The Tables Are Turned—George Cramer Is Interviewed

With the impending release of George’s latest novel, Robbers and Cops, I suggested he let me interview him for his blog. I happen to know that George is a talented writer and that he’s also very modest. Tooting his own horn is not in this man’s DNA, but I insisted. So here it is: an interview with the author, the man himself.

Now I get to turn the tables on Big George and interview him about his new book and a few other things. Michael A. Black

Okay, George, let’s start with an easy one: In which genre(s) do you write? I’ll try to make it complicated. I began Robbers and Cops as somewhat of a memoir but got bored with the protagonist, switched to a police procedural thriller, and then stopped for eight years to write The Mona Lisa Sisters as historical-literary-woman fiction.

I also write some, very little, poetry. And I love writing flash fiction.

Why did you choose those? I get pieces of stories in my mind that determine what I’ll write. Flash fiction’s inspiration is about telling a story, beginning to end, on one page. Poetry is either about writing or a social issue, such as the 1864 massacre of a peaceful Arapaho and Cheyenne village in “Sand Creek.”

Now tell us a bit about your writing process–Plotter or Pantser? Outlining and I don’t get along. I begin writing with an idea and create ten thousand or so words either at the beginning or at the end. Then, I ponder how I got there, how or where the journey began. I take lots of detours.

Have you ever tried doing it the other way? Yes—total failure.

What do you need for your writing sessions? I still write in cursive, and my handwriting is so bad I need a laptop. Add a flat service and comfortable straight-back chair, and I’m set. I can be at my desk, kitchen table, library, or coffee shop. Conversations don’t bother me, except at home.

Does anything ever hamper your writing? Artificial sounds, music, radio, or television.

It must be hard to screen all of those out. Do you have a special place where you like to write? Libraries, surrounded by books.

What do you love about writing? The hope of using written words to paint a picture another person can experience in such a way as to place themselves in the setting and scene.

Painting a picture… That’s very metaphorical. Your first book references a rather famous picture—The Mona Lisa. Care to tell us what that one’s about? I was attending an introductory workshop when the instructor randomly handed out pictures of scenes. We were given fifteen minutes to describe the setting. Instead, I wrote the end of the manuscript. Eight years later, I finished the journey.

What’s the most challenging aspect for you about writing? It’s when I’m searching for the right colors (words) to paint that perfect scene.

What do you find to be the hardest thing about being a writer? Sitting down and writing that first word. Or when I’ve finished the manuscript, I’m about 10,000 words short. I don’t want to add fluff.

That’s interesting. Most writers try to cut words from a manuscript. How do you determine the proper length? When I finish adding 10K new words, I’ve cut at least 5K and have to go back again.

What is the easiest thing, if anything, about being a writer? The ability to take on any project that allows me to avoid sitting down and writing that first word. My best escape from creating new material is to self-critique and edit my already-written work.

Is there something that you always put in your books? Last year I heard that some author always puts his name somewhere in his work. I took that as a challenge, and I’m hidden in Robbers and Cops. In New Liberty, the first in the Hector Miguel Navarro Trilogy, George Cramer gives advice to a young detective.

Things you never put in your books: Steamy sex. I tried it once, but my two daughters were horrified that I would write about sex—never again.

What are your favorite books (or genres)? Now that is a tricky question. I like Bernard Cornwell immensely. I was not a fan of his until I read a few of his works while studying for an MFA at the Institute of American Indian Arts. But that is strictly for fun. Among my favorites for content and impact, I would have to include Hard Times: For These Times by Charles Dickens in 1854; and The Stranger, the 1942 novella by Albert Camus.

Those would be considered classics by most people. Which current writers influenced you the most? Right up there is The Round House by Louise Erdrich and Perma Red by Debra Magpie Earling. These two indigenous authors are incredible.

Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena should be a must-read for every person living in these trying times.

As far as right now, I choose Black Pearl by Donnell Ann Bell. I can’t wait to get her autograph and talk writing.

Are there any books you won’t buy? Horror stories by Stephen King. I can’t handle horror. However, I have a paper and hardback copy of Stephen King On Writing because he is such a phenomenal author.

