mr - Thanks for responding to my posting about your book Billy Boyle: A World War II Mystery. And I thought your suggestion of a followup Q&A was great. I enjoyed reading the book and sharing it with other members of the Firewheel Mystery Reading Discussion Group. I've read the second book in the series and will be staring the next book in the series - Blood Alone: A World War II Mystery. How many books do you currently have in this series?
JB - There are currently 5 books in the series. They include: Billy Boyle; The First Wave; Blood Alone; Evil for Evil; and Rag and Bone.
mr - When is the next book coming out in this series and what is it's title?
JB - A Mortal Terror will be released on Sept.1, 2011. It is set mainly in Italy, leading up and including the invasion at Anzio. It deals with a search for a sociopathic killer - on the battlefield. It also deals with the issue of combat fatigue, and how the army did and did not address it.
mr - One of the things I like about being in our Mystery Reading Discussion Group is each member takes turns suggesting an author and book to read. This gives us the opportunity to experience an author we may not be accustomed to. This series is definitely the first I have experienced set in the WWII era. What led you to write about this time period?
JB - As a baby boomer, I grew up with the constant question - what did your dad do in the war? It was so much a part of my childhood that it always seemed close to me. I've always had an interest in history and mysteries, so it seemed like a natural combination. When I started writing the series, there were not many historical mystery series set within WWII - that that now has changed.
mr - One of the things I like to do when reading is getting to know the character. I really like how you have presented the main character - Billy Boyle as well as some of the other characters like Kaz and Daphne. One of our group was a little disappointed that Daphne was killed off. Where do you get the ideas for your characters?
JB - I often get that reaction about Daphne. I think part of that is due to the fact that I didn't plan for her death, so I developed her perhaps more fully than I would have if I knew she was 'expendable'. I realized partway through the manuscript that someone close to Billy had to die to make thing more personal for him (remember the story of his rescue of a girl from a burning home - he didn't think it heroic because he knew her). At first it was going to be Kaz, but then I decided Billy needed a sidekick, and a woman would not always be able to go with him on battlefield assignments. So, poor Daphne was chosen. As to where they come from - 90% my imagination, 10% bits and pieces of people I know. I enjoy creating secondary characters, and I know many readers have come to treasure Billy and the friends he's surrounded himself with.
mr - I understand you were a librarian. I have a deep appreciation of librarians. Did being a librarian play a part in how you got into writing?
JB - No, not directly. But being a library user has definitely. We have a small public library in town and they do a great job of getting me all sorts of odd books on inter-library loan for historical research.
mr - Have you written any other books?
JB - Yes - there are two unpublished works. "On Desperate Ground" is a WWII thriller and "Souvenier" is a study of an American soldier adapting to civilian life after WWII.
mr - I am a reader and as you may be able to tell, I like to read mysteries. I especially like mysteries set in Texas - an area I am familiar with but I have started to appreciate mysteries set in other places (and times) as well. What kind of books do you read? And do you have a favorite author?
JB - That's a tough one, because so much of my reading is taken up with research, which leaves me little time for pleasure reading - an odd situation for a librarian/writer! But I recently discovered, as part of my research on the current manuscript, an autobiography by Sterling Hayden - "Wanderer". Hayden was a reluctant actor, and preferred sailing and adventure to Hollywood. He served in the OSS in Italy and Yugoslavia (that's the connection) during the war, and his book is quite well done. A unique character, one of a kind.
JB - As for mysteries, the first ones I read were by Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers. For contemporary stuff, I have great admiration for Robert B. Parker. Even though his work became a bit repetitive, he made concise dialog and narrative look simple - which is not the case at all. I think his stature will grow even more now that he's gone.
mr - Is there anything else you would like to share with me and the readers of my blog?
JB - I've attached the cover art, just received, for A Mortal Terror. One of the best yet!
JB - Now, back to work on the manuscript for Death's Door - the 2012 release.
mr - Thanks again for the time you've taken to answer my questions. As you can see, I used the cover art for your new book as part of this post. I will check out more of your books.