IN THE EARLY 1980S, DAVID LINDSEY
(’70) met someone who would change his life forever.
of two was living in Austin when he made the acquaintance of a “well-educated,
urbane man who lived in a city that was wall-to- wall mayhem.”
was police detective Stuart Haydon, the city was Houston and the
meeting began a partnership between the two men that would last
for almost 10 years.
Haydon exists only in Lindsey’s imagination.
speaks of him in concrete terms, Haydon is, in fact, a popular recurring
character in several of his suspense thrillers.
100 pages of the first Haydon novel,” Lindsey remembers. “By the
end of those, I knew I wanted to explore this character for a while.
I stuck with him for five novels.”
the author has turned to various lead characters, including several
female protagonists. Apart from the five Haydon books (A Cold Mind,
Heat From Another Sun, Spiral, In the Lake of the Moon and Body
of Truth), Lindsey has published five other novels (Black Gold,
Red Death; Mercy; An Absence of Light; Requiem for a Glass Heart;
and The Color of Night), with the first draft of his 11th opus recently
met with no small measure of success, garnering both critical acclaim
and a movie deal — a film version of 1990’s Mercy will be released
has never fit the “struggling writer” stereotype — he decided to
become a wordsmith at age 35 and has never looked back.
As an undergraduate
at North Texas in the late ’60s, Lindsey had another encounter that
would shape his future. He met the giants of European and Russian
literature — Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Dickens, Eliot, Johnson, Milton.
These were the driving forces that led the young, already-married
Lindsey to immerse himself in literature.
Texas I was able to really indulge my love for literature,” he says.
“I pulled out all the stops and took every possible elective in
literature, so much so that my adviser said I had to cool it.
a very formative period for me, the seedbed for what I explored
initially took the form of a career in publishing as Lindsey and
his family moved to Austin, where he worked for small, regional
publishers. After a four-year attempt to start his own publishing
company and a stint at the UT Press, he decided to begin writing
writing what he knew, Lindsey did some research and discovered that
mystery novels “had been steady sellers forever,” so he bought and
devoured two dozen mysteries, reading authors like John LeCarré,
Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. Then he just started writing.
book I wrote was my first experience with writing,” he says. “It
was an untutored experiment. I got the first thing published based
on 100 pages and I’m still getting published. I’m lucky. But it
was horrifying; I didn’t know if I could write a page 101.”
that fear hasn’t gone away, even after 11 books: “The biggest surprise
is that it didn’t get easier. It’s the nature of the business, to
be terrified at the beginning of a book.”
that terrifying first moment even comes, however, Lindsey is busy
doing research, a process he takes very seriously. He’s traveled
extensively in Guatemala as well as Mexico and has delved into the
darker side of humanity in his research with the Houston Homicide
Division and the FBI.
my investigation into the culture of homicide was shocking,” Lindsey
explains. “My first novels are more violent because I was working
through that. I’m not the kind of personality who can see that and
not let that get to me.”
Mercy, a novel dealing with serial killing, was almost too much.
me of all that (in-depth research),” he says somberly. “The research
was so shocking and overwhelming. It was scary. Scary in that it
was something I had to put myself into to understand.”
expect Lindsey to quit writing any time soon: “I can’t imagine doing
anything else, and I can’t imagine stopping ever.”
of Stuart Haydon need not despair.
I’ll do another (Haydon book). I’m getting curious about what he’s
been up to,” Lindsey says, a touch of eagerness creeping into his