Cruse'n With Lonnie Interview
by Lonnie Cruse
tell us a bit about your Greg McKenzie series.
CC: My lead characters are Greg, a retired Air Force investigator, and his wife,
Jill. Theyíre in their mid-sixties. A bit younger than me, but I can still
relate. Secret of the Scroll, the first book, is technically a ďthriller.Ē Not
the ďhard-boiledĒ type (donít you love all the weird jargon publishers and
reviewers use to categorize our stories). When Greg and Jill return from a
Holy Land tour, he discovers the ďsouvenirĒ he
bought is actually an ancient Hebrew scroll worth millions. The terrorist group
that used him unwittingly to smuggle the parchment into the States takes Jill
hostage when they fail to find the scroll at the McKenziesí home. Greg is taxed
to the limit in the chase around Nashville and
back to Israel to rescue his wife.
I didnít have a series in mind when I wrote Secret, but I was so intrigued by
the characters I couldnít abandon them to the oblivion of terminated fictional
folks. So I followed with a whodunit titled Designed to Kill that saw Jill
helping Greg solve a murder in Florida. It takes place around Perdido Key, where
the landscape looks a bit different after Hurricane Ivan. I enjoyed writing the
lively give-and-take between husband and wife (people want to know if some of it
comes from personal experienceóit does).
The saga continues in the newest book, Deadly Illusions. That one is a PI novel
as the McKenzies have opened an investigative agency. They take on a client
named Molly Saint who says sheís afraid of her husband and wants him checked
out. Then she disappears. While pursuing Damon and Molly Saint, Greg gets drawn
into the Metro Police investigation of the Federal Reserve Board chairmanís
assassination at a Nashville
hotel. One reviewer likened it to looking in a funhouse mirror. ďThe images
shift and alter. Just when you think you have it figured out, the picture
LC: Please fill us in a bit about your fascinating background, and how it led
you into writing.
CC: Actually, my background involves just about every form of writing
imaginable. I started out as a newspaper reporter while studying journalism at
of Tennessee. That was in 1947. Uncle Sam sent me on a Far East cruise in 1951,
where I wrote intelligence reports for 5th Air Force in Korea. I came back to
another newspaper job, then did freelancing for magazines, PR for a Nashville
mayor, speeches for a governor (one reviewer said ďheís a former political
speechwriter, so he obviously knows how to write fictionĒ), started a local
magazine in Nashville, wrote advertising copy and edited a trade magazine while
working as an association executive. Sounds like I couldnít keep a job, doesnít
it? What got me hooked on mystery novels was a couple of books by Horace McCoy I
read while in college -- They Shoot Horses, Donít They? and No Pockets in a
LC: With your varied life experiences, do you still have to research? If so, how
do you go about it?
CC: You canít live this long without absorbing a lot of stuff. Admittedly, I
have a headful of trivia. Unfortunately, I donít know everything (although our
live-in grandson sometimes thinks I do). Leaning on my newspaper experience, I
depend mostly on the interview technique. I also use the library, on-scene
visits, Google (the internetís a great resource), whatever snooping opportunity
comes my way. I love research and have to watch myself or I get carried away
digging up a lot more than necessary.
LC: How long did it take you to become published, and how hard was it? Was age a
factor at all for you?
CC: I guess you could say it took about 54 years. I wrote my first mystery novel
while going to college and working at the newspaper. I cranked out the second in
the 1960ís. After retirement in 1989, I got serious. I had four agents with the
first seven books and got nowhere. I sold the eighth to a small press, unagented,
getting a three-book contract. Was age a factor? Well, I sure as heck aged a lot
in the process.
LC: You are known among authors as the King of Promotion. And for your ďsecret
weapon,Ē Sarah, who hands out postcards and directs readers to you at signings.
What other methods do you use to get your name out there and sell books? Envious
authors want to know!