All right, we’ve dallied long enough. Your new book is Robbers and Cops. Tell us about that one. I’m leaving that to you with the blurb you graciously wrote.

A fascinating odyssey of complex characters—robbers and cops that spans five decades in its telling. Imagine if Elmore Leonard had written The Grapes of Wrath, tossed in a dash of The Naked and the Dead, and finished up morphing into a pure Joseph Wambaugh police procedural. ~Michael A. BlackAmazon Bestselling Author.

Robbers and Cops will be released on November 1, 2022, and is available for pre-order.

 So would you say it’s a crime story or police procedural, or a sociological novel? Wow! I would have to say a thrilling sociological police procedural.

You’ve got an extensive background in police work and investigations. Has this helped you with your crime fiction? With Robbers and Cops, I wanted to build a story around two brothers. I met one of them when I helped a San Mateo detective take him into custody. My involvement in the incident was limited to hours, yet the story haunted me for decades. When I fell in love with writing, I used four decades of investigation experience to go from the ending back forty years in time and created the road that ended with my completed manuscript.

What is one of the most daring things you’ve done? Overcoming my fears while becoming a certified scuba diver without knowing how to swim so I could dive with my oldest son, a professional deep water diver—we never did.

That sounds like it would make a good story. Have you considered writing about your experience as a memoir or fictionalizing it into a novel? Never going to happen.

Who’s the most remarkable person you’ve ever met: My Dad.

You’ve got a lot of fans out there. Anything else you’d like to tell them? Please visit my blog and then come make a guest post about your work.

 All right. Thanks for the opportunity to let me place the master blog interviewer on the spot.

How do your readers contact you or buy your books?

Email: gdcramer@outlook.com
Website: https://gdcramer.com
Blog: https://gdcramer.com/george-cramer-blog/
FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/george.cramer.56211

Buy Books: There is a buy link on my website.

Amazon – https://tinyurl.com/4xw228ft
Barnes and Nobel -: https://tinyurl.com/4t4h6x8y

20 Comments

  1. Camille Minichino

    What a team here! Thanks George and Mike, not only for your massive contribution to the world of great books, but for all you both do for authors.

    Reply
  2. Donnell Ann Bell

    40 years of research helped you write Robbers and Cops. I have been so self-absorbed with family, forgot I read this marvelous interview. Mike, you ask phenomenal questions that really help a person consider how to answer. Well done, you two.

    Reply
  3. Donnell Ann Bell

    Lovely interview. Thanks, Mike for interviewing George. George I’m honored you like Black Pearl, and I, sir, should be asking for YOUR autograph! Think I’ll try your library system for writing. I like absolute quiet too!

    Reply
  4. Marie Sutro

    Love that you still write in cursive! Can’t wait to read Robbers & Cops!!

    Reply
  5. Jonathan

    Always enjoy learning new things about you.
    Sounds like we need to plan a dive trip.

    Reply
  6. Madeline Gornell

    Great interview of a great guy! Kudos Mike and George!

    Reply
  7. Johanna Meadows

    What a great interview. Always good to hear about you George!

    Reply
  8. Violet Moore

    To Michael and George. One of the best interviews I’ve read .

    Reply
  9. Cynthia

    Great interview. I did not know you didn’t swim! I have pre ordered your current book Robbers and Cops!!! Can’t wait till it comes in…and you sign it!!

    Reply
  10. Elizabeth Varadan

    What a great interview. I’ve enjoyed reading the blog posts here, but especially enjoyed learning more about you and your books this time. Robbers and Cops definitely goes on my TBR stack.

    Reply
  11. Victoria Weisfeld

    What an entertaining interview! Thank you both, Mike and George.

    Reply
  12. Joseph Bryce HAGGERTY Sr

    George, your honesty was refreshing. I too don’t like horror stories, but one of my favorite books was Stephen King’s THE STAND. Mike is a great interviewer and obviously knows his way to get writers to say things they wouldn’t normally say. I truly enjoyed the interviewer and the interviewee. I admire both of you and look forward to reading ROBBERS and COPS.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Thanks, Joe. I’m glad you enjoyed both Mike and me. It was fun for us as well.

      Reply
  13. Michael A. Black

    George, you’ve done so much to support other writers that I couldn’t pass up this chance to turn the tables and have me interview you. I read an advance copy of Robbers and Cops and thought it was great. Thank you for letting me sit in your chair for this one. Stay strong.

    Reply
  14. Wanda Dean

    George, I so enjoyed this interview! You amaze me in many ways.
    Writing is a lot like painting as you say! And when you say you don’t add fluff, I sure can
    identify with that… Fluff just takes away from the words and the painting…
    I downloaded 2 of the books you mentioned and look forward to reading Robbers and Cops!

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Hi Aunt Wanda, this must be a beautiful time in Western New York, especially for such a talented artist as you. Keep those brushes moving.

      Reply
  15. George Cramer

    Mike, Thanks for reversing the tables on me. You must be a detective! You forced information out of me that I would never have shared otherwise.

    Working on this blog has become joy.

    Thanks to all the folks who have posted here and those who visit and support the community of writers.

    Reply
  16. Lynn Carlson

    Have read many of your blog posts -enjoyed learning more about you! Thanks for supporting other writers.

    Reply
    • George Cramer

      Hi Lynn, thanks for dropping by and your kind comments.

      Reply

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MICHAEL A. BLACK – From the Wild West to Modern Day Bounty Hunter

Our guest today is Michael A. Black, author of over 47 books, including his latest series featuring ex-army ranger Steve Wolf as a modern-day bounty hunter.

Michael A. Black is the award-winning author of 47 books, most of which are in the mystery and thriller genres. He has also written in sci-fi, western, horror, and sports. A retired police officer, he has done everything from patrol to investigating homicides to conducting numerous SWAT operations.

 

Black was awarded the Cook County Medal of Merit in 2010. He is also the author of over 100 short stories and articles and wrote two novels with television star Richard Belzer (Law & Order SVU). His Executioner novel, Fatal Prescription, won the Best Original Novel Scribe Award. His latest novels are the Trackdown series (Devil’s Dance, Devil’s Fancy, Devil’s Brigade, Devil’s Advocate, and Devil’s Vendetta) and Chimes at Midnight (under his own name), Dying Art and Cold Fury (under Don Pendleton), and the Gunslinger series (Killer’s Choice, Killer’s Brand, Killer’s Ghost, Killer’s Gamble, and Killer’s Requiem) under the name A.W. Hart.

Let’s start with something off the beaten track. Tell us something about yourself that isn’t in your bio. Okay…One of the reasons I was interested in writing westerns is that Zane Grey is a distant relation of mine.

You have a new book out. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about it? I’d be glad to. It’s the latest installment of my Trackdown series about disgraced ex-army ranger Steve Wolf, who was wrongfully accused and convicted of a war crime in Iraq and sentenced to prison. Upon his release, his mentor, Big Jim McNamara, picked him up and helped him get back on his feet with Mac’s bail enforcement business, i.e., bounty hunting. Wolf and McNamara had several adventures through the first four books in the series (Devil’s Dance, Devil’s Fancy, Devil’s Brigade, and Devil’s Advocate), and the newest one takes up where the last one left off. It’s called Devil’s Vendetta.

Sounds like a devilish series; what’s the new one about? Devilish is right. Wolf’s goal is to clear his name since he was wrongfully convicted, and through the first four books, he fought to do this by trying to bring the rich and powerful adversary who framed him to justice. In the fourth book, he came close to succeeding, but as everyone knows, nothing is simple when it comes to our justice system. Devil’s Vendetta continues this theme and begins a new story arc. In this book, Wolf receives a call from his mother in North Carolina that his younger brother, Jimmy, has fallen in with a bad crowd, and an intervention is needed. After going back home for the first time since his release from prison, Wolf finds the old adage, “You can’t go home again,” grievously accurate. His hometown has a bit of a problem with political corruption and a growing crystal meth epidemic. To make matters worse, Wolf’s brother and his friends have concocted a dangerous scheme to rip off a drug kingpin. Wolf finds himself battling against superior odds trying to save what family he has left.

