Books & Backstories

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The Harry Seaburn Crime Caper Series

Harry Seaburn 01b - Hight ResolutionYeah!  The Harry Seaburn Thriller Series opens with the wild misadventure of The Feathered Virgin, the first of seven books telling the mordantly comic story of a thief who is tough, brash, running on empty and wants a good woman, anybody’s good woman, but he robs and shoots people and what good woman would want him?

It’s hard to know where to begin in telling the story of the stories about Harry.  Except to say Harry is a hard-nosed thief and hopeless romantic who has no money despite the millions he manages to steal, no woman to call his own and half the criminal world wants to kill him, for good reason.

Harry Seaburn 07b - Hight ResolutionHe operates around the edges of two great criminal syndicates that would happily crush him as irritating competition.  He makes money out of crazy, taking on gigs no other crook would dare.  He believes there is no real life outside of his personal thief’s paradise in a circus town between the Gulf of Mexico and the Everglades.  And he couldn’t manage to stay alive or survive his mismatched loves without the help of his stripper landlady – the original Feathered Virgin – and a hippie throwback swamp woman.  Plus a guy named Bitter Bob (you’ll find out) and a mega supergeek who hates all humans but Harry.  Oh, yes, and a little girl with a pygmy circus elephant.

 

The Dirty Wars  Novels

The Dirty Wars Novels are written as standalones so a reader can enter the series anywhere, but they all track the stories (or maybe story) of Vietnam war veterans navigating through the hard and dangerous times of the 1970s and ’80s just before the Berlin Wall fell and as all the violent backwaters of the world began to rebel for their fair, or unfair share, of the world pie of riches and power.

 

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I wrote the first draft of Runaway Man in the deserts of Iran and the last (after a score of rewrites) on the muddy shores of the Everglades. In between the manuscript spent a lot of years packed away in a bottom drawer or a shipping container, fermenting (or so I like to think) into something exciting to read.

What took so much time to get right was the bizarre (to Westerners) but all too human environment in which the story is set.

All the characters are fiction but their frights, mistakes and dreams are true to the cultures in which they were born. As true today as in the time in of the story.

It was such tremendous fun trying to catch the interior lives of all these fascinating people that I’m afraid I made a hobby of book-fermentation. I let it take too long to bring this story to publication.

I promise to be quicker with the next in the Dirty Wars Novels series!

 

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This “not quite an historical thriller” is for lovers of old-fashioned adventure stories set in wild places (H. Ryder Haggard, John Buchan) and for Bruce Willis fans.

It’s set on the north side of the Gulf of Oman in 1979. About a tormented mercenary captain and a bizarre prince who try to steal back a kingdom from a desert pirate and rescue from slavery a beautiful blonde who turns out to be, well, a sadist.

I say “not quite” because I played a bit loose with a few historical facts to make the story hotter. For instance, there was no “Khanate of Nas” on the northern side of the Gulf of Oman in 1979. But there was – and is – a country there (well, a nomad range) very much like the place I describe although it is not on any map.

And it is just as wild and dangerous as Captain Peach, Baba Khan and Olimpia discover. I know. I’ve been there.

 

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Backstory?  What backstory?  I never stood on a balcony in Mallorca watching a little fishing fleet motor in as a murder-minded woman did a swan dive off a hotel roof into the emerald water.  No, no.  And I never met this fellow who sometimes calls himself James Jones Prewitt and sometimes doesn’t want to be called anything at all, not when he’s got that big automatic in his hands.  No, never met him.  Never want to.  Nor should you.

 

 

 

The Woman on Fire Series (in progress)

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I’m not so sure I was inspired to write Running in Heels so much as badgered into it. It’s the story of a lonely and self-hating woman named Kathryn Teal who is adrift in life but discovers that stealing a fortune (by accident) is all too easy while keeping it (on purpose) is tough, tough, tough.

The thing is, Kathryn wasn’t supposed to be in the book at all. I planned the story for a male protagonist. But when I’d written the first line, there she was, staring back at me and daring me to cut her out of her story.

Kathryn took over the novel, lock, stock and down to the last exclamation mark, and believe me I was making a lot of exclamations by the time I keyed the last words.

What comes next in the series?  Why, Stalking in Heels, of course, the story of what Kathryn becomes after she’s had a taste for a very wild streak of fortune.

 

The Vietnam War Collection

I should have named this the “Pinch & Cassidy Collection.” I never expected two minor characters in the first book – Ghost Soldiers – to come to be the characters bearing the fullest meaning of all the books.

