Q&A with Steve Havill, Easy Errors

1) While EASY ERRORS is the 22nd in the Posadas County series, which you launched in 1991, it’s also the first in the series–chronologically. What gave you the idea to place this book back in 1986, before the official start of the series?
This is the wonderful thing about loyal readers. The first prequel I did, telling the story of Estelle Reyes-Guzman’s first day on the job, ONE PERFECT SHOT, was written by request. Folks enjoyed that, and one of my readers said, “Hey…I’d like to read about Bobby Torrez’s first days on the job. So EASY ERRORS came to be.
2) Many authors claim to be unable to answer this kind of question, but we will pose it anyway– Which of the 22 books in the Posadas series would you say is your favorite? And why?
He blushed, and then said, “Gosh, I like ’em all! I’m my favorite author!” But I tend to lean toward the newest one. Writers grow with time and experience, and I don’t mean just waistline. I’m a better writer now than when I wrote Heartshot. Hopefully, I’ll continue to improve.
3) Have you been a mystery reader all your life? Please name three authors whose work influenced you as you began the work of creating the Posadas County mysteries.
I started out writing westerns, because I couldn’t stand to read them. All the heroes were broad-shouldered and flinty-eyed, and never missed a shot. Anyone who shot that much in real life would be stone deaf! So I decided to write my own, and at the same time decided to involve a physician prominently in each story. The history of medicine is a hobby of mine. I wrote four westerns just as the western mania died out, and my then-agent said, “how about writing mysteries?” So I did. I can’t think of any particular writers who influenced me . ..there are many whom I like. I read voraciously, and indiscriminately. I like James Patterson, Joe Badal, Sue Grafton, and a host of others. 
4) From which of these do you derive more pleasure– completing a novel and sending it off to your editor, or sitting down to begin work on a brand new story?
Truthfully, after writing 28 novels, the initial thrill of having one accepted, of finishing one, has worn a little thin.  It’s work, and I breath a sigh when it’s done. Then, the NEXT DAY, I start a new story.
5) Your beat is New Mexico, just as C.J. Box has carved out his spot in Wyoming and Robert B. Parker had Boston and Massachusetts. Whose regional series being written today do you particularly enjoy reading for pleasure?
I like Box, and once in a while, JJ Jance. I knew Tony Hillerman, even took a couple of college classes from him, and loved his earlier, simple stuff. Anne Hillerman is filling his huge shoes, and I like her stories, too. As I said, I read a bunch. I give a book about three pages to hook me, and if it doesn’t, it goes back to the library. Life is too short to read dull books. I also love biographies and historical fiction. I’m awful at remembering author’s names…sometimes I forget my own.
6) New Mexico has virtually become a character in your stories… what do you personally find fascinating about it as a setting for your series? 
The best part of New Mexico is when you get out of the cities, out of the interstate traffic, and turn onto a dirt two-track that humps and bumps who knows where. The smell of the grasses, sage, kochia, and whatnot baking against the catalytic converter is a fantastic ambrosia. Stop, turn off the engine (as Bill Gastner does) and listen to the SILENCE…and wonder about the ambient noise that urban folks have gotten used to as part of their environment. Gaze  into the distance and ponder that there are NO human dwellings in sight…all of that makes some folks nervous. I think it’s wonderful.