I grew up in Seattle, then earned a journalism degree from the University of Oregon. I worked at newspapers and magazines in the Northwest and the UK and also spent five years as a housing officer for British military families. I’m married to George and we have two sons and two grandchildren.
Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
I have a brief outline – victim, killer and motive – but most things flow from there. My R&P Labs series is set in a laboratory, so there has to be a current project for my characters that ties in to the murder. With my Zukie Merlino series, it’s usually her snoopiness that sets things in motion.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
Constantly, especially Mitch in the R&P books. Zukie and Lou are based on real relatives of mine, so with them, it’s easy to know what they’ll do and say.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
I dream of being able to stay in one place, since I’ve spent the last few years ‘commuting’ between Seattle and England.
Do distant places feature in your books?
No, both my series are set in Seattle, my home town, although the first half of ‘Pushover’ takes place in San Diego, which I’ve visited several times.
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
‘Uprooted’ is the 12th R&P Labs book and as the tag line says, it is a mystery involving ferns, fraud and Floridians. A pushy biologist from Florida attaches himself to the lab and then proceeds to get himself murdered, putting the staff under the police spotlight. I had been neglecting the R&P series for a while and I needed to decide if Virginia, one of my favorite characters, was going to retire.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Writing fiction is a lot more fun than journalism (I spent more than 20 years as a reporter, copy editor and columnist), but promoting your work is a lot harder.
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
I set my R&P series in a small laboratory because my parents worked in one and I spent a lot of time there as a child. So although I have no scientific ability, I know how a lab works. The Zukie series grew out of my Italian-American background.
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Read everything you can in your chosen genre and learn from other authors. Learn the basics of spelling, grammar and punctuation before you even think of publishing. You can’t build a house without a foundation.
What are three words that describe you?
Always cautiously optimistic.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
I read mysteries constantly when I was growing up, and my favorite author has always been Rex Stout. I also love the off-the-wall humor of Carl Hiaasen.
Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
A simple, lucrative project to grow ferns seems an attractive proposition for R&P Labs, but that’s before Florida botanist Grayson Quayle travels 3,000 miles to attach himself to the lab, bringing with him a pile of unwelcome personal baggage.
The R&P staff would like to see the last of Quayle, but it appears that they’re not the only ones. When arsenic from a scientific project is put to an unscientific use, Rob, Phil, Ellis, Virginia and Mitch find themselves involved in another criminal case, with a list of suspects including a wife with a grievance, an investigator with an agenda and a blackmailer with an unusual demand.
List of previous books if any
The R&P series: ‘Mossfire’, ‘Sweetwater’, ‘Shellshock’, ‘Angelwood’, ‘Boneflower’, “Childproof’, ‘Deamwheel’, ‘Icefox’, ‘Shotglass’, ‘Pushover’, ‘Bedrock’, ‘Four by Five’ (short stories).
Zukie Merlino series: ‘Zukie’s Burglar,’ ‘Zukie’s Witness’, ‘Zukie’s Suspect’, ‘Zukie’s Detective’, ‘Zukie’s Alibi’, ‘Zukie’s Evidence’.
Any websites/places readers can find you on the web