Get Lost in a Story Readers, I had the great pleasure to meet Warren C. Easley at Left Coast Crime in Monterey, California last April. I was impressed with his answers on our panel; I’m doubly impressed with this blurb. See if you don’t agree!
About: Matters of Doubt by Warren C. Easley
Cal Claxton is determined to reinvent himself as a small town lawyer in the aftermath of his wife’s suicide. Once a hard-charging L.A. prosecutor, he now lives in an old farmhouse overlooking the Oregon wine country. When a gifted young street kid calling himself Picasso rides his bike from Portland to Cal’s door in the rain, he’s hoping for help in solving a very cold case: the murder of his mother. Cal, not eager to leave the comfort of his insular new life, refuses. Yet Cal can’t ignore the boy’s determination—and his despair.
So Cal makes the trip into Portland’s Old Town, finds the creatively tattooed Picasso painting an amazing mural on the side of a health clinic and agrees to check into the eight year old case. Suddenly Cal finds himself back in the game, but this time he’s pitted against the police, the media, and some of Portland’s most powerful citizens.
DONNELL: Warren, welcome to Get Lost in a Story. That blurb is fantastic, and right up my reading alley. I see from your bio you’re a Ph.D. chemist. How did writing about a L.A. prosecutor come to be?
WARREN: When I started writing the Cal Claxton series, I imagined a protagonist who moves to rural Oregon to get away from the L.A. rat race. I figured a big city prosecutor would be a good candidate for burn-out, so I went with it. I doubled down on that by having him reeling from his wife’s unexpected suicide. Little did I know that in choosing a lawyer as a protagonist I was condemning myself to a writer’s life of legal research to ensure I get the legal stuff straight!
DONNELL: Congratulations on your 2014 Spotted Owl Award nomination. Tell us about Kay Snow and about this award.
Warren: Thank you. The Kay Snow writing contest is sponsored by the Willamette Writers of Oregon and is a national contest. My short story, To Catch a Wolf, won second place in 2012. The Spotted Owl award goes to the best mystery by a writer living in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. The field is loaded this year, with the likes of Phillip Margolin, Chelsea Cain, and several other distinguished Northwest authors. I’m honored to be in the running with my book, Matters of Doubt.
DONNELL: The Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Is it home? If you could live anywhere where would that be?
WARREN: Yes, I live twenty miles south of Portland on a ridge with a view of the Willamette Valley similar to Cal Claxton’s view from his Aerie. I’ve moved around a lot in the US and spent six years in Geneva Switzerland. Switzerland is beautiful to be sure, but you simply can’t beat the combination of rivers, mountains, coast line, and high desert that the Northwest offers. And the people in the Northwest are as friendly as you’ll find anywhere.
DONNELL: How is Cal Claxton like Warren C. Easley, and then let’s turn this. How is your protagonist different from you?
WARREN: Well, like me, Cal likes strong espresso coffee, pinot noirs from the Dundee Hills in Oregon, and good food prepared with fresh northwest ingredients. Oh, and he loves to fly fish, too.
Cal is a damn good cook and I’m not. He’s struggling with guilt and trying to reinvent himself as a small town lawyer. He can take a punch, whether emotional or physical, and he hates injustice, particularly when it involves the less fortunate or less powerful, and he’s unflinching in his commitment to his friends and clients. Aside from the guilt, all attributes I aspire to, but often fall short of.
DONNELL: What is the most interesting thing you’ve discovered while doing research?
WARREN: A central character in Matters of Doubt is the young homeless kid, Picasso. In researching the homeless in Portland, I discovered there was a great need, and that I could probably make a difference if I got involved. As a result, I’ve been teaching math at an alternative high school for the last 3 years and love it.
DONNELL: Is mystery your primary genre; do you write any other genres?
WARREN: Mystery is the only genre I write in. I found Ian Fleming and John D. McDonald were good stress relievers when I was a student at Berkeley, and I never looked back. Over the years, I read my way up the food chain, but it wasn’t until I discovered James Lee Burke and the Dave Robicheaux series that I was inspired to write.
DONNELL: What’s the most unusual thing you have in your closet?
WARREN: How about three things: a steel spanner wrench used by my Rosie-the-Riveter mother to make bombers during WWII, an expired Swiss work permit, and a see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil statuette from Gandhi’s ashram in India.
DONNELL: Very unusual. When you’re not writing, what will we likely find you doing?
WARREN: If I’m not reading or teaching math, I’m probably fly fishing, hiking or skiing. It’s the Northwest, after all.
WARREN C. EASLEY: How about a free, autographed book for the first person who can tell me how Dave Robicheaux rescues his adopted daughter, Alafair, and where she is from?
Contact and Informational Links: Maybe best to contact me on the book give-away at: www.facebook.com/WarrenCEasley
Blogging at: www.poisonedpenpress.com
Thanks, Warren for being our guest. I hope you'll come back to visit!