I always freeze on questions like this one.... Seriously, not really since I outline so extensively. Hemingway said, on writer's block, to never stop writing for the day until you knew what the first sentence was you were going to write the next day. I pretty much try to do that in my head. So writer's block is not a big worry for me, at least to this stage.
However, I do go through stretches of inspired and uninspired writing. Sometimes the delete key is the only remedy for a sentence or a passage. I have just finished the first major editing of my book and my editor hard-lined some real clunkers. A second set of eyes is a lifesaver. Don't fall in love with your words because sometimes you need to drown them in the bathtub.
2. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Total outliner. Very comprehensive outliner in fact, but I have just finished a book where I totally reordered the flashback sequences which took five months. So sometimes the outline is wrong. Right now, I know the basic structure of my sequel. I have the initial scenes figured out, and I have the way out figured out -- the untying of the knot, so to speak, but the middle, the complications, I'm still working on in outline. I want that done before I begin serious writing. Time is of the essence now and I want to be writing next week, so the outline is particularly time sensitive on this New Year's Day as I write these words.
3. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Growing up, I suppose, Alexandre Dumas and Louis L'Amour. Both of them are great storytellers in the classic action novel tradition. Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers and other classics. L'Amour is thought of as a western writer, but he's more than that. Books like Down the Long Hills, which was the first I read of his as a child, is a great adventure tale of two children and a horse on their own in the American west.
As an adult and as a writer of detective fiction, I most respect Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. They were a husband and wife writing team who created the subgenre of the police procedural, which all of us know and love in the form of many, many TV shows, like Law and Order and others. Yes, that's right, there did not used to be police procedurals. Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö were the first with that type of novel with their Martin Beck series of ten novels. They are Swedish writers and their best known book is entitled The Laughing Policeman. That book won the Edgar Award in 1971. It was made into a heckuva movie starring Walter Matthau as the lead detective. Those books are awesome. Check 'em out.
4. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
As regards to the construction of the novel, I would have definitely kept the entire novel in the first person past tense all the way through. The first draft of the novel had the flashback sequences in second person present tense to imitate the PTSD events that Grace is experiencing. However, no one but me and a select few who previewed the novel even got it, and most of those found it off putting if not annoying. So that was five months in rewrite. And it gave my editor fits too as my switch in person and tense was uneven.
As far as it goes in getting it published, my editor and publisher have been wonderful. Would I have been receptive to a million dollar advance? Yes. Yes, I would have. But Post Mortem Press has been wonderful to me. Eric and Stephanie are great people and my editor Elizabeth Jenike is a champ. My book was not an easy edit due to time constraints and other factors. The publishing process has been a lot of work, but highly interesting and one I truly loved.
Title: The Purple Heart Detective Agency
Author: Rock Neelly
Genre: Comedy / Mystery
“What do wounded warriors do when they return from war missing a leg or two? These tough guys start The Purple Heart Detective Agency. Using battle-tested skills, laughing all the way, when others have turned their backs, these sleuths solve mysteries. Rock Neelly’s novel is easy to pick-up, hard to put down.”
- Robert Beattie, author of Nightmare in Wichita: Hunt for the BTK Strangler
“Rock Neelly hands the reader well-defined, believable characters, caught up in a deft blend of old-school detective noir and modern technology.”
- Brian Dobbins, author of The Witch’s Cartel and Corryville
The sudden disappearance of a magician isn’t usually cause for alarm, but it’s a different story when the disappearance isn’t part of the act.
Clay and Roddy are two war veterans – both amputees – trying to rebuild their shattered lives through their struggling Purple Heart Detective Agency. Then the beautiful Angela Thayer enters the picture, asking for their help in finding her missing friend and employer, Trevor Baker – stage name, Merlyn the Magician. The high profile case promises to jumpstart their careers…until the search leads to betrayal, intrigue and mind control. And then the murders begin…
A hard-boiled detective story of murder and mayhem, a war story of pathos and survival, an action story of intrigue and violence, a love story of abandon and betrayal, a stick in the eye of the entertainment industry, wry social commentary on how America treats its veterans of war, but mostly a rousing tale of brotherhood in war and beyond.
And of course, a foul-mouthed monkey named Jerry.
Rock Neelly is a Professor of Communications and English in the Cincinnati area. He has written numerous articles in magazines, journals, and books over his career. In his storied career, Rock has been a newspaper man, a sales manager, a contributing editor, and a bad guitarist in a garage band. The grandson of cattle ranchers, Rock grew up on the high plains of Kansas shooting baskets and pheasant. He currently teaches film, literature, and writing at a community college in Northern Kentucky. He lives with his wife and family in Liberty Township, OH.
The Purple Heart Detective Agency is his first novel