Friday, October 23, 2020

Dwayne Clayden Interview - Speargrass-Opioid

Photo Content from Dwayne Clayden

Dwayne Clayden combines his knowledge and experience as a police officer and paramedic to write crime thrillers. His first novel, Crisis Point, was a finalist for the 2015 Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis Award.

Outlaw MC is the second novel in the Brad Coulter series.

The third novel in the series, Wolfman is Back (excerpt) was released Nov 7, 2019.

Watch for the fourth and fifth novels to be released fall of 2020 and early 2021.

New series – Speargrass available via preorder now, on Kindle.

His short story, Hell Hath No Fury, was published in AB Negative, an anthology of short stories from Alberta Crime Writers.

Dwayne’s vast experience in emergency services spans over 40 years, and includes work as a police officer, paramedic, tactical paramedic, firefighter, emergency medical services (EMS) chief, educator, and academic chair.

He is a popular speaker at conferences and to writing groups presenting on realistic police, medical and paramedic procedures.

The co-author of four paramedic textbooks, he has spoken internationally at EMS conferences for the past three decades.

He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Crime Writers of Canada and the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society.


Tell us your latest news. 
In September, I launched the first novel in a new series, Speargrass—Opioid. Speargrass is a fictional First Nation near Great Falls, Montana. Rodeo champion Franklyn Eaglechild finds his life upended when his bull-riding injuries force him into a new line of work as the Tribal Sheriff in Speargrass, Montana. 

As well, November 10th I will launch the 4th novel in the Brad Coulter Series, 13 Days of Terror. 

Monday Morning. A man drops dead in the parking lot of a car dealership in downtown Calgary. No one knows where the shot came from. No one knows why the victim was targeted. The shooter? Invisible. 

An hour later, another body hits the ground. Random victim, random location. 

A sniper is terrorizing Calgary. 

Detective Brad Coulter has just returned to work after a long leave of absence. The shooter leaves no evidence behind but taunts Brad with notes addressed directly to him. As the death count rises, city-wide panic ensues. It is a race against time. But how can Brad hunt a ghost? 

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way? 
Joseph Wambaugh was a pioneer for not only crime procedural novels, but television as well. His gritty, dark side of policing was a huge change from the sanitized 60s TV shows like 1 Adam 12 and Dragnet. Hill Street Blues was possible because of the novels of Joseph Wambaugh. 

He brought realism to the printed page. I work very hard to ensure that I am accurate in police and paramedic procedures. I don’t hold back on the dark side of the human race, or the challenges emergency services personnel face because of the events they witness. 

Robert B. Parker—the Jesse Stone Series. I loved Parkers writing style, and he had the biggest influence on my style. I like the multiple point of view—protagonist and antagonist. As a reader you can see what is coming, but don’t know how the two plots will come together. 

Are there any new Authors that have grasped your interest and why? 
Peter James, Roy Grace Series 
Roy Grace is a Detective Superintendent of the CID in Sussex, England. Peter James has crafted an excellent character, full of flaws and internal turmoil. (#1 Dead Simple) I have not been to Brighton, but I can see it through James’ writing. I also love the English slang and terminology. The plots are complex with many twists. 

Nelson DeMille, John Corey Series 
DeMille is an incredible author. The John Corey series (#1Plum Island) is written in first person. My current work in progress is in first person, and my protagonist, like John Corey is extremely sarcastic and not always politically correct. Not only was the series thrilling to read, it also provided an incredible example of first-person writing. 

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published. 
Receiving emails from readers is absolutely fantastic! My favorite comment is when they complain that my novel kept them up to the wee hours of the morning! I have also received messages when a reader catches me posting on Facebook. They message me and tell me to quit goofing off on Facebook, that they are waiting for my next novel. Having readers who bought my first or second novel, coming back for my next novel is a thrill. 

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel? 
Opioids don’t play favorites. Anyone, any family, could be affected by opioids. 

The resources to treat addiction in general, is profoundly lacking. 

In your newest book; SPEARGRASS-OPIOID, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it. 
Speargrass—Opioid. Speargrass is a fictional First Nation near Great Falls, Montana. Rodeo champion Franklyn Eaglechild finds his life upended when his bull-riding injuries force him into a new line of work as the Tribal Sheriff in Speargrass, Montana. Franklyn quickly discovers not everyone is thrilled to have a new Sheriff in town looking into their business—especially not the drug dealers. 

Franklyn makes enemies in high places when he refuses to play by the Tribal Chief’s rules. Friends are scarce. Lucky for Franklyn, he has at least one friend he can rely on—his adopted brother and DEA Special Agent Riley Briggs in Great Falls. 

They soon realize they are dealing with the same issue, the opioid crisis. Teaming up seems like a good idea, but it further complicates Franklyn’s life on the reservation. 

