AUTHOR: Bob Moats
BOOK TITLE: Classmate Murders (the first of 22 books)
PUBLISHER: Magic 1 Productions, my self-publishing company
BUY LINK: See below
Please tell us about yourself?
This is from my promotional blurb:
“Detroit area resident, Bob Moats, has been writing short stories and plays for as long as he can remember. He has lost most of his original stories, typed or handwritten, in the numerous moves he has made from his hometown of Fraser, Michigan, to Northern Michigan to Las Vegas and back to Fraser where he now lives. He also wrote the short fantasy novella "Crystal Prison of Kyr" and is a published playwright with his three act comedy "Happily Ever After." Moats became one of the causalities of unemployment early in 2009, and had time on his hands to finally pursue a lifelong dream of writing a full blown crime novel. Thus was born the first book, "Classmate Murders."
What followed was a series of twenty-two murder novels starting with "Classmate Murders" which introduces the main character, Jim Richards, who has to reluctantly admit he has become a senior citizen. Richards receives an email from a childhood sweetheart asking for his help, but by the time he reaches her, she has been murdered. His life turns around, and he is pulled into numerous murders of women from his high school whom he hasn't seen in forty years. Along with a friend of his, Buck, a big, mustachioed biker, they go off to track down the killer before he can get to one former classmate, Penny Wickens, a TV talk show host whom Jim has fallen for while protecting her. The killer also murders the women right out from under police protection, driving homicide detective Will Trapper crazy, and Trapper slowly comes to depend on Jim to help.
"There's humor, suspense, wild chases across suburban Detroit with cops, classic cars and motorcycle clubs; murder, mayhem, a good amount of romance and a twist ending.”
Tell us your latest news?
I’m working on my 23rd book, Talent Show Murders. All my books in order are: Classmate Murders, Vegas Showgirl Murders, Dominatrix Murders, Mistress Murders, Bridezilla Murders, Magic Murders, Strip Club Murders, Made-for-TV Murders, Mystery Cruise Murders, Talk Show Murders, Sin City Murders, Black Widow Murders, Vegas Vigilante Murders, Area 51 Murders, Mortuary Murders, Hypnotic Murders, Sunshine State Murders, Blue Suede Murders, Honky Tonk Murders, Dark Carnival Murders, Lipstick Murders and Pasta Murders.
Classmate Murders is free through all e-book retailers.
When and why did you begin writing?
I always wanted to be a writer. In 2009 I finally had the chance to sit down and start a full length book. I had an opening paragraph in my mind and went from there.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I started receiving emails from readers of my books telling me how much they enjoyed them. I was unsure if my books were any good, but when you hear it from the readers, you know you’ve succeeded. I get about two emails/web comments a week, and that keeps my spirits up so I continue writing.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always enjoyed reading crime and mystery novels from authors like Parker, Patterson, and Evanovich, and I wanted to write so I wrote about what I enjoyed.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not really any messages, just to enjoy the characters and plots. My stories aren’t heavy on mystery. In most of my books I usually tell who committed the crime early on so the reader doesn’t have to try and guess. But sometimes I throw in a twist.
Are experiences based on someone you know or events in your own life? (Has anyone ever realized it?)
My main character, Jim Richards, is pretty much my life, at least his back story. I did most of the things Jim talks about. It's easy to use what you know when filling in your character. One of my favorite quotes is “Fiction is a combination of I remember and let’s pretend.” So I remember much of my life and pretend Jim has exciting adventures and crimes to solve. A few of my friends and relatives realize that I do this.
What books have influenced your life most?
As I said earlier, any book by Parker, Patterson, Evanovich, Connelly, McDonald, etc. I have no one book, just a collection of great crime novels.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
The late Robert B. Parker who passed away a few years back. I would have liked to have met him and talked to him about his Spenser books, Jesse Stone books and Sunny Randall books, all of which I enjoyed reading. He infused humor and personality into his characters.
What book are you reading now? What do you like, or not, about it?
I don’t read much when I’m writing as I tend to lose track of my plots. Before I started on my latest book, I finished reading two books by my editor, Sally Berneathy, entitled “Death by Chocolate” and the sequel, “Murder, Lies and Chocolate.” Very enjoyable mysteries with great humor. I’m encouraging her to do a series, her characters are memorable. You can find her at http://www.sallyberneathy.com for more. She’s also a very capable editor. I’m having all my books re-edited by her.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
As I just said, Sally Berneathy, she has the potential to be another Janet Evanovich.
What are your current projects?
Just my books, writing and promoting. I self-publish so it is up to me to get the word out. My book sales are going up more every month, and I want to keep letting people know that they are out there.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not really. I’m happy with the way everything turned out.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
In fifth grade I wrote a short play about Charlie Chan, the famous fictional detective. I had the parts acted out by my friends in class. I enjoyed writing that and occasionally wrote more short stories and plays.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes, sitting down to do it. I have times when I can write two or three chapters in one day and then I find it hard to write anything for days, until I get the motivation. I’m not on a schedule so I don’t have to rush. Some writers force themselves to sit every day and write. I can’t do that because I would be forcing myself to write what I don’t feel. I write as though I’m reading a book. The words just flow out of my head. What you see on my pages is what I typed. If I had to force myself to write, I couldn’t. Even when I read a good book, I’ll read a chapter or two then let it sit a couple days. I can write one of my books in a month when I’m really motivated. Usually two months now that I’m wearing down.
