Saturday, 11 January 2014

Interview with Luke Murphy the author of Dead Mans Hand


A little while ago on Twitter I was contacted by the Author of Dead Man’s Hand Luke Murphy.

 So I down loaded his book and I was immediately sucked in to down load your copy click on the link
Luke asked me if I did guest post on my blog page. Why the hell not I thought to myself and so as a result of that I would like to introduce you all to Luke Murphy.

   Tell us about your book the Dead Man’s Hand.

Dead Man’s Hand takes readers inside the head of Calvin Watters, a sadistically violent African-American Las Vegas debt-collector, who was once a rising football star, now a murder suspect on the run.

 Back cover text for DEAD MAN'S HAND:

What happens when the deck is stacked against you…

From NFL rising-star prospect to wanted fugitive, Calvin Watters is a sadistic African-American Las Vegas debt-collector framed by a murderer who, like the Vegas Police, finds him to be the perfect fall-guy.

…and the cards don't fall your way?

When the brutal slaying of a prominent casino owner is followed by the murder of a well-known bookie, Detective Dale Dayton is thrown into the middle of a highly political case and leads the largest homicide investigation in Vegas in the last twelve years.

What if you're dealt a Dead Man's Hand?

Against his superiors and better judgment, Dayton is willing to give Calvin one last chance. To redeem himself, Calvin must prove his innocence by finding the real killer, while avoiding the LVMPD, as well as protect the woman he loves from a professional assassin hired to silence them.

     Why did you choose this subject to write about, is it something that you have knowledge in? (Not murder or collecting but if you do then please tell) I was thinking more about the police work side of the story?

 I never thought much about writing when I was growing up.

But I was always an avid reader, which I owe to my mother. She was a librarian, and although I lost her when I was young, I will always remember a stack on Danielle Steele books on her bedside table, and a lot of books lying around the house at my disposal.

My first chapter books were the Hardy Boys titles, so they are the reason I love mysteries. As an adult, some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly and Greg Iles, so naturally I write what I love to read – mystery/suspense novels. DEAD MAN`S HAND has been compared to James Patterson books, which to me is an honour. Maybe in style (short chapters, a quick read), as I have read many of his books.

      Did you base your characters on people that you know or are they just fictional?

 Many people have asked if I can make any real connections to the main character in my novel. The answer, as for my connection…no, I have never been involved in a homicide investigation, LOL. The plot is completely fictional. Although I am not a 6’5”, 220 pound African-American, I’ve used much of my athletic background when creating my protagonist Calvin Watters. Watters past as an athlete, and his emotional rollercoaster brought on by injuries were drawn from my experiences. His mother died of cancer when he was young, as mine was. There are certainly elements of myself in Calvin, but overall, this is a work of fiction. I did not base the characters or plot on any real people or events. Any familiarities are strictly coincidence.

As far as characterization goes, Dead Man’s Hand’s protagonist Calvin Watters faces racial prejudice with calmness similar to that of Walter Mosley’s character Easy Rawlins. But Watters’ past as an athlete and enforcer will remind other readers of (Jack) Reacher of the Lee Childs series. The Stuart Woods novel Choke, about a tennis player who, like Watters, suffered greatly from a dramatic loss that was a failure of his psyche, is also an inspiration for Dead Man’s Hand.

When thinking about creating the main character for my story, I wanted someone “REAL”. Someone readers could relate to. Although it is a work of fiction, my goal was to create a character who readers could make a real connection with.

Physically, keeping in mind Watters’ past as an NCAA football standout and his current occupation as a Vegas debt-collector, I thought “intimidating”, and put together a mix of characteristics that make Watters appear scary (dreadlocks and patchy facial hair), but also able to blend in with those of the social elite. Although he is in astounding physical condition, handsome and well-toned, he does have a physical disability that limits his capabilities.

He’s proud, confident bordering on cocky, mean and tough, but I also gave him a softer side that readers, especially women, will be more comfortable rooting for. After his humiliating downfall he is stuck at the bottom for a while, but trying hard to work his way back up.

He has weaknesses and he has made poor choices. He has regrets, but Watters has the opportunity to redeem himself. Not everyone gets a second chance in life, and he realizes how fortunate he is.

Calvin Watters is definitely worth rooting for.

      Any particular reason for setting the book in Vegas?

 I’ve always dreamed big, and set high goals for myself. When I decided that I would write a novel with the goal of publication, I didn’t want to just write a book to have it read by friends and family. I wanted to write a novel that would be accepted worldwide, and be available for people everywhere. I wanted something that would be desired by people all over the world. That means I needed a setting in my book that interested people and they wanted to read about.

So that meant, for the setting, I needed a major market in the United States. Major American cities that have become popular in books are Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, New York, etc.

I chose Las Vegas, or as some people might call it, Sin City. Everyone is interested in this fast-paced, party-all-night lifestyle and city that is party-central.

I didn’t just choose this city on a whim. I had visited Las Vegas in 2000 with a buddy of mine and I instantly feel in love with the city. Las Vegas was the perfect backdrop for this story, glitz and glamour as well as an untapped underground.

Everyone knows about the bright lights big city that is Vegas, but for as much as we read and see about that side of Vegas, we seldom here about the other, darker side of LV.

I also have to admit that that my wife was pretty happy that I had chosen Las Vegas as my setting, since she joined me in my research trip (wink, wink). Nothing like being able to write-off a trip to Las Vegas (lol).

