Genre fiction is low, shitty literature. Yet, modern critics still monitor the form as a faithful barometer of societal prejudices, gender norms, ideology and ethos. We could say that today's kitsch novels say as much about us, the readers, as the fiction narrated.
Like many monuments of western literature, The Deadliest Spin was born on a barstool. I had a Deadspin oral history on the brain, and Matt McCarthy had just written his Jermichael Finley story, which scared me. I have never attempted fiction writing—I'm trained as a literary critic—so it seemed fun and funny to try a serial murder mystery with some of my favorite sports writers as the cast.
American and British mystery writing traces a long historical arc, a full accounting of which would bore even the most avid pulp reader. I disregard Poe here, since the modern pulp yarn has adopted technology and mechanization as white noise to the plot. A Coffin for Demetrios (or, The Mask of Demetrios) is perhaps the most seminal story today, if only for its ironizing plot: a mystery writer unwillingly roped into solving a tricky mystery.
Admittedly, The Deadliest Spin is wonky and uneven. The first three installments were more or less written contemporaneously, and they read as more slapstick than hardboiled. It wasn't until Bring Back Anthony Mason (R.I.P.) wrote his Tougher Than Pleather thing that I chose to write hardline pulp. Over-wrought and absurdist descriptiveness necessarily replaced what in retrospect sounds juvenile and shallow. Not that there's any real depth to The Deadliest Spin, which Tim Marchman rightly calls fan-fiction. Rather, a noire veneer better suited what was already a crazy idea, and to that end I think it ended better than it began. Moreover, Dom's leaving was fortuitous, insofar as it gave me an opportunity to kill off another character.
Sitting beside the classic whodunit are the serial mysteries of the Dick Tracy type, which all along were my structural guide. A singular installment thus follows one named character, in the same way that the Game of Thrones novels are organized. This format also helps create suspense, since each "chapter" can end with whatever cliffhanger. With no prior experience writing like this, and with no full outline of how the story would shake out, the serial style was extremely useful.
I would say two writers most influenced the diction and delivery of The Deadliest Spin: Frederick Forsyth and Carl Hiaasen. The former writes spy fiction, the latter farcical whodunits. Forsyth's most famous effort, The Day of Jackal, has been turned into two films (the most recent is dogshit; pure dogshit), and the novel follows an assassin hired by the French OAS to kill Charles De Gaulle. His counterpart in the French police, Det. Claude Lebel, works against him until the book's climax, which I of course won't give away here.
Carl Hiaasen lives in Miami, FL, where all his mysteries take place. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1972, and worked for the St. Petersburg Times before being hired on at the Miami Herald. He's seen some things, and this comes out in his novels all too vividly. His stories usually open with a murder or attempted murder, followed by a long sprint to an absurd and hilarious conclusion. Bad guys get their comeuppance in hysterical fashion. For anyone interested, definitely start with Skinny Dip or Sick Puppy, both New York Times bestsellers. I'd recommend Striptease (yes, that one), but it's one of the few cases where film outclasses book. Weird.
This has been the story behind The Deadliest Spin, which I'm altogether proud to have written and thankful for you reading it.