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An Interview with Dan Leissner, Writer of Guilty City

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2022

Dan Leissner on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new novel Guilty City - in a few words, what is it about?


It’s a “noir” crime novel with a period setting. A hard-boiled detective story. With a supernatural twist.


From what I know, Guilty City is in parts based on historical events - so do talk about these stories behind your story for a bit, and the research that went into that aspect of your novel?


The book is set in New York City in 1929 at the time of the Wall Street Crash which provides the backdrop for the story. It’s set within the social/political scene of the time, when the city was a cesspool of corruption, run by the mob and the dirty politics of Tammany Hall. The storyline itself was inspired by the true-life unsolved murder of high-class courtesan Vivian Gordon in 1931. The book features her as a central character and other historical figures from the time such as mobster Dutch Schultz, Mayor Jimmy Walker, and the Tammany bigwigs. My research consisted of accumulating a library on the period, the settings, the events, and the characters. And many searches on the web.


(Other) sources of inspiration when writing Guilty City?


These would have been the “hard-boiled” detective fiction and other literature of those times and movies made in that period. To get me into a “period” frame of mind.


Guilty City paints a very vivid picture of the late 1920s/early 30s - so what attracted you to exactly that era?


I’ve always been into that period and been an avid reader of books and watcher of films produced at that time. It’s really the energy of that era and the “edge” to it. The vibrancy and social upheaval. Everything about it, it makes for such a colourful backdrop.


Do talk about your writing style and your stylistic influences for Guilty City for a bit!


My writing style has often been described as “cinematic” and I tend to structure my books in “scenes” as though in a movie. I’m not consciously influenced by anyone; I try and avoid writing like someone else. Although of course I’ve absorbed all the usual suspects in my genre, such as Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. If I do have a definite “influencer” it would be Paul Cain and his definitive hard-boiled classic Fast One.


Guilty City is a sequel to your earlier novel The Big Farewell - so did you always plan to expand on the protagonists of that book, or was this only an afterthought?


I had the notion of a possible sequel in the back of my mind although it wasn’t a definite plan. Some of the reviewers of The Big Farewell said they hoped for a sequel and that motivated me. I’d already come across the story of Vivian Gordon while I was writing The Big Farewell, and it was an obvious candidate.


What can you tell us about the writing process as such?


I’m not one of those writers who can set themselves so many words or so many hours a day. My creative juices don’t work that way. I must wait for the next “scene” to percolate, which can be the next day or take a week or more. And then I write that scene, which takes as long as it takes; and then wait for the next one to form in my mind. I often start a book with no idea how it will end. I often don’t know what will happen next, let alone how it will end!


The $64-question, where has Guilty City been released?


Like The Big Farewell, I self-published Guilty City on Amazon in Kindle and paperback.




... and from pretty much all Amazons worldwide J


Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Guilty City?


It’s early days for Guilty City, I’m still waiting for reviews to come in. Those who I’ve let read it have all praised it and said that it’s even better than The Big Farewell, which is what you hope for, in a sequel. The great crime writer James Ellroy said that he hoped that readers would find each of his books better than the previous one. I haven’t run any of the usual online promos yet for Guilty City because I’m currently running some to draw more attention to The Big Farewell first.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


Having been told that The Big Farewell would make a great movie, I’ve just started adapting it as a screenplay which I hope to submit to production companies in the USA. I’ve been asked whether I intend extending The Big Farewell and Guilty City into an ongoing series but I’m not sure about that. Maybe a trilogy.


Your/your book's website, social media, whatever else?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to search for books by
Dan Leissner
yourself ?

The links below
will take you
just there !!!

I have a Facebook author page - and I’m also on Goodreads - Otherwise, I’ve confined my “social media” presence to any promos that I’ve signed up for.


Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Just that if any of you out there do read my books, I hope you enjoy them.


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD