Crime Expert BURL BARER. Edgar Award winner and best selling author of true crime, mystery fiction, supernatural thrillers, and pop culture. "Talented, Creative and Charming"
-- Erin Moriarty, CBS 48hrs "Burl Barer is one of my favorites!" -- Lis Wiehl, Fox News
I alway wanted to be the hero of a private eye novel, and it was obvious that the only way that could happen is if I wrote a PI novel, and made myself the hero. This novel was great fun to write, and people seem to get quite a kick out of it.
It is available in a snazzy new paperback edition, and also as an eBook. There will also be an audiobook. I would like to narrate that one myself, but I might have someone else do it, just to see how it turns out.
Frank C. Girardot, Jr and I teamed up for the true crime epic mystery, A TASTE FOR MURDER. This is going to be a one-hour special on INVESTIGATION DISCOVERY’s EPIC MYSTERIES in March 2016. Yeah, I thought it was going to be February but it keeps changing.
Meanwhile, my nephews, Lee Goldberg and Tod Goldberg both have new books coming out. Buy them. Please. Not that they need my support, but I do what I can for them, and they do likewise.
There are certain things all mystery writers haves drilled into our heads, and we all have a screw loose.We are all warned against using certain JEPS. JEP is short for jeopardy. Using those threats of harm, or actual harm, are deemed manipulative and emotionally upsetting to the reader.
I gave this a great deal of thought, and I believed that I could do one of the big “no-nos” if I did it as a magician does slight of hand. Yeah, and Buzz Lightyear thought he could fly.Well, so far it remains in the air and is at least a partial refutation of JEP dogma.Mystery writers will spot it instantly; hopefully, readers will just keep reading.
The next challenge was writing the book in first person, and first person present tense.First person, as your teacher will tell you, “imprisons you in one character.”
John Gardner writes that “first person locks us in one character’s mind, locks us to one kind of diction throughout, locks out the possibilities of going deeply into various characters’ minds, and so forth.” (The Art of Fiction). First person is a form with very strict limitations compared to writing in third person omniscient.Hence, my riddle:
Where is the only place where God is not omniscient?
The answer: In the Bible.
Yes, God is a character in the Bible. He is a player in the story. Moses is also a character.Although the first five books of the Bible are “The Books of Moses,” not a single word is written from the perspective of Moses. And none of it is written from the perspective of God, So, God is not the omniscient voice in the Bible because God is not telling the story, yet the story is told from an omniscient perspective.
Now, here is an amazing illustration of God hand-delivering to Moses the TEN ROMAN NUMERALS.
While you meditate on that, I’ll warn you that at a certain point in HEADLOCK, I do something really dangerous —a real risky stylistic twist of tense.Jane Gelfman, famed literary agent, said “What you’ve done is heretical, but it works.”Whew.
Before I began, she did warn me:“Don’tbe too funny. You have a tendency to be too funny.”
HEADLOCK isn’t funny to me because I seldom make me laugh. When I said “any toy store can sell you a Talking Barbie, but you can’t even special order Listening Ken” I was simply making an observation,It is now a meme I see posted on Facebook,At least I get credit for the line.
In my next missive, I’ll explain HOW I actually researched and wrote a book that is fiction yet inspired by real events, real people and contains tons of historical fact.
Bill Macdonald, famed TV and film producer, and I were hanging out one day in Los Angeles when he said to me, “Burl, you should write a small town Chinatown.”I said, “Okay.”
So, it would be a private detective in a small historic town, there must be corruption and colorful characters and a twist ending that you don’t see coming.
Simon and Schuster, pleased with my work on THE SAINT – A NOVEL, asked me for a mystery or thriller.The editor wanted to see the first few chapters. If they liked it, they would tell me to keep writing and then deliver.I took Bill Macdonald’s advice and started thinking about that “small town Chinatown” idea.
Well,being an investigative true crime writer living in Walla Walla, Washingto, who had one New York Times best seller (Murder in the Family), I thought I should take on the role of the PI and tell it from my perspective.
