Mystery author Earl Staggs recently received his second Derringer Award for Best Short Story of the Year. His novel MEMORY OF A MURDER earned a long list of Five Star reviews. SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS, a collection of 16 Mystery tales, is available in print and Ebook. He served as Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Magazine and as President of the Short Mystery Fiction Society. He’s a contributing blog member of Murderous Musings and Make Mine Mystery and a frequent speaker at conferences, seminars, writers and readers groups.
I had the opportunity to ask Earl some personal questions and I think you will find his answers both interesting and entertaining.
When you were a child, what did you want to "be" when you grew up?
A cowboy. I grew up during the infancy of TV, so for entertainment, we went to the movies. We could buy a ticket and stay all day. There were usually at least two full cowboy movies as well as a few serials, and we watched them over and over again.. I had a lot of heroes. Hopalong Cassidy. . .Lash LaRue. . .Gene Autry and others. My favorite, though, was Roy Rogers, who was billed as King of the Cowboys.
Many years later, I had the thrill of meeting Roy in person. It was a great experience to spend time with someone I idolized as a boy. My wife and I even had a picture taken with him. I wrote a story about that day called “White Hats and Happy Trails,” which is on my website. The picture’s there, too.
At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to become a published author?
I harbored a desire to write nearly all my life and dabbled a little from time to time. By 1995, our daughters were grown and on their own, and my wife and I decided we’d shoveled enough snow for two lifetimes. We left Maryland and moved south. That’s when I decided if I was ever going to seriously try to be a writer, it was time to do it. I started out writing short mystery stories and after a few years, was fortunate enough to have some of them published. Sixteen of them are included in my collection called SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS, available in print and Ebook.
One story involved a private eye with a psychic gift. The protagonist, Adam Kingston, had to solve a sixteen-year-old murder and stop a rash of new ones. Feedback on that story was very positive, and a few people suggested I take Adam into a novel. So I did. The result was MEMORY OF A MURDER. It took a while to find a publisher (of course), but it’s still in print and doing well, thank you very much.
That original story which fueled my desire to be a published novelist, is called “The Missing Sniper,” and is available as an Ebook novella from Untreed Reads.
I’m working on a sequel to MEMORY OF A MURDER now. I want to give it a title beginning with MEMORY OF. . . something, but have not come up with the right something yet. This time, Adam is searching for a missing young woman and for the killer of another one murdered twelve years ago. Any title suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
What is something you wish you could do better?
Time management. I would get more writing done if not for seductive distractions. A good show on TV. . .a new book from a favorite author. . .a nap. Probably the worst distractions are email and the Internet. If you’ve been in the writing community for a while, you’ve made a lot of friends and contacts. You HAVE to keep in touch, right? And there are great sites out there on the net you have to check out regularly. Otherwise, how would you keep up with that’s going on in the publishing industry?
All are good excuses for putting the writing aside, but they are major time drains. It really comes down to establishing priorities and good time management.
I recall an interview with the wife of a well-known prolific writer. When asked how he managed to turn out so much, she said, “He’s committed to writing a certain amount every day, and he’s not allowed to check his email until he does it.”
That sounds like a good plan. I need to work on that.
Name something on your bucket list.
A horse. I’d like to have a small ranch and a horse of my own, maybe more than one. I began this piece saying I wanted to be a cowboy when I grew up. While I haven’t completely grown up in some ways, it seems I’ve come full circle.
Tell us about your books:
TALL CHAMBERS: JUSTIFIED ACTION, a Mystery/Thriller, will be available soon in Ebook and print form. Watch for announcements on my website: http://earlwstaggs.wordpress.com
You’re invited to visit my site now where you can read Chapter One of my Mystery novel, MEMORY OF A MURDER.
You can also read a short story called “The Day I Almost Became a Great Writer.” Some say it’s the funniest story I’ve ever written.
There’s another story there called “White Hats and Happy Trails,” about the day I spent with my boyhood idol, Roy Rogers. There’s even a picture of my wife and me with Roy to prove it’s all true.
Thanks again, Susan, for being a gracious hostess. Thanks also to everyone who stopped by.
Please leave a comment and you may win a free book.
At the end of the tour, I’ll draw two names from those who left comments. The first name drawn will receive a signed print copy of MEMORY OF A MURDER, a mystery novel with a long list of Five Star Reviews. The second name drawn will receive their choice of a signed print copy or an Ebook of SHORT STORIES OF EARL STAGGS, a collection of 16 tales of mystery from hardboiled to humorous.
Where can readers learn even more about you and your writing?