DENNIS KOLLER – Collegiate Vice President /Fundraiser/Coach/Author/Husband/Father
THE RHYTHM OF EVIL (Book 1 of Reggie Decker Mystery Series)
Thirteen years after a young San Francisco woman was murdered, a Tweet accusing the SFPD of systemic racism and homophobia for dead-ending her case goes viral. Infuriated by the tweet and the public relations nightmare that follows, SFPD Homicide Inspector Reg Decker receives permission to re-open the case for one week so he can squash the conspiratorial nonsense once and for all. But it’s not that simple!
Decker’s initial review reveals that the victim’s Murder Book is awash in unfounded conclusions, false leads, and outright lies. So many that he begins to wonder if the Twitter gossip surrounding the case might be on to something. As new clues to the victim’s life and tragic death emerge, Decker realizes he has stumbled upon a twisted path of teenage sex trafficking, drug cartels, and political intrigue at the highest levels. All having tentacles reaching back into his own Homicide Department.
Book 2 will be out in July of 2021.
HOW I GOT INTO WRITING: I taught in both high school and college, so I had the pleasure of being around some incredibly talented people. My interest in writing came to the forefront sometime in the first decade of this century.
I had always been a military history buff, so it was natural for me to get interested in the Vietnam War (even forty or so years later). It was this interest that led me to read the first-hand accounts of the tortures our Prisoners of War suffered at the hands of their North Vietnam jailers. It’s not a chapter of the war that gets/got much attention, so I thought it would be interesting to tell their story.
Since many of their individual stories had already been told in non-fiction accounts (mainly memoirs), I decided to tell their collective story through the fictionalized eyes of two former prisoners. Set in present-day San Francisco, former North Vietnamese Prisoner of War, Tom McGuire, is now a thirty-five-year veteran of SFPD’s Homicide Department. The antagonist, Robert Carlton, also a former Prisoner of War, has decided it’s pay-back time for those Americans who visited North Vietnam during the war. High on his list to be killed is the current Governor of California, an anti-war protestor who visited the North during the war. Even though Tom McGuire was a cellmate with Carlton in North Vietnam and, to a degree, sympathetic to him, he can’t let Carlton kill the Governor. Or can he?
HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN? The Oath took me four years to write and ended up being the catalyst for me to stop going to the office every damn day. I’m now a full-time author and loving every minute of it. I’m also proud to say The Oath won the 2017 Military Writers Society of America’s Silver Medal.
Since finishing The Oath, I’ve penned three other mystery-crime-thriller novels: Kissed By The Snow (2016); The Custer Conspiracy (2018) (which also was awarded the Military Writers Society of America’s Silver Medal in 2020), and The Rhythm of Evil, published in July of 2020.
My fifth mystery-crime novel will be published in the summer of 2021.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT THE WRITING PROCESS? I’m embarrassed to say my writing process is I have no writing process. Every day is different, every hour is different, and I blame it on my Muse. She sometimes loves me; sometimes hates me. Sometimes she might wake me up at night by planting a piece of the novel in my mind. She materializes haphazardly, but I’ve learned over the years to always trust her. If she starts feeding me stuff, I immediately get out of bed and go to the desk to write. Drives my wife nuts. Truth be told, it drives me nuts, too.
WHERE DO YOU PLACE YOUR SETTINGS? I always write about what I know. Since I was born and raised in San Francisco, I feel comfortable using it as my background. It’s a great city to be in. Many of my high school and college chums still live here. Many became San Francisco cops and provided me with a treasure trove of knowledge about the department’s inside workings.
DO YOU HAVE SUBPLOTS? I do, but most have to do with the male/female relationship in the story at any particular time. In The Rhythm of Evil, the subplot centers around whether the wife, bringing home a young student she teaches to live with them, can handle the husband’s jealousy who thinks she won’t be putting him first anymore.
ARE YOU TRADITIONALLY PUBLISHED OR INDIE PUBLISHED? I’m indie published, and let me tell you why: First of all, don’t forget it wasn’t but a short time ago that I started to see myself as a “novelist.” I wrote The Oath not because I wanted to make a career out of writing. But because I wanted the American public to know the unbelievable torture that our captured pilots endured in North Vietnam for their country. Getting their story out was going to be the sum total of my writing effort. From the very beginning, my writing career was planned as a “one book and done!”