(2)When hawking the first edition of MAN OVERBOARD in San Francisco, I was paired with my old pal, Professor Christopher Buck, a long time friend and fan of my radio shows.
He wrote a fascinating book about the Book of Certitude by Baha’u’llah, the Central Figure of the Baha’i Faith. Chris Buck explained to me about the complaints leveled against both the Qur’an of Islam and the Sacred Scriptures of the Baha’i Faith regarding the use of tenses— past, present and future.
Baha’u’llah Himself stated that He made sure the texts were “brought into conformity with the grammatical conventions of the people in order to forestall the cavils of the opponents of the Cause.”
Mohammad faced similar opposition.,For example, in the Quran, when it speaks of creation, it isn’t a past event, but an ongoing process.This was a shocking assertion in the early 600’s, and it wasn’t until recently that creation being ongoing was established as a scientific fact.
In speaking, we mix up our tenses all the time when telling stories — we jump from past tense to present tense all the time. “Let me tell you about last night — there I am, I’m sitting in a bar…”
See what I mean? That’s telling a past event in present tense. I wanted to play with tenses, and I also wanted to “get away” with overturning convention, if possible.
I managed to violate two so-called rules of writing a mystery, and got away with them both.It was rather like pulling off the perfect crime.Details in our next conversation.
Seatacmedia.com is the ultimate excellent repository of Seattle-Tacoma media lore, information, airchecks AND, up until now, a 24 hr Internet radio station playing great oldies PLUS excellent new shows including my very own True Crime Uncensored’s Greatest Hits.
Despite the educational and historic value of Seatacmedia.com’s streaming “radio station” it has been forced to go silent because it can’t afford the licensing fees required to play songs. It wasn’t as if Jason Remington was rolling in loot from this endeavor — it was a labor of love, and he kept the station going on donations from listeners — primarily those of us who have a deep love for Seattle-Tacoma radio.
Now, it would seem to me that if he didn’t stream these shows but merely offered them “on demand” from the website exactly as he does the historic airchecks….well, you get the idea. There are numerous episodes of TRUE CRIME UNCENSORED uploaded and some airchecks of John Maynard, Kevin O’Brian, Gary Shannon; Tom Murphy and Burl Barer from the KJR Reunion along wth tons of other cool stuff.
PF Sloan, famed composer of innumerable hit songs, a member of the famed Wrecking Crew of studio musicians, and the singer on many hit records that never bore his name, died on a Baha’i Holy Day (November 15th, 2015).
In both Judaism (Phil’s religious heritage, and mine) and the Baha’i Faith, to die on a Holy Day is an honor. PF Sloan deserves all the honor he can get, even in death. He was a one-of-a-kind talent with a remarkable, versatile voice.
For example, every singer you hear on Jan and Dean’s Little Old Lady from Pasadenais PF Sloan. No Jan. No Dean. No backup singers. Just PF Sloan.
At one time, PF Sloan was seven different “artists” on Dunhill Records. The Grassroots’ first album according to some sources, was entirely PF Sloan and Steve Barri plus studio musicians. “Where were you when I needed You” is classic PF Sloan material from the first Grassroots’ LP, recorded decades later by the Bangles.
Sloan was the true pioneer of singer/songwriter performers, but in order to pursue his solo career he had to sign away all royalties from all the hit songs he’d written for Dunhill – he wouldn’t get a cent for thirty years! This contract was crooked and unethical and perhaps illegal…but PF Sloan was compelled to sign it by threats of death against his parents.
Well, thirty years came and went, and Sloan came and went as well. The man who wrote so many hits, including Eve of Destruction, seemed to have evaporated into the ether. Songwriter Jimmy Webb, a big fan of Sloan, composed the bitter sweet PF SLOAN whch became a big hit last year for UK singer, Rumer, who didn’t realize that PF Sloan was a real person.
I always wanted to meet PF Sloan, and when I did, I wasn’t dissapointed. You couldn’t find a more gracious man on Earth, and to sit right there and have him sing “You Baby,” “Sins of the Family,” and “Eve of Destruction” to our gang at Outlaw Radio was a treat beyond description, His autobiographyWhat Exactly is the Matter with Me?”is available from Amazon.com.
