Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ken Casper

It is my absolute pleasure to welcome Ken Casper to Get Lost in a Story to introduce a protagonist I defy anyone to forget. Mystery lovers, meet Jason Crow in AS THE CROW DIES, a Bell Bridge Books' www.bellbridgebooks.com May release, and an outstanding new mystery series. . .

Vietnam took his legs.

A murderer took his father.
Somehow, Jason Crow has to take a stand.


"My father had no reason to kill himself," I said. "On the contrary, he had every reason to live. I was coming home. We had plans to do things together. Plus, there's no way he'd kill himself using my gun."

Burker picked up a screwdriver, went through the motions of examining it. "Look, Jason, we're not friends. Never have been. Probably never will be, but I've always respected your talent on the football field and your intelligence. You were good. Damn good. What's happened . . .well, it's a shame.

"I don't want your pity, Burker."

"Good, because you won't get any from me, but I will tell you I'm disappointed in you. You're smart. That's why I expected you to be more objective about what's happened. Let me give you another tidbit of information, another fact for you to consider. There were powder marks on your father's right hand. He pulled the trigger."

Jason Crow comes home to Texas
on clumsy, prosthetic legs--struggling with his lost dreams and the pitying curiosity of friends and strangers. But there's no time for him to brood, because his father has just been shot to death.

Unable to convince the police that his father was murdered, Jason begins his own investigation. In the process, he uncovers family secrets that shake him to his core and make him question everyone and everything around him, including his love of Michiko, the beautiful Eurasian-American nurse he met in Japan.

While fighting his own insecurity as a double amputee, Jason must challenge forces capable of destroying him and those he loves to pursue the person who robbed him of his greatest hero: His Dad.

Ready to turn the page? I sure am. But you'll have to wait because today Ken Casper is here to answer the Get Lost Crew's fun questions. And Readers, a question or comment will enter you to win an autographed copy of AS THE CROW DIES.

DONNELL: Which of your characters would you most/least want to invite to dinner, and why?

KEN: Most: Jason Crow. He’s well educated, has a strong character, a sense of humor, and his adversities give him a unique world view. I’d feel comfortable asking him probing and personal questions and be confident I’d get honest answers.

Least would probably be his mother. She’s very secretive, emotionally unreliable and ridden with all sorts of bad vibes. I don’t think I’d receive honest answers from her.

DONNELL: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

KEN: I read a few to get the general reaction to my stories and my writing. I don’t obsess over them. They don’t generally have any significant effect on my writing or the kind of stories I tell, though they sometimes give me ideas to play with.

DONNELL: Do you prefer big cities or small towns?

KEN: I loved growing up in NYC, and I still enjoy visiting there, but I have no desire to live in the Big Apple or any other big city. I much prefer the friendliness, familiarity and laid-back life style of small towns.

DONNELL: What’s in your refrigerator right now?

KEN: Leftover lasagna. It’s better the second day. Baby back ribs. Fruit. Salad. Yogurt. The usual milk, butter, eggs, and the makings for a BLT.

DONNELL: What is your favorite tradition from your childhood?

KEN: Sunday breakfast. My father went to church early, then while the rest of us attended, he prepared breakfast—a full English breakfast. He was from Brooklyn, but on Sunday morning he always tuned into Wheeling, WV. It’s called Bluegrass now. We called it hillbilly music back then. I still love listening to it.

DONNELL: What do you do to unwind and relax?

KEN: Yard work, gardening. Tending our roses. Carpentry and d-i-y projects.

DONNELL: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

KEN: Sometimes, but not often. When I do, I just keep on writing. Anything. Preferably something outlandish. Eventually something useful clicks and I move on.

DONNELL: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

KEN: Interesting? I don’t think I have any strange habits or idiosyncrasies. I don’t wear a particular pair of socks when I write, for instance, or perform arcane rituals before I sit down to write. Except…well, I do require complete quiet. I don’t play music or have a TV on. That doesn’t mean I don’t get disturbed, of course. People come to the door: “I don’t mean to disturb you, but…” And the phone has a fiendish knack for ringing just as the gun goes off.

DONNELL: Yes, I just hate it when the gun goes off and the door bell rings. Dog or cat person?

KEN: We have both. If I had to choose, though, I'd say I'm a dog person. We have a Golden Retriever and a Black Lab, and love them both. We've always had two dogs. We also have half a dozen outdoor cats up around the house and as many down at the barn.

DONNELL: How much money does it take to be happy?

KEN: Money doesn't make people happy, though the lack of it can make them miserable. The old-time vaudevillian, Sophie Tucker, said it very well. "I've been rich, and I've been poor. Rich is better." But I've known an awful lot of people in modest circumstances who were happy and inspirational. I've also known "rich" people who were miserable. Go figure. (Of course, if you're rich, you probably hire an accountant to do that for you!)

DONNELL: LOL. You hire the accountant to be miserable for you? Okay, then. What's the first thing you do when you finish a book?

KEN: Think how I’m going to start the next one. The truth is I’m usually so burned out. I need down time to recharge my batteries, so for the next week or so I read other people’s books and catch up on the chores I’ve been putting off for months. Eventually I have to scratch the itch. That’s when I start plotting another book. Playing the what-if game is just plain fun.

DONNELL: If you could interview anyone throughout history, who would it be?

KEN: That’s a tough one. Thomas Jefferson comes to mind. I’d ask him how he could write “All men are created equal” yet own slaves. And I’d like to ask his mistress, Sally Hemmings, why she voluntarily gave up freedom in France to follow Jefferson to slavery in Virginia when she didn’t have to. He must have been quite a guy to prompt that kind of devotion. I suspect we’d dine late into the night over an occasional sip of fine wine, discussing everything from crop rotation to the orations of Cicero. I have no doubt his Latin would be far superior to mine!

Ken, excellent answers. Thank you! Now, it's your turn. Got a question you'd like to ask readers?

KEN: I think the 30s and 40s was a time of great challenge, of heartache, dedication and heroism, yet we rarely see stories set in that period. Historicals are generally defined as a hundred or more yeas ago. Contemporaries take place today. AS THE CROW DIES takes place in 1968, which was a difficult year in this country, too. Would you like to see more stories set in the recent past?

Ken Casper, aka K. N. Casper, author of more than two dozen books, figures his writing career started back in the sixth grade when a teacher ordered him to write a "theme" explaining his misbehavior over the previous semester. To his teacher's chagrin, he enjoyed stringing just the right words together to justify his less-than-stellar performance. That's not to say he's been telling tall tales to get out of scrapes ever since, but...

Born and raised in New York City, Ken is now a transplanted Texan. He and Mary, his wife of thirty-five-plus years, own a horse farm in San Angelo. Along with their two dogs, six cats, and eight horses—at last count!—they board and breed horses and Mary teaches English riding. She's a therapeutic riding instructor for the handicapped, as well.

Life is never dull. Their two granddaughters visit several times a year and feel right at home with the Casper menagerie. Grandpa and Mimi do everything they can to make sure their visits will be lifelong fond memories. After all, isn't that what grandparents are for?

You can keep up with Ken and his books on his web site at http://www.kencasper.com

There you have it, Readers. Click on tomorrow as we'll have another fun day in store when GET LOST IN A STORY welcomes author Karin Tabke and her alter ego, Karin Harlow.



16 comments:

  1. Good morning, Ken and readers, I'll answer the question about stories set in the recent past. An unqualified yes. Look at the popularity of HBO's Mad Men. People are curious, nostalgic and not every story should be set around a blue tooth. Ken, you've written an incredible story. I experienced a lot of feelings and nostalgia reading your book. Thanks for being here today.

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  2. Welcome to GLIAS, Ken. And yes, I'd love to see the more recent past in books (not just movies). Okay, well, not so much the 70's...all that shiny polyester is still stored in a warehouse and they might bring more of it back into fashion.

    >>shiver<<
    ~~Angi

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  3. Great interview, Ken and Donnell. Ken,I love the tradition of your father going to early service so he could fix breakfast.

    The past twenty years has a lot to offer writers. Lots of stories involving ordinary men and women who become heros.

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  4. You know Ken? You're right about the early 1900's being an interesting time. I think there could be some untapped potential there.

    I'm intrigued by your hero's prosthetic legs. Did you talk with any vets with prosthetic legs to get the details just right?

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  5. I love the late 60s, early 70s. Lots of potential stories there, I think.

    I love your mention of listening to Wheeling WV radio. That would be WWVA, I believe! Memories!

    Great interview Donnell and Ken.

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  6. Your story took me right back to the time I cared for GI's coming from and returning to active duty. It is a sobering task to see an eighteen year old kid's life totally changed when they lose their limbs, their sight etc.
    The late sixties and early seventies were such turbulent times. I was out of the country during the Vietnam conflict and missed most of the pot-smoking hippies who protested against the war and spit on our returning soldiers who did not deserve such treatment. More stories? Yes,I think so.

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  7. Ken, congratulations on your new mystery series. I can't wait to read this first installment. Hope to see you at RWA!

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  8. I would really enjoy a story set in the recent past and I really loved Ken's interview.

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  9. Hi Ken! Welcome to GLIAS...your interview was great and your story sounds amazing! Of course, the contents of your fridge have me hankering for a good BLT for lunch now :)

    I'd love to see more stories from around WWII, such devestating conflict going on throughout the world, and such fabulous human spirit pulling through it all.

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  10. Ken: Great interview. I agree about neglected time periods, My own recent novel takes place in the early 1900s which was a time of great change in the world. The mystery I'm working on now is set in 1960. Can't wait to read yours. Good luck.

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  11. Your book sounds very interesting. Hope it is released soon. Since I grew up during era, I don't know if I want to revisit it or not.

    Linda Burke

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  12. Ken,

    I'm intrigued by your protagonist. I'm writing a mystery with a protagonist with a disability. Mine has romance and I worried my protag wouldn't been seen as attractive. How concerned are you about your protagonist's appeal to women. I'm just saying that he would not be your typical male lead character and I wondered if that concerned you or editors you sent the story to.

    One thing about settings in the 70's is I would like to remember titles of songs I remember from my youth. Music makes such a lasting impression.

    I'd love to win the book. cathy underscore shouse at yahoo dot com

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  13. Thank you all for taking part in this blog. Interesting comments. I'll try to answer all of them and answer your questions, as well. If I miss something, you can reach me through my website or directly at ken@kencasper.com.

    It seems to be unanimous that we like stories that take place within our lifetimes (or our parents') but are not necessarily TODAY. I enjoy movies and books in which I recognize the times and settings--and yes the music too. I feel a personal investment in those stories. "I've been there!" "I remember that!" I figure other people do too. So maybe we need to lobby for more "near-contemporary" stories.

    Research: I left VN a few months before the Tet Offensive, but I know how it changed things. I've also known handicapped vets and therapists. I based the protagonist's thoughts, feelings and reactions on those discussions.

    As for his appeal to women readers, I hope I developed a character and personality that let readers see past his disability to the man inside the body, so they can respect his vulnerability while honoring his inner strength. I wanted Jason to have to fight every step of the way (pun intended) to his and the readers' accepting him the way he is.

    I hope you all enjoy reading about Jason Crow as much as I enjoyed writing about him.

    And thanks again for your kind comments.

    Ken Casper

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  14. Welcome Ken! I'm looking forward to reading your book. My hubby spent a year in VN, so it will be interesting reading and asking questions. The cover is wonderful. Good luck!

    Jean

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  15. I'm sorry I'm so late. As to the question, with the rate technology is changing communications, socialization, and myriad other things something written last Wednesday is historical by Thursday.

    That said, my CP wrote an multi-award winning manuscript that, because it's a Vietnam Era story, never found a home--and that's not a hypotosis; that's what various editors told her. For her sake, I do wish they had a place for such stories. As it is, however, only now are WWI & II stories being considered for the historical romance market.

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  16. Hi Ken-
    Your book sounds truly intriguing and Donnell's raves have me chomping at the bit to read it! What was the inspiration for this story? Which came first, the plot or the character?
    Beth Cornelison

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