Edith here: I am so pleased to welcome fellow New England author Ray Daniel to the blog today. I met Ray at the New England Crime Bake a few years ago, and then kept seeing him: at Mystery Writers of America meetings, at Sisters in Crime workshops, and, of course, at the bar at every writing conference except Malice Domestic (most recently he bought me a tumbler of whiskey at Left Coast Crime in California. I retired to my bed shortly after!). I’ve also read his award-winningTucker short stories in more than one Level Best Books anthology of Best New England Crime Fiction and loved his male protagonist, which is a hard sell for me. His Level Best story “Give Me a Dollar” won the Derringer award this year.
And now – the most awesome news! His first novel-length mystery, Terminated, is out, featuring the same sleuth, Tucker. And listen to the tag line on his web site: First-Person, Wise-Cracking, Boston-Based Mystery. Don’t you love it?
So I wanted to let our readers get to know this guy with the infectious laugh and huge smile and help spread his great news around the world. He’s giving away a copy of Terminated to one lucky commenter, too (so include a version of your email address if you think we don’t already know you).
E: First, give us the short blurb of the book (awesome cover).
R: Uber-geek Tucker and his beautiful wife, Carol, developed security software together for MantaSoft until the day he was fired and she was murdered. Now, six months later, another software engineer is dead, bringing new clues to light in Carol’s cold case.
Haunted by the memory of his wife, Tucker is determined to track down the truth behind the killings. He pulls strings to get hired back into MantaSoft, but office politics turn deadly as Tucker takes on the FBI, Russian mobsters, and a psychopath known as the Duct Tape Killer.
E: You work in hi-tech in some capacity. What’s your job, how does it relate to Tucker’s particular skill set – because write what you know… – and how do you find time to write books while holding down a full-time day job?
R: I design computer chips; it requires a lot of problem-solving and debugging. Tucker is a computer security expert and hacker (which is more interesting than designing computer chips), so he takes that debugging aspect of engineering and uses it to solve crimes.
As for writing with the day job, I write for an hour every day before work. I can write about 500-1000 words a day, so I can write the first draft of a novel in six months.
R: A USB stick is a good bet.
E: Who hasn’t used one of those? I’m impressed. Next question: I think you had an agent and were looking to sell the Tucker books for a while. Tell us how that happened, and how long it really took.
R: I can name the exact date that I decided to write a mystery with an engineer sleuth. It was on June 17, 2005, right after I had attended a high-tech trade show. I realized that a trade show would be an outstanding setting for a mystery.
I wrote the first draft of Terminated and brought it to the 2007 New England Crime Bake, got excellent feedback from several agents and decided to rewrite it. That took a couple of years, and I wound up rewriting it again before it was ready. Then it took a few years to sell it. It turns out the time it took to sell it had a silver lining. I have a three-book deal with Midnight Ink and I’ve already written the first three Tucker books.
E: You’re way ahead then. How did you come to love to mysteries?
R: My cousin turned me on to Robert B. Parker and Spenser. After that I was hooked. I used to tell people that I liked to read first-person, wise-cracking, Boston-based mysteries, so it was clear what I wanted to write.
E: And which female authors do you read? Which Sisters in Crime?
R: I’m an unabashed fan-boy over Karin Slaughter.
I recently discovered Elisabeth Elo and Louise Penny. I also read Hallie Ephron and Hank Phillippi Ryan’s books when they hit the shelves.
E: Same here! I was on a panel with Elo recently and loved North of Boston, too. How did you make the leap from reading crime fiction to writing it? Did you study how to write stories before you started?
As time passed, I built up my library, as you can see in the picture. I’ve read every book in there and they all helped me get to this point in my writing.
E: Tell us something you haven’t told any other interviewer, something that might surprise us about you.
R: I had no idea that I wanted to be a writer until I was 40. My late start was mostly due to a lack of self-awareness. After all, I got an undergraduate degree in Computer Engineering with a minor in English. The first book I bought out of college was On Writing Well by Zisner, and I once wrote a short story instead of a term paper while getting my MBA. You’d think I would have picked up the clues earlier.
E: What’s up next for Author Ray Daniel?
R: After nine years it’s finally time to launch Terminated! The launch is at the New England Mobile Book Fair on Wednesday the 6th at 7PM. Hank Philippi Ryan will be interviewing me. Hank asked me for my personal information so she could prepare for the interview. When I asked her which information she looked me dead in the eye and said, “Everything.” So that’s what she got. I have no idea what’s she’s going to ask. It should be fun.
E: And what comes after Terminated?
R: The second Tucker book is named Corrupted Memory and it will be on shelves a year from now. In that story, Tucker learns he has a brother when the guy is found murdered in front of Tucker’s house. I’m shipping the manuscript to Midnight Ink this month.
E: Congratulations, Ray, from me and all the Wickeds. Thanks so much for visiting us.
Readers, stop by all day and ask Ray a question! Ray is giving a signed copy of Terminated away to one lucky commenter, too (so make sure you include a version of your email address).
And if you’re in New England, consider hopping over to the New England Mobile Book Fair (it’s not mobile and it’s not a fair) tomorrow night for Ray’s book launch party. The Wicked Cozys can’t wait to hear what our fabulous friend Hank Philippi Ryan will ask Ray.
Born in Boston, Ray graduated with honors from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in computer engineering and a minor in English. His debut novel, Terminated, launches from Midnight Ink this August. You can learn more at raydanielmystery.com