Monday, 18 May 2015

Guest Author Interview - Tony H. Latham

I am joined by crime fiction author Tony H. Latham in this week's Guest Author Interview - discover more below:

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Please introduce yourself - who are you and what do you do?
For most of my adult life, I was a Conservation Officer charged with enforcing laws protecting wildlife in the wilds of the western United States. In the U.S. the job is colloquially referred to as a game warden. (If there are similar, law enforcement jobs in the U.K. they are probably assigned to the Wildlife Crime Unit.)

The job involved patrolling for poachers, initiating overt investigations taking on long-term undercover assignments and making arrests. I hung up the gun and badge in 2009 and retired. I really loved it. Given another life, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

What first inspired you to start writing?
In the early part of my career, I was assigned to infiltrate a group of crooks that were trafficking in wildlife. For six months I worked the group in an undercover fashion and lived, “played,” drank, and broke the law with them. It turned out that this group went far beyond wildlife crimes, and I was shocked by their ludicrous depravity. Rape seemed to be part of their culture. Thievery and violence were part of their chosen life styles.

It was my first undercover assignment, and I found the role I took was twisted; one big walking-talking lie. It was contrary to my law enforcement training and the way I was raised.

For eighteen years, that investigation haunted me. I knew there was a book inside me that wanted out. With retirement, I didn’t have an excuse. Curiously, the book helped me put things to bed that had been walking in my sleep for a long time.

I found that I really enjoyed writing, Trafficking, a Memoir of an Undercover Game Warden.

And what attracted you to writing crime fiction?
Some of my earliest memories are of jumping on my bicycle and heading to the library. I must have been around ten when I started those crosstown road-trips. I’d check out five or so books and by the end of the week I’d haul them back and check out another bike load. Invariably, those early books were from the Hardy Boys mystery series. I recall at some point in my youth being chilled by The Hound of the Baskervilles. In telling this story of my youth, it makes me wonder if my early reading didn’t have something to do with my crime fighting days. Or was it always in me?

After my memoir was labelled a success by readers and reviewers, I hungered to write another book. But what? Although I had been involved in many other investigations that had affected me, I felt that none of them had the depth needed to form a novel-like story. I didn’t have another Trafficking in me.

To this day, my go-to reading genre is mystery. I love Michael Connelly’s, Harry Bosch Series and James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series and of course Tony Hillerman’s tales.

So how can a burgeoning author write anything other than what he loves to read? Thus, my debut crime fiction became Five Fingers which is a story about a small-town game warden chasing an extra-evil bad guy.

If you could spend a day with anyone from history, who would it be and why?
As we say on this side of the pond, it’s a no-brainer: Jack the Ripper. How would I respond to a monster? How human was he? What created him? Would I change history? Would we have closure? Or would my blood end up on the cobblestones of London? It’d make for one hell of a day.

What was the last book you read?
I just finished Gettoside: A True Story of American Murder by Jill Leovy

I’m currently reading Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes.

Where do you like to write?
I have an office that my wife calls the Growlery. She says there are voices that echo from the room when the door is shut. I explain it away by telling her that dialogue doesn’t pass muster without hearing it first. I think there’s truth to that.

What is your favourite word?
I’d have to say that it’s ludicrous. I had so many absurd experiences in my undercover days that the word has just stuck with me.

What are you working on at the moment?
It’s a stand-alone sequel to my debut novel, Five Fingers. I had so much fun creating the characters in that book that I just had to find out what happened to them. At least the ones that I didn’t kill off. And of course it gave me license to create another evil bastard. It’ll be titled Seven Dead Fish and will be available early this summer.

Tell us about your latest release and how we can find out more.
Five Fingers is a tale about a game warden stationed in a small town in the western U.S. He’s trying to solve a string of night-time deer killings. His investigation leads him to conclude his perp is involved in a burglary and stolen firearms. What he doesn’t realize is that the guy has a much darker plan for a two-legged victim. If you’d like to find out what it’s like for a backcountry lawman to be chasing meth-fueled psychotics in the middle of the night, give it a go but keep the light on. You can read more on my webpage at www.tonylatham.net

Click here to buy Five Fingers from Amazon

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