Even at that, I knew I needed an agent to get published mainstream. Shouldn’t be too hard, I said to myself. Everyone is simply going to love The Oath. So, I got myself a list of literary agents and penned them all a letter. Within two weeks, I got a reply from an agent who wanted to sign me. I’m thinking it’s all over now, baby blue. I’m on my way to the BIG time.
My agent had me sign a six-month contract, and I sent him my manuscript. I found myself running out to the mailbox two or three times a day looking for that contract from William Morris or Folio Literary or Trident Media. I just knew it was on its way.
But I wait. And wait. And wait. After three months of waiting, I figured something must be wrong. My agent will know, so I call him. He tells me, “Be patient. It’ll all come together.” I’m in no mood to be patient. I tell him, “Go to hell. I haven’t got the time.” And that was it for me. I found a small press, Pen Books, who very smoothly and successfully publish all my novels.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR READERS? A book takes a person on a journey at a time when travel is otherwise restricted. It expands the reader’s world and life experiences. Call your local bookstore or go to Amazon.com and order books for your friends, family members, employees, and clients.
George, Thanks for the opportunity to be a guest blogger.
Rhythm of Evil is a great page-turner! The fact that it was written by a former teacher of mine makes it especially enjoyable. Can’t wait for the next novel,
I have read all 4 of Dennis Koller’s novels and look forward to a 5th coming out this coming summer. They are all action packed thrillers and grab you. I enjoy the maturation of the author as a writer and of the characters, especially Tom McGuire. “The Custer Conspiracy” certainly had a different and historical twist. “Rhythm of Evil” is even more complex.
Good interview, Dennis. I’m glad you told the story of the torture our POW’s suffered at the hands of the North Vietnamese. They were never held accountable, nor were the traitors from our country who supported them.
Thanks, Mike. You know that a lot of my work would never had seen the light of day if I didn’t have you leading me to answers I didn’t have, nor thought I needed. A perfect example of the pupil teaching the teacher 🙂
I have read 2 of Dennis Koller’s books, The Oath and The Custard Conspiracy. I am know reading Kissed by the Snow. His writing and research into facts is intriguing.I can’t get enough. See you in the movies
I love to read. I’m not particularly a history buff to say the least, but I will read a historic novel from time to time. Because I know Dennis Koller I read The Custer Conspiracy and loved it! I couldn’t put it down. That’s my favorite of his books… except when I’m reading the next one. Dennis writes with a vividness that makes me feel like I’m there, and I want to yell out to the people that they should “look out” and I mean NOW! The Rhythm of Evil kept me on my toes because Reg Decker just refused to listen to my warnings. Maybe he will in the next book….
I’ve known Dennis for some time. I have read all his books and I like all the same. Rhythm of Evil—his last release—I enjoyed it greatly. I can’t wait for his latest writing.
Dennis and I went to the same grammar school in San Francisco. I enjoy remembering the places he describes in his page-turning novels. I look forward to more adventures.
Crime or conspiracy drama is not my usual fare
but after reading The Oath, I knew I would read more of his books…I have read them all. They were hard to put down as they were engaging, informational and suspenseful…I kept wanting to find out the
“Who dun it” and how the story ended through the twists and turns but, I also did not want them to end!!!
I have read all 4 of Dennis’s novels and couldn’t put any of them down until I finished them. The Custer Conspiracy was so well researched that I thought it was a non-fiction true story or very close to it. But then, the detail in each of his novels are all very well researched. I can’t wait until his next release. You won’t be disappointed in any of his books – plenty of intrigue, twists, and a pace that won’t let you put the book down. And, oh yes, the endings will always leave you spell bound.
I’ve read and enjoyed all of Dennis Koller’s books. He’s a great story-teller and keeps his reader engaged to the very end! I’m looking forward to reading the next installment of his of Reggie Decker Mystery Series!
I’ve read all of Dennis’ books. I’m retired Navy and am familiar with SF so I readily identify with his characters and locale. As a college professor, I read a lot of journals and student work. His books are the ideal getaway, especially in this housebound world of today.
