Hire books, the Marbury Parkinson’s Parker’s Estate. I mean, that was so cool. Obviously, I think most fans of this genre love his books. I mean, were you a fan? And how daunting was that? What was the process like? Did you have to audition? How did that work?

[00:05:37.080] – Ace Atkins
Yeah, that was late 2010. I was a huge and continued to be a huge Robert B. Parker fan. I grew up on those books. I was inspired by those books. I thought Parker was just a wonderful writer. I liked the tone. I liked the setting in Boston. I just liked everything about Spencer. So I was asked to contribute back in 2010. It was known that the Parker family wanted to continue on his series. And first up, of course, would be Spencer. And when it was first mentioned, I thought it was going to be Jesse Stone because it was so deeply personal to Bob because Bob essentially was Spencer. But they let me know pretty quickly it was for Spencer. And again, I didn’t have to do a lot of research. I’ve been reading those books forever. And I sat down and I started what I thought would be Bob’s next Spencer book. And I continued on somewhat in the field that he’d been doing for the last books, but really trying to reinvigorate for those early Spencer novels and have a little bit more edge to them as they were in the very beginning. And I wrote 50 pages, and I sent them to Bob’s longtime editor, a wonderful woman named Christine Pepe, and got on with what I was working on.

[00:06:56.470] – Ace Atkins
I was working on my own series. I was working on my own books and didn’t think that much about it. And then at the end of the… We’re on Christmas, I think I got a call from the people at Putnam that I was unanimously selected by not only the editor, but Bob’s longtime agent and his family. And the only thing they couldn’t figure out is they never met me as a writer from Boston. And so they had to break the news that I actually wasn’t from Boston, that I actually lived in Mississippi. And thankfully, that wasn’t a deal breaker. And the Parker family, including Joan Parker, Bob’s wife, was incredibly welcoming and wonderful to me. His best friend was a man named Mel Farman, and Mel became my research partner for a great number of years writing those books. So I wrote 10 of them, and then it was time for me to move on, but it was a terrific experience.

[00:07:45.650] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I was going to say that. Yeah, I have to tip of the hat to you, too, because that’s something when those books first came out and I read a couple of them, and then later on, when I found out about your background, I’m like, Oh, man, I just assumed you were from from Boston for that area. So you did a great job.

[00:08:04.010] – Ace Atkins
I’m a good researcher, and I’m a good journalist. And so I took it very seriously. I’m in a lot of places in Boston now that I haven’t been. And got to meet a lot of friends and people that were really. I took it very seriously. I took the job very seriously and had a great time.

[00:08:25.100] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, I can imagine. That would be such an honor. And so I want to ask you that Well, first of all, congratulations on Don’t Let the Devil Ride that comes out on June 25th, and it’s on pre-order now, but this will come out when it’s out. So just congratulations on that. So can you tell us a little bit… First of all, I want to ask you, that title is so cool. What’s the story What’s the story behind that title? And can you tell us a little bit about the significance about that?

[00:08:49.230] – Ace Atkins
Well, it was funny. It happens in a lot of books is you write a book under a completely different title. And then by the time you’re finished with it, and it goes to the marketing people and sales folks, you get notes, and it goes back and forth. And we went through, I’m not kidding, hundreds of titles for this particular book. And some of them were great and some of them were awful. There’s a line in the book, I don’t think I’m giving it away, but there’s a really horrendous event that happens. One of the characters, not the only character, it’s an ensemble piece, is a guy named Porter Hayes, who’s a legendary private detective in Memphis. He started his company back in 1971. He’s been around. He’s having a conversation with his colleague at this investigation firm after this very grizzly discovery. The colleague mentions the old gospel song, Don’t Let the Devil Ride. What you learn from that is if you let the devil ride, let him in your car, he’s going to want to drive the car. And that’s the nature of the lyrics. And just that moment, it just seemed perfect for the tone of the book and the feel of the book, and especially since it’s a decent amount of it happens in the Black community in Memphis to have a connection to the gospel song.

[00:10:07.300] – Ace Atkins
I thought it was very fitting. And thankfully, the people in marketing and sales, they agreed with me.

[00:10:13.250] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. And it’s a great cover. I love it, too. I absolutely love the cover, the colors.

[00:10:18.570] – Ace Atkins
I said, And we went through quite a few of those as well. It’s interesting when you write a book and when you’re lucky enough to work with a really great publisher, there’s so many details that you just so many other people involved in the process, from graphic designers to copy editors to your own editor to marketing and the great folks in publicity who put people like you and me in touch. It’s a whole system that puts things out. So it’s cool to see it finally come together.

