|Picture taken in my parent’s backyard, on my dad’s 80th birthday.|
I’m a semi-retired chiropractor: retired from chiropractic, writing full time. I was in solo practice in California for twenty-two years and enjoyed it, well, most of the time. I loved helping people regain their health, and I loved being paid well for the privilege. I did not enjoy the burdens the State of California places on small business owners.
I’m married and together we have five children. I have three sons from a prior marriage. They’re all grown up now: two are married (no kids yet) and one is about to start college. I wish I could take all the credit for what great young men they’ve turned out to be, but their mother probably deserves the lion’s share. My two step-daughters are growing up to be equally impressive.
My writing journey.
I’ve had to do plenty of reading and writing in the healthcare field and while I enjoyed most of it, my great reading love is fiction. A great afternoon for me is a reading a good novel while laying in the sun by the side of the pool, alongside my wife. Now that I no longer have a pool, I realize how much I miss that.
But reading and writing are galaxies apart. While my writing journey began with a love of reading fiction, the second step happened way back in 1982. While preparing for chiropractic college I had to take a night class, English, at Merced College (not the university: MC is really a two-year junior college). If you’ve ever taken a night class you know they’re packed with people who had to work all day; the back of the class was usually asleep. The teacher, bless his heart, let them. As long as they didn’t snore too loud.
One night we were told we had to write a few paragraphs of fiction. Gasps filled the air, but then he said: “Everyone has something to say.” You know how sometimes things just click? That clicked with me and remains with me today: it’s the tag line on my blog. Twenty-one years later, I began writing Canals.
I didn’t know it then but the world of publishing was changing. The days of writing a good book, submitting it to an agent or publisher, and achieving instant fame were coming to a close. Today, the vast majority of print publishing is controlled by six—oh wait, make it five now—big publishing houses. Everyone else is either a small publisher, has gone out of business, or has sold to the Big Five.
I decided to publish my own work in 2011. By then I’d written a thriller called The Mighty T starring Detective Grant Starr. I published my third novel, Death of a Matador, in October 2012. Sunset Hill, the third Grant Starr novel, was published in March, 2014.
Where I get my ideas.
Authors are often asked where they get their ideas. I got the idea for Canals from where I lived: Modesto, California. Modesto has irrigation canals running right through town. One day, after driving by a canal for the thousandth time, I thought What if there was a monster in that canal? An odd thing to think, I know, but I had decided to write a book and was looking for ideas. Also, I had read Stephen King's book On Writing and thought I was going to be the next King. How naive I was back then.
The idea for The Mighty T came from reading an article in the paper, in 2010, about low fish counts in the Tuolumne River, specifically the salmon. There are also striped bass in the Tuolumne, but they don’t have a problem multiplying because they’re predators and eat the young salmon. I had decided to write a thriller and was looking for an idea, so I thought What if some eco-nut decided he didn’t want to wait for the politicians to get around to fixing the river and took matters into his own hands? Which is exactly what Samuel Raimes, III, who called himself John Lightfoot in The Mighty T, did.
I had determined to write a series of novels featuring Grant Starr, so after The Mighty T was published I began looking for an idea for my next book. I got it from a long-time patient of mine, Nancy. I’d been Nancy's chiropractor for twenty years and had heard her tell me of the bullfights she attended and worked at all those years (standing around for hours on concrete is hard on a bad back). I’d lived in Central California most of my life but had never heard of these bullfights. I decided it was a worthy idea for a book and so asked Nancy to get me tickets to one in April, 2011. Death of a Matador ensued.
Sunset Hill was a natural follow-up to The Mighty T because it follows Mindy to the Sunset Hill area of Seattle, Washington. While I lived in Washington for a couple of years, I never made it to Seattle, let alone Sunset Hill. The research for this novel was done online.
I’m working on my forth Grant Starr novel, working title Westport, though that will certainly change. In the early stages of this novel I had the idea most of the action would take place in Westport, California, as it’s turned out, very little happened there. The novel is set in Mendocino County, California. Grant was last seen sipping wine with Rusty while gazing out at the Pacific Ocean... So that’s where my new novel began.
After that I’m not certain what I’ll write next. I had an idea for a literary book, actually have extensive plot and character notes for it, but it never materialized. I think I lack the chops for that kind of writing. I’ve written a screenplay for The Mighty T and may try and get it sold. Stay tuned.