Garn Press Interview of Martin E. Lee, Co-Author with Matthew C. Fleury of the Great Crime Novel Bloody Lane
Martin E. Lee (feat. left), Matthew C. Fleury (feat. right)
Marty Lee and Matthew Fleury have been friends for more than forty years. Both are writers but this is the first novel that they have written together. Their collaboration has been remarkably successful. Bloody Lane is a literary crime novel that is a heart stopping, five-star, page-turner that will appeal to crime novel aficionados but also readers of historical novels who imagine the possible repercussions of historical events on our lives today.
GARN PRESS: Do you have a favorite author?
MARTY LEE: Bloody Lane is a work of crime fiction. As far as writers of this genre go, I like best those whose books classify as hard-boiled literary efforts. Writers such as Jim Thompson, James Cain, Raymond Chandler, Thomas Perry, Charles Willeford, Colin Dexter, and Lawrence Block come to mind. That said, the refined mysteries of writers such as Dorothy Sayers, P.D. James, and Patricia Highsmith always draw me in.
GP: How do you begin a writing project? Do you keep notebooks?
ML: I am a note-taker, a scribbler. I always keep a pad at the ready for fear of forgetting an idea or a kernel of one whenever it unexpectedly comes to mind. I also keep notebooks that I fill with rough but more detailed story ideas.
GP: When do you write?
ML: I try to write when I am at my best – which, for some reason, is either early in the morning or late afternoon. I stop when I see that I’m tiring and spinning my wheels.
GP: What about ideas for books – do they percolate for years before you write, or do you work it out as you write, or perhaps a combination of both?
ML: Like most writers, I imagine, I’ve ended many a writing day at an impasse, stumped by a problem or problems I’d been unable to solve to my satisfaction. Upon occasion, when I awake in the morning or even when I’m near to dozing off at night, a possible answer emerges. So, yes, I rely on ideas percolating, in the short-term at least.
I don’t put fingers to keys until I have the whole story essentially worked out; I surround the fort, so to speak, breaking down a story into large chunks at first, then sections, chapters, and scenes, until I am confident enough to begin. I do indeed use color-coding as an organization strategy. Then as I write—which I do from outlines I create—I find myself changing my mind, coming up with new ideas, dropping others, making changes as I go. I also find that it’s important, when writing a mystery, to not get ahead of myself, as a mistake early on can be costly.
GP: Do you share your writing while you are still writing or wait until you have a draft?
ML: I’ll often show what I’ve written, even in the early stages of a work, to my wife as well as to a couple of friends for comments. Then I ignore what they say. J
GP: Did you have a favorite author when you were a young child? Did you read book series as a child?
ML: I recall reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond books as boy and discovering while inhaling them that reading could be way more fun than watching TV.
GP: What are your earliest memories of writing at home? Did you like to draw? Did you paint as a child?
ML: I wrote short stories when I was a boy, like many kids did, I suppose. But I preferred drawing and painting. Yet I never followed up with study and practice as I grew.
My “claim to fame” as a young artist was when a landscape of mine won a NYC-wide contest and was on display at a gallery in Manhattan. My fourth grade class took a field trip to see it. A photo showing me pointing to the painting as my mother, teacher, and classmates looked on appeared in the NY Daily Mirror, a now long-defunct newspaper.
Garn Press asked Marty Lee, “What is Bloody Lane?” Here is Marty’s response:
If it were not for the unprecedented flow of blood on the 17th day of September of 1862—23,000 missing, wounded, or killed—most of us would never have heard of Antietam Creek or the hamlet of Sharpsburg, Maryland, by which it flows before emptying into the Potomac.
The slaughter began at first light in a cornfield. Thousands fell in minutes, and the battle of Antietam was underway. By mid-morning, the carnage moved south to where rising pasture land met a sunken farm road. Row upon row of Federal soldiers, two divisions, filled the field and came steadily on, straight for that road. Most were newbies who had never seen battle; all were terrified. None were thinking about freeing slaves or cementing the union; they just didn’t want to die. Awaiting them, behind hastily built breastworks, a division of Confederate troops was hunkered down, ordered to hold that ground at all cost. Hungry, filthy, shoeless, and ragged, they watched in horror as the fight steadily came their way. Like their counterparts, these battle-hardened veterans were not at that moment defending slavery or states’ rights. Not at all. Nor were they there to protect their lands, as this murderous fight was not on southern soil. They, too, were fighting simply to stay alive.
When the assaulting troops got within about 80 yards of the road, its defenders opened fire. The Federal troops staggered, laid down, came on, fell back, came on again and again. There was no cover. Cannon thundered, musket balls whizzed by, shot and shell rained down and exploded. The noise was continual and deafening, as loud as any of the men had ever heard. Soldiers screamed, howled, cried in desperation, shrieked in terror. Despite the morning’s bright sunshine, rising clouds of dirt and smoke obscured their views. They could scarcely see their foe, but could make out officers’ riderless horses, and could see that the field was being carpeted in blue.
Eventually, the well-positioned but outnumbered Rebels were outflanked and forced to hastily abandon their shelter, which now became a slaughter pen. Those who were able to clambered out, dragging out the wounded, stepping over the dead. They were met in enfilade as they escaped, and were shot to pieces. Upwards of five thousand men—blue and gray—fell by the sunken farm road before the firing eventually petered out and the fighting on that part of the battlefield abated. The day’s ravenous killing, however, did not end. It just moved further south to where a stone bridge gracefully arched Antietam Creek.
By then, the furrowed path for farm wagons, which on that September day had been a silent witness to unspeakable carnage, had earned the name by which we now know it: Bloody Lane. To experience this hallowed ground today, simply look for the tall, stone watchtower standing vigil above it. Then take a deep breath and walk in.
Authors: Martin Lee and Matthew Fleury
Paperback: $17.95 | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-23-0
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-27-8
“A body lies dead on the battlefield at Antietam. Nothing unusual there – so did 23,000 others, victims of the bloodiest day of the Civil War … however, the time is today, not 1862, and the dead man is a victim of murder, not war. So begins this riveting, intricately plotted, beautifully written novel, with a rich cast of characters and a plot that brilliantly parallels the events of September 17, 1862 …” – Robert Leonard Reid, author of Arctic Circle and Mountains of the Great Blue Dream
“Loved it! If you’re a Civil War buff, you won’t be able to put this book down. But even if you know nothing at all about that history, you’ll quickly be hooked by an ingenious plot and a fascinating cast of characters. Martin Lee and Matthew Fleury are natural-born story-tellers, and I congratulate them for keeping me guessing right up until the surprising climax. Bloody Lane is a bloody good read!” – Krin Gabbard, Professor Emeritus, Stony Brook University
“Felix Allaben is a vividly drawn, hard-boiled character in the tradition of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. After a murder at historic Antietam battlefield, Detective Allaben gets pulled into a murky and dangerous world, where nothing is as it appears. Stylish, taut, complex … a bloody good read.” – Justin Martin, author of Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians