Friday, November 25, 2011

A New Prospect by Wayne Zurl Blog Tour: Author Interview

Wayne Zurl has stopped by my blog today to share with you what I think is one of the best interviews I have ever done. Author of A New Prospect, he is fascinating and I very much enjoyed "getting to know" him!

Thanks to Nurture Your Books Virtual Tours for the opportunity to showcase Mr. Zurl's work!

Book Summary:

Sam Jenkins never thought about being a fish out of water during the twenty years he spent solving crimes in New York. But things change, and after retiring to Tennessee, he gets that feeling. Jenkins becomes a cop again and is thrown headlong into a murder investigation and a steaming kettle of fish, down-home style.

The victim, Cecil Lovejoy, couldn't have deserved it more. His death was the inexorable result of years misspent and appears to be no great loss, except the prime suspect is Sam's personal friend.

Jenkins' abilities are attacked when Lovejoy's influential widow urges politicians to reassign the case to state investigators.

Feeling like "a pork chop at a bar mitzvah" in his new workplace, Sam suspects something isn't kosher when the family tries to force him out of the picture.

In true Jenkins style, Sam turns common police practice on its ear to insure an innocent man doesn't fall prey to an imperfect system and the guilty party receives appropriate justice.

A NEW PROSPECT takes the reader through a New South resolutely clinging to its past and traditional way of keeping family business strictly within the family.

About the Author:

Wayne Zurl grew up on Long Island and retired after twenty years with the Suffolk County Police Department, one of the largest municipal law enforcement agencies in New York and the nation. For thirteen of those years he served as a section commander supervising investigators. He is a graduate of SUNY, Empire State College and served on active duty in the US Army during the Vietnam War and later in the reserves. Zurl left New York to live in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with his wife, Barbara.

Ten (10) of his Sam Jenkins mysteries have been produced as audio books and simultaneously published as eBooks or are under contract. His first full-length novel, A NEW PROSPECT, was named best mystery at the 2011 Indie Book Awards. A new full-length novel, A LEPRECHAUN’S LAMENT, is on the coming soon list at Iconic Publishing and will be available in print for early 2012.

For more information on Wayne’s Sam Jenkins mystery series see You can read excerpts, reviews and endorsements, interviews, coming events, and even see photos of the area where the stories take place.

Author Interview:

1.  Are the names of the characters in your novels important?  How and why?

I’ve done a lot of interviews over the last two years and I really like this question for two reasons. One, it’s atypical of what usually appears on the list of questions and, two, names are very important to me—and I find some of them fascinating.

Like a character’s personality and dialogue, their name must be unique, catchy, and in many cases quirky.
One of the things my wife and I do when we travel is look in the local phone books for people with our family names. In doing so, I also look in other areas of the book just to see what names are peculiar to the region. I find names can be quite provincial. I’ve seen names in Tennessee that I never saw in the forty-six years I lived in New York

Because I write about the south, I collect names from Tennessee phone books; make one list of unique first names and one for family names. Then I take one from column A and one from column B and mix and match by sound and fit it to the fictional character’s personality.

I’ve achieved my goal if a reader says, “Oh, yeah, I remember Cecil Lovejoy from A NEW PROSPECT. He was a real bastard.” Or, “I love Bettye (spelled with an extra E) Lambert. She’s a great character.”

2.  Why do you write for children instead of adults or vice versa?

Everything I write deals with a murder or very serious felony. The crimes are committed by people of all ages, but the narrative and dialogue are often more adult in nature. That’s the way most of my life has been. Violence and language are all part of most police officer’s lives. I’d rate my stories PG13.

3.  Who would play you in a film of your life?

Years ago I would have said either Burt Reynolds or Mel Brooks. But both are too old now. What other actor is slightly over sixty and a smartass? You pick him.

4.  What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Great question. Since there are a couple of aspects the publishing processes that can wear on a writer’s sanity, I’ll address them separately.

How does the average human handle rejection? It starts with agents. If you exhaust the supply of those who claim to be interested in your chosen genre, move on to the publishers willing to accept submissions directly from a writer. Not all of them want what you’ve written either. But if you’re like me, you’ll find one—maybe four up from the bottom of your list. Then you meet a reviewer or two who you think more suitable to spend his or her time passing judgment on toaster ovens or disposable diapers. Generally, these individuals lack all the rudimentary elements of a good bedside manner. This is not like a classmate telling you they have other plans for the junior prom. These people go for the jugular. In the summer, I find Gin & Tonic helpful. During the cooler months, I like single-malt whiskies.

Once you get published, your work and the accompanying headaches do not end. Now you’ve got to market the bugger. Whether you’re part of the stable at a big house like Simon and Schuster or a small independent press, you’ll be doing a lot of promoting and marketing. Get familiar with Facebook, Google plus, Twitter, Goodreads, YouTube and all the other electronic media outlets where you can peddle your book . . . and yourself.

Look for a hundred emails each morning from the groups you join. When other authors help promote your work, you must reciprocate—for a few hours a day. No time to write something new? Ha! Join the club. It really wears on your spirit. Refer back to part one of this answer for the appropriate medication.

5.  What do you find to be the biggest challenge when writing?

I structure my stories around actual incidents I remember from my time as a police officer. It would be easy to just chronicle everything like a police report. But it would also be boring and unacceptable to an acquisitions editor. So, I have to dream up the necessary tension and conflict in the investigation and all the other ingredients for a good piece of fiction. Sometimes it’s easier than others. Fact is often less strange than what’s necessary in fiction.

6.  Do you enjoy giving interviews?

Love it! Whoops, I mean them. I liked testifying in court and this is about as close as I can get anymore in my life. Unless someone takes me to civil court for writing a story where they’re obviously the defendant and they claim I’ve damaged their miserable life and reputation.

7.  How much impact does your childhood have on your writing?

Lindsay, are you a blogger or a shrink? Another good question. Since a bit of me is in my protagonist, Sam Jenkins, I have to say: Lots. Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s shaped who and what I am—and Sam is. We believe in the mythical “cowboy” style of heroism and the “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” way of life. Other things peek out here and there, too. Sam has problems sleeping and is plagued by bad dreams triggered by his former life as a soldier and policeman. Readers should pay attention to those dreams. They offer a good glimpse into his mind.

8.  What inspired you to write your first book?

I had been writing non-fiction magazine articles for ten years and I felt burned out in that direction. When I read Robert B. Parker’s NIGHT PASSAGE, the first of his Jesse Stone series, I liked the premise of a former big-town detective becoming a chief in a small department. I thought, if Parker can do it, so can I. I was a cop and he wasn’t. I’d make my hero an ex-New York detective working in a small Tennessee city. I could cover the professional angle and the venue and stay within the guidelines of write about what you know.

9.  Do you have a specific writing style?

One of my favorite authors is Raymond Chandler, creator of the Philip Marlowe stories and novels. Chandler was a troubled man, but an icon among crime fiction writers. I like his style, and to some extent try and emulate it. One reviewer said I do. I try to be just this side of hard-boiled.

10. What advice would you give kids regarding the importance of writing?

I’m glad someone asked this question. I only started writing fiction when I was sixty. Although I remember a few defense attorneys who claimed my police reports were pure fiction, they were grossly prejudiced. Prior to my exploration into the world of writing fiction for publication, I didn’t have to write for fun. It was a part of my job and a necessity. Even as a soldier, I had to write reports. As a cop, I created reams of narrative reports. 

What a kid has to remember is: Many people who will never meet you, but who may have profound impact on your career, will read what you write. It might be the only way they have to judge you. Scribble out some drivel and you may remain at an entry level position for the rest of your life. Write like a pro, and the sky’s the limit. Find out what the halo effect means.


  1. Wonderful interview, very thorough. Another great job by a great author. Looks fantastic :D

  2. Amazing interview!! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Yes! Wayne does great interviews. I have been fortunate to feature him also. And he is great fun to work with!

  4. Wayne does great interviews. Thanks for this! I have featured him myself and he is such fun to work with! Great sense of humour!

  5. Thank you all, ladies. Love having you here. And thank you, Lindsay. You're the best.

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  7. Thank you so much Conceptionist for your kind remarks...I really do appreciate it! I work very hard at this blog so it is nice to have someone like you stop by and leave a comment regarding it! Best wishes and Merry Christmas :)