Richard Houston - A Murder Mystery, an Ordinary Guy and an Extraordinary Dog
USA Today Best Selling author, Richard Houston, lives and writes at his lake home in Missouri where he and his wife are raising their granddaughter, two dachshunds, and a rescue dog that is mostly Golden Retriever. As our Author of the Day, Houston tells us about his book, A View to Die For.
Please give us a short introduction to what A View to Die For is about.
The story is not your typical murder mystery. The sleuth is not a detective, private eye, or lawyer. He's an ordinary guy with an extraordinary dog.
Jacob Martin is trying to make the best of a divorce and mid-life crisis when he gets a call at two o’clock Sunday morning from his mother. His sister has been arrested for the murder of her fourth husband, and his father is near death. Thus begins an adventure that takes Jake and his golden retriever from their Colorado retreat to a backwater town in the Missouri Ozarks where they search for cold-blooded killers, a cache of gold coins buried by Jesse James, and the love of a beautiful nurse.
What inspired you to write about an ordinary guy with an extraordinary dog?
There was an episode on the History Channel about Jesse James and the Knights of the Golden Circle, and how they buried stolen loot in caves in Kansas and Missouri. Well, I live on what used to be the Osage River in Missouri and have a cave on my property. Was it possible Jesse buried some of his loot on my property?
Tell us more about Jacob Martin. What makes him tick?
Jake is a highly skilled software engineer who had just gone through a corporate downsizing and divorce. His ex took everything except a weekend cabin in the hills outside of Denver and their Golden Retriever, Fred. These events made him realize there is more to life than the rat race he’d been living.
Why did you pick the Missouri Ozarks as the backdrop for your book?
I had moved here a few years earlier and found the people and history fascinating. I simply had to write about it.
The beer and burgers in this book seem to have caused a lot of discussions among your reviewers. Why did you write it this way?
Those reviews came as a total shock. I didn’t see anything wrong with giving a dog a burger; it’s a lot healthier than what they put in dog food.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I earned my BS in Math while supporting a family by working as a carpenter and roofer. That took 17 years. After receiving my degree, I went on to a 30 year career as a software engineer working for NASA and several Fortune 500 companies. Construction gave me the skills to build my cabin in Colorado and my house on the lake in Missouri.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
EBooks are definitely my favorite. I rarely read or buy a paper copy unless it’s autographed and a first edition.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I wrote my first book at five. It was called Little Dog Lost. I lived in a foster home at the time with no TV, so I’d taught myself to read and write with the help of my older sister. I guess I knew then I wanted to become a writer.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
I suppose the message I have in all my work is that Jake cares more about people and animals than he does money or wealth.
What was your greatest challenge when writing this book?
Convincing my wife and family that I wasn’t wasting my time writing when I could have been working on the house, which still isn’t finished.
Talk to us about your writing routine; what’s a typical writing day for you?
When working on the first draft, I try to write at least 500 words a day. I usually start around 10 and get sidetracked by 11:00, so I rarely reach that goal.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Yes. I think 500 words is realistic, but there are too many days where I don’t write anything.
What are you working on right now?
My current WIP is tentatively titled Something to Die For. Jake gets involved in a cold case murder and suspects the son of a Vietnam War hero. As with my last couple books, it’s more about the characters and Fred than it about the murder.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I spend too much time on Facebook groups, and not enough time on my websites. Those are:
https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Houston/e/B009ZWHTIA My Amazon home page.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/cleanindiereads/ My favorite group because the members are so helpful and the writing is clean.