[00:10:48.510] – Alan Petersen
I think that’s something so great about your writing, too. It seems like you really put a lot of emphasis and effort on the characters just from reading it. You can tell that it’s a big the story line. Here we have Addison McEller, and you mentioned Porter Hayes. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What’s the origin of those characters and your process?

[00:11:10.320] – Ace Atkins
Porter Hayes is a character I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. He’s a guy that I’ve been wanting to write about for forever. Actually, I was working on a completely different novel that I’ve been picking up for years, that he was a lead in the story. And then I started working on this book about this woman named Addison McEller, who is completely thrown into a complete upheaval with her life when her husband disappears while on a business trip to London, and she can’t reach him, and she goes down to his office, and she finds out that the office is not even an office where he worked. It’s a completely different company, and all the people that she thought that knew him or shady about where he’s been, and she ends up working with this private eye. So I had him in mind for quite some time, and I knew that this was a perfect vehicle for him to be And then Addison came about really from… There were certain women of means in Memphis that had a member of the country club, kids into private schools, maybe a little private personal business on the side that was more of a vanity project of yoga and Pilates.

[00:12:20.900] – Ace Atkins
And seemingly, her life was going very well, and seemingly, she had a great situation going. And it was interesting to reverse that and not only put somebody like that in the situation, but hopefully look at this novel and see that Addison’s a little bit more than she appears to be when we first meet her. I think when I first was writing the book, she was a little bit one-dimensional as far as her likes or involvement. But as you peel back those layers and you read the novel, you find out she’s a lot different than she appears in the surface.

[00:12:50.700] – Alan Petersen
What is your process then, too? When you get the idea, like you said, you’ve been thinking about it for a while. From the time you start looking at getting the idea and start writing the book, can you tell us a little bit about that process? Do you outline or do you just figure it out as you go along?

[00:13:04.510] – Ace Atkins
I do all the above. I do anything that works. Everything for me tends to be… I’m very jealous of those writers who have their program that they’re working all the time, that they know exactly what their schedule is going to be and how things are going to go, and how they do the outlining, and how they get everything set up. For me, it just… Some days that works for me, and some days it doesn’t. I do outline, but I also can, I guess, for lack of a better term, call an audible, where I just feel like that’s not going to work, and I may completely reverse what I think that I’m going to be doing at that point. For me, I think even in the crime thriller world, where people think it’s very event-driven or a lot of danger and intrigue and that stuff, for me, that is very to the characters. So I spend a lot more time thinking about those characters like Addison and Porter. And there’s a woman who’s an actress, a former actress named Joanna Grayson, who’s part of the story. And years ago, she had worked with Elvis in a movie in the late ’60s, and now she goes through her whole existence, is going to these book signings and fan gatherings of Elvis people down on Elvis Music Boulevard.

[00:14:15.620] – Ace Atkins
And so I spend a lot of time thinking about those people before I write anything. And then, as strange as it sounds or whatever, they tell me what’s going to happen in the story. But to me, they’re not chess pieces. They’re not just people that are around in the action. They really, I think, hopefully, at the very best, form what the story is going to be. Yeah.

[00:14:34.820] – Alan Petersen
Even though these are entertaining crime fiction books and everything, but you’re known for your books, you tackle complex social issues. Are there any particular issues in this? I know there is, but can you tell us a little bit about that, about this one, about that?

[00:14:50.280] – Ace Atkins
Well, I think many of some of my other books probably have been, specifically the books I wrote, the Colson Sears series, Set North Mississippi, really dealt a lot with pretty politics and hypocrisy and racism and things that are just so embedded in the deep south. You really can’t do anything without writing about those things. I think that I touch upon those things and don’t let the devil ride, but I don’t think that those are necessarily forefront. But you can’t write about Memphis without talking about social justice. You can’t talk about the the deep history of civil rights. Those things are touched upon in the novel, but not necessarily the driving narrative that has been in some of the earlier books.

[00:15:42.120] – Alan Petersen
I wanted to ask you, too, because you’ve written on the Quinn Coulson books and the Spencer books, you read a lot of series. This is a standalone, correct? This book is a standalone? Yes.

[00:15:55.480] – Ace Atkins
It’s the first time that I… I mean, not my first standalone, but the first time in about a dozen years that I’m writing a book that’s simply just a novel. I think that there could be some spinoffs of this story, and time will tell how that will happen. But for me, yeah, it was fraying as when you’re writing Spencer, you know Spencer is not going to die in the end. The story is going to continue, and you know what’s going to happen. A little bit know what’s going to happen. But for this, this was fun to create something all new and different, and to do something that I haven’t done for quite some time.

