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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

WHY I WROTE “BLACKOUT” #5 ‘Hawkman Series’

I’ve been asked many times why I would write a mystery involving a bingo hall. I thought this is a good place to tell the story. So grab a cup of coffee, relax for a few minutes and let me tell you a tale.
As most authors know, there are times you have to drag yourself away from the computer and give the brain a rest. What better place to relax the mind than go play a game and think about numbers instead of words. I’m not kidding, you’d be surprised how it helps. Especially if you win!
I’ve played bingo for years, even got my father addicted. I don’t play as much now as I used to, because it’s much more expensive since machines have been incorporated. If you don’t buy the machines you might as well go home because you have 150 or more cards in each one, a paper player with just a couple sets of cards in front of him wouldn’t have a chance.
Nowadays, bingo players are enticed by many ways to win money. They have flashboards you pay a dollar each, and you can win anywhere from $250 to $1,199.00 (more at the Indian Bingo Halls). There are ‘Hot Balls’ that if you bingo on the number you can win an extra bunch of money that can be as high as $1,000.00. I’m getting a bit off track here....so let’s get back to why I wrote “BLACKOUT”....
Having gained many friends through bingo, I took my books with me when I started writing the ‘Hawkman Series’ and roped in many fans who fell in love with Hawkman and swore he was real. These fans kept bugging me about how Hawkman should be solving a mystery at a bingo hall. Well, It didn’t take much to convince me it would be a perfect setting. The story turned out to be a very complicated scheme with lots of danger involved. When I finished and the book was published, I’m sure every bingo player bought a copy. The bingo hall I used in the story was one I frequented for many years. The workers were so much fun and kept you laughing. I used them as models in the book, so they’re real people, but the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The characters in the book are all people I knew from the halls I’ve played in. Many bought the book and recognized themselves. It’s fun to see yourself in print.
BLACKOUT also won the Bloody Dagger Award for 2004. I loved writing the book and think you would enjoy it too. You can’t miss the cover..and anyone familiar with the game knows what ‘Blackout’ means. The number 13 has a bearing in the story. So enjoy a fun and exciting book. Here’s an excerpt from the First Chapter to tease you a bit.


Hawkman shut down the computer, stretched his arms above his head then twisted his shoulders back and forth. Sitting in front of the monitor for hours at his office on a Sunday afternoon made him feel stiff all over.
His gaze shifted to the entry. He could have sworn he heard a soft knock. Tilting his head, he listened. Sure enough, it sounded again. He didn’t have any appointment scheduled for today, so who could this be?
Crossing the room, he grabbed the handle and threw open the door. He peered down at a small black child about five or six years old. Her big brown eyes twinkled under a mass of ebony ringlets framing her face. Clutching a rag doll in her arms, she stared up at him with a big smile exposing several gaps in her front teeth. “You must be Mr. Hawk Man. Grandpa said you had a boo boo on your eye.”
He stifled a grin and dropped to his haunches. “That’s right. What’s your name and what can I do for you?”
“I’m Amanda.” Then she turned and pointed down the stairs. “My Grandpa wants to talk to you, but he can’t get up here.”
“I guess I better go down there then,” Hawkman said, closing the door behind him and following the little girl.
She led him alongside the parking lot toward a large oak tree where a man as black as coal dust sat in a rickety wheelchair protected by the shade. Tufts of curly white hair stuck out from underneath his worn leather cowboy hat. He glanced up and grinned, holding out his hand as they approached. “Hawkman, you son of a gun, how come you don’t get no older?”
Hawkman grabbed the man’s hand with both of his. “Jesse, you old buzzard, where’ve you been keeping yourself? Haven’t seen you in ages. It’s good to see ya.” He then turned and patted the little girl’s shoulder. “How’d you come by such a pretty little granddaughter?”
The old man shoved his hat back and scratched his head. Eyeing the little girl, he pushed his fingers into one of the bib pockets of his overalls and pulled out a couple of dollars. He pointed toward one of the stores next to Hawkman’s office. “Amanda, see that little shop over there?”
Her eyes glistening with anticipation, she whirled around and vigorously nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“You go do a little shopping. Take your time, but don’t talk to no strangers and come straight back here when you’re through.”
“Okay, Grandpa. I promise I’ll be real careful.” Grinning, she plopped her rag doll into his lap and grasped the bills in her fist.
Jesse watched the child dash across the lot and disappear inside the store. Then he turned his focus back on Hawkman. “I’m concerned about my daughter.”
“Is that Destiny’s little girl?” Hawkman asked, rubbing the back of his neck. “Somehow, I can’t picture her being old enough to have a family.”
The old man moved the doll from his lap and propped it up beside him. “Yep, that’s Destiny’s baby. I didn’t know what to do with a female child after my Rose died. ‘Fraid I let the girl run wild. She got mixed up with the wrong crowd and ended up pregnant. At least she had enough scruples not to have an abortion, but she flat refused to give the child up for adoption. Said it was hers and she’d raise it. Well, I couldn’t argue with that, so she’s been with me ever since. Fortunately, she shaped up. She’s a fine mother and got a good job.”
“So what’s the problem?” Hawkman asked.
“Everything was going okay until two nights ago.” He looked away.
“Yeah, go on.”
“She never came home from playing bingo.”

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