Re: RARA-AVIS: Fortune/First person

From: Dennis Lynds (
Date: 14 May 2005


Voice is everything in fiction. The older I get the more I use my "voice." If you seriously study your favorite books and authors, I think you'll realize it was always the voice that got to you. Of course, by "voice" we mean much more than the words: we mean the attitude, the particular choice of metaphor, the way we look at the world, the personal "tics." That is why Daniel Woodrell is my contemporary favorite writer---that voice of his.

Thanks for reading NIGHT OF THE TOADS, it has always been a favorite. In fact, you might say it is my first "real" Dan Fortune novel.

I chose first person for the Fortune books because a PI is by nature an observer, commentator, and narrator. And I wanted the sense that Danny himself was writing the books, a style I developed much farther in the last seven books. (If you check all my Slot-Machine stories when Crippen publishes them, I think you'll find that the last Slot's are also first person.)

I also used first person for my Paul Shaw novels. It's natural for a PI voice.

For Kane Jackson I wanted more distance, more detachment, more noirish so used close third. It seemed right for a more cynical, more professional man who essentially does the job, and leaves an entirely different personal life totally divorced from his "work."


----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard Moore" <> To: <> Sent: Saturday, May 14, 2005 5:33 PM Subject: RARA-AVIS: Fortune/First person

> One of the best things about the programmed aspects of this list is
> that it prompts people to try authors new to them or return to old
> favorites. I've admired and enjoyed Dennis Lynds' fiction under its
> various guises for more than forty years. But time has passed since
> my last foray and having Dennis as a guest here prompted me to pick
> up a Dan Fortune novel that I had missed before: NIGHT OF THE
> TOADS. What a nice read!! The older I get the more importance I
> place on "voice." It provides comfort to the reader, especially in a
> series. It is what builds a following. Favorite series become like
> comfort food--something that starts with an advantage of familiarity
> without limiting too much what may follow.
> Here's a question for Dennis: how did you decide on First Person for
> the Dan Fortune stories? Slot-Machine Kelly was in third person as
> were the Mike Shayne novelettes ghosted at the same time under the
> Brett Halliday name. Given that much you were writing was in the
> third person, what made you turn to first person?
> My opinion is that first person works very well for Dan Fortune. The
> series fits into the PI tradition very comfortably and I don't think
> it would have been the same in third person.
> I've known people who would not even bother to read third person PI
> novels. Despite my fondness for the first person, I have never gone
> that far. But it is one of the crucial decisons that every author
> has to make. Hence my question to Dennis.
> Richard Moore
> RARA-AVIS home page:
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