DEBRA BOKUR – The Power in Story (Even When It’s a Fish Tale)

Debra Bokur is the author of the Hawai’i-based Dark Paradise Mysteries series published by Kensington Books (The Fire Thief, The Bone Field, and The Lava Witch), often favorably compared by Publisher’s Weekly and other reviewers to Tony Hillerman’s Southwest-based mysteries. She’s served as an editor on the staff of multiple national magazines, has been a feature writer for Global Traveler Magazine since 2007, and works as a book narrator and voice actor for Audible. Bokur divides her time between Colorado and coastal Maine and is working on a new series set in the 160-year-old haunted inn in Maine that she and her husband are restoring.

The summer before my junior year of high school, I worked at the concession stand at the local drive-in movie theater in St. Augustine, Florida. The much-anticipated release of the film Jaws, based on the novel of the same name by author Peter Benchley, was underway.

It was 1975. Everyone had appalling hairstyles and wore bell-bottom denims held up by double-ring leather belts. We drove ridiculous cars (do a Google search for “Pacer,” and you’ll see what I mean). Those very cars came to be parked by the speaker posts in the sandy lot in front of the drive-in’s huge movie screen, and their passengers — locals and schoolmates — all found their way to the concession counter to gather enough popcorn, soda, and reheated frozen pizza to carry them through to the film’s big wrap-up.

By the end of the summer, I knew the entire script by heart, had acquired a deep interest in story arc, and found a best friend. Her name was Ally (changed to protect her privacy), and she, like me, was a smart-alecky New England transplant who loved writing, books, and films. She still does, and we’re still friends, and to this day, we exchange book recommendations and snippets from our own writing. And we can each still quote a shocking number of lines from Jaws.

The most important thing we accomplished that summer was not to memorize blockbuster scripts or earn money to stash in our small bank accounts (a lot of which was diverted to buying books); it was to create a story for ourselves that had nothing to do with sharks, or navigating challenging home lives, or deciding on which scholarship programs to angle for: It was all about becoming the successful women that everyone in our neighborhoods insisted on telling us we could never be.

Back then, I had a half-formed fantasy of my future as a successful author who lived a double life as an international spy, cruising on assignment through the Swiss Alps in a vintage Jaguar (British Racing Green, natch) or piloting a sleek wooden Chris Craft speedboat between small harbors in the Greek Islands, waiting for an impossibly sexy co-spy to meet me on the dock in front of a private villa. The co-spy always carried a secret document hidden in the pages of a Dylan Thomas poetry collection and always smelled like sandalwood and neroli. My efforts, of course, would save humanity from a dire end; and, depending on the fantasy details of any particular day, also rescue at least one puppy and several children from the path of a tsunami.

Not too long ago, one of those countless subscription television networks ran a Jaws movie marathon, endlessly playing the original film in the legendary shark-attack franchise back-to-back. I left the television on and the film playing in the background while I did a deep clean of my kitchen cabinets and drawers. In no time at all, I was speaking along with the actors, the script seemingly lodged forever in one of those strangely shaped little rooms in my brain.

Hearing those lines again reminded me of how words can so easily get under our skin and infiltrate our psyche; how some stories stick with us, and the memory of them becomes a powerful link to moments that we share with others.

Today, my secret fantasies have less dramatic details but are far more meaningful: Most revolve around book sales and good reviews; of meeting readers who found something engaging in one of my novels and who can’t wait to read the next one; of walking into a bookstore in a faraway town and seeing my books prominently displayed on the shelves.

Sometimes, those things actually happen. Maybe, someday, there will be speedboats, Jaguars, and clandestine meetings on villa docks, too. Perhaps my spy fantasies were really all about the longing to make some kind of positive mark; doing something — even undercover — might change the world in a good way. Making sure the imaginary killers in my mystery series get caught and properly punished is how I practice.

We all have our own concession stand memories, I think; people we meet along the labyrinth trails of our lives who, if we’re lucky, become enduring friends. For authors, readers who come back time and again to read our latest work are exactly like that: friends whose names we may not know but to whom we are nevertheless indelibly connected.

Connections matter. Today, Ally, a gifted vocalist, sings as part of a successful musical group. She has an incredible family and a happy life, and she still writes stories that take my breath away. In the process of getting my own work out into the world, I’ve met and become friends with some marvelous authors and equally amazing readers. Is there a movie or song or book that triggers one of your own most powerful memories that brings you back to a place and time that you had no idea would become a seminal moment in your own journey? I hope so, and I hope you’ll share it in the comments here. Thank you for allowing me to share my own.

