Sunday, August 5, 2012

Interviews abound as PROPHET release week begins

Michael is on the road this week for THE PROPHET. Please check the "events" page to see if he is in a city near you! Remember that signed and personalized copies are available via mail-order from Murder by the Book, Poisoned Pen, Mystery One, and Big Hat Books. Phone numbers for the stores are available on the events page. Please call and reserve your signed, inscribed copy from these great independent bookstores! 

In the meantime, a few early articles about THE PROPHET:

Author Michael Koryta to visit Rocky River Public Library in support of new novel

Published: Thursday, August 02, 2012, 12:02 PM Updated: Thursday, August 02, 2012, 12:05 PM
Eric Sandy, Sun News
MIchael KorytaView full sizeMichael Koryta
With a new thriller fresh off the presses, author Michael Koryta is looking forward to talking with crime fiction fans and avid readers at an upcoming event in Rocky River.
“The Prophet” is a 400-page novel that filters the story of two estranged brothers through the shocking aftermaths of two violent crimes.
While the story reflects the author’s longstanding literary focus on gritty crime and the pain it inflicts on ordinary people, it also is one that’s been building in Koryta’s thought process for years, influenced by a tragedy his family experienced in Cleveland decades ago.
“You’re never guaranteed that you’re going to have another day with someone,” he said, offering a sobering insight into the horrors of crime.
Koryta began writing as a young boy, idolizing wordsmiths of all styles. His career first brought him to work as a reporter for the Herald Tribune in Bloomington, Ind. Early experiences as a news writer helped shape his professional foray into fiction and novels, he said. Both in terms of writing on a deadline and researching the facts of life around him, Koryta has taken what he learned in one career and employed it in another.
“That was invaluable — the chance to be an observer in a lot of different worlds,” he said.
For instance, when he decided mid-way through writing “The Prophet” that one character should be a high school football coach rather than a priest, Koryta spent time hanging out with the coaching staff of a local high school team in Bloomington.
But geographically speaking, his writing references places much closer to home for West Shore Sun readers. His novels are often set in Cleveland or other Northeast Ohio locales.
In fact, Koryta’s research into the world of crime and police procedure brought him into contact with Sgt. George Lichman of the Rocky River Police Department. Lichman had read several of Koryta’s books and offered to talk shop with him.
“He has become a good friend. He’s an incredibly bright guy and he reads voraciously,” Koryta said, adding that Lichman is one of the very few people he’ll trust with an early read of his books.
Koryta will host a book signing and launch event at 7 p.m. Aug. 7 at Rocky River Public Library, 1600 Hampton Road.
“It’s always fun to be in Cleveland. It feels like coming home,” he said.
The event is free and open to all. Barnes and Noble will ensure that copies of Koryta’s books are available for sale.

Gritty gridiron: Local author’s latest novel has family strife, murder, football
Special to the H-T
August 5, 2012, last update: 8/5 @ 12:52 am

Novelist Michael Koryta, photographed in downtown Bloomington in late July, divides his time between his hometown and St. Petersburg, Fla. His ninth and newest book, “The Prophet,” set in small-town Ohio, is out Tuesday. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

North head coach Scott Bless celebrates the Cougar win after the Bloomington South vs. North football game at Bloomington High School South on Sept. 9, 2011. Author Michael Koryta shadowed Bless for his new novel, “The Prophet,” out this week. Chris Howell | Herald-Times
BLOOMINGTON — The quiet man hanging out with the Bloomington High School North football team last year was not a scout, nor a parent or a lackluster assistant coach. He was Michael Koryta, a Bloomington native and bestselling mystery writer, doing research for his latest novel, “The Prophet,” which comes out Tuesday.The premise for the novel sprouted from a theme that Koryta had been wanting to tackle for a long time. He wanted to write a story about brothers torn apart, their relationship essentially severed, with football as a backdrop, he said during a recent interview at a downtown coffeehouse. Koryta approached his childhood friend Tyler Abel, the offensive coordinator at Bloomington High School North, to ask if he might be able to shadow head football coach Scott Bless.“It’s sort of a sentimental attachment, but they’re also playing the best football in town. When I was at North I don’t think we scored a point against South,” Koryta said. (That memory is correct, with North losing the four games from 1997 through 2000 — the author graduated in 2001 — by a cumulative score of 185-0.)Following footballKoryta, who is just shy of 30 years old and recently married, spent a year shadowing the team, focusing on the lives of the coaches. “I end up finding different worlds than I ever would have without the books; that’s one of the great blessings of what I do,” he said.Bless found Koryta’s presence fun and enriching. “It’s not every day that high school coaches and football players get to spend time with an author, so I thought it was a great cultural experience,” he said.It was also intriguing to see his professional life reflected through Koryta’s eyes in the pages of “The Prophet.”“Our coaching staff is very close and we’re around each other so much, so we probably think alike. So when someone spends time examining what you do, it kind of gives you a little perspective on it, and that’s really enjoyable,” Bless said.Staying connectedDuring his months of research, Koryta became very close with the North football community. “One of the things I’ve discovered is that once I get involved in one of these places for research, I find it very hard to walk away from them,” Koryta said. He frequently still attends Bloomington North football-related events, just as he continues to participate in rescues with the Exotic Feline Rescue Center, where he did much of the research for a previous novel, “The Ridge.” “The Prophet,” called “‘Friday Night Lights’ meets ‘In Cold Blood’” by Kirkus, the online review site, is a return to crime writing. Koryta had delved into supernatural fiction — “So Cold the River,” set in French Lick, featured ghosts. “The Prophet” instead deals with ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, and has been praised for its intricate plot. Back when Koryta was a student at North, he was already writing prolifically, intent on becoming a well-known crime novelist. When asked for advice he might offer to young writers, Koryta said it’s important to focus on learning the craft.“When you raise your skill level to a certain point, the audience will be there. If you chase the audience before you worry about getting better, you’re going about it backward,” he said.Help from HammelHaving a mentor can aid the process. Bob Hammel, then a Herald-Times sports writer, began serving this function for Koryta when the writer was 16 and interning at the newspaper.“He handed me something, and I couldn’t resist putting some marks on it,” said Hammel, now retired.“I had the impression that he might be one of those real cocky kids who thinks everything he does is gold, so I marked that first paper up pretty severely. I didn’t know if I would see him again, but not only did he come back, he wrote a whole new paper, incorporating all the changes right away. It was very impressive,” Hammel said.The mentoring relationship continued for years, and Koryta still sends Hammel manuscripts of his books before they are published. “I would probably be on my second published novel by this age if not for Bob Hammel, but instead I’m on nine, because of the time he spent teaching me,” Koryta said.All but one of his novels, including “The Prophet,” are being considered for film and TV projects right now. Koryta has partnered with writer and director Scott Peters to create a television series based on “The Ridge.” Peters is currently one of the directors of “Burn Notice.” And “The Prophet,” set in small-town Ohio, has been acquired by producer Nick Wechsler (“The Player,” “The Road”), with writer Reid Carolin (“Magic Mike”) set to adapt. “It’s really exciting,” Koryta said.When asked about his next project, Koryta’s answer is cryptic. “It’s going to be my wilderness feel-good story, like (James Dickey’s 1970 novel) ‘Deliverance.’ That’s the way I describe it.”
Meet MichaelWriter and Bloomington native Michael Koryta will read from and sign copies of his new novel, “The Prophet,” at two area locations this week. He’ll be at Bloomington’s Barnes & Noble, 2813 E. Third St., 7 p.m. Wednesday. And Koryta will visit Big Hat Books, 6510 Cornell Ave., in Indianapolis’ Broad Ripple neighborhood, 6 p.m. Thursday. See for more.

