Key West, 1991. Don Roy Doyle is back in town. Tough and quick-witted, he's fresh out of prison, where he served three years for a diamond swindle. Now he's back to collect his share of the proceeds, about $200,000, but the money has vanished.
A local family dynasty which has controlled the island's politics for generations, a cop with a grudge, the FBI,and the Russian mob all have a stake in the action. They're convinced Cuba is on the verge of "opening up", and they all want Doyle gone.
In this tightly-knit town, who can be trusted? And how long can Doyle stay alive?
SETUP ON FRONT STREET takes you inside the world of Key West noir, a world tucked way back in the shadows, where the tourists never go.
You can buy a copy of this book at Amazon.com in both Kindle and Paperback format. And make sure you check out Mike Dennis' other novels on Mike's Amazon page. You can also find a paperback version at CreateSpace and an Ebook version at Barnes and Noble.
After thirty years as a professional musician(piano), Mike Dennis left Key West and moved to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player. He turned to writing when his first novel, The Take, was picked up by a publisher in 2009. His next book, Setup On Front Street, was published in 2011, and is the beginning of a three-book set of Key West noir novels. The second book in the set, The Ghosts Of Havana, is coming soon.
He also has a collection of short stories, Bloodstains On The Wall. In addition, his stories have been published in A Twist Of Noir, Mysterical e, Powder Burn Flash, Slow Trains, and The Wizards Of Words 2009 Anthology.
In December 2010, Mike moved back to Key West,where he enjoys the year-round sunshine, good friends, good movies, the Florida Marlins, and the Boston Red Sox.
Mike Dennis, a former musician, made the transition to published author while living in Las Vegas. His noir mysteries have a classic quality. Noir is the name sometimes given to a mode of crime fiction regarded as a subset of the hard boiled style,popularized by pulp fiction. The protagonist is usually not a detective, but instead a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator—someone tied directly to the crime, not an outsider called to solve or fix the situation. And he is almost certainly in over his head
Your latest book, Setup On Front Street, is set in Key West. Isn't that an unusual setting for a noir novel?
Definitely. I wanted to lift the veil on Key West, to reveal it as a true noir city, on a par with Los Angeles, Miami, or New Orleans. There's a very noir feel here,once you peel back the tourist veneer. This is the first of a trio of Key West noir novels, all of them set in the alleys and the shadows of this island city. I might add, I think this novel is the first book ever set in Key West which does not include a constellation of clichéd, quirky characters. No margarita-guzzling goofballs, no Jimmy Buffett stereotypes. Just dark,desperate people caught in the backwater of their own poor choices.
What sort of training did you have that allowed you to make the leap from musician to author?
Thirty years of playing music isn't exactly the best training for an author. Thirty years of writing would be more like it. But playing music is what I did, so that's what I had to work with.
What was your life like as a musician?
Well,to set the record straight, I was a piano player, also venturing off into electronic keyboards from time to time. My career, which started in Houston, took me to nearly every state in the Union, as well as to several unusual foreign countries, all the while roving through disparate musical genres: rock & roll, rhythm & blues, and country. I played in clubs, concerts, TV, radio,and recording studios. I played large venues in front of tens of thousands of people and in smoky bars for no one at all.
That’s quite a variety. What places did you live that influenced your writing?
After Houston, my music took me to Memphis, Nashville, Fort Lauderdale, New Orleans,and finally, my beloved Key West, where I lived for sixteen years, and where I retired from music around 2003. Then in 2006, I moved to Las Vegas. While I was there, I got my first book deal from a traditional publisher. In 2010, I moved back to Key West, where I'm staying from now on. It was here that I got into self-publishing.
How did you start your transition? What actually sparked the desire to write?
I had begun writing almost by accident somewhere in the late 1980s. At that time I was living and playing in New Orleans. I was encouraged to try writing by a friend of mine, Marda Burton, who was herself a writer. She had read a little 70-page account I wrote of an overseas trip I'd taken, and she seemed to think I could make up stories and string words together in a coherent fashion,filling up hundreds of pages in the process.
So with this encouragement, did you immediately try your hand at writing?
Of course not. I disagreed, claiming fiction was for "real" writers.
What changed your mind?
She stayed on my case until I got started. Writing on and off for the next twenty years, I eventually completed eight novels and some dozen short stories. Oh, and did I mention hundreds (or was it thousands?) of rejection slips.
What brought you to Las Vegas?
I left Key West in late 2006 to play poker at the professional level. Living in Las Vegas was much more agreeable than I thought it would be, and I even found a nice home on the water! (okay,okay, it was a man-made lake, but believe me, it was great).
Did you continue to write there?
Absolutely.As I said earlier, I got my first novel published while I was there, in August of 2009. But I had to quit poker right after that in order to devote my time to writing and promoting.
What kind of support did you find for your writing once you settled in Las Vegas?
One important discovery I've made is the invaluable nature of critique groups. I belonged to a great one in LasVegas: the Henderson Writers Group. It's populated by writers in all stages of development and from all genres, but I can say without hesitation that the critiques the Henderson Writers Group has given my noir fiction have improved everything I read to them and made me a better writer.
What do you think was the one most important thing the Henderson Writers Group offered to you?
Their chief function is to provide fresh sets of eyes and ears to point out things that I never would've seen myself because my brain is geared in another direction.
You've recently moved back to Key West. Have you found any such groups there?
Yes.There are two excellent critique groups, the Casa Marina Group and the Big Pine Key Writers Group, and I belong to both of them.
Do you write every day?
Yes.It's something you have to do if you want to get better, or, as I like to put it, to become a "real" writer. And it's not measured in terms of word output. Right now, for instance, I'm going over a novel that I finished a couple of months ago, editing it, adding scenes, deleting other scenes,tightening it up...it's all part of the writing process. But I do it every day,regardless.
What do you think of the growing indie book market?
Well,the operative word here is "growing". "Exploding" might be more like it. I don't think anyone really saw this coming, least of all the New York publishers, who are still in various stages of denial.
The indie market has truly flung open the floodgates for writers. Yes, there's a lot of bad stuff out there, but the good stuff is finding its audience. For the first time, authors can draw a straight line from themselves to their readers.Thanks to Amazon's liberal royalty policies, they'll be able to make the lion's share of the money, and they can get their material to their readers within a couple of weeks of finishing it, rather than the customary, New-York-publisher timetable of eighteen months to two years.
When did you first self-publish?
Earlier this year, I put out a noir short story collection called Bloodstains On The Wall. I was encouraged enough to follow that up with Setup On Front Street.
As an emerging author, what is the best advice you can offer to aspiring authors?
Very simple. Don't quit. A professional is merely an amateur who didn't quit.
And now for the GIVEAWAY! I have a SIGNED copy of Set up on Front Street courtesy of the very generous Mike Dennis himself! Everyone who comments will be entered to win! Don't forget to leave your VALID email address so that I can contact you if you win! Winner will be chosen on Saturday, August 27,2011. Thanks for participating!