Hardboiled Brooklynite

The New York Times profiles Reed Coleman, MWA EVP extraordinaire, Edgar-nominated author of the truly fabulous THE JAMES DEANS, and the editor of the anthology HARDBOILED BROOKLYN, which launches at Partners & Crime tomorrow night. But though he’s deservedly well known for his noir leanings of late, he got his writing start in an entirely different field: poetry.

Coleman’s writing started out decidedly softer-boiled. His first

published work was a poem in the student literary magazine at Abraham

Lincoln High School in Brooklyn. He kept at what he describes as

“run-of-the-mill, overwrought, teenage poetry,” at Brooklyn College but

dropped his ambitions to write for a living, finding steadier pay in

the air freight business at Kennedy Airport. (“I was like a travel

agent for inanimate objects,” he said.)

“That’s kind of the

genesis of my writing crime fiction,” he said. “Boy, did I meet some

interesting characters at Kennedy Airport.”

He continued, “Crime fiction to me was the cheesy books my dad had on his nightstand.” Then he read the great ones  — Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett —  and changed his thinking: “If you study poetry, you see that same love of language in their prose.”

Prose that is mostly set in and around his home of Brooklyn. “If a fiction writer can’t write about a place like Coney Island,” he

said on a recent drive through the neighborhood, toward lunch at

Nathan’s Famous hot dogs, “he or she shouldn’t be writing.”