When a member of Sam Moore’s family is murdered, he calls on a peculiar talisman, a green marble, to whisk him back in time to chase the serial killer, so Sam can change time and bring his loved one back to life.
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
I have to say that retired family doctor Sam Moore is a future glimpse of me. Or the “me” I hope to be when I retire like Sam. The retired family doctor—our resident hero in Moore Mysteries—is very much like me, except he’s twelve years older and retired with enough money to putter around in his gardens all day. Let me repeat that. In spite of the fact that I invented him, or perhaps I should say “let him out,” I am exceedingly jealous of his lifestyle. Although Sam was a family doctor and I am an engineer, we’re a lot alike. We both love to plunge our hands into the soft earth and grow things. We both love our grandkids so much it hurts. And we both have spouses with multiple sclerosis. But there are plenty of differences, too. I cook, I write, and I love photography and art. Sam doesn’t. But of course, it’s not a competition. At least I don’t think so…
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
When the finale is finally resolved — meaning the murderer is revealed or dealt with, or the killer is nabbed, or the mystery is finally solved, I almost always add an epilogue-type chapter as the denouement. The family is back in their home, grounded now, deep in the mundane daily tasks like cooking dinner or weeding the garden. Sometimes they discuss the details of the situation. I use this chapter to wrap up any unresolved threads that might not have been clear, or to gently summarize what happened if the plot was unusually twisted, or to answer questions I think the reader might have. I do it through dialog, normally, such as Sam’s wife Rachel asking questions to settle the events in her mind. She often asks about the motivation for some of the darker acts, and they try to make sense of it in their minds. Of course, normally there is no sense to be made of serial killers’ and their horrible deeds. But it seems to satisfy my readers, and they have often commented on how like “coming home” at the end of the book.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
You know, Pat, I never begin a mystery with the intent to deliver a message. But in the end, it always seems that I do, however unplanned it was. I say this because of the comments I receive from my wonderful readers, who tell me things like “you made me a better father by teaching me to take more time with my children,” or “you taught me how to deal better with my grief,” or “your example of how Sam treats his disabled wife has inspired me to be a better husband,” etc. But when I analyze my stories, I see that I am always trying to subtly teach tolerance and acceptance of those folks who are typically ostracized or treated as different by our society.
The only people I’m prejudiced against are bigots, and I feel very strongly about this. So if I put myself on the therapist’s couch, I can clearly see this trend in my books. I sometimes include gay or black or transgender or Iraqi or various other nationalities in my sub-characters. Sometimes they are good. Sometimes they are evil. But I try to teach tolerance and understanding, to show acceptance, humility, warmth, and welcome to new folks who come into the stories. Unless they prove to be evil, of course. And in that case, I usually take them out with no mercy. (chuckle)
Who is your most unusual/most likeable character?
I guess I’d have to say my most unusual character is Billy. He’s a spirit, the soul of Sam’s younger brother who disappeared when he was 11 years old. Sam never knew what happened to him, and was tormented his whole life with guilt and trauma over Billy’s mysterious disappearance. In Healey’s Cave (book 1), he finds out why Billy disappeared, but in doing so he also begins a wonderful connection with his little brother’s spirit through a green marble that used to be Billy’s.
Billy is sometimes frustrating, because he doesn’t always just out and “tell” Sam what to do or where the murderer is… he gives Sam clues by whisking him back in time to their childhood to show him scenes (that Sam actively participates in) or to bring him into other characters’ past lives. In For Keeps, Billy keeps bringing Sam to this scene where a group of Satan worshippers gather around a fire with escalating forms of live sacrifices. There’s a little child locked in a room nearby, and Sam can’t figure out why Billy keeps showing her to him. Who is she? And why is she important to the current murder(s) that have happened in his small country town?
But Billy does adore his big brother, and in the very toughest of times, he is there to comfort and help Sam. I guess I’d say he’s my favorite. The quintessential little boy… I must relate to him, because even though my license shows me to be an adult, I still think of myself as eleven inside. ;o)
What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
The toughest part of writing For Keeps was feeling the pain of Sam’s loss when his wife is murdered. In the first two books of the Moore Mysteries series, Rachel sticks by Sam’s side, supports him when he’s overcome with grief and is plagued by strange paranormal events, and loves him deeply enough to keep him sane.
That’s why it really hurt when I had to kill her.
Sam’s wife, Rachel, shares many qualities with my dear wife, Dale. They both endure MS, they both love to read, they are both chair-caning artists. Some of their symptoms are the same, but that’s where they split apart. Rachel loves to cook (that’s my job in our marriage), she’s in a wheelchair, and she stays pretty upbeat, considering her challenges. They both adore their grandchildren and both love to read. Rachel’s a tribute to Dale, in all honesty. But she also has morphed into her “own woman,” too, and I love her deeply. Er… through Sam, of course. (Honey, don’t be jealous!)
In For Keeps, the third book in the series, life takes an awful turn. When Rachel is murdered by a serial killer, it puts Sam back in the psych ward, the same place he was thrown when his little brother disappeared without a trace fifty years earlier. Desperate to fix things, he calls on the power of the green marble, the talisman his little brother Billy controls from afar that whisks him back and forth through his past.
Unlike those of us in real life, Sam gets a “do over.” He flies back in time to desperately try to fix the problems that lead to this gruesome act, and over and over again, he attempts to tweak the past to bring his dear Rachel back to life.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
My primary goal in writing all of my books is to give my readers a great armchair adventure that will move them, entertain them, make them laugh, make them cry, and transport them to new locales. I want them to smell the balsam in the Adirondack woods, hear the sound of snow gliding beneath their skis, taste the sweet ripe tomatoes on Sam’s vines. I want them to feverishly turn pages to see what happens next, but also to be comforted on some level by the relationships and family love that fill the pages. I want them to fall in love with my characters like I have… and to keep asking for more. ;o)
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself or your books?
I’ve written lots of books – I just finished book 16, and many are in the publishing queue or about to be submitted. If your readers are interested in the other two mystery series, here’s the complete list they might want to peruse.
Double Forté (2012, author’s preferred edition)
Upstaged (coming 2012 author’s preferred edition, eBook and print)
Tremolo: Cry Of The Loon (2007, Audio Book 2011)
Mazurka (2009, Audio Book 2012)
Firesong (2011, Audio Book 2012)
Don’t Let The Wind Catch You (coming 2012)
Write Like The Wind, volumes 1, 2, 3 (AUG 2012)
Pat, folks can find me all over the web. But the best place to see all my books in one place is either my website, at www.lazarbooks.com, or my author page on Amazon. They may also contact me with questions at aaron dot lazar at yahoo dot com.
Click here to read an Excerpt From “For Keeps” by Aaron Paul Lazar