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About the Author

Archer Mayor is the author of the highly acclaimed, Vermont-based series featuring detective Joe Gunther, which the Chicago Tribune describes as “the best police procedurals being written in America.” He is also a past winner of the New England Independent Booksellers Association Award for Best Fiction—the first time a writer of crime literature has been so honored. In 2011, Mayor’s 22nd Joe Gunther novel, TAG MAN, earned a place on the New York Times bestseller list for hardback fiction. Archer Mayor is the author of the highly acclaimed, Vermont-based series featuring detective Joe Gunther, which the Chicago Tribune describes as “the best police procedurals being written in America.” He is also a past winner of the New England Independent Booksellers Association Award for Best Fiction—the first time a writer of crime literature has been so honored.

A Brief Biography of “Joe Gunther”

Biographies of real people can be tough enough-all those conflicting sources, rumors, tall tales, and dubiously acquired facts. But the biographies of fictional characters are positively weird. Total fabrications, these folks suffer a past history as potentially vague as the mind of the person who created them. And yet, as their popularity grows, so do the numbers of fans who make them real, and anoint the writer’s haphazard string of “facts” – spun out in tale after tale-with the patina of truth. Witness the tangled web surrounding Sherlock Holmes.

In short, woe to the author who runs afoul of the history he set in motion. All of which brings us to Joe Gunther, who has the additional affliction of being arrested in time (please, no puns.) Having lived a full and interesting life, and achieved a position, both physically and emotionally, in which he is relatively comfortable, he has stopped the clock, and ages no more.

How’s your Joe Gunther IQ?

The Joe Gunther Puzzler #4 is offered here thanks to the complicated minds at the Book Nook bookstore in Ludlow VT, who put together this brain teaser and gave me permission to run it on the web page. Pay close attention to the titles of my books if you want to hit a home run. Some of these are tricky…

FAQ 1

Why do you write mysteries?

Writing is how I express myself, how I put the vagaries of my mind into some kind of order, and how I prefer to entertain and inform other people. I write to put the language to the best use I can, to satiate my curiosity and abate my ignorance, and to tell a good story. Language for me is not just a communicative tool, but a musical one. Handled well, it has balance, cadence, and tone, and when read with appreciation-be it memo, letter, poem, or book-it can be as satisfying as listening to a good orchestra-with the additional kick that it often carries some useful information. As I write them, mysteries are less puzzle than process, and more about people than any convoluted, sensationalist plot. Aside from being fond of language, I am fascinated by what stimulates people to do what they do, legally and otherwise. Their struggles, passions, and occupations surround us all, often unnoticed, and I take joy, book by book, in choosing a select few, wrapping them up in a compelling tale, and exposing them to both my readers and myself.

FAQ 2

Who are your favorite writers?

A lot of my favorite mystery writers are dead. Doyle, Hammet, Chandler, Maurice Leblanc, Georges Simenon, Ross MacDonald. Certainly Tony Hillerman is someone I like to read. Michael Connelly, Martin Cruz Smith, Elmore Leonard, Stuart Kaminsky, P. D. James, S. J. Rozan, have all given me hours of enjoyment. But-and here the truth must will out-by and large, I don’t read mysteries any more. I used to, and once in a very great while, I still do, but only rarely. Why? Because I write them all day long. When I quit, I want a break from mystery fiction. I still want to read, but only outside my field. So, I’ll read history books (my first love,) novels (Patrick O’Brien, John le Carré, dozens of others,) and anything else that captures my fancy. I can never read enough. I find it does wonders for my brain, and helps my writing immeasurably.

FAQ 3

How long does it take you to write a book?

One year. I do this because I want to get a book out just before each Christmas season, and also because at the end of each year, I run out of money. My publisher, being very clever, has figured out just how much I need to live on each year, and pays me only that much for each book. Pretty tricky, and I ain’t complaining. In the real world, that’s called employment, and I’m one of the few lucky writers who can truly say they live off their work.

FAQ 4

Are your characters based on real people?

No, although I will sometimes use the names of real people, either with their permission, or at their urging. Thus, my children have appeared, as have other family members, along with a host of friends. But never as themselves (all right-almost never.) After all, I use real places, real police procedures, real scientific techniques . . . I need room for a little creativity. So, that’s where the plot and the characters come in. Both are totally make-believe, and allow me lots of room to play.

FAQ 5

How much research do you do?

Lots. Having been a newspaper writer and a historian in the past, I am driven by a compulsion to get things right. I go from expert to expert, sometimes interviewing up to forty for a single book, asking them what I need to know to make the plot compelling, interesting, and fun to read. As a result, a good part of each year that I spend “writing” a book is actually spent picking people’s brains. It is great fun, I learn an enormous amount, meet nice people, and with any luck, pass along the cream of the crop to my readers.

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