Do you ever have problems with writer's block? If so how do you get through it?
I don’t really get writer’s block. I just find myself not feeling like writing as I said in the last question. My stories aren’t plotted out in an outline. I just have a basic idea of what I want to do and go with it. So I develop the plot as I write. I very rarely find myself blocked. I just go off in a new direction and then it flows back to what I wanted to do.
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
I’m a techno-geek. I love toys, so I buy any kind of electronic gadget and play with that. I just bought the 10.1” Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 Android tablet and a 23 inch Lenovo touchscreen all-in-one computer that is really nice. I have three computers running that I promote on and create my promotional materials. I also make my own paperback books of my novels to sell. I can do about three books a day, when I’m in the mood.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Robert B. Parker. The humor and interesting characters are what I enjoy. The relationships he builds between his characters makes you like them. I try to instill that into my characters. They have become very real to me and are like family now.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
As I explained earlier, just sitting down to do it.
Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I learned to not take bad reviews of my books seriously. There seem to be a number of people on Amazon who love to bash books. Someone referred to them as the Amazon Review Mafia. I get more good reviews than bad, but the bad ones can hurt. These books are like my children, and I resent anyone bashing them. I know my books aren’t great literature, but those people don’t have to be downright mean about their ‘expert’ opinion of my books. I’ve learned to try and ignore them.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just write. I know every person says they have a book in them, but if it’s not a good book, don’t bother unless you’re doing it to satisfy a need to have a book that you can sell to your friends and relatives. Forget trying to find a publisher. Unless you are a phenom and can write the next Harry Potter books, don’t expect to find a New York publisher unless you are a celebrity or established author. You can, however, go with self-publishing through Amazon. But if you don’t sit down and write, it doesn’t matter. Also invest in an editor, or you’ll incur the wrath of the review mafia.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes, enjoy the books and please let me know what you think. I love responding to readers. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
No, sorry nothing.
Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
I got as far as a literary agent who was interested in my early books, until she quit the business. Now I’m self-published. My books are selling well through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, iTunes and Diesel. If I were to wait for a publisher to pick up my books, I’d be dead before that happens. I’m 63 years old so I can’t wait too long.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.
My new Blog: http://bit.ly/bu5KNN
My books for Nook: http://bit.ly/xUNn8y
My books on Kindle http://bit.ly/70tQBq
Excerpt from “Classmate Murders”
Tonight my email contained the usual crap along with Buck's stuff, but one letter caught my eye. The sender was "DWittenfield@gomail.com" and the subject said in big letters: "JAMES, PLEASE HELP!" I knew a Dee Wittenfield in elementary school, and she always called me James. Actually, I had a huge crush on Dee, and we even went steady for about a month before the school district broke into smaller divisions and she was sent to a different school. I went to the download on my mail program and recovered the letter. It read:
"James, I know it’s been years since we've seen each other, but I talked to Joyce Harper and she said she heard you were working for a detective company. I got your email address off the alumni website, and I don't know who to turn to but I'm afraid for my life. I can't call the police, and I thought you might help me. If you could call me, I'm at 555-3682. I can't even go out of my apartment. Please call, Dee."
I printed out the letter and read it again.
I pulled my trusty Palm Treo cell phone out of my pocket and dialed the number. It rang about four times, then a male voice answered.
"May I speak with Dee, please?"
"I'm a friend of hers from high school. Can I talk to her please?"
"I'm afraid she can't come to the phone." He paused. "She was murdered earlier today."
Hearing those words sent a shuddering chill through my body.
The voice on the phone asked, "Who are you again?"
I didn't know what to say. "I'm a friend from high school," I blurted out.
"You said that already, but who are you?" he demanded.
"Well, who's asking?" I demanded back.
"Detective Sergeant Will Trapper, Clinton Township Police. Now, you wanna answer my question?"
"Oh." My mind was blank. "Uh, my name is Jim Richards. I knew Dee from high school."
"Yeah, I got that much already. When was the last time you saw Miss Wittenfield?"
"I guess it's been over 40 years." My brain tried to do the math, but I just rounded it off.
"You called now after 40 years? Why?"
"She sent me an email today to call her."
There was a silence for a beat, then he asked, "What did the email say?"
I read it to him from the printout. He was silent again.
"That's all she said?"
I assured him that was it. "What happened to her, may I ask?"
"We're investigating, that's all I can say right now. Wittenfield said in her email that you were with a detective company. Who do you work for?"
"Oh, it's actually a security company. I was a guard. They had a contract with Dooley Cadillac on Eight Mile, and I worked there 4 nights a week watching the cars. I'm not working for them at the moment. I quit."
"Why'd you quit?"
"Long story, be happy to tell you about it sometime, unless you got about 20 minutes now to hear me rant about my employers." He let it go.
He asked how I could be reached, I told him and he said I'd probably be called in to answer some more questions. I don't know what more I could have told him, other than Dee and I went steady for about a month 40 years ago. I hoped that wasn't grounds for suspicion.
I hung up the phone in a daze. A girl I had a super crush on years ago had been murdered, and she wanted me to help her. I sat there for a long while, my mind just numb.