Author Q&A About When Good Men Die

Q: What is this book about?

A: In the latest book in the Sam Dawson Mystery series, Sam returns to clear himself as a suspect in the murder of a nursing home resident and exposes decades-long secrets in this Gordian knot of a mystery. This thoughtful, exciting mystery awakens a desire in the reader to peel away the layers of time in order to understand the past of those who shaped our lives as it races toward its conclusion.

Q: Why did the author pick this era/time period?

A: I believe that most people romanticize and identify with certain historical periods. I’ve always been drawn to the 1930s, particularly the literature of the era. Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner and Lewis shaped my perception of what I identified as a simpler time when people and families were bonded together out of economic necessity. Perhaps it was the stories and remembrances of my Depression-era parents that captivated me.

Q: What encourages you to continue to write a series?

A: For me, both readers and characters stimulate the expression of creative story telling. When I’m able to elicit an emotional response from the reader because they identify with a character, I’m rewarded. When I’m forced to reaffirm with the reader that the story is fiction, I’m rewarded. The end result of positive reinforcement is the repetition of the behavior that was rewarded. But, I must admit there is something else that I never expected would motivate me to write a series. My fictional characters have developed a perceived real-life persona that haunts me. Seemingly, they clamor for my recognition and attention. They’re quite persistent.

Q: What is the take-home message of this book?

A: Everyone has a story. It may not be a story you want to hear, but if you care about someone, take the time to listen. Ask questions, probe for the secrets and try not to judge or rewrite history. Then, when the time is right, pass the story on to someone who will appreciate it.

Q: Why did you choose this topic for the novel — that the aged are often not who they appear to be? Why is this important?

A: In today’s world we tend to categorize and overlook the elderly. We read their obituaries and note their age, where they were born and who they left behind. But, we know nothing about who they really were, their hopes and dreams, their successes and failures, their contributions. Importance is a relative term that is best determined by the person who asks the questions and the person who evaluates the answer.

Q: More of today’s novels are written with multiple points of views, and this mystery has four points of view/protagonists.  Is it more of a challenge to write with these different points of view?

A: Perhaps the trend of writing with multiple points of view mirrors the complexities of modern lifestyles. Many of today’s readers want and expect a story that challenges their ability to sort out the lives of multiple characters. Yes, it is more challenging to maintain consistency in the personalities of co-protagonists/antagonists. Developing detailed biographies of each character prior to writing the story helps.

Q: How do you write clues into a mystery without giving it away mid-book and yet with enough clues in the book that it’s not a ‘gotcha’ ending?

A: In my case, I often rely on beta readers to tell me if the novel’s structure and storyline work to avoid the ‘gotcha’ ending. The writer has the advantage of knowing the whole story and sometimes may be too close to see it from the reader’s perspective. I like to surprise the reader, but not anger them. It’s a delicate balancing act to provide that ‘aha’ moment where the reader slaps their forehead and says, “I didn’t see that coming, but should have.”

Q: Will there be more Sam Dawson mysteries?

A: Readers appear to like Sam. He’s a bit of an antihero with enough flaws that people can identify with him. I’ll keep writing the mysteries as long as people keep reading them. Ultimately, the consumer will dictate Sam’s future. And that’s how it should be.