It’s a new year and an especially relevant time for me to introduce myself because my sixth novel comes out TOMORROW, January 3.
I grew up in Texas and the place has a hold on me that I guess most people feel for their original home. When I go back to visit, I have a strange mix of annoyance and happiness. I’m annoyed at the ways in which the worst of the state’s excesses have taken over, and happy to be back where the smell of the air and familiar sights, smells, and sounds take me back to a happy childhood.
As much as I love to visit, even as a child I knew I wanted to leave Texas as soon as I could. My parents loved to travel and I had seen other places more to my liking. There were no funds for out-of-state schooling, so I stayed in Texas for college at the University of Texas. But as soon as I graduated, I was out of there.
After living on the east coast for a couple of years, where I was trained in computer programming/analysis, I moved to Denver. Restless, I traveled in Europe for a while—I miss those youthful days, when cheap travel was possible and I didn’t mind the bathroom being down the hall. When I returned I hitched a ride to Los Angeles with my parents, who were living there for a few years. I headed to San Francisco, liked what I saw, found a job in computers, and settled down.
The one constant through all this movement was writing. I wrote whenever I had a few minutes, starting one book after another and writing short stories that sometimes got published in small literary magazines. My first novel, which I also wrote as a screenplay, was science fiction. Although I had interest from a publisher, they went out of business before I finished, and I abandoned the project. Eventually I decided to get a master’s degree in English/Creative Writing from SF State, and during that time finished my first mystery based on an odd event in Mendocino.
Fast forward and I had written a total of six novels before I realized I was spinning my wheels. I would finish a book, get an agent, and then the agent couldn’t place the book. Finally I decided to take a break while raising my son. As soon as he was off to college, I was back at my desk—but with a difference. I took a weekend workshop in which the advice to write something I “knew” deep down finally took hold. I remembered the short stories I had written that seemed to flow so easily, set in a fictitious town called Jarrett Creek. That’s when I started A Killing at Cotton Hill. The book poured out of me, as if it had been waiting for me to discover it.
It took almost two years to find a publisher, but it was lucky timing, since Seventh Street Books was just starting to look for authors when they signed me. I have been happy with my editor and am proud of my fellow-authors at SSB. That’s my story. Hard work, perseverance, plus a little good luck was “all” it took. Now the sixth in the series, An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock, is knocking on the door. Take a look at it!