Friday, September 30, 2011

Mallory Petersen and Company

Beta book trailer:

Back in 1988, when I worked for radio station WKEI/WJRE in the self proclaimed “Hog Capital of the World” town of Kewanee, Illinois, one of my fellow broadcasters was named Gary Petersen. He was the first person I knew who spelled the surname with EN rather than ON. When I created my private investigator/martial artist, I gave a slight nod of admiration to Gary by naming her Mallory Petersen.

Last week, we explored the early life and the current situation of Mallory. This week I want to show a little more of her personality and tell you a little about the people in her life. I spent many months developing Mallory starting with a character profile. I started by writing attributes I thought were interesting. I included basic things like height, weight, hair and eye color, and then moved onto little tidbits of information. Her favorite color is lavender. She likes chocolate and lilacs. She dislikes coffee but drinks Dr Pepper.

I wanted her to be fun loving with a sense of humor, wit, sarcasm, a touch of cynicism. Part of the humor is shown through her involvement in odd cases and the people she meets during those cases. Even on her serious case, she can’t avoid the oddballs. In Beta, Mallory receives a visit from a Focal Point Seer, otherwise known as a remote viewer, who gives her a list with ‘clues’ pertaining to the kidnapping. Of course, Mallory thinks the woman is a bit strange considering when she sometimes receives her ‘visions’.

Part of her personality I mentioned last time with her love of the Bogart portrayal of Sam Spade. Although Mallory wouldn’t dream of smoking a cigarette, she loves the trench coat and hat.

I borrowed several attributes from my life for Mallory. One is the first car I remember my parents owning when I was a child. A 1971 Dodge Dart Swinger, blue with a white hardtop. Mallory’s parents also owned one and she bought it for a buck when she went off to college.

Mallory possesses a lot of love and adoration for her students and the people around her. She cares for everyone who trains at her taekwondo school. She also throws herself wholeheartedly into each of her cases, even the weird ones. So when she starts after the kidnapped girl in Beta, you know she is going to get emotional. She has to utilize a lot of self control when squaring off against the people involved in the crime. She pushes the envelope and steps over the line at times because she cares so much. She knows the potential of the young students in her classes and can’t imagine the horrible acts perpetrated on this one little girl.

Mallory has a wonderful supporting cast, each of whom will assist her with finding more leads on the case, help her to control her emotions, or show the humorous side of her life.

Darren: her enigmatic secretary with a last name she can’t pronounce. He is Mallory’s rock when things get rough. A few years her junior, Darren is a loyal and trusted friend and confidante.

Willy Washington: Mallory’s ‘confidential informant’. She caught him trying to steal her car and did her own version of ‘scared straight’ on him. Now, he occasionally provides information about various criminal elements around town.

A few years ago, some author friends persuaded me to change the name of Mallory’s secretary. Originally, I named him Jamie. I also had given the handsome detective Mallory meets in the Quad Cities the moniker of Laurel, but they pooh-poohed that name, too. So, I chose the more masculine names of Darren and Lawrence.

Lawrence Cameron: First name taken from, ahem, yours truly (what do you think the L stands for?), and the surname from, um, well, a certain someone I give a passing mention to in the book and about whom I’ll tell you if you ask me, but not here in this forum. Anyway, he’s the very good looking member of the Special Case Squad, based out of the East Moline police department. He partners with Mallory when her search for the girl takes her to the Quad Cities. He also will stick around for awhile as Mallory’s romantic interest.

So, tomorrow is the day. The first day the new month with a new heroine ready to take the stage. I hope you will come to love Mallory Petersen as much as I have. Do me a huge favor and spread the word about her. If you like martial arts, a detective with a few quirks but real emotion, and an action packed story, give Beta a read.

Thank you.

Beta is published by Echelon Press. The book can be purchased October 1, 2011, at,, and For more information on Beta, my other book, Night Shadows, my upcoming book, Alpha, and four short stories also to be published, please visit

Friday, September 23, 2011

Introducing: Mallory Petersen

In the following weeks, as you follow me along my blog tour (and I hope you do. Take a look at the Where I’ll Be section to the right to find the locations of my guest posts and upcoming interviews), you will learn of a marvelous new woman in my life. Actually, she’s been with me for years, but now I get a chance to show her to the world.

