Interview with Carlyle Clark, author of 'The Black Song Inside' & win $100 Amazon gift card!

Carlyle Clark was raised in Poway, a city just north of San Diego, but is now a proud Chicagolander working in the field of Corporate Security and writing crime and fantasy fiction. He has flailed ineffectually at performing the writer’s requisite myriad of random jobs: pizza deliverer, curb address painter, sweatshop laborer, day laborer, night laborer, security guard, campus police, Gallup pollster, medical courier, vehicle procurer, and signature-for-petitions-getter.

He is a married man with two cats and a dog. He is also a martial arts enthusiast and a CrossFit endurer who enjoys fishing, sports, movies, TV series with continuing storylines, and of course, reading. Most inconsequentially, he holds the unrecognized distinction of being one of the few people in the world who have been paid to watch concrete dry in the dark. Tragically, that is a true statement.

His latest book is the mystery thriller, The Black Song Inside.

Visit his website at

Atticus Wynn and Rosemary Sanchez, newly engaged private investigators, have seen the dark and violent side of life. Nothing, though, has prepared them for an explosive murder investigation that threatens to tear their relationship apart as they struggle to solve a case that could leave them in prison or dead.

Atticus’s manipulative ex-girlfriend bursts back into their lives wielding a secret about Rosemary’s family that she exploits to force the couple into investigating the execution-style slaying of her lover. The case thrusts Atticus and Rosemary headlong into the world of human trafficking and drug smuggling, while rendering them pawns in Tijuana Cartel captain Armando Villanueva’s bloody bid to take over the cartel.

The Black Song Inside is a vivid crime thriller rife with murder and madness, melded with gallows humor and the heroism of two flawed and compelling protagonists who, if they can save themselves, may learn the nature of redemption and the ability to forgive.

Why did you write your book?

It started out with a burning idea for a short story; an idea that, ironically, I scrapped because it was a dumb gag that relied on the reader not being able to actually see what was going on. But by then I was having so much fun I just kept going, and it started to develop into a novel. Then I had to keep writing it so I could find out how it ended. 

Sounds strange, but it’s true. There was also the fact that although I was well-read in the crime genre, I hadn’t read anything that especially similar to mine so I thought I would be able to bring something fresh to readers.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

My characters are not based on real people at all. I’ve tried that, thinking it would be a really awesome shortcut for creating three dimensional characters, but I just can’t pull it off. You’d think it would be much easier than creating someone entirely, but it for me it’s impossible. I always get stuck trying to figure out what the “real” person would do in a situation that I’ve never seen them experience and it just gets all wonky.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

A little of both. Generally from the start of a novel I have an idea how it needs to end for a complete reading experience, but I don’t have the details nor do I know the characters as well as I need to. That means I can’t plot out the series of things that need to happen for the protagonists to have characters arcs, though I always have a vague idea. That makes it fun for me to write every time I sit down to write because I never know exactly what’s going to happen. It also keeps me from being afraid to deviate from an outline for fear of a series of domino-like cascade of negative effects on the rest of the novel.

Your book is set in San Diego.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Because I grew up there so I know not just what you can see from Google Street View, but the feel of each portion of the county> I felt being able to convey that would deepen the novel. It wouldn’t feel as though it could have taken place in any city. Also because, unlike LA, New York, and London, there aren’t a huge amount of novels set in San Diego so for some readers it would be a fresh location.

Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Yes, because I wanted to bring it in almost as a character. Between the perfect weather, the irrigated landscape, reasonable traffic, and the largely functional city departments (despite major budget issues), and the beautiful Spanish architecture, in my opinion, the city does generally lives up to its self-styling as “America’s Finest City”. Naturally with the twisted mind of a crime writer I wanted to show rot beneath a beautiful exterior.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

When you hear advice about writing in various workshops online or in person, the more strident someone is about there being a right way or wrong way to do things, the less you should listen to them. Many people confuse guidelines and indicators with rules. For instance, a lot of people think adverbs are inherently bad, but they aren’t. It’s just that they are often used when a stronger verb would suit better, however, in any particular sentence an adverb may be the exact thing that is needed to convey the emotion or “feel” of the sentence. For instance, Fed-Ex used to say in their commercials, “For when it absolutely positively has to be there in the morning.”  Chopping out “absolutely” and “positively” rips all the emotion out of that line, rendering it mundane. Don’t be mundane.

Thank you for hosting me!

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