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Mystery Video of the Moment

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Featured Author - Ken Dalton! - Part 2

Please welcome Ken Dalton back for Part 2 of his feature!

MLM: Who is your Valentine this year? Why is this person so special?

KEN: My wife, Arlene, is my Valentine’s day sweetheart and has been for the past fifty-six (56) years. (Photo of Arlene on the coast of Italy)

MLM: Congratulations! It's always heart warming to find couples together that long! It means there's hope for us all! Will you two be doing anything special for Valentine’s Day? Care to share or is it a surprise?

KEN: Hope to find the time to spend the weekend in San Francisco. See a show. Ride the cable car. Walk hand-in-hand across the Golden Gate bridge

MLM: If you could choose your ultimate Valentine’s Day gift, what would it be? Have you ever received this as a gift?

KEN: A surprise trip to Trogir on the coast of Croatia. A few years ago we spent some days there and it is one of the most romantic place in the world.

MLM: One of the greatest things about the Internet is that we can connect with writers of all kinds from all over the globe so we want to know:
a.)What area of the country/world are you from?

KEN: I was born in Los Angeles but for the past forty-five years I’ve lived in northern California where the greatest wines are made.

b.)What are the average temperatures of your area?

KEN: Great wine grapes thrive in temperatures that range from a low of 32 in the winter and a top of 100 in the summer with cool nights. Golfers generally play year around and there are no show tires on our cars.

c.)What type of clothing would most residents be wearing today?

KEN: Spring has sprung in my area so the clothing could range from shorts, tee shirt, and sandals to something warmer if we get rain.

d.)What tips do you have for people to “survive” the weather where you are?

KEN: Smile and remember there are the people out there who live through the ice and snow of winter!

MLM: Say you’re at a cabin in the mountains, it’s not exactly warm out and you had the option of where you wanted your hot tub to be. Would you have the hot tub inside or outside the cabin? Why? What is it that you like specifically about it being inside or outside the best?

KEN: Outside. I love the idea of jumping in a hot tub on a cold day, looking up and see the stars. It’s almost as good as snuggling under the covers on a cold night.

MLM: If you could go anywhere in the world for Valentine’s Day, where would you choose to go? Why this destination over others? What’s its connection to you?

KEN: Vernaza, Italy. I’ve traveled all over the world and Vernaza is the first destination where I plan to return and spend two weeks to a month. No cars are allowed, so except for the tourist, life there is pretty much the same as it was hundreds of years ago. (photo of Varnaza)

MLM: Our readers have had fun learning about your life outside of writing, but let's move on to your life inside writing. Why Mystery/Suspense/Crime/Thriller? What was the draw for you?

KEN: I love to read everything, but a well-written mystery with a plot that makes me think is my favorite. I believe we all try to solve the crime before the last page.

MLM: All of us are influenced and impacted by TV, movies, books and/or authors at different times in our lives. Who, what and which TV, movies, books and/or authors influenced you? When in your life did you discover them and why were they so influential for you? (Don’t be afraid to give us more than one of each kind!)

KEN: For all genre, movies, TV, or books, good writing is the key element.
Movies--A Beautiful Mind is a great example of keeping the viewer off balance while engaging the audience.

The movie Doubt demands the viewer to go beyond their comfort zone.
TV--Madmen pulls the viewer into lives that are foreign to most but real and believable.

The BBC show Frost presents the common-man cop just trying to do his job. He’s kind, he’s tough, he’s a man that most viewers can relate with.

Books—Stieg Larsson’s The Girl . . . trilogy is and outstanding example of suspenseful storytelling.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver, is a great example of a flowing historical novel that encourages the reader to seek more information about the characters in the book.

Any book by Carl Hiaasen. The man knows how to blend satire with criticism of our lifestyle along with a plot. Funny and thought provoking.

MLM: Considering the TV, movies, books and/or authors mentioned, is there one TV, movie, book and/or author in particular that you try to emulate in your writing? Which one(s) and why? Please be as specific as you can! J

KEN: Carl Hiaasen’s use of humor to make his point. All my books involve a murder, and nothing is more serious than murder, but as Carl Hiaasen, I use humor to lighten the tone.

Here is an example from The Big Show Stopper of how I used humor to soften the situation.

If I moved a finger Ice would shoot me, and if I didn’t move a finger, he’d shoot anyway, so what the hell, I had nothing to lose. I blew some sand away from my mouth. “You’ve got it, Harold. It’s a new game and we’re having a barrel of laughs. Come on over here and lie down next to me. I’ll explain the rules.”

He did and I had to close my eyes when he pushed his naked butt a few inches from my face. Dying was one thing, but having Harold’s boney ass the last thing I saw was a horrible way to go.

MLM: If you could describe your writing with a word or phrase, what would it be? Please look beyond words like mysterious, suspenseful, creative, unique etc., and delve into the core of your writing to tell us what word or phrase you want readers to take with them when they've finished reading your story.

KEN: A good mystery combined with a belly laugh.

MLM: In Part 2 we asked you about your ultimate Valentine’s Day gift. Have you ever used that as a gift in one of your stories? If so, which one and what was the situation?

KEN: Sort of the reverse. In my books, The Bloody Birthright, and The Big Show Stopper, Pinky, as the boss, gives himself the gifts, a desirable place to visit, Rome and Tuscany, while Bear and Flo end up in horrible locations, Los Angeles, Eureka, Nevada, and Needles, California.

MLM: Also in Part 2 we asked you about where you’d put the hot tub and why. Does this show through in your writing? If so, give some examples how, please!

KEN: If this excerpt isn’t true love, what is?

Flo tucked the bankbook back into that soft, warm place between her giant ta-tas. “It looks to me like the book is ours.”

My head spun. Twenty million could take us a lot of places real fast, but then I remembered what the inside of a jail cell looked like.

Flo said, “Earth to Bear, did you hear me?”

“Jesus, give me a minute, I’m thinking.”

I knew what she was asking. I liked money as much as the next guy—and twenty million was a pot full of cash—but a couple of seconds isn’t much time to come up with a guaranteed plan. Maybe if she gave me a day, or a week, I might come up with a workable scam, but once we kept the bankbook, and drove back to Needles, as far as the law was concerned, we’d be as guilty as Donna or Larry.

I looked straight into Flo’s baby blues. “We’ve got to turn it over to Willow.”

“I figured we’d have a week before Willow realized the book was missing. By that time we could be—”

“Babe, have you ever spent a night in jail?”

“No. Is it that bad?”

“Trust me, it’s not worth the gamble.”

“Not even for twenty million bucks?”


Flo sighed, “I suppose you’re right.”

“Babe, I’d never do anything that would put you in jail.”

“That’s really sweet in a weird sort of way. Bear, I hope you understood that I was just stringing Larry along when I told him I’d go with him back to the motel.”

“I knew. Would you mind if I reached down and pulled out the bank book so we can give it to Willow?”

“Sounds good to me.”

My fingers did the walking for a minute or so of happy searching. Actually, I bumped into the book right off, but I was having too much fun to stop. Finally I dragged it out, and handed it to Flo. “After we give the book to Willow are you ready to head back to the motel?”

MLM: Who decides what characters/creatures you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over their actions and the plot, or is the muse always the one deciding who done it, where they done it and with what?

KEN: I’d like to think I make all the decisions but the muse exerts pressure at times and without my say so. She decides some plot twists and if a character lives or dies. A great example is Flo in both books, The Bloody Birthright and The Big Show Stopper. In the first book Flo was suppose to last five to ten pages but my fingers would not let Bear drive his pick up out of LA without Flo sitting by his side.

MLM: Of all the stories you’ve written please tell us:
a.)Which character/creature did you have the most fun creating and why? What about this character/creature makes it stand out above all the others?

KEN: Without question the character is Flo. She has been a blast to work with and many times I’m not sure what she will say next. One minute she’s Bear’s babe the next she’s a pain in the ass. She drinks more red wine than she should but that helps her forget her past. By the end of The Big Show Stopper she has added to Bear’s investigative ability with her computer expertise and Flo’s part will continue to grow in the third book.

b.)If you had the opportunity to meet just one of your characters/creatures in real life, who would it be and why?

KEN: I actually had that experience once. In the fourth book in this series (plotted out but not yet written with the tentative title The Tartan Shroud), I based a character on an old Scotsman with the factious name of Henry Bramble who helps solve the crime. While in Pitlocry, Scotland, a few years ago I met an old Scotsman who fit Henry’s physical stature and this gentleman liked to think he helped the police to solve crimes. Needless to say I was creeped out.

c.)Which of your characters/creatures would you never want to meet under any circumstance and why?

KEN: Ice Conner, the out-of-control Carson City cop in The Big Show Stopper. In my opinion there is nothing more dangerous than a gun-welding, unstable person, who has been given police authority.

d.)If you could choose to visit one setting/world you’ve created which one is it, where is it and why this destination over all the others? What makes it stand out over all the others?

KEN: It so happens that I do visit all the locations where I send my characters, both good and bad.

The good--the tiny Italian village of Vetulonia atop a Tuscan hill. Vetulonia is what the Italian’s mean when they say, “la dolche far niente”(The sweetness of doing nothing).

The bad—a tie between Eureka, Nevada, and Needles, California. Both towns are stuck in the middle of a vast desert wasteland. Needles is hotter and Eureka is but a few breaths away from ghost town status.

Thanks for a great interview Ken! Please check out Cupid's interview with Bear and Flo in Part 3!

1 comment:

  1. Carrie, thanks for sharing more details of your interview with Ken!

    To follow along on the book's blog tour, please check out