Professional affiliations:
Society of American Travel Writers,
Mystery Writers of America,
Sisters in Crime (National, Colorado and New England chapters),
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers,
International Thriller Writers.

Here are links:
My website (all the purchase links are there):
https://www.debrabokur.com/ (more…)

16 Comments

  1. Laurel Kallenbach

    Your devotion to telling stories—and revisiting them over and over again—is inspiring. Our lives would be dull and meaningless without stories in books, films, and told orally. Thanks for sharing your own story. And I can’t wait to read your next mystery series!!!

    Reply
    • Debra Bokur

      Thank you, Laurel. I realize you already know this, but you’re one of those enduring friends I mention. And a fabulous writer, as well.

      Reply
  2. Candace Hardy

    Debra, I just finished listening to Stories that Stick by Kendra Hall, and your story is a perfect example of the power of stories. I enjoyed when I was young a thousand years ago Native American books by Grace Moon, and the movie I watched a zillion times is Broadcast News. Diverse, I’m happy to say. Enjoyed your post.
    Candy

    Reply
    • Debra Bokur

      Wow, Candace thanks — I love that movie, too. I’m not familiar with author Grace Moon, but you’ve definitely put her on my radar!

      Reply
  3. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    This post was such fun, Debra ( and George). As others already said, it was a great trip down memory lane. Best of luck with LAVA WITCH.

    Reply
    • Debra Bokur

      Many thanks!

      Reply
  4. Peg Roche

    Really enjoyed your story, Debra, and look forward to reading the first of your books I just downloaded: The Lava Witch (the only one available).

    Thanks , George, for introducing Debra!

    Reply
    • Debra Bokur

      Thank you, Peg – I truly hope you enjoy the book! I had a lot of fun writing it.

      Reply
  5. Debra Bokur

    Wow, thank you, Donnell. You are both thoughtful and kind. And that music, right? I wonder if the filmmakers had any idea that decades after the film was born, that music would still be source of chills. I didn’t read the book until years after seeing the film, and I could still hear it in the background!

    Reply
  6. Donnell Ann Bell

    Debra, thank you for such a wonderful trip down Memory Lane. I graduated high school in 1975 and your details of the era are as precise as I remember, I cannot wait for your haunted ghost series. it will be a departure from your excellent Hawaiian mysteries, which will be a hard act to follow! Even in a promotional blog describing what brought you this point, your writing ability and wisdom shine. I suspect you owe it in part to concession stands, your friend “Ally” and to Peter Benchley’s JAWS. What kid doesn’t remember the lines from this thriller? I spent much of my time covering my eyes, particularly when Da ta . . . Da ta . . . Da.ta da.ta Da.ta played on the screen. All I can say in closing is this is a sensational blog, and . . . “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Thanks George for sharing Debra Bokur with us!

    Reply
  7. Marie Sutro

    Love this!! Jaws will always be a favorite. The very best friendships are forged in popcorn, soda, and suspense!

    Reply
    • Debra Bokur

      Thanks, Marie! I agree on all accounts.

      Reply
  8. Michael A. Black

    Great Jaws story, Debra. I’ll have to check out your books. Be careful swimming.

    Reply
    • Debra Bokur

      Thank you, Michael! I tend to stick to lakes and pools these days, though I used to love that Jaws ride at Universal Studios 🙂

      Reply
  9. Heather Haven

    What a great post! And I love the phrase, “concession stand memories.” Thanks so much for sharing your life, hopes, and dreams. Putting aside the jaguars, they were very similar to mine.

    Reply
    • Debra Bokur

      Thanks, Heather — And for the record, I would consider an Aston Martin an acceptable substitution if a Jag isn’t part of the Universe’s plans 🙂

      Reply

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MAILAN DOQUANG – Shares the Story of Her Debut Fiction Novel

Mailan Doquang holds a Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. She has published extensively on the art and architecture of medieval France, in addition to teaching at some of the top universities in North America. Mailan is an avid photographer, traveler, and runner. She is a Canadian transplant and a longtime resident of New York City. Blood Rubies is her debut.

Blood Rubies Elevator Pitch: A jewel thief’s life spirals out of control after a heist goes sideways and a loved one vanishes from a Bangkok slum. Pre-Order – Release Date May 7, 2024

What brought you to writing? Writing is central to my work as an architectural historian. I published a book on the role of ornament in French Gothic churches with Oxford University Press in 2018. I’ve also published academic articles and essays, catalog entries, and book reviews and created content for an EdTech startup. A few years ago, I realized that my favorite part of being an academic wasn’t research or teaching but writing. I wanted to write things that are accessible, so I decided to give fiction a try. I chose thrillers because they’re the books I enjoy most, and I wrote a mixed-race protagonist because they’re rare in this genre, and representation matters in every field.

How long did it take you to write your first book? Blood Rubies is my first novel. I drafted the book in under a year, but that doesn’t include the revisions I made with my agent, which went on for several months. The manuscript was clean by the time it got into my editor’s hands, so that process was quick and easy. By contrast, my Oxford book took six years to complete, from the time I started researching to the moment I sent the final draft to my editor.

We hear of strong-willed characters. Do yours behave or run wild? My protagonist, Rune Sarasin, is impossible to control! It’s one of the things I love about her. Rune is a quintessential antihero. She steals, she’s rebellious, and she struggles with impulse control. That said, she’s also whip-smart and loyal—she’ll stop at nothing to save the people she loves. Antiheroes are fascinating because they’re unpredictable. They zig when we expect them to zag, which adds uncertainty to scenarios that might otherwise unfold in predictable ways. Running wild is a big part of their appeal.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I’m solidly in the pantser camp. What I enjoy most about writing fiction is the way stories reveal themselves to me, like I’m watching a movie or reading someone else’s novel, only very slowly. By the time I got to the midway point of Blood Rubies, Rune was so fully formed in my mind that her narrative voice dictated the rest of the story.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? By training, I’m an architectural historian, so I work hard to create an authentic sense of place and space. It’s a point of professional pride! Most of my settings are real places I’ve visited. I incorporate some fictional locations into my stories, but even those are based on real places. I find it helpful to have a concrete point of departure that I can retool as needed.

What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on two projects. The first is the sequel to Blood Rubies, scheduled for publication in 2025; the second is a book about a Vietnamese American art curator whose life unravels after she becomes the victim of a violent crime.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Run your own race.

Memberships:
Crime Writers of Color
International Thriller Writers
Mystery Writers of America
Sisters in Crime
Sisters in Crime New York

Contact:
Instagram: @authormailan
Twitter: @AuthorMailan
Publisher: https://penzlerpublishers.com/product/blood-rubies/

Blood Rubies is available at:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CL199RSB
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blood-rubies-mailan-doquang/1144209733
Bookshop: https://bookshop.org/p/books/blood-rubies-mailan-doquang/20682930
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/blood-rubies-3

6 Comments

  1. Marie Sutro

    Sounds like a fabulous read!!

    Reply
    • Mailan Doquang

      Thank you very much, Marie! I hope people enjoy it!

      Reply
  2. Rhonda Blackhurst

    Thank you for the post Mailan & George! It’s inspiring to read another author’s process and it’s impressive that you went from in-depth non-fiction writing to fiction. Your advice to other authors is timeless and something I remind myself of all the time when I find myself in that endless loop of comparisonitis.

    Reply
    • Mailan Doquang

      Thank you so much, Rhonda! When I started grad school, I had a moment of panic and said to my boyfriend (now husband), “What if everyone is smarter than me?” I think of his response whenever comparisonitis creeps in: “Don’t worry about how smart everyone else is. Focus on how smart you are.” I picked a good one!

      Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    Congratulations on your first novel, Mailan. You sound like you have the perfect approach to being an author. The book and the protagonist sound intriguing. Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Mailan Doquang

      Thanks so much, Michael! I’m so excited for my book baby to be out in the world!

      Reply

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MICHAEL COOPER – Historical Mysteries in the Holy Land

Michael Cooper writes historical fiction set in the Middle East; Foxes in the Vineyard, set in 1948 Jerusalem, won the 2011 Indie Publishing Contest grand prize, and The Rabbi’s Knight, set in the Holy Land in 1290, was a finalist for the CIBA 2014 Chaucer Award for historical fiction. In December of 2023, Wages of Empire, set at the start of WW1, won the CIBA 2022 Hemingway first prize for wartime historical fiction and the grand prize for young adult fiction.

A native of Berkeley, California, Cooper emigrated to Israel in 1966, studying and working there for the next decade; he lived in Jerusalem during the last year the city was divided between Israel and Jordan and graduated from Tel Aviv University Medical School. Now a pediatric cardiologist in Northern California, he travels to the region twice a year on volunteer missions for Palestinian children who lack access to care.

Do you write in more than one genre? I write in the historical fiction genre with added elements of mystery, action-adventure, mysticism, coming of age, and a dash of romance. Having lived in Israel during my formative years (between the ages of 17 and 28), I fell in love with the immediacy of history that awaited you around every corner—especially in Jerusalem. This comes in handy since all my novels are, at least in part, set in the Holy Land, and having lived and traveled extensively throughout Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, I have a wealth of first-person knowledge of the physical topography of this part of the world.

What are you currently working on? That’s easy. I’ve already completed the next book in the “Empire Series,” Crossroads of Empire, which immediately follows Wages of Empire and is also set at the beginning of WWI. This will be published in the Fall of 2024.

How long did it take you to write your first book? I began writing Foxes in the Vineyard and finished in about eight years. It took a while since I was also working full-time.

How long to get it published? It took about the same amount of time to write as to get published. Having finished Foxes in the Vineyard in 2003, it was published by being the grand prize winner in the 2011 San Francisco Writers Conference Indie Publishing Contest. The grand prize was a complete publishing package from iUniverse.

In writing historical fiction, how do you strike the right balance between history and fiction? The wonderful thing about crafting historical fiction is that historical events and characters provide the scaffolding for stories that are at once incredibly old and still being written since “history” is a continuum and flows from the past into our present.

It’s also invigorating to create compelling fictional characters—for their nobility, humor, brilliance, passions, human failings, and interesting, ingenious, and sometimes evil designs. These fictional characters allow me to play within the historical scaffolding.

I will leave it to the reader to determine if I’ve hit the “right balance” of historical and fictional characters in my current book, Wages of Empire.” But what is true for me in writing about all my characters—historical and fictional—are those wondrous times when the character takes over, dictating the action and dialogue. At these times, all I have to do is transcribe.

How did you research the novel, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you? I researched the historical backdrop for the book by reading iconic histories about the roots and initial months of the First World War. To capture the essence of the historical figures and to inform the development of the fictional characters, I devoured everything I could find in the way of autobiographies, biographies, and collected letters. For the reader, I’ve included some of these references at the end of the book in a section called “Suggestions for further reading.”

As to surprises I’ve experienced during research, I was often astonished by fascinating elements of hidden history, unsolved mysteries, and interesting, even bizarre, character traits of some historical characters. I also encountered some engaging and bizarre characters that insisted on being included in the final draft.

In this manner, storylines arose organically from the historical timeline and the historical characters themselves—creating a portrait that could be enhanced by the fictional characters who allowed for additional surprises, plot twists, betrayals, loves, and alliances. And as the book progressed, I loved watching the weave tighten as storylines were drawn together.

Regarding elements of hidden history that I uncovered during my research for Wages of Empire, I don’t want to issue any “spoiler alerts.” Still, one extraordinarily rich trove of evidence implicated Kaiser Wilhelm II as having acted in many ways to bring on the First World War. Though I would hasten to add, he certainly wasn’t singly responsible for it. However, as a narcissist in control of a global power, his unpredictability, his need to be acknowledged, his arrogance, his hypersensitivity to perceived slights, his excitement at the idea of flexing his muscles, his sense of entitlement, his clumsy and often insulting personal diplomacy—all these raised tensions in Europe, combining to bring Germany closer and closer to war.

What do you hope readers take away from the story? Wages of Empire is a novel about war that is being published in a time of war—both in Europe and in the Middle East. I hope the reader can appreciate the richness of this historical wartime setting since it offers all the elements for a compelling story: drama, heroism, conflict, tension, intrigue, action, betrayal, heartbreak, and romance. Indeed, the effect of armed conflict on history is itself dramatic since war accelerates history, often with dramatic changes in human and natural topography.

I also hope the reader feels the compelling tension between knowing and unknowing as they engage with the historical characters in the grip of their threatening present, infused with their anxiety at the uncertain outcome, their unknowable future. And that the reader, knowing their future, might be touched by the poignancy of their ignorance.

Michael’s Editorial Assistant

Lastly, I hope that Wages of Empire, a novel about war, will hold up a mirror to time past that reflects on current wars and present uncertainties. I hope the reader will ask questions—what do present wars have to do with the past? What do our present travails have to do with history? Because the answer is…everything.