[00:16:34.690] – Alan Petersen
And so now on the writing process, too, because I have an aspiring writer that listens to this podcast as well. So I love to pick your brain on this type of stuff. So you talked a little bit about the outlining and your process here, but I’m just curious about your routine. Do you have set hours? Do you have word count goals?

[00:16:52.010] – Ace Atkins
I think I wouldn’t be truthful if I told you that I was rigorous about those things. I would say when I’m working really well when things are moving ahead and I am deep in production of a book, yes, I tend to get to my office where I am. I tend to get here early. I take a break for lunch. I come back in and write for the second half of the day. But that much being said, there’s also days where, for whatever reason, you get jammed up. And they may be things that have nothing to do with writing. And those are things you have to… You have to sidestep or deal with very quickly, and it can really slow you. But I would say, just for instance, I prefer to leave my office 5:00, 5:30. That’s ideal. So I can get home and spend time with my family and have a normal life. But if it’s a day where I’m deep in production and I have to finish the scene or I have to finish something happening in the book, I’ll stay here till 10:00 at night to get that done. Because it’s very easy, especially the writer, when you’re working for yourself, is to say, I’ll do it later.

[00:17:55.610] – Ace Atkins
I’ll worry about that tomorrow. But when you’ve been doing this as long as I have, which you realize is those days will stack up, and you really have to commit to your work days of getting done what you have promised to get done those days. And it’s hard. You know what I mean? Life happens. I mean, there’s things that can happen. I had some computer problems last week. I had to take my computer in. I’ve got to go find a backup computer. All those things are very inconvenient, but just like every other job, you just have to deal with them.

[00:18:26.580] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, you’re tackling more than one project at a time, right? Because they You published more than a couple of books a year, right? Is that usually your pace?

[00:18:34.430] – Ace Atkins
Yeah. For the last 10 years, or not for the last two years, but previous to that, I was doing two books a year. And that included writing two books a year, but also promoting two books a year. And it was almost really separating yourself because what I was doing for the Parker estate, and no matter what I was doing with that, even though I wrote the novel, I was still doing work for hire. I was doing work for hire for the Parker family, but someone still had to go out and promote the book and talk about it, that thing. But those projects never overlapped. When I wrote a Spencer book, my head was firmly placed in Boston. I was firmly into that voice because when I was working on the book, I’m not writing as me. I’m not writing a story as I would tell the story. I’m writing the story, and this was not something that was imposed upon me. It’s just something that I felt very strongly about doing when I was writing Spencer, is I wanted to write the book as Robert Parker would have written that book, and I wanted the book to sound like Robert B.

[00:19:29.290] – Ace Atkins
Parker. I didn’t want to sound like Ace Sapiens. So that’s another layer of complexity of your writing and making decisions, because I might have done things differently, but I was writing them as Bob would. But yeah, I know that never would do those projects over a long point, being copy-editing with one book and beginning another. But I could never write prose at the same time.

[00:19:48.940] – Alan Petersen
As far as your influences, you mentioned, of course, Parker. Were you a fan of the genre? Growing up, are you reading crime fiction? And who are some of your other authors?

[00:19:57.280] – Ace Atkins
Yeah, absolutely. Sometimes You’ll hear writers who will say, Well, that’s a good place to be in writing thrillers or mysteries or crime books because they sell so much. I get really irk when I hear about writers who get into the genre, I would say, dishonestly. They get into it because they want to make some money. They feel like that anybody can do this. They feel like it’s just an easy sell. And you can spot those people. You can spot those people in the writing that they don’t really love it. They’re doing it for financial reasons, which is something I would tell your listeners certainly is never get into becoming a writer for financial reasons. That’s not the best profession. You do it because you love it. You love it and you’re drawn to it. And behind my shoulder over here, these are every book that John D. Mcdonald published, and certainly, Robert B. Parker, Elmore Leonard, and going back to Hammond and Chandler, and Ross McDonald, and all that stuff. James Lee Burk. I loved it. And so there was never really a question of the book I was going to write. It was more about how it would take what I learned from those masters and how I could make it my own.

[00:21:07.280] – Alan Petersen
And were you able to sell your first manuscript that you put out there?

[00:21:12.630] – Ace Atkins
No.

[00:21:13.310] – Alan Petersen
Yeah. It seems like What do you do with everybody?

