C. Reggin Ė NW Book Review
Q: Your latest book
Plumís Pleasure is a compilation of short stories. Is this a divergence
from your usual novel format?
A. I suppose, but the novella Plumís
Pleasure sets the tone for a string of stories all focused on the same
themes: womenís struggles for independence and self-determination and the
gray shades of morality in their lives. I think that if you take a look at
any of the books Iíve written, there are strong-minded females who often
steer events around sometimes unsuspecting males.
Q: And the morality themes?
A. Morality comes in all shapes and
forms. One personís sin is anotherís salvation. Culture, social mores,
religion, character Ė all these things influence our views on what is
wrong and right. My books, and especially the stories in Plumís Pleasure,
delve into the murky, undefined areas of morality. Often, the truth is
found somewhere in the middle, in the gray-zone. That is the most
interesting aspect of life, I think. We all operate from a personal set of
motives and beliefs. Whoís to say which are less noble or more saintly?
This question makes for some very intriguing possibilities in human
Q. Was the short story anthology a new direction for your writing
A. Oh, no. I started out by writing
short stories, and it was enjoyable to visit that format again. There are
few tales that cannot be told in fewer words than a novel requires. The
challenge for a writer is in pinpointing the crux of the dilemma in the
protagonistís life. Itís a little like diagramming a sentence Ėthe
literary chaff and obligatory sex and thriller scenes are pared in order
to get to the essential elements of the plot and the charactersí
Q. Do you have plans for more such works?
A. Not really. My writing is driven by
inspiration and not so much by deliberate planning of what the marketís
looking for. I believe authors should listen to their own creative voice
and write what is in their soul. Each of us has a distinct view of the
world, and expressing that view in an original voice is what fiction
writing should be all about.
Q. Not all of the stories in Plumís Pleasure are located in the
Pacific Northwest. Why did you decide to include Alabama, Georgia and
Philadelphia in the collection? Do you have a personal connection with
A. Sure. Even though the characters
are geographically distant from Oregon and the
West, people everywhere have the same dreams, desires, fears and flaws.
Iíve spent time in all these places and write from personal experiences.
Doesnít every writer include something of his or her life-story in their
Q. What advice do you have for an aspiring fiction writer wanting
to find a market for their work?
A. Thatís a tough one because every
situation is different. Some authors strike it rich right out of the
starting gate, finding the right agent to market their work, and a
publisher/editor who ďgetsĒ the authorís voice and gives it time to
attract an audience. Others struggle for years, literally, and never seem
to come up a winner. The most important thing for any novelist is to
believe in their work, to take constructive criticism as an opportunity to
hone their talents and to keep writing. Just like any other skill, writing
takes daily practice and dedication Ė that includes syntax, grammar,
spelling, format, professional courtesies in approaching agents and
editors. Treat your writing as a business if you want to be published and
hopefully successful one day.
And most important, listen to your own voice and donít be detoured by what
is currently hot. Write something every day. Write because it is part of
who you are and what you hold dear. If you write only for profit or fame,
youíll end up with neither.
May, 2007 S. Bedrow Ė
Rose City Review
Q. What drew you to
the Police Procedural genre?
A. It has everything that interests me
as a writer and as an observer. In the John Bowersí series, the reader is
actually the most informed witness to the crime or crimes and the
motivations of the main characters. Iíve always been a mystery buff, and
who doesnít love to help solve a riddle, especially one with criminal,
Q. Did your background experience with the law enforcement
community influence your take on Detective Bowers?
A. Definitely. I suppose John Bowers
is a composite of all the homicide detectives Iíve known over the years.
The majority of these people are intensely dedicated to their jobs and
often very personally connected to their victims.
Q. Are the grisly scenes in your books based on true cases?
A. They are drawn on real life but are
not true-crime. Murder is the heart of a procedural.
Q. Why do the Bowers books delve so deeply into the personal lives
of the detectives?
A. The dynamic of their personal lives
is what adds spice to the mix and what motivates them. Bowers sees these
victims as ďThere but for the grace of God . . .Ē. His motive in solving
cases is always more about avenging those people who cannot speak or
defend themselves against the bad guys than a strict job description in
the manual. Homicide detectives are still the good guys in the white hats.
And that appeals to me Ė telling their personal story. So many crime
dramas and novels gloss over the personal side, and the characters are one
dimensional. Thatís not real life, and I think readers want more than the
standard formula in a procedural. At least I do.
Q. Did you write the Bowers series as a continuing drama of the
charactersí lives for a purpose?
A. Well, thatís real life again.
Reality is much more interesting than contrived gun battles, the
ubiquitous serial-killer who has some ridiculously complicated formula for
killing his victims Ė I think most people welcome some reality even in
their fiction. The Bowers books give the reader the best of both Ė
personal drama along with the grit, terror and drudgery of police work.
Q. Some critics believe the real focus of your plots is in the
personal relationships and struggles between Bowers and the women in his
life. Is this a fair assessment?
A. Oh, sure. Crime happens Ė people
keep killing one another, but life goes on for everyone around them. John
Bowers is interesting as a person outside of his badge, a flawed person
who just canít seem to figure out women. But who can?
Q. Tell us something about the Portland scene. Is the city itself
important to the series?
A. Definitely. I never considered
placing John Bowers anywhere else. Portland is unique in America for
having typical big city problems while at the same time having a small
town atmosphere. Thatís what makes it so livable and lovable for
Oregonians and others who come here. Bowers would not fit into the
bureaucratic maze of LA or even Seattle. He has North Coast village roots
and itís those values that cause him conflict and give him moral courage.