You can learn more on his website, which also includes links to a variety of platforms where his books can be purchased: https://michaeljcooper.net/

6 Comments

  1. Lisa Towles

    What a great interview, Michael nice to meet you and good luck with your book!

    Reply
    • Michael J Cooper

      Dear Lisa, Thanks for the support! Look forward to assisting fellow authors along our journeys.
      Michael

      Reply
  2. Peg Roche

    Best of luck, Michael. Your writing is certainly timely.

    Reply
    • Michael J Cooper

      Thanks, Peg. Appreciate your picking up on the interface of my WWI historical fiction with current realities, especially in the Middle East. As I stated toward the end of the interview, “What do our present travails have to do with history? The answer is…everything.”

      Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    It sounds like you are a man of many talents and true humanitarian as well. God bless you and good luck with your writing.

    Reply
    • Michael J Cooper

      Thanks, Michael – I hope you enjoy reading Wages of Empire, which at present stands alone, but will soon be followed by Crossroads of Empire. These books are also connected with my “stand-alone” back-list, which are all inter-connected by two threads; the St. Clair/Sinclair blood line and Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.

      Reply

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SHELLEY LEE RILEY – Where Do I Find Inspiration for My Writing?

 

A horse-crazy girl from the suburbs, with the help of a colt that nobody wanted, made history in 1992 when Casual Lies placed second in the 118th running of the Kentucky Derby. He was the highest-placed finisher trained by a woman since its inaugural running in 1875. A record that still stands to this day as the 150th running approaches. Casual Lies went on to run in all three Triple Crown races, another record. Now living in a forest in Central Oregon, Shelley enjoys honing her craft as a writer.

Generally, I find inspiration when I am not looking for it: a story in the news, the lyrics of a song, or a life experience, to name three. For example, my latest novel, Labyrinth of Ruin, was inspired by song lyrics and personal experience. One day, as I was writing, I had music in the background, and Mr. Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra came on. I have to ask, how many of you can say that song, with its amazing upbeat sound and inspiring lyrics, doesn’t move you? As I listened to the lyrics, really listened, I detected a subtle message, at least for me.

“Oh, Mr. Blue Sky, please tell us why you had to hide away for so long?”

Latching onto this, my main protagonists were developed to show their differences in ways that set them apart from their peers. And how, whether overlooked, tormented, or bullied, each character strives to go unnoticed.

Secondly, it is often said that a writer should write about what they know. As a woman trainer of racehorses for over two decades, a business predominately dominated by men, I find this especially true in the higher echelons of the sport, like the Kentucky Derby. When I came across a weedy colt that nobody wanted at a sale in Lexington, Kentucky, who could have predicted that one day I would be screaming my heart out as that colt, who had become something really special, was in front of the rest of the field as he ran down the lane in that storied race? Certainly not me.

So, using that hard-earned knowledge, I added wings to the equine athletes I was so familiar with and let them soar into that blue sky. While understanding through my own experiences how something or someone can be ridiculed and overlooked only to exceed all expectations, I let my characters discover their strength and self-worth, as once did I. You can read more about Labyrinth of Ruin, dragon racings equivalent to the Kentucky Derby, as well as Casual Lies at my website www.shelleyleeriley.com

 

2 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    Wow,, Shelley, your life sounds like it would make a good movie. And now you’re writing about racing dragons? Will there be a fire-breathing finish? Best of luck to you. You’re an inspiration.

    Reply
    • Shelley Riley

      Why thank you, Michael, on all counts. As to the ending? I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, but dragons do like to flame. It’s in their nature.

      Reply

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PATY JAGER – Brings Westerns and Native American Stories

Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 55 novels, eight novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements, hints of humor, and engaging characters.Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes about the Western lifestyle, but she also lives it.

Thank you, George, for inviting me to your blog. The Pinch, book 5 in my Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series, was published on February 22nd. It is available for pre-order.

Dela Alvaro, a disabled veteran and head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is doing a security check for a casino on the Oregon Coast when a child is kidnapped and Dela’s friend is murdered.

The idea for this story has been in my head for many years. I usually plan two writing retreats a year at the Oregon Coast. I stay a week and get a lot of writing done because I’m not catering to the animals or my husband. There aren’t any chores, and I write, walk on the beach, and write more.