And this one continues the series, correct? It does. It’s actually number five in the series. Numbers six and seven are also coming out in short order as well.

You’ve got three new books coming out together? Right. Number six is Devil’s Breed, which takes up where Devil’s Vendetta left off, and then number seven, Devil’s Reckoning, follows in short order. My publisher, Wolfpack, is releasing all three books in the space of about a month (October 4th, October 25th, and November 15th) under their new Rough Edges imprint. I’m feeling a little bit like Charles Dickens. He used to do a chapter a week when his novels were serialized in the newspaper.

That certainly does sound like a quick succession. How long did it take you to write these? I started working on these three last year (2020) in August. I wrote straight through to this past August, with a few other projects interceding from time to time. It was a busy year.

It sounds like it. Three novels in a year is pretty impressive. Actually, I managed to squeeze in a fourth one, but that was a co-author project. I did a novella, too. They don’t call me the fastest keyboard in the Midwest for nothing.

That sounds like a well-earned title. So does the series continue beyond these seven books? Well, each book is a story in itself, with continuing plot threads. At this point, the series could end, but I’ve left enough of a thread that it could continue. That’ll be up to the readers.

What are you working on currently? After spending so much time with Wolf and Mac, I had a yearning to do something different. I also write westerns and had an idea on the back burner for a while. It’s set in 1913 during the early days of motion pictures. It’s got a troubled veteran of the Philippine/American War, a silent movie being filmed, real-life author Ambrose Bierce, the Mexican Revolution, and of course, some nefarious goings-on.

Sounds ambitious. Good luck with that one. But, before we let you go, I have a question about a group you are active in, the Public Safety Writers Association. I understand that you are not just engaged but, in fact, chair the annual PSWA Conference. Please tell us about that.

Sure. I’ve been a member of the PSWA for a number of years and work with the other board members to run the annual conference in July. We always host it in July at the Orleans in Las Vegas and have a great time. I’ve been to many writer’s conferences, and I can truly say that the PSWA Conference is the best. It’s all about sharing your experiences and becoming a better writer. The people are great, and the members come from a variety of backgrounds. It’s affordable and always a lot of fun. Check out the PSWA website for a glimpse of this past conference.

Thanks for stopping by.

Always a pleasure to be on the best of the best blogs, George. Thanks for having me.

How can our readers contact you and buy your books:

Well. Someone in China hacked my website, and I still haven’t gotten around to organizing another one, but all of my books (Ebooks or paperbacks) are available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble,  or at your local bookstore. If you want to get hold of me, my email is DocAtlas108@aol.com. I’m always glad to hear from people.

Whatever you wish to list here, like links to seller/buy sites or any URL.

Devil’s Vendetta: A Steve Wolf Military Thriller (Trackdown Book 5) – Kindle edition by Black, Michael A.. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Devil’s Breed: A Steve Wolf Military Thriller (Trackdown Book 6) – Kindle edition by Black, Michael A.. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

19 Comments

  1. Michael A. Black

    Thanks, Joe. I value your friendship as well. Thanks for stopping by.

    Reply
  2. Joseph Bryce HAGGERTY Sr

    I certainly agree with what everyone has said about Michael’s books and will continue being a buyer. I’ve already read 5 of his books and only have 42 to go. The thing I like about Mike is not only his friendship, but it’s the help he has given me with my writing. He is unselfish and generous with his critiques without being condescending. As a novice writer it is good to have a friend who is such a professional.
    George, as always, your interviews are first rate.

    Reply
  3. Michael A. Black

    Raymond, Rick, and Maddie thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. Your friendship and support means a lot to me.

    Reply
  4. Madeline Gornell

    Congrats, Mike! You are amazing…off to Amazon right now…

    Reply
  5. Rick McMahan

    Another really good series from you, Mike. I enjoy the characters and storylines. Keep it up, brother.

    And a great interview.

