Acclaimed crime novelist Charlie (“Calumet City”) Newton returns to Louisville tomorrow to teach a writing workshop at Second Story Books (2004 Highland Ave.).
While a gang war threatens the city’s bid for the Olympics, a guitar-playing cop and a desperate actress from the same gritty Chicago neighborhood are forced to confront corruption, violence and the legacy of a family murder.
“It’s a novel about hopes and dreams,” says Newton. “Some propel you through the fire and some burn you to death. That’s the core story of the book.”
Newton’s unorthodox writing methods have garnered him as much attention as his gritty, fast-paced stories. He names his characters after real people he knows, like Chicago cop Bobby Vargas, the namesake of the “Start Shooting” protagonist:
Though he jokingly says he’s “too lazy and too angry” to write true-crime nonfiction, Newton nevertheless has strict rules for how he uses truth in his novels. He says in 90 percent of made-up scenarios, his characters must act and react as their namesakes would in a real-life situation.
“The characters are as true as they are in real life in terms of the important things that they do,” he says. “Marrying them to a quasi-fictional situation where they use those skill sets or those opinions to get themselves in trouble or to confront the issue and solve it, I purposely match the crime and the person and the underlying story.”
Back for a second spin through Louisville, Newton’s workshop is Tuesday, Oct. 16, 6:30-9 p.m.
Newton teaches similar writing workshops in Chicago’s police academy, to veteran police officers and to citizens in Chicago’s violent South Shore.
Cost for the workshop is $30, which includes a copy of “Start Shooting” or Newton’s first novel, “Calumet City.” Reservations can be made by calling 813-0132.