Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in the far frozen north of Wisconsin, but after living in the country for 8 years my family moved to
We managed a year in Los Angeles before we moved to the relative quiet of San Diego in 1969.
As a result of that displacement from living far out in the Wisconsin Big Woods (where Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" books began) to the middle of LA, I'm semi-reclusive and can't stand disruption and unnecessary noise.
My books, though convoluted stories about damaged people, won't leave you feeling drained, exhausted. I'd rather convey some of the peace I have now that we're back in the woods of Wisconsin, living at the edge of a quiet lake.
What's the story behind your latest book?
After carrying a great first line around in my head for 20 years, since long before writing my first book, I sat down January 31st and typed it into a blog post. And kept going for 1,000 words that day.
And 1,000 the next.
Every single day for 5 weeks I wrote between 1,000 and 5,000 words. I know story structure, knew the waypoints I had to hit, but I let the details surprise me.
What do your fans mean to you?
Writers write because they have something to say, not because there is someone to read.
We all tell ourselves that, but the truth is that a kind word, genuine praise from a fan, is the most marvelous part of writing.
Starting a book is great. Getting the first printed proof in the mail is wonderful.
Honest praise from a fan is the brass ring.
What are you working on next?
I just finished the sequel to my first Chandleresque cozy. That makes 3 so far.
Next is the first in another series, about an accountant who gets thrown in the deep end when he loses his job and runs into an old flame on the same day, and all he has to do to live happily ever after is turn his back on everything he's ever believed in.
Who are your favorite authors?
I revere Raymond Chandler. I was born exactly 9 months after he died.
Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books are superb. Dick Francis never failed to please. Isaac Asimov, especially when he inserted some mystery into his scifi. Tolkien, creator of entire worlds.
What is your writing process?
I start by sorting out the 9 sentences you have to know to tell a story: the hook, the setup, the first plot point, the first pinch point, the midpoint, second pinch point, second plot point, climax, and resolution. Get those down, and the rest is just pantsing from waypoint to waypoint. I was blessed with a childhood full of natural storytellers, so I picked that up as a kid.
How do you approach cover design?
It's all about the feelings it conveys. The instant a reader sees the cover, they should feel what they'll feel at the high point of the book.
I find a photograph I've taken that leans toward that feeling, tweak it until it's perfect, then use fonts that are readable but interesting.
Describe your desk
My writing table is a $99 kitchen table from WalMart. Nice rosewood color with a cheap computer in the center and a view, through the huge windows, of the lake in the backyard.
Since all my musical performance equipment is in my writing room, I listen to a 400W sound system while I'm writing.
The hand-carved sea captain, treasure chest, and cilantro lime candles all bounce around a bit.
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