[00:21:17.070] – Ace Atkins
I would call, and I really say this, what was my first manuscript? I’d say first manuscript is the first thing I thought was a book. I don’t necessarily know what I’d call it, but I thought it was a book, and it was of the right thickness. It had a title on it. I don’t know really what you call it. But yeah, I sent that. This was back in the ’90s. This is really before editors were doing a lot of email stuff. This was still a very old-fashioned business, and you used to have to go and print the damn… I think now people, anyone who wants to write a book, you can zap it to an editor or whatever and send it to them, and it’s no financial outlay. But when I to send manuscripts out, it cost about 40 bucks a time because I had to give it to the Kinkos and get the damn thing printed out. But there were a few people who liked it. I was able to get an agent. They had a couple of interesting responses and letters back from it. And one of those editors that liked the book but decided not to buy it said, Send me your next one.

[00:22:20.060] – Ace Atkins
And I sent him the next one. And he was the only editor I’ve ever sent the book to, and they bought it right away. It was at St. Martin’s Press back in… I was like 26 They bought it. I thought, That’s it. This is great. It was just a… It was a very… I was still working as a newspaper reporter. I’m very thrilled. But yeah, on the first manuscript that I was sending out over a year For a year’s period of time, I collected dozens of projections, and I kept them all. I don’t know who it was, but I read about a writer one time in a very small studio apartment, and I actually put them up on my above my desk to spur me on. And the best thing I did was I just didn’t sit on that manuscript, but I learned from my mistakes from that manuscript and learned how to do things better. And then I think that, of course, the next book was the first thing I published.

[00:23:18.250] – Alan Petersen
I forgot to ask you this earlier. Any books that you’ve written that were based on some of the crime stuff that you were reporting on as a reporter? Did any of that… Any Any of that make it to one of your novels?

[00:23:31.930] – Ace Atkins
It’s really a weird thing, and I can’t really quite answer this effectively. I’m not really sure why. But I was surrounded by in the ’90s or early 2000s, I was surrounded by real-life crime all the time as a reporter. I went to crime scenes and covered murders and kidnappings and bank robberies. I mean, crime was… Florida is a weird place. When you’re in central Florida, there’s all kinds of weird, bizarre stories that are happening. But I didn’t, in in any way ever contemplate writing a Florida book. And I think there was just such a prevalence of Florida crime writers at that time. They were just all over the place. And I just did not think I had anything new to bring to the table. I think I did. I think in retrospect, if I were talking to my younger self, I’d say, just write about the things that you see every day. But I think part of it was a form of escapism for me to return back to my native deep south and to write about the world that I had left. It was a mental break. But then years later, when I was living in Mississippi, and I was still writing about Mississippi, I ended up deciding to write a book about Tampa and crime and reporters and that thing.

[00:24:42.940] – Ace Atkins
But it was a period piece. It was set in the 1950s, and it involves old cops and detectives of people that I knew as older men, and I wrote about them as younger men, covering that beat of Tampa in the 1950s. So it’s interesting. But yeah, I don’t think… I don’t necessarily can’t say a few things. I wrote a Quinn Colson book. That was the last one that was published, called The Heathens. And it was about a young woman who’s 17, and she and her boyfriend are accused of murdering her mother and go on the run from the law. And that was a story that I had covered. But of course, I changed everything to Mississippi and changed a lot of details, but certainly was a bit of inspiration.

[00:25:25.230] – Alan Petersen
Yes. I saw that series of books that you wrote that were set in the ’30s and the ’50s. Do you prefer to Are you writing contemporary? Do you enjoy writing those historical type thriller crime fiction books?

[00:25:36.330] – Ace Atkins
I really enjoy writing those historical books, and I really get into the research. I wrote a book that, for instance, the last historical book that I wrote, or whatever you would call it, I guess. I think it was part of the issue of reaching an audience with those books. You don’t really know what to call it, because I think most people, when you talk about historicals, you think about people and women in petticoats and men in coats, and that That thing. And I was writing about the 1930s, a near history, or at least what I think is a near history. I was writing about gangsters, and I wrote a book about Machine Gun Kelly, who originally was from Memphis, and his run from the law. And it was a really dark comedy. I really felt it was almost in the spirit of the Coen Brothers or something like that. But it was very difficult to reach a mass audience with those people, with readers. I don’t know if some people just don’t… I think it’s a hard thing to market, it really I found more… I could reach a larger audience for contemporary stories for whatever reason that is.

[00:26:36.200] – Ace Atkins
For what I enjoy writing, yeah, I love writing historicals. And if I had the chance, I would jump right into it. I’m particularly interested in anything in the 20th century.

[00:26:44.450] – Alan Petersen
And what about So what are you working on now? Are you still continuing with the Quinn Coulson book? What’s your next project?

