Friday, August 5, 2011

Boston Bank Robber Novelist Also Writes About Vampires

Chuck Hogan, author of Prince of Thieves - the novel on which the movie, The Town, was based - grew up in Canton, Mass. and graduated from Boston College in 1989. Quentin Tarantino-like, he worked in a video rental shop for several years before he got his big break - selling his first novel, The Stand-Off, in 1994 for $500,000, followed by $400,000 for the film rights. Those were the days, the nineties, when unknowns could net some giant money for their first novels. If they were lucky. Now no one is lucky. Hogan himself had a few lean years after his first big success.

During a particularly fallow period, Hogan developed a jones for heists and started researching armored car robberies - which was pretty difficult to do. After all, many might think you were planning to rob an armored car yourself... Apparently, according to Hogan, he kept his eye out for armored car deliveries or pickups in the neighborhood, and actually followed the guys around. I don't know how he got away with this. If I tried it, they'd be staring at me like nobody's business. Hogan claimed he used the supremely beta-male-ish disguise of being a young Daddy in the company of his offspring. It worked. To quote Boston Magazine: “'I started seeing these armored trucks everywhere,” he said. “I would be in a store somewhere, like Kohl’s, and a guy would walk past with the bag. I’d head out to the front and I’d observe [him], walk around, see what was up.' Nobody gave him a second glance. 'I had very young kids at the time,' Hogan said. 'They were a great cover.'"

Out of all that research came Prince of Thieves, which became The Town, and as a result of all that Hogan was rolling in the dough once again. Plus he got to meet Ben Affleck. If that's your thing.

Does Hogan stick with gritty crime dramas set in his native Boston? Yes, and no. He also writes vampire stories. Ever more so of late, as with Twilight and True Blood they have become super-popular. Hogan has even been recruited by Hellboy director Guillermo del Toro to write a vampire series. With Hollywood dangling such huge carrots in front of you, what's a sellout to do? In a sense, he has sort of stuck with "banks". Having gone from criminals to, ahem, blood-suckers, he could be said to have merely switched from writing about bank-robbers to writing about the bankers themselves. Ha-ha... But I will try to restrain myself from making bad puns. Let it suffice for me to say that, whatever Hogan is writing about these days, he sure as hell is laughing all the way to the bank.

Man about Town: Chuck Hogan (Boston Phoenix)
Hubbub: Chuck Hogan, Bonus Interview (Boston Magazine)
Out on The Town with author and Canton native Chuck Hogan (Canton Citizen)
Chuck Hogan (Wikipedia)

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