Ask Dennis Lehane about storytelling and he will tell you that he grew up in Boston surrounded by Irish aunts and uncles who constantly revised their stories to make them better.
He says he also grew up in a bar culture, where if "you didn't tell a good story in the bar, they didn't give you a polite clap and listen till you got to the end, they just shouted you down."
Many of his books are dark and some have been translated to the movie screen in the films Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone. Lehane says he's learned "what seems to be without a doubt, the sweet spot in my wheelhouse is tragedy. So, when I write books of epic tragedy, that seems to be the books that stick the most in the consciousness of the people that read them."
Tampa's Ybor City is one of the stars in his latest book, Live By Night. Lehane says, Scott Dietch, the author of Cigar City Mafia was his tour guide through Ybor City, the stomping grounds of gangsters Charlie Wall and the Trafficante crime family.
Lehane, who lives part-time in Florida, says the state has some "crazy crime." In his words, "if serial killers didn't exist, you'd believe they did if you've spent any time in Florida. Yes, it's surrounded by sunshine, but that sunshine gives way to some very dark and twisted stuff."