Wallace Stroby is the author of the novels Kings of Midnight, Cold Shot to the Heart, Gone 'Til November, The Heartbreak Lounge and The Barbed-Wire Kiss (a finalist for the Barry Award for Best First Novel). His newest is Shoot the Woman First (Minotaur, December 3, 2013), third in his series about Crissa Stone, a female professional thief. Stroby is a former editor at the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger, and lives on the Jersey Shore.
On your nightstand now:
The Hunter and Other Stories by Dashiell Hammett, The Double by George Pelecanos, H.G. Wells: Collector's Book of Science Fiction--facsimile reprints of Wells's stories as they first appeared in magazine form.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Silver Chief, Dog of the North by Jack O'Brien, and its many sequels. Followed by Walter Farley's Black Stallion series.
Your top five authors:
An ever-changing list. Some standbys: Rafael Sabatini, James M. Cain, Tom McGuane, Lorrie Moore, Clive Barker. Do lists get any more eclectic than that?
Book you've faked reading:
I'll never tell.
Book you're an evangelist for:
Martin Quinn by Anthony Lee. The Wolves of Fairmount Park by Dennis Tafoya. Any crime novel that gets into the hearts and minds--and soul--of its characters.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Lancer paperback editions of Robert E. Howard's Conan stories, with cover paintings by Frank Frazetta.
Book that changed your life:
The two books that pointed me in the direction of what I wanted to write: Lawrence Block's The Devil Knows You're Dead and James Lee Burke's A Morning for Flamingoes.
Favorite line from a book:
"He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." --from Scaramouche by Raphael Sabatini.
Best novel read in 2013:
Stoner by John Williams. Originally published in 1965 and recently reprinted by New York Review Books, this simple story of the life of a college professor in the first half of the 20th century is a beautiful heartbreaker of a novel. It is the only book in recent memory that I stalled on finishing because I didn't want it to end.