My guest author today is Bob Doerr, who debuts with two novels, Dead Men Can Kill and Cold Winter’s Kill. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that Bob and I have known each other for many years, long before our mutual writing careers. We served together as Special Agents with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, even overlapping once during Headquarters OSI assignments in the late 1980s. Let’s get started.
MA: Welcome, Bob. Please tell us a little bit about your professional background.
BD: As you know, Mike, I spent nearly 29 years in the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), bouncing around the world running or overseeing hundreds of criminal investigations and counterintelligence operations. It was a fascinating experience that brought me into contact with many different federal as well as state and local criminal investigative organizations. I also got a chance to work closely with five different countries’ law enforcement and security agencies.
MA: Sounds like you had a rich and rewarding career, and no doubt one that prepped you for any number of great retirement jobs, possibly as a defense contractor. Why did you choose to write novels?
BD: I have been a story teller and writer all my life. I have written various short stories for my children when they were learning to read and for my grand children now. I have also written a number of “mystery” or “suspense” short stories. For years all my writings were shared with my family, but other than that – they just sat around on my desk. A year ago I decided it was time for me to get serious about my writing and to find out if there might be an audience “out there” for my stories. I had already written Dead Men Can Kill by then and by the time I landed a publisher had just finished Cold Winter’s Kill.
MA: I see…that explains why people at HQs AFOSI used to tell me you could weave a tall tale! But I digress. Did your professional career inspire your writing? Are any of your characters based upon real-life people with whom you’ve interacted?
BD: My professional experience in AFOSI certainly served to fill my mind with plots and characters. However, none of the characters in the books are based on any real people or events.
MA: So, no protagonist based upon the exciting career of Special Agent Mike Angley? Okay, just joking. So, tell me about your debut novel? What genre does it fit into?
BD: Both of my novels are in the mystery/thriller genre, and as they will be simultaneously published I guess they are both “debut” novels. Both stories contain the same main character, Jim West, a retired federal (AFOSI) agent who has moved back to New Mexico after a twenty year hectic career and a crushing divorce. He just wants to have a peaceful, controlled life but ends up getting sucked into various adventures. Other than West, and I guess his dog Chubbs, all the other characters are different in each story. In Dead Men Can Kill, West is giving a lecture to a university class on the use of forensic hypnosis when his student “guinea pig” under hypnosis remembers an 18 year old murder. When the student is himself killed three days later, West gets sucked into a murder investigation. In Cold Winter’s Kill, West gets a phone call from an old friend who asks if he can drive to Ruidoso to help find his friend’s daughter who has disappeared while on a ski trip. While not wanting to, how could he tell his friend no? In the ensuing days West takes the frantic lead to find the young girl before it’s too late, and in the process puts himself in the killer’s sights.
MA: Okay – you have my attention now. They both sound very exciting! How did you develop the character of your protagonist?
BD: My lead character was developed as I wrote my stories. I don’t think I had West figured out until I finished Dead Men Can Kill. In my mind he was kind of a “Rockford” type guy, with a little bit of the old Bogart of the Maltese Falcon story mixed in.
MA: Um, that was a bit before my time (clears throat). What are your hero’s strengths and weaknesses?
BD: Jim West has a number of weaknesses especially with his dealings with relationships with women. His divorce has significantly undermined his confidence in himself and in his desire to start a new relationship. He is not very technically proficient and doesn’t want to be tied down by cell phones, pagers, etc. His strengths include his persistence, loyalty and if he is backed into a corner, he is a lot tougher and more capable than people give him credit.
MA: Interesting mix of plusses and minuses. It must make for some great contrast in his character. What about a nemesis? Is there a particular “bad guy” in your books?
BD: There is no particular nemesis and as I said before the stories are not based on any real people of events.
MA: Beyond your debut novels, what are your future writing plans?
BD: I plan on doing five stories in the Jim West thriller series. At this moment I don’t have any spin offs planned but we’ll see how things go.
MA: I think that’s a great approach. You almost hate to move beyond a protagonist you’ve spent so much time and energy developing. In some way, you almost want to mentor his career! Well, we’re just about out of time, is there anything else you want to add?
BD: I’m really excited about the books being published. They should be available through Amazon and all the major book stores on line departments. If there is enough interest in the books I imagine they may start appearing in the stores. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks.
MA: Thanks, Bob. For more information about Bob Doerr and his two, count ‘em, TWO debut novels, please visit his website: www.bobdoerr.com