MLC: Do you remember the first mystery you ever read? If so, what was it, and what pulled you into it?
AUTHOR: One of the first was The G-String Murders, by Gypsy Rose Lee. I found it on my parents’ bookshelves. I was young and not familiar with the world of burlesque, and I didn’t know much about intrigue and murder. It was very educational.
MLC: When did you first decide you wanted to write a mystery, and what led you to that decision?
AUTHOR: One of my four practice (unpublished) novels was a mystery. I related to it as a puzzle solver and a lover of adventure (unless it’s dangerous or cold). I returned to the mystery genre for my second published novel. The result was Thirteen Diamonds, now my best selling book on Amazon Kindle.
MLC: Do you write in any other genres? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: Travel and History. Walking the World: Memories and Adventures is a nonfiction look at interesting walks and hikes I and others have taken. Freedom’s Light: Quotations from History’s Champions of Freedom consists of quotations about freedom, made by well-known people in history.
MLC: Which comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
AUTHOR: I start with a plot idea and the characters develop from that. I have only reused my main character twice, although that may be about to change.
MLC: When you are all wrapped up in the story, do you feel like you could solve the crime, or maybe even solve all the world’s mysteries?
AUTHOR: I think writers are egotistical by nature so yes, I like to think I’m smarter than the criminals. Or at least my protagonists are. Since I’m in control, my protagonists are generally one or more of the following: smarter, tougher, stronger, younger, richer, thinner, more fearless, more charming or better looking than I am.
MLC: Do you write every day, or what kind of a schedule do you have? Do you write full-time, or do you have a “day job”?
AUTHOR: No day job except for volunteering. When I’m working on a book, that’s my job and I write every morning after my walk and breakfast until I get too hungry to continue. If I have nothing else scheduled, afternoons are reserved for marketing.
MLC: Other than your writing, what do you enjoy doing? What is the most important thing to you in your day-to-day life?
AUTHOR: I am a walker/hiker and a traveler. My wife and I have been to all seven continents and numerous countries and principalities. On a daily basis most important is my relationship with my wife.
MLC: Who are your favorite mystery authors? Do you try to emulate them in your own writing?
AUTHOR: I enjoy authors who write about California, including Sue Grafton, Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, T. Jefferson Parker and Denise Hamilton. Ray Bradbury has also written California mysteries. Rather than copy or emulate them, I use their writing to expand my horizons and tell me how far I can stray from my comfort zone.
MLC: In your present book, is this part of a series, or is it a standalone book?
AUTHOR: Now you’re prying into my soul. Forget to Remember was meant to be a standalone because of its nature, but I have an overpowering urge to use some of the characters again, so stay tuned.
MLC: If you are doing a series, do you see an end to it sometime, or do you plan to go on for several years with it?
AUTHOR: All good things must come to an end. One more book may be all the characters will sit still for—or stand for, since they’re action-oriented.
MLC: Do your characters ever drive you a bit crazy by going off in their own direction? If so, how do you rein them in, or do you just let them run off on their own?
AUTHOR: That sounds like a question a psychologist would ask, and I don’t want to sound psycho so I’m not going to bite. I will say I don’t outline a story in advance, partly because that would kill the fun of writing it, and my characters often reveal sides of themselves later I didn't see at first.
MLC: Do you pattern your sleuths after yourself or someone you know? If so, do you let that person know they were your “pattern”?
AUTHOR: I use pieces of people, including myself. My protagonist in Forget to Remember has traits of many women I’ve known. On the other hand, for Run into Trouble I needed a co-protagonist who was an ultra athlete and my wife’s personal trainer filled the bill. She knows I used her as a model.
MLC: How long did it take you to get published? How many rejections did you have to suffer through first? Were you ever tempted to give up? What do you think made the difference when it was accepted?
AUTHOR: As I said, my first four novels were practice. I often dragged my feet and put off writing books but never quit completely. The difference between having a publishable and non-publishable book is very often the experience of the writer. You have to write your million words…
MLC: Do you ever attend any conferences? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: I have been to Bouchercon, Malice Domestic, Criminal Pursuits and Left Coast Crime. I will attend Bloody Words 2011 in Victoria, British Columbia.
MLC: Do you have to promote your own work, or does your publisher do that for you?
AUTHOR: I want to emphasize that authors do almost all their own promotion in the new world of publishing. Although many writers would like to sit alone in front of a computer, it pays for them to learn how to be sociable and get the word out.
MLC: If you have to do marketing, what methods have worked the best for you?
AUTHOR: In person marketing such as talks, well publicized book fairs, book signings, etc. I have an edge if I can speak to readers face to face. I have given book parties for new releases. I also work in the on-line world. I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, but I have two Web sites, blog or make announcements occasionally and am a member of a number of online discussion groups.
MLC: Do you have any idea how your book is selling?
AUTHOR: Sales figures for Amazon Kindle are available up to the minute. They are very encouraging for my books. I also have an idea of hard copy sales through Amazon and my publisher.
MLC: What has been the best review you have gotten, and why?
AUTHOR: My best review for Forget to Remember was written by a DNA expert who doesn’t usually read novels. She said I got the DNA stuff right without overwhelming the reader and that the book has all the “…elements of a successful action-packed movie.”
MLC: Have you won any awards, either as an author or for your books? Please tell us about them.
AUTHOR: Run into Trouble won the American Author’s Association Silver Quill award and was named best Pacific West Book by Reader Views. Honeymoon for Three won the American Author’s Association Silver Quill award and was named Best Mountain West Book by Reader Views. Walking the World: Memories and Adventures was named One of the Top Ten Walking Memoirs and Tales of Long Walks by walking.about.com.
MLC: Is there any one certain thing that a reader has written to you that made you just want to jump up and shout “Yes!!!!”?
AUTHOR: I’ve been compared to Dean Koontz (“I think he’s been reading your books”) and Sue Grafton. Now if I could only sell like them.
MLC: What is your next project, and when will it be out?
AUTHOR: Tentatively, a follow-on to Forget to Remember, using some of the same characters. No timetable.
MLC: If you could write anything at all, ignoring what editors and publishers say they want, what would it be?
AUTHOR: What I’m writing now
MLC: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring mystery authors?
AUTHOR: Write what you’re passionate about (Ray Bradbury) and get your million practice words down on paper. If you picture yourself as a writer—write.
MLC: Do you have any teasers for your readers and fans about the next book?
AUTHOR: Fate is teasing me because I don’t know much about it yet.
MLC: If a genie suddenly appeared and said they would grant you just one wish for your books, what would you wish for?
AUTHOR: Continued success in e-book sales since I think that’s where a lot of the future in publishing lies.
MMLC: Please give us your Web site url and your e-mail address where people can contact you.
MLC: Thank you so much for giving us a little glimpse into your books and your life. We look forward to a lot more books from you.