Interview with Robert Tell

What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is called "Deep Pockets." It is book four of The Harry Grouch Mystery Series . As with The first book, "The Witch of Maple Park," published in 2013, the second in the series, "Nanobe," published in 2014, and "Stradella's Revenge, published in 2016", Deep Pockets tells the further entertaining adventures of the cantankerous private eye, Harry Grouch, and his new bride, Judy Pacas. Each book in the series is independent of the others, but each story develops the character and skills of Harry Grouch in a way sure to please his growing list of fans.

In "Deep Pockets," Harry has to deal with a multinational Mafia situation in which billions of dollars from fraudulent malpractice lawsuits, physician extortion, and corruption among selected lawyers and judges, all lead to some narrow escapes from a violent end for our our favorite detective. But our hero prevails in the end (no surprise, eh?). How he does that is what makes this novel a compelling read.

In "Stradella's Revenge," a series of murders of contemporary classical music composers leave police without a clue as to motive or perp. Are they all linked, or just coincidences? . When someone tries to kill Harry Grouch's friend, Tom Albinoni, a descendant of a famous composer, could there be a relationship to the other murders? Harry and Judy get dragged into exploring the history of a talented but flawed 17th Century Italian baroque composer named Alessandro Stradella who was assassinated in 1682. Why is this happening in the 1990's, and how it is linked to the other composers' deaths? You'll have to read it to find out.

The "Witch of Maple Park," is based on a true story that I find absolutely fascinating. I did tons of research into the historical 1843 case of Polly Bodine, a young woman accused of gruesomely murdering her sister-in-law and niece on Staten Island with an axe. It was a case to rival the famous Lizzie Borden story although it never got the same attention nationally. In New York, however, it dominated the news for several years. Edger Allen Poe wrote an editorial about it, P.T. Barnum, the famous entertainer and con man placed a hideous and bloody axe-wielding wax statue outside the courthouse where Polly Bodine was being tried. He labeled her "The Witch of Staten Island." The media demonized Polly and the public screamed for her blood. Polly Bodine was tried three times and eventually exonerated. The murder was never solved. This case was just crying out for a fictional treatment of the story, so I reinvented it in 1993 Michigan, created another Polly as the prime suspect, and brought the tales of both Polly's, 1843 and 1993, together in what I hope will be a surprising way for my readers. What fun to watch Harry Grouch untangle the mystery!

"Nanobe," also required huge research into the scientific and clinical worlds of microbes responsible for a condition known as Rapidly Progressive Dementia. In case you are wondering, a nanobe is a tiny organism that may or may not be alive but, if living, would be the smallest form of life, 1/10 the size of the smallest known bacteria. So what's a nanobe doing in a Harry Grouch mystery book? Well, terrified neurosurgery patients at Bard Memorial Hospital are dying from Rapidly Progressive Dementia and none of the doctors or nurses know why! Is it a natural attack by a weird new pathogen? A Nanobe? Harry Grouch says "No. It looks like murder in the operating room!" The inspiration for the story came from an actual case at an American hospital in which neurosurgical patients were dying from an initially unknown cause that turned out, after extensive study, to be a nanobe. Harry Grouch is hired by Bard Memorial Hospital to figure it out and, along the way, the reader is introduced to many of the inner workings of a modern hospital.
What are you working on next?
Watch for a series of short stories in various popular genres, including mystery, sci-fi, historical fiction, medical and hospital tales, etc.

