Q & A with Glen Erik Hamilton

PAST CRIMES by Glen Erik Hamilton is his debut novel featuring Army Ranger Van Shaw. It is a book about family, forgiveness, and how circumstances can affect the interaction between people as they embrace and reject their past. Within that story is an action-packed plot that looks at the different aspects of crime.

Elise Cooper: Why did you decide to become a novelist?

Glen Erik Hamilton: I grew up reading crime thrillers and wanted to write like Dennis Lehane and John D. MacDonald. I always enjoyed writing and knew in my twenties that I would want to write seriously one day. Fast forward to now where I re-evaluated how I would spend my free time after moving to Los Angeles. I took a couple of courses on mystery writing and joined a writing group. I describe it as a very slow graduate school.

EC: Why Seattle as the setting?

GEH: I moved away from Seattle like Van. After returning I saw how the changing times have impacted the economy and neighborhoods. I brought in the marinas because I grew up aboard boats. Seattle is darn near an island itself, it isn’t far from dozens of actual islands both in and out of the States, and of course it’s one of the major shipping ports of the Pacific.  Water, water, everywhere.  If you’re writing about crime in Seattle, it opens a lot of possibilities.

Past CrimesEC: A lot of the story line has to do with Van reflecting on his relationship with his grandfather. Can you explain?

GEH: Van has matured during the years he’s been in the Army.  He may not completely forgive or even understand his grandfather, but he also knows that he’s not blameless himself.  The two men are much more alike than either of them realize, in their faults and their loyalties. .  Van had completely bought in to the criminal life as a teenager.  When he left it, he left everything from his youth along with it.  Yet, Van knows family is important to Dono as he raised him from the age of six. Van and his grandfather have a complicated relationship where they love each other but it was hardly ever expressed in words.

EC: Did you do any research for Van’s Army career?

GEH: A good friend of mine was in the Special Forces. To fast check information in the book, I spoke to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. I wanted to make sure that Van’s formidable years were spent as a warrior since he entered the army at age eighteen. The reason I made Van a Ranger is that they are all about knocking down doors and direct action.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?

GEH: Van will have retired from the Army and now as a civilian is trying to find himself. He has to decide what are the job options for a veteran now entering the civilian world. I want to see Van grow and change in every book. He is an independent hero seeking justice but I would not describe him as a vigilante. The next book’s plot has Van searching for the niece of one of Dono’s accomplices.