About SJ Rozan
SJ Rozan, a native New Yorker, is the author of nine novels. She has won the the Edgar, Nero,
Macavity, Shamus and Anthony awards for Best Novel and the Edgar award for Best Short Story.
She is a former Mystery Writers of America National Board member, a current Sisters in Crime
National Board member, and President of the Private Eye Writers of America. In January 2003
she was an invited speaker at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland. In February 2005 she will be Guest of Honor at the Left Coast Crime convention in
El Paso, Texas. A former architect in a practice that focussed on police stations, firehouses, and
zoos, SJ Rozan lives in lower Manhattan.
Visit her website at: www.sjrozan.com
SJ Rozan -- November 10, 2007
Post Meeting Write-up
Face the Fiction's November guest, S.J. Rozan, provided us with a delightful evening. Ms. Rozan
not only discussed her books, short stories and editing credits, but gave us a glimpse into more
personal aspects. Her candor and humor made for a good time.
Ms. Rozan began by discussing the ins and outs of how her novel, In This Rain, came to be. She
described it as being set "at the intersection of politics, real estate development, and crime."
When asked, "Why?" her response was that "It's a broad intersection. Lots of room to maneuver."
The book has a large cast, ranging from street kids to the Mayor of the City of New York, with a
myriad of twists and turns. When writing, S.J. often puts to use her experience of having been an
architect in a practice that focused on police stations, firehouses, and zoos. S.J. Rozan lives in
lower Manhattan too. She knows of what she writes. Her credentials as winner of the Edgar,
Nero, Macavity, Shamus and Anthony awards for Best Novel and the Edgar award for Best Short
Story, are no coincidence.
S.J. Rozan, a native New Yorker, then moved on to discussing how she came to edit the Bronx
Noir collection of stories. She's a Bronx girl. Her insightful honesty about the writing and editing
process was both funny and informative. Her line about "everyone in America is either from the
Bronx or wishes they were," to explain the high number of sales of the book, Bronx Noir, in
Florida had many heads nodding and more than one smile. Of course, our own Bronx boy, Gene,
S.J. was very honest in telling us what motivated her writing, influenced her writing and why she
needed to write her book Absent Friends. This book was a cathartic release following 9/11. It
wasn't so much a 9/11 story as it was a story around 9/11 and the aftermath of that day. "Secrets
of a group of childhood friends unravel in this haunting thriller set in New York in the unforgettable
aftermath of September 11." Absent Friends was meant to capture a time of confusion, hurt,
anger and questions, in short, a world changed forever on a deceptively beautiful September
Ms. Rozan then moved on to Winter and Night, set in New Jersey. This book has two main
characters, investigator Bill Smith, and his partner Lydia Chin (and a funny story about people
asking her why she writes about being a Chinese woman). They are trying to help a 15-year-old
boy, Gary, who is being held for a crime. Gary goes missing and they try to find the missing teen
and uncover what it is that led him so far from home. They go to his home in a small town in
New Jersey. Bill finds himself in a town where nothing matters but high school football, where
the secrets of the past—both the town's and Bill's own—threaten to destroy the present. It was
the need to express her feelings over Columbine that evoked the emotion to tell this tale. As S.J.
explained, so many schools focus on the "jocks" because of the money sports can generate and
how the "non-jock" that is supposed to have a place to fit in, doesn't. How many times are "jocks"
allowed to get away with bad behavior, substandard grades and more all because of their status
as a "jock." When they finally do go and rape someone, or some other horrible crime, people
have the audacity to ask, "how could this have happened?"
S.J. opened up to questions, as she put it, "because it's easier." Questions were varied and
interesting. One of the best questions came from a newcomer (a young man who was there due
to his interest in Absent Friends - he was not a jock and related to the story), in the form of "is
there a book you absolutely despise?" This led to an interesting discussion. Books, authors,
movies and more were covered. She is a fan of the old noir movies and defines noir in that vein -
the reformed bad-boy who tries to touch goodness and can't. A purist. Mike P liked her take on
noir and agreed. We then asked her to read a passage for us from Bronx Noir. She got us
hooked and left off at a part in the story where you just "had to know" what came next - Todd
bought 3 copies of the book! (we so need to work on this behavior - he's too good at sliding up to
the front before anyone else and hogging the inventory - intervention anyone?) I mean, really, it's
like alligator wrestling - poor Aurelia barely made it out with her own copy!
S.J. is a former Mystery Writers of America National Board member, a current Sisters in Crime
National Board member, and President of the Private Eye Writers of America. She is also a great
speaker with a raw honesty that was a welcome thing. In fact, Ms. Rozan had to wrap up a bit
early so she could catch her 10:00 bus home - what's so notable about that you wonder? She
had to get home so she could get to bed early because she had a basketball game in the
morning. Imagine looking at this petite, tiny woman and trying to connect her to basketball - lol!
In her own words, "yeah, I play, not well, but I play. I'm a point guard. I'm little, stay low and pass
the ball." Honesty and humor, therein lies S.J. Rozan.
Todd escorted S.J. to the bus, we hid evidence of us having been there, and a group of us
headed over to the diner (15 of us). Liz B headed home, as did a few others. Conversation was
fun and continued late into the night. Taras and I continued to convert Chris into the Buffyverse,
while planning many evil deeds. Bill stripped. Todd was quite lively due to sleep deprivation.
Mike P held court at his end of the table, entertaining Aurelia, Deena, Jim and Steve. Good time
as always. Don't miss next month when once again we are spooked & entertained by Sandy
Schlosser while enjoying a catered holiday event, and possibly another surprise for our very
dedicated moderators ;)