As a periodic fun break from my predilection for histories, biographies, and non-fiction in general – I do enjoy Dennis Koller’s mysteries – which closely mimic my favorite genres, are quick-read page-turners, and am especially sated – when unable to guess the end – before the end.
Bob . . . appreciate the comment. Miss you my man.
I am delighted to offer comments on Dennis Koller, and his latest offering, “Rhythm of Evil.”
The cast of characters came with some pleasant surprises, along with some ‘familiar faces’ to help root the theme. Dennis is meticulous in his research vis-a-vis the technical aspects of his stories, whether it’s Procedures or Practices, Tactics or Tools of the Trade. This latest story, once again, is set in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Rural Locations in between. Much as Hammet’s ‘Sam Spade’ and Fink’s ‘Dirty Harry’, San Francisco provides a Romantic setting, a Metropolis with more than a hint of Larceny, World Class picturesque scenery, with a plethora of iconic landmarks to which All Readers can relate.
Reg Decker is a welcome addition, and has enough Humanity to be Likable, and enough Grit to be Memorable. Great to have ‘Mac’ back, but one complaint/criticism; why, oh why, did we not get more ‘Poppy’ before she was, well, eliminated. How about a redux via a ‘Prequel’?
Another due in July?
Just finished reading, “Rhythm of Evil”, and well, I’m kinda hooked on Mr Koller’s work…
As in, “Kissed by the Snow”, the activities of the Investigator feel so real. I recently found out the author’s cousin is a retired cop, so that makes sense! Also, just as in, “The Oath”, there was this underlying theme that ebbs and flows, seemingly effortlessly, reminding the reader where it is we’re going. Although, “The Custer Conspiracy” seemed less about fiction and more based on a revelation of unpublished history, I have to ask; was it really? In the current story, there’s just enough titillation and plausible explanations linking unrelated facts into an artful tapestry that puts, “Common Knowledge” into question, and illuminates dark corners, with just enough of a glimpse to stir the imagination…
Thank You, Dennis!
Great interview. I love Dennis’s books. They have really great plots and the character development keeps the story moving
This interview reminds me of a tale I experienced once–it was very similar to some of the stories I’ve read from Dennis in the past. It began with me out at sea and dealing with a very sticky situation. The sea was angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. I got about 50 feet out and suddenly, a great beast appeared before me. I tell you, he was ten stories high if he was a foot. As if sensing my presence, he let out a great bellow. I said, ‘Easy, big fella!’ And then, as I watched him struggling, I realized that something was obstructing its breathing…So, I reached my hand in, felt around, and pulled out the obstruction. This tale always reminds me of McGuire’s tough situations he’s involved in. From Custer remembering the Alamo to Moseley and his love of San Francisco, Dennis Koller’s stories are the real deal and when he told his agent to pound sand and hit the bricks pal–it was the right move. More interviews with this great author pronto.
Thanks, Bryan. You’ve already have your Muse sending you snippets of a story that she will finally force you to sit down and write. I’ve been there, done that. Listen to her. You’re going to enjoy the ride.
I always enjoy reading Dennis’ books, and not because he was my first football coach and my first high school homeroom teacher, but because he has become a lifelong friend and I think it is great he has found this new calling. I look forward to his next book and hope Dennis continues writing many more books in the coming years.
Thanks, Ben. I remember you so fondly as one of the stalwarts of that football team. But more importantly, you were a good student who grew up to be a good man and great father. Congrats to you. I’m proud to have you been a part of my life.
Dennis, my muse must be a clone of your muse. She wakes me with twists to a scene, or she introduces new ideas. I keep a laptop nearby so I can capture the information before sleep eradicates her ideas.
Vi, I must agree with you and your comments about Dennis’ muse. His description of his writing process accurately describes what I wish were mine.
George, I’m envious of your writing talent AND the your writing process. I’d gladly sit at your feet as a pupil. And thanks for the opportunity to featured in your Blog.
Violet, I dearly love my Muse, but she is sooooo fickle. When I ask why she can’t visit in daylight hours, she actually wakes me at 4 am to tell me why. You know why? Because she can! At the same time she reminds me that without her, I’d be “dust in the wind” — which now I humm constantly as a reminder. 🙂
Dennis writes a terrific, suspenseful book. Every book gets better!