Mallory Petersen.

Who is she? What is she? Part of the answers to those questions is easy, another part isn’t. I suppose we can start with the basics and work deeper.

She’s twenty-eight at the beginning of her first adventure, Beta. Her birthday was celebrated a month earlier on October 26. She stands six feet with long blonde hair and a fabulous figure.

Mallory fell in love with mysteries and private investigation early in life. She especially loved the image of Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade so much, she even bought a similar trench coat and hat as her trademark apparel. She envisioned herself solving crimes and bringing the bad guys to justice.

To be able to handle potential foes, she needed to be able to defend herself. She started taekwondo classes as a teenager and quickly advanced in rank. Her instructor was highly impressed with her aptitude and her discipline. She continued her training in college even while holding down various jobs and studying for a liberal arts degree. She had a goal to own both a martial arts school and her own private detective investigations office.

Mallory attended a small high school with only thirty students in her graduating class. She was a popular student but not in the traditional ways. While she had many friends, some girls didn’t quite know what to think of her, since she didn’t join the popular ‘cliques’. Most of the boys were attracted to her and although she dated a few, she never developed anything serious.

After college, she moved to Des Moines, Iowa, and with some financial help from her father, opened up a taekwondo studio on the south side of town. She lost a lot of sleep those first few years recruiting and instructing students, attending numerous camps, tournaments, and business seminars. Her hard work paid off. Currently, she’s a Fourth Degree Black Belt with several adult and junior instructors under her. They’ve been trained to take over and manage classes if, for some reason, Mallory can’t attend.

Because we can’t forget about her other profession, the private investigator. Almost simultaneous with the opening of her martial arts school, she found a downtown office on the second floor of what once used to be an art gallery. Years ago, the elderly German art dealer cut back on his inventory and moved everything to the first floor, which left a huge amount of space upstairs. Mallory pays a fair rent for a lot of space. A front office for a desk, computer, filing cabinet, potted plant, and a couple visitor’s chairs. Her personal office once held the majority of the art gallery’s exhibits, but now is like a hangar without the airplanes.

This quirkiness seen in her office design is reflected in the types of cases she ends up accepting. Yes, she does the normal employee background checks and takes witness statements for court cases. She also trails spouses accused of infidelity and track missing persons. However, the majority of her cases are a bit odd. She can’t recall one of her infidelity cases not having a bit of weirdness involved either with the people themselves or the specific circumstances of the affair.

She does take on serious cases. Her landlord’s daughter suffers from mental problems due to an abusive ex husband and tends to wander off on occasion. Subsequently, Mallory is called upon to find her.

In Beta, Mallory accepts an assignment to find a kidnapped eight year old girl. Cindy McGee is the latest victim in a string of kidnappings in Iowa in the past eighteen months. Mallory soon discovers individuals associated with a child pornography ring. It’s a dangerous underworld of heinous crimes in which Mallory finds herself. Her skills as both an investigator and a martial artist come into play. Along the way she not only meets evil up close but also the oddballs, the type with which she is familiar which give her a temporary break from the seriousness of her case.

So, who is Mallory Petersen? This is a good introduction, but next time, let’s explore deeper and I’ll introduce you to a few more people in Mallory’s life.

Beta is published by Echelon Press. The book can be purchased October 1, 2011, at,, and For more information on Beta, my other book, Night Shadows, my upcoming book, Alpha, and four short stories also to be published, please visit

Friday, September 16, 2011

The P.I. Life, Part 2

As promised, here's the second part of my interview with Amy Drescher, private investigator.

8. How much do you utilize computers in your business?

The internet is a tool of the trade. I’m online daily to run background checks, search profiles on Facebook, access property records and on and on. A serious P.I. subscribes to at least three different proprietary databases. It’s like “one-stop shopping”—with essentially one-click, we can access comprehensive data on an individual.

Also, I never leave the office without my iPad so that I have a constant link to the internet, especially during a surveillance. Live GPS mapping and access to databases, including motor vehicle records (license plate numbers) are invaluable.

9. Could you list some differences between what a private investigator can do as opposed to police officers?

The most obvious difference is that a PI has no power to enforce the law or arrest someone. Also, I can’t be accused/tried for violating someone’s civil rights. While I don’t need a search warrant to snoop around in someone’s home, I do, however, need permission.

The best way to generally answer that question is this: A private investigator follows the exact same rule book as any civilian. If it’s against the law for YOU to do it, then it’s against the law for me, too. An experienced PI fully understands local, state and federal laws in all areas related to the job, from privacy rights to public record access.

10. In my book, “Beta”, my investigator, Mallory Petersen, utilizes at least one individual who could be termed an informant. How often do you utilize civilian (non-PIs) consultants or informants?

The short answer is rarely.

11. At one point in the story, Mallory Petersen receives a visit from a remote viewer. In your profession, have you ever encountered a person with psychic abilities?

Interestingly, I had a case that involved an entire family of unscrupulous psychics! It’s a long story so I’ll just say that my investigator endured two psychic readings as a “ruse” to get inside the physic’s home, the same place where business was conducted. Interestingly, the psychic failed to predict the investigator’s true identity and the real reason the PI was there.

12. Mallory Petersen tends to have clients and cases coming from the nuttier side of life. Could you briefly relate one of your ‘goofier’ cases?

One particularly odd case involved me and my team conducting surveillance, over several months, to document a cheating spouse. The cheating spouse was very wealthy and had hired a security team to protect his “interest”. That is, the security team’s job was to insure that no one was observing or following the cheater and/or the paramour (the legal term to describe an illicit lover, male or female).

So, we were constantly faced with conducting surveillance on the “counter-surveillance” team in order to perform the original task of catching the cheater. It was a very tricky covert game of PI’s spying on PI’s and took an extraordinary and creative effort. I’m pleased to report that the other team never knew of our presence and we fully documented not only the infidelity but the fact that the cheating spouse spent and wasted nearly 100,000 dollars (of marital funds) on the security team.

13. What errors do you see writers make in regards to writing about private investigators?

The fictional PI tends to be a super hero when conducting a moving or rolling surveillance i.e., surveillance while driving. A single PI following a Subject should be a very brief scene because of the strong likelihood that the PI is going to lose the Subject or the PI is going to get busted.

As a matter of fact, I will flatly refuse a client who wants to save money and asks for only one PI to do a moving surveillance. Writers and the general public seem to underestimate the constant challenges of a moving surveillance, regardless of whether we’re in heavy interstate traffic or on a rural road. A successful outcome is greatly improved with two or three PI vehicles. It’s one thing to follow a vehicle around town but it’s an entirely different ballgame to follow someone and NOT be detected!!

The other myth about private investigators is that we arm ourselves with a concealed weapon, namely a handgun. The handful of PIs that I know who carry do so because they would even if they weren’t a PI. The PI is armed with pepper spray, a stun gun or a taser is more plausible.

14. Do you have any advice for mystery writers for adding realism to their books?

• Learn about our “tricks of the trade”. Ideally, you would pick the brain of an experienced PI who will share what’s in his/her bag of tricks.
• Here are a few keywords to Google (possibly include the term “private investigator”): pretexting, spoof call, gps tracking devices, computer forensics, key logger software, shooting video in darkness, legally steal garbage, simple disguises.
• One element of realism that tends to be ignored (and maybe for good reason)is something we face on every surveillance. Hunger and having to pee. Regarding the latter, occasionally we have an opportunity to race to a public restroom. The more common scenario takes more skill and I apologize in advance for a crude description. As a matter of routine, my female colleagues and I pee in plastic cups. The “pee-in-the-cup” method which, if done correctly is fast, convenient and sanitary enough.
• Read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Private Investigating, 2nd Edition by Steven Kerry Brown

My thanks to Amy Drescher for her time to attend Killer Nashville and taking the time to give us some insight into a very interesting profession. For more information, plese review the following:

615.305.0060  Franklin, TN 37069
TN Private Investigation & Polygraph Commission #5936/#1452
News Link
or Google search: “Amy Drescher, private investigator, youtube”

Ms. Pam Taylor, Attorney at Law
401 Commerce Street, Suite 800
Nashville, TN 37219 (615) 244-5200
Mr. Larry Hayes, Jr., Attorney at Law
214 Second Avenue North, Suite 103
Nashville, TN 37201 (615) 244-2202

Honorable Kevin Sharp, Federal Judge (U.S. Middle Dist. of TN) for the Middle District of Tennessee
801 Broadway, Nashville, TN 37203, (615) 736-5498
Ms. Renee Nantz, Licensed Private Investigator
Nashville, TN 37201 (615) 573-5095

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The P.I. Life, Part 1

As the countdown continues toward the October 1 release of Beta and the first adventure of private investigator/martial artist Mallory Petersen, I thought I’d take an opportunity to show you a small part of the world of an actual private investigator.

I met Amy Drescher at the Killer Nashville writers’ conference in 2010. She sat on a panel discussing surveillance techniques and equipment. Afterward, I had an opportunity to speak with her one on one and she agreed to do an interview to help promote my upcoming book.

Amy Drescher is a licensed private investigator and owns Rosetta Stone Investigations, a licensed PI company based in Williamson County, Tennessee. Ms. Drescher specializes in domestic and civil matters and has handled hundreds of cases since she was licensed in 2002 by the Tennessee Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission. She is a member of the Tennessee Association of Professional Investigators and holds a bachelor’s degree in Mass Media & Broadcasting.

Her career as a female private investigator was the subject of a Nashville television news feature report (WKRN/ABC News, “Nashville P.I. on a Mission to Catch Cheatin’ Hearts”) and most recently she was a speaker for the Nashville Bar Association Family Law Institute/CLE (“Using a Private Investigator to Prepare Your Case”, October 2010).

Prior to becoming a licensed PI, Ms. Drescher spent more than a decade as an investigative television news reporter and TV anchor in Illinois where she earned numerous state and national awards for investigative reporting.
She and her husband, Nashville lawyer, Jay Drescher have three children and reside in Franklin, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville. Drescher is 46 years old and enjoys photography, working out at the local gym, and she is an enthusiast of Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes as evidenced by her collection of books and memorabilia.

1. What was the lure of the profession for you? How did you make the decision to become a private investigator? How long have you been in this profession?

My intrigue began when I was in elementary school. My dad had a police scanner and I specifically recall memorizing the “10-CODE” (that’s 10-1 through 10-99!) so that I could decipher the “coded language” between the 911 Dispatcher and emergency personnel (police, fire, coroner, etc). Since my youth, electronics and gadgets have interested me. So much so, that in the sixth grade, I pleaded for a CB radio home unit, “a base station”. It was a treasured Christmas gift and my outlet to talk “in code”. Today, 35 years later, it resides in my office.

I gave some consideration to attend a police academy, but ultimately, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Broadcasting. During college I was a DJ at a local Top Hits radio station until my first real job as television news reporter and anchor in Illinois. Ironically, the 10-CODE served me well in the newsroom. Many times, I scooped the competition or at least, I was the first reporter at the scene because I was able to easily decipher the police scanner. Coded language between the 911 dispatcher and emergency personnel was, after all, old hat to me. A decade or so later, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee and set out to become a private investigator. I became licensed in 2003 and formed a licensed PI agency. I specialize in Civil and Domestic matters. The majority of my clients are referrals and/or family law attorneys.

2. What training did you undergo to become a PI? College courses? Weapons? Self defense?

My best training was my previous experience as a news reporter. There are very strong parallels between a news reporter and private investigator. Skills such as writing a detailed and objective report, operating and troubleshooting video equipment, interviewing, understanding privacy laws and, of course, digging up dirt like there’s no tomorrow!

Each state has its own rules, guidelines, and licensing requirements. A handful of states have no requirements. No state mandates weapons training. Check the rules in the state where your fictional PI lives and works. For example, in Tennessee, a licensed private investigator MUST work for licensed PI company.

As I instruct each “PI Wanna-Be” who calls me wanting a job—Your first case assignment is to figure out how to become a PI! Hint: Ignore all online classes/seminars. Go straight to your State Government website.

I am licensed by the State of Tennessee Private Investigation and Polygraph Commission.
I have an individual PI license and a company PI license. Here is general summary of what it takes to be a PI in Tennessee. Minimum 21 years old, clear an FBI background check, and a written exam. Licensing for a PI company (which you must work for) is more difficult.

License renewal and continued education (12 hours) is also required every two years. All of the above comes with a price tag for application fees, fingerprinting fees, testing fees, license fees, and renewal fees. Double the costs for owning an agency.

3. What types of cases do you prefer to investigate and how did you decide? For instance missing persons or background checks versus finding evidence of cheating spouses?

I specialize in civil (i.e. non-criminal) and domestic cases (family law) cases such as divorce, child custody issues and infidelity (and, lots of it, sorry to report). My niche seemed to unfold naturally and rapidly, in part, due to my husband being a divorce lawyer. Once my foot was in the door, my passion for the job and constant professionalism has kept the door wide open.

I can’t say that I prefer a certain type of case over another. I find missing people and those who don’t want to be found. I run background checks as frequently as I run the dishwasher. I spend most weekends with liars and cheaters. At the end of the day, it’s always about finding the truth.

4. Do you have any other people on your staff? Do they all wear different hats?

The investigators who work for me have varied backgrounds, personalities and lifestyles.

Jason, 34, single, father, former United States Marine, avid hunter/fisherman, known to conduct surveillance from tree-tops.

Lisa, 48, married, petite brunette, a Southern lady, church youth group leader, and will drop everything when called upon for an urgent surveillance.

Vince, 35, single, former police officer, works in Fraud Protection, and thinks like a cop-which is a good thing!

Renee, 49, single, tall blonde, sincere and sweet yet brazen and very competent, my first choice because of her skill-level.

5. Do you have a certain region in which you work? For instance if someone from Iowa, for some reason requested your services, would you be willing to travel?

The majority of my work is in Nashville and the surrounding counties. A few times a year, a job that originates locally will take us to another state. Such was the case recently when we flew to San Diego to watch a suspected cheating spouse while she attended a week- long conference at an upscale hotel. More frequently, a client from out-of-state will hire me to do a job here.

6. Describe some of the surveillance equipment you use?

The one piece of equipment that I could not live without is a top-of-the-line digital Sony video camera with Sony night-shot and manual adjustments to shoot in the dark. I have a stockpile of tech gadgets such as body-worn cameras, a key-fob camera, a covert camera hidden in a rock and of course, a pair of high-end binoculars.

7. What types of weapons do you carry, if any?

I do not carry a weapon. As PI Jim Rockford once reasoned, “I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want to shoot anybody”.

Stealth and discretion is the backbone of remaining anonymous and avoiding confrontation. My identity might be revealed during court proceedings, for example, but it is not something that concerns me enough to carry a weapon.

By the way, that is the number one question that men ask me.

Stop by tomorrow for Part 2.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Around the Globe with J.R. LINDERMUTH

Another Friday is upon us. I just wanted to mention that I've been doing author interviews for quite some time. This week's interview will be the last one for awhile since I would like to concentrate on promoting my upcoming book, Beta. I hope you will join me on my blog tour and continue to visit me here as I'll be telling you all about the book, my thoughts about it, and giving you tidbits of relative information including an interview with a private investigator.

However, first this week's featured author. When I asked where he'd like to go for the interview he said this: If I had access to a time machine you might find me in darkest Africa with Sir Richard Burton (the explorer, not the actor), in the Yucatan with Cortez, or dropping in on the Koryo dynasty in Korea, where I spent some time in the 20th century. Equipped with a good supply of antibiotics and assurance of returning to the present, those are all places and times I would have liked to look in on. Since we don’t have the time machine, you’ll just have to join me on the porch of my home in this village in Pennsylvania’s anthracite coal region. We can have coffee, tea or a beer. Your choice, my friend.

I'll take tea. Thanks.

1. Who is J. R. Lindermuth and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I’m a father, grandfather, retired newspaper editor/reporter, pen & ink artist, genealogist and author of nine published novels and numerous articles and short stories.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

If I tell you my secret I’ll have to…well, you know how that goes. Truthfully, did he have the courage, this mild-mannered older gentleman would have loved to have been an explorer/archaeologist. Despite my skin and bone build, my adventuring is primarily restricted to food. I won’t say I’m in a league with Andrew Zimmern, but my palate has experienced some odd victuals.

3.What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming a NASCAR driver?

How else can you have so much fun without heavy lifting? Imagination can take you any place in the world (or other worlds) and any time period with no danger (except, possibly, to your sanity). A limited number of us even become rich and famous.

4.Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Many writers who are a pleasure to read might not prove as congenial in person. If it were possible to meet one from the past my choice would probably be Miguel de Cervantes, whose writing I treasure for both his sense of humor and his wisdom. In these current times I wouldn’t mind sitting down to a meal and/or a Dr. Pepper with James Lee Burke.

5.If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

Since I write both mysteries and historical fiction, readers have some choice of venue in my books. Reviewers seem to like the sense of place I provide and the depth of characterization.

6.Share the Lindermuth process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

I’m more of a pantser than an outliner. I generally have an idea how a story will end, but getting there may be more of a roundabout process than I expect in the beginning. I may pen a few notes now and then to keep me on track. A story/book generally begins with an image in my mind of a character/situation which may be inspired by a conversation overheard, something I’ve read or just conjured out of the blue. I tend to write in scenes as they come to me and there may be some juggling of these as I get closer to the end. I try to get the whole thing down before doing revising, since stopping in the middle tends to throw things out of kilter. And I love research—whether that means actually going to a place, reading about it, or searching it out on Google.

7.“I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

I doubt if my process would work for someone else. I don’t think there is ONE method. We each have to find our own way. One suggestion I would make is if you have an idea don’t dally over it waiting for inspiration. Just sit down (or stand, if you prefer) and start writing. The wonderful thing about writing on a computer is if it doesn’t work the first time, it isn’t as difficult to start over as it was in the days of typewriters and quill pens.

8.I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

I’ll quote my friend Cervantes here: “Good actions ennoble us, and we are the sons of our own deeds.” We’re all responsible for our own actions. So it behooves us to make the best choices we can and hope they’re the right ones.

9.Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I like to keep the pot a-stirring. And have more ideas than I can hope to get to in one lifetime. I just want to keep on writing, my friend; hopefully with the product always improving and people interested in reading it.

10.Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

My website:
My blog:
And of course there’s Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and all those other places we lurk these days.

Thanks for the opportunity, Stephen. I’ve enjoyed this time with you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Around the Globe with SALLY CARPENTER

A little rainy, a little humid for the beginning of the new month. I'm looking forward to having the release of my next book, "Beta" on the first of October.

This week gets a little funky because my featured author wanted to travel to a place I didn't think we could go. However, my transporter is fashioned after a famous blue police box, so with a little manipulation, a few thrown switches and blown fuses, we end up in Indiana standing backstage after a sold out Sandy Fairfax concert. Sandy is a 38-year-old former teen idol/TV star making a comeback and the amateur sleuth of Carpenter's series. While waiting for Sandy to finish schmoozing after the concert, we talk.

