WHY A PROSTITUTE? by Albert Tucher

WHY A PROSTITUTE?
By Albert Tucher

“If you want to know why Mr. Tucher has a prostitute detective, you’ll have to ask him.”

So says a LASR review of my short story “Calories”, in which my series character Diana Andrews draws on her experience to solve a case that baffles the police. With the appearance of The “Same Mistake Twice”, my novella from the e-book publisher Untreed Reads, now strikes me as a good time to answer.

My taste in crime fiction runs to the noir. I want to see bad guys and worse guys circling the drain and fighting it out on the way down. And it’s a funny thing about noir—there’s often a prostitute in there somewhere. The prostitution transaction requires a great deal of deception and self-deception on both sides, and what could be more noir than that?

It seems strange to call Diana an “amateur” anything, but she is an amateur detective, and that raises the usual question. How can I justify her involvement in solving the crime? As it turns out, it’s easy to put Diana in a situation where she has to get herself out of a jam or defend her business. She has been a murder suspect, and she has worked to exonerate clients whose paydays were too lucrative to do without. And in several of my stories the police believe that Diana isn’t holding up her end of the informal agreement that keeps her in business: “Don’t make us look bad, tell us when you hear something that we would like to know, and we will look the other way.”

On goes her detective hat.

Prostitutes often turn up as victims, informants, or even villains, but as far as I know, no one has done an entire series centered on a woman who sells sex for a living. Aren’t all writers in the crime genre looking for something that hasn’t been done? I seem to have stumbled on exactly that.

It all started in the summer of 2000, when I signed up on a whim for a fiction writing class at the Union County College in Cranford, NJ. Our teacher, Tom Cantillon, gave us weekly writing assignments, and one week he had us write an action story. From somewhere came a mental picture of a man and a woman standing by a car parked on the shoulder of a deserted highway.

So far, so noir.

But who were they? I decided that they were a cop and a prostitute, and just to keep things interesting, I made her the good guy. He wanted to kill her, and she needed to stop him.

I couldn’t think of a motive that would play in 1,500 words, until I made the police officer a woman also. The motive became jealousy over a man who had been paying Diana—I knew her name immediately—and ignoring the officer.

The story turned out well, but I realized that it was open-ended enough to become the beginning of something bigger. It is now the first chapter in my currently unpublished novel Do Overs. For a long time that book was the beginning of Diana’s main story arc, but my friend and fellow crime writer Elaine Ash, aka Anonymous-9, suggested that something needed to come before it. She was right, and The Same Mistake Twice is the result.

Right behind “Why a prostitute?” generally comes another question—“What kind of research did you do?”

Nudge, nudge.

First, I read some books. It’s an occupational hazard for a librarian, which is what I do in my day job. I discovered that memoirs by prostitutes are a surprisingly large literature, and a huge help in getting my imagination working.

But there came a point when I needed more. I went out and found someone in Diana’s line of work to ask about it. I came to call her my Technical Consultant, because she gave me such wonderful material that I am still living off it. For example, in The Same Mistake Twice, Diana earns a young housewife’s trust by calling on plumbing skills that she learned from a client. My Technical Consultant gave me the general idea when she told me about a client who wanted to watch her wearing a skimpy outfit and working on his car. To that end he taught her some basic auto mechanics and body work.

In the end the question isn’t why I write about a prostitute. It’s how could I not?

About the Author:8_6 Albert_Tucher_Write_Stuff_2012Albert Tucher was an aspiring operatic tenor before his insatiable appetite for rejection led him to writing. He is the creator of prostitute Diana Andrews, whose first novel length adventure, The Same Mistake Twice, is just out from Untreed Reads. Diana has also appeared in fifty short stories in such venues as ThugLit, All Due Respect, and the anthology The Best American Mystery Stories 2010.

Albert Tucher is a librarian in his day job, and his hobby is drinking too much coffee.

Untreed Reads page: http://store.untreedreads.com/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_261

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Albert-Tucher/e/B005MOOTGK

Barnes & Noble page: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/albert-tucher

Website: http://alberttucher.writersresidence.com/

8_6 TSMTdraftFor ten years the dead man lurked in an unmarked grave with a bullet in his head and no one to miss him. Now he has resurfaced, and the only clue to his identity is Diana’s phone number freakishly preserved in his pocket. The police are demanding a list of her clients, and they threaten to stop looking the other way about her business. Diana must stall the cops and solve the case, and she’s running short of time. Her investigation will take her back to her earliest days as a prostitute. She will confront old mistakes and old enemies, and that’s the best-case scenario. The worst could be another secret grave—for her.

A new Diana Andrews novella from the author of Value for the Money and The Retro Look.

Comments

  1. A very original detective choice! Congrats on the good review!

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