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WHAT THE WALRUS SAID--Our Authors' Blog--

STAR NOSE AND NOSMO

 

 

My latest mystery novel, Star Nose, is just out—it's about a child under threat.

 

Killers murdered his mother. Now they're hunting him. He's a troubled seven-year-old who trusts no one…except a Pembroke Welsh corgi.  

 

That's Henry. He's the housemate of the novel's protagonist, Cooper North, just retired as a prosecutor, but still in the game. Here's a confession: in my various novels,  Henry is the only character borrowed from real life.  

 

He's an avatar of our own corgi housemate, Nosmo, who pops up in most of my novels, under various aliases.  

 

Here's why: we both loved Nosmo. Also, maybe Shakespeare or Dickens could invent a character like him, but I couldn't. So much personality in that short-legged body.

 

Preternaturally astute eyes, for one thing. You could see him thinking. And he had extraordinary empathy. He felt what you felt.  

 

At midnight once, I came back from the hospital where Joyce was under treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia. At that point, decades ago, her odds of surviving were four percent. I felt low, and weary. I dropped into bed, instantly unconscious.

 

At three a.m., I jolted awake. Nosmo sat beside the bed, silent, but staring intently at me. Seeing me awake, he virtually nodded, then trotted off to the stairs, looking back to make sure I understood.

 

I did. Wearily, still not wholly awake, I followed him downstairs, then out the back door. While he did his business out in the darkness—that's why he'd summoned me awake—I sat hunched on the deck's steps, head in hands. Gradually, I felt warmth—Nosmo, leaning against my side.

 

I don't know how he soundlessly woke me, just by willing it, or conveyed he needed to go out. What I did know then, and know now, was that Nosmo felt my misery and hopelessness. He leaned his warm body against my hunched body to offer solace.

 

He's still with us. He's in this new novel, Star Nose, under a different name—offering an unhappy child solace.

 

--Richard

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PARSING A THRILLER

I’ve been thinking: what does a story mean?

It’s because I just published a new novel, Caliban Rising—it’s a thriller, and I hope it means: “Keep turning those pages!”

You sneak onto a mysterious Caribbean island. Nice beaches, but nasty murders. Maybe you get hurled out of a Black Hawk helicopter, or fed to the island’s feral Bengal tiger. Also, there are creepy robots….

Will you survive?

Every thriller, I think, underneath, means just that: danger besets us.

We lead thriller lives.  Read More 

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CALIBAN RISING

This Caribbean island looks serene, but don't kid yourself

Lately I worry a lot about who to kill off.

Don’t call the police—I’m talking about characters in the thriller I’m currently writing.

I don’t mind offing bad guys, because they fully deserve it. Every one of them, believe me. It’s the good characters who trouble me, imaginary people I’ve come to like and respect.

I’m writing this novel, so I suppose I’m Zeus, and I get to decide who dies and who lives. However, the truth is that the story itself is king of the gods, with its own wishes and demands and requirements. Authors are soothsayers. All we can do, really, is divine what the story wants and do its bidding.

For instance, this novel started as a pure thriller, set on a Caribbean island, but I’m about midway through now and—all on its own—it’s taken on a faint sci-fi tinge, although nothing that couldn’t actually happen in the world today. Let’s just hope it doesn’t.

Caliban Rising is the novel’s title. So far, at least. Even in titles, the story will have its way, so we’ll see.

Anyway, back to the question of good characters dying. For some reason, in our real world, we’ve lately had a rash of people we know dying. People not yet in their fullness of years. Brain cancers, heart attacks, prostate cancer, rare disorders with unpronounceable names….

I suppose that what determines who dies too young is not goodness, not badness. It’s just how our story wants to be told.

--Richard  Read More 
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Inspirational Dinosaurs


This tableau of dinosaurs partially inspired one of Richard’s fantasy stories, “Last Days of the Cretaceous,” in his anthology, Frankie & Johnny, & Nellie Bly.

It’s set in Atlantis, where aristocratic sportsmen hunt the tyrannosaurus rex.

Yes, dinosaurs disappeared long before humans showed up. We all know that.

Yet, here’s this convivial family, grazing at Florida’s Dinosaur World. It shows the huge reptiles and humans can co-exist, if the dinosaurs are made of concrete.

--Richard & Joyce Read More 
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Novel Research

Richard Tries Out A Bike


In "Spider's Web in the Green Mountains," just published, why do mysterious motorcycles roar past the heroine's house in the night?

Why is a biker threatening her corgi, Henry?

Generally, what's with all these Harleys and Hondas?

In this photo, we see the author doing serious, in-depth research for his mystery, sitting on a parked motorcycle to get the feel of the thing.

It felt pretty good.

--Richard
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Looking Out Over the Vermont Mountains--Inspiration

Vermont's mountains--just right for a murder mystery



I took this photograph in the Vermont mountains and it led to the novel I’ve just published, a mystery.

It’s about the people living in a small town, tucked away in these Green Mountains.

Everyone is connected. It’s as if an invisible spider web crisscrosses the town, every resident touched by its strands: loves, grievances, envies, kindnesses, marriages, divorces, business deals….

Spider’s Web in the Green Mountains is the book’s title.

A murder perturbs the web.

It even affects a Pembroke Welsh corgi, Henry.

Another major character is Dill, Vermont, the town itself.

I know something about small towns, because I grew up in one, along the Hudson River. We live near a small town now. It’s just a five-minute drive down the mountainside.

It’s interesting to read the police report in the daily paper, lost wallets and domestics and hypodermic needles found in alleyways and wandering dogs.

No murders lately, but you never know.

–Richard  Read More 
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