Interview with R. Lawson Gamble
Alexandra: Great job. Thank you so much.
Let’s talk a little bit about Zack. He’s a young guy and when I was reading what you just read, I liked that he was young and just starting out. Very often we’re introduced to the classic FBI agent. He’s an old grizzled veteran or whatever.
Tell us why you decided to to begin with him as quite a young sir, almost a new recruit.
Rich: I have to confess that this prequel was written after about book six. And it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun to write it because of that.
But I had an offer from two other writers who write in the same kind of genre and the same sort of thing that I do with the idea that we could publicize by combining in a book. So the suggestion was each of us write and novella.
I thought, well, if I’m going to be doing that, why not go back and explain some of the things that fans have asked about; how did Zack get started? What was that all about? How did he end up on the reservation?
So we now have a free volume that’s been permanently on Amazon called Western Justice. And almost more in its genre, the Hillerman genre almost always hovers around number six or so.
Alexandra: What a great idea.
Rich: I had a lot of fun kind of recreating Zack, putting thoughts to what it must have been like for him, which I hadn’t done with my first novel.
Alexandra: That scene where he’s had just been dropped off and he’s waiting for the ride and he’s in the desert almost reminded me of like a rite of passage. When young men in African tribes, for example, are about to become men, they’re sent out into the desert on their own.
I felt that it was sort of symbolic of what’s happening to Zack, in a way.
Rich: It really is. I wanted to truly outline the transition that he had to make coming from the Maryland roots, the East Coast, to a land that he’d never even seen before. That was very overpowering in in all its aspects.
And to be picked up by an Indian who just spoke one or two words, guttural, so to speak. He might as well sniff a Datura plant and gotten high standing there for the impact that this had on him.
Alexandra: One of the things I noticed in your author description on Amazon, you mentioned that for each book, Zack and Eagle Feather go to a different location.
What’s the motivation for that?
Rich: There’s two. One is personal, which is that I like to trail run. And I like to go to different places in the desert or wherever it may be.
The second is, though, that I found that I surmised from reading other series that it must be very difficult to keep coming up with plots within the same town where when you introduce somebody and you play them through and introduce somebody else, you play them through.
And I thought, why not take Zack to places where I’d gone to run, dig around a little bit, find what the history there is and tie that in. And it’s been a fascinating journey. I’ve discovered things that I never knew existed.
The current book that I’m working on, which I should have ready to put on pre-sale by the end of the month, involves a a dry land generator, basically a huge battery that’s hydraulic. There’s been work done by this this company in order to have a supply of of of electricity and me in the future forever.
But it’s right in the middle of Joshua National Park. The one place that that’s privately owned and had a lot of interesting things that have occurred with that.
So, yes, finding these places, getting the chance to learn about them. I ended up amongst the very liberal Mormons. The other set, if you will. And there was an awful lot of interesting things there to to use.
Alexandra: That’s such a great idea. What a fascinating way to go about writing books, as you say.
Rich: Each one’s a journey, literally.
Alexandra: Yes. Exactly. We met Eagle Feather there, of course, who picked up Zack from the airstrip. And he continues on and they become quite close friends.
So I guess that relationship has evolved, obviously.
Rich: Yes, very much. They they read each other’s minds. They serve one another. The white man and and the one who’s the Native American who’s more able to think in legendary mythical terms or spiritual terms doesn’t dismiss things.
There’s a lot of paranormal or quasi-normal in my books and the reader is left to choose whether they believe that that really happened or were they smoking something. I think the contrast of the two just works very, very well and very naturally. So each time I come back to them for a new story, they have evolved on their own, it seems like, and then just fit together.
Alexandra: I love that. I love a good partnership and a mystery series.
One of the things I didn’t know before I started researching your books was that the Navajo reservation straddles three different states.
Jurisdictionally, politically, it must be such a complicated place.
Rich: It is, and not only does it straddle states, it encloses several other tribes of different different types and a couple of places and crossing to and fro. It can can be confusing and can be a problem.
In Cat, my fourth book, I believe that happens a lot. Zack has to work between law enforcement or whatever is in place to counter whatever it may be between these two areas as he tries to chase down the bad guy who uses the borders to hide between the two reservations. So, yeah, that’s very true.
And it’s a huge place. If you try driving across it, you go on forever. Most Hillerman stories, for instance, take place up in the northeast corner of mine have all taken place in the west mid-section. And you could fit about 90 other writers in the middle if they want.
Alexandra: Just before we wind up, you mentioned that there’s a new book coming out. It’ll probably be available just about when this podcast comes out.
Why don’t you tell us about that?
Rich: The new book is my latest in the Zack Tolliver series and this one takes place – I was talking to you about the inland generator. That’s where it is around the Joshua Tree National Park area and down to Blythe, Arizona. And all through that area also involves the Chemaheuvi Indians.
That’s the other thing I try to do. I try and involve a different group of Indians nationalities each time. And there are many all through this different areas, in this case, the Chemaheuvi, who own a lot of the casinos down there. So it’s sort of a different scene there.
Eagle Feather knows a guy so he gets to stay in this wonderful suite at the top of one of the casinos while they’re there, while Zack is in some cabin freezing to death.
I think it’s going to be a very interesting mystery. More along the lines probably of my Canaan’s Secret, because there’s more complications and there’s more more people involved in a mystery takes the main mystery takes a lot of time to sort through. But there are a lot of minor parts that occur as you go hoping to have it ready for sale by June 1. It’ll be on presale in May.
Alexandra: Great. Oh, that’s awesome. Well, this has been great, Rich.
Why don’t you let people know where they can find out more about you and your books?
Rich: I have, of course, my own website. RLawsonGamble.com. You can go there. And the other is my author page on Amazon, which is really where most of my information ends up anyhow, because they’re very good to bring you all together. And that has the list of all the books and current prices and sales and so on.
Alexandra: Great. And did I see you mentioned that you’re having a rotating sale. We’re recording this in April 2020 and we’re right in the middle of the covid-19 crisis.
Rich: What I’m doing is I’m trying to give away a free e-book, know just about once a month or so this Saturday. For instance, I will be giving Cat away for free as there’s a new book on Amazon. And it helps me because maybe it’ll stimulate some interest. But on the other hand, and also for those people that don’t want to spend money and would like to get a good read, hopefully they will. We’ll find it.
Alexandra: What a great idea. Thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it.
Rich: Thank you for having me, Alexandra.