Wednesday, October 14, 2020


Tomorrow the third Tony Flaner novel, IN THE WAKE OF CAPTAIN LORD, falls upon the world, to sink or swim as it will. It will be out of my hands. It has been for a while, I guess, but tomorrow is the official day.

Tony and I have had a long relationship. It was Tony who convinced me to become an author, a full time writer, a schlunk who quit a day job to pursue a dream. THE FINGER TRAP was a watershed moment in my life, a moment where, for the first time, future clarity and direction shown bright and clear.

And Tony had stories to tell.

After his origin story, his "coming of age" if you will, he got to fall in love in THICKER THAN WATER—family and past and future all mixing together. Again a simulacrum of my own existence. I had two books that were wonderful.

And now Tony takes a cruise to Alaska, just like I did. It is hard to separate us two sometimes. At the time I think it was me, but when I recall that cruise now, I often see it through Tony’s eyes. 

Even then, when I stepped foot on that ship I knew that Tony walked with me. Though I remember distinctly writing another book on that trip, remember even the chapters I wrote in stolen time in a vacant barroom as the family slept in, Tony was wandering the decks, imagining mayhem. He talked me into asking the crew to show me some places usually off limits to non-fictional characters.

When I got home, Tony mulled and pondered and planned in my subconscious. A plot was formed, a cunning confusion rife with Utah connections. You can take the detective out of the state, but you can’t take the state out of the detective. Where would Flaner mystery be with it scathing social commentary? I don’t know, but Tony would’t like it.

The story was born.

IN THE WAKE OF CAPTAIN LORD is Tony in full stride. His origin story is told, his growth story is there, here is Tony realized and familiar. His arc is true and in keeping with his life. Though not a series, but a serial, ie the books can be read in any order, it does repay those who’ve followed Tony from the start and hopefully encourages the latecomers to check out his earlier words. That was the plan anyway.

Now the plan is out of my hands. Tony sails alone tomorrow on the Success up the Inside Passage to Alaskan tourist towns with murder on the high seas. The world will judge.

It is a sadly sweet moment, exciting and weighty to release this. Each book is like that, but this time, with Tony here, I feel more confident that he can handle himself. He’s shown me he can and he’s eager to tell his tale. Like me, Tony loves an audience.

Bon voyage!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Changing Details

In the best of times it’s hard to keep up with the changes in society as a writer. It’s hard to keep up as a citizen with the daily stream of disaster scrolling down our Social Dilemma monitors. This is one of the reason that authors need to embrace editing. Notice I said need, not should

Case in point. When I wrote the THICKER THAN WATER, Tony Flaner’s fantastic Moab Adventure, I made jokes about marijuana. Before it came to print, Colorado had legalized it and I had some re-writes to do. Since it was a plot point I had to finesse it into new form, even projecting that Utah would get medical dispensaries, which they subsequently have.

Flip phones were a thing in the first draft of THE FINGER TRAP. I know that makes the book sound positively ancient, some antediluvian romp with big wheeled bicycles and hoop skirts, but the smart phone thing was just barely launching when the idea was burgeoning. Such is the speed of society.

In my newest Tony Flaner book, IN THE WAKE OF CAPTAIN LORD, launching next week (Squeeee!), I set the action on a cruise ship. Yeah, when I wrote it, causing was still a thing. This was like last year. People were on cruse ships nine months ago, It hasn’t been that long, but my god does it feel like it has been. The story is light and sarcastic in the Flaner mold and a fantastic book I’ve very proud of, a first rate mystery with twists and chuckles if not outright, “oh my god did he really just say/do/think/smell that” moments. I did hesitate bringing it out in 2020, but I’d already made the promise and I figured that cruising would make a come-back. Eventually.

Harder to decide was the virus. Yes, a virus plays a part in the book, at least in a background way. Norovirus, also known as the cruise ship disease was/is the threat most crews fear the most. This was before our beloved Covid. I thought of changing the threatening virus, but hell if that didn’t just put the story into dark territory with an ending, I, like the rest of the world can’t guess.

So I left it with Norovirus, ran the jokes, the shower, and kept to the mystery comedy, If the book were written today, doubtless it’d be different. I probably would’t put it on a cruise ship, .who knows. 

Truth is, even in the best circumstances, there can be a considerably delay in writing a book and printing it. In speedy times, anachronisms are to be expected. Luckily, I think most readers haven’t caught up the speed of change any more than their authors have,.

My point is, go out and buy IN THE WAKE OF CAPTAIN LORD now and enjoy an excellent read,

Stay safe.