Monday, June 22, 2015

From New York To The Smokies by Wayne Zurl Excerpt & Interview


About The Anthology Collection

Title: From New York To The Smokies 
Author: Wayne Zurl 
Series: 5 Book Anthology Collection from the Sam Jenkins Mystery Series 
Publisher: Melange Books, LLC 
Publication Date: April 16, 2015 
Format: Paperback - 163 pages / eBook  / PDF 
ISBN: 978-1680460780 
Genre: Mystery / Police Procedural   

Buy The Anthology Collection (Preorder - Pub Date: April 16, 2015)

Book Description: 

Author Wayne Zurl is back with his popular Sam Jenkins Mysteries SeriesFrom New York To The Smokies is a 5 book anthology collection from the Sam Jenkins Mysteries Series!    


Seventeen-year-old Sam Jenkins is busy fishing and falling in love with a girl named Kate. But with a father involved with the union and a divorced mother, Sam often finds himself acting like the adult of the family. During a fishing trip off Long Island, Sam overhears a conversation involving dangerous plans that can land his dad in jail. To keep his father out of prison, Sam teams up with detectives from the county’s rackets bureau and enlists the help of two friends to pull off an operation far beyond their usual high school curriculum.   


Police community Service Aide Liz Lopez should be in fine spirits—she’s in line for a promotion to police officer and a raise. But her sullen demeanor tells her boss, Lieutenant Sam Jenkins, that Liz is anything but happy. Jenkins begins an unofficial investigation to find out what’s going on. The detective learns of a bizarre home life and a dark secret Liz keeps under wraps. FAVORS is a story of how the police take care of their own—in an honest and compassionate way.   


A killer is on the loose in Prospect, Tennessee. He strikes repeatedly, each time leaving a cryptic message for the police to find. By the time a fifth body turns up, Police Chief Sam Jenkins is under pressure—either solve the murders or bring in outside help. But the chief’s ego won’t allow others to work his cases. And at the eleventh hour he tracks down a prime suspect, but death is only seconds away for the next victim.   


A misunderstanding between hunters rapidly escalates into a battle not seen in Southern Appalachia since the Hatfield and McCoy feud. As bodies pile up faster than evidence, Sam Jenkins and the officers of Prospect PD scour the remote hills and valleys of East Tennessee and North Carolina to solve a case that reads more like an old west adventure than a modern police drama.   


Prospect, Tennessee Police Chief Sam Jenkins receives two reports of UFO sightings in three days. The gritty ex-New York detective doesn’t believe in coincidence…or space aliens, but he can’t find anything to explain a glowing spaceship and little green men—until he sends Sergeant Stan Rose and Officer Junior Huskey to Campbell’s Woods. They call in a startling discovery, and the investigation begins.


Book Excerpt:


The rain never stopped. From early June through late August, it poured or drizzled almost every day. I thought if I stood still too long I might begin to mold. It reminded me of the monsoons in Southeast Asia.
Drops of rain falling from the brim of my cap were exceeded only by the young woman’s tears.
“When did you see the boy last?” I asked.
“Right after breakfast. He went into the living room to watch TV, and I started doing laundry in the basement.”
“And when you came upstairs he was gone?”
More tears rolled over her cheeks as she stood there, wringing her hands. “Yes.”
“Was your door locked?”
“Lord have mercy, no.”
“Is your son’s rain jacket here?”
She shrugged and cried a little more.
“Let’s look,” I suggested.
We walked to the mud room off the kitchen. A small hooded jacket hung on one of the five pegs over an antique wooden chair not six feet from the back door. A small pair of bright blue rubber Wellingtons sat on the floor.
“You call for him outside?”
“Of course. I ran all around.”
Without the puffy eyes and fear scarring her face, Emily Suttles would have been an attractive brunette.
“And then you called 9-1-1?”
“What was he watching?”
“I don’t know. He knows how to work the TV.”
“You turn it off?”
“One of the policemen did.”
“Let’s take a look.”
She stared at me as if I had two heads. “Why?”
“Indulge me.”
Back in the living room, Emily picked up the remote control and turned on a flat screen about the size of a stretch van. The American Movie Classics channel came on playing a scene from Halloween 4.
“Did you or the cops look through the house?” I asked.
“Yes, of course.”
“All over?”
“Every room.”
“Slowly or quick?”
“Quick. I was frantic.”
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

About The Author


Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara. 

Twenty (20) of his Sam Jenkins msyteries have been published as eBooks and many produced as audio books. Zurl has won Eric Hoffer and Indie Book Awards, and was named a finalist for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. His full-length novels are: A NEW PROSPECT, A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT, HEROES & LOVERS, and PIGEON RIVER BLUES

The all new FROM NEW YORK TO THE SMOKIES, an anthology of five Sam Jenkins mysteries is available in print and eBook, published by Melange Books, LLC. 

For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see You may read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.   

Connect with Wayne Zurl: 


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’d been writing non-fiction magazine articles for ten years before I decided to try fiction. I was sixty years old when I first read a Jesse Stone novel and thought if Robert B. Parker could write about a former LAPD detective who took a job as a police chief in a small Massachusetts town, why couldn’t I do the same with a retired New York detective who relocated to Tennessee? I had been a cop and Parker hadn’t. He had to rely on his imagination while I could fictionalize actual cases I investigated or supervised. I now live in Tennessee. I know the area, the people, and the job. How hard could it be?

How long does it take you to write a book?

If I’m enthusiastic about the project and don’t get sidetracked by a vacation, lots of work in the garden, or other social obligations, I can knock out a full-length novel in about four months.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I like to start early and write as long as the ideas are flowing. Winter months allow me to focus more on writing—fewer outdoor jobs to deal with and we tend to travel more in the spring and autumn.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I’m not sure how to answer that. I don’t do anything “quirky” like only eat Cheerios with chocolate milk when I’m writing or wear a lucky hat. But I do insist that I use characters that I personally knew. I don’t want to make up someone and risk creating an unbelievable person. I’ve met lots of specimens from which to choose—from extremely nice to totally horrible. I’ve got lots of latitude here. I write with a lot of dialogue and it helps to be able to “hear” these people to reproduce their “voice” and delivery. So, if you read about some oddball in my stories, you can figure there is (or was) a real person just like that somewhere in the world.

How do books get published?

In my case, I looked for traditional “small house” publishers who were willing to take a chance on the Sam Jenkins series and me. And I must thank all the people I’ve dealt with because the premise of a middle-aged retired New York detective now working in a small city in the Great Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee isn’t exactly trendy by today’s standards. There are no vampires, zombies, or paranormal happenings in my stories—just old-fashioned cop fiction a little this side of hardboiled.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

To keep from doing an appreciable amount of research, I’ve made my protagonist one of those venerable police dinosaurs who does things the old-fashioned way. I take actual cases from my days in New York, transplant them to Tennessee, and embellish them to conform to some of the acceptable standards of 21st century fiction. Quite often, I composite two or more real-life incidents to make one good story. However, Sam Jenkins isn’t the only cop working the cases at Prospect PD, so if I need specific details about a modern forensic procedure, I call a friend who works as a crime scene investigator at the local sheriff’s office to see what’s happening in 2015.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I began writing A NEW PROSPECT in the summer of 2006 when I was sixty. It took me a long time to learn the mechanics of modern fiction, make lots of revisions, and finally come out with an acceptable 80,000 word novel I could start peddling to publishers. It was released in January of 2011.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Aside from everyday life that involves all the necessities of a homeowner, we do lots of ethnic cooking. And my wife and I travel a lot. I like “big water” fishing—the Great Lakes and inshore saltwater trips. With travel comes photography. I learned good photography by taking pictures at crime scenes and of dead bodies. Compared to corpses, landscapes and animals are a breeze.

What does your family think of your writing?

