Ace Atkins was handpicked by the Robert B. Parker estate to carry on the Spenser mystery series. Before his selection, however, Ace Atkins had already made a name for himself as an author and crime reporter. In this interview, the author who has been nominated for every major award in crime fiction discusses life in Mississippi and the latest novel in his Quinn Colson series, “The Redeemers.”
A resident of Oxford, MS, for fifteen years, Atkins enjoys living in the South because it enables him to keep in close touch with the types of characters he writes about. He said, “I’m from Alabama. I’ve lived a lot of different places, but I’m from a Southern family and this is a rich area to find folks. It’s very true, the people in ‘The Redeemers’ are specific to the American South, whether it’s Alabama or Mississippi.”
In fact, Atkins said he was listening to a resident speak one day and was mentally jotting down the cadence and what he was talking about. Later, he said to his wife, “Sometimes when I think I may go too far with these characters, remind me I don’t go far enough.”
Ace Atkins’ family has lived in the South since Alabama became a state. “They were the original settlers after the Indians and so that’s how far back it goes. It’s a complex thing, but the South is always rich ground for the good, the bad, and the ugly. And, that’s kind of the way I always describe it. I’ve never been apologist for the South and I’m not a cheerleader. There are a lot of lot of wonderful things down here, but it’s very complex.”
The Quinn Colson series, much like the complexity of the South, is partially founded on what Atkins calls “a very Southern thing.” He said, “What I write about is people not wanting to address the truth and that’s very Southern. It’s about not wanting to discuss the realities or off-limits subjects and goes back to the old quote of, ‘For evil to triumph, it takes good men to do nothing.’
“It’s not necessarily that we have more than our fair share of bad people, but we do have more than our fair share of people who will not speak up and stand up for the truth. That’s what Quinn Colson is about. He’s really representing the modern South, the new South. He’s not afraid to ask hard questions and get to the root of things.”
Atkins also added, “The Redeemers” uses the same overarching theme as the other books in the Quinn Colson series and was inspired by true events. He said, “This one is inspired by true events more than anything I’ve ever done.”
Find out about the future of the Quinn Colson series and how Ace Atkins’ career as a crime reporter affected his career as a novelist at terryambrose.com.
Learn more about Ace Atkins on his website at aceatkins.com.