Q&A With Richard Roach, Author of Scattered Leaves

Welcome to my interview with Richard Roach, author of Scattered Leaves. I want to thank Richard for taking the time out of his busy schedule to talk with me about his writing process, inspirations, and publication journey. I also want to thank Dorothy Thompson from Pump Up Your Book Promotion for placing me in contact with Richard Roach.

1. How long did it take to write Scattered Leaves? Did you have an outline of the plot beforehand or simply start writing and let the characters guide you?

About three months for the first draft.

2. Do you have a particular spot that you like to write in (i.e. behind a desk in an office, in a comfy recliner, outside on the porch, etc.)?

Nowadays, I have an office in my house that’s quiet. There’s a desk with the computer, keyboard, and printer on it, and I sit in a chair somewhat like typists used to use in days long gone by. (I don’t know what they sit in now.) Years ago when I wrote Scattered Leaves, I used the typewriter that was on a small table beside my desk where I conducted my business. (I owned an oilfield service equipment manufacturing company before I retired.)

3. Was it difficult to find a publisher? What was the process you went through?

I hope to tell you it was difficult to find a publisher. The process I went through was very simple. I’d spent my working career, after the service, in the oilfield and didn’t know anyone in publishing. So, I procured a book of publishers and started writing to them. Mostly, I got rejections but a few, very few, asked to read the manuscript. But, finally, one said okay and that was it.

4. When did you decide to write full-time? Was it a tough decision?

More or less in 2000. No, it wasn’t a hard decision, I was retired in the sense that I no longer worked in a nine to five job. I had been writing off and on since 1985 but in 2000 I decided to get something published. (Prior to that the publishing bug had not bitten me.)

5. I’ve read that you were once in the Air Force. How did that prepare you for your writing career? And how did this experience provide you with insight into the criminal mind?

The Air Force gave me the opportunity to grow up! The service sent me to schools taught by Trinity University (This was all conducted on Lackland Air Force Base. Not at the college.) I spent my years learning what made people tick—being a drill sergeant is not like in the movies. You are in command of sixty young men and the responsibility is like a heavy weight bearing down on you, get smart or it will crush you. Being in the training command is ninety percent mental, you must win the competitions or you will not advance. You have to use your brain, that’s why you spend so much time in various schools.

I first got into the crime end of it when a recruit allegedly slit his wrists in a barracks next to my flight. I was appointed (ordered) to investigate and ascertain if it was a crime or if the recruit had committed suicide. As I mentioned, basic training is stressful. The squadron commander must have liked my work because after that he had me do various chores of this sort.

However, the way I learned about corporate thieves was by having my hard earned cash in the form of common stock stolen from me by experts in the oil business. You learn quickly about fraud when it’s your money. I had no idea that corporate offices were filled with criminals. I was a lamb ready to be fleeced. It was a wonderful, but costly, education.

6. Please describe you writing style and influences.

My writing is for the common man; therefore, it’s written in shirtsleeve English, the kind I use. Erle Stanley Gardner and John Dann MacDonald have the most influence on my writing.

7. Do you have any favorite authors and why?

The ones mentioned above. They transport me to a land where everything comes out right and you don’t have to worry about the real life and death experiences of tomorrow. No matter how black the night, or how cold the day—in Perry Mason’s world, he’s in control and everything is jake.

8. What are you reading now or do you have any book recommendations for my readers?

Lawrence Sander’s McNally’s Luck

Thanks again to Richard Roach for taking time out of his schedule to talk with me about his writing process.

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Scattered Leaves by Richard Roach

Richard Roach’s Scattered Leaves follows the quest of Ben McCord, an oilman, to find the man who killed his young wife. McCord is a man on a mission, and his negative view of the world permeates the novel. The one light in his life, his wife June, is gone.

Like many of the James Patterson crime fiction novels I’ve read in the past, there is a vast conspiracy behind the death of McCord’s wife. However, some of the police procedure and gun purchasing details were unrealistic and could distract seasoned mystery readers.

On the other hand, the fast-paced plot will carry the reader quickly through the twists and turns. In some cases the reader may wonder how McCord ends up where he does, which is expected given that the novel is told from McCord’s point of view. Some of these plot twists seem outlandish and not well constructed, and the logic McCord uses to deduce his next course of action is shaky at best. However, McCord’s shaky logic is one of his character flaws, and it is this flaw that unwittingly propels him into unlikely situations and that fuels the fire propelling him to find his wife’s killer. The novel takes the reader on a journey from the Oklahoma oil fields to Texas and through Kansas, Colorado, and near the Mexican border.

One of my favorite characters in the novel is an older, hired assassin who gets the drop on McCord as he makes his way home, shooting into his moving car from the woods. This assassin is brash and had me giggling during the exchange he had with McCord in the woods after the attack. Richard Roach has a way with dry humor, which is used to ease the tension in some cases.

According to Richard Roach, Knock ’em down and drag ’em out is more McCord’s style. But, he’s honest, forthright, and oh so tender with the ladies.” Reading this book, you can tell that McCord is rough around the edges, but he’s looking to keep his tender side on the surface more often. About midway through the novel, the action gets more intense and Dr. Pettijohn is thrust into the action in a harsh way and plays an integral role in its ultimate resolution. At times this novel seemed to tell McCord’s emotions rather than show them, and some of the plot points were not necessary to propel the action, both of which could distract readers. However, in spite of these problems with narration and plot, Richard Roach’s first novel is fast-paced and has an imaginative style that will keep you reading.

About the Author:

Born in Galveston, Texas, Richard Roach served four years in USAF as drill sergeant. He attended the University of Texas. Short stories have been published in Man’s Story 2, Happy 2007 volume 20, page 58, Iconoclast 2006 volume 91, page 73, and Bibliophilos 2006 volume 42, page 54. His first novel, Scattered Leaves, hit the book stores n September 2008. His second novel, Scattered Money, will be published by Multi-Media in 2009.

I want to thank Dorothy Thompson at Pump Up Your Book Promotion for sending along Scattered Leaves by Richard Roach.

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