Interview with Wayne Zurl
Tricia: For readers who may have missed your visit back in April, can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Wayne: I grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years I served as a section commander supervising investigators. I graduated from SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Right after retirement, I left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with my wife, Barbara.
Fourteen (14) of my Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks. Ten (10) of these novelettes are now available in print under the titles of A MURDER IN KNOXVILLE and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries and REENACTING A MURDER and Other Smoky Mountain Mysteries. My first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards, chosen as 1st Runner-Up from all Commercial Fiction at the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Awards, and was nominated for a Montaigne Medal and First Horizon Book Award. My second novel, A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT, is available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle.
For more information on the Sam Jenkins mystery series see www.waynezurlbooks.net. You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and see photos of the area where the stories take place.
T: Tell us about Sam Jenkins. What are his greatest strengths and weaknesses?
W: Sam is a retired detective lieutenant from a large New York police department who, in the midst of his mid-life crisis took a job as police chief of the small city of Prospect, Tennessee, a touristy town in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
He’s been married to Kate for many years and is the father of their aging Scottish terrier, Bitsey. He has a passion for vintage British sports cars.
Professionally, he has an uncanny ability to solve crimes because he believes victims are entitled to more rights than criminals. He would have fit nicely into Elliot Ness’s “untouchables.” Politicians or high powered crooks can’t budge him. He can’t be bought with favors or cash and nothing is more important than doing the right thing—even if it means stretching the constitution a wee bit. So far he’s been sharp enough to pull that off without getting indicted for official misconduct.
Personally, he’s loyal to those around him and will expend whatever it takes to care for his wife and dog or his extended family.
On the flipside, he’s impatient. He wants everyone to be as committed as he is and if they’re not ready, he’ll charge in alone.
T: Can you tell us about your newest release, HEROES & LOVERS?
W: This is the third full-length novel featuring Sam and crew. From the beginning in A NEW PROSPECT, Sam and Rachel Williamson, the WNXX TV news anchor have been building a relationship. It’s strictly platonic, they do each other favors. He pays Rachel back by taking her to lunch. She repays Sam with smiles, a genuine interest in him, and relative affection. The problem is they’re married—to other people. In this story, they’re inadvertently brought a little closer . . . and then the sky falls. Here’s the dust jacket summary to explain a little more.
Sam Jenkins might say, “Falling in love is like catching a cold. It’s infectious and involuntary. Just don’t sneeze on any innocent people.” But Sam doesn’t always follow his common sense philosophy.
Becoming infatuated with a married policeman and getting kidnapped never made TV reporter Rachel Williamson’s list of things to do before Christmas. But helping her friend, Sam Jenkins, the ex-New York detective and now police chief in Prospect, Tennessee, with a fraud investigation would get her an exclusive story. It all sounded exciting and made her station manager happy.
Sam’s investigation put Rachel in the wrong place at the wrong time and her abduction by a mentally disturbed fan, ruined several days of her life.
When Jenkins learns Rachel has gone missing, he cancels holiday leaves, mobilizes the personnel at Prospect PD, and enlists his friends from the FBI to help find her.
During the early stages of the investigation, Sam develops several promising leads, but as they begin to fizzle, his prime suspect drops off the planet and all the resources of the FBI aren’t helping.
After a lucky break and a little old-fashioned pressure on an informant produce an important clue, the chief leads his team deep into the Smoky Mountains to rescue his friend. But after Rachel is once again safe at home, he finds their problems are far from over.
T: What have you been doing to market your books?
W: I spend entirely too much time on the hateful job of post-publication marketing. Writing is fun. Self-promotion is too much like work. Although I usually say it stinks . . . or something worse. I post adverts on Facebook, Twitter, and other similar sites. I arrange for traditional book signings, and have even hired publicists to conduct virtual book tours (VBTs.) I’ve done lots, so if I don’t sell books, it’s not for lack of effort.
T: Do you enjoy book signings and one-on-one contact with your fans?
W: I do like old-fashioned sit-down-and-smile-for-the-customer type of book signings. In addition to selling a few books, it’s almost like people watching in a crowded airport. Some folks avoid eye contact at all costs. At first I thought they assumed I was there to sell them a timeshare. Other people see my big sign and the stacks of books and get interested. They come over and allow me to “chat them up.” And they either buy a book or not, but I enjoy meeting new people and occasionally see them as repeat visitors at the next event.
What I like best is an event where I speak for a half hour or so before an assembled group. Many people in the audience are aspiring authors who want to know how I got published. I would rather handle those questions and filter in bits and pieces about me and the Sam Jenkins books when the opportunity presents itself than just lay out an information dump. If I use the indirect approach, I feel less like a hungry used car salesman.
T: What projects are you currently working on?
W: I just heard the audio proof for a new novelette, THE GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAIN BANK JOB, which is on the coming soon list to be produced as an audio book and simultaneously published as an eBook. I’m doing revisions on a full-length novel, PIGEON RIVER BLUES, which I hope to have ready to submit to my publisher shortly and there are three more novelettes under contract for audio/eBooks. HURRICANE BLOW UP, THE BUTLERS DID IT, and GYPSIES, TRAMPS & THIEVES. I submitted another novelette, HEAVEN’S GATE, a few weeks ago and have one in the early stages, putting it on a pad when time allows.
T: Where can my readers go to learn more about your work or to purchase their own Sam Jenkins novel or story?
W: Here’s a list.
My website: http://waynezurlbooks.net
Twitter link: http://twitter.com/#!/waynezurl
Facebook link: http://facebook.com/WayneZurl
Amazon author page: http://amazon.com/author/waynezurl
Barnes & Noble author page: http://barnesandnoble.com/s/wayne-zurl
Mind Wings Audio author page: http://mindwingsaudio.com/?s=wayne+zurl
And here’s a good site to read all kinds of information about the series and see the audience ratings for each book. The Independent Author Index: http://indaindex.com/wayne-zurl/
Tricia, thanks again for inviting me to your blog and allowing me to tell your followers about my books.