Oh, and by the way, my first novel, "Thirsty Planet," has been translated into Chinese and was recently published in that Country. Working with the Chinese publisher's translater's was an extremely enjoyable and educational experience.
When did you first start writing?
My undergraduate degree is in English Literature. I discovered and admired the great British poets like Keats, Coleridge, Shelley, Burns, Blake, Donne, Wordsworth and, of course, Shakespeare. I began writing poetry then, in my twenties in a (futile) attempt to produce poetry of similar quality. I did get some of it published and even won some awards. In recent years I've focused more on fiction and enjoy creating the colorful characters for my novels and stories. My graduate education in Public Health at Columbia University, and my years in hospital management, have influenced at least one of my novels, several of my short stories, and some unique, medically oriented poetry.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy comes from the pleasure reported by my readers in reading my work. Not everyone loves it, of course. That would be too much to ask. But the majority of my readers have become my wonderful fans. If my work manages to entertain and stimulate some modern readers, I am satisfied that my efforts in producing these works were worthwhile. I also love creating the characters in my novels. I look forward to sitting down at my computer each morning and wondering what unpredictable things these virtual human beings will do that day. They have their own personalities and generally lead me where they want to go rather than letting me control their goals and actions.
Published 2017-11-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Deep Pockets
Series: Harry Grouch Mysteries. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 63,420. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Hard-Boiled, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
Do these things really happen? Do unscrupulous medical malpractice lawyers pay hospital nurses to report patient incidents that could lead to profitable lawsuits? Harry Grouch and Judy Pacas uncover a national ring of such lawyers controlled by organized crime. When the FBI deputizes Harry to investigate, all becomes clear—but not before some dangerous adventures befall our favorite detectives.
Stradella's Revenge (A Harry Grouch Mystery)
Series: Harry Grouch Mysteries. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 77,260. Language: English. Published: February 29, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
Who is killing classical composers all over America? A serial killer is on the loose and Harry Grouch must find out why and catch the murderer. "Stradella's Revenge" is based on the real life conflicts of two 17th century Italian composers, Tomaso Albinoni and Alessandro Stradella and the lust for revenge inflicted on their 20th century descendants.
Nanobe, A Harry Grouch Mystery
Series: Harry Grouch Mysteries. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 80,120. Language: English. Published: December 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Medical
When 6 hospital patients die mysteriously from Rapidly Progressive Dementia, Harry Grouch is hired to investigate the cause. Is it a biological accident involving a new and mysterious pathogen, or is it murder using a unique murder weapon, a nanobe: a tiny organism that may or may not be alive but, if living, would be the smallest form of life, 1/10 the size of the smallest known bacteria?
The Witch of Maple Park (A Harry Grouch Mystery)
Series: Harry Grouch Mysteries, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 74,200. Language: English. Published: June 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Courtroom
(5.00)
"The Witch of Maple Park" is book 1 in the popular Harry Grouch mystery series. It is FREE to introduce readers to the series. Based on the true story of an 1843 Ax murder in NYC, Harry investigates a contemporary crime having an uncanny resemblance to the historic event. To solve it, he faces a criminal justice system willing to do anything to get a conviction, even condemn an innocent suspect.
Police Story (and Other Spooky Story Poems)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 3,710. Language: English. Published: January 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Poetry, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Humor
Read these lighthearted verse adventures out loud on Halloween, around the campfire, or anytime just for fun. A Werewolf stalks New York in "Police Story." "Gorfagog" is a thirty-ton monster frog. "Why the Willow Weeps" explains the mythological origins of the weeping willow. "Higby Hyscorer," is off to the moon again. And in "Halloween Golf," a skull is found in the bunker at the 14th hole. Enjoy
The Medical Director's Divorce and Other Stories
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 32,430. Language: English. Published: December 25, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Medical, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
A baby with breast cancer? A disgruntled morgue attendant! A medical chief who self-destructs! Today's complex hospitals are places where life and death events occur around the clock, where love affairs happen, where ambition gets thwarted, and where greed and ego can motivate action—just like in other human activities. This is a collection of dramatic tales about hospital staff. And much more.
Dementia Diary, A Caregiver's Journal
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 38,800. Language: English. Published: February 6, 2010. Categories: Nonfiction » Health, wellbeing, & medicine » Diseases / Alzheimer’s & dementia, Nonfiction » Relationships and Family » Aging
(3.00)
For 15 years, Robert Tell was his widowed Mom's caregiver as her mind and personality disappeared into the fog of dementia. He tells the tale with compassion and humor in this full length, fast moving memoir. His lesson: Caregiver burnout can be helped. If you are watching your loved one vanish into the sinkhole of Alzheimer's Disease (or another dementia), "Dementia Diary" will lift your spirit
Thirsty Planet, A Novel
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 95,520. Language: English. Published: February 5, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Political
In 2121 Moss Leder flees across Canada one heart-pounding step ahead of his enemies. Earth is in trouble. People kill for drinking water. Leder's innovative time booth holds the key to the planet's renewal. His enemies fear his scheme will destroy their black market water cartel and try to stop him. An epic battle in the ancient tunnel under the Detroit River determines his destiny, and Earth's.