Interview with Colin T Nelson

What first got you interested in mysteries and suspense stories?
When I was ten years old, I often used to spend Christmas vacation with my grandmother. She lived alone in a small apartment in St. Paul that was near a huge railroad switching station. (Do these even exist anymore?) At night in the winter I could hear the trains clanking and the brakes squealing as I went to bed. My grandmother gave me a copy of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" about Sherlock Homes. With the sound of the lonely trains,I read the book in two nights and was hooked forever on mysteries and suspense stories. It all started with her generosity.
What is your writing process?
Since I write mystery/suspense stories, I have to know about how the story will end. Then I work back to the beginning to plant clues, create suspense, and twist the plot---several times. So, I have to do some planning about the plot before I began writing. Equally important is the creation of the characters. Luckily, I write series so my hero remains the same person. But I must create several villains for the hero to struggle against. I try to discover almost as many aspects of these characters as I do the main character. That's because a strong villain makes a strong hero.
How do you approach cover design?
Covers are so critical, especially for e-books since readers can't pick them up in their hands and turn them over. I think real life provides the best images for covers. When a new book of mine is coming out I work with the publisher to find photos and images that are colorful, arresting, and have a "wow" factor. These form the basis of each cover with the title and my name added later. I also try to pick images that suggest the theme or plot of the book so readers get an idea of what the book is about.
What do you read for pleasure?
Of course, I read a lot of mystery and suspense novels. I think most writers write what they like to read---I'm no different. I also like non-fiction such as history, biography, and financial things. Lately, I've Come to realize how deficient my knowledge of science is . . . any science! It is so important for a writer to know a wide variety of information. Besides, I want to become more aware of how science is a part of our lives and community. I don't think most people realize how much "art" exists in science!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use a Kindle Fire---simply because my wife bought it for me!! I love it and since I travel a lot with my wife for pleasure and to do research for my books, the Kindle and e-books are wonderful. I remember when I had to pack half my suitcase with paperbacks for long vacations.
Describe your desk
I work at a bean-shaped, wooden desk with no drawers. I think drawers simply fill-up with junk and I want to avoid that. Of course, I have a laptop and a wicker basket that holds notebooks, pens, pencils, and a calculator. To my left is a dictionary and Roget's Thesaurus. I'm also proud to say that I have all my print books stacked next to the dictionary. When I get discouraged, they remind me of how far I've come.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the small, southern Minnesota town of Le Sueur. It was a wonderful place to grow up for a future writer. That's because I knew everyone in town, including corporate execs, doctors, house painters, plumbers, farmers, accountants, women who volunteered at the Hospital Auxiliary, poor and rich people. I not only got to know what they were like but also what motivated them. All of these people have helped me create my fictional characters. What a blessing I had!
When did you first start writing?
In high school when I was invited to write a humorous column for the school newspaper. I didn't think much of my writing until other students started complimenting me about my columns. It was the first hint I may have some talent for writing . . .
What's the story behind your latest book?
In 2013 I had the opportunity to travel to a mysterious place---Myanmar in SE Asia. It had been closed to the world for 50 years but finally cracked open a door to the western world for limited business and tourism. How many places on earth can you visit with this history? The trip was fascinating and wonderful. From that trip, I wrote my latest book, "Up Like Thunder" that is a suspense mystery set in Myanmar.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Stephen King once wrote that writing is magic: I can sit down all alone, put some marks on paper and from far away you can read those marks and my thoughts are magically transmitted to you! For me, writing is the chance to share some basic aspects of being human with other humans. And in the meantime, if the story entertains them or makes them feel good---hey, that's "icing on the cake of life!"
Published 2015-08-17.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Inca Code
Series: Pete Chandler Travels the World. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 79,780. Language: English. Published: May 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
When investigator Pete Chandler gets a call for help from an old friend who also works in South America, Pete drops everything to go. Before he can get there, his friend dies in a freak accident. Investigating his death in Ecuador, Pete discovers the friend has led a double life that involves South American law enforcement and Chinese gangster who all come after Pete for the answers.
Series: Zehra Henning Criminal Lawyer. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 96,450. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Courtroom
A series of fatal fires unnerves the city. Law enforcement races to apprehend the serial arsonist. Facing political pressure and public hysteria, prosecutor, Zehra Henning, charges a suspect with arson and murder. But she questions the rush to judgement, especially when the fires continue and her investigation reveals other suspects---and someone who is intent on killing Zehra to stop the case.
Series: Zehra Henning Criminal Lawyer. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 91,030. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Courtroom
When prosecutor, Zehra Henning, investigates her latest case, she stumbles on a secret plot by an normal-seeming neighbor who is actually a fanatic with a group of true believers prepared to do the unthinkable---mass murder. Zehra sounds the alarm, but no one believes her until she is threatened and must stop the terrorists before people are annihilated.
Series: Zehra Henning Criminal Lawyer. Price: Free! Words: 73,700. Language: English. Published: April 10, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Courtroom
(4.00 from 1 review)
What if terrorists used American children as weapons of mass destruction? It has already started! Several Somali boys have disappeared from Minneapolis, until one returns and is murdered. Lawyer, Zehra Henning, defends the accused killer. As Zehra investigates the case, she discovers a plot that threatens the entire community and she races to solve the mystery before the terrorists can act.
Taste of Temptation
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 29,820. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
A collection of crime short stories about ordinary people who want to do the right thing. They are tempted to commit crimes in order to accomplish what they want. See what happens to them when they do.
The Amygdala Hijack
Series: Ted Rohrbacher Defends Impossible Cases. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 96,560. Language: English. Published: June 15, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Courtroom, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
Ted Rorhbacher is a defense lawyer that takes on only the impossible to win cases. Written by Colin Nelson, who has worked for over 30 years as both a prosecutor and a Public Defender, the suspense story is grounded in real life experience. Ted's client suffers from an unusual mental condition: the amygdala hijack. Can it save his client from a conviction and prison?
Up Like Thunder
Series: Pete Chandler Travels the World. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 89,200. Language: English. Published: June 11, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller, Fiction » Mystery & detective » International crime
When an American woman working in Myanmar vanishes without a trace, investigator, Pete Chandler, must travel there to find and rescue her. He encounters an exotic world of mystery and danger. Reading this suspenseful story will take you to the country with all its smells, sights, sounds, and beautiful people.