Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Interview with mystery author David Myles Robinson

Mystery author David Myles Robinson joins me today to chat about his new suspense novel, The Pinochet Plot.

Welcome, David. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I graduated from Blair HS in Pasadena, CA, in 1968 and moved to San Francisco to attend San Francisco State College. Interesting times. I lived for a time on the corner of Haight St. and Broderick and hitchhiked through the Haight every morning to get to school. In 1969 I moved back to Pasadena to work as a staff journalist for a minority newspaper while attending Cal State LA. My family had moved to Honolulu in 1968 and so, in 1970, I enrolled in the University of Hawaii. I spent the summer of 1970 in Europe with my San Francisco friends and then re-enrolled at SF State. Too much moving around, however, almost got me drafted. I got my Selective Service letter and had to go for my physical and written test in Berkeley. Thankfully, President Nixon stopped the draft three numbers before I was called. 

I graduated from San Francisco State University in 1972 and was accepted at the University of San Francisco School of Law. It was there I met my wife, Marcia Waldorf. In 1975 we moved to Honolulu. Marcia took a job as a Public Defender and I opened my own office. Over the course of the next 38 years I had my own firm with a couple different partners. I did a little of everything early on, but eventually specialized in personal injury and workers’ compensation law.

In 2010 I retired and wrote my first novel, Unplayable Lie. Two legal thrillers followed: Tropical Lies and Tropical Judgments. The Pinochet Plot is my fourth novel.

After dividing our time between Honolulu and our second home in Taos, NM, for several years, we decided we would see what it was like to be full time mainlanders again. We love it. I ski, golf, hike, and travel when I’m not writing.

Please tell us about your current release.
The Pinochet Plot: High-powered San Francisco attorney Will Muñoz is just about to start a sabbatical from his practice of law when he learns his mother has committed suicide. The letter she sent him on the eve of her death changes Will’s life forever.

When he was eleven years old, Will discovered the murdered body of his father, the famed Chilean novelist Ricardo Muñoz. The police write it off as a burglary gone bad, but unbeknownst to Will at the time, his mother was convinced that the brutal, CIA-backed Chilean Dictator, Augusto Pinochet, had Ricardo murdered in an attempt to stop the publication of Ricardo’s last book, The Daughters of Pinochet. In her letter, his mother explains her suspicions and, in what sounds to Will like a fit of delusional madness, goes on to say she believes Will’s stepfather, Chuck Evans, may have been involved in the murder. 

As Will sets out to learn more about his father’s murder and his mother’s mental state, he becomes immersed in stranger-than-fiction leads involving the CIA’s role in Chile, assassins for hire, illegal CIA-funded drug experimentation, and chilling political intrigue.

What inspired you to write this book?
The political discourse in our country had been getting so bad it reminded me that there are many countries where political dissent is not allowed, and, in extreme cases, dissidents are arrested and/or assassinated. While America has its own history of oppression and genocide, I had hoped we had grown out of those times. Instead, we are falling victim to tribalism and intractable opinions, which should be danger signals to the well-being of our democracy. So, I decided to write a novel that, while hopefully entertaining to read, toyed with the idea that Pinochet’s solution to dealing with political opponents could happen here.

What exciting story are you working on next?
In Saigon’s Son, seventy-year old Hank Reagan had just lost his long-time wife, Becka. It had been Becka’s idea to buy into a posh retirement community, but now Hank was depressed, thinking thoughts of mortality. He’d play golf with his one friend, Norm Rothstein, and smoke Becka’s leftover medical marijuana and felt as if he was wasting what was left of his life. Then, one evening a beautiful Vietnamese woman appears at the front desk and asks for Hank. It takes him a few moments to realize it is Mai, his lover from the days he was stationed in Saigon as a CIA agent. As the war was lost and the Americans were forced to evacuate, he left Mai with a bag of money and promises he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep. He never saw her again until this night. Hank never knew Mai was pregnant and had made her way to America. Now, she has come to ask Hank to help her find their son who disappeared on the day of his graduation from high school.

Hank and his buddy, Norm, set off on a road trip to track down his son’s high school friends and solve the mystery of why he disappeared.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I worked as a staff journalist for a minority newspaper in Pasadena in 1969, while still in college. I also did some free-lance writing for magazines around that time. I wrote short stories and attempted some novels while still in college, but when I became a lawyer in 1972 I didn’t write anything other than legalese for many years. About twenty years ago I wrote and completed a novel, but it was awful. The writing was stilted from years of writing legal briefs and memoranda of law. When I retired, I began writing Unplayable Lie, my first published novel, a golf-related suspense novel. It was truly a work of passion and when it was published and garnered good reviews, I began to cautiously think of myself as a writer. Now, with Pinochet, I will have four published novels and two more coming out within this next year, so I think I can legitimately call myself a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am fortunate enough not to need the income from my writing to live. So, I don’t have the strict regimen of writing which many writers advocate. That said, when I’m into a book and it’s going well, I can sit and write most of the day and happily avoid distractions. When I’m not into something, or need to take a break from writing, I love to golf, ski, and travel.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
As I do in real life, I swear a lot in my writing. It just feels more real to me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
 A lawyer – although I’d always loved writing and at one point I asked my creative writing teacher at San Francisco State College whether he thought I should try to become a writer or should go ahead with my plans to be a lawyer. He smiled and made a gesture with the palms of his hands up, like a scale. “Starving artist” or “a rich lawyer.” I think you can guess how he tilted the “scales.” Needless to say I sold out and went on to law school.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you. If you buy the book, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Thanks for being a guest, David!

1 comment:

David Myles Robinson said...

Thanks for hosting me on your blog, Lisa.