Thursday, March 10, 2016



Miles Bradshaw, the dot-com billionaire owner of Pittsburgh’s first NBA franchise, hires private detective Jeremy Barnes to look into what appears to be a simple case of harassment of one of the team’s players.  But when Jeremy (JB to his friends) begins his investigation, the case proves to be anything but simple, eventually involving a local businessman with suspected criminal ties, a major FBI task force, a computer geek in California and a mob boss in Erie. 

Along the way, JB, who can quote Shakespeare as quickly and easily as he can land a solid left jab, uses his wits and his ever-present sense of humor to wend his way through a cast of characters who range from the ridiculously inept to the ruthlessly lethal.

As Hard Court unfolds, there are numerous surprises and plot twists, culminating in a dramatic confrontation that neither JB nor the reader could have predicted.


Do you have a writing routine?
Although I’m a very organized person, I don’t have any rules about writing a certain number of words per day. I’ll often whip off a chapter (about 1200 words) a day for several days, but then take a few days off. However, I’m always writing little notes to myself about characters, scenes, snatches of dialogue, etc. Fortunately, my wife is incredibly understanding about being awakened at 2:00 am when I turn on the light to get something down on paper before I forget it.

What do you think is the hardest aspect of writing a book?
For me, it’s the plots, especially endings. Sometimes I think I know how I’ll end a book, but the further I get into the story, the more I realize that I’ll need a different ending. Sometimes, as in The Backup Husband, my original ending works, but I have to change the setting. All too often, though, I just start writing and hope that somewhere along the way, I’ll figure it out.

What’s more important – characters or plot?

Characters, definitely. When I’m reading a work of fiction, if the characters don’t grab my attention, then I’m just not going to get into the book, no matter how good a job the author has done with the plot. I have to be engaged with the characters.

How often do you read?
Constantly! One of my earliest memories is of my parents taking me to the main branch of Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh on Saturday mornings for Story Time. Both my parents were big-time readers, and they passed that love of literature on to their children.

What books do you currently have published?
I have two books on Amazon. Small Talk is about a Pittsburgh police detective (a former pitcher for the Pirates) trying to track down a serial killer. The Backup Husband is a modern-day romance about a drop-dead gorgeous woman and the two equally-attractive men in her life, her husband and his best friend. The three of them share a bond that appears to be unbreakable, until the most powerful force in the world intervenes.

Sounds intriguing! What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did it teach you?
I spent a summer during college working for a local moving company. The pay was bad, the hours were long, and the work involved heavy lifting in hot, humid weather. Some days, I came home literally too tired to eat. I’d just wash off most of the dirt and grime, then collapse into bed and sleep until the middle of the night, when I’d wake up and eat the leftovers my mom left for me downstairs. That job gave me a real appreciation for people who do manual labor for a living. I was lucky that I had other paths available to me, but I’ve never forgotten how utterly exhausted I was after work every day that summer.

Do you have any marketing tips you could pass on to indie authors?

Unless you’re already very knowledgeable about how to go about marketing a book online, the best thing you can do is find someone who is well-versed in that area. I knew absolutely nothing about cover reveals, virtual book tours, reviews from bloggers, etc., and I had zero online presence (Facebook, personal website, etc.). Fortunately, I connected with a woman named Susan Barton, who basically took me under her wing and helped steer me through the entire process of marketing both myself and my books. So I would say it’s imperative for any new indie author to find a “Susan” to help you navigate the ‘Net.

What do you love about where you live?
There are definitely things I don’t like about Pittsburgh (winter comes to mind), but one thing I do love is the fact that for a city its size, Pittsburgh has a thriving cultural scene. My wife and I love live theater, and thanks to this city’s Civic Light Opera and Broadway Across America, we get to see a dozen or so wonderful plays and musicals every year.

What drives you crazy?
People who are rude and inconsiderate. Cynthia and I are big fans of the whole random acts of kindness thing, and I wish more people would get on board.

I totally agree! Where is your favorite place to visit?
Hopefully, the next place my wife and I go on vacation! We’ve been fortunate enough to spend time together everywhere from Paris to San Francisco to the South Pacific, but we’ve also enjoyed ourselves much closer to home. So, really, anywhere with Cynthia.

Who is your favorite fictional character?

Probably Spenser, Robert B. Parker’s iconic PI. I read the first Spenser novel in 1974, and I was immediately hooked on the character, especially his sense of humor.

You and I are definitely reading buddies. Spenser is my favorite too. I have literally asked that question 684 times, and you're the first to say RBP. Love it! Okay, moving on . . . You have a personal chef for the night. What would you ask him to prepare?
Beef Wellington. Years ago, this dish was a staple in most good restaurants, but I haven’t seen it on a menu for quite some time. In addition to the Wellington, I’d want a few interesting side dishes, and for dessert, a Grand Marnier soufflĂ©.

What would you do for a Klondike bar?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, where Klondike bars were sold in the Isaly Dairy stores that dotted the region. I can still remember my parents taking my siblings and me for Klondike bars on hot summer days. The trick was to try to eat as much of it as you could before the chocolate covering began to melt in your hands. So you’re asking this boy the wrong question, Amy. It should be what wouldn’t I do for a Klondike bar!

Excellent! What are you working on now?
I’m almost finished with Grammar Sex and Other Stuff, a book of thirty personal essays in which I give my (usually humorous) slant on a variety of topics. Some sample essay titles include “Proper Parking Lot Etiquette,” “PDF (Public Display of Feet),” “I Suck as a Bill Collector,” “That’s Right, I’m Cool,” and “Davy Crockett, Jesus and the Beatles.”


Both my parents were readers. I'm talking stacks-of-books-on-their-nightstands readers. So it's no surprise that at an early age, I, too, became an avid reader. Everything from sports books (especially baseball) to Nancy Drew to the Hardy Boys to almost anything about distant and exotic places.
Although I've always enjoyed putting words on paper, the writer in me didn't fully emerge until I retired after three decades of teaching high school English. I quickly wrote two books aimed at middle school readers, at which point my wife urged me to try a novel for adults. As is usually the case, Cynthia's idea was a good one.

Over the next few years, I wrote several books about Pittsburgh private eye Jeremy Barnes. I took a brief hiatus from the detective genre to write Small Talk and The Backup Husband. Now I’m back and will be releasing my first Jeremy Barnes novel, Hard Court, on April 11.

In our spare time, Cynthia and I enjoy reading (of course), going to live theater productions, watching reruns of favorite TV shows such as Sports Night and Gilmore Girls, and traveling to some of those distant and exotic places I used to read about as a child. So far, we've been fortunate enough to walk in the sands of Waikiki, swim in the warm waters of the South Pacific, and share a romantic dinner in Paris.

I love interacting with my readers and getting their input on my characters and stories. Please feel free to contact me via my website.