CC: Iíve appeared at libraries, book clubs, a Kiwanis Club, Senior Citizens
centers, about anywhere I can coax a few people to hold still. I designed a
website to promote my books and run contests every few months. I publicize the
contests on various internet lists and use them to recruit subscribers for my
quarterly newsletter. I write articles for internet and print mystery magazines.
And I volunteer to work in organizations. Iím currently West Area Representative
for Mystery Writers of Americaís Southeast Chapter. And would you believe Iím
really an introvert? Iíd rather stand aside and listen to other folks. But I
canít sell books that way. P.S. Sarah handing out our promo folders at the door
is the key to my signing success.
LC: Please give us a glimpse of your travel schedule. I know you get around a
lot, selling and signing your books, how do you keep up with it all? And HOW do
you write when you travel so much?
CC: I attended four mystery conferences and a book fair in the spring, ranging
from Texas to Florida to the D.C. area. During the summer Iíve had 21 events,
traveling to East and
West Tennessee, South Alabama,
Virginia and Pennsylvania. Beginning to feel like I have wheels for shoes. Sarah
and I carry pocket calendars. I print out large monthly calendars for the
refrigerator door and my desk. Still, weíre not always sure where weíre supposed
to be. As for writing, thatís the real bummer. Until I started work on the
fourth Greg McKenzie mystery recently, I had done no new fiction writing in
about a year. I did extensive revision on an old manuscript titled Hell Bound,
however, which Iím submitting to agents. The story winds up outside New Orleans
as a hurricane approaches (but itís 1999, not 2005).
LC: Do you have any other series going? What are your future writing plans?
CC: I havenít braved the idea of another series yet. Iíll probably keep tracking
Greg and Jill as long as the readers continue to find them interesting. Number
four, now in progress, is tentatively titled The Marathon Murders. Though it
takes place in the current time frame, thereís a bit of historical perspective.
Marathon Motor Works produced a popular line of touring cars in Nashville from
LC: What advice would you give to ďolderĒ . . . should we say Baby Boomer
authors about writing and finding a publisher?
CC: My first advice is to finish writing a novel. Then query reputable agents
who market fiction in the genre youíre writing. I subscribe to Publishers
Marketplace and check their daily ďdealsĒ email for mystery sales by agents. If
you can find a good agent who sells your book to a major publisher, great. If
you reach the point youíre tired of knocking your head against the wall, start
querying small presses that donít require agents. Their numbers are growing and
some do a great job. Whatever you do, donít despair. Many major writers took a
long time to make a sale. James Lee Burke once sent out 101 queries.
LC: Anything else youíd like my readers to know?
CC: If you enjoy writing, as I do, then by all means write. My tenth book was
the first to be published, though Iíd probably be writing still even if none had
found themselves in print. But nothing spurs you on like holding that first book
in your hands and having people ask you to sign their copy. Just donít expect
big financial success. Hope for it like the devil, but donít hold your breath.
Very informative interview!
Return to STUFF page
Bellaonline Interview for
Designed to Kill
by Carolyn Chambers Clark
Chester Campbell, mystery author of DESIGNED TO KILL, today.
Carolyn: Tell me
about your new mystery, where it's set, what it's about, a little about the
protagonist(s) and who's publishing it.
DESIGNED TO KILL takes place around Perdido Key, FL, near Pensacola, where the
glistening white sand beaches are crowded by high-rise condominiums that keep
shooting up like poppies in the spring. The morning after a 15th floor balcony
collapses at a new luxury condo, killing two people, the project's young
architect/engineer is found dead of what the authorities rule a self-inflicted
gunshot wound. His father in Nashville says no way. He asks retired Air Force
investigator Greg McKenzie to find out the truth. Greg and his wife Jill
encounter lots of knotty problems, including a shady contractor, a devious
developer, a vengeful inspector and a deputy sheriff who wants Greg out of the
picture. The book is published by Durban House.
obstacles did you have to overcome to write this mystery and how did you do it?
