Here’s a quick Q&A with Terry Holland.
D&OB: How did the Harry Pines series come about?
Terry: I grew up in a household full of my father’s mostly paperback copies of the stuff of Raymond Chandler, Mickey Spillane, and John D. MacDonald. I read all the high-toned literary stuff and liked a lot of it. But I need a story — a beginning, a middle, and an end. And I love the old kiss-kiss-bang-bang. By the time I was a full-sized guy, I believed I could do it like those guys. And Parker, who came along later. One day, not all that long ago, I told myself the time had come to put up or shut up. So, I found Harry in my head, gave him a history, put him up in a house in Hawaii that I had once lived in, and put him to work.
D&OB: Where do your stories come from? Are they factually based?
Terry: No, they are utter fiction. But by now pretty much everything you can imagine has happened to someone. Nora Ephron says she doesn’t know why anybody writes fiction anymore, the real stuff is so good. And she’s got a point. So, while it’s fiction, I’m conditioned by reality. I just say, “What if …” and go with it. For it to work, I have to know exactly what happened in the crime before I can send Harry out to make it right.
D&OB: Titles can be fun or hard, but a finishing touch that’s important to writers. How did you settle on the titles of your books?
Terry: MacDonald used colors in each of Travis McGee’s escapades, even if he had to get a little twisty like The Green Ripper, so I thought I’d used temperature terms — An Ice Cold Paradise, Chicago Shiver, and, forthcoming, Warm Hands, Cold Heart.
D&OB: What are you working on right now?
Terry: Warm Hands, Cold Heart. Harry and his ex-wife, Liz, have stayed close and when her boyfriend, a New York Times writer named Leland Law, disappears she calls him and he comes running. Flying, actually, to Los Angeles and driving in a high-speed, headlong hunt for Lee Law on L.A.’s frenzied freeways. Turns out Lee was digging into details of the pornography industry, shady investors and disappearing starlets, and Harry hooks up with a former porn starlet who has given up that trade for working as an apprentice to a horse trainer. She once was Honey Head and now she’s back to her regular old name, Darlene Foley. Harry and Darlene — he can’t get rid of her no matter how hard he tries — end up on a spectacular yacht and in a game preserve in a shootout that’s more than a little inspired by one that McGee confronted in The Green Ripper.