All my novels lead to a confrontation in the last chapters, and Speargrass-Opioid has a thrilling conclusion. 

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book? 
There are several themes in the novel that gave me palpitations. 

First, that I was writing about a First Nation. The novel is based on my experiences working on a First Nation for four years. Most of the events are based on actual incidents I attended, that I have fictionalized. I spent a lot of time ensuring I was portraying the events in a respectful manner, while keeping the story authentic. My characters were composites of people I worked with and I hope I have been able to fairly portray life on a First nation and the challenges they face. 

The second challenge was that as I was over the 50,000 word mark, I realized that I was missing a character. That as great as Franklyn was, he needed a partner. I pondered that for many months, then came up with the Riley Briggs character as a DEA Agent. The tricky part was adding Riley’s chapters in the appropriate places and add the interactions between Franklyn and Riley. I think it would have been easier to have rewritten the novel from scratch. 

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 
I don’t know how many novels there will be in the Brad Coulter series, which starts in the mid 1970s. As long as readers want more of Brad, I’ll keep writing the stories. I have spent some time on the last novel, whenever it is time to end the series. I don’t want to give too much away, but Brad is retired and is moving to Vancouver Island, where, as usual for him, he finds himself in the middle of conflict. 

Rather than have Brad go to Vancouver Island, I could have him head to Montana where he gets caught in the middle of a drug deal gone bad. There he meets DEA Agent Riley Briggs from Speargrass-Opioid. (2020s) 

They are both very strong willed, I’m in charge kind of guys. So, I can see lots of tension (especially in dialogue) and conflict (coming close to blows), but also that they would grudgingly work well together. 

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Franklyn? 
I found that I got to know Franklyn’s character so well, that I felt his emotions and internal struggles. At times, I was emotionally drained after writing his chapters. Franklyn has a heart of gold, he wants to make a difference for his people, but he is treated as an outsider and that hurt him to the core. He also realizes that he has drifted from his cultures traditions, and wants to learn the old ways. I’ll explore that in the next novel. 

  • 1. Italy 
  • 2. Greece 
  • 3. Hawaii 
  • 4. Australia 
  • 5. England 
  • 6. Scotland 
  • 7. Ireland 
  • 8. Hawaii 
  • 9. European River Cruise 
  • 10. Hawaii 
What’s the most ridiculous fact you know? 
I am a trivia buff, so I have tons of useless information in my head, but every now and then I’m able to answer a final Jeopardy question! 

I know that Mark Twain is actually Samuel Langhorne Clemmons. But I also know that Clemmons wrote under another pen name, Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass. 

I also know that Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia is the fear of long words. Just don’t ask me to pronounce it! 

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had? 
After graduation from high school, I was a camp councilor for the summer. It was a sports camp and every two weeks we had a new group. The idea was to introduce the kids to various sports. We played games all day. Football, basketball, field hockey, golf and then for fun, we combined games or set up relay races. Not only is that my most memorable summer job, it is probably one of the best jobs! 

Best date you've ever had? 
When Valerie and I started dating, we took turns planning the date. I selected an evening at the shooting range. Valerie had never handled or fired a gun before. A range officer explained the safety rules and gave Valerie an orientation to a pistol. Then we went into the range, with the range officer assisting Valerie. I took a spot a couple of stalls over and shot on my own. Every now and then I’d glance over to see how Valerie was doing. She was hitting the target and by her big grin, I knew she was having fun. 

As I watched, Valerie fired, and a hot casing ejected from the pistol and flew inside her shirt. She didn’t panic. She calmly set the pistol down and then fished out the casing. 

I knew she was the one! 

Last Halloween Costume you wore and when? 
My favorite Halloween costume is the Joker from The Dark Knight, portrayed by the late Heath Ledger. It is my go-to costume, and I’ve worn it every year since 2012. 

Photo Content from Dwayne Clayden

When I was the academic chair of the paramedic program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary, Alberta, I wore the costume. I popped into our classrooms and the students had no clue who it was. Other students stopped me in the hallway to do a selfie with me! 

What event in your life would make a good movie? 
After 40 years as a paramedic, police officer, and firefighter, it’s a challenge to select a single event. I’ve used some of my best events in my Brad Coulter novels. 

I would say that my first two years as a police officer would be a good movie or TV series. Right from the start ‘stuff’ happened when I was working. Especially when I was working alone. I was in a twenty-minute car chase. Me driving a Plymouth Furry and following a sporty MG. 

I arrested a drunk driver, who, it turned out, was double jointed. And even though I had handcuffed him behind his back, he was able to get his arms to the front of his body and then used the chain of the cuffs to choke me. I was able to get out a distress call and cops came from miles away to my rescue. 

