I actually draw from both. Plot ideas are derived from current events and cases worked as a police officer. Use of current events such as human trafficking in my novel Cornered, or crimes against children and parental revenge as in my other novel Price of Justice, makes the plot more believable to readers. Hopefully, this raises questions for the reader to ponder, such as, what would I do if that happened to me or a member of my family.
Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
When I first began writing fiction, my starting point was always the beginning. In life, everything starts at the beginning. How it all ends will be a surprise. Why should a fictional story be any different? But for me, the result ended up being a quagmire or nightmare of disconnected scenes and character story lines. In short, it lacked a smooth flow.
But time and experience plus a lot of reading of other author’s novels, made me realize my style needed a drastic change. Now, it’s conclusion first but I don’t then do the plot in reverse. Once I’m satisfied with where and how the story will finish, I’ll frame the beginning – usually right in the middle of some major event. With a likeable beginning and ending in place – a framework, the story with its subtle clues and foreshadowing is easier to write.
Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
I work from a home office. Armed with cups of coffee, I’ll start the day by re-reading the last scene written the day before so as to refresh my recollection. Then the typing begins. While I type, I love to listen to German polka music or instrumentals of my favorite tunes from days gone by. It also masks distracting sounds from the lawn care crew.
Is writing your full time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
t is. Having retired from government service, I spend my time either writing the next novel or reading/studying how other authors did it. Occasionally I have to pause and submit/answer emails or phone calls from other attorneys or police associates about various topics – some related to my writing and some not.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
This is a difficult question. A year or so ago, I’d have said it was Michael Connelly, John Sandford, and J.A. Jance. Now, having expanded my reading list to include many more authors, I’d list three – Michael McGarrity with his vivid descriptions of settings in New Mexico for his protagonist, Kevin Kearney; James Hayman with his “can’t put it down” stories about his co-protagonists McCabe and Savage; and Meg Gardiner, not only because she’s from Austin but for her full 3-dimensional descriptions of her novels’ characters.
What are you reading now?
I deviated from my favorites to read the next two books in my Nook’s queue – Class Dismissed by Mark Petry, and The Psalmist by James Lilliefors. I selected them because Mark’s a fellow author with the same publisher as me – it’s a way of supporting him plus he writes an interesting novel. Lilliefors is an author I know little about. I read the blurb about this book while searching for a crime novel to read/study.
Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
Right now, I’m in the middle of finishing the third revision of Rampage, the sequel to Price of Justice. It follows Detective Scarsdale and his new partner, Tatum Harper, as they try to identify and catch a killer. The book uses themes of temptation, trust, and redemption.
In the wings, with an outline and the first two chapters written, is a stand-alone mystery-thriller about an assistant district attorney who finds the dark side just as enticing as the law.
Fun questions: Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
Believe it or not, when I start a new novel, I cast the characters so I can visualize them while I’m writing about them. That said, for my novel Cornered, Christian Bale would be my choice for the role of Detective Matt Brady; Sarah Jones is the perfect actress for the role of Dr. Tracy Rogers; Cassidy Freeman possesses the same snarky smile as Brady’s ex-girlfriend, Cassandra. The bad guys, Weaver and Chiles, would be played by Michael Rooker and Michael Mando, respectively.
Manuscript/Notes: handwritten or keyboard?
My manuscript is always, always done by keyboard. If I (a hunt and peck typist) had to write it by hand or on a conventional typewriter, it’d take me forever to get it done. But my notes and those 3AM epiphanies are all scribblings put on notepads my wife leaves in strategic spots around the house.
Favorite leisure activity/hobby?
My favorite activity is dating my wife. She’s a beautiful woman whose patience with me obviously knows no limits. My next favorite activity is watching pro and college football games. Aside from football, I have several favorite TV shows – The Originals, The Last Ship, Under the Dome, Motive, Murder in the First, and Bitten.