Monday, March 18, 2013

Give-A-Way and Interview with Rob Riley author of Portraid of Murder. In February Portrait of Murder won the award for Best Police Procedural of 2012 at the Love is Murder crime mystery convention.

Rob has graciously offered a copy of his award winning novel to one commenter!

(this is an open ended offer)

Interview with Rob Riley Portrait of Murder. In February, Portrait of Murder won the award for Best Police Procedural of 2012 at the Love is Murder crime mystery convention, which is held annually in Chicago.

Rob thanks for chatting today.

Can you tell us a little about the novel?
PI Jack Blanchard is hired by his close friend to find his missing sister, who has a long history of drug addiction. Blanchard has little trouble finding her, but subsequently becomes entangled in an investigation that links the past murder of her drug dealer; the current murder of a top City Official – and a mind bending  expanse of government corruption that involves the police department, and leads directly to the Mayor's office. A man in prison for murder who has information about past dealings, and a woman who is the head of the Social Services Department, all become involved in helping Jack solves multiple murders in Milwaukee.

You were a police officer in Milwaukee for quite a long time.
Did your experiences there help in the writing or research of the novel?
Both. The research was built in with my duties. But it was more than just patrolling and enforcing the laws. It was learning how to talk to people, to gain accurate and relevant information. To probe for information from myriad sources – from the observations of a small child who witnessed an event, to the information in a phone books and other journals, and to all that is contained in modern computers. Of course, police officers learn about criminal laws, but they also learn how to interpret all manner of legal language. Many scenes and even quotations in my writing come directly from my experiences. Others are ideas sparked by what I'd experienced while doing my job.

I read that your love of reading and writing have been lifelong passions of yours and that you have also written short stories.
Have the short stories been published?
No, none of my short stories were published. I took a couple correspondence writing courses in the 1980s, and like I say, I got nothing published but I got more than my money's worth. I learned the basics of line editing, plotting, and character development. I went on to join a novel writer's workshop, but the short story courses gave me a foundation. I am finishing a short story now, that I will be publishing on eBooks by early April. It's dark, an Edgar Alan Poe type of tale. Edgar Alan Poe was my first favorite author.  

What do you enjoy reading?
 Crime mysteries, and supernatural tales. My first three novels are in the the supernatural genre. I switched to crime mysteries after I retired. While I was still a cop, I needed to escape in my writing. Then I began reading – and studying – the great Raymond Chandler, the best of the noir detective story writers from the 1930s and 1940s. His main character was Philip Marlowe, private eye. I was hooked, and switched genres.

Was the novel a natural progression from the short stories?
My secret desire was to be a novelist. I started with short stories to break in with writing fiction, but found that I enjoyed doing short stories as well. Starting there was the best thing I could have done – I learned the basics of a beginning, middle and end; how and when to introduce characters; how to do a flashback (which I rarely do, but at least I know how); how to stay on course. Without using that format in my early training, I'd never have arrived where I'm at with novels.

Is your protagonist Jack Blanchard like you or anyone you know?
Jack Blanchard is an amalgam of many people in my life. My much beloved grandfather's name was Jack. I played football in high school and when I was a sophomore there was a senior player – who was a star – who went out of his way to be nice to the new kids. He was easy going and funny, yet a tough guy on the field. There's a little bit of Raymond Chandler's PI Philip Marlowe, with the lone wolf, wise guy persona. Jack Blanchard is less jaded than Philip Marlowe, but he's got the same self-preservation kind of paranoia. Of course, there's me – from whom Blanchard learned how to be an investigator. 

Are you still an active police officer?
No, I retired in 2001 after 32 years of service. They allowed us to purchase our service gun, which I placed in my dresser the day I left the job, and haven't touched since. I never was a gun guy; it was only a tool of the job. I did some private investigation work for short while, but I do not consider that to be an extension of being a cop, strange as that may sound. PIs dig for information, but they are not part of law enforcement.

Will there be more novels in your future?
I have completed two additional Jack Blanchard novels, Dead Last, and Unto The Father, but they are stand alone, new adventures. Dead Last will be published this year, hopefully within a few months. I've also written three complete novels in the supernatural genre – the first three books I wrote –  which are to be considered at a later date.

What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Learn the craft, from the ground up. Read credible how-to books (there are many) and join writing classes, be they actual courses in a school or university, or workshops with other writers. Listen to and absorb all critiques, and have a thick skin. Especially in the beginning, the criticism can be strong, and even brutal. But the public is picky, and even the best novels have been hammered. And always remember that you're writing for the people who are sitting in their homes and looking to be entertained. They'll be quick to judge, and best selling authors have their unflattering critics.

Do you have any signings or events coming up?
Yes, but they're still pending.

Rob, thank you so much for answering my questions. Good luck with the novel!

Visit Rob’s Facebook novel page, his author page on his Publisher’s website
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  1. I love Poe too, wonderful interview and I always enjoy criminal type novels.

    1. Debbie, If you say the book is good, then I have to give it a try. Great interview.


    2. Thanks Ryan, I have to be honest though I haven't read it yet. It's on that ever rising TBR pile.