Crime Novelist Lanny Larcinese Witnessed Muggings, Police Brutality, and Other Crimes Growing Up in the Mean Streets of Detroit
Some background on Lanny Larcinese:
I became a writer after a long career in business. My daughter was a married adult and my long-time companion, Jackie, and I, settled into our own homes and mutually comfortable togetherness habits. The following explains my decision to write crime.
I grew up in part working at a family-run restaurant in a working-class area of Detroit. I delivered food to after-hours drinking and drug dens. As a high school kid, I routinely cruised late night, hard-scrabble streets, my windshield a lens to life without boundaries, unshackled from the recrimination of daylight. In addition to the general decrepitude, I witnessed muggings, knifings, robberies, prostitution, police brutality, and strange nocturnal juju. Also, our place was a few blocks from the Seventh Police Precinct, so detectives, uniforms, motorcycle cops, and the special unit Clean-Up Squad (think Mulholland Falls), were back-room regulars, relating life from the dregs with aplomb while embossing my brain with a world view unimaginable by my school pals. They found my stories incredulous. Not surprising, theirs were lives of lawns, gardens, and cul-de-sac neighborhoods in which the only felonies were hydrangeas instead of lilacs, or worse, crabgrass.
What compelled you to write your first book?
First, though a business person, I always had a love of literature and, fascination with rhetoric and the human condition. One night, totally randomly, an image popped into my head, that of two high school boys having it out behind the gym. The image was so co clear and compelling, I went to the keyboard and wrote it out. From there I asked, “What were they doing there? Why? Who are they?” So I kept typing. It ultimately became my first published novel, I Detest All My Sins, i.e., after I leaned some craft.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I didn’t consciously always want to be a writer. But in retrospect, I always held writers in high esteem, plus I had a lifelong proclivity toward expression said in an interesting way So subconsciously, it percolated.
Do you belong to any writing forums or organizations that have helped spur your career as a writer? If so, tell us about them and how they’ve helped you.
Upon embarking on a fiction writing career, I attended the first available writing conference, The Philadelphia Writers Conference. There, I met experienced local writers, a cadre of whom sponsored and conducted The Writers Coffee House (since spread to many other parts of the country.) The Coffeehouses were informal meetings conducted by the experienced writers and in which attendees represented any genre and any experience level. Topics included craft and publishing. More than substantive knowledge gained, the shared experience and camaraderie were builders of encouragement
The main characters of your stories – do you find that you put a little of yourself into each of them or do you create them to be completely different from you?
This is a wonderful question. Writers delude themselves by thinking n part of them is not in their characters. It’s impossible even to speak casually without some part of our values, character, aspirations, history, class, etc. leaching out. My writing is heavily character-driven, and my best writing is when I tell myself, “I know this guy; I know what he thinks, his rationalizations, his inner and outer selves.” My characters all begin as splinters off me, but as they evolve in response to the conditions, I subject them to they remain a variation on the theme of what they essentially are. But in short, my characters are part me, part others I have known, and part imagination. I take deep dives into my characters. They aren’t simply burdened with clichéd alcohol or drug problems, but I try to get to the inside of the inside––meaning their emotional and character constructs. That’s what I mean when I say my work is character driven.
Do you have any pets? What are they? Tell us about them
I haven’t had a pet since the passing of my collie, Kate, about ten years ago. I deeply loved her, and she spent every second of her life wanting to make me happy. When she died, I spread some of her ashes at the beach she adored and rubbed some on my bare chest and arms. I weep now just thinking of her. The only reason I haven’t had a dog since is that I can’t “work” them, which they need to be happy–chasing balls and sticks and running with other dogs, or in Kate’s case, chasing helicopters and kites down the beach.
Thinking about your writing career, is there anything you’d go back and do differently now that you have been published?
That’s such a dilemma. Writing is the most gratifying endeavor I have even undertaken, but making a living in the arts is a serious constraint. Though I came to writing late in my life, I’m also glad to have made a living and accumulated resources first, which gives me the freedom to writer as I please, on my own schedule, and pay for needed services prior to submission, e.g., editing. I should also say my business career was a hoot, and I had a daughter to support and provide for. The pressure of doing those things while trying to make a living as a neophyte writer would have been overwhelming.
What is your main goal or purpose you would like to see accomplished by or with your writing?
To tell a story that entertains but also offers insights into the human conditions.
How has having a book or being published in a book changed your life?
Becoming a writer at my stage of life has been a godsend for its creative expression, intellectual stimulation, and stimulating community.
Where can the readers find your books?
My website, http://lannylarcinese.com.
Thank you, Lanny, for giving the readers an insight into your work,