    Reply
  6. Raymond Benson

    I’ve known Mike a LONG time. He’s a consummate professional and I’m happy to know him.

    Reply
  7. Michael A. Black

    Thanks, to all of you who’ve stopped by and especially to those who commented.
    I appreciate your support. These comments, coming from such a talented group of writers means a lot to me. You’re the best.

    Reply
  8. D. Record

    Congratulations on your series. Look forward to reading your latest book and when your Western comes out.
    Continued success. You’re an inspiration to the rest of us.

    Reply
  9. Mysti Berry

    congrats to one of the hardest-working writers in crime today!

    Reply
  10. Dave

    I have always enjoyed Mike’s novels and stories. You get a real sense of the street in them. Not only are his books entertaining, but they remain authentic as well, obviously written by one who’s been there. Can’t wait to dig into the newest one(s), lol!!!

    Reply
  11. CAMILLE MINICHINO

    OK, it took me a minute, but now I get it. Mike BLACK distantly related to Zane GREY. Good one, just like all your books!

    Reply
  12. Martin G

    Mike’s books are well-written. Looking forward to his latest.

    Reply
  13. Nick Chiarkas

    Excellent Blog Post. I will pick up your book and read it with a glass of bourbon.

    Reply
  14. Nick Chiarkas

    Excellent blog; I’ll pick up your book and read it with a glass of bourbon.

    Reply
  15. Bob Doerr

    Hi Mike, looking forward to reading these!

    Reply
  16. Steve Rush

    Hi Mike,

    I purchased Devil’s Vendetta two days ago and look forward to reading it and the others in the series. Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself and your writing.

    Reply
  17. Victoria Weisfeld

    Ordered my copy of Mike’s new one. Coming soon . . . But can I keep up??

    Reply
    • John Schembra

      Mike is a friend and a terrific, prolific author. I’ve read a couple of his Executioner books and a couple of his westerns. I’ve enjoyed every one. He is an amazing writer.

      Reply
    • George Cramer

      Victoria, I know what you mean. I just ordered the last two in an effort to get caught up.

      Reply

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FLEUR BRADLEY – Mystery Puzzle Master

Fleur Bradley has loved puzzles and (scary) mysteries ever since she first discovered Agatha Christie novels. She’s the author of numerous mysteries for kids, Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, which was on many award lists, including the Reading the West, Agatha and Anthony Awards, Sasquatch Award, and won the SCBWI Crystal Kite Award, Sunshine State Young Readers Award, and the Colorado Book Award.

A reluctant reader herself, Fleur regularly does librarian and educator conference talks on ways to reach reluctant readers. Originally from the Netherlands, she now lives in Colorado with her family and entirely too many rescue animals. Find out more about Fleur at http://www.ftbradley.com and follow her on Twitter @FTBradleyAuthor.

Daybreak on Raven Island: From the critically acclaimed author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel comes a thrilling new middle-grade mystery novel inspired by Alcatraz Prison.

Tori, Marvin, and Noah would rather be anywhere else than on the seventh-grade class field trip to Raven Island prison. Tori would rather be on the soccer field, but her bad grades have benched her until further notice; Marvin would rather be at the first day of a film festival with his best friend, Kevin; and Noah isn’t looking forward to having to make small talk with his classmates at this new school.

But when the three of them stumble upon a dead body in the woods, miss the last ferry back home, and then have to spend the night on Raven Island, they find that they need each other now more than ever. They must work together to uncover a killer, outrun a motley ghost-hunting crew, and expose the age-old secrets of the island all before daybreak.

Do you write in more than one genre? Although most people know me as the author of mysteries for kids, I also write short stories and YA. It’s good to stretch your writing muscle a little, I think. I also make sure I read a lot outside my own genre, so I know what’s going on.

Where do you write? What, if any, distractions do you allow? I write in my home office—I’m so fortunate to have one! For years, I wrote in waiting rooms (while my kids were in gymnastics or art classes), food courts, and my dining room. It’s so nice to have a dedicated space. My kids are grown, so that helps too. I have all the time to write.

