‘I just didn’t want them to read like a travel brochure’: How Alex Segura crafted his Miami crime novel series

Alex Segura doesn’t call Miami home at the moment, but he was born and bred here and has made the Magic City the center of his literary world. The author, and former Miami Herald journalist, has created a saga centered around a character named Pete Fernandez and Pete’s story is set right here in the 305. 

The Miami-born writer’s fifth book in the series, “Miami Midnight,” is set for release on Aug. 13 so we decided to ask Alex a little about the series, his latest work, and to get a sense of what he considers a perfect day in SoFla.

What inspired the Pete Fernandez saga?

I’ve always loved crime and mystery fiction, but I became obsessed with it in my mid-twenties, specifically modern noir novels by authors like Laura Lippman, George Pelecanos, Lawrence Block, and Dennis Lehane. They all featured really screwed up but relatable heroes, and their novels also featured a unique, engaging setting – from DC to Baltimore to Boston, I felt like I was visiting these cities and seeing the dark corners I couldn’t find as a tourist. My love for those books mixed with a bit of youthful hubris and I thought – why can’t I try to write a Miami PI novel? None of the books I read featured a character like me – Latinx, younger, still getting started. So I wanted to bring all those elements together to tell the story of a flawed, reluctant, inexperienced Miami PI coming to grips with his destiny.

What should people know about the series if they’re jumping in with this book?

I try to write each of them as standalones, meaning you can hop in whenever. But, obviously, you get a bit more if you read in order. That said, if you dive into Miami Midnight blind, all you need to know is that Pete Fernandez is a recovering alcoholic who’s given up being a private eye, and is trying to settle into a calm Miami life after a series of traumatic events. But that’s not in the cards for him.

What do you think of the reality of Miami compared to what you dramatize in your novels?

I’d like to think my take on Miami is more true than other versions I’ve read, or at least takes on Miami on TV or in movies, but it’s all perception, I guess. I like to spend time in less popular areas – to give readers a sense of how spread out and big Miami and its surrounding areas are, beyond the relatively tight downtown. So, in the series, you visit the suburbs, Broward [County], Homestead, the Keys – you get a bigger picture, and you see real places I’ve been to or know about. I just didn’t want them to read like a travel brochure, and to really give readers a sense of being transported to a new place, like I was with the novels I fell in love with.

What’s a perfect day in the 305 look like?

To my wife’s dismay, I’m not a beach guy – so my favorite days in Miami are when the Book Fair rolls around. Good food, smart company, books, great weather and plenty of cafecito.

What do you hope people take away from your work?

First and foremost, I hope they’re entertained. I hope they get a thrill reading these books. I also hope they enjoy spending time with Pete and his friends, flaws and all. I hope the mysteries are fulfilling and I hope they feel I did Miami justice, because it deserves to be up there with other mystery novel locations, for sure.

“Miami Midnight” will be released Aug. 13 and you can order your copy here.