On one such trip, I was walking along the beach, enjoying the briny salt air and the mist of the fog and waves. I noticed an older man with a boy about four or five out at the water’s edge. The boy was splashing and digging with a plastic shovel. I continued walking and noticed a boat close to the shore, or closer than any I’d witnessed before. My gaze gravitated to rocks sticking up out of the waves a good thirty or more feet from where the water lapped at the beach. Watching the splashing waves and enjoying the moment, I thought I saw the head of a seal bobbing by the rocks. That seemed dangerous, but they are good swimmers. I continued on and eventually turned around, heading back to where I’d entered the beach.

The boat was gone, and the older man walked up to the hotel without the boy. I looked around and didn’t see him anywhere. That was where my imagination kicked in. By the time I was back at the place I was staying, I’d come up with a kidnapping, a premise, and how it would play out. My only problem is that I was writing romance books at the time, and I didn’t see how to use this in western romance.

However, the idea stayed with me, and when I started writing mysteries, I kept coming back to the idea, trying first to make it fit with my character in the Shandra Higheagle mysteries, but I didn’t see how I could make it work. Then, when I started writing the Gabriel Hawke novels, I thought, now, I can use that story. But even though I took Hawke to Iceland for a book, I couldn’t find a plausible reason for him to be on the Oregon Coast.

Then came the Spotted Pony Casino mystery series and Dela Alvaro, my disabled veteran who is head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. After four books where she has helped the FBI and Tribal Police track down killers, she has a reputation for running a tight security staff. She is invited to a Tribal casino on the Oregon Coast to help them tighten up security, and now I could finally see how my story and premise would play out.

When I decided now was the time to write the book, a friend and I went on a road trip to visit a casino on the Oregon Coast. I had planned to use that casino in the book. Still, when I started making fictional employees at the casino accomplices in the crime, I decided I needed a fictional casino. Then, my mind wasn’t tied to logistics anymore, either.

Even though I had visited the casino and talked to security staff, I kept running into things I hadn’t realized I’d need to know to write the story, and the emails I’d sent to the casino asking questions went unanswered. Having the epiphany to use a fictional casino as I do in the Spotted Pony Casino books freed up my mind to work on the kidnapping and murder rather than logistics.

This series points out the widespread danger that Indigenous people- mostly women, face. My main character lives with the fact that in high school, she left her best friend in a small town not far from the reservation because she didn’t want to leave when my character had to get back for basketball practice. She is found the next day murdered and sexually assaulted. In the first book where this character comes to life, Stolen Butterfly in my Gabriel Hawke novels, she helps find two women missing from the reservation and last seen at the casino.

In this book, she not only has to deal with a missing child but she is reunited with a best friend from her time in the military, only to have her murdered. One more slash to my character’s heart and one more spark to make her always find justice.

This book took a long time to come to fruition, but I believe it was worth it.

Recent Projects

I published Christmas Chaos in October to give readers of my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series some closure. A short story with Dela and Heath characters in my Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series is available in the Windtree Press Whispers anthology.

Blurb / Long- Dela Alvaro, head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is asked to do a security check of a casino on the Oregon Coast. She no sooner starts her rounds at the casino than a child is kidnapped. The parents are a dubious couple. Special Agent Quinn Pierce of the FBI has been out to get the father for some time.

One of Dela’s best friends from the Army appears, and they catch up, only to find her friend strangled the next morning after having divulged to Dela she may have photos of the kidnapping.

As Dela struggles with the violent death of yet another best friend, her lover, Tribal Officer Heath Seaver, arrives, and the two begin untangling the lies, bribes, and murders.

In the end, as Heath carries the child to safety, Dela must face a cunning killer alone.

Blurb / Short – Dela Alvaro, a disabled veteran and head of security for the Spotted Pony Casino, is doing a security check for a casino on the Oregon Coast when a child is kidnapped and Dela’s friend is murdered.

Groups I belong to:
Crimescene writers loop
Sisters in Crime
Niwa
Alli
Author’s Guild
20 Books 50
Links
Book link for The Pinch – Universal book link- https://books2read.com/u/38Y787
Social Media Links
TikTok – @authorpatyjager
Instagram – @patymjager
YouTube – @PatyJager
Facebook – Author Paty Jager
Twitter – @patyjag
website – https://www.patyjager.net
blogs – https://ladiesofmystery.com and https://writingintothesunset.net

10 Comments

  1. Pamela Ruth Meyer

    Wow, George and Paty, this was a great post. It’s reassuring to know that the spark of an idea can last that long. It’s inspirational, really. Thanks, and best of luck with your launch of THE PINCH, Paty.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Pamela, thank you! Yes, it was an idea that hung in there until the right book came along. Thank you for stopping by and commenting!