Chester: I don't do
detailed plots, but since this was my first "whodunit," I quickly saw the need
to determine where everybody was at the time of the murder. I used a chart and
developed the story around this timeline. There was another factor that I
wouldn't exactly call an obstacle--more likely a happy circumstance--but I
needed to do most of the research around Perdido Key. I live in Nashville.
However, my wife and I spend a couple of weeks each fall and spring at my
brother's condo on the Key, so I used it as a base of operations for the
research and some of the writing. Tough duty.
Carolyn: How do you
breathe life into your characters and make them seem real for this mystery?
TO KILL is the second Greg McKenzie mystery. I had already established Greg and
Jill, plus a few of the other characters, in SECRET OF THE SCROLL. I added more
to their backgrounds and further developed Greg and Jill through their
interactions. I try to show people doing everyday things as well as the
sometimes outrageous acts that help build tension. My aim is to let the reader
know them as well as I do. Several reviewers have commented that they seem like
real people, so I seem to have succeeded.
Carolyn: What about
writing this mystery appeals to you?
appealed to me most was the opportunity to make Jill a central character in the
book. Other characters talked a lot about her in SECRET OF THE SCROLL, but the
reader only got to see her at the beginning and the end. She plays a major role
in solving this case. I enjoyed writing the lively banter that Greg and Jill
indulge in throughout the book.
Carolyn: What else
would you like to tell readers about your book?
Chester: It has a
surprise ending that most readers don't anticipate. Check it out and see if you
can predict how the story will wind up.
Carolyn: Will we
see Greg and Jill McKenzie in another mystery?
better believe. DEADLY ILLUSIONS, third in the series, will be out next year. It
involves the assassination of a public figure and the disappearance of a woman
who hires Greg and Jill to check into her husband's background.
Carolyn: Do you
have a web site where readers can find out more about you and your books?
lots more info at
http://www.chesterdcampbell.com. Incidentally, you may not find DESIGNED TO
KILL on the shelf where you live, but you can order it at any bookstore or
Return to STUFF page
The Writers Room Interview
by Pamela James.
TWR: Chester, tell us about the kind of books you write and how it all began
My fiction efforts go back to my junior year in journalism at the University
of Tennessee. And thatís a long way back, like 1947. I went to work at a
newspaper that fall and a few months later began banging out a novel about a
reporter titled Time Waits for Murder. After a couple of rejection slips, I
stuck the manuscript away in a brown envelope. Fifty-five years later I pulled
it out and found the first chapter titled "Murder, He Says." Angela Lansbury eat
your heart out. I didnít get back to fiction in earnest until retirement. I had
become a fan of the spy story and began writing suspense/thrillers. Thatís the
genre of my first published novel, Secret of the Scroll, though it doesnít
involve espionage. Iím getting back to murder mysteries in the sequel, Designed
to Kill, due out in fall 2003.
TWR: How long does it take you to write a book?
Roughly, about a year. But I could finish one a lot sooner if I had to. I
generally research as I go, sandwiching forays into the library or to various
locales between times at the computer. When I get on a roll, I can write quite a
bit at one sitting. What slows me most is constant editing. I start out
correcting what I did the day before and occasionally go all the way back to the
TWR: What type of writing schedule do you have?
I donít know that you could really call it a schedule. My wife and I go to a
nearby mall and walk two miles every morning. We usually have errands to run
before we get home, so itís normally after noon before I start writing. I do
most of my writing on a laptop while sitting on the living room sofa. I write
while my wife watches TV. As a newspaper reporter, I developed the ability to
block out everything around me while I work. It comes in handy. I do a lot of
writing at night.
TWR: What advice can you give the novice mystery writer?
When I was in journalism school, they pounded into our heads the need to
cover the five "w"s. Iíd change the words to "write, write, write, write,
write." The more you write, the better you get at it. But you also need to read
- lots of good mysteries, as well as books on the techniques of mystery writing.
If thereís a critique group in your area, join it.
