About SJ Rozan
SJ Rozan, a native New Yorker, is the author of nine novels.
She has won the the Edgar, Nero, Macavity, Shamus and
Anthony awards for Best Novel and the Edgar award for Best
Short Story. She is a former Mystery Writers of America
National Board member, a current Sisters in Crime National
Board member, and President of the Private Eye Writers of
America. In January 2003 she was an invited speaker at the
Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland. In February 2005 she will be Guest of Honor at
the Left Coast Crime convention in El Paso, Texas. A former
architect in a practice that focussed on police stations,
firehouses, and zoos, SJ Rozan lives in lower Manhattan.
Visit her website at: www.sjrozan.com
Post Meeting Write-up
Face the Fiction's November guest, S.J. Rozan, provided us
with a delightful evening. Ms. Rozan not only discussed her
books, short stories and editing credits, but gave us a
glimpse into more personal aspects. Her candor and humor
made for a good time.
Ms. Rozan began by discussing the ins and outs of how her
novel, In This Rain, came to be. She described it as being
set "at the intersection of politics, real estate development,
and crime." When asked, "Why?" her response was that
"It's a broad intersection. Lots of room to maneuver." The
book has a large cast, ranging from street kids to the Mayor
of the City of New York, with a myriad of twists and turns.
When writing, S.J. often puts to use her experience of having
been an architect in a practice that focused on police
stations, firehouses, and zoos. S.J. Rozan lives in lower
Manhattan too. She knows of what she writes. Her
credentials as winner of the Edgar, Nero, Macavity, Shamus
and Anthony awards for Best Novel and the Edgar award for
Best Short Story, are no coincidence.
S.J. Rozan, a native New Yorker, then moved on to
discussing how she came to edit the Bronx Noir collection of
stories. She's a Bronx girl. Her insightful honesty about the
writing and editing process was both funny and informative.
Her line about "everyone in America is either from the Bronx
or wishes they were," to explain the high number of sales of
the book, Bronx Noir, in Florida had many heads nodding
and more than one smile. Of course, our own Bronx boy,
Gene, heartily agreed.
S.J. was very honest in telling us what motivated her writing,
influenced her writing and why she needed to write her book
Absent Friends. This book was a cathartic release following
9/11. It wasn't so much a 9/11 story as it was a story
around 9/11 and the aftermath of that day. "Secrets of a
group of childhood friends unravel in this haunting thriller set
in New York in the unforgettable aftermath of September
11." Absent Friends was meant to capture a time of
confusion, hurt, anger and questions, in short, a world
changed forever on a deceptively beautiful September
Ms. Rozan then moved on to Winter and Night, set in New
Jersey. This book has two main characters, investigator Bill
Smith, and his partner Lydia Chin (and a funny story about
people asking her why she writes about being a Chinese
woman). They are trying to help a 15-year-old boy, Gary,
who is being held for a crime. Gary goes missing and they
try to find the missing teen and uncover what it is that led
him so far from home. They go to his home in a small town
in New Jersey. Bill finds himself in a town where nothing
matters but high school football, where the secrets of the
past—both the town's and Bill's own—threaten to destroy
the present. It was the need to express her feelings over
Columbine that evoked the emotion to tell this tale. As S.J.
explained, so many schools focus on the "jocks" because of
the money sports can generate and how the "non-jock" that
is supposed to have a place to fit in, doesn't. How many
times are "jocks" allowed to get away with bad behavior,
substandard grades and more all because of their status as
a "jock." When they finally do go and rape someone, or
some other horrible crime, people have the audacity to ask,
"how could this have happened?"
S.J. opened up to questions, as she put it, "because it's
easier." Questions were varied and interesting. One of the
best questions came from a newcomer (a young man who
was there due to his interest in Absent Friends - he was
not a jock and related to the story), in the form of "is there a
book you absolutely despise?" This led to an interesting
discussion. Books, authors, movies and more were covered.
She is a fan of the old noir movies and defines noir in that
vein - the reformed bad-boy who tries to touch goodness
and can't. A purist. Mike P liked her take on noir and
agreed. We then asked her to read a passage for us from
Bronx Noir. She got us hooked and left off at a part in the
story where you just "had to know" what came next - Todd
bought 3 copies of the book! (we so need to work on this
behavior - he's too good at sliding up to the front before
anyone else and hogging the inventory - intervention
anyone?) I mean, really, it's like alligator wrestling - poor
Aurelia barely made it out with her own copy!
S.J. is a former Mystery Writers of America National Board
member, a current Sisters in Crime National Board member,
and President of the Private Eye Writers of America. She is
also a great speaker with a raw honesty that was a
welcome thing. In fact, Ms. Rozan had to wrap up a bit early
so she could catch her 10:00 bus home - what's so notable
about that you wonder? She had to get home so she could
get to bed early because she had a basketball game in the
morning. Imagine looking at this petite, tiny woman and
trying to connect her to basketball - lol! In her own words,
"yeah, I play, not well, but I play. I'm a point guard. I'm
little, stay low and pass the ball." Honesty and humor,
therein lies S.J. Rozan.
Todd escorted S.J. to the bus, we hid evidence of us having
been there, and a group of us headed over to the diner (15
of us). Liz B headed home, as did a few others.
Conversation was fun and continued late into the night.
Taras and I continued to convert Chris into the Buffyverse,
while planning many evil deeds. Bill stripped. Todd was
quite lively due to sleep deprivation. Mike P held court at his
end of the table, entertaining Aurelia, Deena, Jim and Steve.
Good time as always. Don't miss next month when once
again we are spooked & entertained by Sandy Schlosser
while enjoying a catered holiday event, and possibly another
surprise for our very dedicated moderators ;)