Richard Houston - Murder Mystery, a Bit of Romance and Lovely Animals
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 more about his book, A Relic to Die For.
Please give us a short introduction to what A Relic to Die For is about.
The crime solving trio of the Books to Die For series is back to solve another whodunit. This time Bonnie's nephew discovers family relics for sale online belonging to his great, great grandfather who was buried 150 years ago on the family farm. Jake is hired to check out the grave of Captain Howard Scott on the Southern Missouri homestead. The investigation lands Jake in a grave with a corpse, and a suspect in a gruesome murder. Will he clear his name and find the real murderer? Of course he will, but along the way, Jake, Bonnie, and Fred have an adventure of a lifetime, and Jake falls for the girl of his dreams.
What inspired you to mix a murder mystery, a bit of romance and pets in this story?
I like the mysteries by writers like Agatha Christie, Lawrence Block, Sue Grafton, etc., so it was only natural I would try to write what I like. The romance and pets came out of nowhere.
Why did you name the book A Relic to Die For?
couldn’t think of a title, other than it had to end in to Die For because of the series. It was my granddaughter who suggested A Relic, and it stuck.
Are the characters in your book inspired by real people or animals?
Fred is definitely inspired by a Golden I had for 13 years. He is buried on my property now, but I keep his memory alive with my books. Jake has a lot of my skills and traits, but the similarities stop there. Jake is single – I’ve been married 56 years. Bonnie is based on no one in particular, but she is my age, so I’m able to write about the problems and feelings of a 70-year-old.
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.
Tell us more about Jake. What makes him so special?
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 Southern Missouri as the backdrop for your book?
I moved here 15 years ago and find the people and history fascinating. I simply had to write about it.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
In the beginning it was forcing myself to finish when I thought no one would ever read my work. After over a million downloads and making it to the top of several bestselling lists, that is no longer a problem. I get constant emails asking when the next book will be out.
Now it’s forcing myself to finish after reading a bad review.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
It would be a lie of omission not to say how much I enjoy the newspapers articles written about my books, or strangers telling me or my wife how much they enjoy them. But the greatest joy I get is from the lying (writing) itself.
How do you force yourself to finish what you're doing before starting the next project when the new idea is nagging at you?
I don’t. This is one of the reasons it takes so long for me to write a book. I have far too many unfinished projects.
If you could choose one character from your book to spend a day with, who would it be? And where would you take them?
That would have to be Fred, my Golden. He was the best friend I ever had, and would love to have him back just to spend a day at the lake throwing sticks.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I’m what’s called a panster. I write by the seat of my pants without an outline or any idea where the story is going. Consequently, I will force myself to write between 500 and 1000 words a day when I start a book. I usually know the plot by the first month. Once I write an ending, I do the rewrite and try to put the jigsaw pieces together.
What are you working on right now?
Something to Die For, is about a murder connected to a 30-year-old execution. The title and theme of the story, is about having something worth dying for. I try to show that through two characters, the son of a Viet Nam veteran, and a homeless panhandler and his dog.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I have two web sites that I get email from. Neither site is up to date, so it’s best to check out my Amazon page:
Amazon page, https://www.amazon.com/Richard-Houston/e/B009ZWHTIA