      Where do you start with your research when writing a story that involves the services such as the Police/Army and also the world of casino ownership and gambling?   

First thing I need to say is that Dead Man’s Hand is a work of fiction, so at times I exercised my creative liberties.

There is not a single moment in time when the idea for DEAD MAN’S HAND came to be, but circumstances over the years that led to this story: my hockey injuries, frequent visits to Las Vegas, my love of football, crime books and movies.

Dead Man’s Hand became real from mixing these events, taking advantage of experts in their field, and adding my wild imagination. The internet also provides a wealth of information, available at our fingertips with a click of the mouse.

What I learned most from my trip to LV is what is found outside of the “Strip”. Not all of Las Vegas glitters, and there are parts of the city just like everywhere else in North America. This is the part of the city that I wrote about—things you haven’t heard about in other books.

So I was fortunate enough to visit Las Vegas and do some real, on-site research for street names, hotels, casinos, venues, etc. All of my personal contact with people such as members of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department was done via the Internet/email/phone.

When I had completed the first draft of my novel and sent it to my agent for her revision notes, I had a very long phone conversation with her. Because this was my first novel, and the first time I had worked with an agent, I didn’t know about things like how is copyright infringements dealt with in fiction writing.

So, because most of this book is based on real places in Vegas, I had to make up names to protect myself. You will probably recognize the descriptions of certain hotels and casinos or restaurants in my novel, but those venues have had name changes just to be safe.

       For people like myself that have no idea about gambling is the Myth in the story about the dead man’s hand true?

From what I know, it’s the truth.

 According to Wikipedia, “The dead man's hand is a two-pair poker hand, namely ‘aces and eights’. This card combination gets its name from a legend that it was the five-card-draw hand held by Wild Bill Hickok, when he was murdered on August 2, 1876, in Saloon No. 10 at Deadwood, South Dakota.”

       Are you working on a sequel?

Not at the moment. I’m currently working on my second novel, another crime-thriller, following the career of rookie, female LAPD detective Charlene Taylor.

I would love to write another book. Right now, I have a full time job (teaching), a part-time tutoring job, and three small children (all girls, YIKES!!).

I don`t have much time to write, but when I get a chance, I do all I can. It could take some time, but eventually I would love to write a series of novels featuring Calvin Watters. But I will not limit my novels to Calvin Watters, as I would like to write a variety of novels, all in the crime-thriller genres.

        What are you reading at the moment?

 I met author Rick Mofina at a writing conference in Ottawa a few years ago and he was kind enough to give me a blurb for my novel, Dead Man’s Hand. I am currently reading Rick’s novel, The Burning Edge.

      What has been the most influential book on your life? The one that captured you and shaped you in the writer that you are today ?

 “Kiss the Girls” by James Patterson was the first adult crime-book I ever read, and I fell in love with the genres. I read a lot of James Patterson in the late 90’s. Probably my favorite crime book to date is “The Poet” by Michael Connelly. But my favorite thriller is “The Quiet Game” by Greg Iles.

    When writing what do you struggle with the most?

Nowadays, for me, the most difficult thing about writing has nothing to do with actual writing (ideas, flow, writer`s block, etc.), but it`s finding the time.

Between teaching and tutoring, with three small children and a wife at home, finding the time to sit down at a computer and have serious, quality writing time is almost impossible.

But I love my girls and spending quality time with them is a great feeling. I wouldn’t give up my games of ring-around-the-rosie and duck-duck-goose for anything in the world. It just puts writing my next novel behind a bit.

   What set up do you need to write? (music, snacks, silence)

 I started writing when I was young and playing professional hockey. A couple of hours a day on the ice and in the gym and then the day was mine. I also suffered a serious eye injury and couldn`t play, so I had a lot more time on my hands. Now that I`m older, with a family and full time job, makes it a lot harder to find the time to write.

These days I don`t have a schedule or routine. Right now, I`m too busy playing ring-around-the-rosie and duck-duck-goose to write.

But when I do write, I find that I am most productive in the morning, and I always have to have a mug of steaming tea in front of me.

Before I even sit down at a computer, I have hand-written notes of ideas for my book. This could be anything from plot, scenes, setting, characters, etc.

Once I sit down, I just write. No editing, no looking back, I just let it flow. Unless I`m certain, no title until after I`m done. As I write, I keep notes by hand on the timeline.

When my first draft is complete, I go through it twice, once for the creative editing process and the next for flow, repetition, etc. Then I have my former English professor read it over and she gives me her thoughts. I edit it myself again. Then I send it to my agent for her thoughts, then I edit it again myself. Only once my agent and I feel ready do we send it to publishers.

    Other than a great author who is Luke Murphy?
Ask me again in 10-12 years when my girls are teenagers. LOL.

I live in Shawville, Quebec with my wife, three daughters and pug.

I played six years of professional hockey before retiring in 2006. Since then, I’ve held a number of jobs, from sports columnist to radio journalist, before earning my Bachelor of Education degree (Magna Cum Laude). I’m a full time elementary teacher and part time tutor.

My debut novel, Dead Man`s Hand, was released by Imajin Books on October 20, 2012.

I’m a true hometown boy. I moved back to the town I grew up in and bought my dad’s house, where I’m now raising my family. I’m teaching in the elementary school I attended and most of my friends and family are still in town.

My kids are in the same groups I was in, play the same sports I played, and are experiencing the same things I did as a kid.

I couldn’t be happier than I am right now…unless I became a bestselling author of course.

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