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Monday, June 25, 2012

Contest & Interview with Author Peter H. Green

About the Author:
Peter H. Green is an architect, city planner and author of short stories and the family World War II memoir, Dad’s War with the United States Marines, published in Fall, 2005 by James A. Rock & Co, Rockville MD, in the American Voices series. His first novel, Crimes of Design, a mystery set in St. Louis during a major flood, has just appeared. In addition to his B.A. from Yale University, he holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree and a Certificate in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. He lives with his wife, Connie in St. Louis.

Interview Questions:

          1 .      What inspired you to become a writer?

It’s a long story, starting with my parents, a homemaker and an ex-Marine, both writers and publicists, a grandfather who was a construction contractor and me, an architect that has seen plenty, and who just loves to tell stories. My dad did a lot of writing for his radio and ad agency jobs, and Mom had always wanted to be a writer and never went through with it. They had always said I had the ability to be a writer, and I’d always wanted to but needed to earn a living. In a way, I felt I owed it to them and to myself to finish what they started. And in my profession, my favorite activity was always describing the projects and getting people excited about hiring our team. I gravitated toward the marketing side of the business, writing proposals, reports and publicity for my firms. This resulted in millions of words cascading from my pen and then from my computer screen over the years. That’s a lot of writing practice when you think about it.
2.      When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 

Other than some early expressions as a child and some early interest but few thoughts of a writing career, it all started with a college class reunion. The bravest of our classmates tried to answer the provocative question: What are you going to do with the last third of your life? The prospect of all that time of relative ease stretching ahead of us beckoned like an unexplored continent. On that reunion trip my wife and I also visited Mary Oates, one of her college classmates, a writer and editor herself, in Andover, Mass. I happened to mention that I spent the summer of 1945, when I turned six, just up the coast with my mother, sister, aunt and her family in a rented seaside house at Annisquam, while Dad was off to war. Two days later she drove us to Gloucester and we found the very seaside cottage where we’d stayed that summer. That night, over much wine and good seafood, we were reminiscing about wartime problems, like coastal blackouts and rationing, when Mary blurted, “Peter, you’ve got to do it—write your dad’s story!” I said, “Gosh, I can— I’ve got Dad’s letters!”  In the basement was an old cardboard box my mom had given me with 400 of my father’s World War II letters, which she had saved in their postmarked envelopes. Adding to these, his humorous war stories, my mother’s writings and my family’s often hilarious doings, I realized I had a story too good to keep to myself. I decided to launch a second career as a writer.
 After years of architectural work and proposal writing for my design firms, I went back to Washington University to study creative writing with such accomplished authors as Catherine Rankovic, Robert Earleywine and Rick Skwiot, resulting in the release in 2005 of my biographical memoir on the hilarious antics and serious achievements of my father’s World War II adventure, Dad's War with the United States Marines, James A. Rock & Co., Seaboard Press (Florence, SC). 

         3.      What genre(s) do you write? Why do you write the stories that you write?

My biography and family memoir, Dad’s War with the United States Marines, was just handed to me, from the letters and other family lore I had at my fingertips. Why I write mysteries is kind of a mystery to me. But I can tell you this:
Both my parents were avid readers, especially of mysteries, a habit that fueled their interest in writing and life in general. They loved clever plots, like Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter.” A good mystery was always passed around the family with Mom’s urging to “read it right away.”  One time she gave me a mystery-thriller about an architect who was so broke he planned a bank robbery—and got away with it. Whenever we were in a hotel room, Dad was fascinated with how a murderer could defeat the locks though the connecting doors to the adjacent room and leave undetected. When Mom died, she left a bookcase bursting with mysteries—she shamed me.  I guess I felt that I’d been too busy earning a living and was way behind on my reading. Besides the recent reads on her shelves, she had read every mystery out there—including Mary Roberts Rinehart, Raymond Chandler, Ernie Pyle, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, John S. MacDonald and William Macdonald. 

