Behind the Book: The Satanic Mechanic

The second book in my Tannie (Auntie) Maria murder mystery series is The Satanic Mechanic. Central to the story is a PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) counseling group, run by a man known as the satanic mechanic. South Africa is fertile ground for trauma and healing. I had the joy and the pain of being part of the South African anti-apartheid struggle. Marches, singing, teargas, shooting, prison, assassinations, a State of Emergency (in which the state could detain anyone indefinitely) were my rite of passage from youth to adulthood. I visited detainees and their families, counseled torture victims, interviewed abused women, danced in...

Confessions of an Old School Private Eye

Following a thirty-year career working as an investigator for criminal defense attorneys I wrote a book called Not Just Evil.  The book describes the arrest and trial of William Edward Hickman for the kidnap and murder of Marion Parker.  Hickman abducted Parker from her school in Los Angeles on December 15th 1927 in what the L.A. Times described as “the most horrible crime of the 1920’s.” Within a week after picking up the ransom and delivering the mutilated body of the victim, Hickman was arrested by Echo Oregon Chief of Police Tom Gurdane and Oregon State Highway Patrol Lieutenant Buck Lieuallen.  The day after his arrest the suspect made...

Pet Spotlight: Andrew Martin ‘s Pets He Near...

When I was nine, my parents bought me a kitten for my birthday. It was a stunning surprise, and very touching, since my parents had divined that I wanted a kitten, even though I hadn’t gone on about it very much. It was not that I never whined, just that I never whined about that particular subject, since there was no history of pet-owning in my family, and my father especially gave the appearance of being anti-animal. The arrangement of the surprise was perfectly executed, which was also uncharacteristic of our family, since we never went in for the sentimental theatricality even of candles on cakes. I had been subtly kept away from the...

Author Work Spaces: Twist Phelan

Describe my workspace? That’s not the easiest question to answer, at least not for me. Four years ago, I had a idea for a mystery series featuring a private spy. That was about the same time I decided to live in hotels and Airbnbs around the world for six to seven months of the year. Perhaps not the best combination for a writer used to working in her “garret,” a small room at the top of the stairs in our house, chosen because its clerestory windows meant I would not be distracted by a view. I lived on an ocean-going boat during my thirties, and knew the peripatetic life would be a good fit for me. But what about writing?...

From Memoir to Novel Jun10

From Memoir to Novel

Shadow War: A Tom Locke Novel began as a memoir and ended a novel.  Before I became a novelist, I was many things. Paratrooper. Professor. Private warrior. Some might say mercenary. I spent years in Africa raising small armies, decommissioning warlords, transacting arms deals in eastern Europe, and preventing a genocide near Rwanda. When people think of mercenaries, they think of lone gunmen wandering the jungles of the Congo. They would be correct, circa 1962. But today it’s a booming business, with private military companies bought and sold on Wall Street. Last year mercenaries fought in Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria, Yemen and elsewhere. I...