Thursday, April 27, 2023

Interview With Crime Novelist Lowell Cauffiel


1. What inspired you to write this book? After working in Hollywood for twenty years developing films and selling television pilots, I decided there could be a way to merge some of my Hollywood insights and experiences into a crime plot.

2. What exactly is it about and who is it written for?  Former Detroit homicide detective Edwin Blake broke into show business as a script consultant on cop movies. Now living in Los Angeles five years later, Blake is suffer­ing from clinical depression, is no longer in demand in film and TV—and money is short. But things look up when Blake gets a call from wealthy, oddball producer Jason Perry, telling him he wants to hire him for a future cable TV series. But there’s a catch. First he wants Blake to locate the missing ex-wife of a “friend of a friend” from Chicago. Blake will be working for free on a promise—a typical Hollywood hustle. But Blake’s not the only one on the case. Hired gun Warren Poole and aging Las Vegas gangster has also been contracted to find the woman. Agendas, both up front and hidden, are destined to clash.


Written for adult fans of crime novels and true crime as well.

3. What do you hope readers will get out of reading your book? An entertaining good time as the drama and suspense is peppered with some humor and the absurd points of view of the show business characters featured in the story.

4. How did you decide on your book’s title and cover design? “Below the line,” is an accounting and working-class designation used in television in film to denote everyday crew members who typically paid as employees instead of those in the lofty ranks of actors, writers and directors. My character is working in Hollywood’s underbelly. So, I thought the industry phrase packed a number of meanings as a title.


The publishing house designed the cover after I suggested designers use the type found in the iconic Hollywood sign. I also suggested we use the term “crime novel” as my fiction books are character driven and not typical “mysteries.” Also, sales reps wanted the color palette and layout to convey some of the book’s fun tone.

5. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers – other than run!? Write on a schedule, just like any job. Show up for work every day. The amount of time you write should be determined by the hours at the keyboard or the number of pages produced. For example, write for four hours or four pages each day, whichever comes first. This discipline will kill the false assumption that you need to be “inspired” to write. Writing will eventually become a habit. And if you skip a day, you will find yourself miserable. And that will keep you writing.

6. What trends in the book world do you see -- and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?  Publishers are making it impossible for new writers to develop into seasoned pros with a loyal audience. Not only have advances become paltry for many, publishers don’t seem to be willing to stick with a writer unless he or she knocks it out of the park on their first effort. A master, critically acclaimed crime novelist like Elmore Leonard could not exist today. He wrote a half dozen books before he caught the eye of critics and fans who put him in the pantheon of the greats. Elmore once told me he believed a writer had to produce a million words before he “even found his sound.” The book industry, now with only a handful of publishers, seems to becoming more like Hollywood, with centralized corporate control slouching toward the next hot thing.

7. Were there experiences in your personal life or career that came in handy when writing this book?  Absolutely. On many levels. Write what you know.

8. How would you describe your writing style? Which writers or books is your writing similar to? Sparse and direct with tight dialogue in fiction. I’m always working to towards delivering a great line from a character or a character’s point of view. I refuse to be ornamental. I don’t want my writing drawing attention to itself with word play and a barrage of writing devices. I want it to be transparent -- as if the reader is looking at a scene through a clear, clean window and not a mosaic of stained glass.


In nonfiction by influences were the 1970s New Journalists such as Tom Wolf, Gay Talese, Truman Capote and lastly the great Jack Olsen, who was a mentor. In fiction, Thomas Harris and Elmore Leonard were big influences. Dutch, as his friends called him, and his incredible researcher Gregg Sutter, were pals in my hometown Detroit. Watching Gregg work reinforced my journalistic approach to fiction by getting all the details authentic and right. A novel is a giant lie. But as every psychopath knows, to tell a big lie all the details must ring true. For example, you don’t put a death penalty in a non-death-penalty state. I’ve seen that done in TV. As for style, I confess I’ve picked up some of Elmore’s sound and employ his kind of dark wit. But I think I mine my character’s emotions and existential conflicts more. Dutch rarely went deep.

9. What challenges did you overcome in the writing of this book? Though this was my ninth book, I hadn’t written one in more than twenty years. I’d been writing screenplays and show pitches, which is a whole different skill set. Everything in a screenplay must be able to be shot and appear on the screen. You can’t film thoughts. However, a novel regularly features the internal dialogue and ruminations of its point-of-view characters. So, rebooting my novel chops to portray the character’s thoughts was the most difficult challenge. It took a hundred pages before I was confident.


10. If people can buy or read one book this week or month, why should it be yours?  It’s a fun ride, despite the brutal scenes and twisted agendas in Below the Line. Readers will enjoy seeing how Hollywood really works rather than the packaged marketing of “art” and celebrity fed to audiences on red carpets, award shows and in entertainment programming. It is after all “show business.” But behind the façade, many desperate, even damaged, people pursue hidden agendas to service their obsessions. And in that mix, my Hollywood hero has to overcome his own ambition and defects of character to prevail, but not in a way he ever expected.

Lowell Cauffiel turned to novels and screenwriting following an award-winning career as a Detroit journalist and the publication of his five true crime books, including the New York Times bestseller House of Secrets and his critically acclaimed debut Mas­querade: A True Story of Seduction, Compul­sion and Murder.  An impeccable researcher when writing fiction as well as nonfiction, Cauffiel’s fact finding has taken him every­where from the president’s private living quarters in the White House to the confines of dan­gerous urban dope dens. Please see more information at:


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Brian Feinblum should be followed on Twitter @theprexpert. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2023. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester with his wife, two kids, and Ferris, a black lab rescue dog. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s The Independent.  This award-winning blog has generated over 3.3 million pageviews. With 4,400+ posts over the past dozen years, it was named one of the best book marketing blogs by BookBaby  and recognized by Feedspot in 2021 and 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. It was also named by as a "best resource.” For the past three decades, including 21 years as the head of marketing for the nation’s largest book publicity firm, and two jobs at two independent presses, Brian has worked with many first-time, self-published, authors of all genres, right along with best-selling authors and celebrities such as: Dr. Ruth, Mark Victor Hansen, Joseph Finder, Katherine Spurway, Neil Rackham, Harvey Mackay, Ken Blanchard, Stephen Covey, Warren Adler, Cindy Adams, Todd Duncan, Susan RoAne, John C. Maxwell, Jeff Foxworthy, Seth Godin, and Henry Winkler. He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America, and has spoken at ASJA, Independent Book Publishers Association Sarah Lawrence College, Nonfiction Writers Association, Cape Cod Writers Association, Willamette (Portland) Writers Association, APEX, and Connecticut Authors and Publishers Association. His letters-to-the-editor have been published in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Post, NY Daily News, Newsday, The Journal News (Westchester) and The Washington Post. He has been featured in The Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald. For more information, please consult:  



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