        4.      Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

My choice of architecture as a career was a matter of interest and aptitude, but it also had something to do with finding a “practical” way to earn a living. And for a long career I have designed buildings, planned development sites and promoted my firm.  On that journey through the world of design and construction I’ve met real estate developers, bureaucrats, politicians, office rivals–all human, mind you, many of them honorable and even noble–but with a few bad apples that undo the hard work of all the good folks just trying to make life a little better for the rest of us.
And throughout my career I saw enough close calls, suspicious acts and outright skullduggery to wonder, what if? In a way, I wished I could have been taller, more handsome, more heroic than I was. In second-guessing my life, I wondered what would have happened if, instead of becoming the cautious, conservative person that life teaches most of us to be, I wondered, what if I had taken more risks, been braver, more outspoken and more confrontational than I was? So I created someone who was allof these things, even though he is a perfectionist, far from perfect—with  a weakness for beautiful women and In Crimes of Design, architect Patrick MacKenna, discovers the body of the staunchest advocate for his controversial flood-protected dream project in the site’s storm water pumping station during a record flood in St. Louis. He is forced to become an amateur sleuth to save his career, his family and his very life. Before the first chapter of the book is over, he’s in all kinds of trouble. I wanted to see what would happen if my main character was larger than life, the kind of person who, when challenged to the breaking point, did what had to be done.

        5.      How long did it take you to put the story together?

This was a five-year effort, going through eighteen drafts. The characters themselves kept insisting that the story develop in different way, and I couldn’t refuse them.

        6.      Can you share a little about your novel with us? 

To save his beleaguered city, his career, what’s left of his family and his very life, Patrick MacKenna must confront a ruthless saboteur. When he discovers the dead body of the city manager at his dream project site, and within hours he’s a murder suspect and he has to solve the crime to clear his name. But his judgment is clouded by his inexplicable guilt over the death of his wife in an accident during a Christmas Eve ice storm, blinding him to the solution of the case. The murdered city manager was his staunchest advocate in the controversial new city-within-the-city he planned and designed, in the protected floodplain of the Missouri River, and he worries his job and career might be over.

As attacks against the infrastructure increase, Patrick, a brilliant innovator with an eye for
fine old things and beautiful women, must outwit the law and navigate a nether world of
conniving colleagues, land speculators, newsmongers, venal politicians, bored bureaucrats
and greedy contractors. A daunting prospect, considering his sworn mission to safeguard
the public.

MacKenna enlists the help of Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Reiner and tough, sexy
FBI Agent Bobbi Romano to scour St. Louis’s underbelly and chase through Mexico and the
Mississippi valley to run down the perpetrators and crack the case. He is aided by Meg
Stewart, the developer’s project manager, who must overcome her troubled past to
help solve the mystery and win his heart. When Patrick suspects that the plot’s masterminds
are people he once trusted, he learns the greatest threat to the built infrastructure is not
nature, but man himself.

        7.      Who is your favorite character in your novel and why?

I’d have to say it’s Patrick, himself. I keep, rooting for him, but he keeps tripping himself up—fighting with his co-workers, getting the public riled up over his projects, asking awkward questions. Women either love him or hate him on sight for his risky and very public misbehavior; law enforcement officials suspect him of murder and object to his meddling in things they can do better and much more safely, and even his own daughter, his last link to his beloved family, rebels against his strict discipline and disapproves of his bad example for her life.  Mona Springer, his colleague Meg’s roommate and a member of the paparazzi, likes him well enough, but only for the steady stream of juicy news he supplies to her tabloid newspaper. At least he can count on his colleague and confidante at the office, Ed Mossbach, who looks and sounds a bit like Groucho Marx, spouting his old world wisdom and the well-worn Claire Booth Luce phrase to calm Patrick down, “No good deed shall go unpunished.” Despite all this Patrick loves his city, his clients, his friends and his family and wants to do the right thing for them. In his personal life, I don’t know, he attracts women like flies on honey, but he’s unlucky in love. Meg cares deeply him and would love to win his heart, if he could only free it from his nagging guilt over the past. I keep hoping Patrick will come out okay, but I never know…

       8.      Now that your book is getting ready to hit the stores describe how you feel in one sentence? 

I’m thrilled with my publishers, Linda Houle and Lisa Smith at L & L Dreamspell, and the outstanding job they’ve done to bring this book to market, but I’m anxious about how well I’ll be able to communicate my enthusiasm for this story to the wider world of readers.