I discovered Lt. Pinch and Lt. (later Capt.) Cassidy infiltrating every story in the collection and couldn’t keep them out. Sometimes they were in the background, sometimes in the foreground. But each time they were telling the truth about war’s stark meaning and how soldiers have to behave in combat.

Cassidy is a monster but also human. Pinch is a hero but also human. Between them, they describe war’s effects on two men who struggle to be honest with themselves in a war that is monstrous, heroic and too human.

 

Dreams of victory, dreams of survival and the bizarre fantasies that can keep a soldier alive.

War is great addictive fun and here’s a young man so drunk on war and so frightened by war that he must become a hero to survive.

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So you want to know what it was like to be a fighting man in the dread Vietnam war during the rollicking 1960s? Here, stand in the dragon’s breath with this confused young warrior.

A woman’s first love lost in the Vietnam war and her determination to uncover the truth about the boy’s strange murder in the combat zone.

 

 

 

More Novels & Short Stories

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I’ll tell you all about the backstory to this spooky and mindboggling tale set in Burma in a year unfixed as soon as the novel is published, which will be soon soon soon. UPDATE: Yes, the book is now available through Amazon. No, I won’t give you the backstory, after all. I lived too much of it in Burma and you wouldn’t believe me. Read the book, instead, and, if you don’t find yourself clapping hands when you come home at night to drive the geckos and lonely spirits up the walls and into the dreamy gloom around the ceiling, then you’re a tougher man or woman than I.

 

 

icm_fullxfull.77523471_a3cxzupqgtcgwok4csg0 FINALA Different Kind of Thriller

Nope, it’s no good asking me if this comedy of new fatherhood is autobiographical. It isn’t. Except it grew out of the “fathering class” my wife’s hospital required I attend. And the desperate, happy, morose, puzzled and confused fathers-to-be who were part of my class. Each of them is in this story, in one way or another, as part of the hero, Oz. And Oz is a hero. Because each of my classmates was anxious to do his best, despite everything, for his new baby. And every one was happy with his newborn, the greatest thrill of all.

 

 

 

Back to Space Opera (yea!)An Earthman born2

This novella was meant to be a jolly satire on Kipling but the story only brought disaster to all who first touched it.

An editor really wanted the story for his new publishing house. But, when he presented it to the owner to sign our contract, the publisher asked, “Who’s this Kipling fellow?”

The editor released an indiscreet gasp of disbelief. The furious publisher fired him on the spot.

The new publishing house folded up and vanished away.

Years later, I heard the publisher was found wandering the streets chirping, “Kipling? Kipling?”

But I always wanted to publish this story despite its hard luck and here it is. I hope it brings you better luck or at least a chuckle.  As for the luckless Sublieutenant Rollo Molhollo and his greedy misadventures through a universe that considers him an edible treat, well, he deserves another story, if I can think of anything to top the outrageousness in this one.

 

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I confess! “The Mandarin’s Sleeve” isn’t really a short story about the great machines that drive history. It’s about mankind’s grim and comic inability to control those machines when they drive us down the wrong road. Or maybe to control ourselves.

The Mongol invasions that swept across Asia and into Europe in the 13th century were the great driving force that began the creation of our modern world. By re-invigorating the cultures of Europe, India, Persia, the Middle East and North Africa.

But why did those invasions stall outside Vienna and then recede? Historians blame the death of Genghis Khan. But I think there is a larger reason – sometimes things just get too big for us.

I wrote “Mandarin’s Sleeve” when I was working in the Middle East in an organization of 50,000 people. Our chief had a dozen direct-report subordinates. Each of those subordinates had a dozen reporting to him/her.

An urgent message from us in the field had to muscle its way through dozens of layers of management before it got to anyone authorized to make a decision. Even then it could be sidetracked and forgotten by dozens of staff aides lurking along its path.

So we in the field went ahead and did what he had to do with little reference to headquarters. We were anarchic but often effective. And sometimes disastrous. Big organizations by their size seem to demand anarchy and disaster.

That made me think there must be some natural limit on the size of organizations that human beings are capable of controlling. But what is it?

Some empires are just too big, some political systems too complex and some business organizations too heavy-layered for human beings to manage effectively for very long.

Or the organization begins to manage its human beings and does whatever it wants with us.

 

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There is a backstory here but it’s so evident in this short story there’s no need for me to tell you more about it.  Sorry, sometimes that’s all I want to say about a story like this one.