TWR: What happens when the words wonít flow?
Happily, Iíve never been confronted with that problem. Each time I sit down
at a keyboard, I read back through the last few pages Iíve written and then
charge on. I guess with more than 70 years of memories in the bank, something is
bound to come tumbling out through my fingers.
TWR: Where might fans and readers contact you?
E-mail me at email@example.com or check www.chesterdcampbell.com
for on-line sources.
TWR: What is the best and worst part of writing your books?
The worst part is when you discover youíve written yourself into a corner and
thereís no way out. Then you go back and start adjusting earlier parts of the
story. Iíd say the best part is when all the pieces of the plot suddenly fall
into place and you realize youíve finished a book.
TWR: Whatís next in your author journey?
As I said earlier, Iím taking my character Greg McKenzie into the pure
mystery field. In Designed to Kill, a friend asks Greg to look into the reported
suicide of his son. He decides it wasnít suicide, of course, and goes after the
killer. The next book, which Iím working on now, has Greg as a full-fledged
private investigator. I still have a couple of old suspense story manuscripts
Iíd like to get into print.
TWR: Tell us your publishing story including who your present publisher is.
I had a succession of agents who accomplished nothing with my earlier novels.
When I finished Secret of the Scroll, I began a new agent search. After many
rejections, one showed a real interest in my work and made some helpful
suggestions. She worked primarily with non-fiction but gave the manuscript to
her husband, who heads a small press called Durban House Publishing Co. Iím
quite happy with Durban House, which will also publish Designed to Kill.
TWR: Letís talk character, plot and motivation.
I think character is the most important element. Your characters must come
off as real people, even the most minor ones. I have a waitress who appears
briefly in only one scene of Designed to Kill, but she was fun to write. I hope
readers can see her the way I saw her in my mind. In a mystery, of course, plot
is crucial. Itís like in a football game. The players may wander all over the
field, but you have to keep them pointed toward the goal line. Surprises are
great, but they must flow logically from earlier events. As to motivation, I try
to give my characters backgrounds that will lead to their actions in the story.
TWR: Do you use an outline?
Not a formal one. I usually start out knowing how the story begins and ends,
then let the characters drive the plot. I use timelines mostly, to show where
the characters are as the story unfolds. It helps keep somebody from slipping in
where he shouldnít be. In the book Iím working on now, Iím plotting a few
chapters at a time, with just a sentence or two for each.
TWR: What about character sketches?
Theyíre quite helpful. I use more detailed sketches of the main characters.
Not everything makes it into the book, but most does.
TWR: Leave us with some mysterious words of wisdom.
A memorable book is usually the result of a memorable character.
Return to STUFF page
Wicked Company Book Preview Club Interview
"For a guy who's been around as long as I have, it isn't easy to condense
your life into a brief paragraph," Chester told me. "To put me in my place,
though, I was born in and have lived in Nashville, TN most of my 77 years. When
I wasn't here, I was getting educated. For the formal part, I studied journalism
at the University of Tennessee. The more intense part came in the Army (WW II)
and Air Force (Korean War). I have two sons and two daughters who have supplied
me with eight grandchildren. My second wife (the first died in 1998) added two
children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. When the families get
together for holidays, it gets crowded."
He started writing in college. "I worked as a newspaper reporter, free-lanced
for national magazines, founded a local consumer monthly, wrote advertising
copy, did PR and was speechwriter for a governor. I always wanted to write
fiction but found little time to try until retirement." A spy novel fan, his
first efforts were in that genre, with KGB agents as the bad guys. Then he
shifted to the suspense/thriller "where the protagonist suddenly finds all hell
I asked him what inspired SECRET OF THE SCROLL. He said, "It came out of a
trip I made to the Holy Land in 1998. On the way home, I read in an in-flight
magazine about an archaeological dig in Jordan where they had found caves that
had been inhabited by monks in ancient times. I thought what if they had found a
scroll dating back to the first century. Of course, there had to be some
skullduggery afoot, and the plot began bubbling to the surface (of the Jordan
Chester says his biggest supporter is his wife, Sarah. He calls her his
Director of Sales. "She goes with me to writers' conferences and enjoys them as
much as I do. She passes out bookmarks and talks to everybody about the book."
He told me, "My days seem to be anything but routine, though we do try to
walk two miles a day at the nearby mall. When Sarah is babysitting the
great-grandchildren, I work at the PC on my desk upstairs. But I do most of my
writing on a laptop while sitting beside my wife on the sofa, while she reads or
watches TV. She doesn't understand how I do it, but after working several years
in bustling, noisy newsrooms, I developed the ability to turn off everything
around me and concentrate on what I'm writing. Oh, and my desk? It looks like
the aftermath of a tornado."
He said, "I'm a quiet guy, not much of a talker. I have difficulty getting
out what I want to say verbally, but at the keyboard I can rattle on for hours.
I enjoy creating characters and challenging situations. I consider myself
primarily a storyteller. As for what I like least, I suppose it would be trying
to find enough time to write (like lately when I've had to devote most of my
time to promoting the book just out)."
Where does Chester get his ideas? He said, "Out of my muddled brain...I've
stuffed so much in it over the years. As with any writer, a lot is
autobiographical. You write about what you know, embellishing as you go. Most of
the places I use are real, thought I occasionally tamper with the landscape. I
have a camcorder I use to tape locations I use in my stories. I bought it before
the trip to Israel and came back with three hours of tape that proved quite
useful for this book."
He also draws inspiration from people he has known. When I asked him who the
most memorable person he has known is, he told me, "There have been so many
during my newspaper and magazine days it's hard to single one out. But, on
reflection, I'd have to say one of the most memorable was my high school science
teacher, Miss Roberta Kirkpatrick. I still find myself using some of her
favorite sayings, like "he who hesitates is lost."
Chester belongs to a small critique group that meets twice a month. He said,
"We each read a chapter of what we're working on (the others have fulltime jobs
so they don't always have a new chapter), and the others give their comments.
It's a good way to catch simple things you've overlooked. I recently had a
Hispanic girl humming a song in Spanish. One of my colleagues asked, "How do you
hum in Spanish?"
He recently sent a murder mystery to his editor. It takes place at Perdido
Key, FL, "where my wife and I take residence each fall and spring for a couple
of weeks at my brother's condo. It's the first of a PI series featuring Greg
McKenzie from Secret of the Scroll. I'm working on the next one (when I can find
time), which takes place in Nashville. I like the series idea. You can keep
adding new layers to your character."
His advice for new writers: "Take a good writing course. Read, read, read,
then write, write, write."
Return to STUFF page
The No Name Cafe
Book Review Corner
Interview by Lorie Ham
We are happy to have with us new mystery author, Chester D. Campbell ó in
our "new voices" section.
CAFE: Tell me a little about your books and what genre they are.
CHESTER: My first novel, Secret of the Scroll, released in October, is a
suspense/thriller. When retired Air Force criminal investigator Greg McKenzie
is unwittingly used by a militant Palestinian group to smuggle an ancient
parchment scroll out of Israel into the U.S., it touches off a nightmare that
sees his wife taken hostage from their home in Nashville. It gives the coded
location of artifacts from Solomon's Temple hidden in Jerusalem. The scroll
holds a secret that, in the wrong hands, could start a new conflagration in
the Middle East. Just as Greg appears close to tracking down the terrorists
who hold his wife, radical right-wing Israelis step in to add new
complications. The second book, Designed to Kill, due out next fall, is a
traditional mystery. Greg is asked to investigate the reported suicide of a
friend's son on Perdido Key, Florida, where two people are killed when a
high-rise condo he designed and engineered collapses. Greg quickly confronts
the question of suicide or murder.
CAFE: When did you first start writing? First start publishing?
CHESTER: I wrote a mystery novel about a newspaper reporter while studying
journalism at the University of Tennessee in 1947. I had just gone to work as
a reporter for The Knoxville Journal and was bursting with a desire to write
fiction. After a couple of rejections, though, I put the manuscript away and
concentrated on nonfiction. In the 1950s I sold articles to such magazines as
Coronet, The American Legion Magazine and The Rotarian. Then I started a local
monthly called Nashville Magazine. I published a guidebook for Nashville
tourists in 1964 and had a church history published in 1998. My first novel
was finally published in 2002.
CAFE: Why do you write?
CHESTER: Primarily because I enjoy it. Achieving some critical success is
good for the ego, but I wrote eight novels before the first one was published
and never thought of stopping. Although I've done other things over the years,
I've always thought of myself foremost as a writer. And writers write.
CAFE: Do you have a day job?
CHESTER: I tell people I'm retired, but I don't act like it. I have some
rental property I look after and my wife and I volunteer at church and other
CAFE: Do you have something you wish to accomplish with the things you
write? What do you want people to take away with them when they read your
writing? Do you ever have a message?
CHESTER: I consider myself mainly a storyteller, and I hope people enjoy
reading what I write. I don't intentionally work a message into my writing,
but I try to show that faithfulness to ideals and loyalty to loved ones can
carry you through the darkest times.
CAFE: What time of day do you find you are most creative?
CHESTER: I seem to get most of my writing done at night, but that's
probably because so many other things seem to get in the way during the day.
Each spring and fall we spend a couple of weeks at a condo on Perdido Key.
Then I get to write morning, afternoon and night without all the distractions.
CAFE: What sort of things do you do for fun?
CHESTER: We eat out with friends once a week, go to plays at the local rep
theatre, go on tours when we can find the time.
CAFE: Do you have a favorite author, authors?
CHESTER: I particularly enjoy Robert B. Parker, James
Lee Burke, James Patterson, Barbara Parker, Sue Grafton, Nelson DeMille and
CAFE: A book or author that influenced you a lot? Personally or
CHESTER: Gorky Park by Martin Cruz Smith. I loved his descriptions, his use
of simile and metaphor. This book as much as anything inspired me to get back
to fiction writing.
CAFE: Favorite mystery movie?
CHESTER: I'm not much of a movie buff, particularly in recent years. I
would have to go back to something like Rear Window or Sorry, Wrong Number.
CAFE: Those are great movies Favorite mystery TV show?
CHESTER: Can't say that I watch a lot of TV, other than news shows. I see
more of The District, I guess, since it's one of my wife's favorites.
CAFE: How do you feel about writing? And how does it feel when you are
writing? Excited, frustrated, is it just business?
CHESTER: As I said earlier, I enjoy writing. I get frustrated when I'm
working on a book and get interrupted or can't find time to get back to the
keyboard. Since I don't do a lot of complicated plotting, I'm often as excited
as anybody to find out what's going to happen next.
CAFE: What type of book promotion do you feel has worked best for you?
CHESTER: I have cards with the cover printed on one side. On the other, I
print a blurb from my best review, a paragraph on the plot and basic
information on the book plus my web address. That's on the left. On the right,
where the address would go if used as a postcard, I print a box with four more
review excerpts. At book signings, my wife asks people who come into the store
if they like mysteries. Those who do get a card and she points out that the
author is signing books at the table. When they come to me, I show them the
book and tell a bit about it. We sell lots of books this way. I have done two
signings at the local Books-a-Million, and they have invited me back again.
CAFE: Can you ever see yourself not writing anymore?
CAFE: Pets? Types and names, please.
CHESTER: Sorry, I'm one of the few mystery writers who doesn't house or
write about pets.
CAFE: That is unusual, isn't it? What part of you shows through in your
writing? What does your writing say about you?