The last time I saw PF Sloan, he said how good it was to see me again. He was so damn ENJOYABLE to be around, and when he relaxed and realized he was among friends, and that he was safe, that’s when the spirit of PF Sloan – vibrant, impish, creative, clever, radiant and filled with almost conspiratorial glee — emerged in full.
God bless PF Sloan. And if you are an atheist, allow me a bit of Jewish humor that Phil would appreciate: “Nothing bless PF Sloan.” (If you don’t get it, ask a a Rabbi or me to explain it)
In the meantime, let’s all sing along with a PF Sloan classic!
BODY COUNT — the true story of Robert Lee Yates, Jr.. the Spokane Serial Killer. A bullet to the head while the women were giving head — once they were dead, then he could get it up while he couldn’t when they were going down. Shocking, disturbing and that’s only the first double homicide in my hometown of Walla Walla, Washington. Twenty some years later , Yates was on a killing spree in Spokane, and also in Tacoma, Washington. You can get this audiobook for 20% off from listenupaudiobooks.com Just enter the discount code OUTLAWCRIME when you make your purchase!
MAN OVERBOARD — the hysterical and strange story of Phil Champagne who was presumed dead for a decade before being arrested under the name Harold Stegeman for printing counterfeit $100 bills in an Idaho shed. Yep, this one is funny! And if you are not already a member of Audible, you can have it FREE when you sign up! Or…
Choose THE ALASKA MAIL BOMB CONSPIRACY for FREE when you sign up with Audible.com This is the true story if Smiley and Lizard — two recalcitrant hard-ass punks who plan a violent murder from behind bars where they are already serving life sentences. Guess whom they get to deliver the bomb? Lizard’s sister who is 8 month’s pregnant.
MURDER IN THE FAMILY — My first New York Times Best Seller (let’s hope I have more) will soon be an audio book from listenupaudiobooks.com, and an ebook from WildBluePress.com
Speaking of Wild Blue — my famed PI novel, HEADLOCK is coming out real soon — snazzy new cover, and all the typos and spelling errors of the first edition replaced and repaired. I left in all the jokes and pithy observations such as “Any toy store will sell you Talking Barbie, but you can’t even special order Listening Ken.”
I’ve been interviewed by some excellent journalists, questioned by idiots who didn’t really want the answer to the question, and have endeavored over the years to improve, polish and modify my own interview technique to fit the “environment” of the interview.
What I mean by environment is this: the tone texture and questions will depend, in great part,on the nature of the program in which the interview takes place – yet the basic techniques will not alter. You don’t ask a question that can be answered “yes” or “no,” you don’t give the answer and ask if the other person agrees (a variant on the yes/no issue), nor do you ask questions that are convoluted nonsense. During a live call-in show on KRKO-AM on which I was the guest, a caller asked this question: “Why don’t you admit that you are in league with the devil, and get it over with?” That isn’t a question, it’s an editorial statement. I answered it as politely as i could.
The best interviewers get the person they are interviewing to tell stories, and you do that by already knowing the story, and then prompting them to tell it rather than you. For example, my friend Magic Matt Alan has a great story about the famed Orson Welles and he together at the Magic Castle. Instead of asking “Did you ever meet Orson Welles?” (this could get the answer “Yes.” and that’s it) You could ask “Hey, I heard that when you were with Orson Welles at the Magic Castle, you didn’t realize he was a famous director.. (pause prompt)
Matt, being a pro, will immediately know to tell the story — and it is a great story!
Contrast Tom Snyder (may he rest in peace) — the most frustrating interviewer on the planet -= with Paul Ryan (Not the politician, but the acting/comedy coach). Paul is the best interviewer I have ever seen in action. He is so well prepared, so completely in sync with the mood and character of his subject, that watching him interview someone is, for those of us who are impressed by such things, akin to watching Picasso paint or Marlon Brando act.
Honest enthusiasm makes a big difference, and suppressed hostility is ALWAYS perceived by both the guest and the audience.
