I wrote the first story about Vince and Laura, "Whodunit." many years ago for an anthology called 100 Menacing Murder Stories. The editor called me and asked if I was interested in contributing a story. I said I was, and he dropped a real short deadline (10 days) on me. I had just finished reading The Thin Man and was reflecting how much I enjoyed the delightful banter between Nick and Nora Charles. I decided to try my hand at something similar and created my own version of the characters in Vince and Laura. In the intervening years, I wrote several more Pope stories for various markets, but always dreamed of collecting them all in one volume.
Fast forward to 2011 and enter Ms. Billie Johnson, of Oak Tree Press, whom I met at the PSWA Conference in Las Vegas. Billie had published a western (Dismal River) by my longtime friend, Big Wayne Dundee, and proved to be very nice. Big Wayne raved about Oak Tree Press and how easy it was to work with Billie and the rest of the crew. I managed to build up enough courage to talk to her about my Pope dreams, and she agreed to take a look. She liked the stories, but felt the collection was a tad too slim to fill a book. I agreed to write a few more stories, and got busy. Along the way, I revised all the earlier stories and imbued them with a bit more continuity. The end result was that the collection took on the feel of a novel, while still remaining a collection of short stories. I knew I wanted to finish it off with something special. Back in my undergrad days I was fascinated by James Joyce's collection of short stories (Dubliners) and wanted to do something similar. Joyce concluded his collection with a novella-length story ("The Dead"), so I did the same. I called mine "Pope's Last Case." Although it's the last story in this collection, I'm hoping to return to Vince and Laura again someday. That's the nice thing about writing a collection set in the 1940s--- you can write with a historical hindsight, and never have to worry about the stories going out of date.
Mike Black, Author of:
The Heist ~ Two former marines return from Iraq and run afoul of the Outfit. Available on Amazon and from Crossroad Press: Available as an e-book and trade paperbackand soon to be released as an audio: .
Coming in April from Oak Tree Press: Pope's Last Case and Other Stories-- A collection of all the Vince and Laura Pope stories, plus some new ones and a complete novella featuring my homage to Hammett's The Thin Man.
From Five Star: Sacrificial Offerings, the third Leal and Hart novel and nominated for the Best Novel by the Midland Authors' Association.
Two new short stories: "Fishtale" in Mermaids 13 and "Ransom" in To Hell in a Fast Car
From Dark Horse Comics: "Time Factor" --- a story in The Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine with Geof Darrow and Andrew Vachss.