Saturday, July 9, 2016



The Inside Passage is an adventure thriller set primarily on the waters between Campbell River, British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington. It is the story of one man’s successful effort to find justice and peace after the murder of his wife and her friend by ruthless gun runners. It offers moving descriptions of magnificent mountain scenery and the sea, storms, explosive action, murder, loss, love, and redemption.


Carl, how did you get started writing?
I cannot remember a time when I didn't write. My parents encouraged me to read and apparently treated my early scribbles as sensible. My mother disagreed with librarians who wanted to keep me out of the adult sections and restrict my book choices to those in the children sections. I have always appreciated good, thoughtful, well-constructed writing. Shakespeare is my favorite writer in the English language. He has great plots, marvelous creative use of the language, and an innate sense of pace that is unequaled. Did you know there are almost a thousand phrases in current use in English that can be traced to his invention?

I achieved second place in a writing contest from a Western  pulp magazine when I was in the seventh grade! Nearly every job I've ever held, including several temporary summer jobs, included a writing component. Writing is part of my DNA, but then, so is talking.

Do you have a writing routine?
When I decided I wanted to try writing serious fiction, I was still employed full time in a position which usually required my presence in the office. I was an adult student college counselor. I had appointments. Hence I developed a routine of getting up quite early, usually between five and five-thirty and writing at typewriter and computer. After an hour or so I would get dressed and go off to my office. Sometimes I worked on  manuscripts in the evening, but usually not. I did spend many weekends writing all day. Now I don 't do that so much. Weekends are reserved for other activities although many times they are writing related, such as appearing at or attending book events or conventions or traveling between events and home. I don't do much writing on tour, but I do communicate and often edit a current project.

What’s more important – characters or plot?
My answer—it depends! An author singularly focused on thrillers or multiple murders, terrorism, has to develop and maintain a strong active plot. Most good detective stories, whether run by amateurs or professional detectives, need a crime as motivation, but the interaction of interesting characters usually enriches and enlarges the scope of the story. Sometimes that gets away from you and you discover meandering tales in which the characters become so enamored of themselves and their talent or intellect that the story gets lost.  Authors of crime fiction who do not narrowly focus their concentration may lose important threads and thereby damage their tales. So the question has no obvious or easy answer. I try to maintain a clear focus whether I'm writing a thriller or a detective story. I want authors I read to do the same thing and that means making specific choices. Of course, if you are enormously talented and highly popular, you can probably ignore this advice at your pleasure.

What books do you currently have published?

About a dozen crime novels, in three separate categories. I began with an adventure series in which my main characters, a husband and wife are recreational sailors, and I can place them  in interesting and exotic places like the Caribbean where Red Sky is set. I get lots of ideas for stories that are simply inappropriate for Mary Whitney, although the series does allow me to explore the mind and activities of a strong intelligent woman. My private detective came about because I wanted to write something a little humorous as well as crime-focused. He's a short fellow with a tall wealthy girlfriend. There's a satirical  element to them and a nod to a writer I really liked as a kid, Richard Prather. He wrote the highly successful Shell Scott detective series in the 1950s. I also write about my life as a student counselor for a new and highly experimental (at the time) college for working adults. More cozy fiction from an amateur detective.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had? What did it teach you?

For a time I sold hardware and photographic equipment for a national retail chain. They had a dress code, and a number  of arbitrary rules that often made no sense. Worse, some of the rules inhibited sales which seemed odd to me. Sales people on the retail floor were required to wear a shirt and tie. Shirts were quickly dirtied because tools and nails and nuts and bolts were not packaged in plastic boxes, they were in bins and had to be handled. The photo department on the main floor, developed a reputation for ignoring the rules of decorum. We were loud and laughed and seemed to be having a good time. That attracted customers and we had really good sales records. That didn't matter as much as that we were sometimes noisy in the process of celebrating success with customers. I learned that rigid rules in most circumstances were frequently a hindrance to getting the job done and that managers needed to work with staff instead of maintaining hard-line ruling. When the manager in the tower made a ruling, it usually meant that he (the most inflexible managers were always men) either didn't understand the situation or he was unwilling to try to fix a bad situation.

Do you have any marketing tips you could pass on to indie authors?
Listen and learn. Know there are a thousand scam artists out there eager to take your money. Take in all the advice you can possibly acquire from many different sources and then follow your heart. Be cautious, be wise, work hard and be patient.

If you could only watch one television station for a year, what would it be?
Our local PBS station. We support the station. I worked as a producer, director, program manager, and general station manager for public television stations for many years. But I'd miss the local news.

How often do you tweet?
A couple times a week. I'm more active on other platforms.

How do you feel about Facebook?
I feel fine about it. I use FB to comment on political and social events and views, I promote causes, ideas, and my books and reviews. I also promote my family. I believe too many authors—who are nearly all creative thinkers—are too reticent about speaking and  writing about current affairs.

What’s one THING you never leave the house without (besides your phone).
I don't carry a phone. My wife has a cell, but I do not. I never leave home without my camera.

What’s your favorite beverage?
Good single malt scotch. I'm partial to Glenmorangie.

What do you wish you could do?

Go back in time and finish my Master of Communication Arts degree at Michigan State University.

What’s your least favorite chore?
Changing the bed sheets because it hurts my back.

Do you give your characters any of your bad traits?
Absolutely! I wish I could make it permanent, as does my wife.

What’s one thing that drives you crazy?
Racial, gender, and religious intolerance.

What’s in your refrigerator right now?
White wine, orange juice, milk, lettuce, eggs, snacking cheeses, jams and jellies, sandwich meats, bacon, and butter.

Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
The new Ramsey County library; great staff, excellent accommodations, convenient parking and an affiliated coffee shop.

If you had a talk show who would your dream guests be?
Actually, with two dear fellow authors, Ellen Hart and Kent Krueger, I had a cable talk show which ran weekly for nearly three years. We interviewed agents, authors, publishers, bookstore owners and anybody else in the book business we could entice. They were all dream guests (even the difficult ones).

Describe yourself in 5 words.

Progressive, tolerant, smart, stubborn, aging.

What’s your favorite color?
Blue, all variations of blue, but intense ocean blue is best.

What are you working on now?
A crime novel featuring an older Travis McGee-type and his honey, a former stripper and show girl.


Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.
He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.

Connect with Carl:
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

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