On True Crime Uncensored, my style is modified to fit the “environment” — as one listener stated, I sound like an “arrogant asshole.” I assure you that I am not arrogant, it is all an act to counterpoint Howard Lapides who, of course, IS arrogant, but as they say, “if you’ve really done it, it’s not bragging.”
The Great Don Woldman was my former co-host on the show, and you will modify YOUR style depending on the style of your co-host. If you listen to some of the shows Don and I did together you can hear the difference in how I relate to him vs how I relate to Howard. Don and I are often heard together on TRUE CRIME CLASSICS on Seatacmedia.com Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights at 8pm Pacific Time.
Sewer rats? Any post with sewer rats in the title gets more hits, although people with a sewer rat problem, obsession or erotic fetish will be irked that there is nothing about sewer rats in the body of this post.
MAN OVERBOARD continues selling well and garnering mostly positive reviews, and award winning director Matthew “Son of Cinema” Berkowitz insists he wants to do the movie version. The brilliant and affable Daniel Genis is polishing the treatment, and I’m waiting for someone to write me a check.
HEADLOCK : A Jeff Reynolds Mystery is coming soon from Wild Blue Press. This is the first in a series of private eye mysteries starring ME! Well, not actually. The hero is younger, better looking, stronger and his “audiographic” memory is still in fine shape while mine has declined over the years. He is no smarter than I, so that means he screws up a lot. I wrote this rave-reviewed literary masterpiece in Walla Walla, Washington, and much of the action takes place at the McFeely Tavern.
Being an author is heaven and hell in one never ending homework assignment. If you didn’t enjoy writing term papers, you won’t enjoy being an author. It’s one massive home work assignment after another.
Right now, I have several homework assignment due. “A Taste for Murder” (or is it “A Taste of Murder?”) comes out February with a tie-in TV special on Investigation Discovery’s EPIC MYSTERIES.
Co-written with the brilliant and talented Frank C. Girardot, Jr., this non-fiction thriller is 99.9% complete, and will be in the hands of publisher Wild Blue Press on time and ready to be a best-seller.
The Sign of the Saint — a new Simon Templar adventure, has been “almost done” for far too long. I’m at the closing chapters, and while I dream of action packed endings every night, I keep wanting to revise the novel. The more I revise, the farther I get from shore. I need to follow my own advice. JUST FINISH THE DAMN THING!
My untitled examination of the strange case of the six software executives in Colorado Springs sent to prison for fraud fs shaping up, primarily through the efforts of others — the others, however, are all weighted heavily on the side of wrongful conviction. Someone must think they are guilty, or they wouldn’t be sitting in prison. Incarceration is no proof of guilt. I’m getting to the bottom of this, one way or another.
HEADLOCK — my well-reviewed but seldom purchased Private Eye novel is coming back for a second chance thanks to Wild Blue Press. A new edition with snazzy new cover and most if not all of the typos fixed is coming out soon.
Audio books? You bet! Man Overboard and The Alaska Mail Bomb Conspiracy are both now available as audio books from Audible.com. Soon BODY COUNT and MURDER IN THE FAMILY will be available, too.
Kevin Pierce narrates MAN OVERBOARD with a nice dry/wry tone, and James Edward Thomas captures all the high emotion of THE ALASKA MAIL BOMB CONSPIRACY perfectly.
Coming soon as audio books are two of my true crime best sellers -= BODY COUNT and MURDER IN THE FAMILY. I’m very excited about these audio books, just as I’m excited that WildBluePress.com is about to give the world by famous Private Eye novel, HEADLOCK, in a snazzy new edition with much fewer typos and a fancy new cover!
Frank C. Girardot, Jr and I have crafted a fact crime mystery thriller for WildBluePress.com : A TASTE FOR MURDER, This will also be a one-hour EPIC MYSTERY on Investigation Discovery in February, 2016
DEADLY SINS — that great show hosted by my friend Darren Kavinoky returns for Season Five — and guess who is invited back to provide more pithy commentary? Yep, the Legendary Burl Barer!