Rush Leaming - A Blend of Murder Mystery, Intrigue, and Social Inspection
Rush Leaming has done many things including spending 15+ years in film/video production working on such projects as The Lord of the Rings films. His first novel, Don’t Go, Ramanya, a political thriller set in Thailand, was self-published in the fall of 2016 and reached number one on Amazon. His equally successful second novel, entitled The Whole of the Moon, a coming-of-age tale set in the Congo at the end of the Cold War, was published in 2018. His short stories have appeared in Notations, 67 Press, Lightwave, Green Apple, 5k Fiction, and The Electric Eclectic. He has lived in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Zaire, Thailand, Spain, Greece, England, and Kenya. He currently lives in South Carolina. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Dead Tree Tales.
Please give us a short introduction to what Dead Tree Tales is about.
Set in Charleston, SC, and the surrounding islands, police are called to investigate the poisoning of a much-loved 1000-year-old tree, only to find evidence of a more brutal crime.
From there, the story explodes into a fast-paced, multi-character thriller unlike any you've ever read.
Not for the faint of heart...
What inspired you to write this story? Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this?
The idea first came to me in the mid ’90s, the idea that the impending destruction of a famous tree would stir up a whirlwind of trouble in a community. I envisioned it as a multi-character, complicated interlocking of storylines. The crime element came later, and actually, Part-Two: One-Hit Wonder, the sniper going after right-wing targets came from a screenplay idea I had but never wrote.
Why did you pick Charleston, SC, and the surrounding islands as the backdrop for your story?
It’s a historic and fascinating area, culturally rich, physically beautiful, and not overused!
You used the poisoning of a 1000-year-old tree as the catalyst for this story. Why?
I thought it was a completely unique starting point. I can’t think of any other book that begins this way.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m a single dad of a teenage girl, been raising my daughter on my own since she was two.
In which way is this book a commentary on today's society?
Definitely “ripped from the headlines” of the news for the past six years. But no matter how hard we may try, no one writer can truly capture the dangerous absurdity of what we have been living through. So hopefully I’ve been able to add my little contribution to the mosaic.
Readers say your characters feel relatable and real. How did you pull this off?
Whew...I guess there’s a little bit of myself in all my major characters. I’ve also always considered myself to be highly observant and perceptive. I’ve got a large metal filing cabinet full of bits and pieces of people I’ve met throughout my life, memorable quotes, and behaviors.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
I don’t do a lot of detailed planning for my books. I always know the main direction I want to get to, but most of what happens happens in the moment of writing. A good example is our lonely hearts/tough-as-nails Solicitor (South Carolina has Solicitors, not DA’s) Bitsy Jones: it came to me in the moment to create her and make her half-sister to Detective Stenny Jones, and then all her failed romantic endeavors followed.
Why did you title this book "Dead Tree Tales"?
I liked the sound of it, the alliteration!
What was your greatest challenge when writing this story?
Keeping track of all the characters! I had to create a 3-page cast list to refer to.
Is there an underlying message you wish to relay about basic human nature through your characters?
No matter how dark things get, good eventually triumphs over evil.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I’m a binge writer, not an everyday writer. I sometimes go years or more in between projects. But as on this book, when I’m in the throes of it, I write my first drafts very fast, using my iPhone! I’ll write every day about 3-4 hours in the morning, then in the evening spend a couple of hours reviewing, revising, and often expanding on what I wrote in the morning.
What are you working on right now?
A collection of short stories to be published early 2022: “The Man Who Screams at Nightfall...and other stories”
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Yep here is my website and Goodreads page: