Michael Wallace: Not Death, But Love Sunday, Aug 16 2015 

While Auntie M is attending St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Conference in Oxford, please welcome California author Michael Wallace, who will describe the genesis of his third mystery, Not Death, But Love:
Not Death,But Love

The Book That Wanted to Be Written

Most authors, I’m guessing, are carrying around several unwritten books in their heads. Typically we have an idea of which one will get written next, but sometimes one of the stories insists on muscling its way from the back of the queue to the front.

Something rather like that took place with my third Quill Gordon mystery, Not Death, But Love, which was published on Amazon May 27. This wasn’t originally going to be the third book in the series, but things happened.

In 2012 I was hired by a family foundation to write the family’s history. It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, because it paid generously and the work was fascinating. By the end of it, I felt the long-deceased family members had come alive inside my head and that I was able to convey a reasonably good sense of them to the readers.

In the course of that work, I came across several things that were a surprise to the people who hired me. There were no terrible scandals, but there were lawsuits and family schisms they hadn’t known about until I started digging. At the time, I was simultaneously working on my second mystery, Wash Her Guilt Away, and at some point it occurred to me that a family history with a deep secret — one worth killing to keep — could make the basis for a good mystery.

One of my plans for a future book had been a story centering on a controversial land-use plan, something that would make use of the knowledge I picked up working as a consultant for Wells Fargo Bank and The Home Depot more than a decade ago. That one had been on the back burner, but I decided to combine ideas to make the land development part of the family history, and was off to the races.

When I was working on the real family history, I often lamented that none of the family members had kept journals (at least none that had survived). I decided to give my murder victim, a retired English teacher named Charlotte London, a journal. It was originally supposed to provide a set of clues to complement those in the family history, but it ended up being much more than that.

Simply put, in the course of creating the journal sections, I discovered that Charlotte had come to life most vividly, and, surprisingly to me, became one of the most dominant and complex characters in the book. Not to be gooey, but I got to be rather fond of her, and I’m hoping the book’s readers will, too.

The history aspect carried through the rest of the book as well. I found myself wondering about, and inventing, histories of various elements of the book. These included the lake, the Italian restaurant where the characters ate dinner, the Rotary Club, where community and political alliances were cemented, and the town where the story was set. Such details, I feel, are what add richness to a book. They can often be what a reader remembers long after he or she has forgotten whodunit.
book cover 2 first proof revised


MICHAEL WALLACE is a native and lifelong resident of California. He received an A.B. degree in English Literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, worked for 19 years as a daily newspaper reporter and editor, and has had a long second career as a public relations and publications consultant. He has been an avid reader of mysteries since childhood and a fly fisherman for more than three decades. He lives in the Monterey Bay area with his wife, Linda Ogren, a university lecturer in biology. Their son, Nick, is in the army.

LINKS The McHenry Inheritance Book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008OAODZ6 Video: http://youtu.be/qeUj3R4mf_Y Wash Her Guilt Away Book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00K1DOV56 Video: http://youtu.be/m1Hqg11YJ0o Not Death, But Love Book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00U5LEFHS Video: In production Website: http://www.quillgordonmystery.com Blog: http://www.outofglendale.blogspot.com Twitter: @Qgordonnovel Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MikeWallaceMysteryWriter

The King of Lies Monday, Mar 21 2011 

North Carolina author John Hart is one of the legal eagles of writing, a lawyer who turned his hand to authoring a novel that proved so popular he is able to now write full time.

Therefore it was no surprise to pick up The King of Lies, Hart’s New York Times bestselling debut, and find its protagonist to be . . .wait for it!. . . a lawyer.  BookPage called Hart “Rookie of the Year” when the novel was published, and he’s gone on to write two others, which no doubt you’ll find in these pages down the road. But I prefer to read a writer as he writes his book, to gauge the growth of his or her craft, and to follow the lives of recurring characters, if there are any.

I read an article where he credited his wife with reading and early draft and telling him he had no story. Hart certainly heard her. “The King of Lies” turns out to be Ezra Pickens, a fabulously wealthy Southern lawyer of the domineering kind who give that coterie a bad name. Ezra disappeared years ago, after his wife’s suspicious death. The protagonist is his lawyer son, Jackson Workman Pickens, known to all as “Work,” a sobriquet that is especially ironic since work is one thing Work is soon to be out of. Inheriting his father’s failing law practice, Work is caught in a loveless marriage to a distant wife who married his name and heritage instead of the man himself.  Work’s estranged sister, Jean, who bore the brunt of their father’s wrath, becomes a pivotal character once Ezra’s body turns up.

Set to inherit is father’s fortune, Work becomes the prime suspect in his father’s murder. That’s the setup, but then things get interesting. Throw in a hungry female detective striving to advance, who’s certain Work is guilty. Add an overpowering partner for the bruised Jean who hates Work. Up the ante with evidence all pointing to Work, the whispers and rumors of a small town, and don’t forget the seemingly homeless park walker who strolls around town, long coat flapping at his heels, oblivious to its inhabitants, but observant just the same. All of this elevates The King of Lies from the usual mystery to a terrific whodunit, with a clear-eyed story of love and hate that will keep you turning pages.

The suspense is there, as is the family saga that unfolds. Hart’s prose is lyrical and lush, at times poetic, but he manages to stop short of becoming overdone. The climax was one that was truly built up to, one I didn’t see written on the wall. This is great first novel, one Pat Conroy says: “Reads like a book on fire.” I quite agree.