Tuesday, June 8, 2021




How do you start an investigation when you have no evidence that a crime has been committed?

When a seventeen-year-old girl abruptly disappears, the ensuing investigation probes dead-ends seemingly as deep as Montana’s Flathead Lake—the geographic and investigative center of The Other Side. The search to find her unearths crimes but none that can explain her disappearance, and when Detectives Steven Wendell and Stacey Knudson grow suspicious that Britany Rodgers has been murdered, they have scant evidence and no body. Their investigation takes readers into starkly contrasting environments—inside spectacular lakefront mansions and within gritty trailer parks—and into the lives of those who exhibit motivations as murky as the fog-choked Montana woods and mist-shrouded Flathead Lake bays.

Book Details

Title: The Other Side

Author: Mark Leichliter

Genre: crime fiction/police procedural

Publisher: Level Best Books (June 8, 2021)

Print length: 292 pages


A few of your favorite things: books (of course, too many, not enough time; the stack on the nightstand is getting tall); dark chocolate (bribes always accepted); kind, genuine people who want to hold conversations about any manner of topics.
Things you need to throw out: an alarming number of well-used running shoes; fear that can get in the way of difficult writing; probably 90% of what I might find under the kitchen sink. (I mean that literally, but it’s probably a good metaphor for equivalent mental storage clutter as well!)

Things you love about writing: ultimately as a writer you have no one to answer to but yourself. I care greatly about readers. I need to satisfy editors. But each day when I sit down at my writing desk, I really can write anything I desire.
Things you hate about writing: ultimately as a writer you have no one to answer to but yourself. Sound familiar? If you want to write, you had better learn to live with your decisions.

Things you love about where you live: I live with the expansive quiet and heavenly scents of forests that I can literally step into within a few minutes’ walk from my front door and where I can venture to the coffeehouse or the grocery store by bike. It is a place where animals visit as frequently as people. I can look in any direction and see mountains, and the view from my writing desk is of a lake so vast that it looks nearly like an ocean.
Things that make you want to move: homogeneity breeds closed minds. I live among overwhelmingly good, kind people, but it is a place that, because of a lack of diverse experience for some, can refuse to consider that the world seldom provides singular answers.

Words that describe you: resilient: you can’t survive as a writer if you can’t respond to nearly constant rejection by rolling up your sleeves and getting back to work; optimistic: this might seem an unexpected word for a crime writer, where you spend a lot of time considering the worst parts of human nature, yet my core self is optimistic, not only about a future better than the present but a belief that there is more likely good in people than there is bad.
Words that describe you but you wish they didn’t: naïve, a really bad trait in a crime writer, but in real life I tend to accept what people tell me and am terrible about spotting those with hidden agenda; it’s simply foreign to my way of thinking. Proud, too often I let pride get in the way of vulnerability; as a result, sometimes I fail to open doors to opportunities.

Favorite smell: sagebrush after rain.

Something that makes you hold your nose: okay, so it’s either kind of a cop-out or punch line for a crime fiction writer, but here it is: the smell of death. Let me contextualize that. I live in a place where things like the decaying carcasses of deer and other animals are common, so it’s actually a smell, particularly because I am a trail runner, that I encounter often. But also this: a searing memory from adolescence for me is being in the Big Thompson Canyon in Colorado days after a tragic, devastating flood that killed 143 people. The smell of death is something that never leaves you.

Something you wish you could do: sing or play a musical instrument; I piddle on guitar but you wouldn’t want to be in hearing distance.
Something you wish you’d never learned to do: procrastinate.

Things you’d walk a mile for: apropos to several answers in this interview, I’d gladly walk a mile for the perfect chocolate croissant.  
Things that make you want to run screaming from the room: mean people. I mean, really, there’s just no place. Oh, and those Lincoln commercials with Matthew McConaughey. I like several of his film roles and loved him in the first season of True Detective, but really, that glib look in those commercials. Come on, Matt, like you need the money!

Things to say to an author: (or at least the thing I hope to hear) “You know, something similar happened to me once and the way you described it is exactly right;” or “I am/used to be a ________ (cop, nurse, carpenter, etc.), and I appreciate that you got _______ right.”

Things to say to an author if you want to be fictionally killed off in their next book: “You know, if I was writing this, I would have . . .”

Favorite places you’ve been: we have a daughter who lives in Germany where she is a researcher, and the Rhine River Valley is a truly spectacular place we are anxious to get back to. There’s a particular little Bed and Breakfast I visited when I was nineteen or twenty in Salzburg, Austria that was truly magical. Practically any Paris café sidewalk table; give me that blanket, a warm drink, a croissant, some sunshine, and I’ll happily stay there forever. And I’d return to the night market in Chang Mai, Thailand in a heartbeat.

Places you never want to go to again: I’m from Wyoming originally and spent lots of years there. I have a fondness for many parts of the state. But as someone who has slept in a car alongside the pavement when Interstate 80 is closed during a blizzard and has survived lots of white-knuckled trips in white-out conditions on that corridor and elsewhere in the state, there are a number of places and experiences I’d rather not revisit.

Proudest moment: I’m the father of three amazing, accomplished young women. Pick the moment of birth for any of the three, but don’t ask me to pick between them.
Most embarrassing moment: okay, well, I have too many to choose from, some from adolescent years that are SO embarrassing I still can’t face them publicly. But since I need to choose one moment, I’ll leap forward to adulthood. My middle daughter was a DI basketball prospect making one of her official recruiting visits and it was our first time to meet the coaching staff. We were leaving the Student Center to meet them, and as we were exiting the building below us beyond a long, wide flight of stairs, the whole coaching staff was approaching on the sidewalk. My daughter and I both waved in recognition and descended the stairs. Somehow, I managed to miss a step, tripped, and essentially sprinted the whole length of the stairs in an arm-whirling fast jig. I managed to keep my feet and jumped to the sidewalk, breathless, hand extended to the head coach. I felt stupid enough, but was more embarrassed for my daughter, in a moment when essentially the only logical thought was: “Please don’t judge a daughter’s athleticism from the absence of her father’s.” 

Most daring thing you’ve ever done: more accurately described as “stupid” rather than daring . . . in our college dorm, we used to open the outside elevator doors, wait until the elevator arrived at the floor below us, then climb out on top of the elevator car. There were three elevators in the building, all in parallel shafts, so we’d ride atop the elevators and cross from one to the next when they stopped at the same floor or get off and balance on the ironwork between them. Like I said, not so bright in retrospect, but we sure thought it was fun at the time.

Something you chickened out from doing: (and a strong regret) my wife gave me the chance to take flying lessons and I couldn’t make myself do it.


The Other Side

Lost & Found: Stories

In the Chameleon’s Shadow


The Other Side is the crime fiction debut from Mark Leichliter. Writing as Mark Hummel, he is the author of the contemporary literary novel In the Chameleon’s Shadow and the short story collection Lost & Found. His fiction, poetry, and essays have regularly appeared in a variety of literary journals including such publications as The Bloomsbury Review, Dogwood, Fugue, Talking River Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, and Zone 3.

A former college professor and writing program director, he has also taught in an independent high school, directed a writers’ conference, and worked as a librarian. He is the managing editor of the nonfiction magazine bioStories, is on the resident faculty of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference, teaches workshops and courses in fiction and memoir, and helps other writers as a writing coach and editor. He writes from his home in Montana’s Flathead Valley.

Connect with Mark:
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