Detective fiction is a genre that has captured the imagination of readers for decades. With its thrilling plot twists, intricate mysteries, and fascinating characters, it’s no wonder that this genre has become one of the most popular and enduring in the literary world. Due to that, we’ve decided to interview (again) the author of The Joth Proctor Fixer series, James V. Irving.
James V. Irving is a highly acclaimed detective fiction writer known for crafting captivating stories that leave readers on the edge of their seats. With a unique voice and keen eye for detail, Irving has carved a niche for himself in the world of crime fiction, crafting thrilling and thought-provoking stories. In this interview, we’ll delve into the mind of one of the most exciting writers in the genre, exploring Irving’s inspirations, writing process, and his upcoming book – Friend of the Devil.
FICTION HORIZON: Tell us about the upcoming chapter in Joth Proctor’s life and your new release, “Friend of the Devil.” Are the setting and the themes faithful to the previous installments? What can fans expect?
JAMES: This is the fourth book in the series, and it won’t be the last. The first three take place over the course of most of a single year, and Friend of the Devil picks up where Friend of the Court left off. While these are all standalone books, Joth’s personal and professional challenges have grown as the cast of recurring characters have developed more complex relationships with Joth and each other. In Friend of the Devil, Joth finds himself indebted to gambler Jimmie Flambeau while the chief prosecutor and his closest friend, Heather Burke, tries to take him down. As for me, life has become less complicated as I spend more time writing and less time practicing law.
Shady characters often surround Joth Proctor. How do you approach creating believable and complex villains? Are there any real-life influences?
Yes. Particularly in my younger days, I had the privilege – or perhaps the burden – of representing a collection of colorful characters in odd and unusual contexts. While my characters and their situations are entirely fictional, they draw heavily on these experiences. The fun is making up credible stories from this raw material.
Speaking of real-life influences, you have quite rich professional history both as a lawyer and a P.I. to what extent was Joth Proctor based on you and your own history and experiences?
When I was a private detective, I developed the attitude of embracing rather than resisting the bizarre circumstances that often dropped in my lap. It was the only way to work through my cases. Even then, I often thought that what I was doing would be fodder for fiction someday. To a lesser extent, that’s also true of my early career as a lawyer.
What type of research do you conduct before writing a book? How do you balance the need for accuracy with the need for creative license in your writing?
My books take place in Arlington, Virginia, where I live. That gives me a chance to carefully check out physical locations, so I’m sure of picking scenes that work with the plot. I’m also careful to make sure my plots accurately hew to a real-life law. I’m always conscious of what the legal, ethical, and procedural rules require, even though most of my characters are quick to ignore them.
Can you tell us about a particularly challenging case or experience that you have used as inspiration for a book?
The main complication in the current book deals with the personal and professional leverage a ruthless criminal has gained over two of the books principal characters. I won’t say that’s common in my business, but I have seen it up close, and I know how harrowing it can be to work out of that box.
How do you keep the adventures of Joth fresh for the readers even after three installments?
I think the plots have remained fresh and inventive, but that’s not the hardest part. It’s a lot more challenging to keep the interpersonal relationships developing while not rehashing old ground. I’ve tried to create plots that force the characters to reevaluate each other and to relate to each other in evolving circumstances so that those relationships become deeper and more complex over time, as they do in the real world.
How do you keep your stories grounded in reality and avoid becoming too fantastical?
The law and peoples’ willingness to skirt the law for personal benefit provide a bottomless source of stories. The challenge is to try to find three or four plot lines involving different combinations of characters that fit together and can be tied up somewhat neatly at the end.
Do you have more books planned? What’s next for Joth?
Yes. I’m already at work on Friend in the Bullseye, where the conclusion of Friend of the Devil leads to trouble for Heather. Right now, I understand the problem. I’m just not yet sure how Joth and DP Tran are going to solve it!
Any advice for aspiring mystery writers or private investigators?
Find a way to live it, and pay attention as you do. Write it all down as it happens.
You can check out James Irving’s website for more information about the upcoming book and the past installments in The Joth Proctor Fixer series.