1. Who is Sally Carpenter and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

I’ve written a book that nobody else has written. My mystery is the first to feature a middle-aged former teen idol that still wants to work in the entertainment business. Matt Williams wrote a play about southwestern Indiana called From Daylight to Boonville, but mine’s the first book ever set in Evansville, Indiana. I grew up in a town north of Evansville, but I don’t live there any more.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

My hair is naturally curly. I don’t roll it or style it. It just grows that way.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming an astronaut?

I’ve always wanted to tell stories, although I never did it well until recently. As a child I made up stories in my head—didn’t write them down—and read oodles of books. When I was a kid I cut pictures out of magazines and made up my own stories about them. Even when I was working at another job, I still wanted to write. I’d go in a library and think, “I’d like to have a book of my own on the shelf.”

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Steve Hockensmith, author of the “Holmes on the Range” mystery series. He grew up in the same town where my book is set.

I also admire William Link, TV writer extraordinaire who created “Columbo” and “Mannix.” Also William Read Woodfield and Allan Balter, who wrote for “Mission: Impossible” and other shows.

Can we include deceased persons? I’d like to meet Mildred Wirt Benson, who wrote most of the original Nancy Drew books as well as hundreds of other juvenile adventure books.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

My book’s quick and easy to read, not the kind of reading where one has to plod along slowly to figure out the meaning or stop to look up words in the glossary. My novel’s funny and can maybe cheer up someone who’s stuck in an unpleasant situation. The plot is interesting enough to keep a reader turning the pages. The characters are likeable. And hopefully the mystery is crafty enough that readers won’t figure out whodunit before the end (although all the clues are in plain sight).

6. Share the Carpenter process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

For the character development of this book, I researched “teen idols” like crazy. I read biographies and autobiographies about teen idols, taped TV documentaries about them, watched concert videos, attended concerts and got wrapped up in the whole fan thing of collecting records and merchandise.

For this book I listened to all my Beatles records, watched their movies again and read those Beatles biographies on my shelf. With all this information in my head, the story nearly wrote itself.

As for the outline, the setting determines the structure. In this book, Sandy’s at a weekend Beatles fan convention, so the story takes place in the three days of the event. The various activities of the convention provide the framework of the story and I fit the sleuthing in around that.
In the next book of the series, Sandy’s a guest star on a sitcom. These shows rehearse and shoot in five days, so he has that much time to find the killer. He has to fit his sleuthing around rehearsals, publicity events and family matters.

I once worked at a movie studio, so I dug out every scrap of paper I’d saved from that job—old scripts, call sheets, information about the studio. Fortunately, at the time I had the foresight to save everything.
In each book, Sandy is performing at a different venue and the demands of that gig forms the basics of the story. Plotting is easy because the structure’s already in place.

Writing schedule, editing, and revisions. I work a day job, so my writing time is limited to evenings and weekends. I try not to get dictatorial about time—“it’s seven o’clock and I must start writing on the dot!”—because then it feels too much like a job. But I try not to wait too late in the evening to get started or I run out of time.

Revisions are numerous. The rough draft is just that—words to get me started. I edit and rewrite each page many times. I look at editing like a jeweler—I take a rough stone and keep polishing and cutting to find the gem inside.

Too many writers slap off a first draft quickly, send it to publishers and then wonder why it’s rejected—because it needs more work!

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

I’m not aware I have a “process.” I plop my seat in the chair, pick up a pen or turn on the computer and go (okay, sometimes I start with a few minutes of computer games, the worst time wasters ever invented). That’s the best advice I can give. Do it. Don’t spend all your time talking or blogging about writing. If you never start, you’ll never have a finished product.

8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

Trust that God can help you overcome setbacks. Took me many years of failure to finally publish a book. The writer’s journey is not straight, short or easy.

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I’m working on the next book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mystery series, The Sinister Sitcom Caper. Most of the story takes place on a studio lot as Sandy’s rehearsing for a TV show. An actor drops dead at Sandy’s feet. A dwarf, an animal actor and his biggest fan aid our hero in the case. We also meet some of Sandy’s family members. And could romance be in the air?

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

You can reach me at I’ll be happy to answer any questions. I hope to set up a website soon. My book is available at