• Birth—January 12, 1952
• Where—Los Angeles, California, USA
• Education—B.A., Johnson State College
• Awards—Shamus Award, Private Eye Writers of America;
Grammy Award for Best Album Notes
• Currently—lives in New York City
When President Bill Clinton announced that Walter Mosley was one of his favorite writers, Black Betty (1994), Mosley's third detective novel featuring African American P.I. Easy Rawlins, soared up the bestseller lists. It's little wonder Clinton is a fan: Mosley's writing, an edgy, atmospheric blend of literary and pulp fiction, is like nobody else's. Some of his books are detective fiction, some are sci-fi, and all defy easy categorization.
Mosley was born in Los Angeles, traveled east to college, and found his way into writing fiction by way of working as a computer programmer, caterer, and potter. His first "Easy Rawlins" book, Gone Fishin' didn't find a publisher, but the next, Devil in a Blue Dress (1990) most certainly did—and the world was introduced to a startlingly different P.I.
Part of the success of the Easy Rawlins series is Mosley's gift for character development. Easy, who stumbles into detective work after being laid off by the aircraft industry, ages in real time in the novels, marries, and experiences believable financial troubles and successes. In addition, Mosley's ability to evoke atmosphere—the dangers and complexities of life in the toughest neighborhoods of Los Angeles—truly shines. His treatment of historic detail (the Rawlins books take place in Los Angeles from the 1940s to the mid-1960s) is impeccable, his dialogue fine-tuned and dead-on.
In 2002, Mosley introduced a new series featuring Fearless Jones, an Army vet with a rigid moral compass, and his friend, a used-bookstore owner named Paris Minton. The series is set in the black neighborhoods of 1950s L.A. and captures the racial climate of the times. Mosley himself summed up the first book, 2002's Fearless Jones, as "comic noir with a fringe of social realism."
Despite the success of his bestselling crime series, Mosley is a writer who resolutely resists pigeonholing. He regularly pens literary fiction, short stories, essays, and sci-fi novels, and he has made bold forays into erotica, YA fiction, and political polemic. "I didn't start off being a mystery writer," he said in an interview with NPR. "There's many things that I am." Fans of this talented, genre-bending author could not agree more!
From a 2004 Barnes & Noble interview:
• Mosley is an avid potter in his spare time.
• He was a computer programmer for 15 years before publishing his first book. He is an avid collector of comic books. And ahe believes that war is rarely the answer, especially not for its innocent victims.
• When asked what book most influenced his career as a writer, here is what he said:
The Stranger by Albert Camus probably had the greatest impact on me. I suppose that's because it was a novel about ideas in a very concrete and sensual world. This to me is the most difficult stretch for a writer—to talk about the mind and spirit while using the most pedestrian props. Also the hero is not an attractive personality. He's just a guy, a little removed, who comes to heroism without anyone really knowing it. This makes him more like an average Joe rather than someone beyond our reach or range.
(Bio and interview from Barnes & Noble .)
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