      9.      What has surprised you the most about the whole process of getting your book on the market?

I’m constantly amazed by how long it takes to write, revise and perfect a book and how large a team of beta readers, fellow authors, publishers and news media I’ve had to enlist to help me with this project. While writing’s creative cycle begins as a solitary pursuit, it’s not complete until it has been launched by a big group of players and shared by a large audience.  It seems it takes a village to raise a novel.
      10.      Would you like to share what the reviewers are saying about your book?

They most comprehensive and concise review I’ve had—the one that made the back cover— was by Rick Skwiot, the award-winning author of two novels set in Mexico and a critically praised childhood memoir.
Peter Green’s Crimes of Design—a "flood-plain noir" mystery—weaves a
complex tale of murder, eco-terrorism, love, lust and betrayal. Set in St.
Louis at the confluence of the great Mississippi and Missouri rivers, the
novel dredges up fascinating facts about the rivers' pivotal roles in
Midwestern Americana— wetlands law, floods, barge traffic, levees,
locks, pumping stations, agricultural commodities trading, corn futures,
and how they all interrelate. Rick Skwiot, author of Key West Story

John Lutz, author of the book that became the hit film, Single White Female, also had this to say:
Politics, murder, and the river. Green knows St. Louis, all right. Crimes of
is a tightly plotted and told urban mystery featuring plenty of
action and twists and turns. Who knew living in St. Louis was such an
adventure?—John Lutz, Edgar- and Shamus-Award-winning Author of Serial.
There are also advance reviews on my website from Johnny Goldstein, Faulkner Penn Finalist for Elegy for the Lost City, and Col. Michael Morrow (Ret.), former St. Louis District Engineer, U. S. Army Corps of Engineers.

        11.      How many books have you written?   

                                   Two published and a third sold to L & L Dreamspell.

a)      Dad’s War with the United States Marines, James A. Rock & Sons, The Seaboard Press (Florence, SC), 2005


      b)      Crimes of Design, A Patrick MacKenna Mystery, L & L Dreamspell (London, TX), May 2012

      12.      What are you working on next?

My next book in the Patrick MacKenna series, Fatal Designs, Patrick and his daughter Erin are again locked  in struggle during a natural disaster, this time an earthquake. In addition to man coping with nature, they must face off with the worst of humankind—the lowlife predators that would enslave and exploit our children.

 When an earth tremor causes an avalanche, roils the river and separates seventeen-year old Erin MacKenna from her canoeing party, she witnesses burial of a murder victim and is abducted by the perpetrators. Devastated at the disappearance of his daughter, her father, widowed architect and amateur sleuth Patrick MacKenna must also scramble to protect his clients’ emergency response structures in a city threatened by a major earthquake. He calls in his friend from a previous case, sexy Italian FBI Special Agent Bobbi Romano, to examine crime scene evidence. She quickly concludes that Erin’s captors are the murderers of a Metro East mayor who sought to regulate the sex shops, prostitution and drug trade in his Illinois riverfront town. To protect her own life Erin fights to stay on the case, but she is hampered by a secret that she cannot even tell her father.

      13.      What do you like to do for fun when you’re not writing?

I enjoy visiting daughters’ families in Houston and Los Angeles, and pursue swimming and golf, We attend theater, art galleries, concerts and the Missouri Botanical Garden, enjoying St. Louis’s rich cultural stew.
      14.      How can readers contact you?

Linked In: Peter H. Green

      15.       When does your book go on sale and where can we buy it?  

Crimes of Design, the new Patrick MacKenna mystery has been released in  Kindle, Ebook and and Trade Paperback form. Use the links below to get a copy   


      16.      Last but not least is there anything that you would like to add?

Leigh, I’m delighted to have this opportunity to talk with your fans. You are one of the most enterprising authors I know. Thanks!


Leave a comment on Peter's Blog for a chance to win a free copy of Crimes of Design. Drawing on Monday July 2nd.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for visiting my blog post. Last week's contest is now closed. Peter