ABOUT THE BOOKBobby Navarro is looking forward to a shower and a good steak dinner when he pulls his motorcycle into Williams, Arizona. What he finds instead, is the body of a young girl who’s been murdered and left in the trunk of a car parked on old Route 66—and the police think he did it. To make matters worse, one of the investigating officers is a woman he had a crush on in high school. Before Bobby leaves town, he must find out if a local eccentric is telling him the truth about knowing who killed the girl, and untangle a web of mysteries he stumbles into at the Holiness Pentecostal Church of the Brethren.
INTERVIEW WITH GLENN NILSON
Glenn, what's your favorite thing about the writing process?
I enjoy getting caught up in the stories I write and watching the characters come to life. When I come back to a manuscript I’m working on, I read a bit of conversation that took place before I left off and it feels like the characters are telling the story for me. I just need to immerse myself in what the characters are doing, and the story will usually start to unfold through their dialogue.
What’s more important – characters or plot?
For me, characters are all-important. I have to care about people in a story I’m reading in order to want to know what happens next. Characters bring life to the story, and what they do and what happens to them moves the plot.
What books do you currently have published?
I have two books out, Murder on the Mother Road and Murder on Route 66 .
Is writing your dream job?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer and I’ve often looked at other things I’ve done as grist for the writing mill. Now, I look at writing as one of the things I do, one of the things I love doing, but I can’t say it’s my dream job. Now that I am a writer, I’ve learned there is more to the job than I first dreamed. I hate the business end of writing; I love telling a good story.
What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did it teach you?
I worked in a bank for a while, in an office without any windows. I’m an outdoor person. I guess I learned that a lot can be accomplished if you really listen to what someone is trying to tell you. I found I could solve a lot of problems by really listening. I also realized I was much more interested in the human dramas all around me than in the business of banking. I’ve never regretted leaving that job.
If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
That’s pretty easy. It would be PBS. I rely on PBS for higher quality programs than I think television generally offers.
How do you feel about Facebook?
I have very mixed feelings about Facebook. I get to keep up with the postings of friends and family, but I also get a lot of things on Facebook I could do without. I like to have an actual conversation and hear the person I’m talking with.
What do you love about where you live?
I suppose you could say I lead a semi nomadic life, spending half the year in Florida and the other half in upstate New York. Since I am upstate at the moment, I’ll say I love the countryside here. We live on a trout stream, and I can hear the water when I sit outside in the evening. The area is farming country, but heavily wooded as well, and we enjoy a lot of wildlife. We often eat meals on our deck and tell ourselves how lucky we are.
What’s your favorite fast food?
There’s nothing like a good cheeseburger. We used to spend a lot of time in Key Largo, Florida, and talk about stopping in for a Cheeseburger in Paradise when we were out for a night on the town. Like Jimmy Buffett, I like mine with lettuce and tomato, pickles and onion. And, don’t forget the mayo and catsup.
What’s your favorite beverage?
If I’m really limited to one thing, I can’t answer this question. But, I can say I’m a devout tea drinker. Most of the time, there’s nothing like a good cuppa. I prefer black tea, straight and strong. On the other hand, a good glass of red wine with dinner tops just about anything else.
What do you like to do when there’s nothing to do?
I’m an outdoor person, so I enjoy taking a walk, or hiking, or going camping, or playing a round of golf. Of course, I love to ride my motorcycle.
Do you procrastinate?
Sadly, yes. Do you know any good approaches to not doing that?
Unfortunately, I do not. What would your main character say about you?
“He’s put a lot of miles under his wheels, he can’t be all bad.”
When I was doing a promotional tour on my motorcycle for Murder on Route 66, my first published novel, a woman asked me if I was a real rider. I guessed she wanted to know if the bike was for show. I pointed to my motorcycle parked outside and told her I had ridden it from New York. A lot of people ride for recreation, especially in groups. Bobby would appreciate that I have done most of my riding across country and solo.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
I love writing fiction, novels, short stories, and poetry. I’ve also written professional articles as a sociologist and as a trainer/researcher in something called “Action Learning.” The hardest thing? I once had to complete a massive application to become an officer in the Navy. I think that was the hardest. Why? I hate filling out forms requiring information, addresses and dates I never think about. Part of it included a psychological questionnaire. Who would enjoy doing that? I didn’t.
Understandable. Who is your favorite fictional character?
I really admire Robert Parker. Too bad we lost him. I think Parker was a master at getting needed information into a few words or lines. His Jesse Stone character is a favorite of mine because he is a pretty complex character with a few flaws, but is really likeable.
I totally agree! What is the wallpaper on your computer’s desktop?
I have a photo of a coastal town I took in Tuscany. It shows multi-storied buildings on the cliffs overlooking the ocean and boats moored in the shallows. I love the memories connected with the scene, and the scene itself. I use it for my favorite wallpaper.
Describe yourself in 5 words.
Analytic, Cynical, Optimistic, A Romantic, A Dreamer.
Do you have a favorite book?
Probably have to pick Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath for this answer. I think Steinbeck was a master of understanding the human condition of everyday people.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently working on another novel featuring Bobby Navarro. This time he has taken his motorcycle to Florida, where he gets involved solving a murder that occurs in Key Largo. I wanted to take Bobby out of the southwest and off of Route 66 for a time. South Florida has a lot of rural area with cattle ranches and fields of truck crops, in addition to sugarcane, and a lot of open highway for bikers. You can get a pretty good cheeseburger there, too.
ABOUT THE AUTHORGlenn grew up on a farm in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California, hiking, hunting, even panning for gold. After college, he served as an officer in the Navy, then earned a doctorate in sociology and taught at a branch of the State University in Connecticut. There, he developed, directed and taught a criminal justice program. Upon retirement, the West drew him back, this time to New Mexico, the setting for his first novel, Murder on Route 66. Currently, Glenn divides his time between living in rural Florida and up-state New York, writing and refurbishing an 1870’s-era, creek-side cottage. Whenever possible, he enjoys cooking, riding his own motorcycle and camping.
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