Santa Ynez Valley Star Interviews R Lawson Gamble

Star: Your action thriller takes place near Joshua Tree National Park in a mountainous desert region. Why such a desolate place?

Gamble: I’ve gone to Palm Springs many times because I like to run in the heat and the desert. I’ve always wanted to visit Joshua Tree and I was delighted to discover there were a lot of beautiful trails up there. It’s a great place to run, except the trails are too short. So, I went to the Ranger Station and got special permission to go past the barrier for a long-distance run, which took me to a place called ‘Hidden oasis’. Looking down the arroyo, I saw a virtual Garden of Eden filled with palm trees. It was in this desert wilderness that I was inspired to write this book.

Star: What other experiences have you had running in the area?

Gamble: I participated in the Joshua Tree Half Marathon which takes place at night. Two thousand five hundred people run it by only the light from the headlamps worn on their foreheads.

Star: What was that like?

Gamble: The half marathon begins just as darkness falls and the moon rises. When you look back all you can see in the darkness is a snake of headlamps worn by the runners in the race. Absorbing the atmosphere, the coldness of the night and the desolateness of the area, my imagination kicks in and I’m off to write another book, at least until the last few miles when I’m just trying to survive and complete the race.

Star: Did you research the area?

Gamble: (laughs) One interesting point is that while I was writing the plot of ‘Lost Oasis,’ conjuring up the most vicious and villainous characters, through my research, I was shocked to discover a real-life parallel of the nefarious activities that I’d imagined for my plot. My story happened in real life, here in California. I couldn’t believe what I was reading; it was all there.

Star: Your story also involves a tribe of Native Americans. Can you tell me about them?

Gamble: Yes, the Chemehuevi, a division of the Southern Paiute Tribe whose legends include flying runners and the trails they run, which are featured in their songs. These songs are passed down through generations.

Star: Are you writing anything currently?

Gamble: I am at work on the ninth book in the series, which is still untitled. It will be a little different this time, relating more to human frailties than in the past.

Star: Have you always been a writer?

Gamble: Writing novels is my third career. It’s something I love to do. I write every morning, rain or shine, 365 days a year.

Gamble is also the author of a history of Los Alamos “Los Alamos Valley” as well as the “Johnny Alias” series, all of which can be purchased through Amazon and at local bookstores. Interviewer for this article: Pamela Dozios

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