Monday, January 23, 2012

Liz's Lair: Welcome Suspense Author Dale Phillips

Please help me give a rousing M & M welcome to fellow mystery author, Dale Phillips. Dale was at the Crime Bake in November with Pete Morin, one of the Book Cents Babes (and yes, we call him that to his face!) and he hung out with us the entire time. By the end of the weekend we were ready to declare him one of us. Anyway, he has several books out, so I'll let him tell you all about them. He's giving away a free download of A FALL FROM GRACE and one copy of his newest mystery collection CROOKED PATHS. So take it away, Dale.

Hello All-- am happy to be guesting here, among so many talented writers. As a fan of good mysteries, good margaritas, and good writer blogs, this is the place to be!

I met Liz, Kari, and Barbie Jo at the Crime Bake conference, where their camaraderie and fun-loving mischief was infectious. Let's just say that if you go out with them, bring bail money, extra ammo, a getaway car, and two escape routes… Don't worry, gang, what happens at Crime Bake stays at Crime Bake. Besides, they'll never find those bodies…

These ladies show the best of the writing world today-- cooperation and collaboration, instead of competition and exclusion. They help each other, and other writers. This makes things better (and a lot more fun) for all.

So I was asked about my Zack Taylor mystery series, set in Maine. The first book, A MEMORY OF GRIEF, came out last year, and the second, A FALL FROM GRACE, is being released now, with the official launch on Saturday, Jan 21st. Not bad, since I went with a startup publisher, and A MEMORY OF GRIEF was the first book they released. This series has something different, a tough guy protagonist who hates guns, but who faces people that use them. Too much of the time, I read a mystery where the protagonist gets into trouble, and instantly gets saved by whipping out a gun. Not very realistic, at least from my experience. And not very fun to write, where the weapon is a perpetual deus ex machina, an instant solution to all danger. Where's the tension, if we know the hero or heroine can always even the odds in such a simple fashion? I'd rather make it more interesting by having the protagonist at a distinct disadvantage right out of the gate. How's Zack going to get out of this one?

Zack also has a lot to learn. He's had a rough time, and guilt from a past tragedy has made him drift through life, forming few attachments. He finds purpose in seeking the truth about the death of a friend, and discovers much about himself in the process. Stained by hanging out with the wrong crowd in places like Vegas and Miami, he finds the laid-back lifestyle of Maine to be quite healing, despite the fact that he keeps finding trouble along with it. He's an underdog, and this makes him gravitate toward helping others who are at the mercy of predators. For example, in "A Fall From Grace," Zack must help a single mother accused of murder, and defend her against an entire town that thinks she's guilty.

All his time alone has made Zack a thinker and a reader, and the title of each book reflects the theme of the novel, with references taken from literary works. So there are layers, and more to offer the careful reader than just another action yarn. This series will especially appeal to those who like John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee, and Robert B. Parker's Spenser.

Reader response for the series has been terrific, including a great recommendation from NY Times Best-Seller mystery writer Debbi Mack, author of Least Wanted, Identity Crisis, and the soon-to-be released Riptide. I've also joined mystery book clubs, and it's so great to connect with readers and find out what they enjoyed in the books.

I've been writing for years, and even had Stephen King as my writing teacher back in college. While he depicts Maine primarily through the lens of horror, I want to showcase the state in a different light. And though excellent mystery writers like Kate Flora and Gerry Boyle write great Maine-based crime tales, their books are filled with so much unrelenting darkness, I hardly recognize the place where I spent so much time. The setting is more than just backdrop for me, it's about a place I love and still think of as home, though I now live in Massachusetts, a two-hour car ride away.

Apart from the novels, I've published poetry, a non-fiction career help book, and over 20 stories, including mystery/crime tales in such places as: Crime & Suspense, Big Pulp, Short.Story-Me!, and Over My Dead Body. My first mystery story collection, Crooked Paths is now out:

I'd like to invite the readers here to sample my novels and other works-- via Amazon's "Look Inside" feature and the sampling capability on the ebook site Smashwords, as well as on my website.

Thanks for inviting me to drop by. Keep up the good reading

Dale lives with his family outside Boston where he's worked over twenty years as a professional technical writer making computer software programs understandable and usable. He's had a variety of other jobs from holiday Santa to wine steward, and he's a tournament chess player and a fencer. He's published over twenty short stories, has appeared on stage, television and in Throg, an independent film available on Netflix, Jeopardy, and Think Twice. After writing three novels, he co wrote and acted in a short political satire film, available here.


Kari Lee Townsend said...

Welcome Dale! We had a great time meeting you at Crime Bake. You books sound great. Good luck to you :-)

Dale T. Phillips said...

Kari, thanks. Crime Bake was so much fun, I'm surprised it's not illegal! In my to-be-read pile is Tempest in the Tea Leaves and Liver Let Die. Looking forward to good reads.

Cassy Pickard said...

Dale! How great to have you here. I am stilled bummed at not being able to be at CrimeBake this year. Last year was a blast. It's wonderful to have our group expand. You have added to my TBR pile. This is great. Best, Cassy

Lindsay said...

Dale, surviving CrimeBake is an adventure in itself isn't it. At least we all got out intact, sort of.
Looks like another book or two for my TBR pile also

Dale T. Phillips said...

Cassy, sorry you missed a great time. It's funny- being social and meeting Pete 2 years ago at the Crime Bake allowed me to meet the fun M&M bunch this year at the same venue. Had I know what a great group of writers Christine had, I'd have pushed a little harder in my pitch for her to read mine.
As I've now joined three mystery book clubs, I have a bunch of new writers to recommend to them!

And then there's Lindsay, who, when I asked what he wrote, indicated Romance, Dog-centric mysteries, and Thrillers! And I thought I was varied!

Lindsay said...

Hey Dale,

Liz Lipperman said...

Great blog, Dale. We get lots of hits all week, so there will be a lot of people checking out your books. Thanks so much for guest blogging with us, today. I let you have free rein while I FINISHED MY DAMN BOOK!!!! YAY!!!

Anita Clenney said...

Hi Dale. I'm late as usual. I wanted to go to Crime Bake but didn't make it. You've had an interesting and diverse writing career. And who wouldn't want Stephen King as a teacher? Wow. Your stories sound great. I will have to check them out.

Dale T. Phillips said...

Liz, thanks again for allowing me to guest here. Congrats on getting it done! Woo-hoo-- give that lady a margarita!

Anita, okay to chime in after the earlybirds. They're a driven bunch.

Having King as a teacher was great- the man knows how to instruct. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I learned a lot. And I pass that along in our writer's group- just got back from it.

So for the next Crime Bake can we get the whole gang together, or is that illegal? I'd like to meet the rest of the extended family.