      Reply
  2. Carl Vonderau

    It’s amazing where the stories come from. Your fiction writing mind is always at work. The books sounds great.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Carl, Thank you. Yes, I have an active imagination and it keeps stories coming at me faster than I can write them.

      Reply
  3. Peg Roche

    Looking forward to reading “The Pinch”. I can picture the setting and am interested in your lead character. Those twice a year retreats sound like a great idea! Good luck with this new book. Thanks for the introduction, George!

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Peg, Thank you for stopping in and commenting. I do enjoy my retreats and get a lot accomplished when I’m there.

      Reply
  4. Kathleen Kaska

    I enjoyed reading about your latest mystery. You are such a prolific writer!

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Hi Kathleen, Thank you! I have fun coming up with the premises and hopefully enlightening people as well as entertaining them.

      Reply
  5. Michael A. Black

    Sounds like you use your powers of observation to come up with new plots, which is really neat. Your series sounds fascinating, but I have to ask…. did you ever find out what happened to the little boy? Best of luck to you.

    Reply
    • Paty Jager

      Hi Michael, No. I never knew what happened to the little boy. I never saw the older man again either. It is one of those mysteries that will rattle around in head and help me to come up with other scenarios for books.

      Reply

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DAVID POYER – Naval Officer – Adventurer – Author

Nearly fifty of David Poyer’s novels and nonfiction are in print with major publishers. He’s also published oral history, travel, biographical nonfiction, and collaborated on memoirs.  He’s been translated into Japanese, Dutch, Italian, Hungarian, and Serbo-Croatian, and rights have been sold for films. Writers he’s mentored have been taken on by major literary agencies, published by major houses, appeared on New York Times Top Ten bestseller lists, won the International Latino Book award and other prizes, and become college teachers. He currently teaches at the Ossabaw Island Writers’ Retreat.

His latest, The Academy, was published by St. Martin’s/Macmillan in December.

“The Academy, a profoundly human story, is a captivating and fitting finale to the Lenson series from David Poyer, a master in modern naval fiction.” – Quarterdeck Magazine.

“This long-running naval series continues full-steam ahead. . . [Poyer generates] top-notch suspense.” – Publishers Weekly

“The Lenson series is an intriguing alternate history saga […] Fans of the long-running series—will be well pleased.” – Booklist

David Poyer is set to captivate readers once again with THE ACADEMY, just published by St. Martin’s/Macmillan. Known for his gripping military fiction, Poyer brings to life a tale of courage, honor, and the complexities of life within the hallowed halls of a military academy. With high ethical stakes and a suspenseful past-and-present narrative, it’s Poyer’s capstone novel in the Dan Lenson series.

In his final tour of duty after a harrowing career at sea, Lenson is appointed Superintendent of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. He begins at a difficult time: Congress is cutting military budgets in the wake of a devastating world war, calls for radical reform are upending traditions, and Dan himself faces legal jeopardy for his actions during the war. And when a Category 5 hurricane threatens to overwhelm the coast, Dan must fight to rescue the Academy itself.

Parallel to this narrative runs the dramatic story of Dan’s years as a first-class mid, many years before. A plebe he coaches commits suicide, and Dan is drawn into the investigation. The decisions he makes will shape how he comes to lead troops in battle and at peace.

What brought you to writing? I’m four years old, sitting on the porch with my mother. She’s reading to me, which she did a lot, and I’m grateful! But her stock answer for my questions, and I was full of questions in those days, was “God made it.”

Where did the moon come from? “God made it.” The sky? “God made it.” I ask her, then, “Where do books come from?” And she says – a sentence that changes my life – “Writers write them.”

I realized what I was here for.

Now, I didn’t start right away. I felt I had to go out, live, and see the world. In 1976, I was in the Navy when an accident dictated several months of leave in a cast to my waist. So I bought a desk and a typewriter and tried to write 50 to 60,000 words and have them all be different.

The result was The Hill, a YA novel about cross-country running and a small-town scandal. No one’s ever read it, though I’m thinking about publishing a limited edition. Maybe next year?

Tell us about your writing process. I believe waiting for inspiration is unfruitful and frustrating and a self-limiting strategy for a career novelist.