At the end of a shift, I was driving back to headquarters and a call came in about a sexual assault. Just as the dispatcher was describing the suspect, he ran out or a car park right in front of me. I left my cruiser in the middle of traffic and pursued. I didn’t catch him but was asked to assist a detective and we subsequently found the suspect. 

Those are a few of the things I was involved in. They’d be high action. There would be many humorous situations as well. 

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today? 
My life changed when I was accepted into the Calgary Police Service and completed five months of intense training. I was a na├»ve nineteen-year-old when classes started. I hit the street a month after my twentieth birthday. I was book smart and lacking in street sense. But between academy classes and some excellent partners, I developed the street sense that was an integral part of the rest of my career. Many of the skills I learned as a cop, were readily transferable to being a paramedic. 

There is a joke, that cops always want to sit with their back to the wall and face the door. Except it is true. I must have my back to the wall. I still scrutinize everything around me, no matter where I am. I know where the exits are. I know how many people are in the room. A few times, I have been moving toward a problem, almost before it happens. 

What is one unique thing are you afraid of? 
I am terrified of mice. In 40+ years in emergency services, I saw some gruesome things and was involved in very tense situations, but I’d take any of those over a mouse! 

What was the best memory you ever had as a writer? 
The book launch of Crisis Point was awesome! Over 120 people attended and 2/3 bought the novel. That propelled Crisis Point to the bestseller list. I was overwhelmed by the show of support from family, friends and writers. I signed novels for ninety minutes. 

My earliest memories are of my mother reading to me. When I could read on my own, I devoured the Hardy Boys series. 

When I was about ten, when my reading material was getting low, I’d take the bus from our house to Kensington used bookstore. I graduated from the Hardy Boys to Ellery Queen, Earl Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie. 

In high school I loved writing reports in social studies class and in English class I wrote satire. Saturday Night Live stuff, except this was before SNL! 

Then career got in the way, but I co-authored four paramedic textbooks. 

In 2010, I was going through a major life change. One morning in October, I was showering and had an epiphany. I needed to write fiction. I Googled writing classes and one started the next week. 

The first piece I wrote and submitted to the instructor and classmates, everyone liked. 

For the next four years, I took writing classes pretty much non-stop. 

There was one point where I received feedback that devastated me. After giving a great pitch, I was asked to submit the Crisis Point manuscript. I excitedly opened the email with the review. The primary comment was, “It’s like a police show is on the TV in the other room, and I don’t care.” 

I set the manuscript side for about three months. Thankfully, I signed up for another writing class and set to improving the novel. 

In 2015, I submitted Crisis Point to the Crime Writers of Canada Arthur Ellis awards for the best unpublished novel. Then my name was called as a finalist. There is no other word. I was Gobsmacked! Instead of wine, I celebrated with Whisky! 

I attended the Crime Writers of Canada Awards in Toronto the end of May. It was like the Academy Awards of Writing. 

I didn’t win the award, and I was disappointed. But heck, making the finals was great. As she was leaving, the agent gave me her card and asked for my manuscript. 

I received thirty-seven responses—rejections. That was a gut punch. 

By now I had spent almost seven years on Crisis Point. I also admit that my biological writing clock was ticking. In April 2018, Crisis Point was launched and was a best seller in Calgary. There is immense satisfaction in holding your novel in print for the first time. 

OutlawMC launched in March 2019. 

Wolfman is Back launched in November 2019. 

Speargrass—Opioid launched in September 2020. 

Novels five and six are written. 13 Days of Terror will launch in November 2020 and Goddess of Justice in March 2021. 

Today, October 13, 2020, I am halfway through writing my seventh novel and 10,000 words into my eighth. 

I admit to being obsessed. I write every day. When I started writing in 2010, it was a struggle to write 500 words in a day. Now, 2500-3000 in a day is not unusual, and I have had days of over 6,000 words. 

I have a schedule with my editor to the end of 2023. The deadlines are important to keep me on track.

The new tribal sheriff of Speargrass, Montana’s ex-rodeo champion, Franklyn Eaglechild, a man plagued with injuries from the past. His damaged health leaves him with a dim future of lost dreams. While coping with his personal defeats, Franklyn quickly discovers not everyone in Speargrass is thrilled to have a new sheriff in town looking into their business.

Franklyn soon makes enemies in high places when he refuses to play by the rules. Friends are scarce, but lucky for Franklyn, he has at least one friend he can rely on—his adopted brother and DEA Special Agent, Riley Briggs in Great Falls.

As an opioid crisis spirals out of control in and around Great Falls and Speargrass, Franklyn and Riley realize they need to join forces if there is any hope of putting an end to the destruction.

You can purchase Speargrass-Opioid at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you DWAYNE CLAYDEN for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Speargrass-Opioid by Dwayne Clayden

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