Debbi Mack interviews crime writer Richard Armstrong on the Crime Cafe podcast.
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Unfortunately, I can no longer provide transcription show notes, but will resume doing so when finances allow. I’ve included a few excerpts from the interview.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
On copywriting and con men:
“I have a free giveaway, if you visit my website. The book, as you know, deals with con men and confidence games, that sort of thing. And there’s a book on there … there’s a booklet called “How to Talk Anybody Into Anything: Secrets of the World’s Greatest Con Men.” It’s about a hundred pages long. It’s a PDF. You can download it instantly for free. There’s no catch or obligation or anything.”
“While I don’t believe that copywriters are con men, we do have a tendency to use a lot of the same techniques. The key difference between a copywriter and a con man is that copywriters are not criminals. We don’t have what’s known in the law as criminal intent. We’re just trying to sell you a product. And, hopefully, that product will be worth more than what you paid for it, and we’ll both go away happy. A win-win situation. Whereas the con man is simply trying to essentially steal money from you without you knowing it. … I think [the free booklet] is a very interesting book and even a useful book if you’re in any business in which persuasion is part of your job, and that includes many, many different types of jobs.”
On copywriting and fiction writing:
“There’s a lot of connections between copywriting and fiction. This is my second novel, but in copywriting, we’ve long recognized the importance of telling stories, the importance of being mysterious, of invoking curiosity in the reader—a number of things we have to do in advertising that are skills that are very, very useful to the novelist. And vice versa.”
About his novel, The Don Con:
“I was an actor years ago, when I was younger, and way back in 1972, I was in a play, and … I did make a very good friend in that cast by the name of Jonathan Frakes. And Jonathan went on to be pretty well-known, famous as the second-in-command of Star Trek: The Next Generation … Patrick Stewart was the commander of the ship, and my friend Jonathan was the second-in-command. And one night, not that long ago—four or five years ago—I was having dinner with him and my wife. And I hadn’t seen him in a while and I was kind of curious about what he was up to, because I knew he wasn’t acting much, because I wasn’t seeing him on television anymore. So we were asking what he was doing, and he said he does a lot of directing in television these days, because he’s also a director.
“But he said, ‘You know, one of the ways that I make income is that I go to fan conventions, particularly Star Trek conventions, and I sign autographs for money.’ And, silly me, I had never heard of this before. I didn’t know such things existed. But he told me that he didn’t know they existed, either, until a couple of years into the show, and his agent said, ‘I think you should go to this Star Trek convention.’ And he said to his agent, ‘Why would I want to do that?” And the agent said, ‘Well … do you like money?’ So, he agreed to do it, and he was absolutely gobsmacked by how much money he made.”
“Not only was it kind of an amusing story, but I was thinking about it a couple of weeks later. I guess I was walking the dog … and it occurred to me, wouldn’t it be interesting if somebody tried to steal that money. All that cash at a fan convention. That was the basic germ of the book. And what the story of the book is … it’s about an actor who never really had a lot of success. I mean, he kind of hit the high water mark of his career when he had little part on The Sopranos, as a gangster. And nowadays, he goes around to these fan conventions around the country and he makes kind of meager living, because he was never a big star, but he’s able to make a living signing autographs at these conventions. And one day, there’s a real gangster in his autograph line. And the real gangster makes him an offer he can’t refuse, which is namely, ‘You are going to help me rob all the celebrities at the next convention.’ So, that’s the basic plotline of the story, and madness ensues from there, as they say.”
And if you’d like to hear a great story from Richard Armstrong about meeting Jonathan Frakes for dinner with just a few Star Trek actors and other television icons, you can hear it exclusively as a podcast supporter on Patreon! 🙂
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