Nationally known author’s creative roots are planted in Cleveland soil

“My extended family is from Cleveland. Both of my parents grew up on the west side. My dad was born and raised on Clark Avenue, and my mother lived on Chatfield, near Rocky River Drive and Lorain Road,” said Koryta, during a recent phone interview. He will be visiting the Rocky Public Library on Tuesday at 7 p.m. talking about his latest book “The Prophet” and his Cleveland connections, which include Rocky River police sergeant George Lichman, who will introduce Koryta.

“I absolutely love Cleveland,” continued Koryta, who, in the process of packing for a move, has been reminded that this love, as well as a flair for writing, goes back a number of years. “It was interesting to see every story that I started to write from the time I was 8 years old all took place in Cleveland.”
He added that his favorite setting is the corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain Road, better known to westsiders as “Kamm’s Corners.”

This inspiration came from the many holidays and school breaks spent visiting family here. “My friends would head for the beaches of Florida and I would head for the beaches of Lake Erie instead,” recalled Koryta, adding that instead of being disappointed, he stored up family tales to use as threads to weave through his novels.

“Part of being around family when you’re young is hearing stories and telling stories. Storytelling is paramount to the relationships I’ve had,” he said. Koryta especially remembers walking around the Clark Avenue area with his father and grandparents further nurturing his “storytelling roots.”

Aside from the family connection, Koryta said he was drawn to Cleveland’s atmosphere as a perfect setting for his detective novels. “I was always such a fan of detective novels and movies which are usually set in an urban environment. There’s something about Cleveland from the architecture and the bridges to the feel of the neighborhoods and the history that just felt very noir,” he recalled.
His interest in detective work led Koryta to a high school independent study project under the mentorship of noted private investigator Don Johnson. The study led to part-time, then full-time work as a private investigator.

With the writing muse still calling, Koryta got a part-time job with a Bloomington newspaper writing sports, features, columns and the police beat. “There’s nothing that prepares you more for trying to make a living as a writer than learning how to turn things around on a deadline,” said Koryta of the experience.

Transitioning between the factual world of journalism to fiction was not difficult for Koryta. “The jump is not hard. I’ve been trying to write fiction since I was a kid,” said Koryta, who observed that writing news stories actually recharged his fiction writing. In fact, he said his fellow reporters were “stunned” that he would work at the newspaper all day, then go home and write some more.

“For me it was such a different mental mechanism. It didn’t feel at all like what I’d been doing all day. It’s always been fun,” he stated.

After his early novels were published about five years ago, Koryta’s West Shore connections strengthened through his friendship with Lichman, who talked about their meeting. “His first few books were fabulous, so after I read them, I emailed him and told him I was a police officer and asked if he was interested in getting together the next time he was in town.”

The two met, and Lichman gave Koryta a tour of the Cuyahoga County jail and other points of interest. “Ever since then we’ve gotten together when he’s in town,” said Lichman who has assisted Koryta with his questions about Ohio legal issues.

“It’s so amazing to see than creative spark,” said Lichman.

“When a resource like that is offered, you’d be really foolish not to use it,” commented Koryta.

Recalling his first meeting with Lichman, Koryta added, “From that point on, George has not just been a big help with the books, but has become a really dear friend. He has a really special mind.”

Because of his love for writing, Koryta said there is not much self-discipline involved for him to get behind the keyboard. “That’s like asking where you find the discipline to eat ice cream every day,” he said with a laugh.

Aside from reading, Koryta advised aspiring writers to continually hone their craft. “It’s really important to get a draft done, then work on improving your craft. It’s easy now to get lost in epublications and things like that. Keep improving the craft and those things will come.”