And today I feature the policeman turned writer Wayne Zurl.
Hi Wayne, thanks for allowing me to ask you a few questions. Let’s not waste time and get a move on with it.
Can you give me your best Whoop? Unless you have another one which works better for you?
How about, “Hoo-ah!” That’s a contraction of the more familiar, hurrah.
Okay, sounds like a winner that one, but does it work all the time, even those times when the muse has gone and done a runner on you? And when did you first start with it?
It’s a universal cry understood by old soldiers, indicating extreme happiness. Not too many G.I.s admit to having muses, but the statement itself is inspirational. I first heard it (and used it myself) when, as a twenty-one year old Army recruit, I stood on a field with more than two-hundred other young soldiers and tried to sound enthusiastic about physical training at 5:30 in the morning.
Right, sounds like you are on the right track there. Let’s do a few of the yada yada questions before we move on to the fun.
What is the title of the book you would like to talk about?
My third full-length novel in the Sam Jenkins Smoky Mountain police mystery series, HEROES & LOVERS.
Oh, sounds exciting, but did you have difficulty coming up with the title?
Yes. I started off with the terribly “blah” title of CHRISTMAS IN THE SMOKIES. Somewhere along the line, I dreamt up the equally stupid: A KIDNAPPING IN THE SMOKIES. Then I came to my senses and HEROES & LOVERS flashed before my eyes.
If you would have to change the genre, what would it be then?
I could turn this into a western quicker than a gunslinger can draw his long-barreled .45 caliber peacemaker.
Just to confuse you we’ll take the alternative route now.
What don’t you like about writing, or whatever you need to do marketing wise?
Writing is fun. Post-publication marketing and promotion is too much like work. Actually, it stinks. I hate it. I had envisioned writing a book, (or books) going to traditional book signings and smiling for all my adoring fans, and then going home and writing more. I have a couple of traditional publishers, but I do most of the publicity myself. It takes up too much of my time.
Tell me, when your muse is visiting and you’re on a roll, what would seriously drive her/him away?
I can lose interest at the drop of a hat and anyone with me would flee from my workplace. All the little necessities of life get in the way—a clogged toilet, bird feeders that need filling, vegetables from the garden that need to be processed and frozen, automobiles that need to be washed—you get the idea.
What does your muse look like?
I’ve given up trying to figure out what or who brings me the inspiration for a new book or story. Sometimes, I wake up at three o’clock in the morning with an idea. Or, I might be driving at 75 MPH on the Interstate and something reminds me of an old case or funny occurrence from my working days and I see a story in it. But if I had to put a face on the one who can help me through writer’s block best, it would be my wife’s. I’m lucky. She’s quite beautiful.
Do you ever speak to your characters and do you get along all the time?
Being a writer would be no fun without having imaginary friends to socialize with. I like the regular female characters from my books best. We get along famously.
Can you name the food and drink that will surely get you started?
I like to cook and food may do more to stop my writing process than spur it forward. I love all kinds of ethnic food—Chinese, Korean, Thai, Mexican, Middle Eastern, you name it. But if I had to zero in on only one type, I’d pick Mediterranean, specifically, Italian or Greek. I’m pretty good making either.
If I’m writing in the afternoon, I generally have a drink sitting on the lamp table next to the wingback chair where I do my writing—with a pad and pen. In the summer, I like a cold gin and tonic, in the winter, a smoky, peaty-flavored single-malt whisky from Scotland’s western isles. Beer is always good. I like dark beer.
Would you be able to come up with an excuse on why you haven’t written a whole day, and have me believe it too?
For a guy who’s spent much of his adult life working in military or para-military organizations, I’m a pretty lax and undisciplined writer. I can be persuaded to abandon the pen and pad easily. Conversely, if the spirit moves me, I can scribble away incessantly. At my age, that may be necessary so I get all my thoughts on paper before I forget them forever. Having said that, if someone calls and tells me the fish are biting in the river or a nearby lake, I’d be out of the house like a shot. The taste of fresh caught trout or walleye is a powerful deterrent to meaningful work.
And finally why would you ever want to live life behind a keyboard, slaving over a manuscript?
I’ve always needed a creative outlet and writing has, so far, been good to me. But if I never published another piece and I only continued to write for my own enjoyment, manuscripts would be easier to store than oil paintings or model airplanes.
Okay, now that we have the mandatory questions out of the way, shoot your mouth off. Tell me whatever you want to blab about. But please, no cats, dogs, or children. Make me laugh, or cry, or even be envious. Tell me something no one has ever heard from you before. He, he, he. I love those little dirty secrets, real or make believe. 🙂
I spent five years on active duty in the Army and sixteen years in the Reserves. Since serving in Vietnam, I can count the good night’s sleep I’ve had on my fingers and toes. After separating from active duty, it took me more than a year to find a job. The New York State Employment Service said I had no marketable civilian skills. So, I became a cop and the job wasn’t too different from that of a soldier. After twenty years on that job, I retried. But I still don’t sleep very well. The dreams I write about and assign to my protagonist, Sam Jenkins, are mine—and maybe his, since we share a similar background. Often, they recur, sometimes in variants, but always with the same theme. I’ve given up trying to analyze them, it no longer matters.
If you read my books or stories, you’ll learn about real police work and what happens to those who protect and serve.
Wayne, I am duly impressed by both your work, your personality and the way you know how to present yourself.
Thank you, Lucy, for inviting me to your blog and allowing me to meet your fans and followers. When I write something new, I’ll name a character after you.
Wayne! You honour me, I’ll be looking forward to that. It must be a character with a smile not far away though. 🙂 But now that we know all this about you, where can your fans find you? You know to follow/stalk ? (erm, I mean find out more about you and keep track of what you’re up to.)
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 see photos of the area where the stories take place.
Okay, and do you have any links that lead to you?
And where can we find your book?