I’ve only got my wife and sister close at hand. Both are fans and read everything I write. I just have to convince my wife that although my stories are based on real cases, there is a LOT of fiction involved. Sam Jenkins gets much more involved with the ladies than I ever did.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

It was surprising and disheartening when I veteran writer—a guy with many books under his belt and a good reputation told me, “You don’t have to be good. You have to be marketable.” After reading some bestsellers, I understand what he meant. Some books that sell oodles of copies are technically mediocre.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

So far I’ve had four novels, five anthologies, and twenty seven novelettes published. And there are two more novels under contract with release dates in 2016. Choosing a favorite is difficult, but if you pressure me to pick one, I’ll say A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT. That is based on one actual case which I still call the most frustrating and bizarre incident I ever encountered in the twenty years I did investigations. I wanted to make it my first book, but everyone I discussed it with told me that it was so far-out that few people would believe it was real. But it was—all except the beautiful Irish girl.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?

My tips for writers looking for a publisher or wanting to self-publish a quality piece are three-fold. One, never give up. Keep looking for that interested publisher. Two, if that turns out to be unproductive and they want to handle the publishing themselves, make sure what goes out with their name on it is the absolute best possible product they can produce. That means no poor structure, no typos, no misspelling, no bad grammar, in short: no junk. And three: From writing novelettes destined to be read by an actor and marketed as an audio book, I learned that the most important thing with any prose is that it MUST sound good. The length doesn’t matter. Anything from flash-fiction to an epic has to be pleasing to your ear. When you think you’re finished, sequester yourself and read your story aloud. Do it slowly, as if you were a professional reader being recorded. Make sure everything flows smoothly. The sentences should have the correct number of syllables. The paragraphs must transcend smoothly from one to the next. If you hear a “bump,” go back, rewrite it, and smooth it out. Make sure the story “sings” to you. Then when you’re pleased with your finished product, hand it off to a proofreader, editor, or book doctor…whomever you can afford. A fresh set of eyes is essential to getting a good finished product.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I don’t solicit reviews unless the publisher wants to distribute “advanced reader’s copies.” I’d rather keep the process honest and let them come naturally after the book(s) are available to the general public. But I do have a regular group of valued readers who generally comment on many or most of my stories. They all seem to like the Sam Jenkins character, his wife, Kate, and even his dog, Bitsey. Since most of my readers are women, Sgt. Bettye Lambert is one of their favorite regular characters. She’s a sharp and competent professional cop who helps Sam run Prospect PD.

Do you like to create books for adults?

I want to create books that cops, ex-cops, and hardcore fans of realistic police procedurals enjoy. Those are all adults who appreciate the authenticity and detail I jump through hoops to incorporate into everything. If one of those readers say, “Hey, I liked it, that’s what being a cop really like,” I’m happy.

What do you think makes a good story?

Using my own standards, I’ll describe a good story as interesting, unpredictable, and most important plausible. Too often I read commercial fiction that stretches a reader’s suspension of disbelief way too much. I’m pretty liberal when it comes to suspension of disbelief, but if things go too far over the top—strictly to create contrived action, tension, or conflict—and the writer panders to only the action-junkies or “dumbs down” the story, they lose me.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

As a boy growing up in the late ‘40s and 1950s, I was like many others of my generation. I wanted to be a soldier, a cop or a cowboy. The Vietnam War (and later the Army reserves) took care of being a soldier. When the New York Department of Employment told me I possessed no marketable civilian skills and my wife didn’t like the idea of me being a career soldier, I looked for work with something of a paramilitary structure and was appointed to a very large police department. Now retired from both those vocations, I still like the cowboy idea, but I doubt my lower back could sustain too much time in a saddle, so I suppose this writing thing will keep me busy until I totally retire.

What would you like my readers to know?

If you’re tired of all those mysteries where a contract psychologist tells an entire squad of homicide investigators how to do their jobs, dislike some alcoholic private eye being able to solve cases a competent police department can’t seem to understand, or have no interest in cats playing detective, visit Prospect PD. The chief and his officers are pros. The stories are believable and the detail will make you feel like you’ve signed up for a “ride along” with real cops. The only thing that may stretch your imagination (assuming you believe what I write) is that sleepy little Prospect, Tennessee has a homicide rate akin to Detroit. Prospect may be on the peaceful side of the Smokies, but these stories ain’t no cozies.

Thanks for inviting me to your blog. I wish you and your readers all the best.  wz


  1. Thank you for hosting the tour. - Kathleen Anderson, PUYB Tour Coord.

  2. Thanks for inviting me to your blog and allowing me to answer these interesting questions.