[00:26:52.190] – Ace Atkins
Well, I’m working on a second standalone or whatever you want to call it, novel at the moment. That’ll be out next year for Morrow. And it’s very different from Don’t Let the Devil Ride, which is a contemporary crime book. This is a spy novel. We’re talking about the writers that really inspired me and how I got into it. But I didn’t mention, I was mentioning all the crime writers I liked, but I didn’t mention, really, that the gateway drug for me into becoming obsessed with books were spy novels and how much I loved Ian Fleming and John LeCarré. That really, I think, got really to love books. I’m writing somewhat of a tribute to that world. Then after that, maybe back to Quinn Paulson. I left the last one on the cliffhanger, and I’d like to see how things turned out.

[00:27:39.850] – Alan Petersen
All right. Well, that is a fantastic case. I want to really thank you. One last question. I always ask my guests, advice for aspiring writers that are listening to this?

[00:27:49.350] – Ace Atkins
Something that I hear often, and this might seem very strange, but I’ll hear from people who like to be a writer, and they want to have a book, and they want their picture on the book or whatever, for I don’t know why. But they’re into it, but they don’t love books. And it just seems really odd to me. It just seems like the weirdest thing. And the very first thing, if you want to be a writer, is you have to be not just like reading. You have to be obsessed with it. I mean, this is just a fraction of my book collection here. I’ve been collecting books since I was 13 years old, and I love books. I love spending time in bookstores. I would be doing this… I wouldn’t tell my publisher this, but I would tell you, is I do this for free. I love it. So really reading as much as you can. And then once you make the decision that you want to become a writer, it’s to write all the time. And don’t be afraid of criticism. Also, don’t solicit advice from people that you don’t respect and you don’t want.

[00:28:49.940] – Ace Atkins
Don’t give your manuscript to somebody who’s not qualified to read it. But also take criticism from people who are in the know if you’re part of a writer’s workshop or if you’re an MF program, something like that is really important. So reading and writing nonstop and just having the commitment and drive to do it and to really love it. And I think that’s the most important thing.

[00:29:15.410] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that’s good advice.

[00:29:16.640] – Alan Petersen
And so best place for listeners to find you to be at your website, aceadkins. Com. Is that the best place?

[00:29:23.080] – Ace Atkins
I’m like every damn writer you talk to. Facebook and Instagram and all the line at TikTok. I’m too old for that crap. I’m on Twitter, find me in all those places. But I do converse with fans, and I do happy to… In fact, tonight, I live here in Oxford, Mississippi, and across the way, I’m talking to, interviewing a writer, doing what you did right now to talk to a writer named Henry Wies. And I’ve known Henry for a number of years since he was an MFA student, and he wanted to publish a book. And his drive and determination and working, I think you probably wrote three or four books until he had this one published. And This is his debut book coming out tonight, The Square Books here in Oxford. So I love seeing that when that happens. And also, I love seeing that when it happens with people who are committed to doing it. So that’s the fun for me. But yeah, you can find me on all those social platforms.

[00:30:13.630] – Alan Petersen
Yeah, that’s awesome. And I saw you On your website, you’re doing a book tour. You’re going to bookstores across the country?

[00:30:19.690] – Ace Atkins
I’m going a handful of locations, but everywhere from Memphis to Wichita to Phoenix. So I’ll be on a quick little whirlwind tour, and that’s always fun for me as well.

[00:30:36.130] – Alan Petersen
All right, Ace. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Enjoyed talking to you. Don’t let the devil ride. We’ll be out on June 25th.

[00:30:43.830] – Ace Atkins
Thanks so much, Al. Pleasure.

[00:30:46.000] – Alan Petersen
Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of Meet the Thriller Author. I hope you found our conversation with today’s guest as enlightening and engaging as I did. Before we part ways, I’d like to ask a small favor. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please take a moment to rate and review it on your podcast platform. Your feedback not only supports our show, but also helps other thriller enthusiasts find us. Don’t forget to visit thrillingreads. Com/links to sign up for our Thrilling Reads newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated on all the latest episodes and exclusive content designed just for our listeners. If you’re curious about my own readers, head over to allanpeterson. Com. You’ll find all my books there, along with some behind-the-scenes insights into my writing process. I’ll catch you on the next episode of Meet the Thriller Author, where we’ll continue to explore the intriguing dark alleys of the thriller and mystery genre together. Until then, keep the pages turning.

About the Author
I write thriller and crime fiction novels and host the Meet the Thriller Author podcast where I interview authors of mystery, thriller, and suspense books.

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