Interview with Wayne Zurl

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always been required to write narrative reports during my professional career. These were pretty straight forward factual accounts of a police related incident, but a few defense attorneys accused me of writing pure fantasy. After I retired, I began writing non-fiction magazine articles quite by accident and was lucky enough to have had twenty-six published. After ten ears of that and I felt hard-pressed to come up with something new and thrilling about the 18th century French & Indian War, I decided to give fiction a try during the summer of 2006. I had my first Sam Jenkins mystery novelette (A LABOR DAY MURDER) published in 2009 and the first full-length novel (A NEW PROSPECT) made its debut in January of 2011.

What genre do you write and why?
I write all police mysteries. The reason is simple. I want to cash in on the old author’s maxim of write what you know. I spent twenty years doing criminal investigations and now I live in East Tennessee. So, I tell stories about a retired New York detective who’s embarked on a second career as a Tennessee police chief.

Tell us about your latest book.
The dust jacket summary will give everyone the gist of what PIGEON RIVER BLUES is all about, but beyond that, the book is a composite of several actual incidents and vignettes that I’ve transplanted from New York to Tennessee. The characters are all based on real people and even the quirky retired Detective John Gallagher, who Sam’s wife calls the master of malapropisms, is patterned after someone with whom I worked for many years.

Okay, here’s the summary:
Winter in the Smokies can be a tranquil time of year—unless Sam Jenkins sticks his thumb into the sweet potato pie.
The retired New York detective turned Tennessee police chief is minding his own business one quiet day in February when Mayor Ronnie Shields asks him to act as a bodyguard for a famous country and western star.
C.J. Profitt’s return to her hometown of Prospect receives lots of publicity . . . and threats from a rightwing group calling themselves The Coalition for American Family Values.
The beautiful, publicity seeking Ms. Proffit never fails to capitalize on her abrasive personality and flaunt her lifestyle—a way of living the Coalition hates.
Reluctantly, Jenkins accepts the assignment of keeping C.J. safe while she performs at a charity benefit. But Sam’s job becomes more difficult when the object of his protection refuses to cooperate. 
During this misadventure, Sam hires a down-on-his-luck ex-New York detective and finds himself thrown back in time, meeting old Army acquaintances who factor into his plan to foil a complicated plot of premeditated murder, the destruction of a Dollywood music hall, and other general insurrection on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
Writing is fun. Marketing is too much like work. But I do it—the Facebook, Facebook writer’s groups, Twitter, Goodreads, blog stops, and virtual book tours. I’m not very clever where electronic marketing and promotions are concerned, but it beats standing on a street corner hawking my books.  

What formats are your books available in?
The four novels are in print and various eBook formats. Most of the twenty novelettes were produced as audio books and all are available as eBooks. Some have been assembled into collections and are out in print and eBook as an anthology. All the titles are shown at my website: 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Since I’m writing the answer to this question in July, I’m spending LOTS of time in our vegetable garden. I can’t say I like gardening, but I like to eat and you can’t get things any fresher than this way. When the plants aren’t pushing me around, we like to travel and sometimes go “big water” fishing—to the Great Lakes and the salt water.

Who are your favourite authors?
I’ve got a bunch, but here are a few: Robert B. Parker for his minimalist style and snappy dialogue. James Lee Burke for the way he describes people, places, and events like few other writers. His stuff becomes poetic at times. Joe Wambaugh for his unequalled ability with the police procedural and Raymond Chandler who taught me what hardboiled is all about.

What advice do you have for other writers?
I believe you can’t get a truly top-shelf finished product without doing a very simple thing. When you think your story, novelette, novella, novel, or epic is finished, when you really believe you’ve found and corrected all the typos and nits and it’s ready to sell, go back and read it aloud to yourself. Pretend you’re the star of your own audio book. Read it slowly and professionally as an actor would. Then, ask yourself, does it sound good? Do all the paragraphs smoothly transcend to the next? Does each sentence contain the right number of syllables? Does each word flow into the next without conflict?  Does it have a pleasing rhythm? Basically, does it sing to you? For a guy who doesn’t dance very well, I have a great need for rhythm in my writing. If you notice any “bumps,” go back and rewrite it. Smooth everything out. If something bothers you now, it will annoy the dickens out of you in the future and someone else will probably notice it, too.

With that accomplished, you’re finished, right? No. Now you’re ready to hand it off to an editor or proofreader—whomever you can afford. A second pair of eyes is essential for ANY writer.

What's your favourite quote about writing/for writers?
Readers may not like to hear this, but Raymond Chandler made this statement years ago while addressing a writer’s conference, “We are dealing with a public that is semi-literate and we have to make art of a language they can understand.”

What's the best thing about being a writer?
I like meeting the people who enjoy my stories. The books are a part of my history and it tickles me to hear people compliment them.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
My website tells a bit more about my life, it contains photos of the places my stories take place, and there are plenty of interviews, reviews, and other information for readers to get to know me, Sam Jenkins, and some of the girls and boys from the fictional town of Prospect, Tennessee.
For anyone who wants to track me down on the Internet, here’s a bunch of links where to find me:
Author website: 
Mind Wings Audio author page:

Anything else you'd like to add?
Thanks, Jo, for inviting me to your blog to meet your followers. I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the autumn and have happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new year. 



  1. Terrific interview! Thanks so much for introducing us to this author.

  2. Hi Jo,

    Thanks again for inviting me to your blog and giving me a chance to "virtually" speak with you and your followers.

    All the best,



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