The Junkyard Dick
The Junkyard Dick
by Gillespie Lamb
GENRE: Contemporary mystery
Salvage yard operator and part-time sleuth Tak Sweedner is asked by a buddy, Roque Zamarripa, to investigate a murder. Tak says OK and for his trouble is assaulted with a tire iron. Then he's run off the side of a cliff-the investigation really goes downhill at that point!
Tak calls up gal-pal Emma to help him and soon discovers his feelings for the woman go beyond palling around. When she asks him to give up his investigation and concentrate on her, Tak balks. She might better have asked a bulldog to give up its bone. It would be like quitting, Tak said, and he wasn't a quitter.
Can this blue-collar crime-solver hang in there to get the bad guy... AND win his girl?
Pushed off a mountain…
The collision jarred me. I was thrown against the door, the steering wheel almost twisting from my hands. I regained control of the wheel, but not until the rollback had begun to drift off the pavement at an angle that I recognized was irreversible, not with that much momentum behind it.
From instinct, I turned the wheel back toward the roadway. The loaded truck tipped right in response and began to roll over. I had lost the battle to stay upright. The ground seemed to tilt and the tumble down the long hillside began.
The noise of what followed was nearly as excruciating as the physical pummeling. I thought my eardrums would burst from the shrill screech of metal being wrenched apart. The booming of steel sheeting repeatedly being smashed against rock was so terrible it scared me all by itself.
Glass from the windshield sprayed me as it exploded under pressure. My eyes closed an instant before I felt my face pelted with the shards. Time and again, I was thrust against my seatbelt so hard that I expected the nylon either to part and send me flying or to bury itself in me like an extra diagonal rib. My jaw began to hurt after I banged my head against the door frame or the steering wheel or something unyielding while the truck and I tumbled and bounced.
The noise level finally reached a crescendo and began to recede and the jolting ride morphed into what seemed like a long, long skid. And then nothing.
About the Author:
Gillespie Lamb developed writing skills as a newspaper reporter, editor and columnist before leaving journalism to become a freelancer and pursue less formulaic writing. He published his first novel in 2017, a middle-grades reader about a girl who rode an “orphan train” from New York City to Kansas. It is titled The Beamy Courage of Gerta Scholler. This second novel is his initial foray into the mystery genre. The setting of The Junkyard Dick is the rural Texas region where Lamb lives.
Q&A With the Author
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The Junkyard Dick is supposed to be an enjoyable read—and is. It’s a murder mystery, yes, but the people in the book are not all murderers. Most are young or old, professional or tradespeople, mature or juvenile—just a bundle of ordinary and quite likeable people. I enjoyed creating them and enjoy knowing them. Some works of fiction are heavily infused with portent and meaning and angst, but this story is devoid of such. Its characters uniformly have an interior dimension, yes, but there is not a bellybutton-starer among them. I enjoy such people, relatively uncomplicated men and women living practical, aboveboard lives. I enjoyed creating them.
Do you have any other books you are working on that you can tell us about?
I am polishing a novel about contemporary times, a story about a middle-aged man who believes his voice is worthy of inclusion in ongoing debates about culture and public policy. He wonders how he can best contribute to the national conversation at the local level without disrupting his business routines. He eventually finds a way and derives quiet pleasure in being a good citizen engaged in issues of the day. Then it all comes down around his head. The bulk of the novel deals with how he parries the impact on his business, his family—and his relationship with a woman on the opposite side of the political spectrum. It is not a polemical nor particularly political book. Yet it is meaningfully topical and promises to remain so for some years to come.
Can you tell us about what you have planned for the future?
I can tell you what I didn’t plan on—setting up a nonprofit to foster creative writing skills among children in … Uvalde, Texas. This spring’s school shooting in that county seat town occurred the month before I was to start marketing The Junkyard Dick. That’s relevant because the novel is set in …. Uvalde, Texas, where I live. My story constantly alludes to Uvalde’s streets and restaurants, its multicultural population and clear-water rivers, and so on. Marketing a novel at this moment with such a strong Uvalde DNA looks suspiciously like someone taking advantage of tragedy. I want neither the perception nor the reality of that, so I created the nonprofit into which will go all royalties plus contributions from the publisher. That will be augmented by public donations. The money will fund writing workshops for the community’s elementary-age children. You can learn more about the nonprofit by visiting storyinventorsclub.com. Please do.
How long have you been writing?
Well, I have been talking about writing since I was in high school. Then I became a journalist and freelance writer before finally producing works of fiction. So, if all that counts, I guess I have been a writer most of my life. However, I long have been leery of claiming to be a “writer,” and I attribute that reluctance to something I witnessed as a teenager. A woman friend of the family dubbed herself a writer and the only thing she ever wrote was a single spiritual thought in a Protestant tract. Commendable as that was, I never felt it qualified her to claim the title. My first book, The Beamy Courage of Gerta Scholler, was published five years ago. I didn’t even try to market it. I knew at that point that I probably was a writer, an author, even. Knowing that, I didn’t feel a compelling need to sell the book. I aspire for more now.
Anything more you would like to say to your readers and fans?
If you are either a wannabe or a bona fide writer, keep writing. Whether you are an eclectic or a sjngle-genre reader, keep reading, The world is a better place because of your interest in written language. Our brains can imagine wondrous things and conjure sparkling ways of expressing them. Yet until they are reproduced on some kind of medium and distributed, they are lonely thoughts barely worth the electrical impulses expended to create them in our brains. Not until they are written or read do they come to life. Reading and writing are co-inhabitants of a wonderful world.
My latest novel, The Junkyard Dick, is a mystery set in Uvalde, Tex. It contains numerous allusions to Uvalde streets, restaurants, swimming in the Nueces, and so on, and positively characterizes this multicultural, county-seat town where I happen to live.
One week before I began marketing the book through my website (gillespielamb.com), Uvalde became a national byword for school shootings. A minor consequence of that tragedy is that suddenly my book became awkwardly positioned in the marketplace. Many people naturally will see promotion of a book about Uvalde at this time as shamelessly cashing in on the tragic event. I want neither the perception nor the reality of that.
So, I have created a nonprofit that will benefit elementary fiction-writing programs in Uvalde—or create such programs out of whole cloth. Any royalties I receive from the book will go into the fund along with contributions from the publisher, Black Rose Writing. That will just be seed money. I will be soliciting donations to the fund from the literary industry and associated artistic ventures, from local and regional community organizations and businesses, and from readers anywhere who find comfort, escape or inspiration in fiction.
I am calling the nonprofit “The Story Inventors Club,” which is appropriately juvenile so that it might appeal to young people. It will be dedicated to the proposition that young imaginations are capable of producing fictional stories of merit and enduring value. The hoped-for legacy of the Club would be creation of a new generation of prose (and poetry) to delight readers, and the instilling of enhanced cognitive, language and communication skills in some young people.
So, as a consequence of all of the above, I now will be promoting two things: (1) a novel that I believe in on its literary merits, and (2) a Club that I believe can build a new and creative legacy upon the ashes of misfortune.
For more information on this Club, please go here: https://www.storyinventorsclub.com/home
Black Rose Writing
Gillespie Lamb will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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