Title: The Secret Keeper
Release Date: 12-10-09
Author: Dorien Grey
Author website: Dorien Grey's World (www.doriengrey.com)
Publisher: Zumaya Boundless
Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com
Blurb: One aging millionaire, one dysfunctional family, lots of greed, a book of poetry, a possible murder, and a missing will, and a young man with a secret he doesn't know he's keeping provide the recipe for book #13 of the Dick Hardesty mystery series.
Welcome back, Dorien, and thanks so very much for agreeing to this interview.
The pleasure is mine. I'm delighted to have the chance to talk with your readers again.
Can you tell us the journey you embarked upon to your first publishing contract?
I suspect my "journey" began the first time my mother took me to the library and allowed me to pick out a book by myself. It's been a slowly evolving process ever since.
Which author(s) inspire you and why?
I think just about every writer who has written a book I read and enjoyed has inspired me in some way. Like many authors, I'm a sponge when it comes to soaking up the ideas of others.
Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written, and if so, what is your favorite scene?
To ask me to name my favorite book is rather like asking a mother which of her children she likes best. I wouldn't want to hurt the feelings of the other books by singling one out.
Your favorite book by another author?
Hands down, Robert Lewis Taylor's "Adrift in a Boneyard."
What books are reading right now?
At the moment, I'm reading Gregg Herron's "Murder in the Garden District."
If you could choose one author to co-write a book with who would it be?
Robert Lewis Taylor. Or maybe Dostoyevski (now THAT would be a book!). Or Dickens. Or Ray Bradbury.
Did you have any research done for the erotic part in your novels?
No research is required in writing what one knows.
What do you think makes a good erotic romance story?
Being able to effectively convey the characters' emotions. As for the "erotic" part, I go along with those who point out that the mind is the greatest erogenous zone, and I have great faith in the reader's ability to fill in the blanks without much "insert Tab A into Slot B" instructions from me. Too much explicit hump-and-moan takes the reader pretty much out of the equation.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I never sit down with a stopwatch. I write as often and as much as I can before life, always standing behind me tapping its foot impatiently, demands I get up and do something else.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I'm often rather surprised to find I feel much more strongly about a subject than I'd previously been aware. And I've definitely learned that in a battle between whether the book will do what I want it to or whether I will do what the book tells me to, the book wins 9 times out of 10.
How do you satisfy your muse when things get rough during writing a book?
I give it a glass of milk and a cookie and, while it is otherwise distracted, I go back ten pages or so and start rereading. By the time I've reached the point where I ran into the problem, it usually resolves itself easily.
How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
You mean like growing up homosexual in a blatantly heterosexual world? I guess you might say it's not only colored but saturated my writing. I'm far from an in-your-face activist, but I've spent most of my writing life trying to subtly show straights that gays are not an alien species, and what unites us far outweighs our differences.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Since I'm usually always writing something....books, blogs, emails, etc....I don't have nearly the time I'd like to have to read. I watch a lot of TV at night after writing all day, and I do like to get out into the real world as often as I can: a movie, coffee with friends, an occasional cultural event. I am still circulating my petition for a 48 hour day.
Before we say goodbye, could you tell give us an excerpt from "The Secret Keeper"?
I'd be happy to!
As soon as Jonathan left for practice and Joshua and I had cleaned up from dinner, I said, “Let’s go take a walk downstairs for a minute. I want to take a look at Uncle Jonathan’s truck.”
Joshua, who never passed up an opportunity to go somewhere—anywhere—waited impatiently by the front door while I rummaged through our top dresser drawer to find
Jonathan’s spare set of keys.
Since Jonathan always backed the truck in, the minute I unlocked and opened the door to the garage and switched on the light, I saw the hole, almost directly in the center of the
windshield, just to the left of the driver’s seat as seen from the front. I moved up for a better look. Though it was warm in the garage, I felt a definite chill.
“Where are we going?” Joshua asked.
“Nowhere,” I said. “I just want to look for something.”
Wanting to keep him from getting into any mischief or wandering into the alley while I was about it, I said, “Tell you what—why don’t you sit in the driver’s seat while I look.”
“Can I drive?” he asked excitedly.
“You can pretend-drive,” I said, “but don’t touch any of
the buttons, okay?”
“Okay,” he said, unconvincingly.
I let him in the driver’s side and moved around to the passenger door, stepping partly into the truck to check for what I was afraid I was going to find. And I found it—a small round hole in the upholstery about a foot to the right of the driver and in line with but slightly lower than the hole in the windshield.
Luckily, the truck had a split seat, so I was able to pull the passenger’s side forward without disturbing Joshua. He couldn’t reach the brake or clutch pedals, or anything on the
dashboard, without leaning far forward, which of course he tried to do until my loud “Ahem!” stopped him in mid-motion. He returned to moving the steering wheel rapidly back and forth and making “brrrmmmmmmm” sounds.
Returning my attention to the issue at hand, I saw a dent in the back wall of the cab and, searching the floor, spotted a flattened blob of metal—obviously, a bullet.
Leaving it where it was, I put the seat back, got out of the truck, closed the door and went back to the driver’s door.
“Okay,” I said. “Let’s go.”
“But we just got here!” Joshua observed plaintively. Reluctantly, he turned to get out of the truck, and I lifted him down to the floor.
“You’re a good driver,” I said, tousling his head, and he beamed.
We then left the garage, closing and locking the door behind us.
When we returned to the apartment, Joshua ran off to his room, and I went right to the phone phone to call Marty Gresham’s number at police headquarters. I knew he wouldn’t be in, but left a message for him to call me the minute he arrived in the morning.
* * *
I had just come out of Joshua’s room after Story Time when Jonathan came home.
As was our usual routine, we sat on the couch watching a little TV before going to bed. During a commercial break, I broached the subject I’d been thinking about since Joshua and I left the garage.
“You know, I’ve been thinking. Maybe now’s a good time to make a trip back to Wisconsin to see your dad and your sisters.”
We’d talked several times about his desire to take Joshua back to visit family. He hadn’t been back since he came to us, and while he spoke to his grandfather and/or aunts every month or so, Jonathan didn’t want them to become just voices on the phone.
“You deserve a little time off,” I said. “You said the other day that work was a little slow at Evergreen. Your boss would probably be willing to have you take some time off. You’ve got some vacation time coming, and now would be a perfect time to go, while you don’t have any freelance jobs.”
He was quiet for a few moments, thinking. “It would be nice to go back home for a while,” he said at last. “I’d like you to meet my family.”
I smiled. “I’d like that, but I think I’d better stay around and hold down the fort. Besides, this is a family thing.”
“You’re family,” he said.
“I appreciate that,” I said, “but this will be your first trip home with Joshua, and I’d just be a distraction. I’ll go with you next time.”
“But it won’t be a vacation without you,” he objected.
“You’ll have another week coming,” I said. “We can all go somewhere together then.”
“Well, I don’t know. I just don’t like going anywhere without you.”
“I know, and I’ll miss you, too. But I definitely think you should go.”
He looked at me suspiciously. “Something else is going on here. Tell me.”
He deserved the truth. My trying to protect him with evasions and half-truths hadn’t worked, and he was right to resent my trying.
So, I told him.
“Look,” I said, trying to appear as casual about it as I could, “if—and that’s a big if—you’re right about Clarence Bement’s not having committed suicide, that means somebody killed him. And if whoever did it knows you and Mr. Bement talked a lot, it’s not impossible he may think Mr. Bement told you something he shouldn’t have.”
“But he didn’t!”
“You and I may know that, but the guy who called you to come out to a deserted stretch of road doesn’t.”
“So, it wasn’t a stone that broke my windshield.” It was more a statement than a question.
I shook my head. “Afraid not.”
“And if I hadn’t swerved to avoid that pothole—”
I reached over to take his hand, entwining our fingers.
“But you did,” I said, “and that’s what matters.” I squeezed his hand. “Look, we can’t be sure about any of this. The window could have been an accident and your being fol-
lowed a coincidence.”
“But you don’t think so.”
“Hey, I’m a private investigator. I see bad guys lurking behind every tree whether they’re there or not. But just to be safe, I want to look into it further, and I’ll be able to do that a
lot easier if I don’t have to worry about you while I’m doing it.”
“You’re doing it again.”
“Trying to protect me. I do appreciate it, but I really can take care of myself.”
“I know you can, Babe, and that’s not the issue. It’s not even a question of just you and me. We have Joshua to think about now, too. Just in case there is a real problem here, we can’t let him be involved. I can’t help but worry about you and try to protect you—that’s what I’m here for. So humor me. Look on it as my being selfish—by protecting you, I’m protecting myself. You’d do the same for me.”
He smiled. “Of course I would. But I’d try not to be so obvious about it.”