Q&A: Daniel Boyne’s Body of Water

Crime writer Daniel Boyne

2 May 2023

Yesterday, HTBS posted a review of Daniel Boyne’s new book, Body of Water, a crime story that is published by Lyons Press. HTBS editor Göran Buckhorn caught up with Dan to ask him some questions about his novel. 

HTBS: First Dan, congratulations on your new book. How does it feel to have your fifth rowing book* out? 

DB: It’s always fun to put something out there, and this was a fun writing project.

HTBS: Do you think it will surprise some people, who know your previous writing on rowing subjects, that you have published a novel, and a crime novel at that? 

DB: Certainly, my publisher wondered what I was up to here, switching over to fiction, but it’s really just more storytelling on my part. My nonfiction always had literary elements to it, and this book has truthful elements to it. Plus, it still concerns rowing.

HTBS: Tell us why you choose to pen a crime story. Is there a special story behind the book? 

DB: I think it was Robert Louis Stevenson who said that all good stories are mysteries, and I’ve always wanted to try to write a detective novel. My main goal was to entertain the reader, but my other goal was to illustrate what rowing looks like to an outsider; namely, a Boston state police detective. We are a rather odd bunch, don’t you think?

HTBS: Before you started writing, did you know how it was going to end, who had committed the crime? 

DB: No. Maybe subconsciously I did, but I purposefully let the story move organically forward.

HTBS: Are any of the characters in the novel based on real people? 

DB: Maybe. I’m not sure.

HTBS: Body of Water was running as installments/chapters on Row2k. Have you changed anything in the story now when it is out as a printed book? 

DB: Yes. Big parts were rewritten, and the last chapter is totally new. It’s the best one.

HTBS: Did you find it harder or easier to write fiction if you compared it to your other books? Were you struggling at any point, with the dialog, a “scene”, a technical view on the police or coroner work, etc? 

DB: Surprisingly not. Again, I’ve always created scenes in my books, and here I simply had a little more latitude to do so. The main difficulty was remembering to make all of the puzzle pieces of the plot fit together and seem consistent. Dialogue is fun for me, but it took years to hone things down to a very spare style, without a lot of pretenses to the prose.

HTBS: Is there a specific “scene” that you are especially fond of in your novel? Any person you feel close to? If so, why? 

DB: I like the bits where the main character, Ed Masterson, is out sculling on the Charles.

HTBS: Are you planning a sequel with Sean Delaney and Sue Chasen as main characters? 

DB: Good idea…let’s see how Body of Water does.

HTBS: Name three of your favorite mystery/crime writers. 

DB: Robert B. Parker, Jussi Adler-Olsen and Robert Louis Stevenson.

HTBS: In an Afterword in the novel, you mention that you were once invited to mystery/detective writer Robert B. Parker’s house who lived by Harvard Square in Cambridge (Massachusetts). Parker died 13 years ago, in 2010, but has he meant anything for your creation of Body of Water

DB: Yes. He encouraged me to try my hand at detective fiction, which had been a lucrative career for him. One reader also pointed out that my main detective, Sean Delaney, and his romantic interest, Sue Chasen, reminded them of Parker’s duo, Spenser and Susan Silverman. There always has to be a smart woman in my books who is also athletically gifted.

HTBS: What advice would you give a person who would like to write a crime novel? 

DB: Good luck! Read a bunch of books you like and learn the basic format. Then pick something you know about or want to know about. A mix of those two is ideal.

HTBS: Thank you, Dan, and good luck with Body of Water

DB: Thank you! 

*Dan Boyne has previously published Essential Sculling (2000), The Red Rose Crew: A True Story of Women, Winning, and the Water (2000), Kelly: A Father, A Son, An America Quest (2012) and The Seven Seat: A True Story of Rowing, Redemption, and Revenge (2019). All these books have been published by Lyons Press in Connecticut.

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