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Guest Post with Author Bobby Underwood

Please welcome guest Author, Bobby Underwood. Originally from the United States, he now lives in Australia with his wife. Bobby has published 29 books of varying genres which includes such titles as The Long Gray Goodbye, The Wild Country, and The Turquoise Shroud.

I believe you have to be born to write, but reaching a point in your life where things line up to make it possible, can take a circuitous route. Harlan Ellison listed many of the jobs he’d held over the years and stated that writing was the most difficult of them, yet the noblest and most rewarding. Like Robert Ludlum and Raymond Chandler, it didn’t line up for me until my forties, and in many ways, having those years of life experience has made me a better writer. Mickey Spillane commented, that unlike other professions, where time had a deleterious effect, age and experience only made a writer better. I believe this to be profoundly true.

Because I had decades to let the stories I wished to tell brew, I have been prolific since embarking on my writing career. I’ve always believed that a story told well, in any genre, will find a home in the heart of most readers. Because of that belief, I write in many genres, including modern day mystery and crime, ethereal romance, westerns, dystopian mystery and crime, and short stories, which like some of Cornell Woolrich’s work, defy categorization. My trilogy of stories, After Closing Time, was very much a nod to Woolrich, in fact. Night Run, Requiem, and Gypsy Summer, were written with a mood which can only be termed, Woolrichian.

My style, and the type of stories I tell, harken back to writers of old. Cornell Woolrich, John D. MacDonald, Ross Macdonald, Robert Nathan, and Earl Derr Biggers are just a few of my influences. Evan Hunter (a.k.a Ed McBain) is another, and like McBain, when I sit down to write in a differing genre from the prior story, it is as if another writer takes over. I bring something different to Robert Nathan-esque stories such as Joy Island (Lovers’ Tide), Beyond Heaven’s Reach, Chance at Heaven, Surfer Girl (Lovers’ Tide) and City of Angels (Where Lonely Lives), for example, than the Seth Halliday mystery and suspense novels. There, I use the detective form as a device to tell an entertaining, page turning story, but also to make observations about society. Woven within the complex plotting and emotionally compelling narrative in The Turquoise Shroud and The Long Gray Goodbye, is a poignant examination of abandonment and betrayal, and its consequences for the victim.

When I write, it is always my voice readers hear, based on my life experience and observations. But the authors who touched me growing up can be heard in the echoes of my voice, and their literary influence seen lingering in the shadowed archways and darkened corridors. The Seth Halliday novels, for example, will call to mind the work of John D. MacDonald. And to a lesser degree, because he always wrote of broken people and damaged lives within his mysteries, Santa Barbara’s Ross Macdonald. Those who read my westerns may hear echoes of Zane Grey in the complex story-lines, and recognize Louis L’Amour in the style of storytelling.

The unique Matt Ransom series I write is set in the future, and is as much a family saga as it is a mystery and crime series. While the series is filled with tenderness and sensuality, it is handled in a beautiful way, devoid of tawdriness. It is the only series I write with this degree of intimacy, but it is an important component of the Matt Ransom saga. While it is an entertaining mystery series, set in the near-term future, issues such as incest and abuse, suicide and faith are tackled. Due to its mix of tangible sensuality, thrilling action, psychological understanding and moral complexity, I believe Matt Ransom, though not for every reader, will stand the test of time.

I have always attempted to write the stories I would like to read. John D. MacDonald once said that he wrote first and foremost for himself, and I believe that is the only way to write. Flaubert said that it was the only chance a writer had to create something beautiful. Where Flamingos Fly, for example, is my love letter to all those old mystery and adventure films of the 1940s. Anyone who loved them will enjoy it immensely, as it reads like a film from the period, and is great fun. A book does not have to be “heavy” to be beautiful. Even within a romantic fantasy, we can find some moment which etches itself on our hearts.

As a writer, I try to hold a mirror up to reality and humanity, allowing the reader to see beyond flesh and bone. As Ellison reminded us, the only thing worth writing about is people, and that illumination of the human condition. My hope is that each reader will be touched and moved by something within the pages of my books, while at the same time being entertained. If they are, then I have been able to share a part of my soul with them, creating a connection between author and reader which allows us to know each other a bit better. In the end, that’s really all a writer can ask. — Author Bobby Underwood


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