I grew up in the tract home section of La Jolla, California, battling my Irish/Portuguese brother and sisters for respect and the best spot on the couch in front of the TV. I was a sports addict as a kid, but realized early on that I'd never be good enough to turn pro. Or even amateur.
That didn't matter because I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of twelve when my father gave me The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler.
Somehow, I smuggled a degree in English out of the University of California, Santa Barbara and decided to write the great American novel. That lasted two months until I realized I needed to eat and I got a job at a restaurant back in La Jolla. After managing the restaurant for years, I sold golf clubs for a decade and then went to work in the sports collectible business.
Thirty years after beginning the great American novel I finished it as a thriller, instead. Yesterday's Echo is the first in the series of Rick Cahill crime novels. I'm currently working on book two in San Diego, where I live with my Yellow Lab, Angus.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Early. Even as a kid, I loved to read. Well, anything but school books. Like a lot of hard-shelled kids with gooey nougat in the center, I wrote terrible poetry in junior high. In college I took a detective fiction class and loved the idea of a PI being able to travel through different tiers of society just by following a clue.
When I graduated, I started writing a couple different novels that went in and out of a drawer over the next twenty years.
Finally, about ten years ago when yet another one of the golf companies I worked for went under, I told myself I had to either take the time off to write a book or quit talking about it forever.
I wrote the first draft of Yesterday's Echo in five months. About six drafts later, it was ready to be published.
What inspired you to write your novel?
Aside from all the enjoyment I got from reading great mystery writers over the years, the inspiration came from a line that had been bouncing around in my head for a while:
The first time I saw her, she made me remember and she made me forget.
I'm not sure where it came from, but it helped set the outline for my protagonist and ended up being the first sentence of Yesterday's Echo. This was a guy who'd had some good and too much bad in his life. There was regret and I could work with that. I think regret is very relatable.
Who hasn't done something they wish they could take back?
How did you use your life experience or professional background to enrich your story?
I worked in a steak house for ten years and some of Yesterday's Echo takes place in a restaurant. I tried to give the reader a bit of the day to day restaurant life without going into minute detail.
Are any characters based on people you know?
There are bits and pieces of people I know or knew in a few characters, but there is one who is a composite of two people from my past. One third of the character is a restaurant owner I worked for who is a self-made man. The other two thirds are a boyhood friend I grew up with and dearly miss. He died of cancer seven years ago.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I didn't write the book as a "theme" book, but a theme emerged on its own: Redemption. What would you do to gain redemption and what will you do if it's unattainable? But beyond all that, I hope readers had a time well spent and want to spend more time with Rick Cahill down the road.
What writers have inspired you?
F. Scott Fitzgerald
T. Jefferson Parker
What is the writing process like for you?
It starts after I finish my day job, around 5:00 or 5:30 pm. I try to get in three hours a weekday and more on weekends. I start each session by reading through what I wrote the day before and revise. That gets me into the flow and into character. I'm a blank-pager, so every day I have to come up with something new. Sometimes it doesn't make it past the next day. I enjoy writing myself into a corner and trying to find a way out.
What is the best piece of advice about writing that you've ever received?
Put your ass in the seat. Meaning, if you're not writing, you're not writing.
What is the worst piece of advice about writing that you've ever received?
Probably something I said to myself. Fortunately, I can't remember what it was.
What's next for you? Any new books in the pipeline?
Yes. I'm presently writing my next Rick Cahill crime novel.
Any final words you would like to say about yourself, your novel, or life in general?
Put your ass in the seat.