What’s your writing background? When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I think the earliest thing I wrote was probably on a wall and most likely I was sent to my room. I was the oldest of five children – we’re all about two years apart in age. Growing up we had a wonderful life, but there wasn’t a lot of money for expensive toys. There was, however, a library within about a five-minute drive. My folks would take us there weekly to pick out books. We were always read to before bed; the earliest books I remember were ‘Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel’ and ‘George the Pig’. The concept of the library as an ‘entertainment resource’ began there and has continued throughout my life – it fostered my love of books.
I wrote for the school newspaper in high school. I always toyed with writing a book and I would guess I’ve written upwards of a hundred, no doubt, award winning first chapters. Then one day I just kept going and wrote what I was sure was a Pulitzer contender. I showed the manuscript to a successful author who suggested that we all had works we kept hidden under the bed for good reason. Undaunted, I soldiered on and suddenly I find myself working on number fourteen.
I like writing about ‘normal’ people. Okay, they’re anything but normal. My characters are the sort of folks we all know, but wisely keep at a distance. They aren’t going to stop terrorists, government coups or international bank conspiracies. The problems my characters encounter are due to their own bad decisions, but then, bad decisions make for interesting tales. The things I write about are a little crazy. One reviewer referred to me as Minnesota’s Master of the Bizarre. I took that as very high praise. Yes, the tales are crazy, but if the situation happened to your next-door neighbour or to that screwball you knew in high school, you wouldn’t be completely surprised.
How often do you write? And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
I write every day, seven days a week. Yeah, I know, I’m very dull. My other commitments usually have to fit into my writing schedule. I decline dinner invites. I don’t watch TV. I usually turn my phone off when I’m at the keyboard. I attempt to be very efficient and focused with my writing time. I try to write from roughly 9-4 every day, Monday-Friday. On the weekend, I’m more likely to put in a four-hour day at the keyboard, but I also do a lot of my research then. I might visit the site for a scene or I’m online checking out how many rounds a particular weapon holds.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
I write crime fiction. I love it. I enjoy the craziness of the situation. I think the rule is if an individual carefully plans a crime and then carries that plan out the odds are they’ll be successful. But that might also be the exception to the rule. I enjoy the situations that occur when things do not go according to plan. I like the interpersonal relations I put my characters in. Life is never cut and dried and you’re able to do exactly what you want, at least not my life. I enjoy expanding on that aspect in my books. I also write articles for publications in the Irish Media Network in the US. I live in Dublin, Ireland about six months out of the year and the articles I write are everything from a piece on a library or a pub to a commemoration of the Omagh bombing I attended.
What draws you to write in that genre?
I’m not exactly sure. I think because it seems to resonate with just about everyone for starters. We’re all aware of crime. We all wish there was less of it, and I think we’re curious about what makes people do some of the incredibly stupid things they do. And there are a lot of very stupid things people are capable of doing. God knows I’ve done my share. My folks are never the clever sort of criminal who carries out the perfect crime. They’re more the sort of person sneaks down the air duct in a restaurant to rob it after closing. Only they fall into the deep fat fryer and have to call the paramedics.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
Yes, I just released my latest book, ‘Last Shot’. It’s the sixth book in my Dev Haskell series. One of the things I’m doing is changing the covers in that series so they actually look like a series. I had standalone covers on the first five Dev Haskell books. But, when I do a signing people always asked, “Do you have a series?” The second thing they would ask was, “Which book is the first in the series?” So now, with the new covers, the books are clearly a series and they are labelled Case 1, Case 2, etc. My most recent release, ‘Last Shot’, is Case 6.
I’m also working on a completely new series. I’ll only say that it’s in the crime fiction genre, set in St. Paul, Minnesota, my home town. I’m having a lot of fun writing it and I plan to have the first two books in the series available by June 2014. I’m also revising three of my stand alone titles and I plan to package them as an e-book trilogy -with any luck that will be available in late February of 2014.
What are your writing plans for the future?
I mentioned my new series, I’m planning on the two books available by June 2014. As soon as they are complete, I’ll jump back to the Dev Haskell series and write a new case. I’ve already got the first chapter of the next Dev Haskell book banging around in the dark corners of my thick skull.
Where can people find out more about you?
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me, and thanks to everyone who made it this far in the interview. Don’t forget to check out all my books on Amazon. Many thanks and enjoy the day.