Marc Whelchel is the author of The Doubly Dead Angel-Thief, a story about V.C. Almond and his ragtag group of friends who solve the double death of V.C.’s best bud Jake. I believe this is one of the best debut novels of this year. Check out my review here.
I asked Marc a lot of questions and he was kind enough to answer them.
Q & A
1. Can you tell us a little about The Doubly Dead Angel-Thief?
It’s a crime comedy, with a heavy emphasis on the comedy part. It starts with the narrator, V.C. Almond, coming home from his friend Jake Kennedy’s funeral and finding Jake’s freshly murdered body on the floor. V.C.’s already reeling from a failed marriage, he’s going broke, drinking too much, and his new girlfriend’s psychopathic ex wants him dead. His life’s in the gutter, and now his friend dies twice, and he’s suddenly thrust into a whirlwind of organized crime, drug trafficking, and murder. Even though he’s way the hell out of his element, he’s kind of forced to help his eccentric private investigator friend, Aldous Lewie, connect the mind-boggling dots.
The subject matter is a bit morose, but there’s a lot of levity and hijinks to balance the scales. It’s meant to entertain, not scare or depress.
2. Why did you choose noir mystery as the genre?
I didn’t make a conscious decision for the book to fall neatly into any specific mystery subgenre. I just thought it would be clever and moderately half-funny to write a comedic book with an elaborate, meandering plot that’s ultimately pointless because it’s all a misunderstanding, a failure to communicate.
I’ve been calling the book ‘noir’ for lack of a better term, and it definitely has some noir elements in the way it’s structured – the convoluted plot, the flashbacks and dream sequences, things like that. But it’s intentionally lighthearted, which is obviously very un-noir. It’s as much of a caper as it as noir, with elements of a cozy and a sprinkling of literary fiction. It definitely surfs some different subgenres.
3. There’s a lot of self-deprecation in this novel. Do you enjoy self-deprecatory jokes?
I think it’s important to be able to laugh at just about everything in life, including yourself. Especially yourself, maybe. I projected some of my own characteristics onto V.C., and a healthy amount of self-deprecation was one of them. V.C. had so many personality flaws and eccentricities that I felt he needed some endearing traits to make readers like him. His ability to laugh at himself, even in the face of sadness and death, was one of those traits.
“…it’s important to be able to laugh at just about everything in life, including yourself. Especially yourself, maybe.”
4. If The Doubly Dead Angel-Thief were made into a movie, who would you pick for the lead roles?
It would probably be low-budget, or no-budget, so whoever was hanging out in the drama department of the closest community college that afternoon would get the nod. The 83-year- old black, male janitor would play Kalista.
If I could pick anyone though, I’d cast Alexander Skarsgård as V.C. He would just have to channel the crazy, barely affable drunk he played in War on Everyone. Jonah Hill would make a nice Lewie. Lily James as Kalista, John Goodman as Big Jamie, Terry Crews as Bobby, Tom Hiddleston as Hazim, Vin Diesel as Sal, Matt Bomer as Jake, Clarke Peters as T-Bone. Or Clark Johnson as T-Bone. Any Clark, really. Carrie Brownstein as Josie. Vincent D’Onofrio as detective Beerman. And Cate Blanchett rounding it off as the Purple Guy. She’d crush it.
5. What do you think your main character V.C. Almond would think of you?
Well, there’s a lot of myself in V.C. We have the same sense of humor, which is probably the biggest similarity. But I also bestowed some different traits on him, so we may clash. V.C. is the type of guy who’s content to sit around all day shooting the shit with inanimate objects. I’m not calm and satisfied unless I have a project going on, something to keep my hands from idleness. I’m restless if I’m not occupied. V.C. would probably tell me to sit the fuck down, stop pacing. He’d like my musical tastes, though.
“People forget plots, but memorable characters endure forever.”
6. The characters in your book are fleshed out really well. Were they inspired by people you know?
That’s a flattering compliment, so thank you. Creating colorful, unique characters is by far my favorite part of writing. And I think it’s the most important. People forget plots, but memorable characters endure forever.
Almost every character in DDAT is based at least partially on a person or combination of people I know or knew. I’ve always felt more comfortable around, and motivated by, oddballs and creative types, people who don’t assimilate well. This book is sort of my ode to them. They’ve all been fictionalized to varying degrees as well.
7. What advice would you give your younger writing self?
Keep plugging along, sending out queries and pitches to publishers and agents. Keep sticking pins into voodoo dolls of those who reject or ignore you. Eventually, a publisher will come along who finds your shtick halfway, kind of, sort of, amusing-ish enough to publish, so don’t give up.
Also, don’t let anyone read any fiction you wrote prior to the age of 35. It’s not as funny or clever as you think.
“Keep plugging along, sending out queries and pitches to publishers and agents. Keep sticking pins into voodoo dolls of those who reject or ignore you.”
8. What’s your next book about?
I just finished the first chapter of the next V.C. Almond mystery. Much of the plot is still in my brain somewhere, but I have a solid idea of how I want it to look, which is a little different than the first one. Less violence, more humor. The plot will probably be more straightforward. V.C. will be different, too. When the next book begins, he’s a daddy, and he’s in a healthier place mentally, drinking less. But he still has … issues, to say the least. And his friends are one of them. Also, someone knocks on his door with her head missing from her shoulders. Ah shit, that’s pretty violent, isn’t it? And not funny. Got it backwards. More violence, less humor? I have some blanks to fill, obviously.
About The Doubly Dead Angel-Thief
Meet V.C. Almond, Mastermind Sleuth, Jack of Some Trades, and the Delmar Loop’s Private Investigator Ordinaire.
V.C. Almond’s life is in the gutter. Divorced and broke, he’s living in a rat trap apartment above the loudest punk music venue in the Delmar Loop. Worse, his dear friend, merry prankster Jake Kennedy, son of crime boss “Big Jamie” Kennedy, has just committed suicide.
The night of Jake’s funeral, V.C. returns home to find a surprise on his floor: Jake’s freshly murdered, bullet-riddled body. Soon realizing Jake’s double death appears destined to go unsolved, V.C. reluctantly agrees to help private detective Aldous Lewie crack the case.
Stumbling upon the body of a man who’s supposed to already be dead is just the first leg of V.C.’s journey down the rabbit hole.
Two things soon become clear: Even in the Communication Age, miscommunication reigns supreme. And if V.C. and his band of misfits don’t figure out who aced their amigo, then they will soon be sipping GrandMa in the Great Beyond.
About Marc Whelchel
He is the author of four novels, the first three having been shredded and recycled into Chinese food containers long ago.
Do check out this book! You will not regret it.