QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS WITH LARRY D. SWEAZY

Author Larry D. Sweazy has had 13 books published to date, I've enjoyed three of them so far.

A Thousand Falling Crows still sits on the TBR pile.


Sonny Burton was forced to retire from the Texas Rangers after taking a bullet from Bonnie Parker in a shoot-out. The bullet so damaged Sonny's right arm that he had to have it amputated. 

While Sonny struggles with recuperating and tries to get used to the idea of living a life with only one arm, Aldo Hernandez, the hospital's janitor, asks Sonny to help find his daughter and bring her back home. She has got herself mixed up with a couple of brothers involved in a string of robberies. Sonny agrees to help, but is more concerned about a wholly different criminal in town who has taken to killing young women and leaving them in local fields for crows to feast on.


Just as Sonny is able to track down Aldo's daughter, he comes to an uncomfortable realization about who might be responsible for the string of murders and races to nab the killer before another girl is left to the crows.



Where I Can See You was enjoyed last month and was on the blog last week - here.



His first two Marjorie Trumaine books - See Also Murder and See Also Deception have featured before here and here.

Mr Sweazy was kind enough to spare some time and answer a few questions for me.......
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I see from your author biography that you are a freelance indexer.  How long have you worked in that field?
 
It’ll be 19 years in July.
 
It sounds very intense, can you explain a little bit about the process to the uninformed?
 
Some authors write their own index, which makes sense, and that is what most people assume happens in the publishing process.  But writing and indexing are separate skills.  Some authors think every topic in the book is equally important and want everything represented in the index. That’s just not possible, or functional.  Which is where I come in.  My focus is just on the index.  I get page proofs of a book and decide what five to ten terms (or concepts) per page are the most important, and that a reader might look up.  So, I immediately become an advocate for the reader.  I use a word processing program specifically designed for indexing, and I start with a blank page.  I write the index by reading every page of the book and entering terms one word at a time, just like I do when I write a novel.  I don’t use search bots or any automated way of indexing.  It is a tedious job, and some books are more interesting than others, but the really intense part is the time that I have to prepare an index.  My deadline is usually two weeks for a three hundred page book.  Indexing comes at the end of the production process and the page numbers have be finalized before I start.  Once I send in the index, it’s proofread, then for all intents and purposes, the book is sent off to the printer.
Is it easier to index or to write? Which one came first?
 
Both are separate skills, and equally challenging and equally enjoyable to me.  Writing came first.  I started writing in junior high school (grades 7 and 8 here in the States).  It was my interest in reading and writing that led me to indexing.
 
What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?
 
I think it’s the fact that I get to sit down every day and write stories that mean something to me, and knowing they will make their way out into the world to (hopefully) entertain readers. 
 
What’s your typical writing schedule?
 
I write every day.  I write a minimum of five hundred words, but it’s usually more than that.  I start writing in the morning, wrap up around noon, then start my indexing projects after lunch. I work until I’m finished.
 
Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?
 

I’m sure some of their characteristics and personalities work their way into my stories, but I don’t include them with intention.
 
Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?
 
I used to say that I was a pantser (fly by the seat of my pants), but I’m really a hybrid.  I plot out a few chapters ahead of where I am, and I have a vague idea of the end.  I remain flexible and available to any ideas that might come my way, so I’m not really a strict plotter.  E. L. Doctorow said, “Writing is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”  I think that about covers it…
Are there any subjects off limits?
 
Sure, cruelty to animals or children… The odd thing about writing mysteries is that writers can kill the grandmother in terrible ways, but the cat better survive.  I don’t write gratuitous violence, but we live in a violent world, so that’s what I write about—that and justice.  The story is always about justice.
Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer? 
 
The first novel I published was the seventh novel that I wrote. One of the other six has gone on to be published (a mystery, The Devil’s Bones), but the rest remain hidden away.  They are practice novels, and I have no desire to return to them.  I’m a different writer and a different human being now, and I really doubt that I could access those old books in the way they need to be rewritten (and trust me, they need a lot of work).
Your first eight or nine books, appear to all be Westerns whereas the last few are more mystery/crime orientated, have you left the Western genre behind for now? (I kind of think Westerns are just crime novels with horses and hats anyway.)
 




I agree with you that Westerns are crime novels.  Most of my Westerns have been mysteries, too.  No, I haven’t left the genre.  I just wrote a couple of short stories over the winter that fit into Western genre.  I just haven’t had time to write a Western novel in the last few years, but I’m pretty sure I’ll write another Western one of these days.  The genre is rich with possibilities, and I love it too much to leave it behind.

Is there one of your books you’re more proud of that any of the others? Which and why?
I’ve learned something valuable from each novel that I’ve written, so it’s really impossible to pick. 
 
I’ve enjoyed the first two Marjorie Trumaine books – See Also Murder and See Also Deception and I understand there is a third planned for 2018. Is that Marjorie done, or does she have legs for a few more books yet?
 
I hope there will be more Marjorie books.  I have ideas for the series that go well beyond the third book.
What are the last five books you have read? 
 
What the Dog Knows by Cat WarrenWestport by Dean HulseStranded by Matthew P. MayoThe Last Four Days of Paddy Buckley by Jeremy Massey, and The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst.





















Who do you read and enjoy? 
 
My reading tastes vary. I read a lot of mysteries, of course. James Lee BurkeJoe R. LansdaleTony HillermanSara Paretsky, to name a few.  And I read outside the genre a lot, too. I like E. L. DoctorowPat ConroyJunot DiazGeorge SaundersLouise ErdichBarbara Kingsolver… the list goes on and on.
 
Is there any one book you wish you had written? 
 
Breakheart Hill by Thomas H. Cook.
 
Favourite activity when not working or writing?
 
Walking the dogs (I have two Rhodesian ridgebacks who demand to be exercised every day).
 
What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going? 
 
I’m writing See Also Deadline, the third book in the Marjorie Trumaine series.  It’s coming along…
 
What’s the best thing about writing? 
 
Being able to sit down every day and do it.  Those days when everything comes together: ideas, words, images, and plot are the best.
 
The worst?  
 
I can’t think of anything.  Publishing is a tough business, but not as tough as digging ditches.  I love writing, and being a writer.  I’m not going to complain about the every day stuff, or things that are out of my control.
 
In a couple of years’ time…
 
I hope I’m doing the same thing I am today: working on a new story, pushing myself to become a better writer, still searching for the best sentence I ever wrote. 
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Many thanks to Larry for his time and to his publisher Seventh Street Books for introducing me to his work.

You can visit the author's website here.
He's on Facebook - here and catch him on Twitter - @larrydsweazy

Seventh Street Books are here.

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