Sunday, August 15, 2010

How one thing leads to another . . . . by Bill Crider

I was borned on a mountain top in Tennessee and kilt me a b’ar when I was only three! No, wait, that was Davy Crockett. Sometimes I get the two of us confused. I’ve been in a bar or two, though, and in the winter I sometimes cover up with a kilt. Or a quilt. I’m getting confused again. At any rate, I’m pretty sure I’m the author of more than fifty published novels and numerous short stories and that I won the Anthony Award for best first mystery novel in 1987 for Too Late to Die. I was even nominated for the Shamus Award for best first private-eye novel for Dead on the Island, and I won the coveted Golden Duck award for “best juvenile science fiction novel” for Mike Gonzo and the UFO Terror. My wife, Judy, and I won the best short story Anthony in 2002 for “Chocolate Moose.” My story “Cranked” from Damn Near Dead (Busted Flush Press) was nominated for the Edgar award for best short story. Check out my homepage at or take a look at my peculiar blog at

How one thing leads to another . . .
by Bill Crider

When I was getting ready to write Murder in the Air, I started off with a title and a murder victim’s name. That was about all I had. (The title was entirely different from the one that the book has now, but that’s another story.) While I was looking for something to hang a plot on, I remembered something my brother had told me about. He still lives near our old hometown, and for years he’s been on a crusade to do something about the stench that (he claimed) is engulfing the entire county because of the proliferation of factory chicken farms. He’d written letters to the newspaper, to his state representative, to the air quality control board, and to everyone else he could think of. Nothing had been done, however. “You should write a book about it,” he told me. So I did. I made the murder victim the owner of a factory farm, and the book grew out of that.

Now anybody who’s read the Sheriff Dan Rhodes books (and if you haven’t, what’s the matter with you?) knows that they’re meant to amuse and entertain. But there’s more, I think. If you collected the reviews of them written over the years, you’d find the words “laid back” and “low key” repeated often. Because of that, people never seem to think the books have serious themes. In fact, I might be the only one who thinks they do. I’ve always thought that humorous books can be just as serious as any others, and underneath the fun in my books, I usually have something more to say. So Murder in the Air isn’t so different in that respect. And of course it’s not heavy-handed. I don’t do heavy. If you want heavy, do some reading about factory poultry farms. But not if you ever want to eat fried chicken again.

As for me, I keep things light, which, of course, explains the cast of continuing characters in the Sheriff Rhodes books, including this one.. One of those characters, Seepy Benton, is a guy I was so fond of that I moved him to Blacklin County from another series after it was canceled. I had so much fun writing about him that I couldn’t let him languish on the Island of Forgotten Characters, so the rest of the people in those books will have to survive there without him. Since Sheriff Rhodes is such a down-to-earth guy, he needs people like Seepy and Hack and Lawton around.

And speaking of the sheriff being down-to-earth, in this book he has an experience that’s a little bit out of the ordinary, at least for him. It’s more like the kind of thing that would happen to Seepy. Mystical? Not quite, but something close to that. You’ll have to read the book to see what I mean.

And that reminds me. The whole purpose of this little exercise is to tempt you to buy the book. I need the sales, folks. In fact, if the book doesn’t do well, Sheriff Rhodes might have to travel off to that little island I mentioned up above. I’d sure hate that. I’ve gotten used to having him around. So help me and the sheriff out. Buy the book.

Thanks to Kaye for inviting me here! As usual, the sheriff and I thank you for your support.

and, ta DA!, here's where Bill writes all these terrific books - - -


Vicki Lane said...

The Island of Forgotten Characters -- now there's a great book title and concept!

But I sincerely hope your Sheriff Dan never goes there -- unless it's to rescue some of the residents or break up fight between old cowboys and forgotten PIs.

Aubrey Hamilton said...

Sheriff Dan Rhodes could never be part of the population on The Island Of Forgotten Characters! He is original and completely unforgettable. I read Murder in the Air recently, I confess it was the library's copy. It's on my to-buy list now, as I have all of the others in the series.

bo parker said...

Well, Bill, I see that Sheriff Rhodes decided to stand for re-election, and the good folks of Clearview figured he was worth keeping around. I’m not familiar with how long a sheriff’s term of office lasts down in Dan’s neck of the woods, but there’s a point to be made here.

We can’t have the sheriff disappearing from our reading list until he bows out on his own terms; until he retires. Tell the folks up at the publishing house that there’s one reader who will suffer from a massive bladder malfunction (or be highly POed, as they say around here) if they try to get rid of the sheriff under any other circumstances

Earl Staggs said...

Bill, I'm familiar with those chicken farms and the conditions that exist in them. I'm sure Sheriff Dan, laid back as he may be, brings some cold, hard facts into the light. I know the book will be a success, but I doubt you'll get any signings at KFC.