Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Blog Tour : Heroes & Lovers by Wayne Zurl
Describe your book in five words or less.
A tooth-grinding police thriller
How did the ideas for your books come to you?
All my stories come from actual cases I investigated, supervised, or just knew a lot about. I take these New York stories and transplant them to east Tennessee.
In the case of HEROES & LOVERS, I’ve taken three incidents and composited them into one embellished piece of fiction. There is a basic sting operation, something done all the time, that eventually puts a main character into a bad position. Her abduction is based on an assault and attempted rape of someone I knew. And the poli8tical corruption angle is something we saw all too often. I gave that a particular local twist, which is not unique to this area, but clearly a possibility.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
The basic message doubles as more character development for my protagonist, Sam Jenkins. So far, he’s gotten into all kinds of hot water (especially with the local politicians) doing what he considers the right thing. And he won’t stop in this book. Political pressure is meaningless to him. He’s loyal to a fault and in this we see how he bends the constitution a bit to protect a victim.
Sam is not just another fictional cop—he’s an authentic detective who’s well versed in the law and knows how far he can go and not fall off the edge of the world.
What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?
Mechanically, the toughest thing for me to learn about fiction was how not to make my stories sound like a police report. Initially, they were too detailed—something necessary in the world of law enforcement. If a report left out material facts, left a question in the reader’s mind, I failed. In fiction I have to leave lots to a reader’s imagination. I had to learn the “arrive late – leave early” theory. I had to change longwinded and blatant exposition-like conversations to snappy and clever, fast-paced dialogue. I’ve tried to embrace Robert B. parker’s theory of “Tell your story in the fewest possible words.”
The easiest part of the process is sitting down with a pen and lined pad and writing an idea that’s lodged in my head. Writing is fun and often, I can’t scribble fast enough and I’ll stay at it for hours. But that brings me to a secondary problem—reading my own handwriting.
What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future projects?
I’m currently working on revisions for a full-length novel called PIGEON RIVER BLUES. The cover summary explains the premise:
Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie.
The ex-New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.
C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.
The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality by flaunting her alternative lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.
Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But his job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate.
During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time with old Army acquaintances who factor into a complicated plot of attempted murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on Sam’s “peaceful side of the Smokies.”
And I’m almost half finished with an untitled novelette destined for another one hour audio book. In this, Sam Jenkins assists the resident OSI agent from nearby McGhee-Tyson Air Base with a dodgy investigation. Of course, the Air Force detective is a beautiful woman.
Why did you choose to write for specific genre?
I followed the old author’s maxim of write what you know. After working for twenty years in an overcrowded and always busy area, I have oodles of war stories to tell. I wanted the writing to be fun and hours or months of research would be too much like work. It was natural for an ex-cop to write police fiction. But I keep saying someday I’d like to write a western. I know a lot about the old west.
What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?
Like my protagonist, Sam Jenkins, I’ve got a big ego. I usually say his is just slightly smaller than North Dakota. When I get honest, unsolicited glowing reviews or someone says, “I really liked this and I’ll read more of Zurl’s mysteries,” I’m on cloud nine. When I announce something on the coming soon list and people say they can’t wait, I feel like I’ve done my job.
As a writer you can attack your job two ways. 1- Write for yourself and just print a manuscript and stick it on the shelf only to be read every couple years. If you do that, you’ll never reach your potential and probably won’t really be very good. Or 2- Write what interests you with an eye on pleasing your target audience. I tend to be sharper when I think someone is watching. I hate to get caught with my pants down.
What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
What do you want to be when you grow up? No one asks a middle-aged guy that. But when I was a kid, everyone did. Like many boys growing up in the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, I wanted to be a soldier, policeman, or a cowboy. Obviously, movies and TV influenced me a lot. I never thought about UPS driver, advertising executive, or podiatrist.
The Vietnam War took care of being a soldier. I kind of liked that life and after separating from active duty stayed in the reserves. When the New York State Employment Service said I had no marketable civilian skills, I found a job as a cop because the paramilitary nature of a police department came close to the Army. Now in retirement, I’m still thinking about the cowboy thing. But at my age, my lower back might keep me from spending too much time in the saddle.
What was your road to publications like?
A frustrating and rocky one. I began peddling A NEW PROSPECT to agents the conventionally way. But being unschooled in the publishing business, I started out using a standard business letter and I committed the cardinal sin of making it a page and a half long. Okay, I learned the drill about queries, paid a professional to help me construct a proper query letter and started over. But after about a hundred rejections, most of them where the agent never read one page of my book, I felt like the guy shoveling sand against the tide. Then I decided to contact any traditional publisher—large or small—who would accept submissions directly from an author. That was in th4 days when most houses wanted hard copy manuscripts. So, it cost me lots in postage money. I promised myself I’d accept the first reasonable contract.
I began writing A NEW PROSPECT in the summer of 2006. The book was published in January 2011. The next two novels and fifteen novelettes were easier.
Every time I look at the four framed awards my first book won, I feel like sending a nasty letter to all the agents who sent back my query letter with a quickly scribbled note: “Sorry not for us.” But that would be unprofessional.
About the Author:
Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.
Fourteen (14) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. His first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards and First Runner-up from all commercial fiction at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards. A second novel, A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT, is available in print and eBook.
His latest book in the Sam Jenkins mystery series is Heroes & Lovers.
For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see www.waynezurlbooks.net. You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and even see photos of the area where the stories take place.
Visit Wayne on Twitter
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Pick up your paperback copy of Heroes & Lovers at Amazon:
About the Book:
A stipulation of the Patriot Act gave Chief Sam Jenkins an easy job; investigate all the civilians working for the Prospect Police Department. But what looked like a routine chore to the gritty ex-New York detective, turned into a nightmare. Preliminary inquiries reveal a middle-aged employee didn’t exist prior to 1975.
Murray McGuire spent the second half of his life repairing office equipment for the small city of Prospect, Tennessee, but the police can’t find a trace of the first half.
After uncovering nothing but dead ends during the background investigation and frustrations running at flood level, Jenkins finds his subject lying face down in a Smoky Mountain creek bed—murdered assassination-style.
By calling in favors from old friends and new acquaintances, the chief enlists help from a local FBI agent, a deputy director of the CIA, British intelligence services, and the Irish Garda to learn the man’s real identity and uncover the trail of an international killer seeking revenge in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Heroes & Lovers Tour Page: