Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Author Interview: Walter Krumm

My last blog review was on a book by Walter Krumm author of "Diary of A Dead Man". Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists ( arranged for an interview with him. Here is the interview.

MR - When did you decide to write this book?*
WK - The plot had been brewing in my mind since early 2000. Several years ago, I woke up one Saturday morning and simply started writing. It was as if I had already been working on it for years. I started slow, not writing every day, and after six months has passed I had written half of the first draft. It was then that the characters took over and I finished the second half in the next 60 days.

MR - How did your idea for the book / story evolve?*
WK - I tend to think in terms of “dramatic moments.” My first vision was a man opening an email from an anonymous sender. Inside are incriminating pictures that take his breath away. I really allowed myself to feel the moment – his heart pounding, his breath getting short, and the cold sweat that comes when you realize your secret sins have been exposed. Cameron quickly became a real person to me. Then I asked myself one question. What led to this moment? Emily came to life as the other woman in the pictures. His wife Julie and his children quickly followed. Then I simply let my mind wander and imagine all the possibilities. I did this for months before I ever wrote a sentence. By the time I started writing, I knew exactly how Cameron ended up in those pictures. But that was only the beginning of the story. From there, I simply let the characters “show me” how they were going to respond. It was a lot of fun to write that way because I didn’t know how it was going to end.

MR - *How did you choose the place for the story? *
WK - I once read some great advice from Stephen King. He says to write what you know – you have to be true to who you are. I wanted to be able to have a really good grasp of the locations so I could clearly picture each one in my mind. I was born and raised in Columbus, OH. This made it the obvious choice for most of the action to take place. My parents have lived in Naples, FL for more than 20 years. And the Cayman Islands will always hold a special place in my heart because my wife and I were married there. So, those three locations were very familiar for me. It was important to choose places where I could really “feel” the scenes.*

MR - What has been your biggest challenge in writing?*
WK - The obvious answer is time. My preference in writing is to write 3 pages a day, every single day. But life seems to get in the way and it’s hard to find time to write with that kind of commitment. Beyond that, I find it challenging to write with creativity and purpose at the same time. It’s a very fine line to walk. I would never want to hit people over the head with my own agenda, but I would like there to be some kind of redeeming message within the story. Sometimes this conflicts with my own creative freedom. Ideas can be “fenced in” a little if I’m too concerned about a particular message. In _Diary of a Dead Man_, it was liberating to find that the characters chose the message for me. So, I just let my mind go anywhere it wanted. The message came naturally.*

MR - Have you written anything else?*
WK - I’ve been writing Christian drama sketches since I was in college. I’m 43 now, so I’ve written a lot of scripts. When I was in my twenties I published a book called _God Even Uses Lefties_ which is a collection of short sketches. Of course, sitting in my desk drawer is a manuscript for another book. It is a young adult fantasy fiction called _Out of the Valley of Shadows_. Someday I hope it will be in print, but it still needs some work. And currently, I am working on a new novel to follow _Diary of a Dead Man_.*

MR - Do you have a favorite kind of book you like to read?
WK – I enjoy mysteries, thrillers, and suspense novels. I’m pretty much like the rest of the masses who love the escape of a good thriller. Michael Prescott’s writing is right in my wheelhouse. In fact, it’s probably his books more than any other that inspired me to focus on suspense writing. But, I enjoy most of the mainstream fiction authors as well. I also read a lot of nonfiction books that are spiritually enlightening.*

MR - Would you like to tell us anything else?*
WK - The blackmail scheme detailed in this book is most certainly possible. I have said to many people that I believe I could pull it off myself. Interestingly enough, I have found that crimes such as these are happening today – to the tune of billions of dollars. I have not read of a specific operation exactly like the one in my book, but there are thousands of online dating scams reported each year. I can only imagine how many of them go unreported.

WK - I would also like add that while the topic matter in _Diary of a Dead Man_ is somewhat “spicy,” I think your readers will find it to be a clean book and hopefully it will provide a message of hope for those who have ears to hear.

WK - Finally, I would just like to say thank you for your interest. I truly enjoyed the thought process in answering your questions. And after reading your review of my book, I wanted to commend you on the fact that you “get it.” I would never have guessed someone would have begun by quoting the “monkey story.” That tells me that you have ears to hear. I admire that.

WK - Thanks so much,Walter Krumm

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mystery With A Moral

In certain cultures of Africa, they used to catch monkeys by using a long-necked gourd. They would pour rice down the narrow neck into the large bottom of the hollowed out gourd and then tie it to a tree. After catching the scent, the monkey would run its little hand down into the gourd to grab a handful of rice. That was all it took for the capture – not because the monkey couldn’t pull its hand out, but because it wouldn’t unclench its fist and let go of the rice.

The above was just one story used within the book “Diary of a Dead Man” written by Walter Krumm. I was introduced to this book and author by somebody who read one of my postings. They suggested I might like the book so I took a chance. Let me say to start off that I was glad I read it. There were several things I found interesting about it – including the use of stories like the one in the above paragraph. I enjoyed the style of the author, how the story was written, and the twists and turns. The title of the book tells a little about how the story is told. A lot of it is told from the personal view of the character – Cameron (Cam) Taylor.

This book tells a story that starts as an “innocent” encounter in cyberspace. Cameron Taylor had no idea where it would lead when he started chatting with Emily online. It turns into an online affair and he is about to break it off. If only he would have stopped.

The story starts with the day that could have made a difference. Cam was prepared to put an end to the online relationship. He had a wife and kids who he loved. But once again he got drawn in by his own desires – he was going to meet the woman he had been chatting with intimately. They had exchanged pictures over the months and the picture he got today was the way he was expecting to see her. They had plans to meet at a motel. He was high with expectations when he arrived there and was told she was already there. His expectations continued to soar when he opened the door and saw the atmosphere was set for their encounter.

Things quickly change when he noticed the body in the red dress on the bed with a bag over the face and the hands tied. Now his regrets really start. If only he would have quit earlier. Everything will become public now. But those bad decisions put him in this place and he continues to make bad decisions. He comes up with a plan to dispose of the body - he did not murder the lady after all. Once this is done and things are cleaned up, he can return to his normal life.

The story does not end here because somebody saw what he did and they had pictures. They contacted him and threatened to expose him if he did not cooperate. Now he not only had to deal with his guilt but he also had to deal with fear – what would happen to him and what would happen to his family? Again it came down to choices – either he would do what they asked of him -or- they would release the pictures to the public and he would go to jail. What choice would he make?
Rather than go on with the story, I think I will stop here. There are so many twists I think you would enjoy it best by reading it for yourself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reading Group's October Selection - Returning To Texas

October’s discussion group selection is “Big Red Tequila” by Rick Riordan. I have read this book before but have re-read it for our group discussion. I enjoyed it before and liked it the second time around. Now, as is custom for our reading group, I give it a “thumbs up”.

Tres Navarre is returning to Texas with his cat Robert Johnson and he has some memories from back then. Big Red and Tequila is one of those memories. He also remembers the death of his father a little over ten years ago. His father who was a sheriff was murdered in front of him in a drive by shooting. This was one of the reasons he left and he wants the mystery of his murder to be solved. Some things have changed since he left.

He is also returning because of the girlfriend he left years ago. Will things return to the way they were before he left? He has changed and he learns things have changed between them as well. Shortly after he returns, she disappears and so Tres now has two mysteries to solve. Can these two mysteries be linked? You will be surprised.

It is interesting to find out who does not want him to be around and who is there to help him. You also get a little taste of the San Antonio and Austin areas. Should I say more? Was the mob involved in killing his father? Well, sort of. Was the disappearance of Tres' old girlfriend linked to his father's death? Yes - but not necessarily in the way you might think of.

I suggest you find the answers for yourself by reading this book. Rick Riordan did great and he continued this series with several later books.

Sometimes it is just hard to decide how much to say about the book.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Not Just A Gentleman

You see a woman with a crutch in one hand, hangers with clothes in another hand, and she is pushing open a door. So what does a gentleman do but stop and give her a hand. This is exactly what Jack Reacher does but he is not just a gentleman. In fact what happens next is not expected and most likely would be handled differently by any other "gentleman". The name of the book is “Die Trying” and this is the second book in the series by Lee Child.

When he takes the clothes from the lady and turns around, there are two men with guns in front of them - and another by a car on the street. This is not something you would expect in the middle of the day on a busy street. Being a thinking man, Reacher considers his options of what to do. Either he does nothing at this time and waits for another opportunity or he reacts and possibly some innocent person on the street could get hurt. He decides to wait for another opportunity.

Jack does not know who this lady is and she does not know who he is. She knows with her bum knee she is unlikely to escape from these men. She suggests Jack take the opportunity to escape when that opportunity presents itself. Jack will not leave this feisty lady to fend for herself. She is an FBI agent but this is not the reason she has been taken. Even the connections she has (her father is a general and her godfather is the president) are not the only reasons she has been kidnapped.

The lady learns very quickly that Jack is not just any ordinary guy. He displays his skills in dealing with these kidnappers in several different ways. For one, he gets the kidnappers to provide the lady with some comfort – mattresses to lay on and sit on. he realizes mistakes made by the kidnappers. He also manages to protect the lady in the middle of the night when one of the kidnappers try to take advantage of her – even though he is changed to a barn wall. She realizes he is not going to leave her alone in this situation.

The reader also learns a lot about Jack and his skills. A great example is how he conditions himself when firing at a long distant target. This description is very impressive and demonstrates the control he has. It is also interesting how he determines that there must be somebody inside the FBI who set up the lady FBI agent. He also figures out the plans this paramilitary group has behind the kidnapping. After thwarting their plans and rescuing the lady he rides off into the sunset.

Many of Reacher’s qualities make him the kind of character I like to read about. I plan to continue reading more books in this series.