Publisher: Insight Lite Publishing
Publication Date: June 30, 2013
Book Links: Amazon
Synopsis: Who is dumping dead goats in Sonoma? Afghan vet and Bronze Star hero Jake Knight comes home to heal, save his farm and fall in love. Not yet a licensed P.I., he takes his first pro-bono case and races to stop a perverted wine maker with a taste for murder. He assembles a witty crew of characters for support. With a stroke of genius, Jake foils an assassination. This is a sexy romantic crime thriller set in the heart of California wine country. A fast, fun foray into artisan cheese, adulterated wine and political intrigue. Adult theme: Age 18+
Interview: Q. Please tell us about the inspiration for your current release.
Sonoma Knight: The Goat-Ripper Case was a challenge to me as a writer. Could I craft a compelling crime thriller? Could I write a bad guy that earned his just deserts? Could I write a henchman that was demented and deserving of death? I think I have, on all accounts.
I was painting an old wooden fence red when I began crafting the storyline. I set it in Sonoma on a sheep dairy making artisan cheese because that’s my alter-ego. I love making cheese, but as a business it allows you no naps or holidays. So I wrote a slow-food movement crime thriller. It’s not a who-done-it but a ‘will they get away with it’ story.
Plus, my hero, private investigator Jake Knight is new at his trade. He takes this pro-bono case because he hates the idea of a wine adulterator making obscene profits. The reputation of Sonoma as a wine region is at stake, and Jake champions his community. I surround him with colorful characters and give him a unique way to stop a political assassination.
Q. How did writing this book affect you?
As a writer, I learned that every character has his or her champions. One character, Vanessa, was a victim of the bad guy, but I needed to write a redemption scene for her. Otherwise my female beta readers said they’d burn the book. So I learned to give each character a plausible story arc. You never know who your readers will identify with, and you want all readers to have an entertaining experience.
Q. How did you come up with the title?
I’m exhausted by books with a premise that the world will end in 24 hours if the bad guys can’t be stopped. I wanted to write about a local craft food and wine region. I picked a dairyman who gets upset when dead goats start showing up by the freeway. So who’s killing goats and why? Ripper is a borrow from Jack the Ripper. Case is borrowed from Conan Doyle. It’s a crime thriller. The title has to tell you that. All the books in the series will be slugged with Sonoma Knight (colon).
Q. When did you know you would be a writer?
Paul Simon’s first album got me writing poetry. I edited the literary journal in boarding school. I may have been the only contributor. I was first paid as an advertising writer in 1974. I’ve had a good run as a commercial writer, umpteen ads and more than 100 articles and magazine covers. Now I write for fun. A crime thriller requires a tight plot and action. That’s what I enjoy reading.
Q. Do you plan any subsequent books?
Goat-Ripper will be followed by Gurl-Posse Kidnap this year. Jake Knight must rescue a young heiress and help her see the light. Writing a flighty, naughty 19-year old is a challenge. Molly Draper is nothing like my own daughters, who are mad cooks and foodies.
I’m working on Gut-Check Green, about environmental terrorists seeking revenge on an evil agro-business corporation. Killing people is too easy, so my bad guys focus on creating madness and mayhem. I’ve finished the first draft and now go back to round out characters, research, dialog and add cliff-hanger chapter endings.
I’m also planning a fictional history about a man who travels from India to China in 530 AD. If it succeeds, he’ll be the Marco Polo of his times. It’s stewing in the back of my brain.
Q. What are you currently reading?
I’m reading another how-to book on writing crime thrillers. I’m reading Joe Esterhas’ The Devil's Guide to Hollywood: The Screenwriter as God! I’m reading several crime thrillers. When I can’t bear my genre any longer, I read historical fiction or books on food science, such as Michael Moss’ Salt, Sugar, Fat: how the food giants hooked us. We’re on our way to making food and medicine the same thing.
Q. All of the books you’ve read, which book has impacted you the most?
My favorite book of the year, so far, is Jess Money’s Public Enemies. It’s about one man, Tom Paine, that triggers the next American revolution. Money has been a successful screen writer, so he knows his craft. (See interview here). It’s a wonderful story with a plausible plot and detailed character profiles. I’m a great believer in the power of one, and Money captures that.
Q. Please tell us your latest news (book-related or not!).
Yesterday the governor announced California has a drought. My garden has dried up. The humming birds are thirsty. I suggest we stop spending money on how to kill each other and focus on how to feed and educate each other. Native Americans talk about the impact of our decisions over the next ten generations. I’d like to invent glasses that give people that view.
Q. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Readers deserve seamless entertainment, and writers need to honor that. I believe a good read leaves some things unsaid, so readers can draw their own conclusions. If you enjoy reading a book, please leave a review. It helps us be better writers. On’ya, readers!