Recently I encountered Robert E. Bailey through a website that orchestrates author blog tours and I was immediately impressed not just by his writing, but also by his personal story, an amazing tale of perseverance against overwhelming odds.
Bob spent five years as a corporate security director in the city of Detroit and twenty years as a licensed private investigator. His first novel, PRIVATE HEAT, an action-packed private-eye thriller, won the Josiah W. Bancroft Award at the Florida First Coast Writer's Festival in 1998 and was nominated for the 2003 Shamus Award, given by the Private Eye Writers of America. He has published two other private-eye thrillers featuring Art Hardin: DYING EMBERS and DEAD BANG.
You can learn about Robert and his books on his Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Robert-E.-Bailey/e/B001JPAGUO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
I sent him a list of questions and here are his answers:
How did you start your writing career?
Not very well. When I was young, less than five, I liked letters. I copied letters from magazines onto pieces of paper. When I learned that I could make letters into words, my own words, I was on to the races. I sent my little stories off to publishers and editors, who dutifully encouraged me. Through elementary school and high school, everyone knew I was going to be a writer. After graduation, with no money and no scholarships, I discovered that I would not be a writer. There was a war on, a marriage and children, and it was time to lay aside the dreams of wasted youth.
I scribbled stories on paper but kept them to myself. I finished science fiction stories and furtively discarded them at the bottom of the trash can. I kept up this dark secret for years.
An injury at work left me unable to work, and I finally found freedom to write.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I know where my stories start and where they end. In the middle, sometimes things move around!
How did your career in law enforcement impact your writing?
Absolutely astounding: for twenty five years I was a private detective and wrote science fiction. Duh! I saw an ad for a first detective mystery contest and I thought, “I can write that.” Turned out that I could.
If you were stranded on a desert island with one book, what would you read?
A five thousand year old book filled with history, mysteries, and science fiction. Maybe I would finally read it all.
Who are some writers who inspired you and why?
Aldous Huxley, Samuel Clements, and Arthur C. Clarke. Huxley, far too many books to mention and I read them all before I was eighteen. Clements for LETTERS FROM THE EARTH and Clarke for 2001 (that has not happened, but should have.)
What is your writing routine if you have one?
I tell everyone that I write in the morning. The truth is that it is always morning. I do my best work in the morning, but I think about my ideas all the time. I go to bed thinking about it, so when I get up I know where I’m going with the scene I want to write the next morning. If I am having trouble, I fill up a bathtub and turn off the lights, lie there in the darkness, and let my mind drift.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would that be?
In August I suddenly could not read or write at all. It turned out that I had a brain tumor, a glioblastoma, in my left temporal lobe, which is the speech and language area of the brain. It’s taken me six months to be able to read and write again, and I work much slower than I used to! If I could change anything, I would not have cancer. I had to literally relearn everything twice—once after brain surgery, and again after radiation was over.
What will happen to publishing in the next 10 years? Are paper books dead?
Everyone will buy ebooks, then the technology will change and none of the old ebooks will work anymore. Everyone will wish they had spent their money on paper books, which they could still read when the government starts rationing electric power.
Do you show your first drafts to anyone else?
I let my wife read them. After that I share them with my writers’ group. I let my publisher read early chapters once—that will never happen again.
What was the biggest mistake you made as a writer?
See above! I let some half-baked assistant editor read early chapters of Dead Bang, and it started World War III.
Do you build characters from scratch or borrow them from real life?
Characters arrive in my novels with all they need in their suitcase. I change the names to protect the guilty. Most folks act as if they have no idea who the characters are and wouldn’t let butter melt in their mouth.
One police detective did actually recognize himself and confronted me about it. I told him, “Well, what you missed is how tiny this character’s johnson is.” And he said, “I didn’t see that.” And I told him, “Well, it could be in the next novel!”
Where can readers find more about you and your books?
My website is at http://www.robertebaileyauthor.com . I am also on Facebook at Robert E. Bailey author, and have a Yahoo group—there is a link to it on the home page of my website. Libraries tend to have copies of the Art Hardin mystery series, and you can buy a paper copy of the three novels online or order them at a bookstore. Of course ebooks are available everywhere. “The Small Matter of Ten Large” just came out for Nook and Kindle and is only .99 cents.
There it is! I hope you will pay Bob a visit at his website, and more important: buy some of his books.