What: A former award-winning investigative reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, Naval intelligence analyst, private eye, house painter, cook, dishwasher, magazine writer and journalism professor. His most recent book, DEAD HEAT WITH THE REAPER, was released by All Due Respect books in August 2015. His short fiction has appeared in All Due Respect, Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter Online, Near to the Knuckle, Over My Dead Body, Dead Guns, Plan B, Spinetingler and Dark Corners.
Interview conducted by email. Some questions and answers have been edited.
The first of the two novellas in DEAD HEAT WITH THE REAPER is called “Legacy”. Is the character Frank Trask based on anybody specific?
Trask is an amalgam of a number of people I’ve met, but he is primarily modeled on my own father, a construction mechanic and blacksmith who drank heavily and died in 1994. In fact, the backhanding of the biker, one of the incidents of violence in the story involving Trask, is based on a confrontation my dad once had with a drunk who was bothering my late sister in a bar in Pollock Pines, California.
The second novella in DEAD HEAT WITH THE REAPER, “The Creep,” features a disfigured vet named Alan Baldocchi. What was your inspiration?
I just wondered what it would be like if a young woman fortuitously crossed paths with somebody who was so ugly that he made the hair on the back of your neck stand on end, but came to realize he was actually not a “creep” at all—just a person unlucky enough to be really horrible looking. I wrote the first scene where Susan meets Baldocchi on the stairway and set it aside. A while later I read through what I had written and the story began to suggest itself in my mind.