A group of contractors reports to a building site. Do they stand around waiting for inspiration as to what they will build? No. They have blueprints, lists of materials, timelines, and milestones. They may change a partition wall here and there, beef up a structure, or adjust to a new zoning regulation. But in general, they know where they’re going. They can work with a minimum of stress and uncertainty.

I operate the same way. My outlines run 10 to 15 single-spaced pages, organized by chapter. That charts my course, though I’m still free. When inspiration does strike, I’ll follow. But I modify the outline as I go. This synopsis becomes a sales tool for film rights or, sequels, or promotion.

How long did it take to write your first book? How long to get it published? As I said, I didn’t send out the first manuscript. The second, White Continent, is speculative fiction about a group establishing a technologically advanced colony in Antarctica. They declare independence and then have to defend themselves. It’s a Utopia, an Erewhon. I sent it out fifteen times and got it back fifteen times. So I put it away and started on another.

But if you persist, the Universe gives up on discouraging you. A newspaper editor persuaded me to pull the manuscript out and send it to a friend at Lippincott. Lippincott didn’t like it, but my editor’s friend’s secretary read the first page while it was in the mail room getting boxed up to go out. She liked that page, so she stole it and took it home. Read it and made her boyfriend read it the next time he came over. As luck would have it, he was an agent. He sold it to the first publisher he sent it to.

Do you ever kill a popular character? I have, though not without soul-searching. One of my recurring characters in the Dan Lenson books is SEAL Master Chief Teddy Oberg. He’s captured in a raid, tortured, sent to a horrific POW camp in Xinjiang, escapes, and leads a Uighur rebellion in Western China.

Over several volumes in my War with China arc, Oberg grew steadily darker. Eventually, in Violent Peace, he had to be terminated with extreme prejudice by a CIA agent, Andres Korzenowski. (A bow to Heart of Darkness. Joseph Conrad’s real name was Korzienowski.)  Some readers saw this coming. Others, who identified with Teddy as a fighter and overlooked his misogyny and ruthlessness, protested. But an author has to be true to the fact: governments feel no sense of loyalty when their tools outlive their usefulness.

Where do you place your settings – real or fictional locations? Saul Bellow says each writer has an “arcanum,” a milieu in which they can set any story. Mine is the Navy, the sea, and diving, with a sideline in Pennsylvania, where I grew up.

The Lenson novels are the most popular. The 22 books trace Dan’s arc as he begins in The Circle as an ensign and ends – in the final volume – as Superintendent of the US Naval Academy, a vice-admiral facing retirement.

The Hemlock County novels deal with the struggle of the people against the greed that’s historically plagued the Northern Appalachians: extractive industries, organized crime, and governmental corruption.

The Tiller Galloway novels are about a black sheep diver. Tiller joined the Coast Guard, served in Vietnam, then got tangled up with a cartel and went to prison. As an ex-con, he tries to make a living as a dive boat and salvage captain.

The Whiteness of the Whale and Ghosting are sailing novels set on the high seas.

So you can see how the settings of my books have reflected my arcanum!

Do you have any advice for new writers? This spring, I pulled together a group of articles and talks I’d published over the years. I rewrote and ordered them into chapters. Writing in the Age of AI came out from Northampton House Press in July. It explains how I approach writing how the process can be made easier, and advises writers on the best ways to deal with AI technology. Everything I know about writing is in that book!

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Finishing the Lenson series feels like retiring from the Navy, which I did after 30 years of active and reserve service. Like retiring from university teaching, which I did for 16 years. But I’m not going to stop writing. A day without writing feels like a day not fully lived.

There might be another Galloway. I may have one more sailing book. A memoir? Maybe. Right now, I’m taking a year off to mull things over. Digitize my photographs, overhaul the boat, and we’ll see what comes next.

Perhaps this account will inspire a few fans of your blog. I hope they’ll also pick up The Academy and enjoy the concluding – and, I hope, satisfying – chapter in Dan Lenson’s long, star-crossed career!

GROUPS:
Naval Academy Alumni Association,
Shipmate Magazine,
Authors Guild,
Surface Navy Association,
American Society of Naval Engineers,
Civilian Marksmanship Program,
Ossabaw Writers Retreat,
Writers Conference of Northern Appalachia,
Kevin Anderson Associates,
Eastern Shore of Virginia Public Library board,
Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Buy link: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250273086/theacademy

Contact: https://www.facebook.com/DavidPoyerBooks/

 

1 Comment

  1. Michael A. Black

    Your books sound fascinating , as does your life. Thank you for your service and good luck with your writing.

    Reply

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