Tell us about your writing process: I usually start with a broad concept—the crime, since I write mystery, and what I want the book to feel like. That last part is a little vague, but I know a good recipe for a book when I see it, even if it’s just in my imagination.

Setting is a big part of my process too. It creates the mood, and with some research, I usually find ways to use setting. My most recent book, Daybreak on Raven Island, is set on a fictionalized version of Alcatraz. I used the real-life setting as inspiration for everything from the horror feel of the book to the mysteries my three kid characters are trying to solve.

What is the most challenging part of your writing process? Probably letting it go once it’s time for publication. You can edit forever. That’s just the truth. There comes a time to let readers pass judgment.

Has an association membership helped you with your writing? Both MWA and SinC here in Colorado have been hugely helpful. They cheer me on and provide simple camaraderie. It’s nice to have people to talk mystery with.

On the children’s writers side, I love my local chapter of SCBWI. I’m very lucky here in Colorado to have so many writer friends.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew to enjoy? I was not a fan of Stephen King until I started reading his short stories. I still don’t always have the patience for his really long books, but I can appreciate the storytelling now.

Do you outline, or are you a pantser? I love outlining, and the longer I’m doing this, the more I believe in outlining. It just takes too much time to edit without a solid outline. I teach outlining workshops now; I’m such a believer.

Where do you place your settings—real or fictional locations? I like to take a real-life setting and then fictionalize it, so I can make it what I want. For Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, I used the Stanley Hotel here in Colorado (from The Shining, in case you’re not familiar). For Daybreak on Raven Island, I ‘built’ Raven Island based on Alcatraz. It’s such an incredible tool. Setting can change a story completely, so I try to have that figured out early on in my process.

Looking to the future, what’s in store for you? Daybreak on Raven Island just came out, so I’m spending a lot of time doing virtual and in-person events. Writing-wise, I’m working on another mystery for kids and another for teens. I hope to finish both by the end of 2022 and then will have to see if they find a home somewhere. There are no guarantees in publishing.

Do you have any advice for new writers? Stay positive, and surround yourself with people (especially fellow writers) who lift you up. Publishing is tough and full of rejection. You want friends to pick you up when you’re down and buy you cake when there’s something to celebrate.

How do our readers contact you?

Here’s my website: Fleur Bradley (ftbradley.com)

I hang out on Twitter: Fleur Bradley – preorder DAYBREAK ON RAVEN ISLAND! (@FTBradleyAuthor) / Twitter

And Instagram: Fleur Bradley (@fleurbradley) • Instagram photos and videos

7 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Varadan

    I have never been to Boucheron, but so many of my friends have. The year I planned to go in Sacramento, we moved to Portugal. (My husband and I love Portugal.) But I’m still happy for friends who get to attend this wonderful conference. On another note, my husbanad and I both enjoy your series so much!

    Reply
  2. Marilyn Meredith

    I met Fleur long ago at I think a Left Coast Crime convention. I loved Midnight at the Barclay Hotel and looking forward to reading the new one.

    Reply
  3. Margaret Mizushima

    So glad that you have another book out, Fleur! I can’t wait to read it. And I can’t wait until my granddaughter is old enough so that we can read them together! Best wishes for this new book!

    Reply
  4. Marie Sutro

    Fleur is absolutely right! Friends who pick you up are worth their weight in gold!

    Reply
  5. Debra Bokur

    I haven’t read this one yet, Fleur, but look forward to it. I loved what you did with the Stanley Hotel in Midnight at the Barclay Hotel. You have a keen sense of setting and atmosphere that adds so much to the fun plot. And, about cake…. Yes. Absolutely!

    Reply
  6. Fleur Bradley

    Thank you so much for the kind words, Michael. It means a lot, especially coming from you. Hope we get to catch up in person again sometime, been too long!

    Reply
  7. Michael A. Black

    Fleur Bradley is talent personified. I enjoy all of her books and short stories and her YA books are so good they appeal to readers of all ages. I’m thrilled to see she has a new one out. I’m going to order it today. Best of luck to you, Fleur.

    Reply

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