Dave Balcom


Dave Balcom spent 35 years as a journalist specializing in community-sized daily newspapers. His career took him to eleven newspapers in seven states, including Oregon and his home state of Michigan. After he retired he found that he missed the constant story-telling more than anything else; the Jim Stanton Mystery series slakes that particular jones. He lives in southeastern Iowa with Susie, his wife of 43 years, and their two yellow Labrador retrievers. They live the reality of their main character’s fictional passion for outdoor pursuits.

Smashwords Interview

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I don't remember the first story I wrote, but it would have been in grade school. I do remember the first by-line I received as a freshman in college. A journalism 101 class required us to cover an event or meeting, and I was real interested in a talk given by a biology professor who had spent thirty years trying to figure out how to grow morel mushrooms commercially. I interviewed him and wrote up a story and submitted it to the news editor at CM Life.
That editor was Neil Hopp, an upperclassman at the time, and he ran the story with my by-line on it, something that just wasn't done in those days for freshmen. Years later, after a stint in the Navy and more college, I graduated from college and went to work in the newspaper field. After one year I landed a sports editor position with none other than Neil Hopp, then the managing editor in Carlisle, PA. He always supported my work.
What is your writing process?
I start with a thread of an idea for a book, and then I draft an outline of events that could become the plot and conclusion. I then write profiles of the main characters I know will be in the story. If the story requires it, I then do research, such as the research on how mechanical farming replaced horses and mules in the Pacific Northwest for "Acorn." For "Sea Change," I interviewed a Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue Expert.

All this work precedes the "It was a dark and stormy night" moment when I open the manuscript.

I never discuss stories with anyone before they're finished. I create in the morning, exercise or take care of life maintenance, and then edit in the afternoon.

I believe character development is vital to mystery stories, and I put so much effort into that part of the equation that often the plot line and story line end up nothing like the outline I started with as I put characters into situations and then they react the way I built them and that's not always the way I wanted them to react.

It's a weird sensation to find your characters writing the story, believe me.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Dave Balcom online


Jim Stanton Mysteries

The Next Cool Place

Price: $9.99 USD.


Price: $9.99 USD.

Sea Change

Price: $9.99 USD.

Even When You Win...

Price: $9.99 USD.

Song of Suzies

Price: $9.99 USD.


Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 59,410. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
The 8th Jim Stanton Mystery finds the retired journalist caught in the middle of a three-way intersection between the past, present, and future involving family trees, predictive genetics and political extremism woven in a spiraling story that involves many more than twenty-three possible solutions.
Code Matters
Series: Jim Stanton Mysteries. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 67,710. Language: English. Published: March 3, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth
Encoding... In this, the 7th Jim Stanton Mystery, the retired journalist is confronted with deciphering a maze of codes, ultimately requiring him to evaluate his personal code of ethics. When his search finally ends, Jim finds that codes of conduct are as varied as the people who carry them, and, in the final analysis, he understands all codes matter.
Fear at First Glance
Series: Jim Stanton Mysteries. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 93,690. Language: English. Published: October 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
In this, the 6th Jim Stanton mystery, Jan Stanton’s decision to attend her high school class reunion lands the Stantons squarely in the middle of an undiscovered mystery that has swirled around Stoney’s Class of ’80 for most of Jan’s post-graduate life.
Even When You Win...
Series: Jim Stanton Mysteries. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 90,700. Language: English. Published: April 25, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Wins and losses… In this, the fifth Jim Stanton Mystery, the retired community journalist and his wife Jan reach out to help a family in need only to find themselves plumbing the depths of despair as they confront winning, losing and family values with everything they hold dear hanging in the balance.
Song of Suzies
Series: Jim Stanton Mysteries. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 94,270. Language: English. Published: December 12, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
In this, the fourth Jim Stanton Mystery, readers are taken back to the early years of Jim’s newspaper career where the new managing editor of the Lake City, New York, Sentinel-Standard finds himself covering the story of a missing girl only to become a suspect in her disappearance while fighting to save his young family and the life they’ve been building.
Sea Change
Series: Jim Stanton Mysteries, Book 3. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 58,410. Language: English. Published: April 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » Action
Jim Stanton, retired community journalist, finds himself up to his neck in kidnapping mystery as he attempts to find the person who would pay a million dollars for the right to kill him in her own way, in her own time. Jim's interviewing skills lead the FBI and RCMP to a final solution, but not until Jim has slain his personal dragons.
Series: Jim Stanton Mysteries, Book 2. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 71,960. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
With the pageantry of the 100th Anniversary Pendleton Round-UP in the background, retired journalist Jim Stanton finds himself involved in two mysteries: a search for Lucja Rantford, matriarch of the James Ranch and Sheep Co., and the identity of a man who looks like Stanton in a 1933 photo. He unravels those puzzles and proves the old saw, "an acorn doesn't fall far from the tree."
The Next Cool Place
Series: Jim Stanton Mysteries, Book 1. Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 86,810. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Millionaire land developer Micky Buchanan's death on a lonely road in Michigan's north country brings his friend, retired investigative journalist Jim Stanton back to a world he had vowed to never revisit. With the help of weekly newspaper publisher Jan Coldwell and her staff, Stanton's questions uncover the virtues and perils of developments that attract the world's richest to unique locales

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