Bertram: Who are you?
Smoke: Detective Smoke “Smoke” Dawes with the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department in central Minnesota.
Bertram: Where do you live?
Smoke: A few miles outside the city of Oak Lea, the county seat of Winnebago County.
Bertram: What is your problem in the story?
Smoke: Professionally, it’s finding out who the bad guys are, identifying their crimes, and bringing them to justice. Personally, I’ll plead the fifth.
Bertram: Do you embrace conflict?
Smoke: It would be more accurate to say I confront and try to resolve conflict. It comes with the job.
Bertram: How do you see yourself?
Smoke: As a good brother, a good cop, a good friend. Loyal, dedicated, determined.
Bertram: How do your friends see you?
Smoke: Pretty much the same way I see myself, plus, some say stubborn as an old mule.
Bertram: How do your enemies see you?
Smoke: Some of them want to kill me. I do my best to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Bertram: Do you think the author portrayed you accurately?
Smoke: She’s got a pretty good handle on what makes me tick. I’m not a guy that exactly wears my heart on my sleeve and the author respects that.
Bertram: What do you think of yourself?
Smoke: As an honest guy doing an honest day’s work, no matter how long that day gets to be. I fight against injustice, do what I can to help victims of crimes, and put bad guys away.
Bertram: Do you talk about your achievements?
Smoke: Don’t have to, they speak for themselves.
Bertram: Do you have any skills?
Smoke: I’m a damn good interviewer, and have the ability to work as hard as I have to on cases.
Bertram: Do you have money troubles?
Smoke: No money troubles. I live a pretty simple life, outside of work. I make a whole lot more than I spend. All that overtime.
Bertram: What, if anything, haunts you?
Smoke: Unsolved cases and cases I’ve worked where kids are victimized. That’s hard to take.
Bertram: Do you keep your promises?
Smoke: I don’t make promises I can’t keep.
Bertram: Are you healthy?
Smoke: I’m very healthy, especially for a guy pushing fifty.
Bertram: What was your childhood like?
Smoke: I have an older brother and a younger brother. We were a rough and tumble crew, liked good-natured fighting, which our mother always made us take outside so we didn’t break furniture.
Bertram: What in your past would you like others to forget?
Smoke: The incident that earned me the nickname Smoke. When I was a junior in high school, a young woman and I were in my father’s fish house ice fishing one winter day when we forgot about fishing for a while. I accidentally kicked over the kerosene lamp and didn’t notice it until the fish house was on fire. The young woman thought it was funny when she told our friends, “Where there’s smoke there’s fire and ‘Smoke’s’ real name is Smoke.”
Bertram: Who was your first love?
Smoke: My first real love was a woman I met while serving as the Lake County Sheriff, in northern Minnesota. I wanted marriage, she didn’t. It nearly broke my heart.
Bertram: Have you ever had an adventure?
Smoke: Almost every day working as a Winnebago County Sheriff’s detective. We get some pretty tough cases, which Corky Aleckson tells about in the mystery thriller series.
Bertram: Was there a major turning point in your life?
Smoke: The above mentioned lover I wanted to marry who preferred an open-ended affair. I left the northern Minnesota county I was working for and returned to Winnebago County, my home.
Bertram: What is your most closely guarded secret?
Smoke: You want me to share it with a whole lotta people? I have very deep feelings for someone, and it’s best to leave them buried.
Bertram: What is your most prized possession?
Smoke: I like in a log home on forty wooded acres with my own private lake and a duck slew. It’s my sanctuary.
Bertram: Do you have any hobbies?
Smoke: I like fishing, hunting, canoeing, playing my guitar, going to my nephews’ ball games, and tying flies and lures for fishing.
Bertram: What is your favorite scent?
Smoke: The way a woman’s hair smells when it’s freshly washed. Must be from a moment in time way back when.
Bertram: What is your favorite beverage?
Smoke: Coffee, black. It helps keep me alert when I’m working, no matter the time of day or night.
Bertram: If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you rather be stranded with, a man or a woman?
Smoke: A woman with a bottle of clean-smelling shampoo.
Bertram: Where can we find out more about the Winnebago County mystery series?