Joseph Nicholas Gores (1931-2011) was born in Rochester, Minnosota and educated at Notre Dame University and Stanford University. He also served in the US Army, where he wrote biographies of generals. After earning a master's degree from Stanford in 1961, he taught at a boys' school in Kenya, and also worked as a hod carrier, a laborer, a logger, a clerk, a driver, a carnival helper, and an assistant motel manager.
His writing career was inspired by the twelve years he spent as a private investigator in San Francisco. He authored ten stand-alone novels, including Spade and Archer, a prequel to The Maltese Falcon, which is the first authorized spin-off to be approved by Dashiel Hammett's daughter. He also wrote seven books in his DKA Files series (1969-1978), and a number of screenplays and television scripts.
He won Japan's Maltese Falcon Award, and received three Edgar Awardsone of only two authors to win in three separate categories: Best First Novel, Best Short Story, and Best Episode in a TV Series.
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Q: Apart from the fact that you're a Dashiell Hammett expert, what was the chief inspiration to write a prequel to his classic novel, The Maltese Falcon?
A: It was a comment the Hammett scholar Rick Layman once said about The Maltese Falcon that first grabbed me: that it was "America's first existential novel." I thought yes, that's exactly right: you don't know anything about the past of these people: they just appear full-blown as if they sprang from the head of Zeus. So I became fascinated by that idea: who is Spade, where did he come from, why he can essentially say to the fat man, "If you'd stayed away from me you would have been okay, but when you cross me then you have to deal with me now, because this is my town."
The way it came about is that that I'd met Professor Layman who'd written a number of fabulous books on Hammett, and the first really good biography of Hammett, called Shadow Man, (because one of the operatives at Pinkerton's detective agency where Hammett worked said that he was a great shadow man, he could follow anyone anywhere and no one would ever see this lanky man tailing them). Through Rick Layman, I met the family, including Jo Marshall, Hammett's surviving daughter, and in 1999 I wrote her a ...
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