Currently I’m listening to James Lee Burke’s book Rain Gods for the second time as I commute from San Antonio to Houston to see family and write for my sister’s commercial real estate publication: REDNews.com. No doubt everybody in the entire world (except me) already knows that James Lee Burke has won two Edgars, written over 30 books, and has his short stories published in all of the best places. I picked up an audio copy of Rain Gods because Sheriff Holland was described as the sheriff of a tiny Texas town, which made me think of the tiny Texas town (Molly’s Point, Daughters of Memory) that my characters Macy Rose and Claire Louise Richards hail from. ‘Hm, this guy is writing about a sheriff in Texas, I have to read, well listen to this!’ I thought. I’d heard that he was a good writer, I just had no idea how good the man was going to turn out to be!
I began studying the mystery genre by immersing myself in the books of great mystery writers about 5 or 6 years ago when I decided to turn my characters from Daughters of Memory and Excuse Me for Asking into sleuths (Shade Island and McKenzie Trailer Park both as yet unpublished). Simultaneously (as I listen to Rain Gods during commuting time) I’m reading one of Burke’s Edgar wining books, Black Cherry Blues. Next on my ‘reading and/or listening’ list is Burke’s 30th novel, Feast Day of Fools. This book is a sequel to Rain Gods and features a truly great character: Sheriff Hackberry Holland. As I’m reading Burke’s books, I’m admonishing my own south Texas sheriff, Curtis Oates Junior, to listen carefully and take notes! Which reminds me of a great piece of advice for any writer: read, read, read, and write, write, write! Or we can take advice from Hemingway and just sit down at our typewriters (word processors?) and bleed all over the paper!