Much of my own sensibility comes from the television shows I watched as a kid. I got in my first fistfight one morning when I was four years old and wanted to watch Popeye while a friend wanted to change the channel to watch . . . I don’t remember what, something weak-kneed like Rocky & Bullwinkle. I remember being angry and, if it’s possible for a four year old, aesthetically wronged. How could anybody want to watch Bullwinkle when one could watch a little guy like Popeye conquer Bluto and win the girl? This was art, I explained to my four-year-old friend in not so many words, and soon we were on the floor wrestling and throwing little fists at each other.
I grew up. A little. At age ten, I spent nearly every weekday afternoon watching re-runs of Adam-12 and then Dragnet. The ridiculously scrubbed-faced actors who played LAPD cops in Adam-12 would never make the cut in today’s gritty police procedurals, but the episodes kept this kid on the edge of his couch. Joe Friday was staid and stiff in Dragnet, but I felt a thrill every time the announcer said, “the story you are about to hear is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” Who needed reality TV?
Did watching these shows lead me to write detective novels? At least it didn’t steer me away from writing them. On the other hand, for a while I also watched The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family, and I never did learn to play bass guitar like Danny Bonaduce. But if you read closely, you might see similarities between one or two of my femmes fatales and Florence Henderson.