Interview: S. Y. Valley Star

R. Lawson Gamble interview by Pamela Dozois for a feature
article appearing in the Santa Ynez Valley Star September 16, 2019

R. Lawson Gamble has just launched his latest novel, “Las Cruces,” the seventh in his Zack Tolliver, FBI series.
Q: “What is it about?”
A: “It builds upon historic events in Las Cruces on the Gaviota Coast. It takes Zack Tolliver and his companion-in-adventure Eagle Feather on a wild ride from the Chumash Casino to Vandenberg Air Force Base and many places in between.”
Q: “Why here?”
A: “The book focuses on the Gaviota Pass and the Las Cruces land grant, site of a triple murder in the 1860s that was never solved. The overtaxed gas and oil infrastructure of the Gap, the rare archeological sites, and the dark, haunting beauty of its deep arroyos and wind-carved caves are all woven into the story.”
Q: “Was there anything about your youth that suggested you would become a novelist one day?”
A: “I lived in a rural area of New Jersey, three miles from the nearest town. As a child, I started watching Hopalong Cassidy but then the television broke down and my parents decided they wouldn’t fix it. Once the TV disappeared, the books came out. We had books from floor to ceiling in the living room of my home. My siblings and I would graze the library wall for different reading material. I never watched television again until my first year in college.”
Q: “Why did you begin writing so late in life?”
A: “I began a career as a baritone soloist in Newport, R.I. but it soon became apparent a performance career would not support my family. I took a position in a private boarding school and worked there for the next 34 years.”
Q: “What happened next?”
A: “I was approached about creating a full school leadership department in a private school in the Central Coast. But by the time I was able to make the move to California the economy had collapsed and the school was unable to fulfill its promise. It was then I turned to writing, first articles for the local papers, then my first novel.”
Q: “What made you decide upon a fiction mystery series?”
A: “I wanted to write a novel and thought it would just be a one-time thing. I didn’t know if I could write one and I certainly didn’t know it would turn into the first book in a series. I couldn’t find the kind of books that used to capture my imagination. I decided to include all those elements including the supernatural, Native American culture, Westerns, and mystery in the one book. I never imagined that I would have to repeat all of them in book after book.”
Q: “What other books have you written?”
A: “I have written a pictorial history “Los Alamos Valley” published by Arcadia Press and an allegorical anthropomorphic story for children “Payu’s Journey”.

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