CHESTER: I think all writers put some of themselves into their characters,
particularly regarding their likes and dislikes. My main characters are
involved with their church, as I am, which my editor cautioned might turn off
some readers. I hope not. I don't dwell on particular tenets of religion, just
on the importance of their faith.
CAFE: Sounds like something I'd love to read. Where do you get your
CHESTER: Since my heritage is Scottish, I wanted a good Scot name for my
protagonist. For others I check the phone book, sometimes look at magazine
staff names. I keep a list and try to use a letter only one time to start last
names. In one book, I used last names of those who attended our high school
class's 50th anniversary dinner.
CAFE: What about writing is important to you?
CHESTER: Publication. It's an indication that you have written something of
significance, something worthy of other people reading.
CAFE: Advice to an unpublished writer?
CHESTER: Don't give up. Keep writing. It may take awhile-the odds aren't
good-but if you keep reading, keep writing, keep polishing, chances are you'll
find your niche.
CAFE: Anything that you would like to add?
CHESTER: I belong to several writers organizations, like Mystery Writers of
America and Sisters in Crime, and I have joined several internet writers
groups, like DorothyL, All About Murder and Murder Must Advertise. All of them
welcome you with open arms and readily share any information they have. It's
great to belong to such an unselfish fraternity.
CAFE: Website URL?
CAFE: Thanks for joining us here at the Cafe, Chester. Come back again
Return to STUFF page
for Secret of the Scroll
Carolyn Chambers Clark
Carolyn: Tell me about your new
mystery, its title, where itís set, what itís about, whoís publishing it.
Chester: Secret of the Scroll is the
first book in my Greg McKenzie mystery series. Most of the story takes place in
Nashville and Israel. A retired Air Force OSI agent, Greg joins his wife Jill on
a trip to the Holy Land, hoping to put some distance between himself and
problems with the Metro Nashville Police. But his troubles rapidly escalate when
he brings back a ďsouvenirĒ Dead Sea Scroll. Agents of a Palestinian terrorist
group invade his home, taking Jill hostage. He finds himself with an ancient
Hebrew scroll worth millions, wanted by the Palestinians and a radical far-right
Israeli organization. When he tries to exchange it for Jillís freedom,
everything goes wrong. My publisher is Durban House Publishing Co., a small
press in Dallas.
Carolyn: What obstacles did you have
to overcome to write this story and how did you do it?
Chester: Obstacles sounds rather
formidable. I donít know that I would call it an obstacle, but I had to do a lot
of research on biblical archeology, the Dead Sea Scrolls and Bible codes. I also
interviewed the OSI Special Agent in Charge at Arnold Air Force Base to get the
inside scoop on how they operate. I had made a trip to the Holy Land in 1998 so
had plenty of background on the area.
Carolyn: How do you breathe life into
your characters and make them seem real?
Chester: When you live with characters
for a year, which is the normal time it takes me to finish a book, you get to
know them pretty well. Knowing their backgrounds, you have a sense for how they
talk, how they react in certain situations, little things that bug them, big
things that challenge them. People are sometimes amused when I talk about Greg
and Jill as if they were real people, but in my mind they are.
Carolyn: What is it about writing
mysteries that appeals to you?
Chester: I like the ability to see
that the bad guys get whatís coming to them. Sometimes they appear to get away,
but you can take care of that in the next book. The other things I like about
mysteries is setting up a puzzle, then solving it.
Carolyn: What else would you like to
tell readers about your book?
Chester: If you like to read series
mysteries, this is the place to start. Secret of the Scroll provides a lot of
background on the characters. They will be developed further in future books.
The second, Designed to Kill, will be published in March 2004. It involves Greg
being called on to solve a murder on Perdido Key, Florida.
Carolyn: Do you have a web site where
readers can find out more about you and your book?
www.chesterdcampbell.com. Youíll find sample chapters, reviews, photos and a
bio of sorts under F.A.Q. (Facetiously Answered Questions). I have a ball
writing. I hope you get the same kick out of reading.
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