A Turtle Roars in Texas
By Russ Hall
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing
Trouble rides through Texas.
Detective Al Quinn had hoped to spend his retirement fishing at his lakeside home and taking care of the local deer. That bubble pops when Gladys Sanders, the sixty-year-old co-owner of an organic farm, is found dead by her two sisters, her body displayed like a scarecrow. On the same day, her son is run over in his kayak.
Evidence slips away from the scene right under the noses of two deputies, so Sheriff Clayton asks Al to mentor a younger detective. That simple task explodes into raw danger when three rival biker gangs with ties to Mexican cartels start mixing it up in earnest.
ICE Agent Jaime Avila tells Al that old turtles ought to leave the fighting to the young. But when the danger involves Al’s brother, Al dives into the heart of the ruckus. Before the war is over, the gangs just might get to hear the turtle roar.
Russ Hall is author of fifteen published fiction books, most in hardback and subsequently published in mass market paperback by Harlequin's Worldwide Mystery imprint and Leisure Books. He has also co-authored numerous non-fiction books, most recently
Do You Matter: How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company (Financial Times Press, 2009) with Richard Brunner, former head of design at Apple, Now You’re Thinking (Financial Times Press, 2011), and Identity (Financial Times Press, 2012) with Stedman Graham, Oprah’s companion.
His graduate degree is in creative writing. He has been a nonfiction editor for major publishing companies, ranging from HarperCollins (then Harper & Row), Simon & Schuster, to Pearson. He has lived in Columbus, OH, New Haven, CT, Boca Raton, FL, Chapel Hill, NC, and New York City. Moving to the Austin area from New York City in 1983.
He is a long-time member of the Mystery Writers of America, Western Writers of America, and Sisters in Crime. He is a frequent judge for writing organizations. In 2011, he was awarded the Sage Award, by The Barbara Burnett Smith Mentoring Authors Foundation — a Texas award for the mentoring author who demonstrates an outstanding spirit of service in mentoring, sharing and leading others in the mystery writing community. In 1996, he won the Nancy Pickard Mystery Fiction Award for short fiction.
On Red Adept Publishing http://bit.ly/RAPTurtle
On Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1OBCi7I
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I knew when I was still in elementary school and started writing a family newspaper. I was a voracious reader and respected the role of writer as much as anything I could think of.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
Typically a year-and-a-half. I can write the first draft in far less time than that, but I like to let a book sit and stew a while so I can come back as tough-love editor and polish, tighten, and revise.
3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I write most mornings, often beginning around 4 a.m., though sometimes earlier. In afternoons, I edit, with hard (printed out) copies off to coffee shops or to another room or the back yard.
4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I never outline, until I’m done. I want to take a twisting path that keeps me guessing, sometimes painting myself into corners. I figure if I don’t know what’s going to happen next, how can the reader. That way I avoid a predictable path.
5. How do books get published?
I’ve had agents but work directly with publishers these days. First thing, and I mean very first, is to see what a publisher wants and “how” that publisher wants it. Submission guidelines are “must read” content. I have all sorts of sample materials prepared (a few chapters, back cover copy, bio, excerpt, even a treatment) but I only furnish what the publisher wants, whether query letter first or a complete sample package.
6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Information and ideas are everywhere if you read or follow the media these days. Whatever fascinates me is likely to engage a reader once the material is crafted into a story with complex characters of my own creation.
7. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote tons of poetry and short story, but didn’t write my first full novel until in my early twenties. I wrote a complete 60,000 word novel in two weeks. It wasn’t very good, but I knew I could do it then.
8. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I read a great deal, do volunteer work at a pet rescue center, walk my own rescued dog, go fishing, play chess (by myself, I confess), listen to music, cook various cuisines, hike, and have an evening glass of wine or two.
9. What does your family think of your writing?
My mother, who passed away not long ago, was very proud, especially since she had been a librarian and thought books were the bomb. My siblings are proud as well, but they each have their own talents.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Exploration and self-discovery are part of writing every novel, and that ends up being as good a brand of therapy as you can get. As I seek to make characters complex and alive I often uncover areas of personal unrest, or things I should feel quite good about.
11. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
My 17th novel will come out this year and I have poetry, short story collections, and non-fiction books I have written and co-authored. “Island” is considered my most literary. But I’m quite fond of these Al Quinn books.
12. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Read a lot, and write a lot. I read a wide range of books and find authors whose prose moves me. Finding a good “voice” to speak from and having something to say, as often as not in the subtext as in the basic story, help too.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
With social media and through reviews I do learn a lot. I also appear in public often and people have in general been quite kind and encouraging. One reader told me she always reads the ending of mysteries first. We never like to hear that, because we work so hard to surprise, but I survived.
14. Do you like to create books for adults?
I do. I’ve written one or two young adult novels, but I especially like ordinary people in challenging situations where they really find out what they are made of. It’s cool when a retired guy like Al can put the surprise on some real hard cases.
15. What do you think makes a good story?
An engaging voice that compels you forward. Characters who are complex, some of whom you like and would like to meet, others definitely not, but they are still interesting. Situations ripe with tension. A puzzle that challenges the mind. A setting you’d like to visit or revisit. An ending you never saw coming.
16. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I read a lot and wanted to be that story teller myself one day. So, boom!
17. What would you like my readers to know?
I’ve got a whole lot more stories left in me. I have a dozen more books already written. It takes a lot of editing and revision before they will be ready to share. But I have learned to embrace that process. I didn’t use to like to do that sort of work, but now I do. It makes a world of difference once you love the process. When I get a book to the point that I enjoy reading it myself, then it’s ready for you.